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Humans Need to Work

Humans Need to Work

By Dennis Loo (2/6/14)

In Michelle Alexander's book The New Jim Crow she writes:

Work is deemed so fundamental to human existence in many countries around the world that it is regarded as a basic human right. Deprivation of work, particularly among men, is strongly associated with depression and violence. (p. 149)

Capitalism exists based on the logic of "expand or die" (which reminds me of cancer's logic). Because the fundamental source of value is human labor, because making profit means getting away with paying workers as little as possible, and because unemployment must therefore be maintained to keep wages low - if there were full employment wages would rise because there would be no more desperate people willing to work for a pittance in return for a job - this basic human right that Alexander refers to is systematically denied to many. Unemployment is hence not fundamentally due to laziness or fecklessness but the basic workings of capitalism's logic. Even if everyone in the society had graduate degrees such as MDs and Ph.D.s, the occupational structure would remain the same. There would be doctors picking fruit in the fields.

Back when I was a lecturer in Ethnic Studies at the University of Hawaii I invited as a guest lecturer to our class a highly successful Chinese-American capitalist named Hung Wo Ching, who, among other things, founded Aloha Airlines and who was the first non-white (non-haole) person allowed to buy a house in Kahala in the 1960s. During his entertaining talk he said, unprompted, that "I like unemployment." Explaining this he said that without unemployment he would have to pay his workers much more and this would cut into his profits.

How does it make any sense to have an economic system in which a basic human right - the need to work - is deliberately denied to a sizable section of the population? How does it make any sense to have the people in charge overall be those whose privileges rest upon the exploitation of their fellow human beings and the despoiling of the planet? Is that any way to run the planet? Basic human rights and basic human dignity are being sacrificed to the gods of profit. Oxfam recently reported that the 85 richest people in the world have more wealth than the combined wealth of the bottom 3.5 billion people on the planet.

Depressions, recessions, and unemployment are features of capitalism. They do not exist outside of capitalism and they did not exist prior to capitalism's appearance. The depression and violence that Alexander speaks of are also directly related to the deprviation of humans of their right to meaningful work. Depression and violence would not entirely disappear if we abolished a system that denies people of the right to meaningful work, but they would fall precipitously.

Comments   

 
0 # bmcotran13 2014-02-07 01:34
Even though depression wouldn't disappear with the abolishment of capitalism, it is more than agreed that unemployment inflicts depression unto individuals. This is usually experienced on a first hand basis whether it be yourself or a loved one. GOP loves to harp on the culture of poverty and how it is one's laziness that effects work ethic and ability to land a job. As we know, this is just the GOP not wanting to aid the unemployed through their tax dollars.
Although Durkheim tells us that the DOL makes us feel like lifeless cogs, without these jobs, as demeaning and low paying as they may be, unemployment makes us feel worse.

Continued on next comment....
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0 # bmcotran13 2014-02-07 01:35
Part 2:

