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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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Episode 004: “Capitalism Is Working for Me. So How Could I Hate It?”



Our podcast question today is on the topic of wealth, privilege, and g-g-g-g—

No, not ghosts! It’s g-g-g-guilt!

Specifically: rich white lady guilt! OooOOoooOOOO!

But don’t be afraid. Piggy and I are both ex-Catholics. Whatever kind of guilt you have, we can slice and dice it into bite-sized chunks with the studied grace of a teppanyaki chef.

Today’s question

“As a progressive person and someone who is starting to get into a pretty good place financially (have an emergency fund, bought a home a few years ago, paid off credit card debts), I’ve started feeling so guilty! It probably doesn’t help that I work in finance too. I don’t like capitalism but I’m working it the way I’m ‘supposed’ to. How do I feel less guilty for making myself financially healthy?”

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I am declaring open season on myself.

How Can I Justify This Deeply Unethical Purchase?

Readers.

I have a confession to make.

I am not the righteous and principled person I pretend to be on Tumblr.

When we were in Orlando for FinCon, I had one extra day and night to spend any way that I chose.

On my one night free in the city, I walked a three mile pilgrimage from my Airbnb to visit Pulse. Like most people who visit the site of horrible violence, I processed by considering that violence through a selfish lens. These people were my people. This could’ve been me. I thought a lot about the kind of life I want to lead, and how much that life depends on the kindness of others. It left me feeling somehow rejuvenated and drained at once.

The next morning I visited the Harry P. Leu Gardens, because I am the world’s oldest young person. I confess that I have a fascination with this one very niche kind of tourist attraction: the palatial estates of long-dead industry barons transformed into indoor/outdoor botanical art museums. I. Love. Them. I posted many cute photos on Instagram, which were liked by all the people at FinCon I’d drunkenly passed out my personal Instagram to. (By the way we are on Instagram now, but it’s all just pictures of food, dogs, and chickens. If you’re into that, add us @BGRKitty and @BGRPiggy!)

But then…

With my last remaining afternoon in Orlando…

I…

…went to SeaWorld.

YES, I AM ASHAMED

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Thankfully, my spouse is DTF (down to farm).

So I Got Chickens

As I have already confessed, I love animals a bit too much. My husband and I, primates that we are, are minorities in our household. We have two dogs, a cat who believes she is a dog, and two maned pork tenderloins guinea pigs. And just this past Thursday, we came home from the feed store with six new additions.

Whoops! We now own chickens.

And from a financial perspective, we really couldn’t have done anything stupider.

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Nobody does what you do. So if they want it, make them crawl for it.

Should Artists Ever Work for Free?

I’m an artist. I am well paid to do my job. And I am way, way rarer than I should be.

There are a lot of historicaleconomictechnological, and cultural factors that keep the perceived value of art lower than that of professions that require comparable education and practice. Unfortunately, there ain’t shit you can do about historical, economic, technological, and cultural factors. But you can refuse to contribute, on an individual level, to the devaluation of your chosen industry.

The easiest way to do that is to refuse to work for free. Here’s why. Read More