Money on the Left

Gender, Labor, & Law w/ Democratic Socialist Emma Caterine

September 08, 2018 Money on the Left
Money on the Left
Gender, Labor, & Law w/ Democratic Socialist Emma Caterine
Chapters
Money on the Left
Gender, Labor, & Law w/ Democratic Socialist Emma Caterine
Sep 08, 2018
Money on the Left
In this episode, we speak with Emma Caterine, a law graduate and writer with more than a decade of experience working within economic justice, feminist, LGBTQ, and racial justice movements. We talk Democratic Socialists of America, MMT, the advantages of a federal jobs guarantee over a universal basic income, the place for sex work in a jobs guarantee program. Emma's Medium page: https://medium.com/@EmmaCaterine Heads up: The Second International Conference for Modern Monetary Theory is set to take place September 28 - 30, 2018 at The New School in New York City. Details here: http://www.mmtconference.org
Show Notes Transcript
In this episode, we speak with Emma Caterine, a law graduate and writer with more than a decade of experience working within economic justice, feminist, LGBTQ, and racial justice movements. We talk Democratic Socialists of America, MMT, the advantages of a federal jobs guarantee over a universal basic income, the place for sex work in a jobs guarantee program. Emma's Medium page: https://medium.com/@EmmaCaterine Heads up: The Second International Conference for Modern Monetary Theory is set to take place September 28 - 30, 2018 at The New School in New York City. Details here: http://www.mmtconference.org
Speaker 1:

You were listening to money on the left, the official podcast of the modern money network humanities division or m n n. H. D. In this episode, we're joined by Emma Academy , a law graduate and writer with more than a decade of experience working within economic justice, feminist LGBTQ and racial justice movements. Recurrent focuses are consumer debt, the New York Health Act campaign in bringing a feminist perspective to labor and protection policies . She's also a proud member of the democratic socialists of America and keeps an active blog where she looks at legal issues from a socialist feminist perspective and Emma's words. Her personal mission is to give the most marginalized people the tools to make any more equal in democratic world. Our conversation with them as far ranging, we talked to DSA and then t the advantages that the federal jobs guarantee over something like a universal basic income. The place for sex work in a jobs guarantee program and the need for the u s left to basically get with the program and start advocating for buy-able socialist policy alternatives to the legal and political economic status quo. It's a fabulous conversation and we can't wait to share with you the first, the heads up, the second international conference on modern monetary theory is fast approaching. In fact, it's happening September 28th through 30th at the new school in New York and will feature talks, workshops and town hall style meetings with many of the central members of the MMT network, a few of whom you may have heard on this podcast. You can find more information about the second international [inaudible] [email protected] . Thanks as always to Alex Williams for producing the episode and to heal Billy motorbike for providing us with the theme music.

Speaker 2:

Hi Emma, welcome and thank you for joining us at money on the left.

Speaker 3:

I'm really happy to be out and thanks for having me.

Speaker 2:

That was wondering if we could start by having you tell us about your background, your experience, and your various interests.

Speaker 3:

Yeah. Um, my name is Emma Catterton . I am a recent law graduate , uh, awaiting bar admission. That's the thing you have to say, cause I'm not technically a lawyer, basically a lawyer, but I'm not technically a lawyer yet. And I , I'm currently working for a private law firm representing predominantly working class people in lawsuits against stair collectors, credit bureaus, landlords, and other financial companies. Um, before law school I did community organizing and lobbying. Uh , I was involved with occupy Wall Street, both in my home state of Virginia and here in New York City and I've been a socialist for 13

Speaker 4:

years. Um, I also really like Seltzer and cap .

Speaker 5:

You've written a lot over the past 18 months or so on your medium page and elsewhere about the democratic socialists of America. So we wanted to sort of start off by asking you a little bit about why you joined, what, you know , the organization is up to in some of your ideas for improving its chances of winning. Um, could you talk a little bit about DSA and why you're a member ?

Speaker 4:

Yeah. Um , I'm super proud to be a member of DSA. Um, I'm totally a cheerleader for DSA, probably obnoxiously so, but like, you know, when you've been in socialists for over a decade without many comrades and then all of a sudden you have 50,000 people , uh, it's really awesome. And , uh, I joined because , uh, like many others, I thought that DSA surge of popularity through the Bernie Sanders campaign would be a flash in the pan. I actually wrote an article about it on the website. Truthout entitled is Bernie Sanders Dangerous for socialism? Basically sort of critiquing the history of Social Democrats and so on. Uh, but I was wrong. I mean, and I , I am one of these people who I love to be wrong , um, because I tend to be really pessimistic. So usually when I'm wrong, I mean something good is happening. Uh, I will give myself a bit of credit though for not being like , uh , some long time left as to sort of out of this cognitive dissonance sort of doubled down on, they're already losing strategies and , and you know, just said, no, we're not going to pretend like things are different or that people have tried things that are working. We're just going to commit to being obscure and fringe and irrelevant. Um, and you know, increasingly I saw TSA members present at struggles that I was involved in, like , uh , the union drive for BNH warehouse workers. Um, that's an electronic store here in New York City , uh, and the New York Health Act, which is basically our statewide single pair , uh, legislation. And so I joined, it's a, it's a great organization and the people in it are some of the most caring and hardworking people I've ever worked with. So , um, everyone else who's listening to this should , uh, check it out .

