Systems that Control You: Employment

J.C. LaCroix Personal Finance, Personal Productivity, Power Tactics

There was a time when no one worked for anyone else, and when they did, it was temporary. It was a learning time, an Apprenticeship. The objective was knowledge. Once that was gained, it was expected that the person would go into practice for themselves. If someone was forced to labor for another’s benefit, we called it what it was, Slavery. The idea that wages will come to you indirectly from your production, through someone else’s hands, in the form of wages is a purely modern invention.

Once wages appeared, it is interesting to note how they evolved. First, it was paid as a share of the value of what was produced. The owner received a certain percentage, but so did you. In this manner, your wages were tied to value. However, Owners didn’t like that arrangement, so they invented the Salary. They would pay you, decoupled from the value of your production, a fixed amount per time period. People eventually figured out that they could work less hard for the same amount of money. Thus, wages were re-tied to production, in a per-unit manner. So, I will pay you X for each widget you make, but fine you X for each widget you fuck up. However, this gave heavy-producers great leverage, and they could gage up and rapidly become competition for the Owner. So, again, the Owner decouples wages from value, and now places them according to time. The Owner will pay you for your time, the hourly wage. All of these arrangements, in some form or another, are in place today, and they all share one thing in common.

The nature of Employment is that you will never be paid the true value of your production.

The owner strips most of that value off for themselves, and we call it profit. In the wages-for-time scenario, this stripping is the most pronounced. The only way to make more money is to give more time, but time is a finite resource. The individual can only give so much time. In order to get more value, the individual must produce more value in less time. But, in competition with the other Employees, the individual must produce significant gains to increase the hourly wage. This ultimately means that the Employer is stripping more and more profit as wages are increased. While the individual’s value is increasing, and wealth is gaining, their share of their own value which they receive is actually decreasing.

Specialization evolves concurrently with this relationship. In the early days of joint-production, all individuals were capable in all parts of the process. After all, the objective was knowledge, the eventual ability to independently produce. As specialization slowly creeps in and becomes more and more pronounced, the laborers become more dependent on the group to produce value. The Owner insinuates theirself as the bridge, thus, all become Dependent on the Owner, who taxes value by claiming profit, then disbursing wages. The ability to create value, which was once inherent to the Human Being, is now inherently dependent upon firms. Without a supporting firm, the Employee has skills which, standing alone, are value-less in an independent context. This is why blue-collar employees have been crying for the last decade. No blue-collar demand, no blue-collar value. No blue-collar value, well, welcome to your new life, Wal-Mart Associate. And now, White Collars are feeling the crunch.

Thus, are you giving more and more of your time and value to an Owner, which you are dependent upon to produce value in the first place.

My friend, your ability to produce value is inherent to being alive. You don’t need a mediator.

But, it gets worse…