Michael Ryan's Blog

Capitalism Is Organized Crime—Meet the Victims

Capitalism Is Organized Crime – Meet the Victims

“There is … in the economy always a wage rate at which all workers find employment and every entrepreneur who wishes to undertake some enterprise still profitable at that wage finds workers.”[1]  This neoliberal platitude has proven to be incorrect.  Depressing wages in real terms has not led to full employment.  To the contrary, unemployment has reached disastrous levels throughout the world.

In January 2015, the International Labour Organization placed international unemployment at 201 million, predicting that it would rise to 219 million by 2019.  The current 201 million unemployed includes 61 million jobs lost since the 2008 global economic meltdown[2] – a crisis that was effectively the result of runaway neoliberal financialization.

The ILO further reports that “South Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa, accounted for three quarters of the world’s vulnerable employment.” [3]  The report describes East Asia as “among the regions that are likely to make the biggest dent in vulnerable employment.”  What this apparently means is a decline in vulnerable employment from “50.2 per cent in 2007 to 38.9 per cent in 2019.”  We are told that the “employment situation has not improved much in Sub-Saharan Africa” and that “in the Arab region and parts of Latin America and the Caribbean the employment outlook has deteriorated.”  Not surprisingly, youth are the major losers in this scenario:  “Young workers aged 15-24 are particularly hit by the crisis, with a global youth unemployment rate of almost 13 per cent in 2014 and a further increase expected in coming years.”[4]  In a situation where achieving a 38.9% rate of vulnerable employment is a success story, we are clearly far removed from the full employment that neoliberalism promised us – apparently there’s not even enough shitty, unregulated work to go around.

Meanwhile in the U.S., the fatherland of the 2008 financial crisis, Valerie Wilson of the Economic Policy Institute tells us that in late 2015 the unemployment crisis began to turn around:

In December 2015, the national unemployment rate was 5.0 percent,[5] down 0.1 percentage point since the end of the third quarter in September 2015. Forty-three states and the District of Columbia added jobs in the fourth quarter. All but seven states gained jobs in 2015, and all but eight ended the year with lower unemployment than in December 2014. Yet even as the recovery moves ahead slowly, conditions vary greatly across states and across racial and ethnic groups. In December, state unemployment rates ranged from a high of 6.7 percent in New Mexico to a low of 2.7 percent in North Dakota. Nationally, African Americans had the highest unemployment rate, at 8.3 percent, followed by Latinos (6.3 percent), whites (4.5 percent), and Asians (4.0 percent).[6]

Wilson’s data doesn’t include Native Americans, who, in 2014, faced a staggering official unemployment rate of 11%,[7] approximately double the national average.

Beyond the racial biases that the U.S. official unemployment figure obscure, in a paper written in March 2015, Dartmouth College professor of economics David G. Blanchflower and advisor to the International Monetary Fund Andrew T. Levin question the very way these figures themselves camouflage an even more stark reality.

(I)t is readily apparent that the conventional unemployment rate has not served as an accurate synopsis of the evolution of labor market slack.  For example, the declining unemployment rate over the course of 2010 and most of 2011 was not induced by a pickup in job growth but instead reflected the extent to which many Americans gave up searching for work and departed from the labor force.  In effect, the reduction in the unemployment gap was almost fully offset by an increase in the participation gap, and hence the overall employment gap showed very little improvement during that period. [8]

This translates into an actual unemployment rate of 7.5%, or in practical terms an “employment shortfall … equivalent to about 3.3 million full-time jobs.” [9]

Official unemployment also fails to addresses the burgeoning underemployment, officially referred to as “people working part-time for economic reasons”[10] – the economic reason being the incapacity of the economy to produce the requisite full-time jobs.  Between 1994 and 2007, the year before the “Great Recession,” this underemployment remained stable.  The authors note:  “It seems implausible that the sudden rise in underemployment during the Great Recession was caused by demographic or structural factors.  And individuals who are underemployed are clearly not ‘unemployable’…, since they are already working but simply can’t find a full-time job.”[11]  Put another way, as the economy reconstructs itself in the wake of the 2008 crash, there is an increasing shift to part-time, insecure, poorly paid work that provides no benefits and fails to raise the workers involved above the lowest levels of the so-called working poor.  The authors conclude, “the evolution of the underemployment gap reinforces the view that the uncertainty surrounding our benchmark assessment of the employment gap is skewed to the upside.”[12]  In short, the employment situation in the U.S. is worse – probably much worse – than it appears on paper.

Finally, and unsurprisingly, the authors note that “wage growth is pushed down by the unemployment rate, the nonparticipation rate, and the underemployment rate.”[13]  Which is to say, the number of workers who are unemployed, either because they cannot find work or they have given up looking, and the growing number of workers who are underemployed serve capital’s interests as an increasingly growing surplus labour force, depressing the wages of those workers with jobs and pushing more individuals and families into poverty.

Meanwhile, in Canada, things are equally grim, if not more so.  The current official unemployment rate is 7.2%, or 2.3% higher than in the U.S.[14]  Where the U.S. showed marginal job growth in January 2016, creating 151,000 jobs,[15] Canada lost 5700 jobs (keep in mind that the U.S. population is approximately ten times that of Canada).  Writing in Huffington Post, Daniel Tencer tells us:  “The country’s job growth over the past year is now well below the rate needed to keep up with population growth.  The country has added 0.7 per cent net new jobs over the past year, below the 0.9 to 1 per cent needed to keep up with the population.”[16]

Addressing the issue of underemployment in Canada, in 2013, the most recent date I could find figures for, the Canadian Labour Congress reports:  “the total number of employed persons seeking more hours was over 910,000, and the amount counted by Statistics Canada was only 445,000. That considerably alters the level of underemployment reported by Statistics Canada.”  The report adds that “underemployment among women is significantly underestimated, because women are far more likely to be part-time workers who want more hours.”[17]


Blanchflower and Levin argue that unemployment and underemployment serve to depress wages.  What exactly does that mean in practice?  It is generally accepted that the neoliberal era began with the elections of Margaret Thatcher in the UK in 1979, followed by the election of Ronald Reagan in the U.S. in 1980.  In what is clearly not a coincidence, Jim Tankersley, writing about the U.S. in a series for The Washington Post, tells us:

In 1981, according to the Pew Research Center, 59 percent of American adults were classified as “middle income” — which means their household income was between two-thirds and double the nation’s median income.  By 2011, it was down to 51 percent. In that time, the “middle” group’s share of the national income pie fell from 60 percent to 45 percent.[18]

This decline in the middle class is not, however, the result of economic shrinkage.  As Tankersley writes elsewhere, “over the past 25 years, the economy has grown 83 percent, after adjusting for inflation – and the typical family’s income hasn’t budged.”  So, in a situation where “Workers today produce nearly twice as many goods and services per hour on the job as they did in 1989…” we find that “In 81 percent of America’s counties, the median income is lower today than it was 15 years ago.”[19]

