Mommies Have Dreams, Too

On August 25th 2012, The Economist published an article entitled “The Mommy Track”. The subtitle read: The real reason why more women don’t rise to the top of companies.

Several factors hold women back at work. Too few study science, engineering, computing or maths. Too few push hard for promotion. Some old-fashioned sexism persists, even in hip, liberal industries. But the biggest obstacle (at least in most rich countries) is children. However organised you are, it is hard to combine family responsibilities with the ultra-long working hours and the “anytime, anywhere” culture of senior corporate jobs. A McKinsey study in 2010 found that both women and men agreed: it is tough for women to climb the corporate ladder with teeth clamped around their ankles…

I’ve been a mother for exactly 13 months and I can attest to this. The fact that company recruiters already gave me very discouraging looks after mentioning my child, makes it fairly easy to imagine Schumpeter’s points. The article is enlightening and I believe it necessary to tackle the issues concerning hiring women who are on their way to or are already building families.

Normally, my analysis would be oriented towards the redefinition of the metrics of success; proposing various alternatives to feel prosperous other than reaching the “top”. Afterwards, there would automatically be questions about how far each one of us want to go and whether it’s worth the sacrifice. The methodology is valid but this time, I shall take the article’s context as a hard given: some working mothers want managerial positions and dream of being part of the C-suite someday. This is a very real premise and one that is highly admirable, because to nurture such ambition takes a strong character and the tenacity of an ant soldier.

Theory versus practice

In theory, recruiters (at least in rich countries) are legally prohibited to inquire whether a female candidate is pregnant or if she has plans to get pregnant in the short-term*. But there are ways to go around the subject, de facto: they make inquiries about how important family is to the candidate, they ask how they would define commitment to work, et cetera… It has come to such extremes where in some countries, a gestating woman’s chances of getting hired is so low that lying about it has become common practice.

Other indicators used are the female candidate’s age and the information about our civil status. The hiring team adds one with the other and they draw estimations regarding: how long it would take for the female candidate/future employee to want to have a baby, whether someone who already has a child would want another, how many years from now would that be, and so forth. Of course, the logic does not always apply. And chances are if you ask any HR personnel, they would deny even imagining doing this sort of thing. I suppose that would remain something for them to know and for us to find out.

I’ll never get tired of mentioning that one time where I was being interviewed for the position I’ve dreamed of ever since college. Everything was going well, the manager and the direct supervisor of the post seemed to be impressed with my resumé, my answers, my proposed solutions and immediate actions… until I told them that I have a son.

He was still 6 months old by that time and barely a month had passed since he was checked out of the hospital**. I had to be transparent about my personal situation because that is part of what I am- my ethics dictate that I be honest and offer alternatives so that my professional commitment would not be affected. They didn’t consider it, though. The two of them- males in their early 40’s to be exact- just stared at each other and awkwardly tried to regain their composure long enough to finish the interview.

Equal opportunities mean nothing as long as we encourage unequal conditions

Men and women are now offered equal opportunities to enter in the profession of their choice. It took centuries, but universities have opened up to give women the chance to get full university degrees on whichever field they want. However, it’s the post-Uni life that sets all the difference.

Albeit the fact that more women are hired in companies, there is also the glaring reality that not many women make it to the top. Those who do, appear to have achieved it in exchange for huge sacrifices in their personal lives. Thus, from what I have seen, heard and experienced it would seem that the path towards corporate success has been molded for men workers. At least, it seems to be an easier hike for men than for women, especially for the latter who have children. Schumpeter cites a perfect example of this:

Schumpeter sat down with a mergers-and-acquisitions lawyer who says that, before starting a family, she was prepared to “give blood” to meet deadlines. After the anklebiters appeared, she took a job in corporate strategy at an engineering firm in Paris. She found it infuriating. Her male colleagues wasted time during the day—taking long lunches, gossiping over café au lait—but stayed late every evening. She packed her work into fewer hours, but because she did not put in enough “face time” the firm felt she lacked commitment. She soon quit.

In many cultures, “face time” is still being used as the most important indicator of a worker’s commitment to his job (very sadly so). This could be necessary for certain jobs where giving clients more time means higher revenues. Yet for others, it just doesn’t make sense to follow suit. Still, it is a common practice. It wouldn’t matter if those who stayed late in the office were working or surfing the internet- remaining in the office and keeping your boss company is a statement. A statement which (very wrongly) says, “Look at me, boss! I’ll be here in case you need me, while all my uncommitted colleagues have gone home avoiding work.” This is a very twisted way of getting the message across, but unfortunately that’s how things work. Changes in corporate culture might mean overcoming this mentality but even in firms where change is already being applied, people’s habits still get the best of them.

Simultaneously, it could also be observed how society encourages this one-track street to professional advancement. Notice how some of your friends and family members automatically suppose that it’s the mother’s role to stay and take care of the baby after birth. It is true that legally, paternity leaves are only recently starting to gain more importance. But that just shows how much society is still very biased against professional women, doesn’t it?

Thankfully, several countries are already implementing the “shared parental leave” system. This scheme gives both father and mother the chance to stay home and care for the baby according to what arrangement suits them best. However, we should also be very honest and ask ourselves: are we ready for this?

Many people who knew me as a workaholic went aghast when I told them how long I’ve gone without working. Or better said, how long I’ve gone without a paid job. Because I always say the same thing to anybody who cares to listen: It’s been a year since my last employment contract but I have never been busier, more active, more loaded and more swamped with tasks, responsibilities and projects. If I were being paid for all that I am doing right now, I’d be swimming in Chanel bags while editing this post.

The problem is, the current system does not recognize all the work done. As far as recruiters are concerned, there is a gaping one year hole in my resumé. And it is up to me to create conditions that would allow me to fill that void, letting them know I’ve not been idle.

Freedom to celebrate our femininity or additional ball and chains?

Women’s rights have come so far as favoring mothers to regain their old jobs after maternity leave. In fact in Europe, there exists a possibility of working less hours a week for proportionally less salary (not exclusive for mothers, but they’re usually the ones requesting this contract modification). What bothers me is that I’ve never met anyone under this working condition to have been promoted to a higher position. Furthermore, it’s troubling to realize the fact that I have never met a father who has even thought of working less hours to be able to share household work/family time with his wife.

The fact of the matter is that once they are mothers, women are usually faced with a conundrum to solve: progress in career or quality time for family? I know not many men bothered by this riddle.

