The Daily, 13 November 22

Welcome to The Daily Daley!

It may not prove to be daily, but it will certainly take up the slack that social media’s implosion is creating in my writing life. Here will be snippets of weather, of gardening and cooking, of myth and folklore and history. Here will be my equivalent of funny cat pictures (having a cat who will not pose makes it difficult to post ironic cat memes, but I do my best). Here will be photos that happen in the course of my days. I hope to keep all this relevant to more than my life and will be relying on readers to let me know what is interesting or helpful or entertaining and what is just internet navel gazing.

Today the weather in my part of the world is damp. We’re crawling out from under the influence of the woebegone Nicole who spent much of the last 36 hours crying rivers all over New England. The pressure is rising. The temperatures are falling. And the wind is blowing from all over the map. As Nicole moves on, our regularly scheduled November weather — cold, cold, and a bit more cold — will be returning. Snow has finally made it into the official forecast. We’re behind on that front. Even my mother in central Indiana has seen snowfall. Here in Vermont, we’re making snow for the ski slopes, ribboning down otherwise brown hillsides. No snow in the middle of November is just odd…

Here are some of my favorite things from Saturday:

Freshly roasted Hubbard squash
The greens bed
A candle in the window

It was a lovely day of home work!

And now here is short rant on wage work and its compensations…

A Lesson

Recently, I’ve run into many assertions from all over the map of my reading territory that dovetail with something I’ve just realized late in my own life. I wonder if they’ve only just got there also. Because that’s how difficult this lesson is to learn in our culture. And now we’re going through the plague era adjustments and everybody’s having this same revelation… and talking loudly about it. Or maybe that’s going too far into synchronicity… but anyway…

Here it is: you don’t owe your employer anything. Not one hour of labor. Not loyalty. Not dedication. Certainly not specialized training and drug tests and all the other rituals of debasement, control and gate-keeping that go into becoming employed. You owe nothing to the labor market. Employers owe you. That’s why they pay you, after all.

And they never pay you all that they owe you. They never fully share the benefits that your work accrues to them. Otherwise there would be no profit. They profit because you produce more than they pay for. Your productivity is never fully compensated. This is the way capitalism works. This is the magic sustaining ingredient in this otherwise illogical economy. There would be no capital accrual if you were paid the full value of your work.

This is the rotten core of our culture. Anyone who pays others to labor is stealing the value of that labor. And to hide this theft they’ve created a towering mass of redirection and gas-lighting. To the point that we all accept without question an employer’s right to demand more and more and more. That we all believe that we are indebted to an employer just by virtue of being hired, that it is a privilege to work for hire, one that can be revoked “at will”.

No, no and no! You are owed. You are owed all the fruits of your labor. You do not need to pay another being for the honor of being employed, and that is exactly what we are all doing. By allowing them to profit off of our work, we are paying them for our work. That we earn wages in this exchange does not make up for the loss. It certainly does not compensate us all for the lies at the core of our lives, principally that those who labor are not as worthy as those who pay for labor.

We must sell ourselves higher. Demand full compensation or walk away. Or if we choose to stay, demand respect and gratitude for the generous gift that our labor is.

Employers should be begging us to work and then thanking us every day we choose to show up.

It’s taken me a lifetime to understand this. Where are you on this question?

©Elizabeth Anker 2022

5 thoughts on “The Daily, 13 November 22”

  1. Hello Eliza,

    The more we work, and the harder we work, the more money goes to the top, and the greatest fallacy that has been projected upon us, and unfortunately one that has been accepted by most within our toxic culture, is that the pittance they hand out to us in return for our loss of life, can then be exchanged for consumer goods, to give us a dopamine hit, to compensate for the miserable cycle that we are trapped in, and in this act of soothing our troubled minds, we once again send more money to the top.

    We, the people, who live embedded in western capitalistic cultures, are the fossil fuel for consumerism, and without our participation, it dies. The top cannot exist without the base, and that is why the top spends so much of the wealth we give it, on supplying us never ending supplies of addictive distractions, to keep us from this truth.

    If, we the people, who live embedded in western capitalistic cultures, could all look at our individual lives, and see where we could reduce our expenditure, and therefore enabling us to work less, we will eventually cripple this growth based system, by quietly removing ourselves from it, and the extra time we bestow upon ourselves, can be spent growing, cooking, repairing, recycling, making, building, restoring, caring, and reconnecting with ourselves, our families, our communities, and the natural surroundings of the small part of the world which we get to call home.

