Saturday, February 07, 2009

An inclusive recession?

The people hit hardest by the global capitalist downturn of the late 2000s are the disabled. When a recession happens, they are the first people to be laid off, they are among the first in social spending to be cut, and they are the most likely to be overlooked.

The global unemployment rate, 5.7% in 2007, could rise to 6.5% in 2009, estimates the ILO. Therefore,

"The number of working poor – people who are unable to earn enough to lift themselves and their families above the US$2 per person, per day, poverty line, may rise up to 1.4 billion, or 45 per cent of all the world’s employed."

The International Labor Organization recommends Keynesian relief policies, which are in vogue everywhere. In the United States, however, some states have decreased the number of welfare recipients by the end of 2008.

Whereas every state has increased the number of food-stamp recipients:

The reason the NY Times article gives is that cash assistance is viewed as "dependency", whereas food assistance is viewed as "nutritional support".

A big reason why people with disabilities do not obtain the rights that they have claim to in many developing countries is because the disability has not transformed the self-perception of the disabled or the workplace. Having a disability is viewed as a burden and possibly something that will prevent them from employment, stopping the disabled before they take an active stance and asserting their rights. Many of these obstacles are viewed as personal shortcomings rather than the products of discrimination.

A series of interviews from Americans with disabilities, chronicled in Rights of Inclusion, has a common theme throughout: workers and the unemployed with disabilities feel that the stigmatizing effects of receiving assistance are too problematic for them. They feel that having a disability decreases their reliability, is a burden on business, and this makes them reluctant to think about themselves as disabled people. Unwilling to modify their identities as people with disabilities, they do not receive the aid they could have under the Americans with Disabilities Act.

One disabled person remarked that his charm and persuasive skills, as opposed to explicitly invoking the law, was the key to make others appreciate the benefits of having a person with a disability as an employee or an associate. The authors, David Engel and Frank Munger, believe that "rights become active" when a formal claim is lodged with a government official, and when the person's self-perception is transformed.

"Rights are the vehicle for achieving equality, but to invoke rights one must first identify oneself as unequal - in a sense that one's abilities fall short of an imagined 'norm'."

Martha Minow, at Harvard Law, says that "disability" has no inherent meaning because what is considered a disability in one setting is not a disability in another. It is meaningful only as a comparison. An exclusion based on a disability is a signal that someone has not been provided for as others are. The blame is on the institutions that create the disadvantage. So when rights are thought about in terms of social relations, their effect on identity are - in theory - no longer stigmatizing.

The latest BLS jobs report found that unemployment is 7.6 percent in the U.S. and 13.2 percent for those with disabilities.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Some notes on this Project:

Continual War is a biannual anonymous publication focused on the recent attacks in the Northwest and across the West Coast. It will be coming out every six months. This biannual list of attacks is a time of laborious joy. Gathering communiques from online, reading newspaper articles and checking up to date anarchist sites for recent attacks.
One of the many reasons Continual War is put together. Is to expand upon the already pre-existing tensions and situations within capital and civilization. Seen in a wider context as part of a larger project of a network of individuals. That find it essential to break out of the existing anarchist models inherit in this subcultural void that plagues the US, and the waking giant that is the ever coming social war. A rise of interest has been sparked in the US towards an insurrectionary anarchist focus.
But as to what is typically considered an anarchist project (in the US). Forming bike collectives, Food Not Bombs chapters, collective houses, info-shops, etcetera, is very much the opposite as to what a project is in Europe, Canada, Chile and other continents. Where one going into these projects (that are typically not charity-esc types of activities that leftists, activists and radicals partake in out of a sense of humanity) with a critical analysis of what it is, that one is doing, an intentional beginning and focus and a direct confrontation with the existent (via Plan A or Plan B). The anarchism found in the US is a very recuperated form of what it is comparatively to European counter-parts.
This is part of that focus. To draw analysis and proposals for discussion and debate that are much warranted here in the States. Because if this rise and interest is to actually become something - an all out social war - than without any kind of communication between autonomous individuals, groups, collectives, whatever it is as a collection of bodies or a body is. Then how effective and practical is this all to be?

Link to the Publication: