The Pauperisation of Democracy?

The issue of slavery is emerging and what I feel is that it is the removal of choice.  It is about power over not power within.  I am exploring this with interest.  I feel economic power that is unchecked just continues to erode rights and responsibilities in the name of profit.  It is wise to be aware and make choices in the interest of democracy that is fair and balanced.  For social stability arises from a sense of belonging, a sense of fairness and a sense of shared values.  What are your values?

Here are some of my musings that feel relevant.

Slavery is being forced to work against your will.  There is no payment for service and there is no choice.  This is enticing for employers who regard employees as a cost of production.  If they can reduce costs their net profit rises.

Wages emerges from the social contract between employers and employees whereby they discuss the job and the wages that will be paid and an agreement is reached and this is the foundation of an economic labour system.  However, these days we are witnessing wage rates not being advertised in newspapers or at job centres, and because of competition candidates are afraid to ask how much? The balance of power is unequal and they find themselves in a position of just taking whatever is offered.  People are giving increasingly more of their lives.  The 8,8,8 principle of 8 hours rest, 8 hours work and 8 hour leisure is enshrined in Trades Hall as the centre piece of the union movement it was a basic premise of balance in working life.  This is increasingly disappearing as workers lose their rights at work and find themselves not in democratic institutions but autocratic modes of management where they have to comply with directives.  This is why we have increased stress, mental illness and bullying emerging as a serious social problem because people do not feel they can speak up, so in a sense they are tied to mortgage repayments and feel they too do not have a choice but to work and increasingly they are working to live not so different from work for the dole. This is how powerlessness is experienced.

Welfare is a response to hardship it is the responsibility of a government that represents the people to provide for those who are not able to gain employment given the fallacy of full employment.  It is a service not a work ethic.  What we are seeing is the infiltration of business discourse into welfare services which was a reflection of civilised society not an economic entity.

Corruption in business is an issue as business breaches the lines of what is ethical and what is legitimate. Business men and women are seen as the professional face and foundation for a well functioning society.  Jobs are touted as essential to keep the wheels of industry going.  The corruption is about doing deals beneath the radar which profits but contravenes laws, involves kickbacks, favours, bribes, transfer pricing and offshore tax havens. 

When we see employees as a cost of production, always the incentive is to bring prices down in order for profitability to rise.  Of course shareholder pressures are continual and competition as well as reputational status as a ‘winner’ motivates people to reach the top.  However, employees and volunteers can have their pay reduced to a living wage or if they are volunteering they may work for free for years.  The issue here is bordering on slave labour.  We see the emergence of this with special visas for foreign workers who are excised from the traditional working conditions and benefits of citizenship (medical, unemployment etc.) I recall when I was in London I observed graduates working in professional areas for free for years.  This was exploitation primarily it was not necessarily about giving them job experience as an entre into the labour force.  I realised the longevity of their work (2 years) was evidence that they were being exploited. Hence, free labour.  

Students go into debt to gain their degrees and find themselves in lower socio economic work, their skills lapse and become dated so the very investment in university education becomes overtime a waste of resources where the asset of talent is lost in respect of survival issues.  Wouldn’t it be interesting if every person was to gain welfare as a very basic so they are not waylaid by debt but find themselves focusing on what really makes them happy and how they can contribute to society in ways that are beneficial.

What do you feel or think? Always you are choosing. This in truth is the real democracy, we are choosing every day to evoke our power or submit to power.  Do you have power?


Mohandas Gandhi

“God has no religion”