The GOP feels that the richest should not be taxed more, and doing so would not put an end to capitalism, but it would help to spread the wealth. This would not solve unemployment but it would help the citizens who are in need of financial assistance.
CEO's of these big corporations care only about one thing. Profit. Not their employees, but themselves.
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0 # Dennis Loo 2014-02-07 04:14
Yes, the GOP is most overt about their desire to further enrich the already rich & their ludicrous promises to their non-rich social base (both groups of which the GOP was caught making fun of in an internal memo that was accidentally left behind at a strategy session). But the Democrats are not fundamentally better since both parties uphold and advance the neoliberal state which is rapidly tearing up the social fabric. See, for ex., this http://dennisloo.com/Sample-Data-Articles/who-is-barack-obama-really-an-examination-of-obama-s-domestic-policies.html
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0 # KLR 2014-02-07 02:49
It doesn't make sense because the aristocracies rely on the networking that helped them establish themselves based on their social economic statues. Also, the privileged have varies resources at their disposal to keep their stock of investments at a high. In reality, this isn't the case in today's society based on the elite are richer and the poor are getting poorer. That being said, what each individual does with his/her money has to do with putting them in their respective statues. Some people are born into their class statues, their for privileged with stress not being a factor with their financial means. Charles Herbert Spencer coined the phrase, "survival of the fittest" based off Charles Darwin's "natural selection" concept that those who are eliminated struggle for existence are the unfit. The economic recession has contributed to this question because a percentage of Americans are without work. This helps raises the profits' of the elite class.
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0 # Dennis Loo 2014-02-07 03:27
I'm having some trouble following what you've written. What is it that you're saying doesn't make sense and who are the aristocracies that you're referring to? What "isn't the case" today? Darwin's theory of evolution and natural selection works to explain the evolution of species but Spencer's attempt to extend it into human society is nonsense and only operates the justify social inequalities that have little or nothing to do with social and biological fitness. For ex., Spencer would account for minorities being lower overall in the social hierarchies because they're "less fit."
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0 # Daniel P Gomez 2014-02-07 18:08
The notion of unemployment as a result of laziness, as well as individualistic explanations of inequality are woven into the functionalist ideology/ spencerian ideology. From my understanding, this individualism is concentrated more deeply under neoliberal policies today.
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0 # bmcotran13 2014-02-07 19:31
Thx for posting that insightful read. It's amazing that these things are occurring without most of the American people knowing. I should've clarified that although I seem against GOP, I wasn't intending to seem as though the Democratic party is any better. Now after reading your post on Obama's true policies, I know that this is the case. The "good cop/bad cop" point resonates with me. I've never seen our two political parties in this sense. Now I can never not see them in this way. Taxing the top 1% who have 85% of the wealth would help our situation. Which again, Obama said he would do. It blows my mind that of ALL the things he said he would do, he has only established Obamacare, which as you have said is almost IDENTICAL to Romney's plan. I am very glad that you have opened our eyes to the truth, but it is infuriating. There is nothing the single individual can do. There needs to be an uprising. But the gov't would just see us as domestic terrorists, thx to NDAA.
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+1 # Dennis Loo 2014-02-08 04:03
Glad that my further analysis of Obama's role and that of the Dems helped! Re: NDAA - this is exactly the reason they passed this law and are conducting mass warrantless surveillance - they know that their policies (e.g., taxation, privatization, shredding the social safety net, corporations downsizing and speedups) are going to spark mass dissatisfaction and thus they need more tools of repression such as NDAA, the Patriot Act, the War on Terror, GTMO, to use against us. But as terrible as these laws and policies are, this doesn't show strength on their part but potentially further exposes their true nature, which is why spreading the truth to more and more is so vital.
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0 # Jasmin Burgos 2014-02-07 20:46
One of the various reasons why inequality still continues in society today is because the rich and powerful protect the system of inequality. Karl Marx argued that the rich and powerful, those who own the means of production, controlling the economic system, will control the government. The rich and powerful also have control over the media,schools, etc. Another reason is that people are being socialized to accept their position in life. People are being socialized to accept that there is a great economic gap between the rich and the poor because the rich are educated, hardworking, more talented, etc. in contrast to the poor who are perceived as lazy, unmotivated, etc. I work at a hospital performing janitorial work, I've experienced in various occasions how people tend to classify others by the type of job that they have. I've had doctor's, nurse's, patients speak to me in Spanish assuming that I don't know any English. continued ...
