people seem to have trouble understanding why i’m an anti-capitalist, so i’m going to try and put it into simple, real-life terms.
i work at a restaurant. i make $12 an hour, plus tips. minimum wage where i live is relatively high for my country – the national minimum wage is $7.25/hr, and has not been raised since 2009. before taxes, working full time, my yearly income is about $22,000 a year. ($25,000 if you count tips)
at my job, we sell various dishes, with an average price of about $10-$15. we get printouts every week detailing how much money we made that week; in one week, our restaurant makes about $30,000. (one of our other locations actually makes this much on a daily basis!)
i’m not going to go into details, but after the costs of production (payroll for employees, rent for the building, maintenance, and wholesale food purchasing) are accounted for, the restaurant makes an estimated profit of $20,000 per week.
this profit goes directly to the owner, who does not work at this location. the owner of my restaurant has actually been on vacation for a few months, but still profits from the restaurant, because they own it. i have met the owner exactly twice in my year of working here.
to put this into perspective, the owner of this restaurant earns in 2 days what they pay me in one year. and that’s just from this single location – the owner has several other restaurants, all of which make more money than the one i work at. this ends up resulting in the owner having an estimated net worth of tens of millions of dollars, even after accounting for the payroll for every single worker in their employ.
now, i have to ask you: does the owner of my restaurant deserve this income? did they earn it? did their labor result in this value being created?
the naive answer would be “yes”; the owner purchased the location and arranged for the raw ingredients to be delivered, did they not?
the actual answer is “no”. the owner may have used their initial capital to start the location, but the profit is a result of my labor, and the labor of my co-workers.
the owner purchases rice at a very low bulk price of about 25 cents a pound. i cook the rice, and within a few minutes, that pound of rice is suddenly worth about $30. the owner did not create this value, i did. the owner simply provided the initial capital investment required to start the process.
what needs to be understood here is that capitalists do not create value. they use the labor of their employees to create value, and then take the excess profit and keep it.
what needs to be understood is that capitalists accrue income by already HAVING money. the owner of my restaurant was only able to get this far because they started off, from the very beginning, with enough money to purchase a building, purchase food in bulk, and hire hundreds of employees.
that is to say: the rich get richer, and they do so by exploiting the labor of the poor.
the owner of my restaurant could afford to triple the income of every single person in their employee if they felt like it, but this would mean that they were generating less profit for themselves, so they do not.
the owner of my restaurant pays me the current minimum wage of my area, because to them, i am not a person. i am an investment. i am an asset. i am a means to create more money.
when you are paid minimum wage, the message your boss is sending you is this: “legally, if i could pay you less, i would.”
every capitalist on the planet exploits their workers for their own gain. every capitalist, even the small business owners, forces people to stay in poverty so that the capitalist can profit.