Building a better system: ALAB

Last post, I asserted that in addition to police abolition and prison abolition, we should pursue several other goals in order to create a system that works for everyone. The first of those goals is Abolish Homelessness.

I will admit that as a progressive white lady from a suburban middle-class background, I was at first much more amenable to the principle of All Landlords Are Bad than to All Cops Are Bad. The difference is that I could already much more easily picture a system without landlords.

Go back to a few months ago when states were first setting lockdowns for the COVID-19 situation, and the emergency orders included “no you cannot evict your tenants for failing to pay their rent with the pandemic putting them out of work.” Which is pragmatic as well as compassionate for pandemic response; in the interests of not having so many people catching and spreading the Official Pestilence of 2020, it helps not to have them living on the streets.

And anyway, some of the landlording class didn’t like that. I remember some asshat’s Tweet got a lot of circulation because he was so indignant about the eviction moratorium impinging on his “right” to “make a living” from charging rent on his properties.

And that’s the part where I said: “Well, golly gosh, comrade, have you ever considered working?”

There are plenty of laws on the books concerning the way landlords treat their tenants. The laws vary from state to state and their enforcement is also variable. No matter how comprehensive the laws are and no matter how consistently they’re enforced, they’re ultimately a band-aid on the bigger injury, which is rich fucks buying up real estate they don’t need and charging as much as they can get away with for other people to live on their properties.

When I say “have you ever considered working?” I am dead serious that they’re not getting paid for work. Landlords do not “provide housing.” They control the supply of housing and profit handsomely from the general desire not to be homeless. Owning real estate you don’t need for your residence is not work. Maintaining property is work. Some landlords do a better job than others of maintaining their properties, and they expect to collect rent either way. I have sympathy for house-flippers who take properties that are structurally unsound and rebuild them into quality housing. That’s not how most landlords make their money.

Housing is among the most basic human necessities and landlords make that necessity into a profit generator. As long as there are homeless people and people-less homes, I do not recognize anyone’s inherent moral right to profit from their real-estate investments.

Landlords don’t just contribute to homelessness by evicting people in financial difficulties. (Or domestic violence victims. Or the current tenants pay their rent on time and behave like angels but there’s somebody else who’ll pay more for the same unit!) Landlords depend on homelessness to keep the rest of us paying through the nose to have any housing at all. We have to work our asses off and spend an exorbitant percentage of our take-home pay just to keep our housing, and we’re supposed to be okay with that because we see what happens to people who can’t meet those terms.

Any policy that will substantially and sustainably reduce homelessness is likely to piss off the landlording class. I say, let ’em be pissed off. No one should be priced out of housing.

Abolition requires better systems

On the question of how to abolish policing and imprisonment without ending up with something worse—

—and while I admit that it takes some energy to imagine something worse than what’s happening now, truly it can always get worse—

—let’s say, short version, we need better laws. We need the entire system of laws to be geared towards care, rather than coercion. As long as the laws are inhumane, law enforcement will be inhumane.

Longer version: the justice system is much bigger than just the courts and lawyers, the cops, the prisons.

This is not a radical idea. Get into any discussion of, for example, how to make the educational system work better, and it won’t take long before you get to the idea of the educational system being more than the school buildings and teachers and books. The way kids get educated has to do with housing, childcare, food security, healthcare, sanitation, transportation, economic justice, and so forth.

With any other system, it’s the same idea. Healthcare is more than hospitals and drugs, doctors and nurses. The justice system is intertwined with the educational and healthcare systems, all of which are interdependent with housing, sanitation, transportation, occupational safety, disability access, food security, childcare, economics, environmental justice, disaster management, I could go on.

So when I say we need a better system of laws, I mean not just the rules governing how people treat each other, but governing how all of these systems work for the people. In order to get to the question of what comes after police/prison abolition, all of these systems need to do better, meaning they need to take care of the people down to the most vulnerable among us.

Abolish the police and abolish prison, sure. These goals can’t be pursued in a vacuum. We also need to abolish homelessness. Abolish medical debt and medical neglect. Abolish hunger. Abolish illiteracy. Abolish environmental degradation. Abolish child neglect. Abolish dirty water and inadequate plumbing. Abolish abuse of the elderly and of the disabled. Abolish voter suppression and disenfranchisement. Abolish labor exploitation.

