The Spark

the Voice of
The Communist League of Revolutionary Workers–Internationalist

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.”
— Karl Marx

Labor Day, 2006:
The State of the Working Class

Sep 4, 2006

Today wages and salaries count for only 45% of all the wealth produced in this country. Since the government started recording such information in 1947, wages and salaries have never counted for such a small share. In 1970, wages and salaries made up 54% of all the wealth produced.

It comes as no surprise, therefore, that profits are higher than at any time in nearly 50 years. UBS, a Wall Street investment bank, described the economy as going through a “golden era of profitability.”

For the wealthy it may be a golden age–but for the rest of us, it might as well be made out of tin.

And yet every one of these companies pretend that they are doing badly, that without sacrifices from us, they won’t survive.

What? How is that possible? Every company pretends to be doing badly–yet overall profits are higher than they’ve been for decades! Someone’s telling some monster lies here!

The problem is not a lack of money in the hands of these companies–the problem is their outright greed, their unwillingness to give up even a penny when they’re not forced to do it.

In the more than three decades since 1974, the number of strikes in this country has gone down, down and down again. The number of major strikes in 1974 was 424. Compare that to the number last year–22. Almost twenty times as many strikes three decades ago.

That’s why we are getting a smaller share of the wealth we produce. We haven’t fought to take it for ourselves.

In the three decades since 1974, the amount of goods and services we produce has almost tripled. But the standard of living that one person’s wages will buy has barely budged. If our families have improved their situation somewhat, it’s mainly because more members of the family are working.

We won’t share in this “golden era” until we start taking some of the gold for ourselves.

Who better deserves it? We produce it. We make things run. Our brains figure out how to make the society run; our brawn keeps it running. The only thing we need is the audacity to keep for ourselves the wealth that our labor produces.