Vox Populi

A Public Sphere for Poetry, Politics, and Nature

Mel Packer: Expendable Workers

The number of people seen as “expendable” by those in charge of our world is growing dramatically. Once, in an industrial era, the wealthy needed two-legged mules (read human laborers) to produce their wealth which was based on the sale of products produced in “their” factories. Today, if “industry” was returned to the US, it would still only employ a fraction of those who would normally fill those positions as “progress” has enabled the production of many products via robots.

We increasingly live in a world in which we all participate in the destruction of jobs, whether it’s the self-checkout lines at our supermarkets, the ATM machines we use instead of bank tellers, or even the EZ pass that gives us a cheaper rate than cash on toll roads. I’m not suggesting for a minute that we should do away with technology, as many of those jobs are often felt to be personally and socially unrewarding by those who hold them, but still enabled folks to participate in a consumer society, raise a family, buy a home and expect a certain standard of living.

Instead, the movement for social justice has to admit that capitalism is in its final predatory stage (at least in the US) and must be scrapped. We must confront those who tell us we can “reform” the system with the fact that it’s the system itself that’s the problem. We must tell “labor leaders” who can’t get their heads out of the 20th century to get out of the way and build union movements that speak for the entire working class, whether members or not. We must stop allowing people to be seen as “expendable”, nor as surplus material to be discarded when they can no longer be exploited.


We were told today that the number of jobs “created” in the last month was up again….but a few economists noted (and they didn’t get much publicity) that average hourly wages are down. Once again, a sign that those who own our world are squeezing the last drops out of most workers before we are discarded, tossed away, and the profits we made for them are stolen to be put somewhere else in the world where even more profit can be made.


There’s an old Appalachian coal mining song goes like this: “Coal train, coal train, pulling down the track. One of these days we won’t let you come back. That’ll be the day when the people’s train rolls by and we’ll all be riding high”. Yes, that’ll be the day. And we have to make that happen before our kids are left with nothing and our world is dressed in rags.

copyright 20015 by Mel Packer

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This entry was posted on January 11, 2015 by in Opinion Leaders and tagged , , , , .

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