    Regards Kent.


  2. Eliza
    I think you are missing the point about capital and energy. A very tiny amount of all the stuff produced in a modern society is a result of the direct application of human muscle to raw Nature. Virtually all of it comes as humans apply their brains and muscles to machinery which needs non-human energy to operate. While a primitive farmer might make do with a digging stick, our food is now produced using machines which can cost half a million dollars and then processed by mills which use enormous amounts of energy and distributed by a fleet of trucks which require a tremendous amount of diesel and a ubiquitous network of paved roads. Whether we like it or not, participation in consuming the produce of that enormous Beast means that something (e.g., a corporation or a government or a small business) or someone (e.g., a manager or an entrepreneur) has to take some risk by deploying capital in a cause which may not produce what consumers are willing to pay for. Whoever does the organizing and risking needs workers, because complete automation has never, yet, been successful.

    I would agree that a small community of humans can do a lot more for themselves than most of us do today, using a lot fewer of the tools than the Beast requires and thus return us to a much more agreeable dependence on interdependence. I would even agree that we had best get about that project, because the fuels which make the Beast operate are becoming more costly.

    Don Stewart


    1. Respectfully, I have to say I disagree with much of your comment. I have been a “primitive farmer” and am still intimately involved in local food systems, and few of us producing the actual food that feeds our communities — not commodities that feed the stock(s) market and international trade (plural because most grains and legumes these days are feeding trade AND feeding cows) — use combines or ship our produce to enormous mills.

      You are thinking of an entirely different thing — all those midwest industrial farms which are generally not feeding us, nor even the world. A combine doesn’t even work on my vertiginous part of the world, nor do we grow much field corn. But we feed ourselves and provide for many of the rest of our needs quite well in Vermont.

      This was also true in New Mexico, where mechanized farming is even more rare and where most of the real economy is done outside the monetary system — because most people don’t have money but they have social connections and skills that efface the need for money.

      And all this is even more true when looking at humanity generally. 80% of the food humans eat comes from small local farms. (This is OXFAM data, so it’s probably reliable…) Most human needs are met outside a monetary system. Capitalism just feeds off the real economy that is feeding us and keeping us alive.

      I might also point out that even in midwest industrial farmland, much of the food that nourishes bodies comes from the gardens and barnyards, not from the fields, and is generally processed in farmhouse kitchens, not mills. As a teenager in Indiana in the early 1980s, I never once went to a “supermarket” for food. (Toilet paper was a different issue…) We had three farm markets in my small town and that’s what we ate, even as meat and grain were flowing out of our community — to heaven knows where… since not even McDonald’s buys US farm products. (We also didn’t have a McDonald’s…) We cooked, canned, froze and otherwise stored what came out of the gardens; and, for the meat-eaters, what was hunted much more so than what was produced by farming at all. (I do not recommend rodent of any kind. No, it does NOT taste like chicken; it tastes like rodent… but venison is quite good coming out of a slow cooker… if you like meat…)

      Finally, all those industrially processed grains and hyper-concentrated feed lots are sort of killing us. What comes out of them really shouldn’t be eaten by anyone. Fortunately, as one of the many extractive industries that capital has created, that whole system will die with this rather disastrous economy; and we will go back to feeding ourselves. Real food, mostly plants, as Michael Pollan says. To which I would add, largely local.

      Because everything will be, you know… when all those machines run out of diesel…

      One final tip… one probably ought not start out an argument with “you are missing the point”… it does tend to rankle. My multiple university degrees and decades of research and immersive participation do rather suggest that there aren’t many points left for me to miss…. and I’m not that unusual in my generation… just saying…



      1. Eliza
        My generation is older than yours. I remember Victory Gardens and chickens in the back yard. When we moved to our present location, there was an active small farm movement, and I worked on a small farm part time until I was 75. I thought we were making great progress. But then we learned that 98 percent of the calories consumed in this metropolitan area come from industrial food grown far away. I have a backyard garden, which I do my best to garden according to old ways and new discoveries (e.g., the rhizophagy cycle to fix nitrogen). But the sad fact is that the calories I produce in a year are probably sold in the nearby supermarket in a minute or two. It will, from everything I have learned, be very difficult to change all this without a very large reduction in population.
        Don Stewart

        Liked by 1 person

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