"Fire is motion / Work is repetition / This is my document / We are all all we've done / We are all all we've done / We are all all we've done / We are all all defenses."

- Cap'N Jazz, "Oh Messy Life," Analphabetapolothology

Thursday, April 05, 2007

the hits they keep on coming

as is my usual practice, whenever my favorite student activist group (Students for Staff) has events on campus, i plug it like hell in all my classes and daily conversations. i send mass emails to everyone i can think of, and make (perhaps) excessive use of all the BlackBoard class email banks, where i've discovered i can easily send one announcement to something like 400+ honors kids at a time.

after doing this for the last 2 events, i've gotten to expect maybe one or two angry responses to my spamming. most are wondering who i am, and how i got their email, not realizing that Miami has a history of favoring spammers over the privacy of its students (in fact, Mother Miami sells our information to spammers and telemarketers. ironic since one of the frequent complaints of the Miami student specious is the excessive barrage of Barracuda Spam Quarantine Summary emails.)

well this most recent spam session resulted in the quickest deluge of responses yet. those clever honors kids! they're so sun-starved and attention-hungry, just chomping at the bit to engage in meaningful interaction with any fellow human being, that their anger pours forth like effervescent steaming magma, spewing in my face.

but no matter. little do they realize that i'm more than willing to bite back. mine is a rhetorical fight, and i am ruthless.

below, a sampling of the rantings i found pleasantly awaiting me in my inbox, a mere 5 minutes after the first wave of emails. [angry Honors kid's response, followed by mine]

but first, the context:

The campus org Students for Staff, in conjunction with the Center for American Progress and the Bishop Debate Society, has organized a week of events for discussing and taking action for a living wage in our community. We invite you to attend the following events on April 10 & April 12 as we explore the intersections of work, wages, class, and economic disparity at Miami University.

- talks by living wage expert Dr. Stephanie Luce and economist Dr.
Christian Weller
- discussion with students and staff to follow
Fisk Lounge, Ogden Hall, above Bell Tower Dining Hall
4:30 PM


come show your support for a living wage!
4:30 PM, the patio behind Shriver


chomp chomp,

--- Matt Kern [email removed] wrote:


You realize this is two days, and not a week's worth
of events, yes?

Can I also ask how you got my email address?

and who is the Bishop Debate Society? I've never heard of them
before. Do they have meetings?

thanks for your response...whenever it comes.
-matt kern

--- Stephanie Lee wrote:


The Bishop Debate Society is, in my most basic
understanding, a funding source that provides
assistance to student groups who bring speakers
to campus. It was
created, I assume, in the spirit
of dialog and community-engagement.

I probably got your email address from one of the
many BlackBoard sites. Miami makes it easy for all
student groups to advertise for their events this way,
and it is no form of trickery on my part.

And you are correct, 2 days does fall short of a week.
Thank you for pointing that out to me.



---Tim Nordquist wrote:

The more we pay them the more they will charge us to
go there. [sic]

---Stephanie Lee wrote:

That is definitely not true. Tuition has been rising the maximum amount every year, regardless of increases in wages.

As someone concerned about rising tuition, you should be wondering where all your money is going, and asking why your money is being used to pay sub-poverty wages.


--- Preston Parry wrote:

Have you done any research into the economics of
living wage laws? There's a lot of factual research out
there, available widely on the internet, or through the
library's databases. It would be wise of you as the leader of
this movement to know any and all arguments you will
come up against.

Also, how much work have you done with the actual
staff members themselves? Have you tried hard to
understand their position, to get to know them as
human beings, or just as a single entity that serves
as an outlet for you and your group? I'm just curious,
because not once have I ever heard a staff member
mention to me that they weren't getting paid enough,
or that they in any way disliked their job. Maybe my
sample's just too small, but I was curious how much
research you had into this area as well.

---Stephanie Lee wrote:


I have indeed been speaking to workers, as have other members of Students for Staff. It is our invested conversations and relationships with workers that drive many of us to continue working toward a living wage. While we could not possibly speak with all 1,600 of the Classified staff (hourly employees) at Miami, we have made an effort to get to know as many as possible, and have been working diligently in conjunction with many staff liaisons, and have met with staff advisory committees such as CPAC, in order to better understand the staff as a whole.