Speaker 5:

So one of the things that seem to distinguish your approach from contemporary socialist thought and practice is your insistence upon taking responsibility for problems of governance and law. I was wondering if you could tell us about this commitment, yours , um,

Speaker 6:

and perhaps a little bit about your critique of leftist practice , which might overlook some of these questions.

Speaker 4:

Well, one thing , uh, in coin out about this is that my focus is actually pretty common in the international left , uh , particularly in Latin America and um , in Africa. Um, I was an Africana studies major in college and uh , really developed my socialist thought around people like , uh, Kwame and Kruma , um , Maurice Bishop and Thomas Sankara , uh , who at the end of the day we're concerned with things that unfortunately get neglected by the left in the u s things like how courts work, how federal and local governments interact. Well , we call them this country federalism, how infrastructure gets built and maintained and so on. Uh , and Chroma in particular wrote a fantastic book called inside neo colonialism, the last statement period, realism, where he basically concludes, you know, hey, you can't take on the power of corporations that are literally complex multinational governance entities unless you have an internationalist governance body of this similar size and scope, which was eventually became his idea for a , uh , Pan-african Union. Uh, sadly, the right wing in the United States has been far better at focusing on these elements of governance. And that's why they have so much power despite how unpopular the right wing is with the general public. And this is a big part of why I love DSA , uh, as an organization and through our electoral candidates like Alexandria or Casio Cortez , uh , we lead with concrete policies like Medicare for all , rather than waiting for some fee revolution to happen or lecturing, working class people about marks. I mean, no one wants to be lectured, right? Like, and unfortunately, you know, that's the sort of , um, the typical Marxist party in the United States. And if you talk to them about it, they get pretty close to admitting it to you. You know, they have their party newspaper that they usually print out. And their goal is to sell it to people with the idea of using the paper to , uh, essentially instruct the working class on what to do. And I mean, I don't know, I'm not interested in that. Um , I'm interested, I'm a , I like to call myself a democratic fundamentalist where I, I really believe in maximizing the amount of democracy, not just in our government, but in our economy and, and within our private organizations. And , um, you know, we need to be creating a new kind of political movement with the working class, not telling the working class how we want to make this new political movement.

Speaker 2:

Just to follow up on that, recently you wrote about , uh , the way that the American left neglects the role of , uh , the courts , uh, and specific kinds of courts and , um, tort law in particular. Could you talk a little bit about that?

Speaker 4:

Yeah. Uh, so it's really interesting because , um, you know, I, I do, I've been doing this sort of stuff for like 10 plus years, community organizing and socialism and all that. And , uh, I've always noticed a weird sort of disconnect between , um, what people who are, you know, hard line , long term , committed leftist , uh, versus working class. People are concerned about in the certain day to day lives. And , uh, you know, some people will sort of explain this by saying simply like, oh, well , you know, leftist are , you know, all these like suburban kids. They're not really from working class backgrounds. And I actually don't find that to be true for the most part. And I believe that DSA actually has demographics showing at least that our organization is majority working class. Uh , but rather just like, you know, leftist , uh, politics is a hobby. You know, for us it's our, it's our life. And , uh, for most working class people, you know, the things that they're concerned about are not these abstract issues of , uh, equity and, and , uh, governance and , and so on. And they're concerned about, you know, the fact that , uh, you know, they need to pay their rent. And, you know, they're , uh , father got cancer at the age of, you know, 50 something from , uh , emphysema or whatever. And , uh, with tort law, there's been this huge shift over time where in the neo liberal area era, starting in like the 1970s or so, tort law was really kind of expected to fill the gaps of the social safety net. So , um, or, and in some cases is the actual action, the actual mechanism for enforcing the social safety net. And you know, in terms of things like OSHA, the fair Labor Standards Act , um, and , uh, the right wing saw this and they said, hey, if we just cut off the access of people to courts, then we take away, you know, it doesn't matter what laws are on the book because they won't be able to enforce them. Um, and the guy who , uh, some of the listeners may be familiar with, a young hot shot lawyer by the name of John Roberts , um, did a lot of work for his corporate law firm , um, working on Federal Arbitration Act Precedent. Uh, and then later became of course, chief justice of the Supreme Court. Um, and basically put the final nails in the coffin in terms of , uh, cutting off more access to court with help of course over the years from people like , uh , previous chief justice Rehnquist and that Antonin Scalia with his famous, that all decision on pleading standards. Um, and so , uh, it's really been disappointing , um, to see the left not recognize these sort of baseline issues in. And you know, with working class people , I mean, I hear it all the time from my clients where, you know, I'm only, I'm sure I'm only seeing about a third of the people who got, you know, me and my , uh , fellow attorneys of course are only seeing like about a third ad , most of the people who are getting ripped off, right. Because the rest, because the rest of the people understand that the court system does not allow for them to have their rights vindicated. It's not a way for them to get justice. And that's, you know, that's for a reason. It's because it's the right has done all of this work and has worked so hard to make sure that's the case. Um, and the left really needs to get its shit together and , uh, and figure that out because obviously, you know, I don't, I don't approve of this system of using the courts as the primary way to enforce a social safety net, but it's what we have right now. And you know, the United States is a , uh, a constitutional republic. Uh, the courts are in many ways our best, the best way for us to enforce our rights, both as individuals and you know, in, in class actions and such. Uh, and we got to make sure that those avenues stay open. Otherwise, you know, thousands, millions of people are going to suffer.

