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JesseBC
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Re: Chapters 7-15: Sausage and more SPOILER chptrs 10-15 the beasts

I was pleasantly surprised that Sinclair wasn't just starry-eyed in his promotion of unions. It's clear that he's pro-union, but he's also skeptical of how closely they need to be watched by their members and aware of the potential for corruption. I had half-expected Sinclair's answer to be a simplistic unionization=socialism equation.





vivico1 wrote:
Aside for the things I said on my other posts on these chapters, there were a couple of things that really caught my eye. Jurgis is becoming an embittered man who hasn't much left in him for any of the affection you read till now for his Ona or the newer heartfilling feelings for his newborn son. He has lost his confidence because of what he sees and fights daily.

Very early on, I talked about a place I worked where the workers always talked about the company's unspoken motto (ours for them) of "use them up, wear them out, get them out". And this was one of the nations biggest corporations,still is. Anyway,in chapter 12, I about froze at the nearness of the same terms and feelings. "The pecular bitterness of all this was that Jurgis saw so plainly the meaning of it. In the beginning he was fresh and strong....now he was second-hand, a damaged article...they did not want him. They had got the best of out of him, they had worn him out....and now they had thrown him away!" I was lucky tho, when I was used up, not physically as he was, but mentally, psychologically, and thrown away, I at least had the benefits there to help me out that our union had wagered for us that got me through. And I went through two long strikes of no pay to get those too. He had no such help from their "unions". It was a harder time too, to even get one going that had any teeth at all.

The other thing that hit me, was just how badly they were losing the fight and what they were doing to each other because of it, which often happens given such circumstances. Jurgis is so completely out of it by chapter 15 with no way to fight back that when he finds out what the man had done with Ona, this man becomes the whole horrendous machine that was killing everything in them. He IS the packinghouse, but one Jurgis can fight and get his pain and frustrations out on.

"To Jurgis this man's whole presence reeked of the crime he had committed," (not just the crime to Ona but the whole business's crime to all of them)" the touch of his body was madness to him-it set every nerve of him a tremble, it aroused all the demon in his soul. It had worked its will upon Ona, this great beast.." He is definately seeing before him more than the man who violated his wife but the IT, the great beast that was the stockyards with all its bosses and conditions that were tearing from within him everything good and he knew it. So he tore into this man with the fury he could not show to the place he was trapped in, to keep his family alive. Yes, Sinclair was definately aiming at the hearts of his readers.


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JesseBC
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Re: Chapters 7-15: Sausage and more/the story

Choisya may have already addressed this, but it probably bears repeating: "Socialism" and "democracy" aren't mutually exclusive in the way that you imply here.

Because they're two different types of things. Democracy is an ideology of governance; socialism is an ideology of economics.

Oh, and while we're on the subject of Jurgis' housing woes, here's another article suggesting that the more things change, the more they stay the same: http://mrzine.monthlyreview.org/wolff240207.html

And from Monthly Review, no less! Sinclair would be proud :-)





vivico1 wrote:
Choisya,
I love our talks about the things we havetaked about. But also, I know you have read the book through and without going into things to come, tell me what you think about the characters in the book,at this point, chapters 7-15 and the feelings they invoke in you. Fanuzzi asked somewhere on this thread about not only are these the chapters that brought about legislative change, but also there were great family dramas unfolding. Our views on socialism vs democracy aside, discuss these chapters with me please? I find this such a facinating book, for many reasons and I would love to hear your thoughts about what is happening at this stage. Rather than us being at our political rally :smileywink:, and since no one else has yet, talk to me about these chapters as i read on some more ok? I would love to hear your thoughts on the story. :smileyhappy: thanks