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0 # dgjr_91 2014-02-08 22:21
I completely agree, I too believe it is in the hands and interest of the rich and powerful to maintain the system of inequality that exists, they control the economic system. Because of this, people of the lower/working class have come to accept their position and once noticing that gap between the rich and the poor, come to the conclusion that their is no chance or making it to the top. As Loo said perhaps move position to the middle class, because between those positions is where most social mobility happens, but it is rare to make it to the top. What I do not understand is why the poor continue to be perceived as lazy. When it is the poor who continue to be unemployed but with most desire of becoming employed. They continue to be poor while the richer continue to make profit and increase their wealth. I find it ridiculous that the richest 85% of individuals have more wealth than the bottom 3.5 MILLION people.
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0 # Dennis Loo 2014-02-08 23:46
Just for clarification: that's the top 85 individuals, not the top 85%.
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0 # ktli 2014-02-09 05:02
I agree with you. We’re educated to accept our position in life. The social norm value we admire is individualism, aka American Dream. Most Americans believe that everyone are equal and share same opportunities. Most Americans tend to think that poverty and unemployment are personal instead of structural. Therefore, the society has never blamed the riches, because they are the ones who make it. According to the information that I got from SOC309, since 2001, there’re about half the U.S. population think the unemployment due to people lack of ability and effort. In fact, the personal reason is not always the case, it is about the structural. The riches, capitalists, control the direction of the development of the society since they control the capital and resource.
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0 # Lyndsey Morris 2014-02-09 06:32
I also agree with everything that you stated. The poor continue to remain poor because they aren't aware that they are fully capable of pulling themselves out of it, instead we are told that they are this way because they are lazy and are not motivated enough to do anything with their lives. On the other hand the rich are getting more rich&like you mentioned a lot of wealthy people are born into it so they never have to struggle and are used to that life style. I also found it ridiculous that people would assume that you don't speak English or that u are incapable of going to cal poly yourself. This shows exactly how we are being raised these days, that those with lower paying jobs must be looked down upon or that they must be uneducated or anything along those lines. It fits under the topic that the rich have the higher most appreciated jobs, but don't we need everyone's hard work no matter what the job is? W/out the lower paying jobs we wouldn't be able to have a functioning society.
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0 # Jasmin Burgos 2014-02-07 20:56
I sometimes wear my Cal Poly sweatshirt to work, and I've had people ask me if I know someone who currently attends Cal Poly and they seem very surprised when I tell them that I'm enrolled in this University. One of the most recent experiences that I've had and I must admit that this blew my mind was when one of the doctor's that work at this hospital couldn't understand why I was working as a housekeeper, he said: "You go to Cal Poly, why are you working here?" This only made it more clear to me that not everyone has struggled in order to be where they are now.
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0 # Dennis Loo 2014-02-08 04:05
A really interesting personal anecdote of your experiences! Yes, the truths that you have cited here are constantly being covered up by those who own media outlets and wield political and economic power so it's on those who now see this to help to wake up others to the truth of what's actually afoot.
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0 # Bland 2014-02-09 06:24
I think this mentality goes back to what we discussed in class.... You do not know, what you do not know. I believe that unless you have experienced certain situations, you do not know what it is like and how easy or hard you may have it. We are a single income family with my self a full time student at Cal Poly, my husband attend a JC part time and I have a daughter that attends a private university out of state, we are tuition poor to stay the least, however, we are able to provide for our family, which I feel fortunate. But I must admit, I do get frustrated that we do not qualify for any grants because we make too much. Our system does not always sense. I'm guessing you work as a housekeeper to take care of your responsibilitie s while attending Cal Poly to better your situation . Kudos to you