As someone working diligently on writing and researching my thesis, I can assure you that we do not do this for our own amusement, but because we care very much for the health of our community, and the individuals therein.

I'm glad to hear you've been talking to staff on your own, and that you've been "getting to know them as human beings." I encourage you to continue doing so.

I also encourage you to attend the Forum on Tuesday April 10th for the economics research on living wages. There will be two prominent economists from Washington DC and U Mass-Amherst who will speak to the very concerns you mentioned.



remaerdyad the remaerdyad said...

Seen dis?

PR Report For Stephanie-lee.blogspot.com, Living Wager 370405 14:20h
Seems to me that some new props may be in order. Points: one study today that indicates blogging is in decline (i.e. do (um, what do I term one who is not earning a living wage stephan!e, could you please tell me?) such non-living wagers have net access/their own blog/ect...) - perhaps this could also be a motif to expand the scope of blogging outside of blogger l337 into some (mysterious) new creative area (I dunno, just spitballing); are there catch-phrases or any sloganeering between non-living wagers; students should be confronting the issue of freedom of speech - it seems non-living wagers do not feel free to speak up; of note is question regarding faculty itself - this is a political issue insofar as the rich who run the university decide on the issue, but it is a economic issue in reality, thus class warfare comes to campus; what are the names of those who are holding back the 'movement' on the board of directors (or whatever body has authority).

Nite Of The Living Wage! AHHHhhh!!!...
Cue eery music. Cue deep, monotonish voice:
she came from a good family... a excellent student and all around good person, she had a hidden, dark side - her ruthless pursuit of the living-dead (wage). Unencumbered by the complaicent, her quest led her to those in her midst... those who slaved without social safety, those who were not even paid a living wage!
Cue more screaming, background music of a talentless musician playing a violin without any skill - very loudly.
After seeing the ugly scene and with laptop in hand, she vowed to never rest until the workers got their proper wage. And so she became, Wagegirl!

p.s. It was my b'day two weekends ago. So a howdy to yer mum.

stephan!e lee said...

remaerdyad (wow i finally managed to spell it backwards!) –

thanks for the comment! Wagegirl! to the rescue! i've always wanted super powers!

but it is important to note that i'm not only blogging about it. in fact, the huge reason i can't afford to post something everyday is b/c i'm busy fighting for a living wage, when i'm not working on my thesis!

my point being, i hate armchair activism. i consider myself an activist. that means ACTING, DOING, not just writing about it. that's just the stuff i get to share with you and all the rest of the blog community.

but you're totally right: a huge part of the problem is the digital divide: less working class ppl on the internet = a lot less of their real stories coming thru for ppl to read. it's a huge disparity, and this creates invisibility. and when something's invisible, we forget it exists, that it's important. and when you've been silenced for so long, sometimes you forget how to speak up for yourself.

anyway, LOVED the comment. so thanks!


p.s. happy belated birthday!
p.p.s. i don't know what you call a non-living-wager. "the working poor"? "the exploited working class"?

remaerdyaD said...

Thanks for the compliment and all, but really... just send money, please (old joke I used to give my clapping audience after performing for them, kind of seems a creepy typing it here, actually?).

Suddenly wish I did not hate cars so much so that I had one and could go down and test out our friendship in person. But then I would have to have like email or somesuch and all that. Dang it I h8 wishful thinking, eh? Besides, I shudder to think of what fuelling my armchair activism with actual factual gasoline would do to my precious rep(sic). Guess I will just retort with the proverbial politeness of 'if you are ever in the area, give me a buzz...' (or rather, 'can't wait to see what you'll do with your blog this year...') Come to think of it, "cripes": next I will be drinking alcohol, hanging with people my own age, and trying to get into stanford or some other NEAR APOLOCALYPTIC INSANITIES.

Could you imagine a greater horror thriller than Daydreamer, The Normal Person???

