MR Daily Review
Tues to Wednesday, September 14th
1. Lindsey Graham proposes 15 week national abortion ban.
Since the Supreme Court overturned Roe in Dobbs abortion has become a driving force in American politics even beyond what it already was and Lindsey Graham is adding to that with his proposed 15 week national abortion ban. Since Dobbs states around the country have enacted draconian bans criminalizing abortion and forcing people into terrible situations unable to access the care they need. A 15 week national abortion ban would obviously add to that, enchroaching on abortion rights where they are currently protected. Lindsey Graham pitched the idea as a supposed moderate middle ground between Republicans bent on an absolute ban and Democrats (those who are anyway) in favor of as little restriction as possible. However, the move is anything but moderate and very out of step with public opinion on the issue. Which is firmly in support of Roe and the right to choose an abortion. Graham’s move is just proof the Republicans will try to enact a ban if they secure either house of congress but especially in a world where they secure both and the presidency in 2024. Abortion rights must be protected and Republicans, especially Lindesy Graham, must be stopped.
2. Stock market drops significantly in response to new inflation data.
Today the stock market had its worst day since June of 2020 largely on the back of a report inflation continues on, the business press muses. To quote the Wall Street Journal, “the Dow fell 1,276.37 points, or 3.9%, to 31,104.97. The S&P 500 declined 177.72 points, or 4.3% to 3,932.69. The Nasdaq Composite slid 632.84 points, or 5.2% to 11,633.57.” Whatever that means, it’s a bad sign for American workers as the business press stands firmly in support of raising interest rates and tanking the economy in order to fight inflation. There were some signals that inflation seemed to be slowing and many mainstream economists and commentators took it as a sign that the Fed’s anti worker policies, and interest rate hikes, were indeed effective. Inflation rates in July dropped but August’s rates were back up once again at 8.3% on the year. The concern is for the business class and their profits, not working people and the consumer goods that are increasingly squeezing them out of a good living. If the concern was with workers the Fed and the business press would advocate for policies that help them instead of impoverish them. And the most unfortunate thing about these inflation numbers isn’t that they tanked the stock market, but that they spell more pain for working people.
3. Amazon Labor Union vote for unionization of Albany, New York fulfillment center scheduled for October.
As soon as a union was won for Amazon warehouse workers in Staten Island, the effort branched out, and one place they’ve been working tirelessly is the fulfillment center in Albany, New York. Chris Smalls and other Amazon Labor Union organizers have taken to Albany as the site of the next major battle to unionize the e-commerce giant. The National Labor Relations Board announced that organizers have enough signatures to force a vote which will occur between October 12th and October 17th. Amazon Labor Union organizers were recently arrested attempting to organize the fulfillment center and the fight against the union continues, raining down from the upper echelons of Amazon leadership. This will be the third such vote with a current record of 1-1 for union organizers and Amazon.
4. Significant wildfires ravage the Western United States, just as they do every year.
The Western United States and Canada are burning as is the case basically every year. Thousands of square miles of fire and thousands of evacuations spanning states such as California, Oregon, Idaho, and Washington, cost millions of dollars to fight each year. They also devastate towns and lives, take the ravaging of Paradise, California as an example which killed 85 people and wiped a town off the map in a matter of hours. These fires are increasingly common and difficult to fight and are the status quo that climate change has created. Well climate change and poor forest management. Donald Trump was mocked for calling on the Forest Service to rake the forest floor to prevent forest fires, but his ridiculous ask has an element of truth in it in so far as prescribed burns and forest management, and resources spent for those purposes, can prevent the worst outcomes when it comes to forest fires. But states are sent scrambling to fight the fires and pay for that, leaving little money and political will to solve these problems on the front end. Something needs to change structurally if fighting these fires and maybe preventing them is ever going to be a possibility. Until then the Western United States will remain blanketed in smoke annually, costing people their homes and lives.
5. New details come to light about Brett Favre’s involvement in Mississippi welfare scandal as Jackson’s residents remain without useable water.
While some headlines have described the water emergency in Jackson as the ‘canary in the coal mine’ for an oncoming environmental apocalypse, that is just one piece of the story. It is true that climate change has contributed to the devastation – in late August, heavy storms led to flooding that in turn overwhelmed the city’s largest water treatment plant leaving 150,000 residents without any water pressure. However, this crisis did not happen overnight because of a flood, but instead because of nearly half a century of underfunding, and obstinate refusal by state and federal officials to retrofit the failing water infrastructure. The wealthy cause climate change and seldom ever suffer any of the destruction they create, and this is of course no different in Jackson whose residents are the first victims of climate change because they are also the victims of nearly half a century of utterly racist austerity. The problematic coverage continues in other outlets (PBS, looking at you) who recognize the racist nature of the crisis, and then proceed to blame the residents of the cities themselves. This frame says that the reason for Jackson, or even Flint, is white flight that has left majority black cities with a depleted tax base, and in turn, without the ability to fix basic issues like outdated water pipes. This is ridiculous and offensive – the residents of these cities generate wealth, it is the policies in place that make it impossible for those same residents to benefit from the wealth they generate. Instead, it goes to line the pockets of multinational corporations and the politicians in power.
While Jackson’s water crisis could be fixed with money – the reason the crisis goes far beyond a dollar figure. The contempt that Jackson residents endure is rampant, and exemplified by one high profile case involving a welfare fraud case that implicates the former governor, Brett Favre, and a few other more minor celebrities. Back in 2020, a state audit uncovered that approximately $94 million in federal funds earmarked for Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) had been misspent. Up until this point, to the extent Favre has responded to any allegations, he returned $1.1 million he received from the Mississippi Community Education Center for speaking engagements and signing autographs, and has said he did not know the money was meant to to go to needy families. As the Guardian reports: “Favre returned the $1.1m, although he denies failing to fulfill speaking obligations.” However, court filings on Monday contained new text messages revealing communications between former Mississippi governor Phill Bryant, Favre, and others working to closely to funnel least $5 million into a construction project for a volleyball stadium at the ex quarterback’s Alma matter (and where his daughter happens to play, volleyball). Setting aside what Favre knew or didn’t – and if he should have accepted astronomical sums from a state that leads the nation in poverty – the scandal is indicative of the malicious contempt with which Mississippi treats its residents. What is clear is that the state works to withhold resources from its residents and intentionally fails to address their needs, while funneling their money to the already wealthy.
It is also worth noting that the week before the water crisis started making national headlines, current Governor Tate Reeves announced he would be sending back $130 million in unused federal money that was meant to fund the COVID Rental Assistance program because the program incentivizes laziness. The state stopped accepting applications on 8/15. Meanwhile, residents in Jackson face skyrocketing rents as wages fail to keep up. Over half of the residents in the state report they are in danger of losing their homes within the next two months.