This is almost embarrassing to confess (embarrassing for him, not for me), but I actually met an executive of a company who admittedly “favors” those who on maternity leave check in from time to time in the form of an e-mail or a phone call. Conversely, he is quite critical of those who “can’t even take 5 minutes to check on their teams and reply to urgent messages”. He then proceeded by saying that it all comes down to the person’s interest towards growth and their commitment to their jobs, of course

(I’m leaving you this space for any type of reaction you might have)

While there are such bosses possessing this outlook and the corresponding attitude, the fact is that mothers on-leave are far from turning into obsolete workers. They are actually expanding their skill set while taking care of a newborn! the new experience has just undoubtedly enriched her as a human being. Likewise, it has most probably given her a chance to improve competences that would make her a better professional.

Need I mention the requirement for strict time management***? That is only one of the many abilities parents could either acquire or develop when cohabiting with a baby. It doesn’t even matter whether they are first-timers or not. Every baby is different, their needs are different, therefore the solutions should also be different. Not to mention, babies change as they grow. The schedule they keep at 8 months old would look very different from when they were 5 months.

As for the subject of commitment: this includes an important legal topic worthy to be discussed in a separate article. For the time being, suffice it to say that an employee’s performance should be judged by the outcome of his or her work. If the person delivers, then for all intents and purposes, he has shown dedication to his job.

Admittedly, working conditions are now allowing females to celebrate their femininity in the workplace. Adaptable tools have also been set so that the female worker could regain her career if she wishes to, without sacrificing her role as a mother. Be that as it may, current circumstances dictate it not enough to get one’s job done anymore. It looks as though working mothers should be willing to take on more and more responsibilities at work so her performance could stand out- never mind that the extra effort surpasses any legal bind so that the companies don’t have any obligation to compensate her. The point is she has to prove her worth: as a worker (so as not to be wrongly judged by her bosses and colleagues) and as a mother (so as not to be criticized by society). So much for women’s rights and women’s freedom.

A non-solution

Most of the friends I met from work are just as workaholic as I am/was (we’ll never know until I get back to work). Just the other day, I was supposed to have a nice and long phone conversation with one of them. But we cancelled because she had to work during THE WHOLE WEEKEND. With a kid, that scenario is just going to be near impossible if there’s no one else to help husband and wife out. Especially if the other half of the couple is just as ambitious.

This made me think about a regular worker’s goals: a promotion? a raise? recognition? a learning experience? professional excellence? I would like to believe that all of those objectives are not impossible to reach for anyone- yes, even for mothers.

While it is true that priorities change once people have children, for some it means a deeper need to be better at what they are currently doing. For others, it may mean working 10 times harder to give their family a better future, and as for the rest it may signify one of the many aspects of becoming a more “complete” person.

How many times have you heard a mother say, “I adore my kids but I need something I could call my own- a career, a business, a venture that I built myself, FOR MYSELF”? 

Hence on this matter, several questions circle my head like hungry vultures out for carrion:

  1. If both men and women are absolutely necessary to make a baby, then how come only the woman is expected to carry the corresponding responsibilities of caring for an infant?
  2. At least in rich countries where hiring household help is a luxury: can women who are building a family (whether with child or not) honestly say that there is a fair division of household chores between her and her husband? If not, then what good is it to us women to be free to enter any profession we desire, if at the end of the day we would be chained to the iron-ball of housework?
  3. Companies exist for profits. Without a sumptuous bottom line, they would cease to operate. While some big firms are already adapting their corporate culture to this change in the workforce, what other actions can be done to balance opportunities between working mothers and fathers?
  4. What is the role of the Human Resource department in arbitrating the interest of the company, who clearly doesn’t want to see its profits diminish, and of the workers (both males and females) who at some point in their lives would wish to work part-time? The solution that suggests for employees to move into “less demanding fields” does not count.
  5. Could entrepreneurship in the form of microbusinesses or self-employment as a freelancer provide a solution to the problem of mothers’ “wasted” talent in the corporate world? (Regarding those who have shifted jobs or have changed jobs where hours are more flexible, or those who have gone part-time, or even those who have completely dropped out of the work force.)
  6. What is the government’s role to ensure equality of opportunities gender-wise? Do they have a valuable “say” in this on the first place, and not just use the issue to serve political agenda?

 

* Before coming to France, I hired a coach to do mock interviews with me. I was very strictly instructed NEVER to mention ANYTHING about my personal life. Additionally, my coach advised to directly interrupt the interviewer should I feel the interview veer towards a more personal terrain.

** Due to a genetic condition, he was under observation in a children’s hospital for 8 days.

*** Here is a sample schedule of a typical day with my son now that he’s 13 months old:

7am: Baby wakes up. Breakfast consists of a big bottle of milk and a loaf of bread. Playtime.

9am: First nap. I get the chance to catch up on some sleep.

10am: I shower, arrange the house, spend 40 minutes scanning LinkedIn for job opportunities. On slow days at LinkedIn, either I do research for my blog or I write.

11am: Baby wakes up. Sponge bath follows, and then lunch time. We go out for a walk, run errands, hang around.

1pm: Go back home. Playtime. Baby drinks a bottle of milk and then takes his afternoon nap. I have lunch, nap for 15 minutes and resume to job hunting, CV-tweaking, cover letter-writing, LinkedIn surfing, researching, reading and self-studying about a couple of projects I’ve been considering…

4pm: Baby wakes up. Playtime. Snacks on a piece of fruit and a yogurt. Playtime (or a walk outside if not too cold).

7pm: Dinner. Sponge bath/Real bath. Downtime, relaxed playtime. Bottle of milk. Baby goes to bed. I get the chance to continue job seeking, researching, self-studying, finishing errands and scheduling the following day according to priorities.

-The End-

Sources:

1. “The Mommy Track”, Schumpeter Blog, The Economist, available at: http://www.economist.com/node/21560856

2. Author’s memories and notes

 

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Letters written during nights of insomnia

April 5th

Dear Ninong M,

It seems funny writing to you now, when I’m pretty sure you can perfectly “spy” on me. In fact I’m imagining you standing just behind me, clasping your hands at your back and squinting your eyes through your glasses.

Still, I want to write it all down. More for me than for you, actually. Perhaps when I’m older I can look back and laugh at my younger self. Even better: maybe I can do it while opening a bottle of red and drinking to your honor.

You met my husband, but you never got the chance to get a glimpse of my son. Ay nako, Ninong! He’s a beautiful, smart, cheerful and healthy boy! You would’ve been proud and very much amused with him…

Anyway, it was five days ago since the first time I truly felt recovered from the tough birth I had to go through. And as my vision cleared, I started to see the world differently- my son is now in it! More specifically, for now my son is in it and hopefully in the future, his brothers and sisters will be in it as well. And that was when I started to think about things (are you shaking your head and smiling in anticipation of what I’m about to say?).

