[Marxism] Economic realities

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Thu May 6 10:27:13 MDT 2004

NY Times, May 6, 2004
Low-Tech or High, Jobs Are Scarce in India's Boom

HYDERABAD, India - Two years ago, with the employment market in his 
drought-stricken rural district as dry as the earth, Bhaliya made his 
way to this high-tech capital in southern India and found salvation in a 
low-tech straw broom.

He became a city street sweeper, earning 1,800 rupees a month, or 
roughly $40. The pay was so low, and his 1,000 rupee-rent for one room 
in this inflationary city so high, that his wife became a sweeper too, 
leaving three toddlers in neighbors' care.

Each day since, they have bent to clear errant flotsam from the curbs, 
and straightened to see the immaculate imagery of the new India: 
hundreds of billboards advertising cars, mobile phones and Louis 
Phillipe shirts.

The temptations are forever out of reach, yet Mr. Bhaliya, 25, counts 
himself lucky. "We have to work to live," he said, knowing better than 
to ask for more.

full: http://www.nytimes.com/2004/05/06/international/asia/06indi.html


NY Times, May 6, 2004
4-Hour Trek Across New York for 4 Hours of Work, and $28

There are some small mercies to living a two-hour subway and bus ride 
from a low-paying job.

Intesar Museitef always gets a seat in the morning on the D train 
because her stop is the second from the line's start in the north Bronx. 
On the return trip home she always get a seat on the E train because her 
stop in Queens is its first.

Otherwise, her four-hour trip, which takes her under virtually the full 
breadth of the city and includes the added torment of two 15-minute bus 
rides in Queens, is achingly dull.

"It's boring," Ms. Museitef (MOO-seh-tef), a 32-year-old Palestinian 
immigrant who cares for a frail elderly woman, said as she started her 
return trip on a recent Tuesday. "To sit for two hours on a train is 

Sure, there are suburban commuters from, say, Dutchess County or the 
Poconos who endure four-hour commuting, but usually they are drawn by 
Wall Street jobs with large bonuses or less glamorous blue collar jobs 
with good wages and benefits. Still, some workers in all corners of the 
city are willing to travel breathtaking distances — sometimes for as 
many hours as they work — for few dollars and virtually no benefits. 
They do this because whatever small amount they make is essential.

Ms. Museitef commutes four hours each workday to work just four hours at 
$7 an hour.

More than 18,000 household workers — nannies, cleaners, home health 
aides — endure daily trips of 90 minutes or more for jobs paying less 
than $25,000 a year, according to an analysis of 2000 Census data. Most 
are immigrant women from the West Indies and South America and 
elsewhere. (Illegal immigrants, leery of government officials, are often 
not counted.) These are workers who may travel from eastern Queens 
across the city to New Jersey, or even from New Jersey through Manhattan 
and the Bronx to Westchester County, almost always by several trains and 

Sociologists say that these workers often have no choice, because they 
live in the city's poorer precincts while the jobs they need are 
scattered around the region. In the 1950's, unskilled immigrants could 
rely on manufacturing jobs clustered in a central place like the Garment 
District, said Daniel Cornfield, a sociologist at Vanderbilt University 
who specializes in labor. But manufacturing jobs have since evaporated 
while much of the low-wage job growth has been in areas like household work.

full: http://www.nytimes.com/2004/05/06/nyregion/06COMM.html


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