The Widdershins

Howdy Widdershins!

Well, 2022 is off to a banger of a start. We’ve lost multiple beloved celebrities, Manchinema are tanking Biden’s agenda, an underwater volcano has gone off in Tonga, and Trump holds a rally where he explicitly says white people are being denied the Covid vaccine. Oh, and then there’s the Insurrection. More and more details are coming into view: a full blown conspiracy at the highest level of government that included sending fraudulent electoral certificates, which the John Eastman memo said could be used to declare Trump winner. Jeffrey Clark, who Trump wanted to install as AG, also sent memos to states that sent the fake electoral certificates that their elections may have been fraudulent – but he meant it like “hey, your election was fake, so we’ll just these alternate electors.” Clark has refused to testify before the 1/6 House Committee and has been referred to DOJ for obstruction. People like Chief of Staff Meadows were behind this plot. An actual conspiracy to stage a coup. Forget the violence at the Capitol – Trump had additional plans to stay in the White House. And Republicans are all “Oh well, let’s just move on!” The 1/6 Committee will be holding live hearings this year and Jaime Raskin says it’s going to be blow the roof off the House. Well, we know all the Republicans will be holding that roof down, but we’ll see how it plays out.

This is an open thread!

If Time Magazine truly wanted to impress in 2021, they would have made the American Worker Person of the Year. With all its ferocious ups and downs, what stood out in my mind the most about 2021 was the way workers were able to shift the balance of power from all in favor of corporations, to mostly in favor of people. And no, SCOTUS, corporations aren’t people, no matter what you say!

The media characterized this long-overdue re-balancing of power by calling it a “worker shortage.” There was no worker shortage; there was a shortage of people who were willing to work for less than a living wage. What the corporations were feeling was the impact, of course, of the Democrats’ infusion of tax cuts and cash that directly benefited the poor and working classes for the first time in decades. This gave people working in low-wage jobs the freedom to catch their breath, look at their lives and demand better treatment for themselves. In fact, the Democrats’ New Deal-style policies caused huge changes in the way many industries paid workers – and have impacted state legislation as well. In 26 states, the minimum wage will be raised to $15 per hour in 2022 – and employers in many cases are raising the floor above that.

A tight labor market resulted in many companies, ranging from banks to retailers to pizzerias, hiking wages for hourly workers to attract and retain staff. This year marked the first time that the average wage of restaurant and supermarket workers rose above $15 an hour, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Wages and salaries increased 4.2% for the 12 months ended in September 2021, the BLS found.

Other employers have surpassed the $15 benchmark already. Amazon has paid its workforce at least $15 an hour since 2018 and began offering new hires an average of $18 an hour this September. Costco raised its minimum wage to $17 an hour in October. Full-time employees of crafting retailer Hobby Lobby will earn at least $18.50 an hour starting Jan. 1. T-Mobile is paying its 75,000-person workforce at least $20 an hour. And Bank of America has pledged to pay hourly workers $25 an hour by 2025.

“It’s a job-seekers’ market, which means competition to keep and find top talent is competitive — and as a great employer, we like it that way,” T-Mobile CEO Mike Sievert wrote in a letter to employees announcing the wage hike on Dec. 10.

As world-changing as all of this has been, the Democrats could not have made their investments in working people without the G-D pandemic, which highlighted the plight of “essential” workers in a way that really hit home for most Americans. (I say “most” Americans because as we know, the MAGAts don’t care about anyone but themselves.) The unprecedented upheaval of COVID-19 had us questioning everything about our society. This includes not just people who were underpaid and under-respected, but information workers (like me), who decided we really didn’t need to live in super-expensive cities and suburbs when we have proven we can do our jobs remotely. We reclaimed our lives from our punishing commutes, which in cities like San Francisco and New York can extend to 3 hours round trip. The benefit to our quality of life was huge. I have many colleagues who live in Utah or Montana, where you can realistically buy property as a young person just starting out…in the Bay Area, to buy the house I’m renting (not big or super fancy) would cost almost $1M, and it’s 60 minutes from San Francisco on a good day.

So let’s raise a glass to the American Worker – may the power we gained continue and increase in 2022.

Open thread as always.

2022

Posted on: December 31, 2021

Hi Widdershins,

Once again WordPress locked the comments and I see no way to reopen them. Or rather, they ARE opened in the settings, but not in actuality. I’m too tired to figure out why and how to fix it.

It’ll be 2022 shortly (in some places of the globe very shortly). We can all only cross our fingers, toes, and anything else that crosses and hope for the best. (I’m hoping for an asteroid, but your mileage will vary!)

Also, our beloved Beata said she will be logging off the web in the New Year and Beata, I just hope you know how much you have meant to us all these years. Maybe some people think online only connections aren’t important, but they are. We are often transformed by them, and you have been a wonderful light for us all at Widdershins. Your kindness and wisdom and humor will always be with us, whether you are online or not.

Hi Widdershins!

For some odd reason WordPress closed the comments on the previous thread. And it won’t let me reopen them. I don’t know why!

We are fast approaching Christmas and then New Year. 2022 – lord help us. What craziness will 2022 bring. Besides the midterms…. That will be bananas. Oh Trump intends to hold some kind of event on 1/6. Because, obviously. And Putin – it is looking increasingly likely – is going to attack Ukraine again. I have a bad feeling 2022 will be a hot mess. The only good news today is that coal baron Manchin is again talking to Democrats and Biden about BBB. Let us hope at least that passes….

This is an open thread!

Hi Widdershins,

Sad news this morning: the great author Anne Rice passed away at age 80. Her son Christopher, himself a noted writer, announced her death. It’s hard to overstate how big of a presence Rice was to my formative years, particularly for a closeted and confused gay teenager. People often dismiss horror and gothic fiction as frivolous, but the beauty and soulfulness of Rice’s creations was such a big presence for my generation. “Interview with the Vampire” blew the hinges off vampire fiction, certainly the most important and influential vampire novel since Bram Stoker’s “Dracula.” With her genuinely profound rumination on life and death, morality and evil, grief and joy, Rice’s Lestat, Louis and young vampire Claudia (a grown woman forever trapped in a young girl’s vampire body, Claudia was based on Rice’s own young daughter Michelle, who died of leukemia aged 6; Rice’s grief inspired her to write “Interview with the Vampire.”) The novel forever changed not just Rice’s devoted readers, but the genre of horror itself in a way even Stephen King did not. Sequels to “Interview with the Vampire” followed, some brilliant, some not. The Mayfair Witches series also was a brilliant, page-turning multi-generational soap opera that began with stunning “The Witching Hour.” Rice wrote two magnificent historic novels too: “Cry To Heaven” (about castrati singers) and “The Feast of all Saints” (about children of slave owners and their slaves.) It wasn’t just the thrilling stories and beautifully developed characters, but Rice’s rich prose, so evocative in its mood painting and vivid descriptions of times and places long gone, that are left behind for us mortals to enjoy. Anne Rice will be interred in the family mausoleum in New Orleans.

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