Miraculously days after a deadly building collapse, Reshma a woman was found by workers clearing debris in the building’s prayer room. As of today, over one thousand people making 38 euros a month producing goods to be sent and sold to Americans are dead.
On May 1, workers around the world (except the United States), observed the annual International Workers Day (IWD) holding rallies calling for fairer labor standards and worker rights. In Bangladesh crowds of people paraded in the streets, calling for the collapsed building’s owner death. Pope Francis commenting on IWD and the Bangladesh catastrophe said “Not paying fairly, not giving a job because you are looking at balance sheets only looking to make a profit….goes against God.”
His comments made me reflect on Communism’s demise in the Soviet Union. Karl Marx Communism’s architect didn’t believe in God. He believed the state should own and equally distribute wealth closing the door to human competition which leaves no incentive to advance culture, community or the state. It allows one entity to control the masses.
The opposite can be said of Capitalism, where private corporations and individuals control the wealth. Here there is an idea of shared responsibility and the public trust that shared prosperity keeps the economy vibrant and growing. Communism rested itself on Marx atheist belief while Capitalism entrusts capital gain to “In God We Trust.”
But when responsibility and prosperity are not shared, the economy is threatened. When the wealthy hoard wealth and don’t distribute it by creating jobs and investing in human capital, limitations are placed on creating new technologies and superior products. And it finds ways to produce goods at cheaper prices creating unsafe work environments like those in Bangladesh.
It finds itself comfortable producing inferior products, selling them for more money and collecting unyielding profits. That leads to government intervention like five years ago during the 2008 financial collapse. The Great Recession brought on by irresponsible spending and business practices in the banking, housing, automotive and stock market led to the collapse. Government was forced to spend taxpayer dollars to save the American and global economy.
Now the housing market is rebounding and we are heading toward another housing bubble. As the wealthy rebound quicker than the average worker, they are purchasing foreclosed properties for the purpose of reselling to workers for a profit who lost their property during the financial collapse.
As Americans recently out of the financial collapse we should be concerned for worker too often burdened and unprotected not by labor laws but by policies and politics that make the very goods and services they produce priced expensively, farther out of reach. The cost for clothing, cars, health care and a college education are luxuries taken for granted by those who have the means to afford them.
Laborers, teachers and manufacturers shouldn’t need a labor union to protect them. When this nation falls into another economic Recession, sooner rather than later, it may be pulled in so deep it finds itself looking up, not down. Corporate profits in the tens and hundreds of millions is unfair, when it comes at the expense of workers looking for work and those in other countries dying and making just 38 euros a month. If we aren’t careful, one day it could be our economy that collapses not a building in Bangladesh.