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Forum Post: Who Needs Who? - A Call For Labor Boycotts

Posted 2 years ago on Nov. 30, 2014, 1:50 p.m. EST by donOld (134)
This content is user submitted and not an official statement

We have been taught to think that money and capital are the engines of creation. Without them, we are told, there would be no jobs and hence, no wages. We should be thankful that private capital allows us to work and earn our pay. Without the benevolence of the capitalists, surely we would all starve… as they do in Africa.

It’s an interesting proposition, but is it true?

Who really needs who?

If you took all of the money and machinery in America and sealed it up inside a huge warehouse for a year, when you returned a year later there would be exactly what you had left there and nothing more. Not a penny’s worth of new wealth would have been created. So can it really be true that capital creates wealth? Without human and natural resources, capital can’t create a thing on its own.

Now the 1% will assure you that their money can purchase any resources that they need. There will always be lots of people who are “free and willing” to trade their labor and resources for money. But this does not alter the fact that, on its own, their money is incapable of producing any new wealth.

The 1% will also assure you that they are indispensable… that it is their knowledge and experience with managing others that makes an enterprise successful. But what productivity are they directly responsible for? Do they work in the factory or store along side their workers, or are they just a cabal of thieves who skim off the productivity of the workers for themselves?

Ask yourself this. If the 1% disappeared for a year, would the factories and stores all shut down? Could the workers not continue the operations without them? Of course they could. The workers would continue to do the jobs that they always did before and the production would continue on steadily. The workers may have to decide who is most qualified to take over the tasks of their former owners but they could surely work it out and adapt.

But what if the 99% disappeared for a year. Would the 1% be able to keep things running on their own? Not a chance… without their workers they wouldn’t have a clue about how their business really works.

So… who really needs who? The 99% already have all of the power on their side… they just don’t realize it. How long would any company be able to survive if a complete and total labor boycott of their operations was instigated. Within a week, their customers would be starting to look for other suppliers. Within a month, they would be in serious financial difficulty.

But what about the workers. How could they buy food and pay their own bills if they were no longer working? This is where we have to get creative.

If an alternative source can be found to pay workers for even a a day or two at time, a series of rotating labor boycotts could be launched against a few key companies, just long enough to convince them that the 99% have discovered their power and are prepared to use it to get some respect.

How much would it really cost to shut down a local Walmart or McDonald’s for a day or two? How big is their daily payroll? Who in the community might be prepared to contribute to a 1 or 2 day relief fund for the employees? If a series of these demonstrations started popping up all around the nation, against the worst of the worst employers, how seriously worried would the 1% start to get?

I don’t know… let’s think about it.



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[-] 5 points by beautifulworld (22772) 2 years ago

Great points. Labor is the backbone of an economy and the creation of real wealth and it is high time we get back to respecting and protecting it. An infant can "own" capital. "Owners" contribute nothing by mere ownership. Yet, in this country it is "owners" also known as shareholders who receive the highest compensation.

We definitely need to rethink how we value labor. We can place a human value on it, for one thing, and ensure that labor is paid enough to live a decent life through something along the lines of a living wage.

Also, Africans rarely starved prior to the institution of capitalism landing on their continent. "The World and a Very Small Place in Africa" by Donald Wright does a great job of outlining the affects of capitalism on the fairly healthy subsistence economy of Africa that it replaced.

[-] 3 points by trashyharry (3082) from Waterville, NY 2 years ago

Thanks for this coherent and well reasoned post.There is a screaming need for organization.To begin with-to train community organizers.I think an entire new labor market could be developed just by starting co-ops.Who would want to even work for them?Capitalists can't really compete with nonprofit,state or co-op employment.Capitalists decided to destroy organized labor,and they did.Maybe it is time to abandon the worst deal available.That will ALWAYS be the Deal offered by Capitalists to workers.We have got to Escape them-imo,they are Psychos.We deal with their counterstrategies as they are deployed.

[-] 2 points by Shule (2638) 2 years ago

The 1% is probably shaking in their boots right now by the mere fact that you posted this.


[-] 2 points by donOld (134) 2 years ago

How many people work at one McDonalds location each day... maybe 20? If they're being paid $10/hr that's $200/hr X 24 hrs = $4,800/day. Surely most local community activists/unions can raise $5,000 to stage a local labor boycott for a day. (it would provide a great opportunity for the unions to pitch/organize the workers)

If 500 communities timed and coordinated the boycotts properly, would it not scare the hell out of the corporations.

Why wouldn't workers take a day off with pay to protest and ask for a bit of respect?

[-] 3 points by Shule (2638) 2 years ago

I remember Martin Luther King day before it became an officially recognized holiday.... and then it became an officially recognized holiday..

Yes boycotts work.

[-] 0 points by turbocharger (1756) 2 years ago

When the government subsidies collapse and the safety net is no more, and people are stuck making a living with their paychecks alone, I think then we will see some noise.

Until then, the people will keep voting in the people who subsidize the labor wage increases in the form of taxation, and life will continue to slowly decline, slow enough that no one really notices.