- Capitalism and Alternatives -

The 'war on drugs' & the increase in work hours

Posted by: Barry Stoller on October 26, 1999 at 18:42:43:

In Reply to: More posts ending in no thanks? No thanks! posted by Gee on October 26, 1999 at 11:06:05:

: : We don't have millions of cops everywhere to control the poor because 'everyone' is thrilled with capitalist society, you know. Maybe you live where you don't have to see it perhaps...

: Many of the police are engaged in 'the drug war', in enforcing traffic laws and other activities---it would be interesting to see what proportion actually goes on theft/robbery ---which to you (I imagine) would signify 'class dissatisfaction' rather than disregard for others.

Wait a minute. Let's not arbitrarily separate the 'drug war' from 'theft/robbery' as if the latter alone signified the ruling class' control of the poor.

The drug trade is a problem of capitalism. Is not selling drugs a crude, incunabular form of capitalism? Is not the lack of accessible, legal means for poor and uneducated people a strong inducement to deal drugs? Is not drug trade the most accessible path to independent entrepreneurship for the poor and uneducated?

To control the traffic of drugs to to control the poor. I stand by my above statement.


: : As if you ever challenged my citation that only 10% of the American population owns their own business; as if you ever challenged my citation that only 23% of the American population receives a B.A. or above; as if you ever challenged my citation that only 25% of all American jobs require any skill above a high school level.

: What I challenged was the notion that the 'poor' are becoming poorer. the above are other matters - perhaps if you repeat them often enough I'll go and see if there is yet another set of data contradicting them.

Let's consider another, perhaps more informative way of measuring the standard of living for working people.

In the last twenty years the amount of time Americans have spent at their jobs has risen steadily. Each year the change is small, amounting to about nine hours, or slightly more than one additional day of work. In any given year, such a small increment has probably been imperceptible. But the accumulated increase over two decades is substantial. When surveyed, Americans report that they have only sixteen and a half hours of leisure a week, after the obligations of job and household are taken care of. Working hours are already longer than they were forty years ago. If present trends continue, by the end of the century American will be spending as much time as they did back in the nineteen twenties.(1)

Now let us consider that in the 1950s and 1960s many women were not working (directly for the capitalists). In addition to the recent trend of increased work hours has been the addition of many millions of women to the workforce---during the early 1970s when the recession engendered the 'two paycheck' family. Here we see that work hours---if measured by the family---have skyrocketed.*

Another sign of the improved standard of living under the capitalist regime, eh?

: : The issue in America, as I see it, is not what people make---but how they make it.

: Perhaps we should focus on one element at a time then.

Well, considering increasing work hours, another element has been put on the table.


* Not that I advocate that women should not work! As Engels pointed out so thoroughly in The Origin of the Family, Private Property and the State, women can only be free from patriarchal 'contracts' by achieving financial autonomy. However, someone must raise the children, tend to community relations, etc., etc.---preferably both men and women in equal portions---and unfortunately this important work is becoming increasingly thrown to the market---your 'effective demand'--- as women are forced into the workforce by declining rates of income for families. Of course, neoliberals call this trend 'women's lib'---ignoring that women are no longer liberated from capital's voracious appetite for more and more low-wage, low-skill workers! Never forget that women receive, on average, 25% less than men with comparable jobs (Source: Business Week, 3 November 1997, p. 30).

1. Schor, The Overworked American, Basic Books 1990, p. 1.

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