Part-Time Work, Full-Time Exploitation

U.S. employers are preferring to hire part-time, rather than full-time employees. But U.S. employers are now also increasingly demanding that their part-time employees don’t have other jobs. Of course, as McDonald’s own financial site admits, it would take two full-time jobs for a minimum wage worker to survive in the U.S. today.

Both Adam Smith and Karl Marx noted that in a capitalist economy, wages would gravitate toward the cost of subsistence: even the most brutally exploited working class needed sufficient food, shelter, and clothing to survive and reproduce. Further evidence, then, that the U.S. business class is short-sighted enough to starve its own workers – and that the U.S. working class is weak and disorganized enough to let it happen.

Last spring’s pop-up strike wave in fast food and retail showed that there are some small signs of life in the super-exploited sectors of U.S. labor. I’d like to think that this sort of pressure on working people can’t continue forever without provoking a reaction, but without an understanding of the political and economic context (ideology) and without organization, it’s easy for frustration and anger to go nowhere.

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