Sunday, August 05, 2007

Wage Slavery Explained

Wage slavery seems to be a ticklish topic of discussion in a capitalist society. Many contend that compensating a workers' time and labor isn't a type of coercion, that it is in fact voluntary. Here's a simple way of understanding this complicated concept. Decide for yourself if the following is a product of free will.

The human impulse toward work (or, more accurately, aversion from idleness) is arguably as essential as drinking itself. We need to quench our thirst, not too many people will dispute this point. Imagine you've been crawling through the desert for hours, the sun baking your back and you're too dehydrated to sweat. A man approaches you and offers you a choice: either continue crawling and die or take a coke and live. In exchange he'll own you for eight hours a day, but he'll shelter you from the heat and supply you with ample cola. Reluctantly you accept. The coke may cause obesity, destroy your teeth and eventually kill you, but it doesn't matter as long as you're protected from the indifferent sands of the desert. What you truly need is cool, cleansing water free of charge, but that's not an option. It's either go with the man or perish.

This is akin to the economic system we're ensnared in. We can either trade our autonomy, time and skills for crippling stress and wages, which are meager (remember, poverty is when there's too much month at the end of the money), or starve. Both will kill us and both are humiliating and dehumanizing.

We need a third way. We need the ability to not only drink the water, but also provide it to everyone, not just the super rich, not just to the privileged property owners. It is time to protect ourselves from the callous hand of the "free market".

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