Economics/Class Relations

The Business Class Has Been Fearmongering About Worker Shortages for Centuries

Maybe if employers paid more, they would have more applicants from people who didn’t view working for them as a waste of time. Who wants to bother working for $8 bucks an hour, 25 hours a week at Wal-Mart with no benefits? You could do better being an Uber driver for, for that matter, collecting and recycling aluminum cans.
“There’s an old capitalist expression; You get what you pay for. If your business model is based on high turnover, poor or no training, and treating your workers like disposable trash, the result will be obvious as you can see every day in any corporate retail or service environment.” –Kristoffer O’Donnellan


By Jon Schwarz, The Intercept

The current blizzard of stories about a “worker shortage” across the U.S. may seem as though it’s about this peculiar moment, as the pandemic fades. Restaurants in Washington, D.C., contend that they’re suffering from a staffing “crisis.” The hospitality industry in Massachusetts says it’s experiencing the same disaster. The governor of Montana plans to cancel coronavirus-related additional unemployment benefits funded by the federal government, and the cries of business owners are being heard in the White House.

In reality, though, this should be understood as the latest iteration of a question that’s plagued the owning class for centuries: How can they get everyone to do awful jobs for them for awful pay?

Employers’ anxiety about this can be measured by the fact that these stories have erupted when there currently is no shortage of workers. An actual shortage would result in wages rising at the bottom of the income distribution to such a degree that there was notable inflation. That’s not happening, at least not now. Instead, business owners seem to mean that they can’t find people who’ll work for what the owners want to pay them. This is a “shortage” in the same sense that there is a shortage of new Lamborghinis available for $1,000.


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