I often contemplate the relationship that Western countries have with the rest of the world. One of the defining moments in Western development was slavery. Slavery helped catapult industrialized nations into positions of vast economic power but came at the cost of millions of lives. I’m not sure whether this relationship paradigm, between developed and non-developed countries, has been abolished, or whether it has simply been repackaged and rebranded. I’m led to the conclusion that following the abolition of the slave trade; post-industrialized nations have sought methods deemed more acceptable to impose economic servitude.
Many countries establish minimum wages in order to provide a limit to the poverty in their homeland; however, a life on minimum wage would have you living in the poverty threshold in America. We have come to accept that some people should be kept in a state of perpetual poverty in order to maintain a pool of working class skilled and unskilled labourers, who have to compete with one another in a Darwinian contest of survival. This minimum wage allows countries to espouse the socialist values of a welfare state and the belief that a society should have a safety net to care for its most vulnerable citizens. But why should millions be forced to live on the brink of economic collapse, working week to week to achieve their most basic needs when at the other end of the spectrum there is prosperity such as the world has never seen. Recently, it was reported that the top 400 earners in America own as much wealth as the bottom 150 million. Why do countries not impose maximum wages? Wages deemed too high and inefficient in contributing to the development of a nations society. These large sums of money are being used to invest and fund development on an international market, instead of being put to work strengthening the societal homeland.
Economists generally cite the application of Adam Smith’s trickle down economics theory as justification for the current capitalist hierarchy. In my opinion, this theory is fundamentally flawed. In the principles of modern Western economics, is it not the prerogative of companies and businesses to cut waste and seek efficiency? Business owners don’t get rich by hiring more people than they need. They do not sit atop their piles of cash and dole it lovingly downward in hopes of establishing a strong foundation of workers. Our market system incentivizes business leaders to strip, lay-off, and cut expenditures to maximize growth and efficiency. The business model of today is based on maximizing profits, which makes it hard for me to believe that Smith’s theory is in play at all. However, we continue to hear from economists, big business and their cronies that this is the best method in bringing the poor out of poverty and strengthening the nation as a whole. At the same time, the income disparity in industrialized nations is growing at a viral rate. Globalization and free trade continues to make the world more accessible, which makes emerging markets available for plundering by the super rich, free to continue their imposition of capitalist driven economic servitude. The law makers of our countries continue to let the money meant for the development of our own societies be used elsewhere, to increase profits for their campaign financiers.
We, as a society, agree that a minimum wage is an essential part of civilized social life. Civilization stems from the recognition of each individual’s position and their rights within a society. Our civility allows people to achieve cooperation and mutual prosperity. The foundations of our civilization are challenged by the development of profit margins. Having 40% of a nation’s wealth in the hands of 1% is irresponsibly uncivilized. Establishing a maximum wage should be brought into effect in order to ensure the prolonged success and stability of our interconnected and interdependent nations. If we continue to divide ourselves, our aspirations, beliefs, and lifestyles we will inevitably fall into a world marred by the fight of us against them, the haves and the have-nots.
We are reaching a critical point of global self-awareness. Globalization began roughly 20 generations ago, which puts everyone alive today in the 1% of global awareness. Never before have we known more about our world. But with this knowledge and visibility, it is becoming increasingly hard to hide in the shadows. The Snowden documents and Wikileaks are prime examples of this. If our governments, which are established on the most virtuous rhetoric, continue to conduct business in a manner which leaves them having to hide, relegated to the shadows, our societies will suffer and our detachment from civility will grow.
- 75th anniversary of minimum wage: We’re back to 1950 (jsonline.com)
- Surprising Levels of Slavery Throughout the World (darkgovernment.com)
- Time for a Dignified Minimum Wage (huffingtonpost.com)