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While we should all do what we can, the key phrase there is "what we can."

Ethical Consumption: How to Pollute the Planet and Exploit Labor Slightly Less

There’s a short story by Ursula K. LeGuin called The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas. With apologies to the late, great author, I want to summarize it here:

In the city of Omelas, everyone is deliriously happy. The people eat well, drink well, and party all the time. There’s no sickness, no pain, and the weather’s always perfect. It’s a utopia. Everyone has everything they could possibly want or need.

Well, almost everyone. For deep in the heart of Omelas is a dark, damp, cold room. And in this room is a child: unwashed, starved, uneducated, and treated cruelly. They don’t have a name, a family, clothes, or a clue as to why they’re kept in horrible conditions.

Everyone in Omelas is taken to see the child once in their lifetimes. They’re made to understand that, somehow, all the glorious happiness of Omelas relies on this one person’s suffering. As long as this child suffers, everyone else in Omelas will thrive.

And it’s then that the individuals of Omelas make a choice: to stay in Omelas, content in the knowledge that their comfort and happiness relies on the misery of another; or to leave, to opt out, to go somewhere that might not be as perfect as Omelas, but where they can live without exploiting another for their own gain.

The ethical choice is, of course, to walk away from Omelas. It’s a fable for modern times.

We live in a world where so much of our lifestyles, our wealth, relies on exploitation. Animals live short, brutish lives on factory farms so we can eat meat from the supermarket. Carbon emissions slowly damage the climate to devastating effect so we can drive cars and ride airplanes. Children work twelve-hour work days in sweatshops so we can browse a closet full of fashionable clothes and still say “I have nothing to wear.”

The way we consume—food, clothing, electronics, everything—is, all too often, pretty fucking unethical.

Now here’s a gif of a doggo hanging out with some baby chicks because that shit just got real fucking dark!

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Another recession is coming.

Ask the Bitches: How Do I Prepare for a Recession?

We’ve gotten a lot of questions recently about a hypothetical looming recession. The stock market has taken a bruising; bellwether companies are stumbling. Do such omens and portents mean that another recession on its way?

The good news is, we can answer this one very easily.

Yes. Another recession is coming.

We know this with 100% certainty.

How?

The same way we know with 100% certainty that Piggy and I will be dead within the next hundred years. It is in the nature of a living being to die, just as it is in the nature of economies to grow and contract. The sun rises; the sun falls. The tides go in; the tides go out. It’s just the way things are.

Sounds kinda shitty, right? It’s possible that, someday far in the future, someone will devise some new system that will smooth out or even eliminate these cycles. Maybe the nature of goods and services will change so fundamentally that economies will transform in ways we can’t even imagine. But that’s Phillip K. Dick stuff—innovations that live so far in a hypothetical future that they’re still science fiction. You should plan to endure these market cycles throughout your lifetime.

And yes, there are lots of things you can do to make yourself more prepared. Let’s go through them.

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Dispensing advice about the Latte Factor to those who live one medical emergency away from complete financial ruin sounds a helluva lot like poor shaming.

The Latte Factor, Poor Shaming, and Economic Compassion

There’s a piece of conventional financial wisdom that goes like this: if you’re looking to save money or pay off debt, start by skipping small luxuries like lattes and instead put that money toward your financial goals. The single digit savings will add up to a significant amount over time, all because you had the fortitude to practice a little self-control. It’s a simple, effective way to find some wiggle room in your budget and a great first step toward living a frugal lifestyle.

The Latte Factor, as it’s known, is both virtuous and practical. It gives its frugal practitioner a sense of self-righteous superiority over those who continue to waste their money on overpriced, over-sweetened, caffeinated beverages every day. And because it’s such a simple solution, those preaching the gospel of frugality peddle it like a magic elixir. Can’t seem to save money? Just skip the latte! It works miracles.

Yet to those who truly struggle with systemic poverty, getting advice about the Latte Factor feels horribly condescending. In fact, being told that skipping a small luxury here and there will raise you up out of your low-income status feels downright cruel and deliberately ignorant. Because in cases of economic disenfranchisement, a lack of frugality is not the root of the problem.

