The exploitation of workers and the wealth-building of billionaires

Why students need to understand what is going on in the work force, and why they need to care.

The exploitation of workers and the wealth-building of billionaires

Ethan Tornberg, Reporter

The workers’ fight is never ceasing in a system of exploitation and inequality. 

High school is the first time students have the opportunity to start a job and build work experience. This can come with much excitement with the new experiences and opportunities to make money as a young person. 

This time is when students need to begin advocating for their rights as workers in a capitalist society, a place where they are often exploited for their labors. 

The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed the inequalities and disparities in the workplace that have prompted workers to realize their worth. 

There is a reason so many businesses need new employees. Offering simple bonuses and incentives are meaningless in the long term because the subpar wages offered can not cover basic needs. Wages must increase across the board to sustain employees’ livelihood and needs.  

According to Forbes, over the span of the COVID-19 pandemic, until April 30th 2021, 650 billionaires have seen their wealth increase by over $1 trillion. This comes at a time when evictions and unpaid rent is at its highest.

According to the Brookings Institute, food insecurity among children in the United States has risen over 130% since 2018. Additionally, the poverty rate increased to 11.4% in 2020 after five consecutive years of decline (United States Census Bureau).

Workers are the means of production in every business and must be paid according to their labors. 

Exploitation is the action of treating someone unfairly in order to benefit from their work. We are no longer in a time where the exploitation of labor should be relevant, yet it is. The current federal minimum wage has remained at $7.25/hr since 2009.

This has happened while inflation has risen by about 27.5% since 2009, according to CPI Inflation Calculator. The average CEO in America, however, saw their pay increase by 52.6% from 2009-2018, according to the Economic Policy Institute.

Students are at a pivotal point in their lives and often are subjected to this idea that their labor is worth a $7.25 minimum wage. It is not. There is no such thing as a self-made billionaire, when it was the workers who enabled their increase in wealth.

Fighting against this status quo of a low minimum wage, working to establish unions for the benefit of workers, and not accepting mistreatment are essential components to standing up for your rights as a worker in this system. 

As a famous political theorist once said, “Unlimited exploitation of cheap labour-power is the sole foundation of their power to compete.”

Workers move the economy forward, and their wages must move forward too.