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By What Means Have Income and Wealth Steadily Been Transferred to the Rich?

By   Follow Me on Twitter     Message Richard Clark     Permalink
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This transfer has mainly occurred by way of employers making sure that the profits and benefits of ever greater worker productivity (which advancing machinery and technology steadily provide) is rarely if ever shared with workers in the form of a reduced workweek and/or a higher hourly wage. Instead, this ongoing stream of newly created wealth is continually directed upward into their elite pockets.

Bertrand Russell provided the key to our topic question's answer way back in 1931 when he argued as follows:

* Suppose that, at a given moment, a certain number of people are engaged in the manufacture of pins -- they make as many pins as the world needs, working eight hours a day.

* Someone then makes an invention by which the same number of men can make twice as many pins as before.

* But the world does not need twice as many pins -- pins are already so cheap that hardly any more will be bought at a lower price.

* In a sensible world, everybody concerned in the manufacture of the pins would take to working four hours instead of eight each day, and everything else would go on as before.

* But in the actual world this would be thought demoralizing. (It would also represent a dereliction of 'duty' on the part of company owners, who can and do profit greatly by firing half their work force, in a situation like this, and essentially keeping those cancelled payments to workers for themselves and their companies' stockholders.)

* So, unless half of these employees are fired quickly, they will still work eight hours each day, there will be too many pins, some employers will go bankrupt, and half the men previously involved in making pins will eventually be thrown out of work.

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Several years after receiving my M.A. in social science (interdisciplinary studies) I was an instructor at S.F. State University for a year, but then went back to designing automated machinery, and then tech writing, in Silicon Valley. I've (more...)

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