Speaker 5:

Thank you for that. Um, could you talk a little bit about how modern monetary theory fits into what you're talking about , um, specifically and then more broadly in your political imagination , um, and maybe a little bit about how you came to MMT and how it's influenced or , or changed the way you think about , um, your, your influences and other traditions.

Speaker 4:

Yeah. Uh, I came to MNT t fairly recently, I think about three or four years ago. And if I remember correctly, I actually , uh , do not take it very seriously. Cause at the time I was reading a lot of Orthodox Marxists , uh , economist and a few modern Marxist economists like David Harvey and , uh, uh, you know, I, I come from , um , a labor background. Um, and so I was really like, you know, Oh yeah, Mark's is the , the economic school. Marxism is the economic school for people, you know, are concerned about labor and the working class. So I don't care about, you know, the rest of the economic schools. And , uh, what changed my mind was , uh, the Marxist economist , Michael Roberts , uh, who very much does not share that perspective. He's very much one of these , uh , folks who looks at a wide away, a wide array of different economic schools to , uh, look at various problems. And , uh, he had this one piece in particular where he pointed out a lot of the similarities between , uh , Marxist economics and M and t , um, you know, mutual belief in charter lists and so on. Uh, and I also noticed as I got more involved with , uh, the sort of legal and regulatory economic justice work and financial regulation work, a lot of the people I was working with who had sharp observations about the Fed , uh, and such where people involved with this whole MMT thing and it a lot of gaps that frankly, Orthodox Marxism does not quite have answers for. Um, there have been a , there have been some attempts. Um, there's , uh, let's see, actually I've been right here with me, marks on money by Suzanne . Uh, Deb runoff. I wasn't terribly impressed with it to be honest. Um, and I think, you know , most mugs , most Marxist economists today will , will sort of admit that money , um, and monetary theory is definitely something that Marx himself did not cover particularly well, which wasn't entirely his fault. Of course, you know, modern money as we know it today and not fully come into being. It was really just starting to become fully rooted in a global economic sense by the time he was writing capital . And , uh, anyways , um,

Speaker 7:

[inaudible]

Speaker 4:

uh, and you know, it was also synthesize with a lot of my historical understandings of neo colonialism , um, like by that IMF, the International Monetary Fund in West Africa. Uh , the lack of monetary sovereignty in that region. Um, fun fact for the listeners. Uh, the, the currency and a lot of frank of phonic west African countries as called the CFA franc . And , uh, nowadays they say that that stands for something like community. I don't even remember what it is, but the C and CFA originally stood for colony there. It's the, the currency for colonies literally. Um, and I suppose I'd consider myself sort of , uh, MMT and Jason MMT inspired. Um, I, I'm not really, you know, an MMT scholar per se. Um, but I , I definitely think that m the MMT folks, including yourselves are really sort of at the cutting edge of , um, fiscal policy for sure, as well as economic policy more broadly.

Speaker 6:

So you advocate for several key policies and political aims for the contemporary left. And I was wondering if you could , uh , kind of tell, tell for us and our listeners what those are and how you see them perhaps mutually informing each other.

Speaker 4:

