February 8, 2012

Workers Build Value, But Don't Benefit Proportionately

We all help to build value - we should all benefit

The wealth of nations is built by the workforce, from the bottom up. Why is it then, that this very same workforce is being asked to swallow austerity, while those at the top continue raking in the wealth?

"From the end of World War II through the early 1970s... the rate of income growth for all levels was relatively well in sync. From 1945 to 1973, incomes rose 99 per cent for the bottom 99 per cent, but only 40 per cent for the top one per cent.

But from Reagan's election in 1980 through to 2007, the year before the Wall Street crash, the top one per cent gained 232 per cent, compared with just 20 per cent for the bottom 99 per cent."

Almost 500 Canadian workers for Caterpillar Inc are about to experience what forced austerity feels like. First they were locked out, after rightfully refusing to take a 50% reduction in wages, and now Caterpillar has closed the shop and is leaving town with its bag of profits. It is leaving a dedicated workforce feeling demoralized.

Chances are workers abused by business practices all over the world are not thinking about climate change. Small footprint living will only be effective and sustainable if we enter into it willingly. Involuntary simplicity is a struggle, not a lifestyle choice.

We want to promote living with less for the benefits it provides personally, as well as environmentally and from a social justice point of view, not to improve the bottom line of the business community.


  1. I've been reading your blog for a few months now, and absolutely adore it. This post in particular hits close to home, as my husband's job has been downsized multiple times over the past year, and now his commission is being taken away.

    While we're not happy about it, we're not devestated either. We've been working our way though the processes of voluntary simplicity for a few years now. We've gotten rid of cable t.v, home phone, cutting down on eating out, and we no longer celebrate consumeristic holidays. That being said, we still have room for improvement. Our daily coffee (fair trade organic) costs us roughly $40.00 a month, more if you count cups purchased while we're out. Although we've cut back, we still spend quite a bit on eating out, and buying snacks(probably to the tune of a few hundred dollars a month). These things have been nagging at me, as I can see where the money could be better spent elswhere, but have been too spoiled and selfish to commit to doing.

    I'm looking at this change in income as an opportunity, and a challenge to see how much of the excess we can cut, and reallocate, so that we can get out of debt and start truly living a simple life.

    1. Debi,

      We are so happy that after visiting our blog for a while you have decided to leave a comment.

      We really appreciate the feedback, and you sharing your story with us.

      It sounds like you and your husband are doing great. You are already living more simply, plus you have identified some key areas where you can make improvements.

      Eating out is a big one for most people. The average American spends almost 50% of their food budget on eating out.

      This is understandable considering how much time and effort is required to cook healthy meals at home. However, as you have identified, it is one area where cutting back can yield big payoffs.

      You have nothing to worry about - your attitude is bang on. Seeing living more simply as a fun challenge really changes your perspective, and makes more cuts possible.

      Good luck to you and your husband in getting out of debt and continuing your adventures in simple living.

      Please do keep us posted as to how things are going.

      Thanks again for your very kind comment, and for sharing your ideas with us. We are rooting for you!


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