Tim Knowles

Jul 24, 2021

3 min read

Exploited Work Force

Before the pandemic someone talking about the exploitation of a work force, for me, conjured images of Slavery or Sweatshops in third world countries.

I grew up in a small, less the 5000 people, rural mill town. Factory jobs were coveted. I don’t think mill workers felt exploited. In a way they were exploited but more they were advantaged as much as they were used and when the factories closed it was very hard on the community. Before the mills, subsistence farming was the dominant lifestyle. My grandfather was one of the rare capitalists, he was a teamster. He had a draft horse and wagon. That was to his family a huge capital investment. There were loads to haul but mostly lumber and timber.

A job, almost any job was a blessing. I started my first job in my tweens, delivering newspapers. As much as I hated getting up at 5am, I was very happy to have my job.

40 years later I recognized I had become a slave. Not a wage slave but a slave to my company’s health insurance. My wife had an expensive pre-existing condition. Before ObamaCare not having that kind of health insurance would have depleted our savings and almost guaranteed our poverty and shortened my wife’s life even more than it was shortened.

During the pandemic I came to understand that much of the U.S. labor force is in a similar form of slavery, exploitation. Without enhanced benefits and even with them a large portion of the labor force have only poor options regarding the pursuit of happiness. Shitty jobs with low pay and little or no benefits is their most common option. It is amazing how large is the constituency that thinks that this is alright.

Greed, it is stronger at the top than the bottom. If you don’t have to work a shitty job, you want a lot of people to work those shitty jobs because that means you get more of your stuff for cheaper. They don’t care if it is slave labor, sweatshop labor, in the U.S. or Pakistan. They don’t think about working conditions killing people. They want their packages now with free shipping and their food delivered and fast fashion for cheap.

It is not the Billionaires who are the worst exploiters, it is the middle and upper class that support this exploitation that are the most evil. I am not letting the Billionaires off the hook. They are evil too but it is your neighbors and that person in the mirror that makes those Billionaires possible.

Stop buying stuff. If you would not die without it, don’t buy it. If you buy new clothes you had better not have been able to find it used and you have been wearing rags for months. Did you buy a new phone when you had a working phone? Did you buy a new car when you had a working car.

Don’t worry, the world does not need your consumption to feed the poor. Making the poor work so that they have food is just a ploy to create an exploitable work force. We feed the poor even if they don’t work we just humiliate them with our charity so that they might join the work force.