Leaving Seattle

This is a great city, folks. It’s beautiful, the food is fantastic, the architecture is lovely, the surrounding nature is out of this world. I still love DC more but that’s probably because I was there with N (and with Klara inside me), and that colors my perception.

On the negative side, the prices are ridiculous, the homelessness is painful to watch and a lot worse than in St Louis. It’s shocking to see people defecating in the street in the middle of a crowd of overdressed tourists. It can’t be that hard to provide free toilet booths in such a rich city.

I used to miss living in a city to the point it hurt. The wealth of sensory experiences, the crowds, the anonymity, the cafes, the culinary adventurousness, the people watching, the shopping, the used book stores, the intellectual rewards of a fast-paced environment – I would feel like being deprived of it all was like living death. Every time left a city to go back to one of the small college towns where I lived, I’d weep and feel like I was on a way to my emotional and intellectual funeral.

I haven’t felt like that for many years, though. A city is great but my sleepy little Midwestern suburb is great, too. I can inhabit both worlds and not feel like I’m losing the most important parts of who I am when I’m leaving a big city. This is a big part of my personal growth. Which, obviously, doesn’t mean that people who haven’t moved in this direction aren’t achieving personal growth. Everybody grows in their own direction, so I’d never condemn folks who suffer in sleepy rural towns or in big cities. Growth is whatever helps one to stay intellectually vibrant. And if that vibrancy is predicated on thriving in a specific type of place, that’s great.

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3 thoughts on “Leaving Seattle”

  1. https://slate.com/news-and-politics/2018/05/neil-gorsuch-demolished-labor-rights-in-epic-systems-v-lewis.html


    …The Supreme Court issued a 5–4 decision Monday in Epic Systems v. Lewis allowing employers to deprive their workers of their right to sue collectively. Its ruling, written by Justice Neil Gorsuch, blasts a massive hole through post–New Deal labor law, hobbling employees’ ability to recover in court when their employers underpay them. It is difficult to overstate how devastating Epic Systems is to labor rights in America—and how far Gorsuch strays from federal law in order to implement his preferred economic policy.

    Epic Systems revolves around a group of employees who sued their employers for “wage theft,” alleging that they had illegally underpaid them. Each of their individual claims is fairly small and probably not worth the cost of litigation. But taken together, their claims add up to a substantial sum, and so the employees filed a class action on behalf of themselves and others who were similarly wronged. Their employers fought their lawsuits, arguing that the Federal Arbitration Act blocked their claims because the workers had all been forced to sign contracts that waived their right to sue and instead shunted them into one-on-one arbitration. (The arbitration process strongly favors employers.)

    This argument, however, conflicted with a decision by the National Labor Relations Board, the independent agency tasked with implementing federal labor law. In 2012, the NLRB held that the National Labor Relations Act of 1935, or the NLRA, nullifies arbitration clauses in cases like this. Its reasoning was simple. The Federal Arbitration Act declares arbitration agreements “valid, irrevocable, and enforceable,” except “upon such grounds as exist at law.” And 10 years after Congress passed the FAA, it passed the NRLA, a signature piece of New Deal legislation that guarantees workers “the right to self-organization, to form, join, or assist labor organizations, to bargain collectively through representatives of their own choosing, and to engage in other concerted activities for the purpose of collective bargaining or other mutual aid or protection.” (Emphasis mine.)

    Quite sensibly, the NLRB found that lawsuits designed to collectively enforce workplace rights qualified as “concerted activities for the purpose of … mutual aid or protection.” It thus found that the FAA must yield to the NLRA when employees file class actions to protect their interests under federal law.

    Now, however, the Supreme Court has overturned that interpretation of the law. Gorsuch, the self-proclaimed textualist, rests his conclusion largely on the “structure” of the NRLA. He insists that class actions do not qualify as “concerted activities” for workers’ “mutual aid” because the NRLA does not expressly mention them. Never mind that the plain text of the statute is designed to safeguard collective rights that Congress didn’t list in 1935 but that might arise down the road. Never mind that collective action—though the courts, if necessary—is precisely the kind of activity that the NLRA was explicitly meant to fortify. To Gorsuch, “concerted activities” include only activities “closely related to organization and collective bargaining, such as picketing.” This assertion is based not in the text of the law but in the justice’s own wishful thinking.

    In one of the most furious dissents of her career, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg tore into the majority for “substitut[ing] its preferred economic policies for those chosen by the people’s representatives.” She accused Gorsuch of returning the Supreme Court to the Lochner era, when the justices routinely struck down workers’ rights under a dubious theory of economic liberty. The “edict that employees with wage and hours claims may seek relief only one-by-one,” she wrote, “does not come from Congress.” Instead, it is “the result of take-it-or-leave-it labor contracts harking back to the type called ‘yellow dog,’ and of the readiness of this Court to enforce those unbargained-for agreements. The FAA demands no such suppression of the right of workers to take concerted action for their ‘mutual aid or protection.’ ”

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    1. This is one of the most depressing rulings to come out of the Supreme Court during my lifetime. And Gorsuch was the deciding vote here–an appointment Clinton never ever would have made. I remain so angry with those on the left who stubbornly claimed that there was no difference between Trump and Clinton.

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  2. A city is great but my sleepy little Midwestern suburb is great, too. I can inhabit both worlds and not feel like I’m losing the most important parts of who I am when I’m leaving a big city.

    I feel like this, too. I grew up in a big city and for years, after I had arrived in the US, I proudly eschewed suburbia and swore I’d never own a house or live in any settlement shy of a million inhabitants. I am now in a medium-sized city, with a big house, comfortable, and I get annoyed by the crowds and the traffic in megalopolises. When I hear the stories of daily multihour commutes, I’m grateful and wouldn’t trade my 15-min one for anything. People change.

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