As long as the laws are inhumane, law enforcement will be inhumane.

Tamla Horsford: where there’s smoke…

I just recently learned about the case of Tamla Horsford and while I’m not committing to any particular theory of her death I gotta say: yep, I’ve got questions.

The first issue is that Tamla’s family are not satisfied with the investigation. Tamla’s widower says something is wrong, her father says something is wrong, and her best friend Michelle says something is wrong. They don’t agree that Tamla’s death was an accident.

Given a choice between accident and homicide, I think most families would prefer to understand their loved one’s death as an accident. It’s so much simpler to move on from a “shit happens” death than to determine who killed your loved one, and why, and ensure that they’re held accountable. I don’t think Tamla’s family are getting any pleasure from the idea that someone killed her and covered it up, yet there they are.

I had a family member who died in ambiguous circumstances a while back. In our case the choices were murder and suicide. (It was clearly not an accident.) Months after the memorial service, the deceased’s mother was still calling it murder, while the deceased’s older sister insisted it was a suicide. I can see why someone would say his death looked like a murder, and I can understand why someone would prefer to think of it as a suicide.

I don’t think “there’s no smoke without fire.” I think more like, “where there’s smoke, there must be some kind of fire, somewhere nearby.” They may be mistaken about who done it, and how, and why, but they’re not wrong to notice where pieces are missing. I don’t think Leander Horsford prefers to tell his five sons that their mother was murdered rather than that she tripped and fell off a deck. I don’t think Kurt St. Jour wants his daughter to be a murder victim rather than a casualty of drunkenness and gravity. That her widower, and her father, and her best friend are all claiming foul play…that’s a lot of smoke. Somewhere nearby, someone neglected to put out a fire. I don’t know if their suspicions are pointing in the right direction, but I believe they have their reasons for being suspicious, and those reasons are not that it’s fashionable to be a victim of violent crime. Something about the investigation feels wrong, and even if it’s merely carelessness, someone needs to be held accountable.

I’m trying not to be one of those carceral feminists.

Anyone who says the policing and prison systems need to be abolished…probably has some good points to make. Anyone who has a quick “duh” answer to the matter of what comes after abolition…is probably full of shit.

This kind of questioning is the energy I would like to engage with:

And that’s when it clicked for me: we need to start from the ground up. We all need to engage with the question of how to hold abusers accountable, and there won’t be any 100% solutions any time soon. This challenge is no excuse to fall back on the assumption that we can’t do without prisons and police departments.

I’m a feminist; I even call myself a radical feminist. I need to be ready to be radical about how we deal with shitty people. I’m also a creative. I can build entire worlds from the ground up. If I’m going to have opinions on what justice demands, then it’s on me to use some imagination on the structures needed to make justice happen.

It’s gonna be a big, messy conversation. I want to be part of that conversation.

#1262: “My housemate keeps exposing herself to me/the world/everyone.”

As someone who experienced body changes (read: weight gain) and didn’t process them with perfect honesty (read: trousers going pop), I can offer some wardrobe advice that doesn’t cost much money: multi-wear skirts. It can be a skirt, a dress, a cute top, a cape…it’ll cover her buttcrack without being expensive. It can be pretty and versatile. Barring that, she can get a simple house-robe at any big box store (I got a very comfy black one at Target) and wear it around the house. A kimono can easily become daytime wear with leggings and a t-shirt.

When I was getting fat from the stress of working a dysfunctional office job and didn’t want to acknowledge my body’s needs, my wardrobe was some combination of: leggings, basic tank top or t-shirt, multi-wear skirt. I made it look cute, it kept all the crucial areas covered, and it wasn’t expensive.

CaptainAwkward.com

Dear Captain Awkward,

My 50+ y/o housemate has a problem, and I don’t know how to help. Sounds stupid but her pants are always falling down. At any given moment inch(es) of her rear crack are exposed. It started years ago, most often when she would bend over, but it has progressively gotten worse–any time she stands up or walks about. I’m not sure of the cause. She does wear a belt. I can only guess that her pants–jeans 90% of the time–and skivvies are the wrong size or cut. She is pretty flat back there. Yet that’s only part of the problem.

