Ralph welcomes professor Karen Levy, who talks to us about how regulations aimed at making trucking safer have been turned into a tool of corporate surveillance as chronicled in her book “Data Driven: Truckers, Technology, and the New Workplace Surveillance
Interesting read; especially about the Luddite club
Inspiring emphasis on the Luddite Club with Logan Lane and Claire Nader. Makes me think of a potential collaboration with "Screen free week"- https://www.screenfree.org/. As a middle school classroom teacher many years ago I led "TV Turnoff Week" for all the students in our school and their families. We did this for several years. Before the week began, students signed pledge cards to not watch any television for seven days and they came up with a list of planned alternatives to television viewing. Then they tracked their activities for the week. After the 7 days we celebrated with pizza parties, debriefing discussions, and extra time on the playground. We had just about 100% participation from the 100 or so students at my grade level and roughly 40-50% with full family participation. While "Turning off" a cell phone is more challenging (as essentially a wearable addictive technology), the efforts of the Luddite Club along with many chapters in Claire Nader's book, You Are Your Own Best Teacher!, highlight how it's possible and why it's necessary.
I love it, I ended my personal social media and I loved not being attached to my phone. Then I started one for my Substack page which I had to do regrettably. And I totally agree, holding a book is a much better connection than reading things on a tablet. Good luck with everything.
I have to admit I am jealous of Steve and David. They have talked to Ralph 465 times over 465 weeks.
I have been listening to the Radio Hour for around 400 of those weeks and despite repeated efforts have not been able to talk to Ralph even once.
The closest I got was 10-24-2018 when Ralph was on Washington Journal and I called in with a question. In Ralph's answer he said he would have me on the Radio Hour to discuss One Demand, a way for citizens to demand small donor candidates and enforce that demand with our votes which would put to a test Ralph's theory that politicians want our votes more than big money using the basic principles of democracy.
I contacted the Radio Hour as instructed by Ralph and was told to contact Ralph through CSRL and just got the same run around that Ralph often criticizes other media and politicians for doing.
I realize Ralph has many demands on his time, but it seems that at some point over the last seven years he could find at least one hour to discuss One Demand on or off the air to provide an opinion and advice on One Demand.
The superficial response in addressing it through a listener question was not sufficient.
Steve's dodge/deflection in the comments on the Populism-The Good Kind episode was not only not sufficient- it was insulting.
The state of the union is in serious decline when even Ralph Nader can't live up to his word and provide a positive example for others to follow.
It seems to me that providing a way for citizens to swear off voting for big money candidates is at least as important an issue as a handful of high school students swearing off using social media.
Logan you are amazing. You are on the right track, keep going!!!! I agree 100%., and I'm 53. I'm so glad a new generation is able to recognize the massive negatives to the screens and social media. I'm anti-internet, but that's a bit extreme for most people. I'm so proud of you.
During December’s ‘Big Tech Spying’ episode of the RNRH, I made a comment indicating that the RNRH needed to address the issue of corporate surveillance in the workplace. I’m pleased to see that the RNRH has responded to my request...or maybe it is just a pleasant coincidence!
Although I have no ties to trucking, I am especially pleased that the RNRH has discussed the trucking industry. Trucking is one of the biggest sectors of employment in the US and the people working in the field have seen a great decline in working conditions over the last few decades and this can be traced to various policies pushed by both corporate Republican and Democrats. President Carter crowed about how anti-inflationary the Motor Carrier Act of 1980 was, but he naturally failed to discuss the caustic influence it would have on labor which would more than negate the cost-savings.
Paradigm shifts often put a spotlight on issues which rarely get the spotlight. With that in mind, I’ve been keeping a close eye on Brexit. One of the most discussed issues about post-Brexit Britain, especially around 2021, was the shortage of ‘lorry drivers’ (truck drivers). While in the EU, the UK and other western Europe EU members had become quite dependent on low-wage immigrant truck drivers due to the unwillingness of transport companies to pay domestic truck drivers livable wages and government’s unwillingness to provide humane working conditions. Brexit and Covid-related issues led to a decrease in the supply of cheap foreign labor in the UK. The UK government responded with some nonsense about loosening work-hour restrictions for truckers which put an even greater burden on the remaining truck drivers in the country.
I got into a debate with some corporate soft-leftists, the so-called ‘centrists’, from the London financial sector about the issue. They insisted that “nobody wants to be lorry drivers” and that the only solution was to continue to use low-wage foreign labor. These are typical tactics by corporate leftists. Perhaps never before had I been able to shame these corporate figures into silence like I did when I offered a retort to those claims. I asked those corporate figures, all male, about what toys they liked as a child. Not surprisingly, they enjoyed their toy trucks much more than their hopefully non-existent corporate lobbyist action figures. I asked them if they had ever seen a child’s face light up when they got to see something like a fire truck or other ‘big rig’ up-close for the first time. Children dream of operating trucks. They do not dream of becoming corporate lawyers, lobbyists, or ‘corporate consultants’.
Truck driving might not be a respected line of work, but that is a social construct. It also reflects the physical occupational hazards and family disruptions which were mentioned in the interview with Professor Levy. Even with these hazards, truck driving was stable, decently-paying work for Americans at one time. Now, with all the issues outlined by Mr. Nader and Professor Levy, truck driving is not a solid career path for young people even if many are still relying on the field for meager employment under poor conditions. Like with those who harvest produce and work in meat packing, the response by American society is to tell essential workers like truckers that they should be happy to have what they get and that there is nothing that will be done for them. With that in mind, and given that truckers might be more likely to listen to right-wing talk radio since that they spend a lot of time in a vehicle, it is not a surprise that truckers view society as being elitist and not on their side. In a way, they are correct in that sentiment, but of course right-wing talk radio will offer extremely counterproductive solutions for the truckers.
