(This chart from Mother Jones )
Probably by now, we’ve all seen this graph or one like it. Just one in a series of graphs that rub in our faces a fact that I have known for decades (yes, decades). The rich are stealing from you.
You can pretend that the rich people in this chart actually earn their extravagant livelihoods, but everything in the evidentiary world points to the opposite. They steal it. From endemic fraud, shady accounting practices and off-shore accounts to government bail-outs, regulatory cop-outs and refusal to prosecute the most egregious actions, the rich have gamed the system so entirely that most people, still to this day, have no idea what I am talking about. And it’s been going on for decades.
The top end of the income scale since the seventies have seen incredible increases while the bottom has remained flat. When I say the top, I mean the top ten percent, in particular the top one percent. The other ninety percent of us have flat-lined for over thirty years, despite tremendous advances in our productivity!
The reason you did not make the gains you should have from your increased productivity is simple. It is called wage suppression. Wage suppression is the process of systematically underpaying labor for it’s output. Capitalism thrives on cheap labor. The rich have conspired with politicians and media figures to promote wage suppression using the theory that higher wages are inflationary (improbably, CEO’s salaries are not inflationary and should be left alone). So, although the overall profit of the company you worked for went up substantially over the years, you got none of it. Many large corporations today have the largest profits they have ever generated yet are laying off workers or actually asking them to accept pay cuts! If you don’t share in the profits of your hard work but instead get laid off or have your wages cut at a time of historic profits (which you have contributed to) why are you working? That extra profit that you worked harder and harder for had to go somewhere, so where did it go? Just like in a pyramid scheme, everyone works hard and puts in effort but the rewards for that effort only go to the top. This is clearly a one-way transaction and not profitable for both sides.
Labor creates wealth. If you have $100,000 sitting in a bank somewhere and want to make money on it, one thing you can do is buy or build a small business somewhere making widgets or performing a service, you can do the work yourself or hire someone to do it for you, either way labor is involved. Labor creates the added benefit and turns it into economic increase. Wealth without labor is a myth, it doesn’t exist. Even if you leave your money in the bank and just collect interest, the bank uses that money to loan out and make money in return. They do the work, you split the benefit.
I work to make a profit. If I didn’t get compensated for my labor, I’d just stay home and read books. If I see the profits from my labor redistributed into the hands of other people while I make less and less percentage of that profit while working harder and harder, I have to question why I am working to make other people rich instead of making myself rich. I have to question the underlying structure of the society itself, a society that seems to facilitate this upward redistribution of wealth.
You have a system that is far from anyone’s idea of a free market, that artificially suppresses wages, allows rampant corruption, refuses to prosecute egregious crimes, allows monopolies and anti-competitive behavior to go unpunished, and actually promotes and protects high level criminals who give large campaign contributions to their protectors. When governments and corporations act in unison to advance their own agenda over the will of the governed, this is fascism. When a government set up to protect the people from criminal activity instead protects the criminals and in many cases becomes the criminals, this is an extreme perversion of its’ original intent. This untenable situation no longer represents anything close to a free market, and this type of government no longer represents anything close to a democracy.
Why should I go along with this blatant theft of my labor? Why am I supposed to accept ridiculously inadequate compensation so a few people at the top of the pyramid scheme can live like gods? Who thinks this is a benefit to society? What does the society at large get out of this? And why does this society promote criminals who have gamed the system and not the people who actually work hard and create wealth? Why should I continue to support such a blatantly unfair, criminal society?
I won’t. I will accept gainful employment, my own gain, not the gain of criminal overseers of the economy who artificially suppress my wages to unjustly enrich themselves. If this society can’t pay me enough to profit and advance my own interests and desires, then it can’t have my labor. I’ll keep my labor for myself, walk away like John Galt, and tell the rich people sitting on their ill-gotten piles of cash to do all the work themselves. I won’t work for nothing, I’ll just stay home and read books.
This seems to be what certain elements of this society wants, labor that costs as close to nothing as it can get. I and thousands of people like me are supposed to give up hours and hours of our lives unproductively so that someone else can get rich on our labor, counting on a mass of desperate people sacrificing their lives to fill the already overflowing coffers of the rich.