Ninong, I started thinking about you, Ninang G, nanay, tatay and the rest of your tropa. But most especially YOU- you were incessantly fighting and criticizing the system. Most of all, you were always sharing information without any sign of fatigue. Until the very last ounce of your energy.

You and your “gang” joined the ranks of student activists who rebelled against dictatorship. Later on, you became adult activists who continued fighting for social injustice (And historical injustice, too! How can I forget the presentation you did about how former colonies should be compensated?).

See, I felt like wanting to do the same for my son and for my future children. Yes, there’s a naïve part of me hoping to make a better place for them someday, but most of all I want them to KNOW- to know that life is not about comfort because some people don’t even get to eat for days; to know that exposure is the best way to learn; to know that we can learn from anyone, from a homeless man, to a fisherman, to a prostitute, to a businessman; to know that they hold in their hands many possibilities to change people’s lives even if it doesn’t equate to changing the world.

When I finally got myself together, I looked at the baby asleep in his bassinet. Then there it was, the same feeling once again: I swear, I wanted to sail The Rainbow Warrior and save whales so he could watch them swim when he grows up; I wanted to march up to the Élysée and demand the French government to be more real about their immigration policies and truly abolish all walls dividing social classes; I wanted to stand face to face with the current president of the Philippines and ask what is being done with all the untapped talent of the youth; I wanted to join protests; I wanted to adopt an orphaned child; I wanted to mobilize rural women all over the world… I wanted to do so many things which I think would expose him to have a good example of a citizen at home. I also thought that these things would give him the privilege to experience many adventures and live life to the fullest should he wish to.

But then I realized: should I have the possibility to do any or all of those things, what would I do with my son? Shall I bring him along? What did you do? Would I let him stay with family or friends or with his father while I am making at least a tiny patch of the Earth a better place? all the while my son growing without me- his mother by his side? It tore me apart, it really did. And it kept tearing me apart until he woke up. He didn’t cry like crazy, he just lay there, staring at things around him, yawning, stretching, making baby sounds… but I knew he was hungry. And just like that, all of what seemed like a commitment to humanity faded like a daydream.

I guess, Ninong, that the kind of activism you performed is very similar to when boys join the seminary and girls enter the convent- there should be some kind of a calling. Because something like that is a BIG commitment and it entails a HUGE sacrifice. Although I also understand that should things go as planned, all the amount of sacrifice would have been worth everything.

I can’t think of the best way to express my gratitude to you and your fellow activists, except for the simplest one: THANK YOU. Thank you, all of you, countless (and so many are even nameless to me) selfless citizens who chose to fight for a greater good than to stay in the comfort of a cozy home and warm meals. THANK YOU. Because of you, I would never have experienced the childhood I had. If not because of the battles you won, I would not be the person that I am, and Leo (my son, who we named after Da Vinci, the ninja turtle, Cohen and Nimoy) would not be here gifting our lives with wonder.

I pray for your eternal rest in peace.

***

December 23

Dear ML,

I know you might be thinking how weird of me to write at this date, at this hour… but something has been bugging me for a long time now and I want an expert’s advice. ML, how do you sustain your commitment towards people who ask for your help? Not only financially, but also morally- when you travel several hours by car to pick up a hurting family member at a bus station, when you use your day off after 3 consecutive working days to visit an ailing friend, when you find it in your heart to forgive and even SUPPORT those who have caused you so much pain… I guess the more correct question is: HOW IS IT THAT YOU’RE SO GENEROUS?

You shouldn’t be shocked that I wrote at this time of the year. It’s usually the time when you send out so much gifts to people. ML, do they thank you? not just through words or emails or text messages. But do you feel their gratitude towards you? I know you don’t do these things to feel important or to be praised, but do the people you help at least show proper behavior? You don’t have to answer that. The main question was the one I wrote in all caps. How are you so generous?

I’ve never actually seen you around a beggar but you seem like the kind of person who would give coins (or bills) to a beggar. And you’re definitely the kind who, if you saw the beggars in Paris toting their infant kids, would not only give them money but buy their whole clan a McDonald’s meal. I can never give any money to a beggar. I give coins to musicians and performers of almost any kind. But I can’t bring myself to give anything to people who- I’m sorry to sound so snobbish- sit with their arms outstretched and end up most probably earning more than I do every working day (my three-day-per-week contract has not ended, I’m still on maternity leave).

I could do the same, you know? I could sit in a corner, stretch out my arms and ask for coins or any kind of food. I can even bring my cat to add charm to the scenario. I wouldn’t dare bring my son because it’s inhumane! It should be illegal! Why are they not being stopped?

But as I was saying, I could even do a better version of that: I could ask money from you and DD, as well as from DK and DB because hey, you’re our rich connections! You’re in the land of opportunities! where hard work is back-breaking but well-paid!

I must admit, there are times when I have been tempted to take that course of action. I could play the “pity” card. I could play the “I just had a baby and I have no prospects of having a job” card. And all of those cards/excuses/reasoning would be valid because not only they are true, they also pose a threat to my new family’s harmony. And that’s something all of you evidently care about. But then what sort of example will I be setting for my son? that it’s okay not to keep searching for a job because there will always be kind people to help us get by?

For sure, first-world mendicants differ greatly from third-world ones: the reasons that brought them where they are, the reasons why they choose to stay where they are, the realities that force them to stay the way they are… they differ from one context to the next. The point is, they exist in both contexts. Why?

I mention this, ML because sometimes I honestly think that over-generous people like you and your family could be encouraging this kind of behavior from those you help (“beggar mentality”). I’m not blaming you, and I certainly am not trying to discredit your good intentions. What I’m trying to say- and hardly succeeding to- is: what goes through your mind the moment you decide to help someone? You do not the least bit ask yourself whether they’re telling the truth or not? You’re not curious to know why they need such amount of money, at such a timing?

I am aware that you’ve turned down opportunities to give aide before- but not without trying to get to compromise. That is just how good of a person you are.

I guess, ML, what I’m really trying to say is: HOW CAN I LEARN TO BE AS GENEROUS AS YOU ARE SO I CAN TEACH THE SAME TO MY SON?

I love you so much ML. I think of you and your strength during my trying times. Please never consider  yourself alone for as long as I live. We may not always see eye to eye but you to me, will always be on that pedestal.

Send my love to DD as well!

***

November 10

Dear A,

I hope everything’s going well in your side of town. It’s just so-so with us here.

I had a meltdown the other day. I simply felt there was too much pressure and too little support, so I gave in to shutting all systems off.

