Episode

10/13 The Stories Of The Workers Who Perform Society’s Most Ethically Troubling Jobs w/ Eyal Press

October 13, 2021

Sam and Emma host New Yorker contributor Eyal Press to discuss his recent book Dirty Work: Essential Jobs and the Hidden Toll of Inequality in America, on the moral division of labor and the emotional burden of getting by for countless Americans. They start off with Everett Hughes’ essay “Good People and Dirty Work” and how the unconscious mandate that faced the Germans under the Nazi regime was not only unique to that time or place, but that countless other places, the US most certainly included, have morally questionable state-sanctioned action taken beyond the public consciousness. Eyal explores how he took this concept into today’s America, looking at positions such as corrections officers, slaughterhouse, and oil rig workers, as well as diving into the labor behind the US’s drone program. After touching on the similarities and differences when it comes to policing, and the cultural support behind it, he, Emma, and Sam dive into the story of Harriet, a mental health worker in the Florida prison system, and the abuses of her patients that she had to see and hear under threat of retribution by the guards if she reported it, working up to the death of Darren Rainey in 2012. While nobody in power was punished, of course, Press looks towards Bill Curtis’s analysis putting the fault, ultimately, on the Florida voters that elected Rick Scott and a government with a platform of expanding the prison population while cutting all funding for mental health. Next, they move to look inside both a poultry slaughterhouse and oil rigs, exploring how the distaste by society for labor that is absolutely necessary for it to function as it helps to obscure the horrifying conditions in which that labor takes place, exploring the meat processing industry’s majority women of color and immigrant workforce and the BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill which resulted in the deaths of 11 workers. Lastly, they go from the private to governmental sector as Eyal takes on the emotional turmoil of officers behind the US’s Bipartisan drone program and pawning off of the gore and horror, disassociating it from the elite in power and the public eye. They wrap up the interview by discussing the central role American Capitalism and Imperialism play in this moral division of labor, and the ingrained nature of the exploitation of workers even onto the emotional level. Sam and Emma also touch on the incredible moment in labor organizing that we are currently in, before discussing the behind-the-scenes horrors facing school board members taking the brunt of the astroturf anti-mask movement.

And in the Fun Half: Charlie Kirk gets just absolutely schooled by Ben Gleib on literally just knowing what a human is, a caller discusses VA Beach’s inability to get its police under control to the point that it’s affecting tourism, and Will from Cincinnati discusses the David Shor piece on popularism and the Democrats’ multi decade-long commitment to not getting anything popular done. Laura Ingraham and Raymond Arroyo work to desexualize children’s toys by making AIDS jokes, Chris from Mass takes on the cognitive dissonance in the hunting and conservationist communities, and Lauren Windsor asserts herself as one of the best intelligence agents that doesn’t work for an oppressive regime, plus, your calls and IMs!

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