Art for Fresh Hell.
Jason Arias
The Baffler,  June 11

Fresh Hell

The best dispatches from our grim new reality

Jason Arias
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Goodbye to All That

For far too long, millennials, when not busy eviscerating the raisin and canned tuna industries, have been living like “bourgeois royalty” courtesy of benevolent investors who have, for years, subsidized the immiseration of millions of workers (millennial and otherwise) so that we could, at a moment’s notice, have a $14 “curated” protein bowl delivered to us by an individual almost certainly making less than minimum wage. Oh, how wonderful it was to invite a cavalcade of gig workers into our lives to wash our catchpenny fast fashion, clean our cramped apartments, assemble our particle board Ikea furniture, deliver us our artisanal ube ice cream, and cart our nauseated carcasses home from the bar! Unfortunately, such ostensibly obtainable opulence is coming to an end, according to the New York Times, because these companies’ investors didn’t set out to bankroll our decadence” forever. As it turns out, investors are getting impatient and would like to see the mammoth firms they’ve shoveled cash into for years finally turn a profit—which means prices are going up for everything from Uber to those stupid scooters cluttering the sidewalks of most every American city. Yes, it’s been great and all, but it’s time to bid farewell to Balenciaga lifestyles on Banana Republic budgets.” But pardon us if we—the vaunted and prospectless, crippled by student debt and obscene rent while working more for less—failed to take notice of this alleged “millennial lifestyle subsidy” while it was allegedly available. 

 

Just Keep Doing It! And Doing It! And Doing It!

Thankfully, though, as we buckle up for bleaker days, we can take solace in the fact that the acceleration of our exploitation will be festively packaged, dressed up in the stirring language of empowerment. For instance, the legion of Amazon warehouse workers will henceforth be known as “industrial athletes.” According to a handy pamphlet distributed to these industrial athletes, it’s important to prepare oneself for the everlasting marathon of under-compensated effort by making changes to one’s diet and sleep schedule, purchasing comfortable walking shoes, resting, and keeping an eye on the color of one’s urine to make sure one is not dehydrated—though when precisely these brave athletes are supposed to rest or take a piss goes unstated. On their own time, presumably: this is a race, god damn it!

 

Seal the Leak

Earlier this week, ProPublica shocked absolutely no one when they published a report indicating just how little the billionaires cheering on the downward spiral of human civilization pay in federal income taxes. Not very much! Sometimes, they don’t pay anything at all! The Department of Justice was rightfully aghast: Who could possibly be responsible for leaking these confidential IRS documents to ProPublica who then turned them into helpful charts for the benefit of the public? On Wednesday, Attorney General Merrick Garland assured lawmakers that locating and, if necessary, prosecuting the leaker was at the “top” of his to-do list. “This is an extremely serious matter,” he intoned, “People [who’ve effectively stolen billions during a prolonged period of bountiful corporate welfare and mass death] are [not] entitled, obviously, to great privacy with respect to their tax returns [emendations our own].” As Gizmodo notes, “Finding the source is not mutually exclusive with President Joe Biden’s proposals to raise an additional $3.5 trillion in taxes from the extremely wealthy over the next decade,”—oh, but what’s that we hear, did a bipartisan group of senators just rule out raising taxes on the wealthy to fund Biden’s proposed infrastructure plan

 

Blast Off, Bitches

Anyway, we really ought to “think twice” before we consider raising taxes on billionaires, according to an opinion column at the Washington Post, owned by the richest man in the world—who announced this week, by the way, that, later this summer, he’ll be taking a trip to space (sign this petition to not allow his return to Earth!). “Given a choice between letting billionaires spend fortunes reaching for the stars,” the columnist writes, “or destroying those fortunes so that the rest of us don’t have to look at them, then personally, I’ll take the rockets.” Sure, okay!

 

Make Way for the VIPs, Please!

Across the pond, the United Kingdom spent the week preparing for the arrival of leaders, their attendant handlers, and other Very Important Persons for the G7 summit, during which an exciting and entirely non-binding commitment to institute a global minimum corporate tax rate will be announced to much fanfare, only to die a quick and quiet death in the United States Senate, to say nothing of its fate in other nations. In order to make room for all of these important people paid to wave their hands before the television cameras, the Guardian reports that the main hospital in Cornwall, where the G7 summit is being held, has been discharging patients left and right to make room for said important people. According to a spokesperson from the National Health Service, this is a fine and normal thing to do: “It is not good for people to remain in hospital longer than they need to.”

 

Peacocking at the End of the World

Meanwhile, a horde of feral, screeching, shitting peacocks have laid siege to Los Angeles to express their displeasure with the direction of human society. According to one disgruntled resident, “They sound like babies being tortured through a microphone, a very large microphone.”

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