, Newburyport, MA


March 22, 2012

Government programs lower wages

To the Editor:

Recently economists have discussed ways of reducing the national government spending and the national debt. Part of the spending targeted is Social Security and maybe unemployment benefit subsidies to health care such as Medicare.

All these programs would be unnecessary if wage workers earned high enough wages to make those programs unnecessary. Karl Marx described the long-run basis of wage rates. They are just enough to allow workers to be fit for the work they are hired for or are doing. With Social Security in place, workers don't have to save on their own for retirement. With unemployment benefits, the workers don't have to save for hard times.

Likewise, if workers didn't have Medicare, they would have to have a high enough wage to save for their old age. All phase programs allow employers to pay lower wages than what would be necessary if the programs did not exist. These programs have allowed lower wages, higher profits and have made people think the government is paternal.

The programs have quieted the working class and made them less likely to organize into labor unions to fight for higher wages. These programs have benefitted the capitalist class. The economists who talk about reducing spending on these programs seem to be ignoring that fact. Any attempt to cut these programs will necessarily result in more aggressive action to increase wages.

Before these programs existed, labor union activity was lively. The industry workers of the world actually were active in the struggle for higher wages and better working conditions. These programs are really part of wages (the cost of labor) that don't have to be paid by employers except in taxes. When Karl Marx was describing the basis of wages, he was describing more and simple capitalism with no welfare state.

These programs have sapped the independence and awareness of workers' own interests. Who wants two masters: the boss and the state, also. In Russia's Soviet system, the workers had the boss and state in one entity. They were slaves of the Soviet state.

Richard Cassin


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