Some spam to fill up yer comments section EVEN MORE -

A few (other) friends have recently pointed me in the direction away from a decade of hacking (which I also h8, incidentally) into the direction of exploring "magic" and being a "magician" and stuff. (actually, I WAS a big fan of Deepak Chopra's book about Merlin when it came out) So I am "wikipedia'ing" the term, "google" (as opposed to google'ing the term, wikipedia), in the mock hope of stirring up such mystical, likely anti-corporate force.
"Have we come to explore friendship using inanimate objects of communication because it is the next step in our evolutionary progress as a species," Daydreamer ponders, looking at the freshly driven snow outside of his computer room window, reflecting sunlight into his heatset eyes like bright, burning phosphorous.

buena weekend

btw, your typing my handle correctly is truly a high compliment

fwiw, my records indicate that my first comment was last 0714 23:38h (your original blog) - so expect a grand ole comment in august TO BE SURE!!!

stephan!e lee said...

hey remaerdyaD (even more accurate this time!)

i find that blogosphere friends are sometimes best left that way. there's so much more mystique to an online personality, with all those wire distances and screen n plastic mediations, that the closeness of physicality may actually seem quite dull and, well, un-magical.

to be blunt: i am quite dull in real life. i'm a homebody, a nervous wreck, a boring normal person. not that interesting to get to know really, which may explain why i spend so much time working and writing this silly thing.

plus, if u think about it, the nice thing about a blog is the very fact that i can pick and choose what i post. it's not all sparkles and sunshine in this neck of the woods, if you know what i mean, though the rainbows may be otherwise deceiving.

wow, it is late and i don't think i've made ANY sense.


remaerdyaD said...

'to be blunt: i am quite dull in real life.'
~ Wow, I think I actually factually know when you are lieing (: Strange how much I can cypher written text at this point in my life...

'i'm a homebody, a nervous wreck, a boring normal person.'
~ Hmm. Me thinks this is why we are here. I wonderful lesbian friend of mine once pointed out something very interesting to me once: a nerd is someone who glorifies tech; a dork is somebody who goofs off and is basically useless/pointless (I would say much of youtube antics these days?); but a GEEK is someone who is interested in tech but remains objective and critical.
BTW I prefer to state, "an eighty year old couple watching paint dry on a friday night has more of a life than I do." Am I more boring than thou? I am not prepared to throw down the, uh, gaunlet or whatever (or maybe the, sigh, yet.

'not that interesting to get to know really, which may explain why i spend so much time working and writing this silly thing.'
~ I do not ascribe to psycology myself, but we might be documenting all of this for our analyst someday...

Head-ups: keep an eye on Fireant.tv - I consider this just about the original vlog community that met any success early on. (Well, they also have put up some of my work, so I have bias.)

My actual comment: not having my own internet account, my use of the web may be getting very tenuous. So do not be too surprised if I disappear for weeks at a time. Do not worry though, I have my guitar and cats. Mark me as one with your blog as my homepage!

here is loving you,
remaerdya :-D

stephan!e lee said...

remaerdyaD, oh dear dear remaerdyaD:

thank you for the kind comment. i think we've all got our interesting points and our dull ones, i just don't like to emphasize the interesting over the boring for fear of de-emphasizing the everyday, and forgetting the extraordinary is rare.

this is why my youtube is explained as "visionary ordinary." i think we're really all very ordinary, but we try to capture those special moments when we are not.

here's looking at you kid,

Preston said...

Generalizing and sensationalizing a bit, don't you think?

So what do you say to the plethora of research out there? I looked through over 20 scholarly sources for a paper last semester, and eventually gave up on ever finding a bit of opposition to the idea that living wage laws are not at all helpful, and even sometimes harmful.

One study showed that when living wages went up, so did the number of welfare claims. Others provided lots of evidence that once firms saw they were getting less work per dollar for the lowest paid jobs, they shifted their business plan around. They required far fewer of these low-end jobs, through automation, or just hiring more skilled workers for a not significant increase in price.

Other significant arguments included: workers being locked into these still low paying jobs, since there is actually a penalty for leaving these jobs for a different one; the psychological pains of knowing that you are not capable of earning that wage on your own, and instead need outside assistance to do so; and by far the most common one: the increased wages from these laws are nearly all eaten up by increased taxes, since the workers no longer get the poverty tax benefits.

Apparently you're writing your thesis on a similar subject, so I'm sure you have a lot more evidence on the subject- I'm curious how it responds to these basic criticisms.

I don't support locking people into low-paying jobs, I just take a less socialist and more capitalist approach to it: give them the opportunity to build the skills necessary to get promoted, or to change jobs entirely. From my admittedly limited experience with staff members, they all chose their jobs for the non-economic benefits of being around promising young college kids, and essentially getting the benefits of parenting a whole new set of hopeful youth.