As you know, winter season has officially started here so that means: less hours of daylight, colder weather AND ALL TYPES OF SICKNESS all around. My household has been sick for the past 3 weeks. However, while all of these things are normal reasons for having the blues, I also had to deal with other unpleasantness, totally unexpected. I really wonder why it seems so tough for me to receive support and kindness from those who are SUPPOSED to give them to me? Honestly, I get more encouragement from my virtual community than from my actual, live social engagements.

What angers me the most are those friends and family who ABSOLUTELY ADORE criticizing almost every single thing about my style of motherhood and parenting. It’s actually funny because these people mostly happen to be MEN. Men, who don’t have the right junk to push a baby out of their bodies; men who will never, ever feel any kind of birthing pain; men who don’t have to deal with monthly hormonal imbalance while getting through their personal and professional commitments…

And then there are the young mothers like me… we truly are our worst enemy! In my heart of hearts I believe that among mothers, there are those who believe that either you “experience it all, or you have not experienced anything at all”. Because really, I did not expect anybody to criticize my decision to take painkillers for birth but there you go! there were critics of that. And then came the flak I got because of my choice to pump breast milk instead of the traditional latching. So you can just imagine how they reacted when later on, when I decided to stop pumping and give the baby formula instead. At each and every one of those times, I was made to feel an inferior mother, as if I was not trying hard enough to give the best to my baby. Sometimes when I felt like it, I would explain my birthing story. Though most of the times I would just smile and say, “Yes, it’s a pity I can’t do things as well as you did/do. But this is what works for us right now.” BOOM! In your face.

You know, the only person that truly sympathized with me was my aunt living thousands of kilometers away. She saw me through a Skype conference, carrying my bulk of a baby (because he really looked like a big bundle of cheeks and lips at that time) and was insisting I leave him on the floor even if he still hadn’t burped. She said my health was more important and that eventually, the baby will learn to regulate his burps.

Things just went on and on: criticisms over the kind of vegetables I give my son, scoffs at the fact that I did not let him use pacifier EVER, disapproval on the way I let him roam around and play instead of watching TV and even objections over the silly fact that I let him sleep all he wants!

Oh but A, those were just appetizers… the worst part of it all is when my identity started to be WHOLLY equated to being my son’s mother. Don’t get me wrong, I love being a mother. I’ve dreamed about this since I was a young girl! Besides, I wouldn’t be doing this full-time mother stint if I didn’t love it. In fact, I love sharing my experiences and learning from other people (as long as they’re not obnoxious know-it-alls).

It’s just that aside from being a mother, I AM ALSO A WOMAN. AN AMBITIOUS, HARD-WORKING AND DRIVEN WOMAN. I was already that even before I became a mother, and I miss putting that part of me into action. Sadly in the eyes of most of my peers, it seems I already lost that quality. Some of them mocked my social networking endeavors, others would ONLY talk to me about motherhood (and then afterwards they criticize how I do things!) and still a number of them aren’t interested when I talk about opportunities crossing my way- they simply dismiss it and go back to asking me about “mommy stuff”.

On the other side of the coin are the HR people, recruiters and job interviewers who question the quality of my professionalism because I’m a mother. The moment I say I have an infant, all the good things they saw in me, all the intelligent responses I gave them and all the witty remarks that made them nod approvingly get thrown out of the window. Do you see the problem? this society is sick! A part of it doesn’t think of me as a good enough mother because I think out of the box and I have my own ideas, while the other part thinks I’m not a good enough professional to be hired because I’m a mother- thus carrying a “baggage”. Sick, sick, society!

That was what mainly caused the meltdown. The physical, emotional and mental fatigue finally caught up and I became really susceptible to the slightest of things. Can you imagine me crying out of sheer joy because someone I highly admire always publicly praises my published thoughts? Or that I almost hugged my husband’s colleague because he said my blog was cool (he’s French and God knows how tough it is to get a complement from a French- somehow, they always find something that needs improvement)? Or the time a dear friend sent me an e-book related to a project I’m currently developing and I couldn’t thank her enough? So yes, I became susceptible to negative energy, but also to positive ones.

So in the middle of my breakdown, I told my husband I’d go stay in the hotel for an indefinite number of nights. I just needed a break. I was already outside of a hotel near where we live, backpack in tow, ready to book a few nights. The plan was for me to still take care of the baby during the day, but to go back to the hotel once he’s asleep. So I walked… and walked until I arrived at my doorstep. I couldn’t do it, A. I couldn’t leave my baby, not even for one night, not even for my own sake.

I am pathetic, am I not? (This is what you get for sending me a message and asking how I’m doing)

The good thing is, I’m better now and in some way I really feel re-booted. I guess it had to happen that way. I’m still hurting and somewhat confused at people’s lack of understanding. But I’m taking things one step at a time. Most of all, I want to work hard towards being the better person and give some slack to narrow-minded people. In the future, I would like to show my son that no matter how hard of a work it is not to give in to anger and impatience, the rewards are greater.

Thanks for your concern, A. We’ll see each other really soon.

Conversation 1: Current events as of November 2016

Paris. 13th November, 2016 at 16h00. Husband and wife are seated face to face at the dining table, finishing their dessert. The baby’s asleep, the cat is quietly feeding, the skies are gray and neither man nor spouse felt like cleaning up right away. A conversation begins:

Husband (H): I read an interesting article today analyzing the result of the US elections.

Wife (W): Huh (smirks in anticipation of a long political and heated debate)

H: Well according to the article, any given Republican candidate in the last 4 elections have always garnered a “sure” and “fixed” amount of votes. So there, we already see it’s actually the Democratic Party voters who hold the more decisive factor in determining the victor. In the case of Trump, it’s not as much of a Republican “win”, but more of a Democrat “failure”… Ummm, you know how the US election system works right?

W: Uh-huh (nods). They hold elections, and depending on who wins in each State the assigned electors for the winning party will then cast their votes. It’s like elections at two levels: the people vote for the electors and the electors vote for the President. Then, whichever of the candidates first garners 270 or more electoral votes, wins the elections.

H: So you know that it doesn’t matter that more people actually voted for Hillary Clinton?

W: Ye-es? (shifts uncomfortably in her chair, thinking “Here we go! We’ll be fighting in 3, 2, …”)

H: The thing is (Distracted he thinks, “Why is my wife putting on a weird face?”)… as I was saying, the article I read featured three very simple bar graphs comparing the performance of Democratic and Republican candidates during the past 3 American Presidential Elections.

The total number of popular votes for any of the Republican candidates amounted to around 60 million, more or less. In fact this year, Trump garnered less than Romney in 2012.

Anyhow, the Democratic Party voters on the other hand varied a whole lot more. In 2008, around 69 million voted for Obama; that figure went down to 65 million in 2012 and it crashed to more than 61 million this year. Conclusion is, less Democrat voters voted for Clinton.