The real problem is that she is hypersensitive about it, and any attempt to bring it to her attention, either subtly or more directly, elicits only an angry response as if it’s a disability that she can’t do anything about. She’ll bark “I know!” when either she…

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BLOOD AND TEETH ON THE FLOOR

Since Liz Warren suspended her campaign for President, some of us may seem a little bereaved. We may be sort of coming across like our best friend just died.

In truth, it’s more like a betrayal than a loss. I can’t seem to unclench my jaw for any sustained period of time. The more I learn about this election cycle, the more people I can’t trust. Dirtbags to the left of me, fascists to the right, and no safety in the middle.

Now that she’s out of the race, I see a lot of people calling on her to endorse Bernie Sanders. Not because she owes HIM anything, of course, they plead, but for the good of the “progressive movement,” they want her support for him.

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“Anyone who can beat Trump”…WITHIN reason.

I said before that I’ll vote for the Democratic nominee for POTUS, whoever that may be, except why the fuck is Tulsi Gabbard still on that stage?

And…I’d like to add another asterisk to that.

The more I hear about Mike Bloomberg, the more I think: surely we can coalesce around nominating SOMEONE better than THAT.

I mean…I’m fairly sure Bloomberg is not beholden to any of our foreign adversaries. That much makes him better than Trump. But do we have to set the bar that low? Really?

Pete Buttigieg also has a history of racist fuckery, and that’s a problem. I think Pete has a lot more space, though, IF he’s willing to do the work, to show that he’s learned better and will do better going forward.

I don’t like Amy Klobuchar (as someone who’s fled TWO abusive managers and is now paying the financial price…don’t get me started), but I’m sure “normal” under her would be much healthier than “normal” under Bloomberg.

Joe Biden…needs to retire already, but I trust him to do much, much better than Bloomberg.

Bernie Sanders is all Big Ideas and no implementation, but I’d happily take that over a proven track record of brutalizing black and brown citizens.

Elizabeth Warren is my first choice. I think she has the best balance of policy, implementation, and disposition. I think “normal” under her would be the healthiest our country has been…oh, probably EVER. At the same time? I love my country too much to start chanting “Liz or Lose.”

Just, at some point we need to remember WHY we need a candidate who’ll beat Trûmp. If our choices are four more years of the Dampnut, and Bloomie in the high seat…our country is fucked. Norway calls!

I would like to see more conservatives supporting the rule of law.

One of the Lost Administration’s little jokes these days is acting like it would be totally fine for Trûmp to refuse to leave the White House if he loses re-election in 2020. I see Bitch McCandlehead suggesting they could get the Dampnut a third term of squatting in the White House? Nice try, asshole, the GOP in the late 40s got a Constitutional amendment passed precisely because FDR won four elections in a row and they didn’t want that to happen again. Either way, the basic idea is those Kremlin Klan choads acting like they’re gonna keep the Dampnut where he is regardless of election results. (Note: canceling the election altogether is the same thing as disregarding election results.)

I would like to see more American conservatives vocally opposing their attempt to do this. Folks who generally vote for Republicans. Folks who voted for Trûmp in 2016. Folks who generally prefer Republican policies. These are the people I’m asking. If you’re STILL planning to vote for Trûmp in 2020, then I assume you are opposed to the rule of law and I won’t trust you to act in defense of American democracy. Those of you who support the rule of law, I would like you all to start saying you will oppose any attempt by the Trûmp administration to take another term by force.

Especially the gun-lovers. If your argument is that private ownership of firearms is necessary to protect the people from government tyranny, then…for Heaven’s sake, use your gun ownership to oppose government tyranny.

Telling me, “Well he’s not REALLY going to do that,” is an unhelpful answer. I am unsure of how successful the Lost Administration’s attempt would be to disregard the election, but if they even make the attempt, that’s a problem. I would like to see conservatives stating their opposition to the attempt. Less of “he won’t really do that” and more of “I’ll fucking kick your ass if you try it, Mr. Trûmp!”

