The Debate Over Service Work and Unemployment Benefits Shows Why Marxism Is Right
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There is, of course, at least one other major reason why workers — particularly in the restaurant industry — might prefer staying home to pouring drinks at their neighborhood watering hole or staffing the deep fryer at their local steakhouse. Restaurants have been an especially dangerous place to work during COVID-19, the morbidity rates of line cooks increasing by some 60 percent, so that it’s now quite literally the deadliest profession in pandemic America. The National Restaurant Association, for what it’s worth, cites a host of factors that may be keeping some among the unemployed from seeking out employment, among them safety concerns, the need for caregivers to stay at home, and the various government supports still in place.
In any case, it’s a fairly safe assumption there are plenty of workers who are indeed staying home because they recently had the good fortune of receiving a government check or two in the mail. Last summer, a report from the Congressional Budget Office found that five out of six recipients of the expanded unemployment benefit (then worth $600 a week rather than $300) were likely to get more money from the program than they would by returning to paid employment. Then, as now, some Republicans (and indeed some Democrats) issued anguished warnings about the benefits being a disincentive to work.
This kind of line might be pretty standard fare in American politics, but it’s also a very revealing statement about how a large swath of the US economy actually functions — the implication being that the only thing keeping many businesses in low-wage sectors going is millions of people forced to sell their labor at bargain-basement prices because the alternative is quite literally destitution. It all brings to mind a passage written in the 1990s by the late Christopher Hitchens on the dual meaning of the word “incentive” in post-Reaganite America: “As we are endlessly instructed, while rich people will not work unless they are given money, poor people will only work if they are not. These are the two modern meanings of the term ‘incentive’: a tax break on the one hand and the threat of a workhouse on the other.”
“Never argue with a fool, onlookers may not be able to tell the difference.”
May 13, 2021 at 2:47 PM #423074closeupreadyParticipant
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And I’ve said this many times before, but this is a country that was built, in part, on human slavery. So expecting leading Americans to put an end to pay-workers-as-little-as-possible capitalism is like expecting Prince Charles to condemn imperialism.
The opinions and personal views expressed herein are solely those of the author, and should never be taken seriously.
May 13, 2021 at 3:01 PM #423075retired liberalParticipant
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“… this is a country that was built, in part, on human slavery.”
“… pay-workers-as-little-as-possible …”
And that right there is what our owners are trying to emulate now. Make as much money as possible, with as little cost as possible.
There is a point where there will not be enough people able to afford to buy the products and services offered to keep the corporations in business, then what?
That point will not be pretty. The walls around the gated communities will not be high enough to keep out the guillotines.
We are an arrogant species, believing our fantasy based "facts" are better than the other person's fake facts.
If you are wrong, it will be because you are not cynical enough.
The older we get, the less "Life in Prison" is a deterrent.
Always wear a proper mask when out and about. The life you save could be both yours and mine.
May 13, 2021 at 3:30 PM #423082Ohio BarbarianModerator
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Capitalist profits come from paying workers only a small portion of the value of their actual work. Even if restaurant workers were paid $25/hour, there would still be quite comfortable profits for most restaurant owners, though the smaller ones might have to give up a vacation home or one of three European or Mexican vacations or something.
It is better to vote for what you want and not get it than to vote for what you don't want and get it.--Eugene Debs
You can jail a revolutionary, but you can't jail the revolution.--Fred Hampton
May 13, 2021 at 4:14 PM #423102Cold Mountain TrailParticipant
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Consider how much it costs just to *get* to work.
In general, you gotta maintain some kind of vehicle, and that in itself is a money pit: insurance, gas, repairs, gas
Some kind of acceptable clothing (& some places make you pay for your own uniform in restaurant & janitorial)
Extra footware (sometimes with special requirements)
There’s like more
$7.25/hour (less taxes) doesn’t even cover it unless you live next door to work
(Which no one can afford to these days….)
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