A matter of human rights

One of the things I noticed pretty rapidly upon my return to school in 2003 was a substantial discrepancy between on the one hand, how I had been treated in shit jobs that I had experienced and in the job market, and on the other hand, how I was treated in school, even as an undergraduate. In the latter, I was treated as a human being with a right to self-actualization. In the former, I am treated like shit, existing solely to be flushed down the toilet. It’s one of those things, I guess, that as a poor person, I’m not supposed to notice.

If I am human, I have the rights in the ICESCR, if not through explicit ratification—the U.S. is one of only four countries in the world not to recognize this treaty[1]—then through unenumerated rights in the U.S. Constitution,[2] and I am utterly baffled as to how it is that any of article seven of the ICESCR should be even remotely controversial:

The States Parties to the present Covenant recognize the right of everyone to the enjoyment of just and favourable conditions of work which ensure, in particular:

    (a) Remuneration which provides all workers, as a minimum, with:

      (i) Fair wages and equal remuneration for work of equal value without distinction of any kind, in particular women being guaranteed conditions of work not inferior to those enjoyed by men, with equal pay for equal work;

      (ii) A decent living for themselves and their families in accordance with the provisions of the present Covenant;

    (b) Safe and healthy working conditions;

    (c) Equal opportunity for everyone to be promoted in his employment to an appropriate higher level, subject to no considerations other than those of seniority and competence;

    (d ) Rest, leisure and reasonable limitation of working hours and periodic holidays with pay, as well as remuneration for public holidays[3]

Even with a Ph.D., I am denied these rights and reduced to a subhuman condition. So of course I am furious.

Human rights are rights inherent to all human beings, whatever our nationality, place of residence, sex, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, language, or any other status. We are all equally entitled to our human rights without discrimination. These rights are all interrelated, interdependent and indivisible.[4]

I bear an insult implicit in the notion that I am somehow not worth what it costs to live, that I am somehow not worthy of human rights[5] recognized almost anywhere else in the world except in the United States,[6] and thus in effect that I am not human, but subhuman.

So to some degree, this page is a “fuck you.” Fuck you to all the assholes who have denied my humanity, denied my dignity. I hold you in utter contempt. I wish you a suffering ten times greater than my own for your malevolence.


This page is part of a series on my job hunt:

  1. Grievance as fury

  2. Poverty, as a constraint on networking opportunities, as a constraint on social mobility, and as rationalizing dehumanization, but also as a perspective on what I am expected to do to find work and its absolute futility.

  3. The transparent absurdity of my job search since 2001 and, after twenty long and infuriating years, the inescapable conclusion that yes, the job market really is a scam.[7] and that I face discrimination, it which it is apparent that there is nothing I can do to overcome biases arrayed against me.

  4. The denial of my human rights and therefore, my reduction to subhuman status.

  5. That which I am not, whether or not neoliberalism or any other expression of power relations requires it.

  6. That which I should be, largely as a consequence of my education.

  7. That which I am, including my résumé

  1. [1]United Nations, “Ratification Status: International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights,” January 15, 2019, http://treaties.un.org/Pages/ViewDetails.aspx?src=TREATY&mtdsg_no=IV-3&chapter=4&lang=en
  2. [2]U.S. Const. amend. IX.
  3. [3]International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, December 16, 1966, United Nations, General Assembly resolution 2200A (XXI), https://www.ohchr.org/en/professionalinterest/pages/cescr.aspx
  4. [4]Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, “What are Human Rights?” http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Issues/Pages/WhatareHumanRights.aspx
  5. [5]International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, December 16, 1966, United Nations, General Assembly resolution 2200A (XXI), https://www.ohchr.org/en/professionalinterest/pages/cescr.aspx
  6. [6]United Nations, “Ratification Status: International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights,” January 15, 2019, http://treaties.un.org/Pages/ViewDetails.aspx?src=TREATY&mtdsg_no=IV-3&chapter=4&lang=en
  7. [7]David Benfell, “About that alleged ‘labor shortage,’” Not Housebroken, May 12, 2021, https://disunitedstates.org/2021/05/09/about-that-alleged-labor-shortage/