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"Take your fairy tale upbringing in a sylvan glade drinking unicorn tears and shove it."

You Are above Bottled Water, You Elegant Land Mermaid

One time during my freshman year of college, I walked into my dorm to find my pals* holding up a bottle of Fiji water like it was the Holy Grail. Recently escaped country bumpkin that I was, I had never heard of Fiji bottled water. “Oh, you have to try it!” they exclaimed reverently, “It’s the best water.”

I sipped. I was underwhelmed. “Tastes just like my well water back home,” I explained. They gave me looks that clearly said, “Take your fairy tale upbringing in a sylvan glade drinking unicorn tears and shove it.”

All of which is to say that I have never been impressed with our country’s feverish devotion to bottled water. And here’s why I am perfectly vindicated in that point of view.

*Editorial note from Kitty: I’m so impressed that Piggy had the discretion and restraint to not out me as the Fiji Water Friend. It is delicious water! I just hadn’t yet processed that it was flown from halfway across the world in non-biodegradable plastic bottles, a behavior so absurd it would make the citizens of Panem’s Capitol blush.

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I don't agree with the cultural consensus that period blood is inherently more gross than any other bodily fluid. That said, all body fluids are hella fucking gross.

Blood Money: Surviving Your Period While Poor

Trigger warning: I use the word “panties” like, so, SO much in this post.

Some women have really figured out how to lean in to the concept of their menstruation. They describe it as a period of heightened sensitivity and awareness. They talk about how in-touch it makes them feel with their power, their humanity, and the changing seasons of their body.

I’m so happy for those women. I wish I could count myself among them. But I do not go gently into that dark night.

I HATE my period. No, I really fucking HATE it. It does not make me feel powerful or mindful; its arrival fills me with a fresh sense of mortal outrage. Sixteen years of menses has not dulled my sense of shock and dismay when I go to wipe myself and the tissue comes back red. Every month, I am fucking appalled.

WHAT DO YOU MEAN "EVERY MONTH?!"
It’s not that I think period blood is something shameful or dirty. It’s just so fucking unfair.

There are so many aspects of ~*womanhood*~ that fucking suck. We work more, get paid less, are constantly judged by random strangers, get legislated bodily by old jerks, and carry the psychological and physical burden of sexual violence.

Menstruation is just one more thing that happens to you that you’ve got to deal with it. (And although I’ll use the word “women” a lot, it bears reminding that there are other kinds of people who menstruate.) It’s messy, uncomfortable, disruptive, and draining.

Worst of all, menstruating is expensive. Disposable menstrual products are a fixed monthly cost that’s surprisingly high—and they are inexplicably taxed as luxury items! (Don’t bother trying to repeal the tax, ladies! Your dashing white knight of a male governor will do it for you! Oh wait, no he won’t, he’s going to FUCKING VETO IT.) Reusable products have a startlingly high initial cost, and aren’t always convenient or appropriate for all people and situations.

With this in mind, Piggy and I have mined our own experiences and those of our vast network of Vagenda operatives to bring you clear-eyed reviews of each of these products through a financial lens.
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There's no faster way to sour a friendship--and jeopardize your future trading opportunities--than to mishandle the intricacies of the friend trade.

The Delicate Art of the Friend Trade

When you’re short on money and long on time you get creative about paying for things. And a great, creative way to save money on goods and services is by trading for them with other goods and services.

I haven’t paid for a haircut in literally years. My hairstylist friend just happens to be a mom, so I trade babysitting for haircuts and we both walk away happy. This friend trade is a mutually beneficial arrangement: we both get something we really need, we both save money, and we both get the satisfaction of helping a sister in her hour of need.

But the friend trade is a delicate art. There’s no faster way to sour a friendship—and jeopardize your future trading opportunities—than to badly mishandle the intricacies of the friend trade.

Let’s examine how you can save money by navigating the waters of friend trading without being a total garbage person.

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