To paraphrase Terry Pratchett: Sometimes a crime is so big you can't see it because you're *living* in it. I feel Americans are definitely living in a time when vast crimes are being committed by those in power, and sadly, we're all abetting the crimes.
Yesterday while I was on Twitter, Scott Lynch and Michael Damian Thomas brought a couple of articles to my attention. The first is: You know how bad Uber is for drivers. Port truckers have it worse. Much worse. And the second is: RIGGED. Forced into debt. Worked past exhaustion. Left with nothing. Ever wonder how shipping is both expensive and (if you sign up for services like Amazon Prime) suddenly super cheap? This is the answer. The system retailers (like Target and Walmart) use to get shipments from the port to distribution centers as cheap as possible is set up to take advantage of the contract truck drivers. It's not a new system. It's very old, and a century ago they called it the Company Store. It's a vile system, wherein the employee gets more and more in debt to their employer until they're paying to work. The situation gets much, much worse when you consider this fresh statistic from the article Self-Driving Trucks are Going to Hit Us Like a Human-Driven Truck: "It should be clear at a glance just how dependent the American economy is on truck drivers. According to the American Trucker Association, there are 3.5 million professional truck drivers in the US, and an additional 5.2 million people employed within the truck-driving industry who don’t drive the trucks. That’s 8.7 million trucking-related jobs." When you look at the bigger picture, what does that imply about the number of truckers dealing with this situation?
All of this is the reason why I've always hated the concept of "Contract Employee" and forever "Temporary Employment." The attitude that employers don't have to provide benefits (like health insurance) or worry about overtime laws or even provide the employee with the tools to perform their job (in this case, the truck) is standard with the contract employee system. Again, "they're independent business people, not employees" is as old as the fucking hills.
I'll add two more items to this picture. The first is that the US prison system is employing a similar tactic. (see: American Slavery, Reinvented and the documentary 13th.) Chances are, that random salesperson or helpdesk person you're talking to on the other end of the phone is calling from a prison. The last thing I'll bring up is the state of secondary education. Education is connected to lower crime rates. However, the privatization of education has made education more and more expensive, not less. Worse, the quality of that education is dropping. And I'm not even talking about what's going on with the healthcare system.
We've got work to do, y'all.
is a Science Fiction and Fantasy author living in Texas.