A National Strike?

I’ve always known that The Guardian is a left-leaning publication but now I think that it’s really going too far.

Francine Prose wrote this article in The Guardian published on January 30th, 2017. And yes, that is the proper way to write the day you goddamn euros. So let’s just go through it bit by bit and see what’s going on and why it’s absolutely absurd.

“On the morning after Donald Trump’s so-called Muslim ban went into effect”

Yeah, so-called is a pretty good way to describe it, since it wasn’t really a muslim ban as much as it was an immigration ban. Syria is 10% Christian but those Christians are barred entry as well. And I’ll stop a moment here to say that I disagree with the ban, as green card holders were barred entry as well. Just so people don’t start frothing at the mouth calling me an islamophobe or anything.

But why was muslim ban in the title of the article? As Francine points out:

“halting refugee admissions for 120 days”

Quite simply, a refugee can feasibly come from any country. If war were to break out in South Korea tomorrow and people began applying for entry as refugees, they too would be prevented from entry despite South Korea being a mostly Buddhist country with a Christian minority. Is this ban now a Buddhist ban? Well, yes, but not by design. It’s an indiscriminate ban, so stop calling it a muslim ban unless you also want to call it a Christian ban. Whatever. Moving on.

Since Trump’s election, we’ve seen dozens of demonstrations – most notably, the Women’s March on Washington – that have reinforced our sense of solidarity and provided encouraging evidence of how many Americans oppose our government’s fundamentally anti-American agenda.

The Women’s March (as I’ve noted in another post) is inherently contradictory. But yeah, it was a pretty big march. I think it had 300k members in the US which is about 0.1% of our population. Not bad. But I think it’s a far cry from a show of solidarity. Might be a show of solidarity with people across the world, 3 million protestors… but then again, that’s 0.04% of the population… so we may need to find another metric by which to judge the “strength” of these protests.

I’m going to sidestep the issues with implementation here because I do believe that it isn’t necessarily a bad idea and focus on the intent. The intent of the immigration ban (again, not a muslim ban) was to prevent people from countries in which the Obama administration marked as dangerous from traveling to the United States. Never mind that in European countries such as Sweden that have accepted the refugees are now telling their women to not go out alone at night. Officially advising women like that. That’s a hair’s breadth away from victim blaming. This is a map of every confirmed migrant crime that has been coded based on the type of crime. Doesn’t look that bad, does it? That’s just 2017. This is the map for 2016. You can’t even see Germany’s borders anymore. And these are crimes exclusively committed by migrants. Zoom in, it’s probably worse than you think it is. The crime rates themselves are a debated topic right now so I won’t draw any conclusions on those just yet. Those crimes are mostly difference of culture crimes. Add that to the two trucks of peace we saw this year and maybe you get a picture of how vulnerable the United States could be. Again, do I agree with the ban? No. But do I recognize that it has legitimate cause? Yes.

People are criticizing it as human rights violation but that’s absurd. Nations have borders. To say that denying you entry to a specific country is a human rights violation is to say that you have the right to travel to this specific country just because you are human. Why does that country even have a border at that point. Why does the United States even check passports when you enter it if you have the right to enter the United States just for being human. Why is there an immigration process? Rah.

“Taxi drivers went on strike in solidarity with the detainees, and arriving passengers were forced to find alternate ways on getting home. Many used Uber, a company whose CEO, Travis Kalanick, serves on Trump’s economic advisory board, and which thoughtfully suspended “surge pricing” to make it easier and cheaper to subvert the taxi strike.”

Free market at work ladies. Look, if you’re going to go on strike and you provide a service that is easily replaced, be prepared to be replaced. If manufacturers went on strike it would be far more effective because it’s not like I can make toilet seats in my house or something. But taxis? I replace you with public transportation or a phone call to a friend. Symbolic gesture that serves only to put money in the pockets of other people.

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Francine recognizes this, so she says we have to go bigger. We need to work as a nation. We need…

“I believe that what we need is a nonviolent national general strike of the kind that has been more common in Europe than here. Let’s designate a day on which no one (that is, anyone who can do so without being fired) goes to work, a day when no one shops or spends money, a day on which we truly make our economic and political power felt, a day when we make it clear: how many of us there are, how strong and committed we are, how much we can accomplish.”

We need a national strike. We need to not spend money or produce money for a day? That’s your solution? I like to think of myself as a typical American, so let me explain to you the train of thought that’s going through my head when I think of ‘strike for a day’.

I make $13 an hour, if I strike for a day then I’m losing $100 from my paycheck at the end of the month. Sure I could go a day without purchasing something, but what’s the point? If I was planning on going to the store that day, I’m just going to go on the next day and the store would still get my money at the end of the day. On top of that, I make things inconvenient for myself as now the stores will be more crowded because everyone is buying what they would have bought yesterday. 

When she adds the caveat, “anyone who can do so without being fired” it just falls apart. Why should my employer tolerate my political activism? My employer pays me to do a job. I should do my job per my contract which both my employer and I agreed to. One is tempted to argue “With this national strike we could make great change”. Let’s suppose that is true. You then run into the prisoner’s dilemma which you and I both know results in at least one snitch. I need to be assured of the participation of enough people (whatever that number may be) to convince myself to participate. But I imagine that sort of trust is hard to come by, so I’ll always have some niggling doubt, leading to my defection.

On top of that, what does a one day strike accomplish? It sends a message, okay, but sooner or later you’re going to have to work. You’re going to have to buy food. Shoot, you’re going to have to pay rent, which you might find difficult if you’re not going to work. And I realize this may sound pessimistic, in which you are owned by the world around you, but you can’t escape the reality that the world runs on money. Your life is dictated by money. And if you give up money because you disagree with a president, be prepared to lose future endeavors because without money you have no power.

And it’s incredibly ironic that this is coming from the left because the social programs that they champion come out of taxes. And if no one is spending money or making money, where do the dollars for these programs come from? It only gets worse. Imagine we did organize a national strike. What’s going to happen to the sick people? Cancer doesn’t take a day off (or more) just because you do. Someone breaks into your house or burns down a building, what happens next? Well if the police and fire department are really devoted to their protest, it’ll really suck for the victims.

If you want to send a message, that’s fine. Send messages. Send all of the emails, boycott all of the products, make all of the phone calls that you want. But when you try to drag the entire country down because you disagree with a particular president, expect to meet particular resistance.

And maybe a little bit of ridicule.

Thanks for reading.

Artemis Hunt

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A National Strike?

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