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0 # debdawg91 2014-02-08 07:22
In the article, I do agree that every human should have the right to obtain employment. On the other hand, I do not agree that if there were full employment wages there would not be any people desperate for as you say “pittance jobs.” Yes, the unemployment rates are high are there is always talk about fixing this issue, but it is a fact of life. Everyone to have a degree is ideal, yet not a reality. It comes back to social status. From our economic standpoint, not everyone has the resources to obtain education to get a good paying job. There will always be jobs out there that don’t require a college degree or skills to live out certain tasks. Even jobs, like education come in ranks.
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0 # debdawg91 2014-02-08 07:27
Relating to Jasmins post, I understand where you are coming from. There is a lot of talk about how Whites are seem as privileged compared to minorities. There is judgment passed everywhere everyday. I occasionally go through the same experiences except the opposite. I look completely white and thats how i get judged, however, I am full Hispanic; half Mexican and Puerto Rican. People are shocked when I tell them…and now since I am seen as a minority to them I am no longer what you would say superior. I too, struggle.
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0 # Jasmin Burgos 2014-02-08 09:10
The bourgeoisie (the rich and powerful) buy the labor of the proletariat (working class) and oppress them by squeezing as much value out of them as possible in order to accumulate wealth. The proletariant work hard to become the bourgeoisie while the bourgeoisie work hard keep the proletariant from doing so.
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0 # Dennis Loo 2014-02-08 15:12
Most of the proletariat doesn't try to become the bourgeoisie. Most of the proletariat tries to make ends meet. Most social mobility occurs between the middle and working classes with some of the middle classes losing ground and dropping into the working class and some of the working class making it into the middle class every generation. The instances of those who have risen from the working class into the bourgeoisie can be nearly counted with the fingers on one or two hands.
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0 # wolfian 2014-02-09 00:21
Jasmin, I don’t think the poor is trying to become bourgeoisie, they are just trying to make ends meet. The poor almost always stays in that class, it’s most likely for their kids to gain some upward mobility.
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+1 # screamingrelaxesme 2014-02-08 16:42
Everything has a purpose, especially when it’s in regards to the government and the capitalist system. Now my reference to this is not to say that I believe the purpose is right but more so to say that everything and everyone in a sense has been strategically placed in one way another within this system to maintain its “function”. In response to the question of “how does it make sense…” it doesn’t make ANY sense, but I would have to say in most cases when the average American considers the rotten economy or certain aspects of it they attribute it to immigrants taking jobs or too many government dependent people (food stamps, housing programs, or unemployment), which I think is a form of distraction from the actual root of the problem. Were made to think we are striking away at the source but it only serves as a diversion from truly questioning the capitalist system and the bureaucracies within. Continued...
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0 # screamingrelaxesme 2014-02-08 16:42
As Weber states in class, status and party, “The structure of every legal order directly influences the distribution of power, economic, or otherwise, within its respective community”; a perfect example of the capitalist system and 85 richest people in the world and the wealth only staying within those 85 people.
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0 # ktli 2014-02-08 19:12
Indeed, unemployment does not necessarily associated with laziness or fecklessness; it could be a structural issue. Marx views capitalism as an expanding system, which means the capitalists must constantly accumulate and extend their capital in order to remain capitalists, if they did not they would be destroyed by competitors. The only way to expand is to exploit the proletariat, workers. Therefore, like you say, capitalists always try to pay workers as little as possible in order to make profits and unemployment need be maintained in order to keep wages low. This is the basic logic of capitalism. The U.S., as a capitalist country, would not be an exception to follow such logic. Otherwise, outsourcing would not take place in the U.S. More U.S. corporations have outsourced to third world countries in order to lower their labor cost. Continued...
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0 # ktli 2014-02-08 19:13
In addition, due to the influence of globalization, the U.S. occupational system has been shifted from core to periphery industries. We have less factory jobs, but more services jobs since last century. Therefore, some people, who cannot adapt the occupational shift, will be inevitably unemployed.
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0 # dgjr_91 2014-02-08 22:00
Quoting Alexander:

