[Marxism] Economic realities
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
By AMY WALDMAN
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
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.
NY Times, May 6, 2004
4-Hour Trek Across New York for 4 Hours of Work, and $28
By JOSEPH BERGER
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.
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