You are here:

Economics/Employment and Slavery

Advertisement


Question
Hello Mr. Moser,

I recall a conversation I had with a member of a local communist group, and what he told me on that day has made me think, but I have no answers. He told me, "working is a form of slavery". He never expounded on what that statement meant. I've been giving his words some thought but I'm afraid my knowledge on Communism is worth about ten pages because that's how much I've read of Marx's Manifesto.

So, if you can shed some light on what he meant, I'd appreciate the enlightenment.

Have a good day.

Ozne

Answer
Ozne

I found your question in "the question pool", which means Mr. Mosner passed it to someone else to answer.

The idea of working as slavery isn't a new one.  Basically, the argument breaks down in two ways.  First, the idea that you're working for someone else, rather than being self-employed, means you are generating value for another person rather than for yourself.  This is perpetuated by a differential in labor negotiating power between employer and employed, wherein employers have far more influence which can only be offset through collective bargaining, as with unions, but since companies and those that own them have far more resources, those resources are frequently used to eliminate collective bargaining and increase the power differential, putting the majority of people in a position wherein they cannot control many aspects of their lives; what they do, where they live, and so forth.  Second, there is the idea that our freedom is defined by the amount of money we have.  If you do not have money, then you are not free in a society that requires money to do most things.  There are times you would like to do things that you simply can't because you can't afford it or you can't afford to take time away from work.  By contrast, someone with lots of money is free to do whatever they want.

These are both, of course, derived from cherry-picked facts that ignore the full mechanics of labor markets.  There are legitimate problems with labor market and the socioeconomic disparity, but to say that labor is slavery is pure propaganda and nothing more.

Economics

All Answers


Answers by Expert:


Ask Experts

Volunteer


Michael Taillard

Expertise

Accepts most economic questions

Experience

Economic Consulting: American Red Cross; US Strategic Command -- Economics Lecturing: Bellevue University (Bellevue, NE) Huijia College (Beijing), OPII Schools (Omaha), Madonna University (Livonia), Schoolcraft College (Livonia), ZomBCon (Seattle), Zombiefest (Lincoln) -- Media Appearances: Dead Man Working (2012 Movie documentary), The Heartland News (Omaha local news outlet)

Organizations
American Economics Association, Business Networks International, Midwest Writer's Guild, Zombie Research Society

Publications
Economics and Modern Warfare: The Invisible Fist of the Market (Palgrave Macmillan) -- 101 Things Everyone Should Know about Global Economics (Adams Media) -- Corporate Finance for Dummies (Wiley) -- Psychology and Modern Warfare (Palgrave Macmillan) -- Analytics and Modern Warfare (Palgrave Macmillan)

Education/Credentials
PhD (Financial Economics; honors) -- MBA (International Business Finance; honors) -- Grad School Certificate (International Business Management; honors) -- BS (International Business Economics; honors) -- AA (Business Administration; honors) -- Certificate (Chinese Language and Culture) -- Trade School (Transportation Logistics; honors)

Awards and Honors
Philanthropy awards and nominations for the OPII Schools economic experiment

©2016 About.com. All rights reserved.