Yeah, so , uh , I see three policies as being the most crucial at this juncture in terms of , uh, immediate. Um, and those would be number one, medicare for all and number two, federal job and number three, the abolition of ice. Uh, another habit of the u s left that can be really frustrating is that they always pit policies and thus the campaigns to enact those policies against each other. You know, if you're working on medicare for all, for example , uh, people say, you know, why aren't you working on a universal basic income or something like that. And you know, it's like, well, because I'm, I'm working on this and it's a full time job, man. Give me a break . Um, I think our New York City DSA chapter does a great job of both providing people with a multitude of options for getting involved and also interconnecting the campaigns. Um, especially the , um, or electoral campaigns are really interconnected. Uh, with our more broader policy campaigns. Um, like a, a, I know there was joint canvassing with our tenant organizing and , uh, with the Julia Salazar Campaign , uh, one of our members who's running for state Senate here in New York. Um, and it's really not that difficult to make those connections between policies once you open your mind to it. Um, you know, for example, one major gripe of businesses currently , um, especially businesses with less than 50 employees is employee health care cross field often see them giving that as the reason for why they don't hire more employees. Um, so if you decrease those costs with a single payer healthcare system, it's going to make it easier to implement in our you for a federal job guarantee or you know, another example is a comrade of mine on Chicago recently pointed this out. Um, uh, abolishing ice could put a lot of law enforcement out of work. And historically we know for examples like the , uh, Republican Guard and Iraq , uh , disbanding a trained heavily armed force without a plan of what those people are going to do , uh, can lead to serious problems and even file once . Um, and a federal job guarantee obviously would not be a perfect solution to that. Uh, but none of these policies are perfect solutions to anything. Uh, but it's far better than anything else I've currently seen on the table. And this sort of , uh, the synergy you get with these , um, policies , uh, uh, I think is these three policies, medicare for all a federal job guarantee and abolishing ice. Um, I think it forms a nice cohesive program. And , uh , a lot of our candidates in DSA run on some variation of this. So , um , Alexandria or Casio Cortez for example, supports all three of these policies. Um , and then Julia Salazar , um, she supports a lot of state equivalents to these three , uh , policies.

Speaker 8:

[inaudible] ,

Speaker 9:

Turkey, Iran , the chain breaking rocks and [inaudible] big rocks [inaudible] on a chain gang cause it down . Can Ben took me a cry? Hold his daddy. Right .

Speaker 8:

Wow. Well , I reckon [inaudible] Buddhas got so terribly committed.

Speaker 9:

[inaudible]

Speaker 2:

it seems to us that the job guarantee and of course aligned with , uh , these other political aims , um, can really do a lot for the present politics of gender, sex and sexuality. So I was curious what you have to say about this. Does, it, does, does the job guarantee and alloyed programs , um, does it for you bring something to, to the current politics of gender, sex and sexuality, and then reciprocally, what, what do we job guarantee advocates and theorists have to do , um, to perhaps listen, listened to, to , um, these, these politics in these communities , um , in a better way and maybe learn from them in ways we're not quite yet?

Speaker 4:

You know, I , uh, the aspect of gender is a really big, if not the biggest reason why I support a job guarantee. Um , along with some other issues like , uh, uh, uh, people with disabilities , um, and a job guarantee would have a lot of positive effects for women, both directly and in terms of our place in society, even outside of the workforce. I think that's something that unfortunately our society still has now largely reckoned with. And the major reason for the wage gap for is the negative effect of gender segregated labor. Um, while gender segregation both does your and , uh , defacto has decreased. Um, it is still pretty stark in many professions and of course it's most stark and executive and managerial positions. Uh, for example , uh, despite women being slightly overrepresented now in law schools, I think something like 60% , uh, they are still only 25% of the managing partners and the top 200 law firms in the country. And I think a big reason for this continued stratification is that , uh , many feminists, the sort of , um, now liberal feminist groups thought we could fix the problem of a lack of gender parity in the workforce and the economy , uh, simply by enforcing title seven, which is the law, which prohibits , uh , discrimination based on sex , uh, the law , uh, and trying to change the culture inside workplaces one person at a time. The sensitivity training approach, if you will. And I mean the fact that the term sensitivity training has such a negative and sort of foolish connotation to it and our society , um, uh, probably speaks to you how an effective that strategy really is. I mean, I'm not trying to say that these things haven't had serious , uh , successes. I used to do title seven work . So , um, I can tell you from personal experience that title seven really important law, but it's never going to get us to anything even close to equity between men and women, let alone equity for , uh , gender minorities like , uh , uh, gender non binary people. Um, the only way we're going to get to anything like that is if we take democratic control of the economy and prioritize social benefits over private profits. Uh, corporate diversity as it exists is premised on leveraging diversity to increase profitability by making the corporations image more progressive and appealing or not letting bias keep out someone who could be just as much of a ruthless capitalist as her male counterpart and so on. An actual equity is funding them fundamentally anathema to the prophet man. It's , uh , I, I believe that that conflict is essentially impossible to maneuver around , um, in terms of through private action. And so that's when you need a democratic problem , public intervention , um, to instill , uh, equity. And what about , um, things like care work and sex work? Could you speak to those issues? Yeah. Um, so , um, in terms of , uh, care work , uh, you know, one, one good example of this is when I was doing , um , some work on the fight for 15 staff here in , um, in New York. One of the , uh, big exceptions, you know, whenever they pass a sort of law, like the $15 an hour , uh , wage , um, there's always gonna be exceptions. And one of the exceptions for when , uh , 15 god made the living wage in New York was , uh, this , uh , nursing home. This really big nursing home applied for it. And , uh, this nursing home employed , you know, hundreds of women, mostly immigrant women of color , um, and , uh, in these very sort of dubious ways. And, you know, the way essentially that , uh, they could get away with this and get away with getting a loophole to the $15 , um, requirement was just being like, Hey, look, we're up , we're a nonprofit. Like, and we're, our worth is all about caring about, you know, your, your parents and your grandparents and you know, so, so give us a break. Um, and of course, you know that, that's, that's a bunch of a bunch of Hoopla plies , you know , uh, care workers just like work in any other , um,

Speaker 8:

yeah .