I’m curious as to what Mr. Nader has to think about the following point about public rest facilities. One of the biggest complaints by truckers, as mentioned in the interview with Prof. Levy, is the lack of good rest facilities on the road. Truckers also complain about this in Europe according to my research. That said, as anyone who has traveled to Europe might know, the US and Europe have quite a different culture when it comes to public rest facilities.
Here in the US, it is expected that private places of business, mainly fast food operators and convenience stores, will allow the public to use their restrooms. In Europe, businesses often won’t allow the public to use their facilities without paying to use the facilities and/or paying to buy the company’s main products. Thus, Europeans are much more reliant on government-run restrooms, but these are becoming rarer and rarer due to austerity. Some European countries have closed many, if not most, of their truly public restrooms.
While the US cultural norms of businesses allowing the public to use their restrooms may seem more charitable, we also know that those stopping at a fast food restaurant or convenience store might be tempted to buy junk foods and drinks from these stores. The products offered by these stores are often truly deplorable. The same is probably also true of truck stops. With that in mind, I’m thinking that future infrastructure bills need to include funding for the construction and maintenance of many more publicly-owned rest stops which provide healthy dining options, clean, safe restrooms, sculleries with real dinnerware to reduce food packaging waste/litter, quiet areas for weary travelers to get some rest, and provide whatever other needs motorists/truckers need which they will not get at fast food/convenience store-centered rest stops. Perhaps the federal government should work with the states to fund the operation of these rest stops along US Interstates and highways at the very least. There may even need to be US inspectors to ensure that public restrooms are meeting federal standards. Cities and suburbs might well need more public facilities as well.
It might seem like a rather silly policy objective to many, but perhaps making public restrooms truly public is one way to help Americans break from junk food/drink addictions and to also help labor conditions for essential workers. We had the ‘sewer socialists’ of the early 20th century, perhaps we need ‘toilet socialists’ here in the 21st century.
I was very impressed with your guest Logan today. She makes so many great points reminding all of us how wasting time on our phones, getting sucked into algorythms and looking for that dopamine hit on social media for hours on end, can be be a HUGE waste of time. It's amazing how much you can get done what you're not fondling your phone all day.
Not allowing truckers to be paid for overtime creates a true safety issue on our highways.
If I were a trucker and I was driving overtime hours I wouldn't be paid for, I'd feel motivated to speed, avoid restorative rest stops, take chances and shortcuts, and do other things that could make me and my truck a menace on the highways.
The four people I know who died in highway accidents were all in crashes that involved trucks. We could do many things to make trucking safer and trucking work better for truckers. Paying truckers for all hours worked is a place to start.
Thank you Ralph for having these great guests on your show this week. I just borrowed Karen Levy’s book Data Driven: Truckers, Technology, and the New Workplace Surveillance from my public library via the Hoopla app on audio!
As far as the Luddites go, I’ve always used that term to refer to people defending labor from those pushing industrialization/technology, such as the 19th century English textile workers, rather than the newer definition which is strictly about being anti-technology without there necessarily being a labor component to it. I’m sure modern merchants who wish to sell a technology-filled lifestyle without wanting to support fair employment might be, in part at least, behind this changing definition of the term. As progressives, we probably should bring up the labor component when ‘Luddite’ is used incorrectly. We must all be educators.
That aside, it is good to see young people questioning the extreme use of technology which many people, young and old, engage in these days. Organizations such as the ones Lane are involved in can help people see that there are other viable ways of life and they provide socialization for people outside of the virtual world. Hopefully Lane will continue to study the sociology of technology and how technology has often been abused to harm individuals and society as a whole.
That said, I’m not anti-technology myself. I’ve been communicating with people via the computer since before the Internet became accessible at home. I used to use pre-Internet dial-up BBSes in the 1980s and I used Usenet in the nascent days of home-accessible Internet. I’ve met many interesting people worldwide that I never would have met without technology and I’ve learned about many important issues which are not often mentioned in the media from these people. Technology provides us with many incredible resources, but we must use it wisely and not wastefully.
On the topic of wasteful technology usage, it should also be noted that streaming media, especially high definition streaming video, does have an environmental impact. Thus, wasting time watching/making silly online videos does have another cost on top of the price of wasted time, the price of becoming complacent by engaging in online trifles, and the price of one lowering their standards by watching frivolous, tawdry content.
I hope these Luddites get to Abbey or Thoreau; not to mention YA versions of Dunbar-Ortiz and Zinn.
Quoting McKibben from a 1988 essay included at the end of a certain Monkey Wrench Gang edition (containing that humorous dedication to Ned Ludd):
"Spending the night in the Concord jail was not the most subversive thing Thoreau ever did; far worse was spending eight months living on $61.99 3/4." & "Abbey does not explicitly claim that the mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation, but he repeatedly advances examples that make the point."
I was on David and Claire's side in December when asked if young people took a year off the Web would they be better off and alright. I know young people can't do it nowadays; but that just means we pay the price.
Ralph's column this week was right on the mark; but I can't get people to listen when I utter this commonsensical wisdom. One thing they all do admit: when you take I-80 through Wyoming with all it's aggressive truckers and a speed limit of 80 mph...you take your life in your hands. People here go to great lengths to avoid it.