W: So that’s why they were talking so much about the”Swing States”! (visibly relieved)

H: YES! In other countries, these States are equivalent to smaller states or provinces where one person’s vote “weighs more” than one person’s vote in bigger states or provinces.

W: The American voters should really be vigilant with their votes. I mean, look at what happened to Florida when Bush won over Gore… So, what you’re trying to say is that there were less Democrat voters in those States that made the most difference? So the results “flipped” to the advantage of Trump?

H: Exactly. (getting more and more excited) And the political analysts are saying that Trump’s campaign had A LOT to do about it.

W: Yes, of course! They practically slung mud at Clinton every single waking hour they had. But you can’t blame it all on Trump. Clinton should have reacted just as aggressively- not exactly to throw shadow at her opponent, but to reach out to those swing voters.

Do you remember how aggressive was Obama’s first presidential campaign? MY GOD! It rocked the whole world! She shouldn’t have relied on people’s apparent judgement, she should’ve fought back, but oh well!

H: Yes, BUT…

W: But what?

H: According to the analysts, the swing voters and consequently the Swing States were actually convinced by Trump’s mud slinging tactics. It appears that during the debates, Trump did not do well in responding to the issues at hand but he was the whole time telling Clinton how she should go to jail, how bad she is, etc…

W: I guess social media did a lot of hurting as well. I mean, you should see my Facebook wall! People posting so much unverified “news”! How can we be so irresponsible?!

H: Yes, social media whatever. But dig this- the media outlets used to sling mud to Clinton and to promote Trump’s causes are “owned” by the man himself!

W: THERE YOU GO!

H: He’s really shaping up to be the Berlusconi of that side of the Atlantic…

W: I think Berlusconi would revive his political career. He’d find bosom buddies with Putin, Trump and Duterte.

H: Well, Berlusconi’s already ancient. It might not be feasible.

W: ‘Ya think? I wouldn’t be so sure. Le Pen, though…

H: Oh yeah! Le Pen would surely win in France during the next elections. (scoffs) But what I’m trying to say is, we’re doomed! The very communication and information channels we use are being more manipulated than ever so basically, we’re all going to hell!

W: Oh, honey! The moment people stopped questioning any kind of information fed to them through any broadsheet, online site or television newscast- was the day we all deserved to go to hell! It’s like what we talked about the other day with the Spanish rightist voters listening ONLY to one radio station, reading SOLELY one newspaper, watching NOTHING BUT one TV channel. I mean, you said it yourself: it’s voluntary brainwashing.

We should always, ALWAYS be very vigilant of the information we gather and share. Whether we agree with it or not, we should always question ourselves the sensibility and the validity of such information. Because honestly? some information could actually be contested with common sense.

For instance, remember when some people in Spain started to panic that the long-haired guy would be elected president? because they were afraid Spain would turn to Venezuela? (snorts twice) HELLO! Unless you turn the jamón ibérico’s grease to petroleum substitute, I don’t think that will ever happen. BESIDES, SPAIN IS A MEMBER OF THE EUROPEAN UNION! Did they really think Brussels would let that happen? Really, Spanish people should take more Vitamin B to enhance their memories… geesh! How could it slip their minds that ANYTHING they do must have Brussel’s OK stamp?

H: Okay, okay, calm down! (raising both hands in protest)

What you’re saying is true… but I’m not finished about with my article yet. Actually, there’s another hypothesis as to Hillary’s loss.

W: Hear, hear!

H: Apparently, Clinton gave the impression that she “relaxed” during the campaign because every single poll predicted that she’d win. And so, according to the defenders of this idea she relied on the poll results and just allowed Trump to and ruin her reputation. And look how that turned out!

In fact, I don’t know if you’ve watched any SNL-type sketches? Well, they would usually depict Clinton stretched out on a sofa, legs up and in a very relaxed manner. As if she’s over-confident of her victory.

W: Hmmm… I’m not sure about that, I haven’t seen the sketches. But as I’ve said earlier, it DOES seem to me that her campaign was less aggressive than that of Obama’s first one. I actually expected a lot more from her and her squad, what with her potentially being the first female president of the United States and all that hype.

From my point of view, she lacked connection to various segments of voters. I mean, come on! She’s clearly a WASP- White Anglo-Saxon Protestant! Very Eastern Coast type…

H: Yes, I’ve read comments about her seeming so stuck-up…

W: Exactly! it’s a pity Michelle Obama’s support wasn’t used to the fullest to reach out to the African-American community. Hmm… I really wonder how she could imagine they could relate to her? And the Latin community? I felt she didn’t reach out enough.

But what do I know? I guess this is my way of questioning the information I was able to gather about the campaign.

H: I agree with you. She’s clearly from the elite and it seems she didn’t do more to get herself closer to the masses.

W: The conservatives are regaining the power, huh? I wonder how France would be with Le Pen as their leader? Hehehe!

H: Kidding aside, I honestly believe Le Pen has a serious chance of winning. Besides, if the terrorist attacks don’t cool down for a long period of time, her propaganda could really end up convincing the French to close their borders and apply very strict measures when it comes to second or third generation immigrants.

W: My outtake in this matter, from the economic perspective is that people have acquired so much wealth in so little time that they want to keep it all for themselves. They’re afraid to share it, to share the fount of such wealth because they want it all for them and their families.

H: Not all of us have turned into Richard Branson types over night, have we? (smirks teasingly)

W: Noooo, but what I mean is that over the last few decades the we have witnessed a fast and HUGE growth of worldwide wealth, never before seen ever since the Industrial Revolution. The rise of the ICTs… they don’t call it the Second Industrial Revolution for nothing.

So, inequality aside… A great amount of wealth has been amassed and those lucky enough to have had a bit of it are now feeling protective of their possessions. And naturally, they want to protect it and assure themselves and their children’s children’s children that there would be enough of it where it came from BUT NONE FOR THE OUTSIDERS.

This is what your mom told us about: how low-middle class Spanish families who were able to buy an apartment in Benidorm are now supporting the rightist Popular Party because they’re afraid the leftists would steal their properties and distribute it to the poor. Pfft! (makes a face)

What’s to steal? I mean, you know what I’m talking about? the typical neighbor we had in Madrid who was able to buy an Alfa Romeo car- on credit!- and thinks he/she belongs to the class of the new rich, so he starts voting for the rightists to protect his interests.

H: Remember when Jordi interviewed people from the working class neighborhood? agreeing to privatize the health sector? It’s disgusting, but that’s life!

