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His Job Went To Mexico And All He Got Was This Lousy Severance

Jeffery Bean helped make wooden caskets at the Batesville Casket factory in Batesville, Mississippi, for 26 years. Then, in March, the factory closed and Bean lost his job, along with 200 other people. 

Citing the increased popularity of cremation, Batesville Casket?s parent company said it needed to shift production of wooden caskets to Mexico in order to remain competitive. 

Bean said that he grew up in Batesville and that locals cherished their association with the company, which is one of the funeral service industry?s most iconic brands. 

?Everyone was proud of it,? Bean said. ?But now it?s different.?

Last year, Batesville?s mayor went on local television and reached out to Republican Party officials in hopes of drawing Donald Trump?s attention to the shutdown. Trump had made saving factory jobs a major campaign issue and even pushed Carrier Corporation not to close a furnace factory in Indianapolis. 

But Bean said he never expected Trump to intervene in Batesville. 

?I believe in God and he?s the one that takes care of me, not the president,? he said. 

One reason that Batesville?s factory shutdown might not have received as much attention as Carrier?s plan, which received a lot, was that Bean and his colleagues lacked the protection of a union. Unlike Carrier workers, who denounced their employer to anyone who would listen, Batesville workers kept quiet.

?We didn?t want to jeopardize anything,? Bean said, referring to a severance package that he?d hoped would be hefty but that turned out to be rather disappointing. He had expected six months? pay, but after taxes he said he wound up with two or three months? worth. 

Bean said he has two other part-time jobs. He considers himself better off than many of his former colleagues. 

?People in Batesville are not pleased with what happened and we?re not pleased with the package we got,? Bean said. 

Batesville Casket?s parent company, Hillenbrand Inc., is headquartered in Batesville, Indiana. The firm operates three other plants in the U.S. and one in Mexico. A spokesperson declined to comment for this story.

The town of Batesville, Mississippi, is located in Panola County, the southwestern-most corner of the Appalachia region that has long symbolized America?s working class woes. Speaking to West Virginia Public Broadcasting and West Virginia University for a project called 100 Days in Appalachia, Bean said he had taken great pride in his work, even initialing finished caskets.

?That pride is no longer there, because they will not be made in Batesville, Mississippi,? Bean said in a story on 100DaysInAppalachia.com. ?They will not be made in America, but be made in another country. I don?t take pride in that at all.?

Arthur Delaney co-hosts ?So That Happened,? the HuffPost Politics internet radio show:

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The Stunning Finale Of ‘Big Little Lies’ Is What Happens When Women Drive Art

The last 15 minutes of the finale of ?Big Little Lies? contains very few words. We find out the answers to three long-unanswered questions through images: Who was murdered? Who killed that person? And who is the man who brutally assaulted Jane Chapman and fathered her son, Ziggy?

That third question ends up being the most salient one. And the scene that gives us its answer epitomizes what is so stunning about the HBO mini-series: At its core, ?Big Little Lies? is about the deep, complex and protective connections that can form between women in the face of buried trauma.  

A testament both to the direction by Jean Marc-Vallée and the stellar acting by Reese Witherspoon as Madeline, Nicole Kidman as Celeste, and Shailene Woodley as Jane, in the finale?s climactic scene, words become unnecessary.

As Jane realizes that the man who has been tormenting her thoughts for six years is Celeste?s outwardly charming and inwardly abusive husband Perry, we see this realization be passed along through a grip and two looks ? first to Madeline and then to Celeste. Women who spend time together and form an intimacy often develop the ability to silently communicate warnings ? something I have never before seen expressed so pointedly on television.

As the New Yorker?s Jia Tolentino put it: ?The show understands that minor social transactions between women can express the nuances of violence with a unique specificity and a nauseating subtlety.? 