In a discussion paper presented to the 2004 United Nations Conference on Trade and Development, Irfan ul Haque argued that “of the two determinants of labour costs, controlling wages proved to be easier than raising labour productivity.”[20]  What we have in practice, however is step beyond that – a sort of double dipping, if you will.  Taking as his starting point the 2008 recession (which by any standards would better perhaps be called a depression), Tankersley writes:

(T)he stock market is soaring, the unemployment rate is finally retreating after the Great Recession and the economy added 321,000 jobs last month.  But all that growth has done nothing to boost pay for the typical American worker.  Average wages haven’t risen over the last year, after adjusting for inflation.  Real household median income is still lower than it was when the recession ended.[21]

If you take the longer view, however, the situation actually looks worse:

The median prime-age American male – 25 to 54 years old – earns less today than he did in 1966, adjusted for inflation.  After decades of social and economic progress, the median prime-age woman earns less now than she did in 2000.  The typical two-parent American family works nearly two more days per week, full time, than it did in 1979 – but earns less per hour, in real dollars.  The Federal Reserve calculates that the typical household has less wealth than it did in 1989.  Economists Emmanuel Saez and Gabriel Zucman reported recently that 90 percent of U.S. households are worth less today than they were in 1987.[22]

What this means, in the final analysis, is that “If the minimum wage had simply tracked U.S. productivity gains since 1968, it would be $21.72 an hour – three times what it is now.”[23]  That’s where the double dipping comes in.  Not only has productivity increased, and substantially so, but wages have not only failed to increase, they have, in real terms, declined precipitously.

That alone would be disastrous, but it brings with it a sort of feedback loop that contributes to even greater unemployment.  In his UN paper, ul Haque pointed out that “Workers are also consumers, and a decline in their income causes a decline in the aggregate demand, which is the primary determinant of employment.”[24]  The implications of this have even caught the attention of at least one of neoiliberalism’s gazillionaries.  Nick Hanauer, a venture capitalist whose investment in Yahoo launched him into the economic stratosphere, writes:

The fundamental law of capitalism is that if workers have no money, businesses have no customers.  That’s why the extreme, and widening, wealth gap in our economy presents not just a moral challenge, but an economic one, too.  In a capitalist system, rising inequality creates a death spiral of falling demand that ultimately takes everyone down.[25]

Hanauer may or may not be a nice guy if you’re having drink with him, but he doesn’t, in this case, attempt to portray his concern as anything other than blunt self-interest:  “I make the case (for a big minimum wage increase) as a businessman and entrepreneur who sees our millions of low-paid workers as customers to be cultivated and not as costs to be cut.”[26]  Hanauer has thrown his full weight behind the campaign for the $15 minimum wage,[27] and again for him its just basic economics:

If a worker earns $7.25 an hour, which is now the national minimum wage, what proportion of that person’s income do you think ends up in the cash registers of local small businesses?  Hardly any.  That person is paying rent, ideally going out to get subsistence groceries at Safeway, and, if really lucky, has a bus pass.  But she’s not going out to eat at restaurants.  Not browsing for new clothes.  Not buying flowers on Mother’s Day. [28]

Elsewhere he points out that the Economic Policy Institute asserts that a $15 minimum wage “would directly affect 51 million workers and indirectly benefit an additional 30 million,” putting the capitalist spin on it:  “That’s 81 million people, or about 64 percent of the workforce, and their families who would be more able to buy cars, clothing and food from our nation’s businesses.”[29]  Hanauer even takes the time to address the claim that a reasonable minimum wage would force business to close, creating yet more unemployment.  “The two cities in the nation with the highest rate of job growth by small businesses are San Francisco and Seattle.  Guess which cities have the highest minimum wage?  San Francisco and Seattle.”[30]

Even in a scenario where raising the minimum wage would, in fact, lead to job losses, there are those who argue it would still be the right thing to do.  New School economics and urban policy professor David Howell asks, “Why shouldn’t we in fact accept job loss?  What’s so bad about getting rid of crappy jobs, forcing employers to upgrade, and having a serious program to compensate anyone who is in the slightest way harmed by that?”  While this might seem callous on the face of it, Howell points out the obvious, “The problem with having a criterion of ‘no job loss’ is that it guarantees that the minimum wage will always be at a level so low that it won’t come close to achieving this living wage standard.”  David Cooper, an economist with the Economic Policy Institute, takes the argument a step farther, pointing out that low-wage workers are already faced with employment instability and often find themselves changing jobs.  Cooper argues, “It could be that they spend more time unemployed, but their income is higher overall.”[31]

One can easily imagine that Howell’s proviso that “a serious program to compensate anyone who” finds themselves unemployed or further underemployed as a result of an increase in the minimum wage raising howl’s of protest about the burden such a programme would place on taxpayers, but that would be a total canard.  As Nick Hanauer argues:

If people are getting $15 an hour or more, they don’t need food stamps. They don’t need rent assistance. They don’t need you and me to pay for their medical care. If the consumer middle class is back, buying and shopping, then it stands to reason you won’t need as large a welfare state. And at the same time, revenues from payroll and sales taxes would rise, reducing the deficit.[32]

In fact, no less a body than the Congressional Budget Office reported that “the federal government spent $316 billion on programs designed to help the poor in 2012.”  What, in effect this means, Hanauer argues, is that “the current $7.25 minimum wage forces taxpayers to subsidize Wal-Mart Stores Inc. and other large employers, effectively socializing their labor costs.”  Put another way, the programs in place to compensate for the poor wages workers are earning amount to little more than a social program supporting the already ridiculously wealthy.

The situation in Canada is substantially better with the federal minimum wage set at $10.45 an hour, and with all provinces except B.C., which matches this $10.45, setting even higher minimum wages, the highest being the Northwest Territories, at $12.45 an hour.[33]  That said, “real hourly wages increased by only 0.8 percent per year compared to increased labour productivity averaging 1.3 percent per annum between 1981 and 2008. Thus, Canadian median wages and salaries, adjusted for inflation, have not grown for thirty years.”[34]


One popular argument against decent wages is that they would lead to job outsourcing, an argument that ignores the fact that to a greater or lesser degree that ship’s already sailed.  NAFTA – widely supported by the same corporations that oppose raising the minimum wage – was responsible for 415,000 lost jobs, more than half of them in the areas of computer and electronic parts and vehicles and parts.[35]  During the first decade of the twenty-first century, U.S. multinationals[36] cut 2.9 million jobs, outsourcing 2.4 million of them.[37]  This is a situation that the Trans-Pacific Partnership can only make worse.  None of this is terribly surprising.  Rebutting the criticism generated by this outsourcing, Dan Ikenson argued in Forbes that “The imperative of business is not to maximize national employment, but to maximize profits,”[38] essentially parroting a standard neoliberal truism.  This, however, is precisely where the rub lies.

