Inequality

‘I Had My Backpack and 20 Cents’: How Cheryl Strayed Does Money

“We had a happy life. I would say I really had a very happy one, even though we lived in poverty, on food stamps, government cheese, and sometimes the food pantry shelf,” said Strayed.

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Is There a Class Component to Catcalls

By now you’ve surely read about, if not watched, the Hollaback video footage of a normal, 30-something woman walking around NYC for ten hours getting catcalled by men. The unwanted attention is astounding, despite the fact that she’s dressed in regular clothes and neither speaking nor smiling.

It brings back all sorts of memories for me, especially one awful pre-ear-bud summer when I was a self-conscious teenager working at a non-profit in DC. I got catcalled every day. All I wanted was to be invisible and instead guys shouted things out of their cars about how they wanted me to “Lewinsky” them, or walked by and said something savvy and sophisticated like, “Tits!”

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Kids Trick-or-Treating Across Class Lines Makes 1%er Feel Faint

Halloween, as much as Thanksgiving, is a holiday about generosity.

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Should Economic Equality Have Come Before Marriage Equality?

At the Washington Post, Alyssa Rosenberg reflects on the new movie Prideusing it as a launching pad to discuss whether the LGBTQI[infinity symbol] rights movement made a mistake by putting marriage first, as a goal, instead of economic equality. After all, she writes,

According to a Williams Institute analysis of data from the American Community Survey, lesbian couples in the United States are more likely to live in poverty than married heterosexual couples, and gay African American couples “have poverty rates more than twice the rate of different-sex married African Americans … Almost one in four children living with a male same-sex couple and 19.2 percent of children living with a female same-sex couple are in poverty, compared to 12.1 percent of children living with married different-sex couples. African American children in gay male households have the highest poverty rate (52.3 percent) of any children in any household type.”

Marriage, she argues, only helps those who are partnered for the long-term. Passing a national Non-Discrimination Act would help more broadly. Especially because lots of people in the community are poor. The Williams Institute reports, “We find clear evidence that poverty is at least as common in the LGB population as among heterosexual people and their families.”

Yet many folks — up to and including one of the nation’s most powerful short-sighted bigots men, Justice Antonin Scalia — harbor the misconception that to be gay is to be rich. In an opinion in the 90s, Scalia wrote of the queer community’s “high disposable income” and its concurrent “disproportionate political power.” Presumably Scalia watched an episode of “Will and Grace” and another of “Queer Eye for the Straight Guy” and drew conclusions. But he’s not alone, here or abroad. The Atlantic calls the widespread notion that gays have influence and cash “the Myth of Gay Affluence.”

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“Freelance Money Isn’t Like Other Money”

This aggrieved response, in Salon, to the NYT magazine piece about Portland — why people move there, what they do then, and how the city is changing — makes some sobering points about how our culture views freelance work and the money that results.

In 2013 my husband had a salaried position and did some freelance work — freelance work he has been doing for the past 10 years — on the side. In 2014 he quit the salaried job to pursue freelance full-time and is making roughly three times what he used to. Had he left that salaried job for another, we’d have no problem. We’d produce his last two pay stubs and even though it was a new job his work history would demonstrate some indelible quality about him and we’d have our mortgage.

But it doesn’t work like that for freelancers. The invoices we send out every month, the checks we deposit, the estimated taxes we’ve already paid — none of it really means anything until we file our tax return. Freelance money, we’ve come to realize, isn’t like other money. At a time in our economy when a salaried worker can lose his job without warning and then be unemployed for months, if not years, he’s still seen as a safer bet than a freelancer. Our money doesn’t count, and neither do our jobs. This is cultural, I understand, and there are countless ways — from healthcare to the tax code — that our culture is set up to favor salaried workers.

No one who reads this site could mistake freelancers for slackers. But it’s true that when Ben and I both jumped off the freelance cliff, we didn’t consider the long-term ramifications in terms of things like mortgages. (Move somewhere significantly cheaper and buy in cash?) Anyone have experience convincing banks to lend to you as something other than a FT employee?

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Time Banking In Ithaca, New York

Perhaps most of my time bank’s professionals, however devoted to egalitarianism in theory, still value their professional skills too highly to give them away for mere hours. And perhaps people in genuine poverty are too busy struggling to get by to participate in a time bank that may or may not help them when they need it most. This might be the most we could hope for from a hippie, progressive town that otherwise still runs overwhelmingly on dollars.

