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Life expectancy in the United States has declined for the first time in more than two decades. http://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-38247385
1 hour 16 min ago
Half of the U.S. got nothing even as the economy doubled. Approximately 117 million adults stuck on the lower half of the income ladder — "has been completely shut off from economic growth since the 1970s. Even after taxes and transfers, there has been close to zero growth for working-age adults in the bottom 50 percent." economists Thomas Piketty, Emmanuel Saez and Gabriel Zucman,
1 hour 16 min ago
Every once in a while you may hear the demand for a fair wage for a fair day’s work. Can a worker receive the full equivalent of the work he performs in a capitalist society? The answer is no; it is entirely impossible as it would leave no surplus value and thus no profits for the capitalist class, and thus render their existence impossible. It would become obvious that they are superfluous parasites, feeding off of the blood and sweat of the working people and living on the unpaid labor of others. The wealth of a selected minority is based on the exploitation of the majority’s hard work. To expect fair wages under this system is like expecting the abolition of slavery in a slaveholder society. In capitalism, workers must ultimately face exploitation if this system of profit and the reaping of surplus value is to be maintained.
People who praise the great “free market” would say that wages and working conditions are fixed by competition between the buyers, the capitalists. Supposedly, capitalists are all competing for workers, so that competition inevitably leads to fair wages and working conditions. After all, the seller—the worker—theoretically has several options of employers to choose from. If a buyer doesn’t offer a price that a worker thinks is fair for her labor, then she can look for another job that pays better. By agreeing to the prevailing wage, so goes this line of argument, workers have essentially made the statement: “We think this is fair.”
One problem with this “logic” is that workers and bosses do not start on equal terms when they are buying and selling. For most of us, if we don’t have a job, we can’t pay our bills, feed ourselves and our families, or heat our homes. Having employment is a life or death issue. It may not be life or death in the short term, but eventually if you can’t find a job or someone with a job who will help you out financially, you will not be able to buy the things you need to live, let alone the things you need in order to be happy and fulfilled. It’s a very different story for the owners of the companies we work for. They have money in the bank, and if they don’t get employees tomorrow or even this month, they might be severely inconvenienced. Although their companies might take a hit in profits, they won’t risk anything like the consequences workers do. Their worst case scenario is far better than ours, so the free market lover’s idea of an “even playing field” is, in reality, a sick joke.
Today, there is a massive pool of unemployed workers and the capitalists, as a class, use unemployed working-class people against the rest of the class. If business is good and jobs appear, then unemployed people are immediately ready to take those jobs. Until every single one of those unemployed workers has found a job, capitalists will use desperate job seekers to keep wages down. The mere existence of this pool of unemployed workers strengthens the power of the bosses in their struggle with workers. Anyone who has ever heard a boss say, “If you don’t like it here, there are 10 other people I could hire to do your job,” will know how this plays out in terms of respect on the job. In the foot race against the capitalist class, the working class has to drag an anvil chained to its ankle—but that is “fair” according to a free market economist.
Now let’s take a look at how bosses pay their workers. Where does a capitalist get the money to pay our very “fair” wages? He pays them from his capital, his stored up funds from all the business he’s done, from all the goods or services his company has sold. Where did those goods and services come from in the first place? They came from the workers. The employees are the ones who worked to create those products or services that were then sold to consumers. The boss doesn’t do any work—he might oversee some of the workings of the company, but for the most part he sits on his ass watching as the work takes place. So we can say clearly the workers created the value that built the fund that they get paid from—a worker’s wage is paid from the product of her own work. Now, according to common fairness, you should get out what you put in, your wage should be equal to the value that you have created for the company through your work—but that would not be fair according to the values of a capitalist economy. On the contrary, the wealth you have created goes to the boss, and you get out of it no more than the bare necessities of life—a wage as low as the boss can get away with paying. So the end result of this supposedly “fair” race is that the product of the working class’s labor gets accumulated in the hands of those that do not work, and in their hands, it becomes the most powerful means to enslave the very people who produced it.
This isn’t the worst part of it. Bosses lay off workers when they develop new technology to replace employees and they lay people off when their profits plunge, as is the case in the current recession. As a result, workers lose their jobs way faster than they can be absorbed into other jobs. Today, there is a massive pool of unemployed workers and the capitalists, as a class, use unemployed working-class people against the rest of the class. If business is bad and there are few jobs for those of us who find ourselves out of work, some of us can collect a meager amount of unemployment money, while some turn to stealing and some lose their homes and are forced to beg for money on the street. If business is good and jobs appear, then unemployed people are immediately ready to take those jobs. Until every single one of those unemployed workers has found a job, capitalists will use desperate job seekers to keep wages down. The mere existence of this pool of unemployed workers strengthens the power of the bosses in their struggle with workers. Anyone who has ever heard a boss say, “If you don’t like it here, there are 10 other people I could hire to do your job,” will know how this plays out in terms of respect on the job. In the foot race against the capitalist class, the working class has to drag an anvil chained to its ankle—but that is “fair” according to a free market economist.