This outsourcing has its own dark side, and a recent report from the Hong Kong-based Students and Scholars Against Corporate Misbehavior (SACOM) provides us with a discomfiting window into that dark side.  “Lens Technology, Apple’s main supplier of glass for its iPhone and Apple Watch products” operates two facilities in the Chinese Hunan Province,” where it is reported that benzene “a known carcinogen that is linked to high rates of adult leukemia among those exposed to it,” is used “ in improperly ventilated areas.”  SACOM also reported that Apple suppliers throughout China violate China’s law limiting overtime to thirty-six hours a month.  Sixty hours of overtime was not abnormal, and one worker reported doing 110 hours of overtime in a single month.  This violates Apple’s Supplier Code of Conduct, which limits overtime to a generous sixty hours a month.  SACOM reports that “Apple lets itself and its suppliers off the hook by adding the caveat that exceptions can be made during unusual circumstances.”[39]

It ends up that “unusual circumstances,” can last for months:

(L)aborers working on the Apple Watch line during peak season (November through March) had only one day off for every two weeks.  Others reported that in order to use that rest day they had to apply in advance, and that if they did use it, they would lose wages for that day.  It is tactics such as these, as well as requiring as much as three hours of overtime per day, that result in such illegally excessive monthly overtime hours.[40]

Obviously, working long hours in poor working conditions takes it’s toll on workers’ health.  Lens Technology employees report hoarseness and blood in their phlegm, the direct result of inhaling toxins, cracked skin, blisters, and eroding fingernails, dizziness, and abnormal menstrual cycles from exposure to chemicals, and swollen knees and aching feet from spending ten or more hours a day on their feet.  Workers also complain that they are denied bathroom breaks, and that “They work far too much to enjoy the leisure and recreational facilities provided to them, and their ever-changing work schedules mean that they cannot form friendships with their colleagues,” which makes the work and their lives “boring” and “lonely.”[41]

SACOM also reported that Lens Technology withholds workers wages for between fifteen and thirty days, effectively preventing them from quitting.  To quit a worker must go through a lengthy procedure; an employee who leaves before completing the procedure must relinquish her or his withheld wages.[42]

All of this, of course, is just a case study in the normal – Apple is not worse than other corporate employers; its behaviour is the industry standard – in fact, the outsourcing standard.

For example, back in Canada – headquartered right down the street from where I sit writing this – we find the clothing manufacturer Gildan.  As well, as it’s headquarters, Gildan used to have a factory nearby – it would really stink up the neighbourhood with a smell akin to burning plastic.  However, in 2007, Gildan shuttered all of its North American production sites and relocated to Latin American and the Caribbean, with the bulk of its production taking place in Honduras, where it employs a workforce of 26,000.[43]

The minimum wage in the Honduran “free trade zones” is $1.18 an hour, or about $283 a month.  Although unwilling to provide precise figures, Peter Iliopoulos, Gildan’s senior vice-president of public and corporate affairs claims that Gildan pays its Honduran workers “wages that are significantly above the industry minimum wage.”  Honduran trade unions tell us that Gildan’s employees in the country make approximately $351 a month, a little more than half of the $683 that the Washington-based Worker Rights Consortium (WRC) tells us would be sufficient to sustain the average family.[44]

When, in 2013, workers at Gildan’s Villanueva plant reached out to an NGO for help in addressing their working conditions, five of the key organizers were immediately terminated – a number that the WRC says eventually rose to nineteen.  Gildan claimed that these workers were simply part of a layoff that included more than 300 workers, but a WRC report concluded that “Evidence demonstrates beyond any doubt that Gildan terminated the worker leaders because of their outreach.”  The WRC’s intervention led to the reinstatement of the affected workers.[45]

Gildan’s protests aside, there is strong evidence of a pattern of violating human rights on the company’s part.  The Fair Labor Association reports that in 2010 Gildan fired workers for union organizing activity at its Dortex plant in the Dominican Republic.  When the union drive proved unstoppable, Gildan signed a deal with a yellow union.  In 2011, an independent assessor concluded that “Gildan had undermined the first union’s efforts and signed a sweetheart collective agreement with the alternative union.”

Gildan, along with other clothing manufacturers, including Hanes and Fruit of the Loom, contracts out work in Haiti to the Apaid family, notorious for both its support for former dictator Baby Doc Duvalier and its backing of the coup that dislodged Aristide.  Not surprisingly, the Apaids are also involved in lobbying to prevent any increase in the minimum wage.[46]  When the minimum wage was finally raised in Haiti, it was to the princely sum of $5.11 for an eight-hour workday (less than half of the $11.36 a day that workers in the garment industry had been demanding).[47]  The AFL-CIO Solidarity Center estimates a living wage in Port-au-Prince to be approximately $28 a day.  In separate studies, the WRC and the AFL-CIO conclude that a typical garment worker earns around $186 a month, not even close the $850 the average family would require to escape starvation.[48]

Of course, starvation wages are only the tip of the proverbial iceberg when it comes to the activity of Canadian corporations active outside of the country.  Recently the Canadian mining company, Hudbay Mineral Inc., found itself in court facing charges in connection with the gang rape of a number of Guatemalan indigenous women in the village of Lote Ocha.  In 2007, men claiming to represent a mining company arrived in tiny village in the Guatemalan mountains to evict families from the property.  Before the day was over eleven women had been repeatedly raped.  Although Hudbay asserts that as it did not yet own the mine in question, it is guilty of no crime, this is not the only allegation of Hudbay engaging in criminal behaviour to protect its economic interests in Guatemala.  The company is also accused of direct involvement in the shooting death of a local leader named Adolfo Ich Chamán in the town of El Estor during an anti-mining demonstration, and the paralysis of a bystander, German Chub.  The claim that the shootings were an act of self-defence is more than slightly undermined by the that the head of the mine’s security, a former army colonel named Mynor Padilla, is now on trial in Guatemala in connection with the shooting that killed Ich Chamán and paralyzed Chub.[49]

As well as this direct violence against individuals, in 2014, the Council on Hemispheric Affairs, a policy group in Washington, reported that “Canadian companies, accounting for 50 percent to 70 percent of the mining in Latin America, were often associated with extensive damage to the environment, from erosion and sedimentation to groundwater and river contamination. Of particular note, it said, was that the industry ‘demonstrated a disregard for registered nature reserves and protected zones.’”[50]

This pattern of violence and indifference is particularly concerning given that Canadian government statistics indicate that “More than 50 percent of the world’s publicly listed exploration and mining companies had headquarters in Canada in 2013,” and government statistics indicate that “Those 1,500 companies had an interest in some 8,000 properties in more than 100 countries around the world.”[51]

As well as outsourcing to the Third World, there’s what one might call insourcing – the exploitation of Third World workers within the First World.  The ILO estimates that approximately 21 million workers have been trafficked into forced labour.  One study places the number at 38,500 in San Diego alone.  As Stephanie Hanes reports in the Christian Science Monitor:

(L)abor trafficking in the US is far more pervasive (than sex trafficking). It is also far more intertwined with the way we live.  There are humans who have been tricked or forced into working for meager wages, often in dreadful conditions, in almost every sector of the economy, from agriculture and domestic work to computer programming and carnivals.

