The US worker is a beaten commodity
Without concerted political pressure for radical change, the forces of unbridled capitalism, like a plague of locust, are poised to consume all in its path. The worker has no institutional support, the Democrats being completely in hock with money, and unions having long ago sold their soul. All forces within the logic of capitalism, from ever advancing productivity to massive foreign competition point to a horribly bleak future.
We all have hope for the Occupy movement but look at this article in the New York Times today. Individually, the worker is lost. In Louisville, Kentucky “several thousand people apply for every unfilled, $13-an-hour factory job“. And to even have those jobs, the city is subsidizing the corporations to locate there. It’s a-ok with the mayor who parrots the corporate line like an alien zombie, “The trade-off is absolutely worth it,” Mayor Fischer said, arguing that while the city is actively subsidizing G.E.’s expansion here, mainly through tax rebates, that is not enough. “You must have a globally competitive wage to create jobs; the alternatives are $15 an hour or zero dollars an hour“.
The workers are fearfully silent at their ongoing impoverishment. According to one worker “Too many unemployed people would clamor for her job and her wage if she were to protest. You don’t want to rock the boat; You take a chance on losing everything you have if you do.” Others are just thankful to have a job given the alternative of starvation.
Corporate leaders of course, who by the way make quite a bit more than $13 an hour, are quite happy with developments. “We have gotten to a point where making things in America is as viable as making things any place in the world,” said James P. Campbell, president and chief executive of G.E.’s appliances and lighting division, citing the drop in labor costs as a crucial reason. “They are significantly less with the competitive wage,” he said, “and that is a big help.”
Union leaders, also paid more than $13 an hour, are happily in bed with the impoverishment process. Here’s how the president of the Labor and Employment Relations Association and, until recently, the A.F.L.-C.I.O.’s director of collective bargaining understandingly assesses the situation: “Some companies want to keep work here, or bring it back from Asia but in order to do that they have to be competitive in the final prices of their products, and one way to be competitive is to lower the compensation of their American workers.”
Today’s onslaught is occurring, it must be remembered, at a time when US workers have already lost 40% of their share of per capita GDP since 1975. Productive capacity has never been greater yet corporate America, the rich, the 1%, the ruling class, whatever you wish to call it, continue escalating the attack against the ever weakening enemy.
This is robbery, plain and simple. Where’s the outrage? There’s never been a more important time for workers everywhere to follow the wise words on Karl Marx’s tomb: “workers of all lands unite“!