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Sobering Loan, Debt, Savings News; Or, Janet is Yellen at Us Again

We Americans are in dire straits. We need to pay people to find us roommates so that we can afford to live in grossly overpriced apartments on the outskirts of where the jobs are. Student loans are such a crushing financial burden, totaling $1.2 trillion, that an offshoot of Occupy Wall Street called Rolling Jubilee has started urging debtors to organize and fight back.

Americans have an average of about $30,000 worth of student debt, and one in ten borrowers default on their loans. According to Andrew Ross, a Rolling Jubilee board member and professor at New York University, this sizable group of people can make an impact if they act as a unit. … “Debtors often don’t identify their condition as permanent,” Taylor said. Unlike medical debt, which is usually perceived as unavoidable, “people with student loans feel like they made a choice. It’s their problem. They feel shame instead of outrage.” …

The long-term goals, group members say, are to challenge the very existence of student loans in the first place and advocate for free education. “There’s this strong sense in the United States of morality behind debt—that being a good person means paying what you owe,” said Thomas Gokey, 35, who has $67,000 in student loans and came up with the idea of buying portfolios on the secondary market for the collective’s first action back in 2012. “We hope to undermine this fake morality around debt.” Since the debt was bought for pennies on the dollar, he says, people “really don’t owe this debt at all. Someone is simply making a profit.”

The GOP blocked Elizabeth Warren’s student loan bill, again. And now Fed Chair Janet Yellen has some more grim news

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“I Stopped Carrying a Wallet When I Became Homeless”

I suppose I could use my old wallet, but it’s full of a life I no longer lead. The owner of that wallet once had an apartment, a full time job, and disposable income, an abundant life that utilized all of the slots.

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Link Roundup!: Sleep You Need vs Sleep You Get; Podcast Love

+ Another way we are unequal in this paltry excuse for a civilization? The number of hours of sleep we get a night, on average, varies based on how much money we have. The effects are real, lasting, and frightening:

McCalman’s life reveals a particularly sorry side of America’s sleep-deprived culture. Though we often praise white-collar “superwomen” who “never sleep” and juggle legendary careers with busy families, it’s actually people who have the least money who get the least sleep.

Though Americans across the economic spectrum are sleeping less these days, people in the lowest income quintile, and people who never finished high school, are far more likely to get less than seven hours of shut-eye per night. About half of people in households making less than $30,000 sleep six or fewer hours per night, while only a third of those making $75,000 or more do. …

A later study on 147 adult humans found that the sleep deprived among them had actively shrinking brains. This suggests that no amount of “catch up” sleep can ever reverse the effects of sleep loss on the body.

“How do you sleep at night?” “On top of a pile of money with many beautiful ladies.”

+ The ‘Fold got some love on the newish Slate parenting podcast “Mom and Dad Are Fighting!”

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WWYD: Porn Star BF Asks Porn Star GF to Quit Work Because Love

We are all worse at managing our own romantic lives — and occasionally our professional choices — than Miley Cyrus is at getting dressed.

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One Good Intern Deserves Another

Watch out, CBS! And other media conglomerates that have enriched themselves while benefiting from the unpaid labor of the servile, desperate underclasses for decades now because they could! The Interns are coming for you. And you deserve the full force of their wrath.

Late last week, Mallory Musallam filed a class action complaint against CBS Broadcasting, CBS Corp. and the retiring late-night host’s Worldwide Pants on behalf herself and everyone who has ever been an intern on the show. “Named Plaintiff has initiated this action seeking for herself, and on behalf of all similarly situated employees that also worked on The Late Show With David Letterman, all compensation, including minimum wages and overtime compensation, which they were deprived of, plus interest, attorneys’ fees, and costs,” says the jury demanding filing in New York Supreme Court. …

“Named Plaintiff performed various tasks, including, but not limited to, research for interview material, deliver film clips from libraries, running errands, faxing, scanning, operating the switchboard, and other similar duties,” claims the complaint against CBS and Letterman. Musallam’s attorneys allege that she worked a 40-hour week like a full-time employee and did not receive any “academic or vocational training” while atLate Show. In fact, they say that was the point, so the production company could keep its payroll expenses down. “Upon information and belief, Defendants would have hired additional employees or required existing staff to work additional hours had the Named Plaintiff and the putative class members not performed work for Defendants,” the 14-page filing adds.

As someone who was kicked around the Entertainment industry for years and barely made it out with all bodily functions intact, I say hoo-fucking-ray. Lawyer up and get yours, Interns.

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