Speaker 4:

Does is just like any other work that happens in a capitalist society, any other kind of wage labor. Um, but because of our ingrained patriarchal attitudes where care work is expected from women. So, you know, this nursing home can make these arguments because our society fundamentally, you know, the fact that these women receive any compensation at all our society, our society sort of patriarchal attitude looks at that and says, well, you know , uh, that's, yeah, that's what they should be doing. Cause they're women. Women should be care of people. Um, and, you know, they shouldn't expect to get, you know, or real job out of it. Um, and that problem is only gonna get worse. We have an increasingly aging society. Um, my mom's parents, for example, live with her , um, and she takes care of them full time. And , uh, you know , uh, I've, I've talked to her about this and you know, she , um , of all of the, all of the political work I do, the federal job guarantee is the one that she's really interested in. Um, because , uh, you know, she sees this problem happening with her parents and with her friend's parents and sees that society's got this increasing age and, you know, how are we going to deal with that? Um, and I think a federal job guarantee, one of the many benefits of it is , uh, the way that it will account for that problem and prevent women from being a sort of underclass of labor, sort of equalizing , uh, care work within the job market. Um, and then in terms of , uh , sex work , um, you know, I, I worked , uh, in the human trafficking intervention courts here in New York City , um, for a nonprofit called random umbrella project. And , uh, the sex workers I saw every day, they weren't the law and order SVU women chained and basements. Um, nor were they the empowered, you know, glamorous sex worker. You know, she's just out on her own. Hustlin and uh, no, it was mostly women of color in Brooklyn who were moms, just moms, mothers and people who enter into sex work. Not so much cause they, you know, people think they're doing it cause it's the only job that they can get. But it's really just that sex work as the job that gives them a living wage and does so with reasonable hours that allow them to access affordable child care and so on. And fortunately, while most women had other choices when they entered into sex work , uh , it becomes incredibly difficult to leave the industry because of the gaps , um, in their resume and the stigma. Um, I know , uh , uh, Vanessa , um , I know , I'm sure y'all know, just wrote a piece for the daily intelligence or anything . It was about the benefits of a federal job guarantee to people who are currently or formerly [inaudible]

Speaker 3:

present . Um, and you have a well , um, sex workers

Speaker 4:

oftentimes can get their charges , um, sealed , um, because they're relatively minor misdemeanors, ins and so on.

Speaker 3:

Uh,

Speaker 4:

there's still a lot of stigma. And in the worst part of course is the, the mainstream media , um, loves to publish mugshots of women after there have been, there's been a big raid on a strip club or massage parlor or whatever. Um, and you know, I, I've known women who became, you know, a teacher for example, and you know, three years into this job, they are doing great at the job. No one had any complaints. And then someone dug up in the world, you know, news story. Um, I assume from the New York Daily News , uh , you know, about her, you know, getting arrested in some raid on a strip club and she lost her job. Um, and , uh, you know, with something like a federal job guarantee, a , you know, again, forces these decisions to be based on social benefit rather than on private profit . And the thing is, is that I do think despite the enormous amount of stigma out there that most people can recognize that hey, that's fundamentally wrong. Like, and it's fundamental, totally hypocritical of our society to be like, you shouldn't be doing sex work. And then as soon as the person gets out of

Speaker 3:

a sex work that they're forever haunted by their history of doing it and can lose their job because of that. Uh, when employment depends on these employers making character judgements , uh , that have nothing to do whether or not the person is qualified to do the work. Um, sex workers are at a serious disadvantage. And , um, I think there's a lot of untapped potential for collaboration , um, between federal job guarantee advocates and feminist groups and sex worker advocacy groups. Um, like the sex worker organizing project. Um, because, you know , uh , when I was doing this work, what I most heard from a sex workers was the need for better employment resources and where the need for labor rights. I mean, there been , uh , there's been some pretty significant , um , cases in New York about, you know, whether or not dancers at strip clubs for example, should be considered , uh, contractors, which , uh , uh, basically under labor law is a really key issue. Whether or not an employee's considered a contractor , um, you know , uh, regardless of what ideological considerations come into it, at the end of the day, our economy treats sex work as work and you can deny it all you want, but sex work is work in our economy and , uh, we need to focus on what benefits people. And I think a federal job guarantee is a really great thing that can benefit so many diverse groups , uh, and could prove to be a really great coalition building, collaborative effort .

Speaker 2:

So I have a follow up that , um, can be a little sticky or a little uncomfortable for some people and you can , um, answer it or not. Um , but you know , it seems like you've, you've outlined the ways in which , uh, a , uh , hypocritical and usually unjust, privatized and informalized sex work , uh, culture , uh, is, is highly problematic. Do you see a role for the public provisioning of sex work?

