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URL:  http://boards.fool.com/jpenston-wrote-is-this-quotslaveryquot-not-11908743.aspx

Subject:  Re: Unwritten Rules of Wage Slavery Date:  2/1/2000  2:03 PM
Author:  piz Number:  2809 of 741038

jpenston wrote:
Is this "slavery" not intrinsic in capitalism?

No, unless by putting "slavery" in quotes you're recognizing that it's not actually slavery (or anything resembling it). What is intrinsic in capitalism, and in the nature of existence itself, is that a living entity must exert some kind of effort to keep itself alive. In the case of humans, if there were no "work" we'd still have to hunt/forage for food. All "work" means is "I'll do this other thing instead of gathering my own food because someone else would rather have me do that than do it himself, and is willing to gather enough food for both of us in order to have me do it." On that basis the entire world-wide division of labor and the entire human economy is built.

If you think about it from a stockholders perspective, a company must be able to get more out of its employees than it puts in - otherwise there is no profit.

Not really. As with anything in real capitalism, the employer/employee relationship is a voluntary trade to mutual benefit. The employer values the employee's work more highly than the salary paid, and vice-versa. If that weren't the case, the deal (i.e. for the job) would not be struck. Note, though, that the United States doesn't practice true capitalism - there's too much statism for that to be the case. True laissez-faire capitalism would mean zero gummint involvement in economics, just like separation of church and state. In the above description, the case where there's no "work," gummint involvement in economics is exactly equivalent to directly preventing you from foraging for food. It's a matter of freedom and has nothing to do with who's better at or has more of what.

The argument is about how the company concerned dresses up the "slavery". Is it an obvious "ball and chain" or is it a more subtle "golden handcuff" approach.

Employees are always free to leave their jobs, employers to let their employees go (though this is one case where the U.S. doesn't have true capitalism - e.g. laws that prevent employers from making free decisions). There's no force involved in a (non-gummint regulated) employer/employee relationship, force being, at root, literally "weapons pointed at you." Economic power is not the same as political power. Here's a quote from Richard Salsman, an economist, on the difference:

"Political power is the power of a gun - of police, the military, the taxman and the jailer. Should you flout the law, whether a just law or an antitrust law, you must submit. No one 'must' submit to a business proposition - not even from Bill Gates. If people value his products and services, they'll freely contract with him for them. The fact that someone might possess more economic power or resources than another may affect the terms of a deal, but it doesn't alter the fact that the deal is entirely economic, a completely voluntary trade. For those of you still unclear about these distinctions, let me suggest an experiment. After you graduate from Harvard, during your first year in the workforce, don't buy or use any of Microsoft's products. That is, send the alleged 'Robber Baron' no money. At the same time, send the government no money. That is, don't pay your taxes. Then wait. Watch who comes after you for your money and how and with what weapons."

Piz
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