Slave Wages

Every time Democrats argue for increasing the minimum wage, Republicans trot out the same old arguments: it will increase unemployment, employers will move overseas, and it will increase the barrier for entry for new workers. Studies repeatedly show that none of these things are true, of course, but yet they persist to be argued and reported.

12 Comments. Leave new

  • aaronwilliams135
    February 25, 2013 9:32 PM

    Hilarious. Dead on.

  • The self flattering common myth is that most Northerners were more moral and loved their black brethren so much so that they would die to make them free. Northern whites hated slaves as much as they hated slavery for its suppression of wages. Alexis de Tocqueville and Martin Luther King, Jr. both observed Northern hatred of blacks was greater than in the South. In New York, blacks were killed in Civil War anti-draft riots. Slavery reparations were negotiated by Lincoln for slave owners who would lose their slaves, but not for slaves who lost everything to slavery.

    Today many white workers want strict immigration laws that preserve white privilege in the work force while hating economic refugees who flee near-slave wages imposed by US corporate dominated governments.

    The majority white interest in ending slavery still exists, in that lowering wages will not result in a living wage. The enemy of the people is the institution that pits desperate people against each other to the benefit of that institution.

  • Glenn sweetie, don’t you have some victim story to tell us? Come on sweetie, we’ll weep for you and all the hard times you’ve had.

    Instead, get off the government teat and be responsible. Try that on for a change.

  • Now that two sides of this issue have been presented, let the discussion begin.

  • No, no Glenn. Tell us all about your hard times. It’s so riveting hearing about how it’s not your fault.

  • Poor desperate emotionally unstable insect, crying out for help.

    So abused, so adoring of his abusers.

  • exkiodexian: an obvious conservative know-nothing, squeaking the same incorrect platitudes which he and all the other robots on the right have had drilled into them since birth.

  • @gavbrown01: Nah. Glenn is just my puppet. I easily control him as you can see. Just pull the strings and he dances to my tune.

  • WTF is going on here? I don’t understand what “two sides” of this discussion there are? How does Glenn’s opening volley relate in any rational way to Ted’s piece.

    Ted, I like the cartoon, and I think it’s a good starting point. However, I think the broader conversation should focus less on wages and more on the power of the individual to negotiate the terms of their exploitation. Slaves had extremely limited power. They could die. That’s about it. Wage laborers can choose to not take a job because the terms of exploitation (compensation) is too low, in which case they can die. Thus the comparison becomes valid, that in our wage-slave based society, we are forced to work in order to survive, and for a fraction of time labor unions provided some protection in the form of collective bargaining, allowing a democratization of the labor market by giving workers the power to negotiate the terms of their exploitation in a meaningful way (as opposed to – “take this job under the conditions I demand..or die”). For a moment, the Federal government realized it’s goal of protecting the welfare of its citizens.

    That moment is gone. It left us in the late 60s or early 70s probably, and the remaining vestiges were squashed in the 80s and 90s. We live in Dickensian times once again. But in short, I think we should focus less on hourly wages and more on compensation for the sale of a portion of one’s life to the benefit of another, and our lack of power in negotiating the terms of that exploitation.

  • alex_the_tired
    February 26, 2013 9:24 PM


    I think that the “enemy of the people is the institution that pits desperate people against each other to the benefit of that institution” is only part-right.

    The enemy — to borrow from Pogo — is us. A large swath of the 99 percent want to pay less for everything AND get raises, and they actually believe this can, somehow be done. The people and corporations that aren’t the 99 percent want to pay less for everything and keep more money. The latter can be done. The former is impossible. But we’ve all been so conditioned to buy crap that most of us can’t possibly conceive of existence without the newest iPod every 20 minutes. And Walmart just got a couple metric tons of plastic crap in! Quick, wouldn’t want to pass up the chance to buy something that’ll break in a year. Put it on your credit card why don’t you.

    Protest from the left suffers from instant-itis. Look at all the OWS stuff. The occupations were symbolic. The marches and demonstrations were an echo chamber of people who already agreed shouting about how much they agreed with each other. Do you think the execs at CitiBank really gave a damn that some teenagers were chanting?

    Know what would have scared the hell out of them? If all those young people organized campaigns that would eat into the profit margin. Ever been stuck behind someone who was unintentionally holding everyone’s transaction up? Imagine what happens if a coordinated effort to deliberately do that — a campaign limited to one corporation — got going.

  • @aggie

    >compensation for the sale of a portion of one’s life to the benefit of another

    >negotiate the terms of one’s own exploitation.

    I like this. It warrants discussion. There must be some way of speaking about this which connects to a well of knows in the audience.

    Help me out here.

  • Alex,

    Interesting idea. Perhaps in coordination with another Bank Transfer Day. It’s a challenge to design these actions.

    I am trying to imagine a script that would not peg the activist as an activist. The bank memos would go out immediately saying to have security remove anyone asking about anything that might be repeated too often, or which corresponds to a circulating list or script. it would have to be indistinguishable from a normal transaction except by scale. They might still limit this by temporarily limiting all transactions to 3 minutes.

    Another thing ows taught activists is that you discover a legal advantage, and you exploit it. We don’t know if the owsers knew about mandated 24-hour access to privately owned public spaces when they retreated to it on day one.

    Activists need to coordinate with lawyers to find these exploits hidden in plain sight. Personally, I think that coordination technology has stalled and reversed in the last 30 years. When anti-nuclear activists developed PGP to help coordinate such acts without authorities being able to eavesdrop, it was used on bulletin board systems. Today, PGP is primarily used in the corporate world. Most of my friends are allergic to the idea of encryption. even if they weren’t, they would probably sign the keys of untrustworthy individuals.

    Even Ted, who has been wiretapped, ad placed on NYPD watch lists probably does not have a public key.

    But even before we get to encryption, email is unusable for group communication, and I have not seen a forum that does it right. For example, here at we use the old @alex system. Would a little nesting in the css kill us?

    Luckily, it does not take that many people to carry out effective plans. I think that the few activists who are as serious as a heart attack, and who as such have a stake in their own safety, legal and other, need to use the modern encryption tools handed down by the gods in the 70s and 80s to plan actions that are more sophisticated and effective than merely large in scale. And for that matter, people planning and brainstorming acts for which mass participation will be a factor need to use these tools as well. This takes the establishment of “webs of trust” complete with thorough implementation of public key infrastructure, familiar now mostly only to activist communities in europe. These take a while to build, but they are essential. Their time has come as the big certification authorities fail in grand fashion.

    Also, while we are on failure and coordination with lawyers, I think that small, “failed” actions are necessary to generate the test cases that rights groups can use to beat back the regime of anti-speech enforcement. On the issue of enforcement policy, there is some very tangible work that could be done right away, but I would not discuss it here. To email me, strip the numbers out of this string, l32e4m64886o46652y543n5434es356tr356556356e356e3563t followed by the ‘at’ symbol and the name of the largest email provider who’s name starts with the seventh letter in the alphabet.

You must be logged in to post a comment.