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Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Annalee Newitz on Spitzer

Techsploitation columnist (and io9 editor) Annalee Newitz on Spitzer:

Every possible kind of human act has been commodified and turned into a job under capitalism. That means people are legally paid to clean up one another's poop, paid to wash one another's naked bodies, paid to fry food all day, paid to work in toxic mines, paid to clean toilets, paid to wash and dress dead naked bodies, and paid to clean the brains off walls in crime scenes. My point is, you can earn money doing every possible degrading or disgusting thing on earth.

And yet, most people don't think it's immoral to wipe somebody else's bum or to fry food all day, even though both jobs could truthfully be described as inherently degrading. They say, "Gee that's a tough job." And then they pay the people who do those jobs minimum wage.

The sex worker Spitzer visited, on the other hand, was paid handsomely for her tough job. The New York Times, in its mission to invade this woman's privacy (though in what one must suppose is a nonexploitative way), reported that she was a midrange worker at her agency who pulled in between $1000-$2000 per job. She wasn't working for minimum wage; she wasn't forced to inhale toxic fumes that would destroy her chances of having a nonmutant baby. She was being paid a middle-class salary to have sex.

1 Comments:

At March 20, 2008, Anonymous Mike in Albany said...

I don't suppose Ms. Newitz employs anyone to clean her poop or wash her body. Five such people work for me doing just that, in addition to keeping my apartment in a presentable condition, filling my pantry and refrigerator, and preparing and assisting me with eating the contents thereof. They, and I, object to the characterization of their work as "degrading." They perform a service that is the foundation of my independence. They are paid well with benefits, they like being here, and they stay with me for years. What IS degrading is that hundreds of thousands of Americans who could have the same freedom I have are instead forced against their will into nursing homes because insurance companies don't want to have anything to do with permanent disability, and Medicaid in 23 states won't pay for services that allow people like me to stay out of nursing homes. The institutional bias is much more expensive than community-based services. This is degrading to people with disabilities. This is degrading to taxpayers who are getting shafted because of this.

 

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