Work is deemed so fundamental to human existence in many countries around the world that it is regarded as a basic human right.

As I am sure we agree that work is fundamental to human existence, why is it that the basic right to work still continues to be denied to many? Every individual in the world deserves the right to work, to be able to obtain employment to make a living, to escape the depression that comes with unemployment, and as stated in this article, not have their "basic right and human dignity be sacrificed to the gods of profit". What has the world come to that individuals, capitalists in specific, no longer care for people of society and become so selfish. Would it be safe to say that this has become, that we have been trapped in, as Weber states an 'iron cage'?
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0 # dgjr_91 2014-02-08 22:01
...Because of bureaucratic rationalization and rise of capitalism we are now restricted to he capitalist work ethic; now acting and working towards the ends of the bourgeoisie.
I agree that this is true. Laziness is not the reason we have unemployment,ra ther unemployment exists because capitalists need it to exist. As long as profit minded approaches continue unemployment will always be an issue.
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0 # LB11 2014-02-08 23:20
I agree with dgjr_91, i think laziness is created as a result of unemployment as well as depression and other things mentioned in the article. Saying that it is unfair for so many people to be unemployed and be poor is pointless because capitalism requires this for it to exist. Until the system is changed there will always be unemployment and a huge gap between the wealthy and the poor.
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0 # Elver Gonzote 2014-02-09 01:00
I agree with dgjr_91, laziness is most definitely not a result of unemployment. I can abide this through personal experience. Before i was able to find employment all I ever do was the complete opposite of lazy. I was out applying at ever place i could, no matter where. I believe that when people are jobless it is because of factors in no relation to laziness. Im sure you can ask any sane person, who can still stand the fact of living in this iron cage, with no job if they would like to work and more than likely they would say yes.
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0 # dawahba 2014-02-09 06:34
I agree with djr_91. It seems like there is nothing that can soften the blow of capitalism. It exists at an extreme and is only functional at full force. There isn't a lesser version of capitalism that can still be called capitalism. People are practically being sacrificed (socially speaking) in its name.
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+1 # KLR 2014-02-08 22:27
It doesn’t make any sense to deny such a basic human right. People gain self-worth based on the work that they do. If they are not working, then they have a hard time defining who they are. Almost everyone wants to work and working shouldn’t be denied to anyone that wants it. Unfortunately for the world as a whole, the mega rich have figured out that capitalism gives them two things. More money and with that money comes more power. Most of the mega rich don’t care how about the working man or the effects it may have on the planet. Power makes people blind to everything, except on how to get more power. The world shouldn’t be run on capitalism. The gap between the rich and poor will continue to widen. However the power of capitalism has reached most of the world. The only way it will every change will have to be something world changing such as a one world government or something less drastic such as a removal of trade restrictions.
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0 # KLR 2014-02-08 22:46
In this seemingly capitalistic society that we live on ots bee
Nt to always benefit the rich in powerful from moving down (bourgeoise) and the simple beings who work and study to always be out down so we can never attain success because the rich will do anything to hold on to the status and wealth they've gained so the simple beings (ploretariat) will never reach moderate wealth and middle status
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0 # lcdisney37 2014-02-08 22:56
It does not make any sense that the basic human right of being able to work is denied to people. Our system is based on the culture of poverty that believes only people who are already in a higher class and their family will be able to accomplish greater things in life to have a higher income. Capitalism seizes to exist because the rich are only getting richer and structural poverty will continue to exist because people need jobs and unfortunately these smaller jobs are not seen resourceful to the market economy yet somebody must still pick up the lower paying jobs in order for our world to survive.
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0 # LB11 2014-02-08 23:09
I agree,The way work and wealth in a capitalistic society is distributed is outrageous. However, To me being deprived of a work does not seem like a basic human right that is being taken away. The desperate need to work only exists because of the fact that people live in a capitalistic society. To say that people are depressed without work because it is necessary for existence is an example of Phillip Zimbando's fallacy of attribution. The system of capitalism creates the individuals who believe in the expand or die ideology of work. As stated in the article, the nature of the structure of capitalism is not made for the division of labor to be equal. So basically if the structure didn't exist,I don't think being out of work would necessarily make people depressed and violent nor would having work be a "fundamental right". Peoples need to work is fueled by their need to feel apart of a whole and the collective conscience which is why working has become a necessity for human existence.
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0 # AEK 2014-02-09 03:47
I agree with #LB11 that a person's need for work is fueled by the conscience collective and the desire to be a part of the whole. This is why I view the ability to be a part of the conscience collective and being active in the workforce as human rights, no matter how informal they may be. The bureaucracies in our capitalist society act to restrict these rights, because the division of labor is not equal. With such a challenge it may be possible for people to become depressed as these rights decrease.
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0 # AEK 2014-02-08 23:38
