Productivity soars; wages creep upwards

Updated: 21 May 2008, 23:02

Originally written: 27 February 2005

According to Statistics Canada, from an article in the Times Colonist: BMO Nesbitt Burns’ economist Douglas Porter appears to believe that this is somewhat distressing. “That’s a horrendous performance over more than 20 years.” He says that this is “pretty damning.” Also, according to Statistics Canada: Capitalism’s Gravediggers agrees with the quotes above, attributed to economist Porter. Our analysis shows that it is capitalism itself which deserves the “damning.” If overall job insecurity is high, wages tend to drop or increase only slowly, even when productivity increases significantly.

On the facing page, there was a story entitled “Corporate operating profits set record in 2004, StatsCan finds.” Profits were up 18.8 percent, to $204.5 billion, compared to 2003.

Is it wrong for corporate profits to race ahead of wages? No! It is right, according to the morality that most people accept today. The capitalists own what we produce, so they are entitled to any profits.

What possible justification could there be for workers to expect any of the profits? We do not own the goods being sold for a profit. Why should we be entitled to the profits?

Well, you might, if you were a socialist, understand that profit is created by workers. But then we gave up what we produced, in exchange for a wage. So we are out of luck. If you were a socialist, you would understand that we sell our ability to work (our labour power) at its market value. Unfortunately for us, that market value is less than the value of our labour. That is where the profit comes in.

As long as the working class accepts these inherent features of capitalism, all we can do is complain. But complaining does not solve any problems. It never has, and it never will. Only action, based upon understanding, solves problems.

Perhaps you think the picture painted by the Statistics Canada information is factual and describes a situation which is “unfair” to workers. The only possible fix is to build socialism, because all that is wrong with capitalism is that it works the way it must.

If you think that the rich should share some of their wealth, capitalism is for you. Your perspective is shared by many, and the result of your obsequiousness is shown by Statistics Canada’s reports. Do you think something will magically change the way capitalism works?
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