08w12:3 The Street on Welfare

by timothy. 3 Comments

Society has always benefitted from unpaid or underpaid labour; in the past it was blatant slavery, but when that became unfashionable (and unprofitable contrasted to the production offered by machines rather than muscles) the emphasis shifted to calling unpaid labour ‘volunteers’ and nowadays, the most obvious example of all, ‘interns’. But since it is so unpalatable to recognize this as a contemporary form of slavery, we euphemize it away, and consider that we don’t have a slavery class, although there are many people working for a legally determined absolute minimum wage. In other words, we had to be legally coercive to get people paid for basic services. So now it’s officially illegal to not pay people below a certain amount, but this amount is so low that it’s guaranteed to keep the recipient poor. That way, there’s a lot more money available (which could otherwise go to the volunteers, interns, and making the minimum a livable wage) to those in the upper levels of management.

Inequality

(graph via Richard Florida’s Blog)

And when those in the upper levels of management over-reach, no problem. Privatize the profits and socialize the losses. As true in Canada as it is in the USA.

Meanwhile, I’m busy at my underpaid job and still carrying student loan debt on my account books from a decade ago.

– Timothy

The Street on Welfare | E. J. Dionne Jr.
http://goodreads.timothycomeau.com/shorty/washingtonpost/wallstwelfare/
“Never do I want to hear again from my conservative friends about how brilliant capitalists are, how much they deserve their seven-figure salaries and how government should keep its hands off the private economy. The Wall Street titans have turned into a bunch of welfare clients. They are desperate to be bailed out by government from their own incompetence, and from the deregulatory regime for which they lobbied so hard. They have lost “confidence” in each other, you see, because none of these oh-so-wise captains of the universe have any idea what kinds of devalued securities sit in one another’s portfolios. So they have stopped investing. The biggest, most respected investment firms threaten to come crashing down. You can’t have that. It’s just fine to make it harder for the average Joe to file for bankruptcy, as did that wretched bankruptcy bill passed by Congress in 2005 at the request of the credit card industry. But the big guys are “too big to fail,” because they could bring us all down with them.”

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