Many of these workers are, in fact, a quasi-invisible part of everyday life:  “They mow grass for landscaping crews, clean dishes in restaurant kitchens, paint toenails in salons and clean hotels and bathrooms.”[52]

In spite of the fact that neoliberalism gutted the First World working class in the eighties, and since the 2008 recession has been systematically eviscerating the middle class, much of the background noise in the First World around outsourcing and immigrant labour focuses on the threat it poses to middle class stability.  What all too often gets lost in this debate is the fact that outsourcing and the use of immigrant labour do not benefit the Third World or East European workers doing it in any meaningful way.  By and large, this outsourcing/insourcing is little more than the extension of 500+ years of colonialism and genocide in a new garb.  The real difference this time is that capital no longer feels the need to allow the sort of “trickle down” in the First World that created the middle class and the labour aristocracy during the post-World War II period.


In fact, to the degree that there has been any convergence between the First World and the Third World in the wake of the 2008 recession, it has been in the growth of labour insecurity and poverty in the First World.  For example, in April 2015, the U.S. Government Accountability Office estimated that 40.4% of people employed were working in what it quaintly referred to as “alternative work arrangements,”[53] which it’s proponents refer to as “the sharing economy” where people become “micro-entrepreneurs,” or my personal favourite formulation, “CEOs of their own businesses.”[54] In common parlance it is referred to as the “gig economy” – but let’s just call a spade a spade here; people are increasingly dependent for their survival on shit jobs.  So pervasive have these shit jobs become that “90 million Americans, 44 percent of all US adults, have either offered their services through online brokers or been a customer of someone who has.”[55]

Micro-entrepreneur, gig economy, even shit job makes it sound like your mowing Mrs. Smith’s lawn or delivering flyers door-to-door, and indeed you might be doing either of those things, but what we’re talk about here is a new industry garnering hundreds of millions of dollars in seed funding.  An overview of some of the better-known start-ups will give you an idea.

Fiverr ($31 million in funding)

Airbnb (more than $300 million in funding)

Getaround and RelayRides ($19 million and $18 million in funding, respectively)

ParkatmyHouse (undisclosed seed funding)

Snapgoods (undisclosed seed funding)

Rentstuff ($835,000 in funding)

TaskRabbit ($37.8 million in funding)

Zirtual ($2 million in funding)

Skillshare ($9.7 million in funding)

Kitchensurfing ($3.7 million in funding)

DogVacay ($22 million in funding)

Exec (more than $3 million in funding)

WunWun (undisclosed seed funding)

Postmates ($22 million in funding)

FancyHands ($1 million in funding)

ChaCha ($83.5 million in funding)[56]

With billions of dollars in potential profit on the line, we’re talking about an app-driven revolution[57] in the way work is done.

A recent paper by economists Lawrence F. Katz and Alan B. Krueger indicates that “all of the net employment growth in the U.S. economy from 2005 to 2015 appears to have occurred in alternative work arrangements.”  Drawing upon the Current Population Survey they conclude:

Total employment … increased by 9.1 million (6.5 percent) over the decade, from 140.4 million in February 2005 to 149.4 in November 2015.  The increase in the share of workers in alternative work arrangements from 10.1 percent in 2005 to 15.8 percent in 2015 implies that the number of workers employed in alternative arrangement increased by 9.4 million (66.5 percent), from 14.2 million in February 2005 to 23.6 million in November 2015.  Thus, these figures imply that employment in traditional jobs (standard employment arrangements) slightly declined by 0.4 million (0.3 percent) from 126.2 million in February 2005 to 125.8 million in November 2015.[58]

Their report indicates that as workers age, they are more likely to find themselves pushed into this sort of marginalized labour.  “6.4 percent of those aged 16 to 24 were employed in an alternative work arrangement in 2015, while 14.3 percent of those aged 25-54 and 23.9 percent of those aged 55-74 were employed in an alternative work arrangement.”  Along with aging workers, women are finding themselves disproportionately shunted into this sort of shit work.  “From 2005 to 2015, the percentage of women who were employed in an alternative work arrangement more than doubled, rising from 8.3 percent to 17.0 percent.”[59]  Comparatively, the increase for men was “from 11.6 percent to 14.7 percent.” Of equal interest is the fact that the rise of “alternative work arrangements” affects workers in all educational categories, with particularly large increases occurring in “computer and mathematical, community and social services, education, health care, legal, protective services, personal care, and transportation jobs,” [60] meaning that “workers with attributes and jobs that are associated with higher wages are more likely to have their services contracted out than are those with attributes and jobs that are associated with lower wages.”  In fact there was no detectable increase in contract work for those lowest wage category.[61]  The implications are obvious.  Even those workers who could once have imagined themselves securely employed as they worked their way toward a liveable retirement will increasingly find themselves competing for short-term work for declining pay, with a growing number of them downspiraling into poverty.

The degree to which this is the case can be seen in two parallel but related developments.  “Workers holding multiple jobs has more than quadrupled over the past 10 years, from 7.3 percent in 2005 to 32 percent in 2015,” with “2014 (becoming) the first year studied by Pew in which median spending on … basic necessities (such as food and transportation) surpassed median income.”[62]  This is a situation that can only get worse.  The reality of these shit jobs is that the workers involved also have to absorb all of expenses related to their jobs, meaning that “After deducting all their expenses, some gig workers may find they’re earning minimum wage – or less.”[63]

The “gig economy” has, however, evolved into something more than cocky young app-driven upstarts muscling established businesses out of the way.  Seeing the writing on the wall and hearing the clang of cash registers in the distance, more established companies are dumping their regularly employed workers and hiring “a lot more freelancers and independent contractors (1099[64] workers), cutting their labor costs by 30 percent because they don’t provide any safety net for these workers (health care, Social Security, Medicare, unemployment and injured workers compensation, retirement or paid sick leave and vacations and more).”  To take just one example, “Merck sold its factory in Philadelphia and the new owner fired all 400 Merck employees and rehired them as independent contractors (1099 workers). That company then contracted with Merck to make the same antibiotics as before.”[65]  Isn’t human ingenuity grand!