From a monetary standpoint, it makes sense that Ching would value unemployment and being able to pay his workers lower wages. This is an unfortunate consequence within our society. It represents the power within bureaucracies. Even though people are against low wages and exploitation in the workplace, they need the work so they take it. Capitalism causes this exploitation and allows for the hierarchical chain of command. People are stuck in this situation, which represents Weber's Iron Cage. This is a threat to basic human rights and freedoms. It is a systematic approach that focuses on the process and not the worker, which threatens humanity. It is difficult for workers to get out of the iron cage, because they need the work to survive.
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0 # bmcotran13 2014-02-09 00:22
Weber says, "More and more the material fate of the masses depends upon the steady and correct functioning of the increasingly bureaucratic organizations of private capitalism." - McIntosh, p. 149. On p. 150, "The consequences of bureaucracy depend therefore upon the direction which the powers using the apparatus give to it". In the 1st quote, Weber uses the term "correct functioning". By "correct", you may assume he means morally sound, but the bureaucracy can choose to "correctly" use power how it pleases. When it comes to economic status of our country and its citizens, we know capitalism is to blame. There are many things wrong with our government that need to be changed. Re: spreading the truth, yes it needs to be done. Unfortunately Weber says,"Bureaucra cy naturally welcomes a poorly informed and hence powerless parliament-at least in so far as ignorance somehow agrees with the bureaucracy's interests" pg. 151. How do we change things w/o being considered domestic terrorists?
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0 # Dennis Loo 2014-02-09 03:51
I don't think that Weber would describe "correct" as moral exactly but as the bureaucracy carrying out the duties that it is assigned to do such as providing fire fighters and electricity and so on. The opposite of "correct" in this context is that if their work is interrupted or unfulfilled then the material conditions of the masses of people are directly and practically immediately effected. His point here in the passage you cite is that bureaucracies in the modern world have become indispensable.
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0 # Elver Gonzote 2014-02-09 00:30
This reminds me of the iron cage and how capitalists end up making irrational things seem rational. In this situation, the irrational thing is unemployment. Alexander states, "Work is deemed so fundamental to human existence in many countries around the world that it is regarded as a basic human right..."Accord ing to this, work is a human right and what capitalism does is take this right away due to their interest in paying low wages for human labor in order to gain the most profit which eventually results to unemployment. This is the irrational thing. Turning this into rational is seen through Hung Wo Ching, who admits to like unemployment because it keeps his profits high. Whether or not Ching knows it, by saying that he likes unemployment, Ching is basically saying that certain human rights arent as important therefore, saying that an irrational thing such as keeping people unemployed, which can lead to bad health, is rational.
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0 # Screamingrelaxesme 2014-02-09 01:36
I agree with what you said that a "bureaucracy naturally welcomes a poorly informed..."but I would also like to add that citizens or simply people who live within the states don't always make an effort to be informed. I understand in a way it's because we've been socialized to care more about what celebrities are doing than what Obamas next plan of action. Possibly the reason why so much goes unnoticed in our government for example "the kill list". And for the domestic terrorist (I like that term) I think as long as we become well informed and always provide well grounded proof we should be able to persuade people to search for the truth behind the capitalist system.
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0 # Dennis Loo 2014-02-09 03:53
Exactly: if these jobs that are low paying weren't being done then the whole society would suffer, much more than many of the occupations that are high paying (e.g., ad executives and bankers vs. those who plant, pick, and deliver food to the stores).
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0 # KT10 2014-02-09 04:39
I completely agree with the author when she says that unemployment is not a factor of laziness, because we have all heard of people, or know some people that live paycheck to paycheck having two jobs and it still doesn't cut it for them. There's a saying that goes "the system was never broken,it was built that way". Capitalism in today's society purposely make the rich richer and poor poorer. What baffles me is that even if we elect officials who try and make a difference in human rights or the economy, there are always bureacrats that have a hidden agenda where they are the ones who are always in charge of everyone. Another interesting thing is that people aren't questioning the government, because they aren't exposed to the truth and they're taught to believe that our system is flawless. In my opinion, that is how capitalism works; without unemployed people, the government wouldn't benefit from them. Poverty creates jobs for people and raises the elite to a higher position.
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0 # rrr96 2014-02-10 04:04
Exactly KT10, many people are brain washed to believe that they have a poor life because of the decisions they have made. Although they do work very hard (working 2 or 3 jobs) they continue to face despair. Why is this? Why do some people think so harshly about people’s economic mobility when they are technically benefiting for their low paying job? People are brain washed (by the gov.) into thinking that the lower class are people that steal everyone’s taxes and bring crime to society.
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0 # sickmacias89 2014-02-09 05:16
I completely agree with the above reading because it is known that in order for capitalism to continue there needs to be an exchanging use of value for other use value. Unfortunately those in the higher levels of capitalism will place what they believe to be of value to them and usually those in lower positions are struggling more than in past history because their exchange is worth less. As Professor Loo states, "Depression and violence would not entirely disappear if we abolished a system that denies people of the right to meaningful work, but they would fall precipitously." This correlates with what we have discussed in class how those in countries (Norway and Switzerland to name 2) were natives feel they are taken care of by their state power and in comparison to our capitalistic rule it would feel like a distant daydreaming future.
