New Clear Vision


constructive commentary for the chronically farsighted


The Working Dead

December 09, 2016 By: NCVeditor Category: Culture, Economy, Politics, Randall Amster

Signs of Life in Making a Living?

by Randall Amster

I’ve noticed a subtle shift in recent years that seems relatively minor but is perhaps quite revealing of larger trends. People rarely seem to ask the question anymore, “what do you do for a living?” Instead, it’s usually expressed in more transactional terms as, “where do you work?” or “what’s your job?” By itself this appears insignificant, except that when coupled with more macroscopic shifts in the nature of employment across a wide range of fields, it says something about the erstwhile notion of “making a living.” Indeed, with increasing routinization and the advent of 24/7 technology, work is becoming less about our living (as in, someone pursuing their “life’s work”) and more about trying not to let it kill us.

With all of the post-election analysis about the issues of the “working class” as a determinative factor, we now find ourselves in a liminal space between the reality of economic dislocation and the fantasy of redemption. How much disbelief needs to be suspended in order to buy the notion that (a) outmoded industrial jobs will literally be coming back, and that (b) a billionaire real estate magnate is the one to do it? The burgeoning Cabinet picks and associated rhetoric should be all working people need to read the tea leaves. As such, we are steadily traversing the fine line from fake populism to genuine dystopianism. (more…)

Homage to Mother-Work

March 06, 2014 By: NCVeditor Category: Economy, Family, Jennifer Browdy

Bringing Home the ‘Bacon’ and Frying It Up in the Pan…

by Jennifer Browdy de Hernandez

The theme of last Saturday’s opening night event at the Berkshire Festival of Women WritersOut of the Mouths of Babes: An Evening of Mothers Reading to Others, was “What do mothers make?”

The answers provided by the evening’s presenters — all women at various stages of their lives — were various, but there was a common theme: mothers make families, mothers make relationships, mothers make community.

Historically, in most societies this has been the primary role given to women — to serve as the emotional heart of families, to make the meals and make the homes that lead to strong, centered communities.

These days, in American society at least, women are expected to do all this and also be successful in their professional lives.  Only the wealthiest American families can afford to have a stay-at-home parent.

In most households I know, especially among people at mid-life or younger, both parents are working hard at their jobs and also trying to sustain a healthy home life.  And in most families I know, it still falls disproportionately to women to keep those home fires banked and burning bright. (more…)

Bon Appétit

October 09, 2013 By: NCVeditor Category: Economy, Pat LaMarche, Politics

Food Service Workers Without Healthcare

by Pat LaMarche

This week — in the midst of the government shut down over the Affordable Care Act — the New York Times ran a number of graphs and tables that explained where the poor and those lacking health insurance live and work.

Now if you don’t like math or if you intend to eat out tonight, you might not want to read any further.

See, it turns out that cooks and waiters/waitresses make up 33% of the uninsured. That doesn’t mean that 33% of them are uninsured, it means that they make up 33% of the 48 million uninsured in the nation. Cashiers are another 19%. That means that more than half the uninsured in our nation are those people that probably just handled your food.

So now let’s draw on that high school math you learned. Remember studying exponential growth and graphing a resulting number based on what we multiplied and added to a beginning number? We used the X and Y axes to represent these points. If your head’s starting to hurt, stop thinking of numbers and picture a beautiful sky with a sliver of a moon. That moon shape is kind of what this graph will look like. It’s starts out slowly moving to the right and then sweeps upward rather quickly. (more…)

Getting Satisfaction

July 03, 2013 By: NCVeditor Category: Family, Windy Cooler

Living and Loving with One’s Whole Heart

by Windy Cooler

I haven’t been adding much new content to my blog. At some point it seems every blogger says something to this effect, breaking a several month’s long silence. I think I haven’t been writing because what I actually want to write about is so different than what I used to write about. Doing justice to the hope and happiness I feel, simultaneous to the grief and anger, is, well, hard. Mostly I don’t try to do it justice. Do I have anything to offer someone I don’t know? Well, I don’t know. (more…)

Resist These Dark Times

May 29, 2013 By: NCVeditor Category: Family, Kathy Kelly, Politics

Advice from an Afghan Mother and Activist

by Kathy Kelly

When she was 24 years old, in 1979, Fahima Vorgetts left Afghanistan.  By reputation, she had been outspoken, even rebellious, in her opposition to injustice and oppression; and family and friends, concerned for her safety, had urged her to go abroad.  Twenty-three years later, returning for the first time to her homeland, she barely recognized war-torn streets in urban areas where she had once lived.  She saw and felt the anguish of villagers who couldn’t feed or shelter their families, and no less able to accept such unjust suffering than she’d been half her life before, Fahima decided to make it her task to help alleviate the abysmal conditions faced by ordinary Afghans living at or below the poverty line – by helping to build independent women’s enterprises wherever she could.  She trusted in the old adage that if a person is hungry it’s an even greater gift to teach the person how to fish than to only give the person fish. (more…)

International Workers’ Day

May 01, 2013 By: NCVeditor Category: Economy, Laura L. Finley, Politics

A Reminder of U.S. Progress on Workers’ Rights

by Laura L. Finley

May 1 is International Workers’ Day. It is a day to be reminded that “just and favorable” work conditions, “equal pay
for equal work,” workplaces “free of discrimination,” and “protection against unemployment” are fundamental human rights enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Unfortunately, May 1st is a day to recognize the many ways the U.S fails to enact the human right to work. I offer here just a few of the many ways the U.S is falling short, recognizing the many other workers who toil in poor conditions for low pay that remain marginalized and often voiceless.

Just and fair work conditions are far from reality for many of the people who produce our food. Agricultural workers and those who labor in slaughterhouses, meat-packing, and related industries are often subject to horrifying work environments, as depicted in films like Food, Inc. These workers suffer injury, health conditions, and low salaries. Many times, they are victims of wage theft, whereby employers will mandate overtime but not pay for it, slice time off timesheets, or promise day wages that never come.  Miami Dade County was the first to enact a Wage Theft Ordinance to offer at least a modicum of redress for those who are victimized, yet most other cities have nothing to protect workers who fall prey to their greedy employers. (more…)

Bike Commuting

April 11, 2013 By: NCVeditor Category: Culture, Ecology, Jay Walljasper

One of the Best Ways to Stay Healthy…

by Jay Walljasper

It’s always a pleasure when scientific studies confirm your own long-held opinions, especially when what you think flies in the face of all conventional wisdom.

For instance, who knew that chocolate éclairs and triple fudge caramel brownies actually contain fewer calories than a 12-ounce glass of skim milk? Or that every $1,000 you spend on lavish vacations before the age of 65 will, over the long run, provide you with more retirement income than if you’d stashed that same $1,000 in a 401k?

Well, to be honest, I made up the fact about the éclairs. And the one about vacations, too.

But here’s bona fide scholarly research that excites me in the same way: Biking for transportation appears more helpful in losing weight and promoting health than working out at the gym. (more…)