Don’t misunderstand, this doesn’t mean that traditional shit jobs have disappeared.  In fact, they’ve gotten shittier.  Let’s take the example of Peter van Buren, a former United States Foreign Service employee who found himself at odds with government policy in Iraq, and during his resultant unemployment explored the world of the retail shit job.[66]  Van Buren does not identify the retailer, but tells us that to get his minimum wage job he needed two employment references, had to undergo a criminal background check and had to pass an in-house exam twice.  His conclusion was that “anyone without some education, good English, a decent work history, and a clean record wouldn’t even qualify for minimum-wage money at this chain.”[67]

The working conditions were predictably egregious.  An employee working six hours only got a fifteen-minute break.  Exceeding six hours got you a forty-five-minute break, but only fifteen minutes of that were paid.  Employees’ schedules were changed constantly, making it impossible to plan a social of family life.  The latter fact places a particular strain on single-parent families, as single parents make up 29% of low-wage workers.  This whole situation is further complicated by the fact that many low-wage workers have several jobs with similarly unpredictable schedules.  The need to juggle two or three jobs is the direct result of employers seeking to avoid any expenses related to their employees.  Whereas several years ago a vast majority of minimum wage jobs were capped at thirty-nine hours, so that employers could avoid paying the employee benefits that would kick in at forty hours, since Obamacare now obliges any company to make medical contributions if they have fifty or more employees working thirty or more hours per week, most minimum wage jobs are capped at twenty-nine hours.  Van Buren concludes:

(I)f a minimum wage worker in New York manages to work two jobs (to reach 40 hours a week) without missing any days due to illness, his or her yearly salary would be $18,720.  In other words, it would fall well below the Federal Poverty Line of $21,775.  That’s food stamp territory.  To get above the poverty line with a 40-hour week, the minimum wage would need to go above $10.  At 29 hours a week, it would need to make it to $15 an hour.[68]

It should come as no surprise that women and non-whites are more likely to find themselves in traditional retail shit jobs.  For example, at “big-box stores such as Target and Wal-Mart – women hold more than 80 percent of cashier jobs, the lowest-paid position.  And in the food and beverage industry, women make up approximately half of the workforce but less than a fifth of managers.”  Meanwhile, “In home and garden stores like Home Depot and Lowes, for example, employees of color account for 24 percent of the total workforce – but 36 percent of jobs that pay least.”[69]

Really scraping the bottom of the barrel of traditional shit work is the restaurant worker.  April 1, 2016 marked twenty-five years that the federal minimum wage for tipped work has been stuck at $2.13 an hour.  Twenty states adhere strictly the federal minimum wage for tipped employees, while other states range from $2.33 in Wisconsin to $10.00 in California.  Only eighteen states have a tipped minimum wage that exceeds $5.00, and in the case of Florida, that is only by 3¢.[70]  In a situation where restaurant work accounts for seven out of ten of the lowest paid jobs in U.S., a total of 11 million, “servers are twice as likely to need food stamps than the rest of the US workforce, and three times as likely to live in poverty.”  Again we find the gender and racial skewing; “70 percent of tipped restaurant workers are women” and “42 percent … are people of color.”  The gender skewing in particular has troublesome secondary implications:

(W)orkers in states that pay the lowest possible tipped wage of $2.13 per hour experience harassment at twice the rate of their counterparts.  Conversely, tipped women workers in states that have eliminated the subminimum wage are less likely to experience sexual harassment.  The tipped minimum wage, combined with the practice of tipping, forces women servers to tolerate inappropriate behavior from customers, coworkers and managers in order to survive.[71]

In Canada, tipped workers find themselves in a much better situation.  While some provinces set a minimum wage for tipped employees that is lower than the standard minimum wage of $10.45 an hour, in no case is it below $9.00 an hour.[72]  Working women in Canada are doing better than their sisters to the south, but they are still disproportionately represented in minimum wage jobs.  They make up approximately 50% of the labour force, but 60% of minimum wage workers.[73]  Interestingly, while both the Statistics Canada and the Canadian Labour Congress material I looked at provided a breakdown by gender and age, they did not address race.


What all this adds up to is up to is runaway poverty.  The United States Social Security Administration reports that “over half of Americans make less than $30,000 per year.”  While the Alliance for a Just Society found that “there are 7 job seekers for every job opening that pays enough ($15/hr) for a single adult to make ends meet.”  A Go Banking Rates study established that “nearly 50 percent of Americans have no savings.”  In fact, “Over 70 percent of (Americans) have less than $1,000.”  Meanwhile, Pew Research reports that “nearly half of American households (are) spending more than they earn.”  Perhaps most unsettling, the “Wall Street Journal recently reported on a JP Morgan study’s conclusion that ‘the bottom 80% of households by income lack sufficient savings to cover the type of volatility observed in income and spending.’”[74]

What this reflects is the fact that the so-called post-2008 recession recovery has not really been a recovery for working people.  “Jobs gained since the recession are paying 23 percent less than jobs lost.  Low-wage jobs (under $14 per hour) made up just 1/5 of the jobs lost to the recession, but accounted for nearly 3/5 of the jobs regained in the first three years of the recovery.”  With the net result that “Between 2007 and 2013 median wealth dropped a shocking 40 percent, leaving the poorest half with debt-driven negative wealth.”[75]

Poverty inevitably translates into hunger, and the reality is that “more people go hungry in the U.S. than do in Poland and the Slovak Republic. … And hunger is much less widespread in the poverty-stricken nations of India and Brazil.”[76]  Hunger particularly impacts children, who are the poorest age group in the U.S.[77]  From 2007 to 2014, the number of children on food stamps in the U.S. has increased from 9.5 million to 16 million, or twenty out of 100 children.  It’s also worth noting that in January 2015, 138,000 of children were homeless.  All of this at the same time as U.S. wealth grew by $30 trillion.[78]

Inevitably, there are health consequences to these levels of undernourishment.  California hospitals, for example, report a systematic end-of-the-month uptick of 27% in admissions for hypoglycemia that is entirely driven by poor people.  Others do not show up in greater numbers.  A study conducted linked this upsurge to people running out of food stamps.  Research collected by the White House Council of Economic Advisors found that along with an increase in hospital admissions, there was a decrease in student test score and an increase in misbehavior at the end of the month among children reliant on food stamps.[79]  Perhaps most distressing, “children in poverty have lower I.Q. scores than their wealthier peers.  Recent research has made it clear that just the stress of growing up in a poor family can be toxic to the growing brain.”[80]