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0 # Bland 2014-02-09 06:12
We live in a capitalist driven world where survival is impossible without  money, therefore by being denied the opportunity to work and with the continual  rise of unemployment, I understand where Alexander is coming from when she relates lack of employment with depression and violence.  If capitalists do not see greater profit we get unemployment. T he purpose of capitalist production is to maximise profit, whenever new technology is introduced it usually means a cut in jobs. As we learned last quarter in Dr. Loo's class Marx claimed that, "It is the absolute interest of every capitalist to press a given quantity of labour out of a smaller, rather than a greater number of labourers, if the cost is about the same". It seems that unemployment is a permanent feature of capitalism, this leaving pressure on those employed to work harder for less money because there is a of people who are more then willing to work. Continue on next comment
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0 # Bland 2014-02-09 06:15
Although, I strongly disagree that we need unemployment to get the most from those working, I am curious,  what is the unemployment solution?  If we stopped outsourcing, this would drive prices up and we would be forced to pay a higher price, would Americans be willing to pay more from item in order to lower the unemployment rate? What would you suggest, in order to fix our current unemployment situation? Yes, I feel that there is a link between unemployment and depression, we all want to be able to provide the basic necessities for our family, however, we all do not turn to violence when we cannot.
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0 # Dennis Loo 2014-02-09 06:31
The principle problem here is that transnational and multinational corporations operate according to capitalist logic (how could they do otherwise?) and this means doing whatever they can to extract the maximum amount of profits. This includes not only outsourcing and driving down their labor costs wherever they employ people but also their pricing their products and services as high as they can. If we got rid of unemployment this would mean that we also have gotten rid of capitalism itself and the entire edifice that now exists to hike up prices and drive down corporation's costs would be null and void. Consider, for ex., the private oil industries' oligopoly. If the oil, which is the greatest material prize in history, were publicly owned, managed and distributed instead of privately, the price of oil would drop precipitously and the related costs for food, transport, construction, etc. would also drop dramatically. See next comment.
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0 # Dennis Loo 2014-02-09 06:34
Individual oil companies make profits in the tens of billions per quarter and collectively profits in the trillions over a decade. What impact would it have if that money now being siphoned off into their pockets were eliminated? Even more important, imagine the change we could effect in the burning of fossil fuels if we took the power out of the hands of a major contributor to this disaster that is destroying the planet and were able to devote appropriate resources to renewal energy sources instead? We could provide more than enough energy five times over for all world needs with wind power alone if it were fully utilized.
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0 # dawahba 2014-02-09 06:24
I found Michelle Alexander's quote to be interesting, true, and somewhat sad. The anomic state people go into because of their lack of ability to assimilate into capitalist society is proof of how engrained this type of living is in our lives. People typically aren't reluctant to submit to capitalist ideas. However, when they do resist or are unable to submit, problems do arise. I feel as though it is unfair that injustice is a "necessary condition" of capitalism. This in itself is proof that the system is flawed. Even justification for this type of inequality is difficult to deal with. "Land of the free" can't exist when people are forced into positions they cannot get out of. Land of the free if the odds are in your favor sounds more like what capitalism is selling.
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0 # rrr96 2014-02-10 03:44
Often people think in terms of the conscience collective. People that are unemployed are thought to be lazy and undeserving of jobs because they have not made the effort to go out and pursue employment. This is very much a capitalistic American view. The United States is supposed to be the land of opportunity, but who is really receiving the opportunities? People are flooded with the idea that if someone does not have a job it is their fault, not the system itself, but if we were to deconstruct that idea people would realize that big corporations have more than enough money to employ people, but they don’t. Exploitation is inevitable in capitalistic societies because of the conscience collective. In a functionalist society someone has to be the trash collector in order for society to function but some people may not see the relevance of this and that it what makes exploitation possible. It is easier to deny that anything is going on than to face that facts.
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0 # PD06 2014-02-10 10:43
Sad however it may be, in a capitalist world unemployment is needed for companies to make immense amounts of profit. Only with unemployment that companies can afford paying people lower wages since people are competing with each other to work. To many of us that seems to be unruly and absolutely greedy by the companies but there is always two sides to any story. Companies that cost labor costs can then in turn provide people with goods and services for cheaper prices. Would you buy the same cloth at double or even triple the price you are use to just to know you are buying cloth not made in a sweatshop in other foreign countries?
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0 # jorigby 2014-02-15 19:32
"Companies that cost labor costs can then in turn provide people with goods and services for cheaper prices."