p.s. if for any reason, you find no posts from me for any length of time, we are right at the start of what they think will be one of our most major ice storms. It has just started here in Oklahoma and already this morning we have had fatalities :smileysad: , if i am not here, the biggest concern they have for all of us, are power outages. They are saying with the amount of ice they are predicting, hanging on powerlines and transformers, they will happen, we just dont know where in Oklahoma that they will or how long it will take to get power back. The last ice storm of this magnitude we had was in 2002 and there were broken trees and powerlines and things from the weight of it all, that some towns were without power for weeks. I lucked out to not be in those parts but I am right in the line of fire for this one. I intend to just stay home, inside, they sure are trying to keep people off the roads they are already so bad, but if i lose power, I am not sure what i will do.I will try to hang in here during the day and see if the power gets back on to heat my home, but after that, I may have to find some way to get out on the ice and out of my home to someplace safer.This is pretty scary and all the programs are off tv but the weather and road conditions. Keep good thoughts for us here. As I live alone, its just me and my two cats to worry about, but I do have friends in my church, that all check in on each other by phone to make sure everyone is ok. This is suppose to last till monday. The temps are below freezing for the highs and will be for a week, so it will be quite hard to stay with no heat. How Jurgis and their family did it and live, is beyond me. I know that by monday, we will be getting a death count of people who did succumb to the temperatures, mostly elderly with no family to look in on them and think they can make it on their own without calling for the police or fire department or SOMEONE to come get them out. I hope the homeless have all gathered to the shelters. So for now, I am here, and reading, to keep my mind off it and just trying to stay safe and warm. :smileyhappy:


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JesseBC
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PLEASE MOVE THE SPOILER THREAD!!!!!

Oh, geez...you guys...I am so pissed... (et tu, Choisya?)

This thread is for discussing chapters 7-15. It's not for discussing major plot points at the end of the book.

That's why the thread is helpfully titled "Chapters 7-15." It's not rocket science.

What's worse, this thread has been allowed to stay up for WEEKS! Even after Viv pointed it out!

Could a moderator or sysop PLEASE move this thread to the appropriate folder before the book is ruined for yet another hapless soul dumb enough to think that, because the thread is titled "Chapters 7-15," the whole book will not be ruined for them here?

Thank you!
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JesseBC
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Re: Chapters 7-15: Sausage and more/ SPOILER chptrs 10-15 the house.

For the sake of balance, I think "exploitative lenders" is the key phrase here. Along with "has many holdings and can thus minimize risk."

Not that I want to leap to the defense of the rental system, which does, overall, tend to shift more wealth to the wealthy (especially with mortgage deregulation in the US during the Reagan years).

But, on the other hand, it's an expensive hassle for a lender to pursue collateral. They lose all the interest, they can never be guaranteed they'll recover their investment, and it costs them money to go after the collateral.

So, for the most part, reputable lenders don't want to take bad credit risks. It doesn't serve them well to do so.

Another problem that didn't exist in Jurgis' day, however, is the centralization of our credit information. Employers, landlords, and even customer service are now routinely checking credit even though they have no need of this information.

Each time your credit history is pulled up, it LOWERS your overall credit score. So this centralization and easy access is making all of us look like worse credit risks than we really are.

A modern-day Jurgis would also be facing payday lenders and rent-to-own scams.





fanuzzir wrote:


vivico1 wrote:


I have a question. From the moment they "purchased" the house, it has been a constant battle to have the income to keep it. They worried about all the "extra" costs from the moment they found out and had to put more to work for it too. What is confusing to me in these chapters is, how did they manage to keep the house at all? You have members of the family dying, some getting sick. Jonas runs off or is assumed to have and worst of all Jurgis, the big bread winner, is laid up for months unable to work. Heck even Marija loses her job and finally gets one for less money and sometimes when things are slack, they may only get a half hour's wages for hanging around all day!

By chapter 15,there is a real fear of starving to death here. They are just trying to stay alive at this point and things have become so miserable and depressing, our hero Jurgis has taken to drink to escape and now we are getting the first talk about what Ona has been doing to try to help out. I just feel like saying, Sinclair, you are stretching them so thin, how are they still in the house! And yes, you are starting to get some good visual ideas of why legislation governing food purity was past.

I understand what the house symbolizes in the story, but I do get stuck with that point of, how are they still in it at all? Got some other ideas for another post, different topic.




