Are We Economic Slaves? The Real Reason Behind 40-Hour Work Week…


Wage slavery or also known as economic slavery is our dependence on wages in order to survive. We sell our labor-power to get some money which turns us into slaves who serve the society.

The 40-hour work week

People in the past were supposed to work very hard in order to get by. Nowadays, the society imposes the belief that we do have economic freedom, but in fact our labor power has been turned into servitude.

Most of us accept to work for 40 hours per week and we even accept the insufficient hourly wage as absolutely normal. There are also many others who work overtime and struggle to survive.

Some people earn enough money to live decent and comfortable lives but unfortunately, they are overworked and they don’t feel free to ask for work-hour reduction. So, there are only two options: you either work 40 hours weekly or you don’t get to work in any way.

What’s more, the society even dictates when we are supposed to arrive or depart, what kind of food we should eat, what to wear and even when to use the restroom while we are at work.

The 40-hour-work week was put into effect during the Industrial Revolution in Britain. Workers had to work for 10 or 16 hours per day and as a result they began to protest. Citizens were overworked and they easily accepted eight-hour work day. This system prevailed, so today we still accept it since we are under the influence of our society.

However, nowadays this system is completely unnecessary.

There are three major reasons for the current economic situation we are struggling with:

• Inflation
• Debt
• Consumerism

1. Inflation

The main reason for debt is inflation. It increases our cost of living since over time it leads to increased prices of all services and goods. Let’s say that the government of the U.S. needs money to wage war. They request a loan from the Federal Reserve which agrees to buy bonds from the government that equals the amount of the requested loan.

Then, the Federal Reserve prints up money, while the U.S. government prints up Treasury bonds. This is a trade between the Federal Reserve and the government. The government deposits the newly printed money in a bank which in turn cuts in interest and fees.

Nowadays, the inflation process occurs electronically, which means that 97% of the money exists in electronic form. As a result, the worth of the dollar is being depleted. In the past, currency was worth gold and that’s how money got its value but now the value of money is trusted to the Federal Reserve.

This institution has no moral objections to reduce the money value by printing more money. Consequently, for the cost of printing, more money is created by the Federal Reserve than the government of the U.S. has promised to return. This money actually didn’t even exist.

Private bank loans do the same to citizens. Each time this kind of transaction happens, the value of the actual currency decreases, thus creating inflation. The worth of one dollar in 1913 required about $21.60 in 2007 to equal its value.

It is almost 96% devaluation since the Federal Reserve began to exist. This eventually led to economic slavery because inflation resulted in debt.

2. Debt

Money is created as a result of loans, which means it is created through debt. Debt equals money and money equals debt. This means that if the government and the citizens who are in debt manage to pay back the loans, not a single dollar will be left in circulation.

Interest plays an important role here as well. When you take out a loan, you are given money which technically doesn’t exist. So, the bank expects you to pay extra interest with it.

This means that the nation will never be able to pay back the money it owes – and that’s the purpose of this carefully orchestrated system.

This causes the nation to sink further in debts while the cost for living gets higher which makes the economy survival extremely difficult. Our desperation to survive as well as the fact that we were born into such system forces us to accept the 40-hour-work per week.

And now, the question is, how does this system bring benefits to the huge corporations and banks? According to the studies, an average office worker gets even less than 3 hours worth of work completed in an eight-hour work shift. What’s more, it has been also reported that US corporate profits are rapidly increasing while wages are declining.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the productivity has increased at about 2.3% annual rate during the period of three months. However, this is not the case with the hourly pay. Namely, it increased for only 1.3%.

Since corporate profits are huge this raises the issue why are people paid so poorly? Why aren’t we working less? Why aren’t additional jobs provided to those people who really need them? This eventually leads to consumerism.

3. Consumerism

Merriam-Webster dictionary defines consumerism as a belief that people should spend large amounts of money on services and goods. This might have been applicable at certain point in time, but nowadays it is no longer relevant, especially if we take into consideration the increasing debt, inflation, the current cost of living and the capitalist system.

So, at present, consumerism has negative effects on the society. The more we spend our money, the more we nurture the banks and huge corporations, which in turn are forcing us into the economic slavery.

People have been spending large amounts of money on frivolous purchases since 1880s. This has been encouraged by the corporations which used commercialism as their tool. The purpose of the consumer advertisements is to plant psychological insinuations on the society’s subconscious. This has led to some beliefs and habits such as:

• The mindset ″Buy now pay later″. It was first established in 1919 to encourage giving loans to people who wanted to buy cars.

• ″Keep up with the Joneses″ – This mindset appeared when GM introduced automobile model change which took place once in a year.

• ″Charge it″ – credit cards were promoted for the first time through Diners Club. Companies advertised credit cards as a ″time-saving items″ rather than a way to spend your money that technically wasn’t there.

• ″Bigger is better″ – this mindset was introduced in 1970, when companies started to send credit cards even to those who didn’t requested them. People had the means to get extravagant items which they couldn’t afford before, even though it put them in colossal debt. As a result, Congress banned sending credit cards to people who never requested them.

Companies encouraged people to be careless with spending their money and they supported the habit of non-essential and casual spending.

The corporations’ ultimate tool to sustain people of over-indulgent spending is the 40-hour work week. As a result, people are forced to build their lives during their days-off or in the evenings. This forces us to spend more money on conveniences and entertainment since we rarely have free time.

Once we find time for ourselves, it doesn’t last longer and we eventually realize that we are neglecting the ″money-free″ activities like reading, walking, meditating, exercising, sports and hobbies because they just take us too much time.

Some people have to sacrifice their time to get extra money, while others are deprived of their personal freedom and on top of it they struggle to make ends meet. Even those who earn little money find themselves spending small amounts of it on some unnecessary items.

So, we can conclude that this rotten system created a mindless, unhappy and over-worked society. Before getting bored and move on, we buy insignificant items just for a few moments of happiness.

We avoid issues, hide our insecurities and replace our psychological needs with material things. By keeping our free time scarce, we invest our money in gratification, convenience and other kinds of relief.

This is highly profitable for the big-businesses while our society has become an industry of economic slavery. In this corrupt system there is only one key factor that we have direct influence over and that is the consumerism. So, only consumers can change this, if they stop consuming.

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