Now let’s take a look at how bosses pay their workers. Where does a capitalist get the money to pay our very “fair” wages? He pays them from his capital, his stored up funds from all the business he’s done, from all the goods or services his company has sold. Where did those goods and services come from in the first place? They came from the workers. The employees are the ones who worked to create those products or services that were then sold to consumers. The boss doesn’t do any work—he might oversee some of the workings of the company, but for the most part, he sits on his ass watching as the work takes place. So we can say clearly the workers created the value that built the fund that they get paid from—a worker’s wage is paid from the product of her own work. Now, according to common fairness, you should get out what you put in, your wage should be equal to the value that you have created for the company through your work—but that would not be fair according to the values of a capitalist economy. On the contrary, the wealth you have created goes to the boss, and you get out of it no more than the bare necessities of life—a wage as low as the boss can get away with paying. So the end result of this supposedly “fair” race is that the product of the working class’s labour gets accumulated in the hands of those that do not work, and in their hands, it becomes the most powerful means to enslave the very people who produced it.
“A fair day’s wages for a fair day’s work”. The “fairness” of the market is all on one side—the side of the capitalist class. So let‘s bury that old motto forever and replace it with a better one: “Abolish the wage system!”
Nevertheless, without rebirth, without a stronger labour movement, there will be little hope for socialism.
Adapted from here, an IWW article
1 hour 16 min ago
A Short Story from the December 1988 issue of the Socialist Standard Long ago in a kingdom now gone there lived a miller who had a very beautiful daughter. The miller was so proud of her and so eager to move up in the world that one day he went to the king and told him that his daughter was so clever that she could spin gold out of straw. The king was prepared to talk to people
7 hours 22 min ago

Capitalism is an economic system that, inherently, benefits a select few while everyone else struggles to make ends meet or survive. Capitalism rewards capital … not effort (work). Capitalism not only survives, but thrives on the exploitation of human labor and talent, and the limited natural resources of Earth. The primary objectives under capitalism are the never-ending growth of profit and increasing the accumulation of capital assets … money and otherwise. Basically, there are two ways a capitalist can increase profits: sell more, make more or reduce costs (expenses). The problem with selling more and making more is that both require additional spending, an expense. Reducing costs (expenses) has a better short-term chance of improving bottom-line performance. Every dollar spent on an expense is a dollar that isn't available in profit. Historically, reducing the expense item that results in the most and immediate profit is suppressing/reducing worker (employee) wages. In other words, the ruling class capitalist believes that every dollar paid to workers (employees) that is over and above what is absolutely necessary or required is a dollar lost. Under capitalism, there is absolutely no reason for an employer to pay a single penny more than what is needed to keep the worker (employee) coming back to work day after day. Capital doesn't produce any products or provide any services … the working class does. Yet, it is the capitalist class that reaps the profits generated by the working class. There is no economic justice or equality under capitalism … only tyranny and wage slavery. Capitalism is inefficient and will most certainly destroy the planet left to its own cancerous devices.
Anything that can be used to generate "surplus value" (also known as profit), income or wealth is considered private property. Private property is what anarchists want to eliminate because it is used for exploitation and control over others. Personal property (possessions) includes the house you own and are living in, your cars and all of your personal belongings.   These items are considered your possessions and are not subject to common/collective ownership. Land and, buildings, machinery or any capital asset that is currently used to generate profit or an income will be commonly owned by the people.  "The Commons" such as utilities, communications, roads, bridges, parks and other similar items available for use by all people will also be commonly owned. The workers and/or the community will collectively own and manage the workplaces as well as the distribution of their products and/or services.  Production (the combined effort and labor of goods produced and services provided) will be for the use and benefit of all people and will be readily available based on the needs of the individual or family.
We see the state as the means (tool) by which the ruling class rules. We believe that we have the ability to live collectively, productively, cooperatively and peaceably based on our common interests that are inherent to mankind. We don't need to be ruled or dominated. Collectively, we have enough intelligence and common sense (based on our experiences) to determine what is right and what is wrong in our relationships with others. The main function of the state is to guarantee the existing social relationships and their sources within a given society through centralised power and a monopoly of violence. The state, therefore, is the political expression of the economic structure of society and, therefore, the representative of the people who own or control the wealth of the community. The state ensures the exploitative privileges of its ruling elite by protecting certain economic monopolies from which its members derive their wealth. The nature of these economic privileges varies over time. Under the current system, this means defending capitalist property rights. This service is referred to as “protecting private property” and is said to be one of the two main functions of the state, the other being to ensure that individuals are “secure in their persons.” However, although this second aim is professed, in reality, most state laws and institutions are concerned with the protection of property.
Socialists desire a society, based on free association.
Adapted from here, Beyond Socialism website.
7 hours 22 min ago