Readers of this blog know that I never talk about myself on here. I try to always keep the discussion at the conceptual level. In this case, it can’t really be helped, since I want to talk about something that happened to me personally.
So here’s what happened: in our daily meetings, our store manager made the following calculation in front of us.
1. The store made 330 000$ in profit last period.
2. There were 24 days in the period.
330 000 / 24
3. There are about 75 people total working in the store every day.
(330 000 / 24) / 75
4. There are 24 hours in a day.
((330 000 / 24) / 75) / 24
5. Therefore, each hour an employee works brings in more than 7 dollars in profit. Ergo, if someone tries to steals something that’s 20 dollars’ worth and you don’t catch it, you wasted the equivalent of three hours of your time.
((330 000 / 24) / 75) / 24 = 7.64
I hope I don’t have to explain why this calculation is absolute bollocks. For one thing, the base figure (profit) already excludes theft, so all the stolen items are already outside of that 7.64$ figure. They wouldn’t come out of it to begin with. Secondly, the way he calculated it, he mistakenly distributed the profit of a day amongst 75 people working 24 hours each.
If we assume that each person works 8 hours each (which is not actually true: the average is probably closer to 6), we get the result of 22.92$/person-hour.
When you subtract taxes, social security, mandatory union dues, and so on, I get paid approximately 7.94$ an hour (my “official,” i.e. imaginary, wage is 8.65$ an hour). After they pay me this, they end up profiting on my work, and every other employee’s work, at the tune of 22.92$ an hour. That’s 74% of the product of my work that I will never, ever receive.
Some of that profit comes from the exploitation of consumers’ lack of awareness of store trickery and outright fraud that stimulate consumption. Either way, it’s all the result of someone’s exploitation (the worker, the consumer, the workers who work for the producers, and so on).
Now I do grant you that without a corporation to back it up, the store would have to buy its own products, do its own accounting, and so on. Yes, that would cut in the profit margin. But there’s no reason why such a support mechanism (a market equivalent of a corporate headquarters) couldn’t still exist in a socialist system. And even if it couldn’t, it would still be a pretty good tradeoff.
But, a capitalist might reply, you wouldn’t want to shoulder the risks of being dependent on making enough money to pay everyone week after week. You wouldn’t want to have to go a week without pay if the store is not going well. That’s true, but there’s no reason why risk cannot be shared (with a pooling of resources, with administrators getting paid fairly for their work), just like the support mechanism could be shared.
The lesson of this story is, capitalism is fucking costing me the equivalent of 22.92$ an hour, and is using those resources to make the Earth a crappier place.
If you have such data for your own workplace, do the calculation yourself, you might be as surprised as I was. How much of your product is wasted?