As well as these short-term, periodic effects, there are unavoidable long-term impacts to systematic undernourishment, as well.  It’s become somewhat of a cliché to comment on the soaring levels of obesity in the U.S., and the First World in general, often accompanied by some off-the-cuff remark about the shit “those people” eat.  We’ve all heard it and most of us have probably said it:  “I was behind this obese women at Safeways and you wouldn’t believe the crap her shopping cart was full of.”  It’s true and that’s to no small degree because, for example, “$1 can purchase 1,200 calories of potato chips or 875 calories of soda, but just 250 calories of vegetables or 170 calories of fresh fruit.”[81]  However, it ends up that it’s even more complex that that.  In a series of increasingly complex experiments, Texas University psychology professor Sarah Hill and her colleagues “found that people who grow up poor seem to have a significantly harder time regulating their food intake, even when they aren’t hungry.”  They determined that being calorie-deprived as a youth triggers biological changes that makes it hard to resist food even when you’re not hungry.[82]

The bottom line is that the country that boasts the most sophisticated medical system in the world (but the worst health outcomes in the developed world)[83] has seen a widening gap in lifespan between the wealthy and the poor.  “Economists at the Brookings Institution found that for men born in 1920, there was a six-year difference in life expectancy between the top 10 percent of earners and the bottom 10 percent. For men born in 1950, that difference had more than doubled, to 14 years,” and for women, “the gap grew to 13 years, from 4.7 years.”  Put another way, “life expectancy for the bottom 10 percent of wage earners improved by just 3 percent for men born in 1950 compared with those born in 1920. For the top 10 percent, though, it jumped by about 28 percent.”  Not surprisingly, “researchers believe the gap in life spans from lower- to upper-income Americans started widening about 40 years ago, when income inequality began to grow.”  Comparatively:

Consider Canada, where men in the poorest urban neighborhoods experienced the biggest declines in mortality from heart disease from 1971 to 1996, according to a 2002 study. Over all, the gap in life expectancy at birth between income groups declined in Canada during that period. And a study comparing cancer survival rates found that low-income residents of Toronto had greater survival rates than their counterparts in Detroit. There was no difference for middle- and high-income residents in the two cities.[84]

Nonetheless, when last rating the world’s health care systems in 2000, the World Health Organization rated Canada thirtieth among 190 countries, behind most First World countries and a fair number of Third World countries.[85]  Given the speed with which Canada’s medial system has been dismantled and privatized in recent years, it might well warrant an even lower rating at this point.

While Canada is in most ways doing better than the U.S., the situation is nothing to be proud of.  In 2013, 833,000 people used food banks, a third of them children. 12% of households using food banks had employment income, while an additional 5% were only recently unemployed.  11% were native people, and an additional 11% were recent immigrants.[86]  These latter figures are shockingly high when you consider that Native people make up only 4.3% of the population and foreign-born Canadian citizens make up 20.6% of the population.[87]  The figure for Native people speaks of a relationship that can only be called ongoingly genocidal.

The conclusion seems obvious, in spite of substantially increased productivity, the growing income gap is pushing greater numbers of people into marginality and poverty in the First World, as capitalism’s neoliberal age quite literally destroys lives and kills people.

[1] Ludwig von Mises, Liberalism:  In The Classical Tradition (Irvington-on-Hudson, New York:  The Foundation for Economic Education, Inc./San Francisco:  Cobden Press, 1985), 80.[2]Unemployment on the rise over next five years as inequality persists (International Labour Organization, Geneva, January 20, 2015), accessed at:  http://www.ilo.org/global/about-the-ilo/newsroom/news/WCMS_336884/lang–en/index.htm

[3] The World Bank defines “vulnerable employment” as “unpaid family workers and own-account workers,” see:  http://data.worldbank.org/indicator/SL.EMP.VULN.ZS

[4] Unemployment on the rise over next five years as inequality persistsaccessed at:  http://www.ilo.org/global/about-the-ilo/newsroom/news/WCMS_336884/lang–en/index.htm[5] This translated into 8.7 million officially unemployed, see:  Ana Swanson, “What If America’s Unemployment Rate Is Really Wrong?”, Forbes (March 31, 2015), accessed at:  http://www.forbes.com/sites/anaswanson/2015/03/31/what-if-americas-unemployment-rate-is-really-wrong/#65f274392d9a

[6] Valerie Wilson, “The One Unemployment Statistic You Need to Know to Understand How Badly the Deck Is Stacked Against Black America,” Alternet (February 18, 2016), accessed at:  http://www.alternet.org/print/economy/one-unemployment-statistic-you-need-know-understand-how-badly-deck-stacked-against-black[7]Katherine Peralta, “Native Americans Left Behind in the Economic Recovery,” U.S. News (November 27, 2014), accessed at:  http://www.usnews.com/news/articles/2014/11/27/native-americans-left-behind-in-the-economic-recovery

[8] David G. Blanchflower and Andrew T. Levin, Labor Market Slack and Monetary Policy (Washington, DC:  Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, March 24, 2015), 4

[9] Blanchflower and Levin, Labor Market Slack and Monetary Policy, 2.

[10] Blanchflower and Levin, Labor Market Slack and Monetary Policy, 4.

[11] Blanchflower and Levin, Labor Market Slack and Monetary Policy, 11.

[12] Blanchflower and Levin, Labor Market Slack and Monetary Policy, 12.

[13] Blanchflower and Levin, Labor Market Slack and Monetary Policy, 15.[14]Daniel Tencer, “Canada’s Unemployment Rate Rises To 7.2% – Largest Gap With U.S. Rate In 14 Years,” Huffington Post Canada (February 5, 2016), accessed at:  http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2016/02/05/unemployment-canada-january-2016_n_9166884.html[15] Jeff Cox, “US created 151K jobs in Jan; unemployment rate at 4.9%,” CNBC (February 5, 2016), accessed at:  http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2016/02/05/unemployment-canada-january-2016_n_9166884.html

[16] Cox, accessed at:  http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2016/02/05/unemployment-canada-january-2016_n_9166884.html

[17] Underemployment is Canada’s Real Labour Market Challenge (Ottawa:  Canadian Labour Congress, March 2014), 3

[18] Jim Tankersley, “The devalued American worker,” The Washington Post (December 14, 2014), accessed at:http://www.washingtonpost.com/sf/business/2014/12/14/the-devalued-american-worker/

[19] Jim Tankersley, “Why America’s middle class is lost,”The Washington Post (December 14, 2014), accessed at:http://www.washingtonpost.com/sf/business/2014/12/12/why-americas-middle-class-is-lost/

[20] Irfan ul Haque, Globalization, Neoliberalism and Labour, (New York:  United Nations Publications, 2004), 7

[21] Tankersley, “Why America’s middle class is lost,” accessed at:http://www.washingtonpost.com/sf/business/2014/12/12/why-americas-middle-class-is-lost/

[22] Jim Takersley, “Fixing the broken talent flow,” The Washington Post (December 19, 2014), accessed at:  http://www.washingtonpost.com/sf/business/2014/12/19/fixing-the-broken-talent-flow/

[23] Nick Hanauer, “The Capitalist’s Case for a $15 Minimum Wage,” Bloomberg View (June 19, 2013), accessed at:http://www.bloombergview.com/articles/2013-06-19/the-capitalist-s-case-for-a-15-minimum-wage

