Workers are partners, not slaves. Wages must have the power to provide a decent life.
The current economic system is the worst imaginable version of capitalism. In many aspects, it treats workers like slaves. As a matter of fact, one of the essential reasons for ending slavery in the US was an economic reason; it was not a purely ethical movement. With the advent of the industrial revolution, having workers was more profitable than owning slaves; they are only obligated to pay workers salaries without having to meet their other needs such as housing and healthcare.
Nonetheless, corporatists defined the word ‘worker’ as the person who works for the capital owner and is compensated for his work. As a consequence, the worker’s partnership in creating the profit is not acknowledged. Workers are partners with the capital owner; they work with his capital to produce a profit that must be divided fairly. The fair share of the profit when there is one worker using someone’s capital is around 50% for each. Again, workers have rights in the profit, their salaries must reflect this right. Our laws allow shareholders to exploit workers; they can take, in some cases, more than 10 thousand times what the lowest-paid worker makes. The problem of income inequality is one of the direct consequences of not acknowledging employees as partners who have direct rights in the profit. The government must not intervene in the relationship between the employee and his employer. Collective bargaining is a useful tool to solve this problem. Nevertheless, I strongly believe that by localizing the economy, the problem of liveable wages will be solved. The loss of manufacturing jobs due to disastrous trade deals such as NAFTA, TTP, and now the USMCA, has directly damaged the balance between living expenses and livable wages. The public support for family-owned businesses and local manufacturers, and deregulations (Free Market) are foundational in solving this problem. Unions might also be a useful tool for fair labor demands, although they are weaponized by ideologically driven groups and the establishment.
Livable wages should mean that the lowest-paid worker can afford housing, clothing, healthcare, and food for himself and his family without the need to be in debt. Balancing the expenses of life and wages is communities’ responsibility. This responsibility must not be understood in a way that justifies the government interference in the relation between the employees and their employers. Empowering the employees with tools like collective bargaining and forming unions is what we mean by the government’s responsibility among others. Lowering living expenses is more practical than raising wages when we consider international markets.