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Facetime with the Great Depression
Poverty gauges may be relatively new, but we've had poverty wages for far too long - and how we all imagine the face of poverty has a lot to do with the Depression-era photos of Dorothea Lange. From a 21st century perspective
Poverty gauges may be relatively new, but we’ve had poverty wages for far too long — and how we all imagine the face of poverty has a lot to do with the Depression-era photos of Dorothea Lange. From a 21st century perspective, the images can be distancing and othering — does that drive-thru worker rocking a McDonald’s headset look all that immiserated compared to these dusty-faced Okies you might recognize from that time you landed on the History Channel when you forget which channel has Shark Week?
So it’s fascinating to learn that Lange thought the captions of the photos were as valuable as the images, and was furious they were so often omitted. And she was right. Read the stories behind the photos in people’s own words, the black-and-white pics come alive and move into dialogue with the present one again. Maybe that’s why they get left out?
Maybe the Mona Lisa had hungry eyes
Writers from XO Jane probably don't get tens of millions of dollars for their work, but this piece taking on gender, poverty, and food is as sublime as anything auctioned off to an oligarch this week - and it's right there for the reading on the internet. A deft and personal account of the relationship between food insecurity, public benefits, and body image, it's full of sentences that are hard to read and hard to forget.
Like: "Many nights I spent in bed, clutching my stomach and praying my headache away. I told myself that I was doing the right thing, not just for myself, but for my country." It's another reminder that poverty in the US remains far too present and far too hidden.
The Obama Administration recently announced new overtime rules that ensure companies can’t just decree that low-paid workers have “salaried” positions and “managerial” responsibilities, make them work well over 40 hours a week without any real independent authority, and get out of paying them time-and-a-half.
These poverty-wage salaried jobs are particularly common in fast food and retail… which is probably why the National Retail Federation is so upset about the new rules they wrote a loopy statement which clarifies that the President would qualify for overtime if he worked more than 40 hours a week and was paid less than $50,000/year, insists that “careers are the path to success, not time clocks", and frets that the new rules will “turn salaried professionals into clock watchers.” Weird how their dystopian version of being a front-line manager sounds like it might have been inspired by one too many viewings of the opening sequence of Days of our Lives.