BY JANET SURMAN
Gross pay, to a certain extent, appeases workers because they perceive themselves to be earning more than they are, although they also generally believe they are being robbed on a regular basis, seeing a considerable amount clawed back from what they maintain they have rightfully earned. Some of what is transferred from gross pay to the Inland Revenue and the National Insurance scheme goes back to workers as various benefits and payments. Services including defence, policing, health, education and roads, and the wages of the whole hierarchy of “public servants” from Prime Minister and Lord of the Admiralty to lowly office clerk, ambulance driver and teaching assistant are all financed ultimately from the surplus workers generate for their employers as profits.. The same goes for all the buildings and upkeep of the same, for the heating, lighting, cleaning, furnishings and all materials, vehicles – in fact everything used in their operations from stealth fighter to paper clip.
Today’s capitalist world is much more complicated and intertwined than that of our ancestors. We rely on international trade for many commodities and use ultra-sophisticated technology to allow us to track transactions worldwide; technology which, in theory, should simplify most matters, yet somehow we have become entangled in an overcomplicated web from which it is difficult to see a way out. Some say there is no way out of the present system. But socialists disagree. If workers accept that they have to work in order to live their life – and the vast majority do – does that mean that we also have to accept the incredible complications that capitalism and working for money involve (and that have certainly led to the miserable times many workers are now suffering in the latest financial crisis)? Can we not simply produce things directly for use, working for ourselves and the common good too, knowing that others will be doing the same?
Those who work – those who produce the useful things and provide the useful services – are the lynch pin, the vital component. They are the indispensable ones. The capitalist, the employer, is dispensable. Removing layers of unnecessary top-heavy bureaucracy, removing any necessity for taxation by removing the blight of money is the far simpler way. The nurse will tend the sick, the plumber will ensure no leaks, the farmer will provide food and the unemployed will no longer be unoccupied for there is much to be done cooperatively within all our communities. And plenty enough, too, for all to partake of the fruits of our collective labour.
-by arrangement with countercurrents.org
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