Archive for September, 2017

Getting less for doing more


Talking with a friend of mine who works in retail I can hear the frustration and anger boiling out of him.  He is being asked to do more than ever before, and he is receiving less and less for doing it.  He loves working with people, selling stuff, but he hates dealing with the corporate demands and managers who don’t know what they are doing.  His store used to have several more workers, but vacancies have not been filled.  His compensation for enduring these problems is shrinking in value, even though the amount is larger.

All of this is so that the shareholders can receive a larger income from doing nothing.  The corporate people don’t want him taking the time to listen to his customers, to find out what they need so that he can help them find it.  He is supposed to sell them the biggest, bestest, most expensive thing he can, regardless of whether they need it.  Making the customer happy is no longer important, only making the shareholders happy is.


Is this wealth real?


Supposedly, vast amounts of wealth are being created in the world today.  Trillions of dollars are tied up in various markets, chasing other dollars in the search for more wealth.  But most of this wealth is just numbers in computers, not new bridges, roads, houses, or factories.  If a market takes a downturn, huge amounts of wealth suddenly disappear.  And this wealth does not trickle down to the average person, in the form of increased compensation for work, or better health care, or improved retirement benefits.

Money is a way of representing work, or value.  Practically all value requires work, as very few things are valuable without some sort of investment of labor.  In theory, if a worker is more productive, they should earn better pay.  In reality, that has not been happening since the 1970’s.  Increasingly, money has lost the connection to work, becoming easy to create without putting time or energy into something.  Some people are able to survive without working, because their money is ‘working’ for them.  In most cases, the money they are ‘making’ is the money that should be going to the people who are actually creating the new wealth.

When too much profit is taken out of an operation or a business, the whole thing will collapse, because not enough is being put back in.  Resources become unavailable, workers stop being productive, equipment breaks down.  This is what is happening today, as large amounts of profit are being taken out of practically every operation.  Raising the minimum wage does not mean that the workers will receive a larger portion of the wealth that they create, because their percentage of the profits does not change.  The creation of real wealth benefits everyone.  What we are making today does not.