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Hustle culture debate is rooted in privilege

Choosing to hustle is a luxury. The hustle culture debate misses a bigger economic picture.

Why it matters: Workers are wary (and weary) of hustle culture, as the economy comes out of the pandemic. But for tens of millions of Americans, working nonstop may be a necessity. 

Driving the news: Interest in "hustle culture" spiked to new highs this spring, based on Google Trends data dating back to 2004. That coincided with debates on Twitter, whose platform skews younger and more affluent.

Working to live: One version of hustle culture, as an aspirational lifestyle and micro-industry, can be traced back to entrepreneurs like Gary Vaynerchuk and Silicon Valley CEOs like Yahoo’s Marissa Mayer.

  • “When reporters write about Google, they write about it as if it was inevitable,” Mayer told Bloomberg in 2016. “The actual experience was more like, ‘Could you work 130 hours in a week?’”
  • Celebrityside hustles” on social media fueled the glamour. 

Living to work: Striving to work hard, and constantly, is not seen as sustainable.

  • But it may be the only option for some of the lowest paid workers in the economy.
  • Over the past 20 years, the percentage of workers who hold more than one job has been increasing —  driven by growth among women (9.1%) and jobs hardest hit by the pandemic (retail, food service and accommodation).
  • Nearly 21 million people in the U.S. are still feeling the economic impact of COVID, which has disproportionately impacted lower income workers.

The pandemic effect: The global health crisis caused some people to reevaluate their priorities. For many, it exacerbated a grind that enabled them to "live at work" while working from home.

What they're saying: I won't embrace "the hustle" ever again, one Closer subscriber told Axios. "I will say, 'No way,' more often … if it’s not a 'Hell Yeah,' then it’s a, 'No.'"

  • But the current hustle culture will never go away, technology entrepreneur and investor Alexis Ohanian tells Axios. "It's a way some people make a living (selling the 'secret,' glorifying the process, etc)."
  • Still, Ohanian says that "our collective immune systems are a lot stronger against the bullsh*t of hustle culture."

What to watch: JPMorgan's Jamie Dimon, lamenting that remote work prevents young people from "hustling," won't help the culture abate.

Reports: Trump DOJ subpoenaed Apple for records of WH counsel Don McGahn

Apple told former Trump administration White House counsel Don McGahn last month that the Department of Justice subpoenaed information about accounts of his in 2018, the New York Times first reported Sunday.

Why it matters: Although it's unclear why the DOJ took the action, such a move against a senior lawyer representing the presidency is highly unusual.

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Pelosi demands Barr and Sessions testify on data subpoenas she says go "beyond Richard Nixon"

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) told CNN Sunday that former Attorneys General William Barr and Jeff Sessions should testify before Congress on reports that the Trump-era Department of Justice seized Democrats' and journalists' data records.

Driving the news: DOJ Inspector General Michael Horowitz announced Friday an internal investigation into the matter, and Pelosi expressed disbelief to CNN's Dana Brash at assertions that neither Barr nor Sessions knew of probes into lawmakers.

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Shipping giant CEO says business have to avoid global politics

The CEO of the world's largest container-shipping company cautions that international firms have to be careful of taking political stances.

  • What they're saying: "We cannot run a global business if we start to have views on politics in every single country that we are in," Maersk CEO Søren Skou tells "Axios on HBO."
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Chamber of Commerce CEO Suzanne Clark defends overture to Democrats

U.S. Chamber of Commerce president and CEO Suzanne Clark told me on "Axios on HBO" that the business group was right to endorse vulnerable House Democrats last year, despite the flak that resulted from Republicans.

  • Clark, who took over the top job in March, said those House Democrats "had really helped push business's number one priority, which was the free trade agreement with Canada and Mexico, over the finish line."
  • "All of the Republicans that we work with on tax, on regulation — those people are really, really important to us," she added: "So we have to be willing to have a different coalition on every issue."
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Nuclear watchdog: “Essential” to have deal with Iran

The head of the International Atomic Energy Agency tells "Axios on HBO" that it's "essential" to have a nuclear deal with Iran because otherwise "we are flying blind."

Driving the news: Director-General Rafael Mariano Grossi sat down with "Axios on HBO" at IAEA headquarters in Vienna, ahead of Iran's June 18 presidential election and a June 24 extension on negotiations seeking to restore curtailed surveillance of Iranian nuclear sites and salvage the 2015 deal.

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U.N. ambassador Thomas-Greenfield sees tough Putin summit

Photo: "Axios on HBO"

Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield, U.S. ambassador to the U.N., told me on "Axios on HBO" that President Biden will be candid, frank — and tough — during this week's summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

  • "The president will make clear to the Russians that they cannot harbor cyber terrorists and criminals in their country and not be held accountable for it," she added. "And they need to take the responsibility for dealing with this issue."
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Dems’ go-it-alone approach faces big hurdles as left’s frustrations spill over

If a bipartisan group of lawmakers fails to strike a deal on the infrastructure proposal it's negotiating with the White House, ramming through a package using the partisan reconciliation process isn't a guaranteed solution.

Why it matters: Getting 51 Democratic votes would be a long, uphill battle. And moderates within the party are balking at the cost of President Biden's spending — even as progressives openly lament that the "transformational" change they seek is slipping out of reach.

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America's U.N. ambassador: "I will always push for women to be part of negotiation teams"

Linda Thomas-Greenfield, U.S. ambassador to the U.N., has argued over her 39-year diplomatic career that educating and empowering women and girls is an investment in peace and security for their nations.

  • "I will always push for women to be part of negotiation teams," she told me in the State Department Treaty Room, during an interview for "Axios on HBO."
  • "I notice ... when they're not in the room. ... Sometimes I'm the only one," she added with a laugh. "And I will call it out."
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