Products

I manufacture Products for The Boss.

If I make a mistake and my productivity falls, I feel bad because I’m not making enough profit for The Boss.

As my productivity increases over time —  as I get to know my machines more intimately and understand their temperament — I feel content knowing that I create more profit for The Boss.

I wonder how he feels.

Does he feel guilty if I make more than 1,200 Products per day, knowing that my hourly wage is a pittance compared to his profit?

Does he resent me if I make less than 1,200 Products per day, annoyed that I did not adequately contribute to his hoarded wealth?

When he built this small, family-run manufacturing business, did he consider if it was fair that his business model relies on hiring and exploiting a single, interchangeable, replaceable worker to run his machines and make all of his products and create profit for his family?

Of course he didn’t. He is 70-years-old and lived through the Golden Age of Capitalism. He pulled up his bootstraps his whole life and created everything with his own two hands. He deserves everything and more. He deserves the entire world. He is a White Man and a Capitalist and therefore entitled to exploit workers and exploit the Earth for the benefit of his bank account and his family and his legacy and his pride in perpetuity.

This is freedom.

In America, we have property rights and water rights in the arid Southwest and these are the words we use to justify the plundering of our most precious natural resource by a small group of people who LARP as Cowboys and Ranchers. This is their tradition and you can’t mess with it, partner.

The Boss owns a share in a water company and grazes three horses on his 16-acre desert pasture. During the worst drought in 1,200 years, he runs two rotary sprinklers for at least eight hours per day to grow grass for the horses to supplement their main diet of hay, which is stacked on a trailer next to his full-size RV and tractor. 

But he tells me that margins are tight and he can start me at $17 per hour without any sick time or vacation time or health care or benefits of any kind. Margins are real tight, he says, looking out over his land and water and animals and vehicles.

He is a Boomer and Boomers never retire. Boomers never take time off because they don’t know how to rest. They don’t know how to stop making money. When you’re 70-years-old and lived through the Golden Age of Capitalism, you develop a certain type of mental illness. Profit becomes the only thing that matters in life.

If you stop working, you die. He tells me his retirement plan is a pine box and he’s got a lot of retired friends who are dead. He says he’s a firm believer in, “If you don’t use if, you lose it.”

I wonder how his daughter feels.

Seeing an old man, her own father, hobble around his workshop with his worn Cowboy boots and easy drawl and toxic masculinity. Does she want him to see his grandson graduate from high school? Is she concerned that one day she might come into work to find her father crumpled on the concrete floor, lifeless?

At least he would die doing what he loved. Making money.

Labor

Which is worse? That our owner lives in Hawaii, never works, watches us on camera and extracts all of the wealth that we create and uses that wealth to start new businesses or that our coworkers are bootlickers? What do you think is worse?

“I dunno man. I don’t think I have an opinion on that. I’m just trying to pay rent.”

Nevermind.

Do you ever think about how it’s unfair that the person who makes the most money is also the person who is never here and never does any work? Do you ever find it frustrating that all of the managers —  front of house and back of house — fucking hate each other and don’t communicate? As a result, the workers receive mixed messages. They keep us in the dark and they feed us shit. We’re not important, even though we do all of the fucking work. No one ever asks us what we think because that’s a dangerous road for the capitalist.

We already do all the work. What would happen if they ask us if we have any ideas or if we have developed any techniques that could increase production? We might realize that we don’t need managers and bosses and capitalists. That these people are bloodsuckers, vampires, parasites and leeches who contribute absolutely fucking nothing to society but continue to take and take and take and take and take and take and take and take and take and take and take and take and take and take and take and take and take and take and take and take and take and take and take.

This is exactly how they want me to feel after I come home on a Friday afternoon. I don’t have any emotions. Except anger. I always have anger. I don’t know if I’m more angry at the capitalists who exploit us or for what they have done to my brothers and my sisters. They are uneducated, which makes them easier to exploit and manipulate. They are oppressed but instead of looking to the top, they direct their hatred toward their unemployed brothers and sisters receiving benefits. No one wants to work anymore because of the dole. They hate “woke culture” and how everyone is so sensitive now. We can’t have fun movies like Ace Ventura: Pet Detective anymore and laugh at the blatant transphobia. They remain unvaccinated in a county of 26,000 which had 92 new cases of Covid-19 last week, with outbreaks in several local schools and the jail. They get their news from “doctors” on YouTube and don’t believe the mainstream media. In their world, the delta variant is no more contagious than alpha and viruses always get weaker when they replicate. You can’t trust the vaccines. There are going to be long-term side effects.

They barely have high school degrees yet they believe themselves to be smarter than all of the scientists and doctors in the world. But they are still my brothers and sisters and I still love them.

I believe in solidarity among all working people. I will never buy into the zero-sum game. 

“What do you mean?”

A zero-sum game means that if someone wins, someone else has to lose. It can be between racial groups, like a white man getting angry that a black man gets a raise. Or getting angry at your coworker for having an easier assignment at work. Or EMT’s getting angry that fast food workers want to make $15 an hour. It’s just another way for the capitalists to divide and distract us. It’s like sleight of hand magic, “Don’t look at me and my hoarded wealth, I’m not the problem. Those other people, whose labor I’m also exploiting, they are your enemy.” I don’t buy into that bullshit.

I will never be able to convince my brothers and sisters that socialism is a viable alternative. All they know is that socialism has caused genocides and, like, just take a look at Venezuela. I can explain Dr. Wolff’s description of worker-self-directed-enterprises and how things would be different if all of the workers were members of the board of directors instead of one guy in Hawaii telling us what to do and taking all of our wealth. But it’s futile. The biggest obstacle to socialism in America is the distinct lack of education among working people. We will never organize and seize the means of production if workers do not know history. The capitalists know this. That is why they defund schools, recall liberal school board members and bring religion into the classroom.

My brothers and sisters have been indoctrinated their entire lives into believing that capitalism is the only way. I can only think about the alternatives. For this, I will never be happy.