Don't mediate. Organize. by @BloggersRUs

Don't mediate. Organize.

by Tom Sullivan

Not to go all fanboy, but this tweet thread yesterday from New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez reminded me of something Maria from Fritz Lang's 1927 Metropolis might say about the exploited workers of her city of the future. Underground, unseen and disposable, they slave away so industrialists and business magnates might enjoy their shining towers and Eternal Gardens high above. Maria is a kind of prophetess to the poor.

Except, Maria urges the suffering underclass to endure until The Mediator arrives to lift their burdens and allow them to share in the plenty their labors create. AOC urges ours to organize.

Going from waitressing a year ago to now carries a LOT of life-adjustments.

But 3 paychecks in has shown me how 1 of the greatest scams in US is the idea that financial struggle is due to “poor character.”

It’s a huge myth designed to keep people from empowering themselves. /1

— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) May 11, 2019

When I was waitressing, I used to jerk awake in the middle of sleep worried that I may have forgotten if a bill cleared, or if I had enough 💰 to pay a Dr in cash.

Was that bc I was “irresponsible?” No. It’s bc I wasn’t being paid a living wage as cost of living skyrocketed. /2

— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) May 11, 2019

Now I’m going through a huge income transition compared to living off tips (which diff pay every week, very hard).

& I have HEALTH INSURANCE, which now means I have fewer expenses.

According to banks, I’d be more “responsible,” but my character hasn’t changed. Just my math. /3

— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) May 11, 2019

The responsibility narrative the elite sell workers to blame them for their lot is a lie.

The myth that bad credit or struggling w bills = irresponsibility is a heinous myth.

Paying people less than what’s needed to live is what’s actually irresponsible.

GDP + costs are rising, wages are not. That doesn’t mean YOU’RE bad. It means working people are set up to fail.

— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) May 11, 2019

It’s a big part of what makes this Chase tweet so bad.

It’s the idea that if you choose to have any expense beyond mere animalistic survival - an iced coffee, a cab after a 18hr shift on your feet - you deserve suffering, eviction, or skipped medicine.

You don’t. Nobody does.

— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) May 11, 2019

US GDP is at an all-time high. As a nation, we are more prosperous than we ever have been.

But that’s simply not the lived truth. Even now, I’m paid similar to a doctor or corporate lawyer - many who‘d think they are “rich,” but it’s nowhere near what we actually mean in policy.

— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) May 11, 2019

When we say “tax the rich,” we mean nesting-doll yacht rich. For-profit prison rich. Betsy DeVos, student-loan-shark rich.

Trick-the-country-into-war rich. Subsidizing-workforce-w-food-stamps rich.

Because THAT kind of rich is simply not good for society, & it’s like 10 people.

— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) May 11, 2019

It may be "like" 10 people, but Eternal-Gardens rich, Club-of-Sons rich is a bit more than 10. Her point is it is an elite few supported by others' toil.

Ultimately, living in a moral society, a good nation, means establishing some basic standards of dignity:
- healthcare as a right
- a living wage
- public education that prepares for civil society + economy (which now shld incl college)
- all people having power in the economy

— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) May 11, 2019

Basic standards of dignity (plus worker safety) and equitable shares in the economy are common to Maria's vision, to AOC's, and to Elizabeth Warren's as well. Unlike Maria, the latter two are not waiting for a male savior.

And in the meantime, as we continue fighting for Medicare for All, a living wage, & more:

Unionize your workplace.
Demand a raise.
And don’t stop until you get one. 💪🏽

— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) May 11, 2019

There is no Freder in our story. The privileged son of the master of the city is no mediator between the "head" and "hands," but a false prophet. And worse.

Lawrence Glickman, a historian at Cornell University, points to another false narrative in a tweet thread this morning. Like the "poor character" narrative, "Employing the word 'Washington' rather than naming the Republican Party, creates a 'both sides do it,' style of reporting that helps the GOP whose goal is to create maximum cynicism about the ability of government to accomplish anything constructive." Especially, for workers.

Mediation. Dignity for workers. Equitability. These are not goals for the elite. Control is.