The searing portrayal of these sort of ?minor social transactions between women? ? in the context of violence and outside of it ? are what make ?Big Little Lies? so affecting. We see them play out in many varying configurations over the course of the seven episodes: between Madeline and her daughter, between Celeste and her therapist (Robin Weigart), between Renata (a fantastic Laura Dern) and Jane, between Renata and Celeste, between Bonnie (Zoe Kravitz) and Madeline, and between Jane, Madeline and Celeste.

?Big Little Lies? artfully digs into the systemic pressures women face ? to be perfect parents, perfect wives and perfect models of femininity ? even when they are white and wealthy with the best beachfront properties California has to offer. The show easily passes the Bechdel test as we watch these women discuss parenting, sexual fulfillment (or a lack thereof), professional fulfillment (or a lack thereof), sexual assault, therapy and the deep well of unhappiness that often lurks underneath a veneer of ?perfection.?

Although the show was directed by Marc-Vallée and written by David E. Kelley, the depth of female interaction present in ?Big Little Lies? makes it unsurprising that the original novel was written by a woman, and that the project got off the ground thanks to Reese Witherspoon and Nicole Kidman?s respective production companies. (Witherspoon and her producing partner originally optioned Liane Moriarty?s novel, and then brought Kidman on board.) This is especially important given that the directors, showrunners and producers of both TV series and movies remain overwhelmingly white and male. 

?For 25 years, I?ve been the only woman on set,? Witherspoon told The Hollywood Reporter back in January, when talking about what drew her to ?Big Little Lies.? ?So I had no one to talk to… We have to start seeing women how they actually are on film ? we need to see real women?s experience ? whether that involves domestic violence, sexual assault, romance, infidelity or divorce. We as human beings learn from art.?

This show didn?t necessarily speak to all men, judging from the tepid and misguided reviews written by some male critics.

Mike Hale at the New York Times called the female-driven storylines at the center of ?Big Little Lies? unoriginal and ?just a compendium of clichés,? even comparing the nuanced portrayal of an abusive relationship between Kidman?s Celeste and Alexander Skarsgard?s Perry to ??Fifty Shades? territory.? The New York Post?s Robert Rorke, who also flippantly referred to the abusive relationship as ?S&M games,? called the show ?a terrible whodunnit? about ?rich white women and their erotic fantasies and emotional dissatisfactions.?

Both Hale and Rorke appeared frustrated that they were sold a murder mystery, and then ended up having to listen to women talk about their lives, desires and feelings. This frustration, while easy to skewer, also reflects a depressing truth. Because the stories of white men still tend to appear in pop culture most often and with greater nuance, women and people of color learn to find some piece of themselves in cultural products that are not about them. White men are not faced with that same imperative.

Luckily, the buy-in of curmudgeonly white men who don?t see value in unpacking women?s stories is no longer necessary for a series to be a critical or ratings hit.

In the final moments of ?Big Little Lies,? we see our five female leads together on the beach, at last standing in solidarity and connected by a shared trauma. Sometimes, on TV as in life, women are enough to carry each other through. 

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Now Your Baby Can Listen To Lullaby Versions Of ‘Hamilton’ Songs

Good news for Hamilbabies!

The songs from the Tony-award winning play, ?Hamilton,? are now available in lullaby form. On March 31, Rockabye Baby ? a company that produces instrumental baby-friendly versions of popular songs ? released ?Lullaby Renditions of Songs From Hamilton.?

The album includes lullaby versions of eight ?Hamilton? songs, including ?My Shot,? ?The Schuyler Sisters? and ?Wait for It.?

?The sweeping percussion, rapid-fire rapping and soaring singing are transformed using marimbas, glockenspiels, wood blocks, and more delicate percussion,? states a press release for the album. ?An ideal stepping-stone for the original, ?Lullaby Renditions of Songs From Hamilton? is the perfect entry into the world of ?Hamilton? for the whole family.?

You can stream or order ?Lullaby Renditions of Songs From Hamilton? online and listen to a sample from the album below.

Your future Hamilfans aren?t willing to wait for this music, so don?t throw away their shot! Basically, parents, you can?t say no to this album.

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