W: I know! they wanted to vote for the rightists so they won’t have to pay more taxes. What they don’t know is that those taxes contribute to a social savings or a common piggy bank to which they themselves could access, should they need it. Tsk, tsk! (shakes head) I don’t understand…

H: Hmmm… These people simply believe what’s being said to them through the TV, the radio, the newspapers… they don’t even understand what they hear. They just hold on to the fear that’s being implanted in their heads and all manner of analysis is gone.

W: Hey, on the bright side- with Trump as president, it seems that at least the TTIP doesn’t stand much chance to be signed between the EU and USA. So not everything is bad I guess?

H: Of course, this life is not strictly black or white.

W: In what world did we bring our son? (smiles and feels thankful they didn’t end up fighting each other like in the past)

H: Well, it’s the world he will have to survive in!

-The End-

Sources:

  1. “President Trump, the appropriate liberal response”, blogpost by jnickmount, availabe at: https://jnickmount.wordpress.com/2016/11/12/president-trump-appropriate-liberal-response/
  2. 270 to Win website: http://www.270towin.com/historical-presidential-elections/
  3. “Marine Le Pen: Trump’s win boosts my chances”, Europe, BBC News, available at: http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-37964776?post_id=196726970768450_210416832732797#_=_

 

A Short but Unforgettable and Ongoing Quest (Cyber Quest)

As a prelude to the second and final part of the series, I have decided to share my mini-adventure online in trying to get a satisfactory response to my questions regarding the European Union.

Spoiler alert: I didn’t get any.

The Quest

This summer, on July 25th Colorfulifesite Blog published a post entitled “A Few Questions for the Leaders of the United European Nations (Part 1)”. To access post, click here.

That same day, I sent an email to the European Union (EU) contact site to try my luck in getting a response. Below is the exact content of the said email:

Dear Sir,

I would like to reach out to you to ask: How inclusive is the EU of its citizens in implementing the European mission and reaching its vision?

I have written a blog post about this subject and you may access it through: https://colorfulifesite.wordpress.com/2016/07/25/a-few-questions-regarding-the-union-of-european-nations-part-1/

Thank you for your kind consideration.

The automatic reply did not waste any time acknowledging the receipt of my message, and after a few moments I received this note:

Dear Karessa Malaya Ramos Aguiñot

Thank you for contacting EUROPE DIRECT Contact Centre.

As a general rule, the EDCC should not deal with enquiries from journalists or anyone involved in the media (e.g. bloggers). The Spokesperson’s Service (SPP) is the official voice of the European Commission vis-à-vis the media. They provide information about the Commission’s political priorities and decisions to the press, organize press events and issue press material.
http://ec.europa.eu/dgs/communication/about/contact_us/ec_spokespersons/index_en.htm

We hope you find this information useful.

Immediately after checking the web page, I was able to locate an assistant to one of the directors from the Spokesperson services. This was what I told her:

Good morning!

My name is Karessa and I would like to know whether you could help me direct my question to the person/team who could respond: How inclusive is the EU of its citizens in implementing the European mission and reaching its vision?

I have written a blog post about this subject and you may access it through: https://colorfulifesite.wordpress.com/2016/07/25/a-few-questions-regarding-the-union-of-european-nations-part-1/

In case contacting a person or a team proves to be complicated, I would be more than happy to receive any material (video, transcript, article, etc…) that could serve as an answer to my question/s. Thank you.
I was unaware of the existence of the SPP and have mistakenly directed this cuestion [sic] to the EDCC.

I highly appreciate your time and consideration.

After a little over 4 hours, I received a response:

Dear Karessa,
Thank you very much for your e-mail.
With this message, I would like to inform you that the Spokesperson’s Service of the European Commission deals only with requests from journalists.

Accordingly, I would suggest to contact the Europa Call Freephone: http://europa.eu/contact

I seriously considered calling the hotline, but as a full-time mother and job seeker I was not able to find a moment to do it.

And so some days passed, until I finally decided to make a social media comeback through Facebook. There, I noted down two pages that interested me the most:

  1. Guy Verhofstadt, and
  2. The European Parliament

It was the 15th of August when I decided to contact Mr Verhofstadt by sending him this message:

Dear Sir, I have tried to address a few questions to the EUROPE DIRECT Contact Center. Unfortunately, they only attend to journalists. May I kindly direct you to my blogpage so you could view the points at issue? It is: https://colorfulifesite.wordpress.com/2016/07/25/a-few-questions-regarding-the-union-of-european-nations-part-1/

Basically, I wanted to know: How inclusive is the EU of its citizens in implementing the European mission and reaching its vision? Thnak [sic] you.

I waited for the whole day to receive an acknowledgement note but none came. So, I decided to contact the EU Parliament. I simply performed a copy-paste technique, mindful of the typo at the end.

At least this latest correspondence was more of a, well, correspondence because I was corresponded with a message acknowledging their receipt of my inquiry.

Thanks for messaging us. This is an automatic reply. We try to be as responsive as possible, but we can’t guarantee a response to each message. We’ll try to get back to you soon. In the meantime we recommend checking our website europarl.eu, EP team

However, dear reader, I’m afraid that this was the first and final message I received from them at the time I am writing this post.

As you can see, I still am lacking of answers and of ideas as well. Unfortunately due to personal circumstances, I cannot yet enjoy the privilege of calling the Europa Call Freephone.

Dear reader, have you any other ideas?

Have you ever tried calling the Europa Call Freephone? will you be generous enough to share your experience?

Conclusions

1. How amusing is it that while one branch of the EU refuses to talk to journalists or other “media people” (such as bloggers), the other branch would ONLY entertain legitimate journalists (ie, NOT bloggers)?

I believe this is a very serious matter. Why? because I find the subject of legitimacy unimportant when it comes to responding very suitable questions concerning countries united economically and politically. In this case, a filter to distinguish the relevance of inquiries should be put in place, instead. This way, every concerned citizen could voice out their worry or interests. The point being, there are many press ID holders with not very engaging questions at hand (in mind) and isn’t it such a waste to disregard a thought-provoking query from people who just happened to have ideas?

There are more of them (non-media thinkers) out there whose thoughts/arguments are far more relevant and exciting than mine. It is only fair for them to be given a forum for discussion.

2. It is a wonder why the EU Parliament’s Facebook page would offer a messaging device if they have not enough resources for this service. I would fully understand if my question had been absurd or unrelated to the concerns of the Union. Yet this is not the case.

I must make a mental note to inquire peers whether they have made use of this service and what the outcome was.

3. Guy Verhofstadt is doing really badly in the Social Relations aspect of his advocacy.

My quest is not yet over. And until I get any type of response directly concerning my question (automatic replies not included), I shall not stop.

-The End-

Stay tuned for the second and last part of the series “A Few Questions for the Leaders of the United European Nations”.

