Why does the investor class hate labor? Labor is a cost that reduces ROI for the investor class.
Dinner time at St. Pancras Poorhouse, London, – Wiki Commons
[NOTE: If you want to see what the investor class did to the poor in the mid to late 19th century, read the addendum at the end of this post.]
The investor class, which happens to include just about all of the officials that we elect to Congress and the White House, hate labor. Why? Labor from the investor’s point of view = cost and cost = reduced dividends and reduced dividends =less money in the pocket of the investor.
And that is why we went 10 years without Congress raising the minimum wage. Of course that didn’t stop them from giving themselves several raises to their already bloated salaries over this same time period.
Currently the minimum wage at the federal level is $7.25 an hour. Now here is the hitch in that giddy-up: A person living in most major cities in the USA, working 40 hours a week at $7.25 an hour earns $1,120.00 a month before taxes cannot even pay the rent for a one-bedroom apartment on that income, much less provide for their food, clothing, etc. A single parent? Forget it.
AVERAGE APARTMENT PRICES FOR ONE-BEDROOM APARTMENTS IN THREE MAJOR USA CITIES
New York – $2,901
Los Angeles – $1,872
Chicago – $1,598
Even Miami with its average one-bedroom apartment rent of $919 and Houston and Dallas with their average one-bedroom apartment rents of $750 still yield the same conclusion: Minimum wage is not a living wage. A living wage is one that enables a person working 40 hours a week to afford a roof over their head, sufficient purchase of food to sustain a life; enough money for clothes; enough money for travel to and from work; enough money for health insurance.
HUNGER STRIKE FOR LIVING WAGE AT UNIVERSITY OF VIRGINIA
On March 1, 2012, a hunger strike consisting of 26 students at the University of Virginia came to a close. The Living Wage Campaign made an unprecedented decision to initiate a hunger strike to achieve its goals of raising worker wages from the federal minimum wage of $7.25/hr to to $13/hr. Though the University has a minimum rate of $10.65, this official ratedoes not apply to contracted workers that fall outside of this stipulated minimum. Contracted workers imply temp laborers supplied by staffing agencies such as those run by Schneider Logistics who coordinates manual moving labor for Wal-Mart’s supply chain. It’s a clever way of getting around regulatory mechanisms established for humanitarian purposes. Read the entire article here
Note: the Hunger strike at the University of Virginia is over, but not their fight for justice as the University officials continue, like the investor class of Washington, to resist the notion of a living wage. ”So to this administration, which has so far failed to provide moral leadership to our University, we have only this to say: get ready, because we are already here. We will hold you accountable for your promises. This spring, we will be organizing teach-ins to train and educate people on this issue. We call on all people of conscience to come and learn more, and to get involved. We never thought this struggle would end quickly and the plan for our next steps is what it has always been: organize, escalate and fight.” [Source]
ADDENDUM TO POST: Criminalizing Poverty
The photo above is Dinner time at St. Pancras Poorhouse, London, from The Kings Empire, 1911. Courtesy Wikimedia Commons. In 1850, at the height of his fame, Dickens paid a visit to a London workhouse where as many as 2000 paupers resided. In a grim piece of non-fiction writing entitled “A Walk in a Workhouse,” he later described the experience.
“Groves of babies in arms; groves of mothers and other sick women in bed; groves of lunatics; jungles of men in stone-paved down-stairs day-rooms, waiting for their dinners; longer and longer groves of old people, in up-stairs Infirmary wards, wearing out life, . . .A sullen or lethargic indifference to what was asked, a blunted sensibility to everything but warmth and food, a moody absence of complaint as being of no use, a dogged silence and resentful desire to be left alone again, I thought were generally apparent. . . On the whole, it was the dragon, Pauperism, in a very weak and impotent condition: toothless, fangless, drawing his breath heavily enough and hardly wort chaining up. . .”
Institutions Designed for Breaking the Human Spirit
Like any other prison, or military service for that matter, dehumanization began in the PoorHouses from the moment of induction and the relentless efforts an removing all evidence of a human spirit continued until death or in rare cases, release of human beings who were even more damaged than they were prior to induction into the system.
Children were separated from their parents and housed in single sex schools: husbands were taken away from their wives and shown to single sex quarters. But this was just the beginning of classification and segregation. The staff sent newly out-of-work adults to quarters by the front entrance of the workhouse; they dispatched the chronically unemployed to wards deeper inside the institution. And finally they segregated the old, the insane, the physically disabled and the diseased and contagious and placed them in wards in the dark heart of the institution. More ominous still was the heavy level of surveillance. The staff occupied the center of each wing, allowing them to observe everything that was going on in both the female and male wards. The poor rarely enjoyed a moment of privacy: the institution housing them acted as a panopticon*, a 24-hour surveillance machine.
The Panopticon is a type of institutional building designed by English philosopher and social theorist Jeremy Bentham in the late eighteenth century. The concept of the design is to allow an observer to observe (-opticon) all (pan-) inmates of an institution without them being able to tell whether or not they are being watched.
The design consists of a circular structure with an “inspection house” at its centre, from which the managers or staff of the institution are able to watch the inmates, who are stationed around the perimeter. Bentham conceived the basic plan as being equally applicable to hospitals, schools, poorhouses, and madhouses, but he devoted most of his efforts to developing a design for a Panopticon prison, and it is his prison which is most widely understood by the term.
Bentham himself described the Panopticon as “a new mode of obtaining power of mind over mind, in a quantity hitherto without example.” [Source: Wiki]