The hypocrisy of capitalism
I'm sorry in advance for this rant.
Hey Emily, can we have a fun newsletter? Best I can do is a thousand word rant against capitalism.
Today, allied health workers are striking. They are calling for increased wages, wage progression, safe staffing, and improved recruitment and retention. I shared some information about this and I’ve had people in messages to me express surprise that people earn so little in jobs that are so essential. People assume that someone who has studied in a medical field would not be on a minimum wage.
Others support the kaupapa of these people earning more, but are quick to suggest the answer to coming up with the money isn’t through higher taxes (or God forbid a wealth tax) or any increased minimum wage.
My husband and I have spent much of our lives on a minimum wage. My husband is still on a minimum wage. When I moved into public sector communications I was paid what I considered an incredible amount of money. I couldn’t believe it. You mean to say you just work Monday to Friday? You always have weekends off? Are you kidding me?
I’d previously started my shifts at 4am. I was a union member so when I was made redundant I got a pay out. But I’d never earned much in my previous job. Prior to that I’d waited tables at the third weddings of rich boomers until 3am. I was constantly sexually harassed by drunk men. I’d earned $8.20 an hour. My husband was hit in the head with a two-by-four during a robbery at the petrol station he worked at when he was earning the same. I couldn’t leave my job to make sure he was okay because my boss wouldn’t let me.
I worked incredibly hard in the public sector and I believe I was very skilled at my job. I often did very long hours and sometimes had to catch up on weekends. But it was not the norm to work weekends. And I worked just as hard at the winery I worked at where I was not respected or treated as a human being, never had free weekends and didn’t have a safe work environment.
In the public sector, the very fact I was treated like a human was worth so much to me.
A while back I worked for a private sector company, the first private company I worked at for a long time after years at not-for-profits, charities and in the public sector. I was blown away by the treatment of the workers whom my managers viewed as “below” me. They were spied on, harassed, patronised, and treated almost like animals.
I feel ashamed at how long I stayed working there. I was on decent money. And it took only a few months before I came to understand how easy it is to believe you have a right to earn more than a warehouse worker or anyone in a position deemed “lower” than you.
I tried to push for a living wage. Tried to support the warehouse workers. But I came to feel like I was also covering for the business. I was a mess by the time I came home - struggling with the fact that the money was OK and I liked my colleagues but the place was morally and ethically an absolute wasteland.
I watched the owners flaunt their wealth in grotesque displays (literally, I wish I could tell you what they bought as an office display but I don’t want to get sued) and in the same breath they relentlessly carried on about how hard it was to be in business.
We listened in meetings to endless gloating about record-breaking profits knowing full well that many of our staff were on minimum wage. Covid 19 broke me as I realised I’d put workers at risk by doing the work assigned to me which was to push through for profit at all costs.
Working there made me realise how easy it was to buy into capitalist hypocrisy. The idea that you just work harder than everyone else, you have more responsibility, you deserve more…The idea that you have to always be above someone else. I came home every night trying to remember who I was and what my beliefs were.
I was surrounded by ‘business people’ who truly believed -
You have no right to housing or food on the table as a human being, but they have a divine right to a business.
The minimum wage is more than enough to live on, but they should get a tax break to handle the costs of their business.
A minimum wage increase is untenable, yet they need a pay-rise.
The government is not a safety net, but the government should bail out their business.
The business is a family, but some workers do not deserve to earn enough to live on and everyone is replaceable.
They work harder than anyone else ever has and ever will.
Everyone they pay a decent wage to is overpaid, but their hundreds of thousands of dollars a year income is deserved.
Individualism just feels rotten. It is not the way I want to live. I don’t want to live in a system where my only success comes from keeping others beneath me, unable to thrive. I don’t want to be a ‘boss babe’, or climb a ladder where each rung is the head of another. I truly believe we are all connected.
Idealism is mocked relentlessly by people who have a stake in us not highlighting how utterly ridiculous their capitalist beliefs are. It astounds me that in 2022 people feel comfortable saying they pay the least amount you can pay someone. And they think the people who want something better for next generations are the joke? What?
This mega consumer, cut-throat, big business, mercenary culture we are in is going to be rejected by our kids, I am sure of it.
There are many days when I feel like things will never change.
But I have to say, there are just as many days where I think: It really has to.
Not all of my rants are anti-capitalist - but it is Budget Week, so you know…More is coming lol sorry not sorry.