Saturday, November 19, 2011

Human Need or Capitalist Greed

It is not only absurd, but dangerous, to believe that jobs are good just because losing a job is undesirable (See the Cry For Jobs, Ruthless Criticism). Of course it is terrible to lose ones income and material security. But simply demanding jobs generally results in compromises and sacrifices in order to get that paycheck rolling in again. Workers accept lower wages, longer working hours, more dangerous conditions, less autonomy, longer commutes just to get back to work.

Jobs do not even necessarily provide material security, particularly if the wages aren’t sufficient to cover living expenses. Even when times were “good” and unemployment was low, prior to the start of the economic crisis, wages and living standards had been spiraling downwards for more than 30 years. Working hours had been increasing, stress growing and leisure time shrinking.

Why do we need jobs? We don’t. We need the things that we can purchase with the income that jobs provide. If these goods and services can be produced in less than 40 hours per week we should all be happy—more leisure time, right?

But it never works that way because the goods and services don’t belong to us, they belong to the bosses, and we don’t get paid the value of the goods and services we produce, but only a fraction of that. Our pay is an expense to the bosses. The more work they can get out of us and the less they have to pay for it, the greater their profits. Therefore, the purpose of work is not to meet human need, but capitalists’ greed and increased worker productivity does not result in more leisure time or increased wages, it results in increased profits.

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