Speaker 3:

You know , uh, it's a hard question because , um, there have , there have been some instances of that. Um,

Speaker 7:

okay.

Speaker 3:

Uh, Germany is, is one , uh, example of that , uh, where , uh, they essentially have quasi state run brothels. And I know they had this really kind of weird thing where they had , it was like at a sex work dry then , um, I don't want to go too into that cause I don't remember the details. Uh, and it was in a very sensational snooze articles . So who knows how much of that has been true. But , um, uh , yeah, I think it's a really , uh, it's a GIC issue that will have to be discussed. I, you know, ultimately , um, I think that a , um , a federal job guarantee should focus. Um, um, you know, what sort of things , uh, our community is , uh , currently not being provided with due to a private job market. Um, and you know, for better or for worse, I think , uh , sex work is not within that Brown. It's certainly a kind of work that is stigmatized and discriminated against and so on, but , uh, there's no shortage , um, um, of sex work out there. Um, as opposed to, you know, creating new infrastructure , um, providing more care labor and, and so on. Um, yeah, I don't think I have all of the answers to that. I think it's say something that's very much up for , um, to be an I , I guess the only thing that I would ask is that, you know, when people talk about these issues, they recognize that , um, uh, there are a lot of people out there with a diverse range of experiences and that we don't, we don't over-generalize what people's experiences have been in things like sex work and either, you know, and either way, that sort of false dichotomy I was talking about earlier, you know, not all sex workers are, you know, trafficked. Um, and similarly, you know, lots of sex workers have not enjoyed their work and have had really traumatic things happen while doing sex work. So , um, you know, [inaudible]

Speaker 5:

yeah, so we've covered a lot of the potential benefits that a jab guarantee could bring across for a bunch of different people in an above bunch of different contexts. One of the other popularly discussed ideas , um, on the left currently is the universal basic income. And we haven't talked too much about this on the show, but listeners of this episode might sort of hear and anticipate this one coming. Where does the UBI fit , um, or , or does it fit and , and how is it different from the JG , um, in the ways that you've, you've talked about so far?

Speaker 3:

Yeah , I think , uh, anyone who follows me on Twitter might might've dissipated this coming as well . Um, you know, my issue with a universal basic income particularly is held up as a how alternative to a job guarantee is the contention that this will improve , uh , the gender segregation of labor. Uh, and particularly in the, and this sort of idea of care work. And I've even seen some people talk about it . And in terms of , uh , sex work , um, and I just, I doubt it. I highly doubt it , uh , because it , uh, does not actually try to change the dynamics of the economy. I just tried to inject enough cash into the consumer side of it to hopefully create some positive effects, which, you know, I, I don't dispute that that would, that it probably would create some positive effects. But at the end of the day, if you had a ubi large enough that people could live off of that , it would still be a segregated labor market for things like care work and sex work. You know, these wouldn't be things that would have federal government recognition as work. Uh , it would be, you know, not treated as a real job. Um, because of the end of the day, whether or not they're doing the care work, of course they're still gonna get the Ubi. And that's such a , you know, if people think that the stigma around snap is bad, just wait until there's a whole set of, you know , people receiving ubi , um , and doing care work or, or whatever it is. And even a lot of liberals who currently support snap or other social welfare programs may get irked at the idea of people living off of their ubi income. I just really doubt that we could even secure ubi legislation that would provide a living wage income to people. Uh , that being said, there are some people I respect who do support it , um, including the , uh , feminist , Sylvia Federici. Um, and I think we can have productive discussions about which policy , uh , would be better for society and for women or if there's, you know , ways in which these policies don't have to be , um, posed against one another. And, you know, as with sort of any policy discussion, I do think actually some interesting things have already been generated that , uh , job guarantee advocates could really benefit from incorporating in our own advocacy.

Speaker 10:

Ah ,

Speaker 3:

one example would be , um , making sure to draw clear line between the benefits of meaningful work that , uh, provides a living wage , uh, with the sort of work fair , um, means tested. Um, welfare reform of the Clinton years. I used to work for the thrift store goodwill when I was in college. And their slogan is something like improving lives through the power of work. Uh, and um, well it doesn't get stated is that they use loopholes and the federal minimum wage law to pay disabled workers. I'm earning the minimum wage. Um, so, you know, we have to be careful. Um, obviously that's not at all what we want, but we have to make sure because work has this sort of implication in a capitalist society that like , uh , for a working class person, you know, the only way that their lives have value is if they work in, it doesn't matter, you know , uh, what the conditions are of that work or how much they're getting paid. We have to be clear that we support a federal job guarantee because it would provide people with , um, meaningful lives and a living wage income.

