How to get other people to do all your work, and be thankful for the opportunity

The genius of capitalism is in convincing the wage slaving masses in doing all of society’s work, not only convinced that they are working purely out of their own free will, but grateful to their owners for the opportunity.

In “The Adventures of Tom Sawyer” by Mark Twain, Tom Sawyer not only convinces the neighborhood kids to paint his fence for him, but gets them to pay him for the privilege.

This is exactly what is happening on a societal level – us laborers are the children getting swindled.

“Work consists of whatever a body is obliged to do. Play consists of whatever a body is not obliged to do.”

Mark Twain

Slavemasters of the 18th century would’ve drooled at the prospects – “wait, they’ll work for free with a smile on their face AND I don’t have to put a roof over their heads or feed them!? Where do I sign up?”

These days being skilled enough to do the job isn’t enough – along with being enough of a personality fit with one’s potential manager such that you guys could potentially be best friends, one must demonstrate overflowing “passion” for their drudgery by fixing a permanent smile on their face and subtle-bragging how much of their spare time they devote to “perfecting their craft”, perhaps weaving in a statement like “I don’t know what I’d do without my job, I’d be so bored.” Then you go through multiple rounds of unpaid hoop-jumping and anal hazing, and if you’re lucky you’ll receive an email a couple weeks later saying “Thank you for your time. We’ve decided to pass on your candidacy. We do not provide feedback. Thanks and feel free to apply again next year if you feel things will be better next time despite us not giving you any feedback!”

Laborers literally do all of the work to keep society functioning, yet the fruits of our labor are reaped by these”owners”, and we’re supposed to be thanking them for our jobs. People are thankful to their employers for letting them boss them around all day while they collect all the financial upside.

But wait, our employers give us our paychecks – why shouldn’t we be thankful to them? Without my paycheck I wouldn’t have food or a roof over my head.

It’s not your paycheck that gives you a roof over your head, it’s your damn house.

Ok, I’m not trying to be pedantic here. Obviously within our current system, one needs money to do anything, and most people are only able to obtain money via selling themselves as part-time slaves in the labor market, ie. wage labor. But that is not how it has to be.

We could implement a Universal Basic Income so that no citizen is dependent on their employer’s paycheck for a life of minimal dignity. But people are so brainwashed to believe that their employers are their one and only benevolent patrons, and that that’s the only way things should work (because if governments do anything we’ll end up like Venezuela) that they can’t see outside this reality of not being financially dependent on their employer. We’re like that lazy 35 year old manchild who lives in his parents’ basement and can’t imagine living a life on his own, spending his own money rather than his parents’ allowance.

Now don’t get me wrong here, I’m not saying that there’s no value in entrepreneurship. I’m just saying that the workers actually doing all of the work are getting the short end of the stick here. We cling to this romantic notion of this valiant entrepreneur fighting against all odds to change the world – and in many cases in the beginning of building a business there is some truth to that – but a company is not just one individual.

Amazon is not Jeff Bezos. When you order a product off of Amazon, Jeff Bezos does not pack your package and deliver it to your door. There are 650,000 employees, without which there would be no Amazon. So it leaves one to wonder why society tolerates this man owning hundreds of thousands of lifetimes worth of wealth, while warehouse workers are ordered around like human robots, monitored by big brother who only allows you 18 minutes of off-task time including bathroom breaks, all for the piss-poor likely unlivable minimum wage of $15/hr. And the bootlickers expect them to be grateful for that opportunity! Tom Sawyer would be rolling in his grave.

People also drastically underestimate the role that institutions like government play in improving ensuring our standard of living. Much of the pivotal technologies of our time actually originated from government research programs – including computers and the internet. Google was initially funded by an NSF grant.

Much of why anyone’s salary in any first world country feels decent is due to reasons outside of any single employers’ control – a country having a strong currency. This is the result of good governance and a good economy. A bus driver in Denmark makes multiples more money than a bus driver in Pakistan. Is the bus driver in Denmark many times better than the bus driver in Pakistan? No (if anything, probably the opposite). So let’s stop acting like our employers are solely responsible for our high standard of living that we feel we’ve earned because there’s a whole apparatus of laws and governance that we take for granted that enable this to happen in the first place.

So here are the points people need to recognize

  • Rich people, investors, and owners do not “generate wealth”, workers do
  • The nice things we have in society are not because of our employers, their because of the workers who created those things.
  • Employers don’t “create wealth” in a vacuum, they depend on solid governance and laws that people take for granted, pretending like our standard of living is due simply to heroic entrepreneurs

Only a fraction of the companies out there actually create wealth in a way that directly improves the lives of everyday workers. My life is good because I’m living in a decent apartment with food on the table, a nice laptop, and internet connection. Goldman Sachs or Blackrock has played no part in improving my life, neither has any Wall Street boileroom or your dog food subscription service.

And even for the companies that do create wealth, laborers are getting the short end of the stick (see Amazon).

Let’s stop praying for our benevolent employer overlords to improve our wages and working conditions (if we’re even lucky enough to have one of those “jobs”). Stop being grateful for letting some capitalist “rent” you like a part-time slave and reap all of the fruits of your labor because you have no other choice but to accept his exploitative terms because you need to make rent this month.

Start being grateful for all the workers who actually do all of the work that gives us this high standard of living – the construction workers who risk their lives to build your house, the farmer, electrician, plumber, garbage man, whoever laid down those fiber optic cables that give you internet, the guy delivering your packages (who is going to need a new job when self-driving cars and/or drones replace him), etc.

We need to empower workers by removing the financial dependence of workers on their employers via a Universal Basic Income. Enough with this feedback-less unpaid hoop-jumping interview hazing bullsh!t, this expectation of being “passionate” that we’re part-time slaves, and the funneling of the fruits of our labor to absentee capitalists who get all the credit. It’s time to level the playing field and end this exploitation.

If Tom Sawyer saw what was going on today, he’d be laughing in his grave.

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