What to make, indeed, of recurring tales of woe-induced pluck and why the media is often so keen on them. We salute those who endure, who doesn’t? But we also have to demand greater depth in the general social discussion of hard times. Look at these images of a teenage fast food worker in a neck brace and sling.
How neoliberalism is damaging your mental health
image: Tinker*Tailor loves Talka via Flickr/CC
If one thing could be said to symbolize the transition from the twentieth century to the present one it might be the tragic death of glamour in air travel. Added now to the boring sorrows of security screening, economy seating, airline performance and global carbon footprints must surely be this phenomenon: homeless people living in airports.
image: Mark Goebel via Flickr/CC
Our largest Metro areas are increasingly showing signs of a split economic personality. Ongoing data from the Neighbourhood Change Research Partnership:
The general look and feel of Los Angeles, California is readily understood by anyone who has spent any time near North America’s sprawl lands. The sheer size of Los Angeles, and the inequality and environmental racism it contains — however familiar it’s basic form — is enough to give pause to anyone, though.
Certainly there’s visual evidence nearly everywhere of what is said to be a homeless population now numbering fifty thousand. Beat up recreational vehicles are homes to many Angelenos. You come across them constantly. People camp everywhere from the lawns at city hall to highway medians.
By the late 1970s it seems that a sense of dread had become so attached to this brutally car-dependent collection of over eighty municipal entities that a truly massive investment in rail-based public transit was kicked off. While plagued with construction challenges, including major cost overruns, this program has been bearing fruit for a while now. There are also voices fighting for cycling and walking and the bus network. The latter is especially important to the working people of Los Angeles.
Please take a look at this Los Angelist video about the Metro Red Line. Much of the rationale found in it is applicable to Canadian cities, to sprawl lands found anywhere. The sheer enormity of Los Angeles helps bring these issues into focus perhaps in a way much more raw than they might be encountered where you live but there is much to be learned.
The work of folding slacks, swiping credit cards and stocking shelves was enough to keep Sears going in Canada as a profitable, dividend-paying and executive bonus-giving retailer for decades. Then management decided to pack it all in. Emperor Justinian, representing us at Davos, seems to think it’s all pretty much okay, including the company leaving behind a whopper of a deficit in its pension plan.
Trudeau suggests EI for Sears workers who risk losing pensions
Image: Mike Kalasnik via Flickr/CC
The precarity problem
Not surprising that a truly inescapable structural feature of the sprawl around us is now closely and directly associated with what this blog has been on about, and in a very public way. In all their brown brick glory Tim Hortons outlets are usually located with predictability, outside the malls anyway. Timmy H’s are most often found at a major intersection with commercial/industrial zoning nearby and a twelve pump gas station out front. Cars are everywhere, six for every last Dutchie it would seem. Lined up around the building and into the street sometimes, idling as their owners anticipate a hit of caffeine and sugar from the little sliding bay windows at the side. With lots of parking and cars grinding or flying by depending on the time of day we have never found these outlets pedestrian or bike friendly. They can be a challenge in a car.
There’s hostility inside the doors, too. The product is popular enough but we mean all the people working hard for too little money day and night. Like other corporate employers Tim’s has gotten riled up at having to pay living wages this month. Pathologically selfish franchisees and the rationalizers at corporate office are now stuck with the label of tip stealer, benefits gouger and paid break abolisher. How’s that for some great publicity? This pooh-sandwich is slick corporate talent in action?
A few pennies passed on to the customer would have avoided shareholder nightmare ka-ka like this: #boycottTimHortons
Timmy Ho’s you rock!
The combined weight of research, history, and economic expertise shows that giving low-wage workers a raise is a net positive
Tim Hortons controversy shows Canadians are ‘addicted to a low-wage economy,’ says author
Image: Corey Buffet via Flickr/CC