Feeling like your working harder and getting less? If so, your feelings have been right on the mark in this instance. The Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives recently released a study showing irrefutably that real wages for Canadian workers, which take inflation into account, have been frozen since the late 1970's. However, over that same time the economy has grown by 72% and Canadian workers have been working harder and smarter and have managed to raise productivity by 51%. So what does this mean? It means that although working people in Canada are producing more wealth, we are receiving a smaller and smaller portion of what we produce. It means that all this extra wealth that we are producing is not going to us, but an ever growing amount is going to line the pockets of extremely wealthy business owners. If we received this extra wealth, which we are creating through improved productivity, we would be getting about $10,000 more each year in real wages! Unfortunately the situation is even worse for low income earners.

For people earning minimum wage, which is an ever growing section of workers, (yes you are not alone) the real minimum wage, calculated after inflation has actually dropped from an average of $9.14 in 1976 to $7.32 in 2006!! This is a significant drop in real wages for the lowest paid section of workers and one which has very real effects on the living conditions of working people, especially workers in the service sector. However, the corporations have managed to increase their profit by around 35% over the recent period. This means that a business owner who was making three million dollars a year last year might be making almost four million dollars this year! Are they working any harder? Of course not, but the workers of Canada sure are, and the business owners and CEO's wealth is all at the expense of the workers.

So, as most workers already know, the boss is a crook! But what exactly does this have to do with Marxist economic theory? Well, Karl Marx analyzed the capitalist economic system and came to several conclusions. One of these conclusions is that the working class and the capitalist class (the large business owners) are two opposing forces which cannot be reconciled because they have completely opposing interests. The workers make money from being paid by the capitalist, and the capitalist makes money from what he or she can get out of the workers in the form of profit. It is the workers who create the profit, because they create the products, run the store, and do the lions share of the work. However, the capitalist sells the products for more then he or she pays the workers and keeps the rest to his or her self. So, to simplify it and put it into real terms, if a worker makes something that costs $3 to produce, the capitalist might sell it for $5. Say the worker produces 10 of these products an hour, then they have created products worth a total of $50. If the worker is getting $8 an hour, and the products cost $3 to make, when you subtract $30 for the cost of the products and $8 for the workers pay, that leaves $12 for the boss. So, not only does the worker actually pay for their own wages, but also pays for the bosses wages, and for what?!?! So the boss may go for multiple luxurious vacations and play golf every weekend, while rarely if ever doing any real work.

Since the capitalist makes his money from what is not paid to the worker for the work that they do, the only way for the capitalist to make more money is to pay the worker less for the work that they do. This does not always mean directly lowering wages, but as we have seen in Canada over the last 30 years, they can also do this through increased productivity and a stagnation of real wages. Also, because of this, it is even possible to get a raise without actually increasing your real wages. If you are producing 51% more, and you get a 4% raise, then that still means the boss is getting a 47% raise! Since the only way for workers to gain is to take profits away from the bosses, and the only way for the bosses to get more money is to take it away from workers, it is not really possible to talk of cooperation between workers and bosses.

So, as it turns out, the old saying really is true. The rich really do get richer as the poor get poorer. So what is the solution? We need to ask ourselves, why do we even need capitalists? What has the good ol’ boss done for our benefit lately? Is it not possible for us workers to organize the workplace ourselves and run them democratically and completely free of bosses altogether? In order to create a better life for our families, to create a world which can live in harmony with our natural environment and a world where we can talk of real democracy, we need to fight for socialism. The economics and politics of our current society have show its complete injustice in the form of hard irrefutable statistics. This has been the case for the past 30 years, it has been the case before that and will only continue to be the case. In order to change things all we really need to do is follow the advice of another old saying.

"The proletarians have nothing to loose but their chains. They have a world to win. Workers of all countries, unite!"
Karl Marx, Friedrich Engels