Speaker 10:

Um , [inaudible]

Speaker 3:

that being said, frankly, some folks , uh, like David Graber for example, had been really obnoxious with their ms characterization . So the federal job guarantee in their advocacy for a universal basic income, you know, comparing it to like fascism and things like that, I don't think we have to take those kind of arguments very seriously. And I do think we have to be really firm about some of the , uh, come completely speculative and , um, sort of technological utopian ideas of a universal basic income. You know , one that I saw today , um, twitter.com of course , uh , was a very common argument that's made, which is that, oh, the rapid rate of automation is putting everyone out of work and we need to get a universal basic income now in order to , um , make sure that doesn't happen. And that's just frankly not supported by the evidence. Um , there is, there are of course, jobs that are being lost because of automation, but it's a , um, it's not at a very high rate and the rate hasn't that much in the past 10 years. And , um, conversely , uh, the incredible acceleration.

Speaker 10:

MMM . MMM .

Speaker 3:

Oh , uh , uh, people who are not in the labor market , um, and who are not captured by statistics. There's certain of traditional measure of unemployment , um, that high level of , uh, or the , sorry, the low level of later participation in the u s uh , jobs market currently , um, is due to things like, you know, young people going back to school because there are no good jobs out there that were coming, that will , you know, allow them to pay off their student loans and things like that or afford to live in New York City or what, whatever the case may be. Um, you know, things like the deindustrialization of areas which is somehow caused so much because of , um , uh, automation, but it's caused by a labor arbitrage, you know , um, what we colloquially referred to as outsourcing. Um, you know, and uh, again, federal job guarantees and not a solution to all of those things. Um, I think, you know, there needs to be coupled of course, with good fiscal policy and trade policy. Um, but one thing I can say is that I don't see how ubi would be helpful in any way to change the current rates of labor participation in the market.

Speaker 6:

And there's also this other side of it that I've seen you touch on, on Twitter. Um, the internationalist argument against Ubi, which, you know, sort of says that when you kind of nationalize the means of consumption rather than production, we just entrench the imperial relationships with countries who actually produce the goods that we're going to buy. And I was wondering if you could touch on that a little bit.

Speaker 10:

Yeah ,

Speaker 3:

yeah. Um , you know, I , uh, I'm very interested particularly cause of my, the work that I do is consumer finance , um, related. Uh, I'm really interested in the ways that , um, the u s economy in particular is very based in ideas of consumerism and how that economic system has in turn shaped our cultural ideas.

Speaker 10:

MMM MMM .

Speaker 3:

Oh, a February thing. Um, and, and you know, and then those cultural ideas and the economic ideas then shape legal policy. Um, and , uh, I think, you know, that's , uh, uh, something that really is kind of already occurring. Um, and this again goes into, you know what I'm, what I'm saying is the main fault of ubi is that it doesn't really do much to change the dynamics of the economic system with , in terms of capitalism more broadly and then particularly the manifestation of capitalism in the United States, which is this dependence on really long , uh , supply chains going through multinational corporations. You know, I think , um, uh, Eh, you know, examples of like buying rice from China to sell rice back to China sort of situations. Um, there's a term for that which is evading me because I'm not an economist, but , um, the UN puts out really great reports on this sort of stuff. Um, and , uh, um, you know , um , ours too to sort of reorient us all way from a sort of social attitude that creates things like , uh , fast fashion for example. Um, where we can afford a variety of cheap clothing , um, manufactured so that we have whole new fashion lines every week. Not even just every season, but every week. And I mean, listen, I love fashion and I love clothes. So like I will admit that I, you know, it's obviously something that benefits me. Um, but most people who who, you know, go out to forever 21 or h and m or whatever and buy these clothes , um, you know, they don't see the supply chains and the incredible just, you know, historically incredible levels of exploitation and oppression that go into the mass manufacturer and shipments and processing and sales of these , uh, of this clothing. And of course , um, you know, for quite some time now the United States has been more of a consumer than a producer in the world stage. And , uh, you know, it's great sometimes, you know, to get outside of your bubble and , and listen to , um , more mainstream economist in , uh , economists . And I love how they talk about , uh, that cause they talk about it in this very sort of a deterministic way , um, as if it was like a , like a like growing old, you know, and it's like, oh, well, yeah, US economy is, is become, is moved to being a global consumer rather than a global producer. And, you know, we just have to account for that and that's fine. It's fine that that's the way it is. And it's , no, no, of course that's not OK . Uh, it's, it's endemic and , uh, uh , representative of this neo colonialist , uh, relationship to the United States has , uh , with the world as well as , as an internal sickness within the United States. I think consumerism makes people feel awful about themselves. It's not, it's sage short, high , you know, a retail high that , uh , you can get. Um, and , uh, you know, the people in this country, we're not, you know, cold, heartless people. We're not lazy. Um, we're not any of these things. But what we are is heavily influenced by, you know, this 24, seven , uh, brand advertising and all of these messages, including through policy, including through legal policy , uh , to consume, consume, consume. And frankly, I think , uh, you know, ubi won't do anything to combat that. And it could even make it make it worse. Could even encourage people by saying, you know, and this sort of conservative , uh, you know, people should be able to do whatever they want with their money sort of situation. Well, if, if we're just going to just redistribute all of our public funds as this sort of little extra cash to people , um, who are functioning with a capitalist society where they're being brainwashed 24, seven to buy , buy , buy , where are they gonna do with that money? They're going to buy, buy, buy

Speaker 9:

[inaudible] Oh man is not bad , bro . You still have to fight. The man is [inaudible] wrong .