Telling me there’s no chance Trûmp won’t win re-election is even more unhelpful. If he’s even suggesting that his supporters could demand he take another term regardless of election results, then clearly he thinks there’s a good chance the election won’t be in his favor. Less of “the Dems don’t have anyone who can beat him” and more of “we can do this the easy way or the hard way, Mr. Trûmp!”

And finally, telling me no one’s actually threatening to disregard the 2020 election is unhelpful. If you personally haven’t seen any such news, okay, and? I need to know that you’ll be opposed if they try it. Less of “no one’s actually saying that” and more of “the law is the law, so don’t fucking try it, Mr. Trûmp!”

Some of progressives are kind of getting the impression that conservatives do not care about American democracy or the rule of law. This is a way to show us that isn’t true.

Casual observations on the primary process.

Let me get this straight:

So far, we’ve been through two states, Iowa and New Hampshire.

It’s been revealed that the process in Iowa was full of technical embarrassments and thus its results are suspect at best.

But anyway, Iowa and New Hampshire, together, represent a total of 1.36% of the US population according to 2018 counts. Iowa is 90.28% white and New Hampshire is 93% white, according to World Population Review, while the USA at large is 60.4% white according to the same sources. So…those two states are far from an accurate cross-section of the country. I’m not saying white folks’ votes for the Dem nominee shouldn’t count! I mean, the preferences of white folks who live in more diverse areas should also be heard!

Yeah, so, based on the results of the first two states in the primaries, Elizabeth Warren ranks approximately 3rd place in a field with much more than 3 candidates.

And…some people are demanding that she drop out of the race and support the front-runner.

Are they calling on Joe Biden to drop out and support a stronger candidate? I don’t see that. Calling on Mike Bloomberg to drop out and throw his campaign money behind Mayor Pete or Amy Klobuchar? Not seeing that.

It’s not just Bernie supporters clamoring for Sen. Warren to surrender already, although I would note that Sen. Sanders is the candidate who kept on pushing for the Dem nomination in 2016 even while Hillary Clinton was winning state after state, and his supporters backed him all the way.

Some of them are still acting like Bernie was the rightful winner of the Dem nomination in 2016 and now acting like the result of any primary is the Bernie wins by a landslide or the result is invalid. This is the difference between Bernie supporters and Bern-outs. Bernie supporters put Bernie as their first choice in a field of several valid candidates. Bern-outs act like Bernie is the only valid candidate. I sympathize with Bernie supporters. Bern-outs are not helping Bernie’s case.

The story is…Sen. Sanders should keep on fighting to the bitter end even when he’s way behind and well past the point of catching up, whereas Sen. Warren should drop out after not winning Iowa and New Hampshire. Interesting.

And it’s not just Bernie supporters acting like Warren should concede already, but it’s just Warren under this much pressure to concede already. Joe Biden is well behind Sen. Warren thus far and Biden could be a powerful support to another candidate, but they’re not calling for him to drop out already. Weird.

It could be sexism. Would they be treating Sen. Warren the same way if it were Sen. Edward Warren? Probably not. I don’t think it’s just sexism, though. Sexism is a factor, but I think a bigger factor is that Sen. Warren is the most viable challenge and they fucking know it. They wouldn’t be so eager to get her out of the way if they didn’t think she could win.

 

Choosing my battles for the Dem nomination.

Elizabeth Warren is my first choice for the Democratic nomination for President.

If Bernie Sanders gets the nomination, of course I will vote for him in the general. For all my criticisms of him, a Sanders presidency would be much better for our nation’s collective sense of normal than another four years of Trûmp.

If Joe Biden gets the nomination, of course I will vote for him in the general. For all my criticisms of him, a Biden presidency would be much better for our nation’s collective sense of normal than another four years of Trûmp.

If Pete Buttigieg gets the nomination, of course I will vote for him in the general. For all my criticisms of him, a Buttigieg presidency would be much better for our nation’s collective sense of normal than another four years of Trûmp.

If Tulsi Gabbard gets the nomination, then I will pull my life up by the roots and emigrate to Norway. Why the fuck is she even still on the stage?