However, the goods produced at an inexpensive price still costs the low wage workers to work three times more in order to purchase these cheaper goods. It is a cycle. Low wage workers work many hours to purchase these affordable unsustainable goods that break down easily in a short period of time, then the workers have to work hard to purchase these same unsustainable products. What do you think is better – receiving low wages to purchase reliable items or receiving low wages to purchase unreliable items?
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0 # Dennis Loo 2014-02-10 15:23
Prices are not cheaper overall because of unemployment and outsourcing. They are higher when you look at the array of goods and services that people need. The hidden reality is that when private companies exploit human labor (and frequently natural resources) they do so in order to make profits. They are like the unnecessary middle men in a transaction, extracting profits through their presence, when if they were not in the equation, the costs and benefits to everyone would be so much greater. Where would those immense profits you mention be if they weren't being scooped up by companies? Social needs such as energy, food, etc. could be met thru publicly organized and not-for-profit means. That is what socialism is. Capitalism results in enormously inflated prices for the vast majority of people.
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0 # Daniel Carrillo 2014-02-10 19:41
The multicorporatio ns that run our country are treating Americans no differently than they have treated other groups of people in the past, and continue to treat in the present. Just as corporations have exploited workers on foreign lands-while at the same time exhausting their natural resources-only to abandon them when they no longer are profitable, multinational corporations have abandoned American workers because American workers are no longer profitable to their bottom line. As long as we live in a world where there is no global wage equality, there will always be groups of people somewhere on the planet whose socioeconomic status is so bleak they can be easily exploited. Once corporations realized their profit margins could grow because they could pay foreign workers a lower wage, in addition to being able to run factories with few, in any, expensive government enforced environmental restrictions, corporations abandoned America (as a place to manufacture) and American workers.
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0 # Daniel Carrillo 2014-02-10 19:42
This way of thinking is what Weber termed "zweckrational, " corporations doing the most efficient (rational) things with the goal of realizing the highest profit possible. It is also what Weber wrote about in his essays The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism when he asserted "capitalism is identical with the pursuit of profit" and "in a wholly capitalistic order of society an individual capitalistic enterprise which did not take advantage of its opportunities for profit-making would be doomed to extinction."
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0 # jorigby 2014-02-15 19:16
It is sad to hear that America needs unemployment in order to pay workers low wages. No matter how hard people work or go to school for higher education, there is still that unequal stratification in the system due to capitalism. However, even though majority of the people work to gain capital, they also work for a sense of importance and value in their lives. Depending on the type of work people are engage in, the value of their time and effort at work also makes people feel important in their lives. According to Marx, human creates value within their labor. There is the idea of a sense of purpose in life because the fact that people are working for a living. To them, there is something to look forward to, something to gain within oneself. And that is one of the main focuses that capitalists strive for in order to keep making money.
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0 # Dennis Loo 2014-02-15 19:31
Just to be clear in terms of terminology: workers don't work to get capital. They are paid wages. As long as someone remains in the working class and doesn't become a capitalist themselves, the wages are used not for investment but to keep the worker and his/her family going. Capital is what capitalists acquire and seek through their exploitation of workers. Capital in its essence is a social relation btw capitalist and proletarian.
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0 # jorigby 2014-02-15 19:37
Oh, I see. So the capitalist class basically exploits the proletariat class? And this ties in with the capitalist class seeking surplus value through exploitation of laborers.
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0 # Crystal 2014-03-02 09:04
"Explaining this he said that without unemployment he would have to pay his workers much more and this would cut into his profits." As the popular saying indicates, "The rich people going get richer while the poor people only get poorer." How is one able to rise to the top if capitalism is not letting them. It takes the whole, "American Dream," away from people's realities when you take a step back and see how everything is working in society. How is one able to ever become successful in life, if the majority of their money goes to bills rather than investments due to the low income they are receiving. It refers back to minorities constantly being "labeled" as "criminals" while white people hardly encounter problems with the criminal justice system. If your basically not on the top or do not have some sort of power over people than your not important. Weather you succeed or not in life is going to be on you.
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0 # Dennis Loo 2014-03-02 16:17
Capitalist ideology preaches that if you succeed or not is a) all on you and b) that success equals money.
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0 # Crystal 2014-03-09 07:17
I agree with this article. How is one suppose to support their families, have food on the table and buy the necessities that they need in order to survive. Many people today work for survival purposes. When one does not have a job they become desperate and do whatever they can to get money to pay for certain things. Therefore, its a possibility crime can go up due to unemployment. Its unfortunate to know that depression, recessions and unemployment are features of capitalism.
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0 # Jessica Rodriguez 2014-06-09 03:25
i dont think that not taxing the rich would help anyone but themselves. they are greedy people would dont have a limit. all they see us normal people are like human labor or regular joes who dont know the real reasons why they do what they do. Capitalism just hurts us and they dont even care
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Elaine Brower 2

Elaine Brower of World Can't Wait speaking at the NYC Stop the War on Iran rally 2/4/12