[24] Ifran ul Haque, Globalization, Neoliberalism and Labour, 8

[25] Nick Hanauer, “The Pitchforks Are Coming … For Us Plutocrats,” Politico Magazine (July/August 2014), accessed at:  http://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2014/06/the-pitchforks-are-coming-for-us-plutocrats-108014_full.html?print#.VLSM494_nds

[26] Hanauer, “The Capitalist’s Case for a $15 Minimum Wage,” accessed at:http://www.bloombergview.com/articles/2013-06-19/the-capitalist-s-case-for-a-15-minimum-wage

[27] It is worth noting that Peter van Buren estimates that the $15 minimum wage would raise the price of a Big Mac by 17¢, see:  Peter Van Buren, “Nickel and Dimed in 2016:  You Can’t Earn a Living on the Minimum Wage,” Truthout (February 16, 2016), accessed at: http://www.truth-out.org/opinion/item/34845-nickel-and-dimed-in-2016-you-can-t-earn-a-living-on-the-minimum-wage

[28] Hanauer, “The Pitchforks Are Coming … For Us Plutocrats,” accessed at:  http://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2014/06/the-pitchforks-are-coming-for-us-plutocrats-108014_full.html?print#.VLSM494_nds

[29] Hanauer, “The Capitalist’s Case for a $15 Minimum Wage,” accessed at:http://www.bloombergview.com/articles/2013-06-19/the-capitalist-s-case-for-a-15-minimum-wage

[30] Hanauer, “The Pitchforks Are Coming … For Us Plutocrats,” accessed at:  http://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2014/06/the-pitchforks-are-coming-for-us-plutocrats-108014_full.html?print#.VLSM494_nds

[31] Lydia DePillis, “The $15 minimum wage sweeping the nation might kill jobs – and that’s okay,” The Washington Post (April 1, 2016), accessed at:  https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2016/04/01/the-15-minimum-wage-sweeping-the-nation-might-kill-jobs-and-thats-okay/?wpmm=1&wpisrc=nl_headlines

[32] Hanauer, “The Pitchforks Are Coming … For Us Plutocrats,” accessed at:  http://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2014/06/the-pitchforks-are-coming-for-us-plutocrats-108014_full.html?print#.VLSM494_nds

[33] Government of Canada, Current and Forthcoming Minimum Hourly Wage Rats for Experienced Adult Workers in Canada (March 1, 2016), accessed at:  http://srv116.services.gc.ca/dimt-wid/sm-mw/rpt1.aspx

[34] Stephen McBride and Heather Whiteside, “Austerity for Whom?” Socialist Studies/Études socialistes 7(1/2) (Spring/Fall 2011), p. 53.

[35] AFL-CIO, “NAFTA Made Outsourcing Easy,” accessed at:  http://www.aflcio.org/Issues/Trade/NAFTA/NAFTA-Made-Outsourcing-Easy

[36] By U.S. multinationals, I mean multinationals housed in the U.S.  These multinationals have no national allegiance, hence the “multi.”

[37] Alex Lach, “5 facts About Overseas Outsourcing,” Center for American Progress (July 9, 2012), accessed at:  https://www.americanprogress.org/issues/labor/news/2012/07/09/11898/5-facts-about-overseas-outsourcing/[38] Dan Ikenson, “Outsourcing for Dummies (Including the Willfully Ignorant),” Forbes (July 11, 2012), accessed at:  http://www.forbes.com/sites/danikenson/2012/07/11/outsourcing-for-dummies-including-the-willfully-ignorant/#5dd8849f6821

[39] Nicki Lisa Cole, “Apple’s Supply-Chain Workers May Be Risking Cancer to Build Your iPhone,” Truthout (October 23, 2015), accessed at:  http://www.truth-out.org/news/item/33354-apple-s-supply-chain-workers-may-be-risking-cancer-to-build-your-iphone

[40] Cole, “Apple’s Supply-Chain Workers May Be Risking Cancer to Build Your iPhone,” accessed at:  http://www.truth-out.org/news/item/33354-apple-s-supply-chain-workers-may-be-risking-cancer-to-build-your-iphone

[41] Cole, “Apple’s Supply-Chain Workers May Be Risking Cancer to Build Your iPhone,” accessed at:  http://www.truth-out.org/news/item/33354-apple-s-supply-chain-workers-may-be-risking-cancer-to-build-your-iphone

[42] Cole, “Apple’s Supply-Chain Workers May Be Risking Cancer to Build Your iPhone,” accessed at:  http://www.truth-out.org/news/item/33354-apple-s-supply-chain-workers-may-be-risking-cancer-to-build-your-iphone

[43] Bruce Livesay, “Gildan workers in Haiti, Honduras complain of harassment, pay too meagre to live on,”Globe & Mail (November 27, 2014), accessed at:  http://www.theglobeandmail.com/report-on-business/rob-magazine/do-you-know-where-your-t-shirt-came-from/article21818609/

[44] Livesay, “Gildan workers in Haiti, Honduras complain of harassment, pay too meagre to live on,”accessed at:  http://www.theglobeandmail.com/report-on-business/rob-magazine/do-you-know-where-your-t-shirt-came-from/article21818609/

[45] Livesay, “Gildan workers in Haiti, Honduras complain of harassment, pay too meagre to live on,”accessed at:  http://www.theglobeandmail.com/report-on-business/rob-magazine/do-you-know-where-your-t-shirt-came-from/article21818609/

[46] Livesay, “Gildan workers in Haiti, Honduras complain of harassment, pay too meagre to live on,”accessed at:  http://www.theglobeandmail.com/report-on-business/rob-magazine/do-you-know-where-your-t-shirt-came-from/article21818609/

[47] Associated Press, “Haiti:  Minimum Wage Increases,” New York Times (May 6, 2014), accessed at:  http://www.nytimes.com/2014/05/06/world/americas/haiti-minimum-wage-increases.html?_r=0

[48] Livesay, “Gildan workers in Haiti, Honduras complain of harassment, pay too meagre to live on,”accessed at:  http://www.theglobeandmail.com/report-on-business/rob-magazine/do-you-know-where-your-t-shirt-came-from/article21818609/

[49] Suzanne Daley, “Guatemalan Women’s Claims Put Focus on Canadian Firms’ Conduct Abroad,” New York Times (April 2, 2016), accessed at:  http://www.nytimes.com/2016/04/03/world/americas/guatemalan-womens-claims-put-focus-on-canadian-firms-conduct-abroad.html?emc=edit_th_20160403&nl=todaysheadlines&nlid=73364733&_r=0

[50] Daley, “Guatemalan Women’s Claims Put Focus on Canadian Firms’ Conduct Abroad,” accessed at:  http://www.nytimes.com/2016/04/03/world/americas/guatemalan-womens-claims-put-focus-on-canadian-firms-conduct-abroad.html?emc=edit_th_20160403&nl=todaysheadlines&nlid=73364733&_r=0

