When workers aren’t free

By Caitlin Kelly

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The level of poverty in the U.S. is deeply shocking — given the astonishing wealth here

This recent column in The New York Times hit home for me:

After all, America is an open society, in which everyone is free to make his or her own choices about where to work and how to live.

Everyone, that is, except the 30 million workers now covered by noncompete agreements, who may find themselves all but unemployable if they quit their current jobs; the 52 million Americans with pre-existing conditions who will be effectively unable to buy individual health insurance, and hence stuck with their current employers, if the Freedom Caucus gets its way; and the millions of Americans burdened down by heavy student and other debt.

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My greatest freedom — to take on amazing assignments, like working with WaterAid in Nicaragua in March 2014

13 thoughts on “When workers aren’t free

  1. Steve

    im not really sure what to make of this article. I understand each one of your points but I just wanted to point out a couple of misconceptions from ‘not quite the other side” concerning your solutions. High rents can be a problem, yes but as a landlord let me point out that quite a bit of those costs are because of the many government imposed fees required of the landlord. Inspections, management fees, fire protection, water and sewer, electricity, heat, insurance, trash removal, maintenance, etc. Low wages, I agree, but what is the solution? More government? Union workshops? Unions do bring higher wages usually but at what cost? Way higher costs to the consumer for whatever good or service that is provided and those costs are passed on also, to guess who? Quite a few of those high paying Union jobs are WAY overpriced by what can be done by a vibrant open market, especially if some of the homegrown workforce could somehow be protected and trained before being inundated with cheap foreign workers that are being mass injected into our already oversaturated employee pool by an insane open border policy supported by BOTH major political parties albeit for different reasons. I am still trying to figure that one out. Basically I guess my point is that free market Capitalism has worked in this country for close to 300 years now and has produced the greatest economic power the world has ever seen and over the last 75 years or so , since the Federal Government has stuck its nose into areas that it is NOT delegated to be our economy has been a mess. Why in the world do you want the ones that messed things up be the solution to fix them? How about we turn back to what made us great and demand the Federal Government stop “helping” us? I don’t get it.

    1. Hey there…long time, no comment! Good to hear from you again.

      I agree, I don’t offer (sorry) any lucid policy solutions.

      But I see so many workers really hurt by corporate greed and those injured or killed on the job get little help or redress.

      I’m not the biggest fan of unions in every instance, but individuals have very little power to advocate effectively for themselves, even when we’re highly educated, speak perfect English and have the confidence to do so. It’s the lack of individual economic power that always spurs me to post and fight.

      You and I have done well as self-employed people, and lucky us (and all our hard work.) Not everyone is in this situation and I want to see more/better opportunities to succeed offered to others. When private entities refuse to do it, yes, it IS the work of government (this is the place where you and I always disagree!) to step up and lead the way. Someone must!!

  2. The US does have the biggest economy – for now. The EU is very close, even if the UK’s departure is taken into account. However, it does seem to me that the US economy has really great benefits for a relatively small number of people (I think # 45, aka forget-what-I-said-about-Muslims, went to Saudi mainly to secure personal profit – they were doing the same). The EU’s growing economy and its social safety net shows that both can be done, but the will to change has to be there. The US has always seen itself as a bastion of freedom when at times that notion has been blatantly untrue (slavery & Japanese internment, for instance). It’s good to question these accepted “truths,” no matter where you come from.

    1. Exactly. Having a billionaire with very few scruples as President — stacking his Cabinet and staff with billionaires — does not bode well for the rest of the nation.

  3. There is this strange tendency to see government as impeding freedom, while ignoring the restrictions on freedoms that life with a smaller government creates–such as the conditions you work in or the housing market. Interesting points.

    1. Thanks…

      It would be lovely if more Americans could shed their reflexive hatred/fear and resentment of “government” to understand this better. It’s a very specific blind spot.

      1. It’s the weirdest thing. There are the people who hate government as the authority figure and people who hate corporations as the authority figure. We are like teenagers who can’t grow up.

  4. Pingback: [BLOG] Some Thursday links | A Bit More Detail

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