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Cheap Labor / Cheap Life

December 21, 2014

The cost of labor is relative to the difference between the amount of money possessed by the fellow who is buying the labor, and the clods or hands who are doing the work, selling the labor, selling themselves, selling their lives. If the fellow has most of the available money, and there are a lot of hands available for hire, a hand isn’t worth much. Nor is his or her life. Take slavery, for example.

In other words, if a few people control most of the wealth, and they manipulate conditions so that most people must work for very low incomes, the conditions of life for most people will get little attention or benefit.  Only a few individual lives will be considered valuable to the society.  Most people will be belittled, in a variety of ways, including stereotyping and discriminatory attacks and controls, ostracism, gender exploitation, financial trickery, blame of the victim, withholding of services, official violence with impunity, sneers and laughter.

Many lives will be thrown away.

A conditions update from Daily Kos 12-30-14:

In 2012, the United States ranked worst in the developed world for the percentage of its workers in low-paying jobs [25+%, then Ireland & Canada 22; Belgium least at 7]. That’s according to Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development data. That’s according to Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development data.

A new paper written by Emmanuel Saez of the University of California, Berkeley, and Gabriel Zucman of the London School of Economics, states that inequality in wealth is closing in on the record. The two men looked at the proportion of the nation’s total wealth held by the bottom 90 percent of families compared with those at the top.

Shortly before the Great Depression in the late 1920s, the bottom 90 percent held a mere 16 percent of U.S. wealth. The top 0.1 percent controlled 25 percent of it just before the crash in 1929. From then until the early 1970s, the middle-class portion of total wealth rose steadily while wealth among upper-class families fell. Much of this was due to more home ownership, but it also was reflected in middle-class salaries outdistancing inflation.

In the past 30 years, the wealth of the top 0.1 percent has soared. Right now, that group comprises 160,000 families worth $73 million on average, which is about 22 percent of the nation’s total wealth, slightly less than the peak 85 years ago. This nearly equals the wealth of the bottom 90 percent.

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