Excellent question! One answer: lenders actually like bad loans, the kind that people don't or can't pay--the interest is higher, and you get the property to boot when they eventually default. That's why exploitive lenders love bad credit risks. So Sinclair is actually being true in that a grocer would have a harder time bearing the bad credit(his profit margin is so thin) but the developer of housing at Packington could tolerate it because he has so many other properites (his risk is spread out so far).



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fanuzzir
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Home owning

One of the more revealing things I learned in my long, ongoing apprecenticeship as a student of modern economics is that banks consider outstanding loans an "asset." A paid off loan is a "liability." For us, the logic would be reversed, but banks need to keep their money in other people's hands if they are to be considered to have assets. Isn't that fascinating?
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Re: Home owning



fanuzzir wrote:
One of the more revealing things I learned in my long, ongoing apprecenticeship as a student of modern economics is that banks consider outstanding loans an "asset."

Why is that surprising? If you loan money to a bank by buying one of their CDs, don't you consider that an asset?
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fanuzzir
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Re: Home owning

I found it surprising because I had once assumed a bank was a like a person, who probably would not consider a loan made to someone else an "asset" until it had been paid back because it was out of his or her pocket. Of course, I am that person, which means I guess that I don't like to loan money.

On a serious note, I wonder if any partisans of Jurgis found time to read the article "A Mortgage Crisis Begins to Spiral, and the Casualties Mount" in the New York Times of March 5, 2007. Before the article describes the effect of higher interest rates on high risk lending, it features a lender who had made such loans to poor and minority borrowers saying "We made so much money you couldn't believe it. And you didn't have to do anything. You just had to show up."
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Re: Home owning

It makes sense. For the lender, the loan is an investment because they're earning interest on it. For the borrower, owning land or a house or a business is an asset because they're earning equity on it. I guess I don't see the mystery in that...it just seems logical.

Shady lenders are ultimately unsustainable because they have to expend too much collecting collateral from bad risks. Same as using the equity in your house like an ATM card is unsustainable because you're going to wind up overextended. They create temporary wealth and ruin vulnerable people. But a credit system can't go on like that indefinitely.

Am I missing something here?





fanuzzir wrote:
One of the more revealing things I learned in my long, ongoing apprecenticeship as a student of modern economics is that banks consider outstanding loans an "asset." A paid off loan is a "liability." For us, the logic would be reversed, but banks need to keep their money in other people's hands if they are to be considered to have assets. Isn't that fascinating?


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JesseBC
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Re: Home owning

But, even as an individual, a loan would be an asset to you if you were collecting interest on it, right?

What irritates me every year at tax time is that I get money back, which I essentially loaned to the government for a year, but they aren't required to pay me interest. I would be more than happy to put that money into national health insurance. Spreading the risk of insurance to everyone in the country would be a wise investment.

But I'm none too pleased about giving the government a compulsory, interest-free loan every year (and we're supposed to believe we'd be better off with Social Security investing our retirement privately? On the basis of how well they handle loans from the citizenry?)

Scams abound in the private sector too. American Express has just come out with a "Gold Rewards Card." The conceit is that it's a charge card. You pay no interest and the balance is due at the end of every month. We're supposed to believe they just make 30-day interest-free loans all over the place out of the goodness of their hearts.

This is business, not philanthropy. The scam relies on overspending, at which point exorbitent fees kick in that would be considered usury of it were counted as "interest" (which, for all intents and purposes, is what it is). This can't possibly last. You can't throw around unsecured credit all over the place and rely on making money off your customers' irresponsible spending habits. Eventually that will collapse in on itself because there's no such thing as an inexhaustable money tap. It's finite.





fanuzzir wrote:
I found it surprising because I had once assumed a bank was a like a person, who probably would not consider a loan made to someone else an "asset" until it had been paid back because it was out of his or her pocket. Of course, I am that person, which means I guess that I don't like to loan money.

On a serious note, I wonder if any partisans of Jurgis found time to read the article "A Mortgage Crisis Begins to Spiral, and the Casualties Mount" in the New York Times of March 5, 2007. Before the article describes the effect of higher interest rates on high risk lending, it features a lender who had made such loans to poor and minority borrowers saying "We made so much money you couldn't believe it. And you didn't have to do anything. You just had to show up."


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