Speaker 6:

So , um, related to kind of what you were talking about with fashion, before we wrap up here, I wanted to ask you about your criticisms of what you call the aesthetic politics of the neoliberal era. And perhaps even , uh, the ways in which feminist or queer theory has integrated that into their practice. And , and also , um, maybe to kind of ponder if you still see a place despite that criticism for aesthetics for a few in the future of socialist politics and governance.

Speaker 3:

Yeah, absolutely. I mean, the problem with modern aesthetic politics is not the use of politics of aesthetics or any use of aesthetics. Uh, the Internet age pretty much mandates that we engage in extensive construction of a static of we want it to be relevant to modern politics. Aesthetics is , uh, one of the primary methods of communication. You know, you got to get people to click on the link, you know, to sort of boil it down to a very simple function. Um, the issue. And, and , and by the way, I think, you know, GSA, it's one of the things that we do really well than a lot of socialists don't do well. We're really good at branding. We've got that, we've got that swag. Um , but the issue is that aesthetics have been accepted as a political totality. That all that matters is we craft our individual political image and presence and the work of building power collectively and the work of governing publicly is in consequential. Um, intersectionality in particular has become a status sized , uh , to the point that, you know, people like Hillary Clinton can use it without any sense of irony as Hillary Clinton is. Yeah . Um , both in terms of the policies she supported and then of course your own personal life , uh, is everything that intersectionality advocates against. Um, because it's a , it doesn't matter what her underlying politics, you know, whether or not those are intersectional in the realm of aesthetic politics, it only mattered that she was able to craft this astatic of intersectionality. And you know, what I tried to point out to people is that who do you think is better at crafting these sort of glitzy, nice statics ? Um, is it going to be a rag tag band of leftist or is it going to be these corporations who already have multimillion dollar advertisement? Infrastructure's already set up? I hope I don't even have to answer that question. I mean, you know, and , and that's not to belied that there are some great leftist stuff there. Um, that one film company that's been doing all of the , um , campaign ads for like Alexandria and others have , they're called like means of production or something like that. They're great. Um, but, you know , uh, I, I , um, have been thinking about these things for a long time. And I think one thing that really sort of started my thinking on it was , uh, the Nigerian feminist Obama , uh, an Amica , uh, she cataracts , she cataract characterized , uh, this sort of aesthetic politics. Well , by saying that intersectionality had become stuck in ontological considerations, meaning intersectionality had become focused on whether someone was being intersectional and that she said that feminists needed to shift towards a functional imperative of intersectionality or quite simply to ask, okay, well what are we going to do? Um, and that's why I'm so focused on things like a job guarantee, right? Cause I've worked with so many types of people in my life. Uh, people in prison, transgender people, sex workers, food service workers, they all have their own issues. But the one intersection they all mad at was labor and the economy. And to be clear, that's what intersectionality was originally meant to be talking about. Kimberly Crenshaw, the woman who coined the term , uh, coined it in the context of talking about employment discrimination against , uh , black women. Uh, but for a whole host of reasons that I talk about in my aesthetic politics series, it got so twisted so much that it could be easily co-opted by the very same capitalist Hedge Moni it was supposed to fight against. So, you know, I'm not against a statics. Um, we just need to recognize that politics has to be more than crafting and a static has to be more than looking radical and having a very radical social media presence and involves gritty boots to the ground work , um , of building car active power.

Speaker 8:

Okay .

Speaker 5:

We have one final question. Is there anything that you're currently working on or I'm hoping to work on that you would like to talk to us a little bit?

Speaker 3:

Oh Gosh . Yeah, I was reading, I think it was in , uh , uh , Jacobin. There is , um, an article my boyfriend send me about , um, about like a , it's like written by a Grad student saying how he was going to a , not bullshit anymore when people asked him if he was working on things and he wasn't working on things. Uh, I am working on a book, but it's so ground level at this point that I'm not sure I want to talk about it yet. Um, so , uh, you know , uh, I guess I would just tell people again to check out , uh, the democratic socialists of America. Um, and , uh, particularly if you're in the state of New York, I don't know when this episode's going to come out, but if you're in the state of New York, the Democratic primary is September 13th. If you are in the North Brooklyn area, please go out and vote for Julius . Hell, is that our first state? Senator , Emma , thank you so much for your time and for joining us some money on the left. Thanks y'all . It was great.

Speaker 11:

[inaudible] [inaudible] [inaudible] [inaudible] um , [inaudible] [inaudible] [inaudible] .