On your Marx, get set…

Many people would ask me about my name. There are two versions- both accurate- but depending on my mood, I will tell one or the other. The version that concerns today’s post answers the question “what was my parents’ inspiration?” to choose such name for their firstborn.

Most wouldn’t be able to guess because honestly I don’t give any vibe or any clue about it. But a friend who recently reconnected with me was able to! Jamaica (now that is a beautiful name, don’t you think?), a former Political Science student from the University of the Philippines was unbelieving when she inquired whether I was truly named after mathematician and philosopher- the owner of one of the most magnificent brains ever to have analyzed facts- Karl Marx.

A big shout out to my friend Jam, for giving me that unique “high”! Nobody really thinks of identifying me with Herr Marx when they see me…

Introduction

During freshman in college, I was 100% sure that I’d shift to another course as soon as the year ends. I simply wasn’t “feeling” B.S. Economics and felt it was not for me (where B.S. started to not mean Bachelor of Science). The first semester only convinced me that I didn’t even want to learn how to think like them Microeconomists or Macroeconomists.

Come second semester, and I entered into this class “International Economics I”. I sat down in the fourth row, prepared to take notes, poised to comfortably listen to whatever monologue the professor had to say. To my surprise, he asked the whole classroom, “What do you think is the biggest problem of the world today?” Many people said, “Poverty”, “Hunger”, “Inequality”. When my turn came I said,  “American imperialism”. Huh. The class suddenly went silent, all eyes turned on me and there were a few uncomfortable chuckles. The professor smiled and proceeded to listen to the rest of the class’ opinions.

It turned out that the professor is a hard-core Marxist. In fact, he complied with the class curriculum using a purely Marxist analysis of international economics. My eyes have never been so widely opened as that time. It was that class, that professor and the alternate way to analyze the economy that made me want to finish the degree.

I don’t claim to be a Marxist, because truth be told Marxism is a lifestyle.*

What I do claim though, is that I am content understanding how things stand- knowing where I stand. I am satisfied knowing that I possess the tools with which to counterbalance any information fed to me; and that there is another way to see, think, analyze and to react.

On Poverty and Inequality

The standard lesson taught to me and my peers since childhood is that poverty is “bad”, “unfair” and “must be defeated”. Along these lines, the subject of inequality would arise while wistful looks and stares could be caught among students. Needless to say, I grew up believing that poverty can be defeated and that inequality could be eradicated.

However as a grown-up, Professor Arrizabalo turned my head towards another reality (some of my peers were also able to do so, others were too busy surviving to see) and made me see that in a capitalist system- yes, the one we are thriving in- poverty and inequality are necessary conditions for the system to operate. And it all starts with the everyday task of going to work.

A Toxic Relationship

Perhaps the most applicable lesson from Marx in the 21st century are his reflections on the relationship between the Capitalists and the Workers.

In a very summed-up description: the Capitalist possesses the means of production and hires the Worker to transform them to goods (and services) to be traded. During the production process, the Capitalist incurs in production costs consisting of procuring materials and the Worker’s labor (whose cost is the wage). However, this wage does not equal the value of the good or service Worker has produced; it is less, although in principle it is enough for his maintenance and the perpetuation of other Workers (minimum wages).

Technically, the wage is paid according to a day’s work. Let us suppose that it takes 6 hours to produce a certain good (or service) whose price is equivalent to the Worker’s minimum wage. In this case, the Capitalist will pay what is due to the Worker, will sell the product and will receive the same amount he has spent to produce it. Profit is something unheard of in this case.

Logic says that if this were to be true, there would be no incentive for the Capitalist to enter (and preserve) this kind of relationship.

Therefore, the Capitalist extends the working hours of the Worker to 6 hours more (12 hours in total) in such a way that the value of the finished product is that of 12 hours’ work. However, the Worker does not receive the amount equivalent to the extension of working hours. At the end of the day, he will still be paid what was 6 hours’ worth of wages. With this method, the Capitalist will be able to sell a product with higher value without having to pay for the said increment. In fact, he gets to keep that increment for himself.

Engels wrote:

“Let us assume that these means of subsistence represent six hours of labour-time daily. Our incipient capitalist, who… hires a labourer, consequently pays this labourer the full value of his day’s labour-power if he pays him a sum of money which also represents six hours of labour. And as soon as the labourer has worked six hours in the employment of the incipient capitalist, he has fully reimbursed the latter for his outlay… But so far the money would not have been converted into capital, it would not have produced any surplus-value… The fact that only six hours’ labour is necessary to keep the labourer alive for twenty-four hours, does not in any way prevent him from working twelve hours out of the twenty-four. The value of the labour-power, and the value which that labour-power creates in the labour-process, are two different magnitudes. The owner of the money has paid the value of a day’s labour-power; his, therefore, is the use of it for a day — a whole day’s labour…

On our assumption, therefore, the labourer each day costs the owner of money the value of the product of six hours’ labour, but he hands over to him each day the value of the product of twelve hours’ labour. The difference in favour of the owner of the money is six hours of unpaid surplus-labour, a surplus-product for which he does not pay and in which six hours’ labour is embodied. The trick has been performed. Surplus-value has been produced; money has been converted into capital.”

– Anti-Dühring by Frederick Engels 1877

The remaining value- that is, the difference between the newly-incremented value of merchandise created by the worker minus his wage is the Surplus Value. Once the product is out in the market at a given price, such price minus the cost of materials minus wages is what we know as Profit.

In a few words: there is the Capitalist’s need to develop Capital through Profits and the Worker’s requirement for Wages to sustain himself by the sale of his Labor (labor power) for as long as he lives.

It is easy to sense that the above-mentioned relationship is not one between equals. A short and simplified analysis could help figure this out:

(1) Price of a product = cost of materials  + wages + profit

                                                   27                =            21        +        3         +        3

Should we follow the above assumption regarding the number hours’ labor:

(Where 1 day of labor= 3 units of wage)

Price of a product= 27 units

cost of materials= 21 units

wages= 3 units

profit= 3 units

We have said that it is the acquisition of profit which motivates the Capitalists to enter in a transaction with the Worker, so we will simply transform the equation for an easier viewing (by subtracting cost of raw materials and wages on both sides of the equation):

(2) Profit = Price of a product – cost of materials – wages

                                             3       =      27          –      1         –           3

In this new equation, it’s easier to see how Profits are inversely related to Wages. Wherein, an increase in Wages would undoubtedly mean a decrease in Profits.

Now it is clearer where the interest of the Capitalist lies, and that is to increase profits as much as possible. More particularly, the system requires an ongoing and never-ceasing increase of the capital’s growth rate in detriment of the workers’ salaries (wages). This case satisfies the condition of inequality.

At the same time, this naturally creates and aggravates situations of poverty. In many industries (like in textile, hardware assembly or certain services) capitalists are capable of localizing and hiring the lowest-paid workers to maximize their profits. On one hand, some workers lose their jobs because of this change; on the other hand the newly hired workers become the fresh army of laborers to be exploited. Yet even then, capitalists will still find ways to squeeze workers of their meager earnings.

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Image courtesy of: http://thedailyjournalist.com

The Few Who are Them and the Many Who are Us

The world is full of wonders, but one of its greatest oddities could be the fact that the capitalists who are so few in relation to the workers, have become so powerful.

If we consider the Fortune 500 list, we come to the conclusion that there are only 500 of them in the whole planet, and around 7,461,087,270** of the rest of us. Roughly 500 people hold in their hands the means of production with which they convince the rest of us that we can prosper and progress not only for ourselves but for the generations that would come after us. How did this come to be?

An explanation we could all relate to is that capitalists are able to maintain their power because the workers lack unity among themselves. Such division has been made possible through competition. Just as the capitalist is in competition with the worker due to their opposing interests (profit acquisition versus raise in wages), so are the different types of workers placed face to face one another, defending their varied interests.

Competition also brings about inequality within the ranks of the working class, likewise generating and exacerbating poverty in both its absolute and relative terms.***

Try to remember how specializations in different areas of work have surged in the past decades:

  1. There are not only engineering courses, but also technical ones which offer a more practical approach to a subject.
  2. Within engineering courses: computer engineering and financial engineering have sprouted as new necessary courses
  3. There are not only Economists but Business Administration graduates, Business Analysts, specialists in Actuary sciences, and so forth…
  4. The outsourcing of certain services (accounting, legal, debt collection, client service, invoicing, data mining, etc…) by big companies to find the most cost-effective formula.
  5. … and many others.

The specialization of the working class (referred to in Economics as the “division of labor”) obviously hones different sorts of talents and capabilities according to a specific area of concentration. As a consequence of having unique skills and capacities, salaries also differ not only when comparing one area to another (for instance, informatics versus tourism); but even in the same industry salaries widely vary across levels and niches (like in the financial industry).

As we are but humans, our interests lie in the continuous betterment of our own situation and in maintaining the attained status. We do this not only for us, but for our children and our children’s children. This is why we find it hard to break away from the chains (some of them golden, some of them platinum) of capital. Because honestly, what could we do?

Additionally, it must be added that the power of the capitalists was the result of a historical and social affirmation of their political standing. It took some time, but the capitalists have finally secured its position as the ruling class and it doesn’t seem to be willing to relinquish the title any time soon.

The Communist Manifesto states, ” The bourgeoisie, wherever it has got the upper hand, has put an end to all feudal, patriarchal, idyllic relations.” Such an end signified the beginning of their conquest for control and power.

The “constant revolutionizing of production” (before through machinery and in modern times through information), the continuous market expansion and the discovery of cheaper sources of raw materials (through better transport systems)… these undertakings were accompanied by the possession and centralization of means of production, markets and territories which have aided the capitalists to establish themselves as well as their principles and their values in the four corners of the world. This is how we have adopted the capitalist mode of production; not only “we” as in those who constitute the society, but also “we” as those who take part in politics and policies.

And so it goes, “Each step in the development of the bourgeoisie (capitalist class) was accompanied by a corresponding political advance of that class… The executive of the modern state is but a committee for managing the common affairs of the whole bourgeoisie.”

Now returning to the previous question, it may be better to be straightforward and argue that so few capitalists hold so much power because so many (if not all of us) have come to depend on them. Accordingly, this dependency can be projected towards international relations where poorer countries depend on the rich ones for their livelihood, for “protection” and even for “aid”.

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Image courtesy of: http://quotesgram.com

Conclusions

In my university, Marx was considered as belonging to the heterodox school of thought. His ideas were so unorthodox that if anybody wanted to learn his method of analysis, either they would have to get lucky to have a Marxist teacher or choose the elective subject entitled “Marxist Analysis of the Global Economy”. If a supposedly progressive institution marginalized such breakthrough in Socio-Historic-Economic analysis, it would be effortless to imagine how the rest of the society reacts before such an idea (with fingers crossed, perhaps after more than 10 years the curriculum has changed and has paved way for diversity).

Writer L. Genova said that “Reality depends on perspective, on what is paid attention to”. In the case of Marx, he paid close attention to the human beings and their development. Better said, he probed on the factors causing hindrance to human development under the capitalistic regime. His theories are far from being axioms, but they are part of the universe of realities in the domain of Economics as experienced by its main characters- the human beings.

As of the moment, we may not be witnessing the revolution that the Communist Manifesto has called out for. However, we have been granted a lens through which we could see the world differently. Hopefully, we could use this new vision to gradually move forward with better understanding and a greater awareness of the consequences laid before us.

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Image courtesy of: https://twitter.com/openmindschool

 

*Did you know that Marxists speak differently? I believe that in their aim to change/revolutionize the society, they have turned their backs to the standard language because (and this is a personal view) even the historical evolution of the modern language has led to this capitalist society. Therefore, all those who wish to participate in the revolution, would have to change their way of living including the way they speak.

**Actual data at the time of writing.

***Absolute poverty is determined according to a poverty threshold. That is, the minimum amount of resources (typically income) needed for a person to survive. Relative poverty on the other hand places the subject (the poor) within the social, cultural, political and economic context of his habitat. The best example for this is when we say that to be poor in Amsterdam is not the same as being poor in New Delhi.

-The End-

Glossary:

Capitalists (Bourgeois)- The class…  who in all advanced countries are in almost exclusive possession of the means of subsistence and those means (machines, factories, workshops, etc.) by which these means of subsistence are produced.

Profit- The difference between: the price at which a product has been sold minus the costs with which the product has been generated.

Worker- The class of the completely propertyless, who are compelled to sell their labour to the first class, the bourgeois, simply to obtain from them in return their means of subsistence. Since the parties to this trading in labour are not equal, but the bourgeois have the advantage, the propertyless must submit to the bad conditions laid down by the bourgeois.

Labor- the commodity sold by the Worker to the Capitalist in exchange for a wage

Wage- the amount of money which the capitalist pays for a certain period of work or for a certain amount of work. In short, this is the price of labor (or labor-power).

Sources:

  1. https://www.marxists.org
  2. “The Relevance of Marxism Today: Interview with Michael A. Lebowitz”, by Zhuo Mingliang, MR Zine, available at: http://mrzine.monthlyreview.org/2013/lebowitz210313.html
  3. http://www.worldometers.info/
  4. http://www.differencebetween.com/difference-between-policy-and-vs-politics/