[51] Daley, “Guatemalan Women’s Claims Put Focus on Canadian Firms’ Conduct Abroad,” accessed at:  http://www.nytimes.com/2016/04/03/world/americas/guatemalan-womens-claims-put-focus-on-canadian-firms-conduct-abroad.html?emc=edit_th_20160403&nl=todaysheadlines&nlid=73364733&_r=0

[52] Stephanie Hanes, “Modern slavery: Labor trafficking is everywhere and nowhere,” Christian Science Monitor (October 26, 2015), accessed at:  http://www.csmonitor.com/World/2015/1026/Modern-slavery-Labor-trafficking-is-everywhere-and-nowhere?cmpid=MKT

[53] Mike Whitney, “The “Gig Economy”; Another Vicious Attack on Ordinary Working Slobs,” Counterpunch (April 6, 2016), accessed at:http://www.counterpunch.org/2016/04/06/the-gig-economy-another-vicious-attack-on-ordinary-working-slobs/

[54] Sarah Kessler, “Pixel & Dimed,” Fast Company (May 2014), accessed at:  http://www.fastcompany.com/3027355/pixel-and-dimed-on-not-getting-by-in-the-gig-economy

[55] Editorial Board, “The ‘gig economy’,” Christian Science Monitor (January 8, 2016),

accessed at:  http://www.csmonitor.com/layout/set/print/Commentary/the-monitors-view/2016/0108/The-gig-economy

[56] Kessler, “Pixel & Dimed,” Fast Company (May 2014), accessed at:  http://www.fastcompany.com/3027355/pixel-and-dimed-on-not-getting-by-in-the-gig-economy

[57] Here I use the word revolution in much the way one might describe the Nazi takeover of Germany as a revolution.

[58] Lawrence F. Katz and Alan B. Krueger, The Rise and Nature of Alternative Work Arrangements in the United States, 1995-2015 (March 29, 2016), 7-8.

[59] In fact, “Women now comprise nearly half the workforce and two-thirds of the low-wage workforce,” see:  Sarah Jaffe, “Feel Trapped in Your Job?  That’s Because You Are,” Truthout (February 17, 2015), accessed at:http://www.truth-out.org/news/item/29138-feel-trapped-in-your-job-that-s-because-you-are; This is the case throughout the world, see:  Oxfam America, 210 Oxfam Briefing Paper:  An Economy for the 1% (Oxford:  Oxfam GB, 2016), 13-14.

[60] Katz and Krueger, The Rise and Nature of Alternative Work Arrangements in the United States, 12-13

[61] Katz and Krueger, The Rise and Nature of Alternative Work Arrangements in the United States, 15.[62] Barry Grey, “The social crisis and the US elections,” World Socialist Web Site (April 2, 2016), accessed at:  https://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2016/04/02/pers-a02.html

[63] Editorial Board, “The ‘gig economy’,” accessed at:  http://www.csmonitor.com/layout/set/print/Commentary/the-monitors-view/2016/0108/The-gig-economy

[64] 1099 is a reference to the number of the tax form used by independent contractors in the United States.

[65] Mark Karlin, “Runaway Capitalism Is Crushing American Workers,” Truthout (December 27, 2015), accessed at:http://www.truth-out.org/progressivepicks/item/34181-runaway-capitalism-is-crushing-american-workers

[66] “(T)he retail industry today provides one in ten private-sector jobs in the US, a number set to grow in the next decade,” see:  Carrie Gleason, “Retail Means Jobs, but Those Jobs Shouldn’t Mean Poverty,” Truthout (February 16, 2016), accessed at:  http://www.truth-out.org/opinion/item/34844-retail-means-jobs-but-those-jobs-shouldn-t-mean-poverty

[67] Van Buren, “Nickel and Dimed in 2016,” accessed at: http://www.truth-out.org/opinion/item/34845-nickel-and-dimed-in-2016-you-can-t-earn-a-living-on-the-minimum-wage

[68] Van Buren, “Nickel and Dimed in 2016,” accessed at: http://www.truth-out.org/opinion/item/34845-nickel-and-dimed-in-2016-you-can-t-earn-a-living-on-the-minimum-wage

[69] Gleason, “Retail Means Jobs, but Those Jobs Shouldn’t Mean Poverty,” accessed at:  http://www.truth-out.org/opinion/item/34844-retail-means-jobs-but-those-jobs-shouldn-t-mean-poverty

[70] United States Department of Labor, Minimum Wages for Tipped Employees (January 1, 2016), accessed at:  http://www.dol.gov/whd/state/tipped.htm

[71] Saru Jayaraman, “It’s Been 25 Years Since Restaurant Workers Got a Raise,” (April 4, 2016), accessed at:http://www.truth-out.org/news/item/35482-it-s-been-25-years-since-restaurant-workers-got-a-raise

[72] “Payroll Legislation,” Payworks (2016), accessed at:  http://www.payworks.ca/payroll-legislation/MinimumWage.asp

[73] Canadian Labour Congress, Research Paper #54:  The Minimum Wage in Canada (April 2015), 4.

[74] Paul Buchheit, “Half of America Is in or Damn Near Close to Living in Poverty,” Alternet (December 14, 2015), accessed at:  http://www.alternet.org/economy/half-america-or-damn-near-close-living-poverty?akid=13772.7338.uUKDLS&rd=1&src=newsletter1047347&t=8

[75] Buchheit, “Half of America Is in or Damn Near Close to Living in Poverty,” accessed at:  http://www.alternet.org/economy/half-america-or-damn-near-close-living-poverty?akid=13772.7338.uUKDLS&rd=1&src=newsletter1047347&t=8

[76] Ben Norton, “Myth of the Middle Class: Most Americans Don’t Even Have $1,000 in Savings,” Alternet (January 14, 2015), accessed at:http://www.alternet.org/print/economy/myth-middle-class-most-americans-dont-even-have-1000-savings

[77] Jeff Madrick, “Handouts Are Often Better Than a Hand Up,” New York Times (April 7, 2016), accessed at:  http://www.nytimes.com/2016/04/07/opinion/handouts-are-often-better-than-a-hand-up.html?emc=edit_th_20160407&nl=todaysheadlines&nlid=73364733&_r=0

[78] Paul Buchheit, “Four Numbers That Show the Beating Down of the Middle Class,” Truthout (March 16, 2015), accessed at:  http://www.truth-out.org/buzzflash/commentary/four-numbers-that-show-the-beating-down-of-middle-america

[79] Emily Badger, “What happens when a family runs out of food stamps,” The Washington Post (December 9, 2015), accessed at:  https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2015/12/09/what-happens-when-a-family-runs-out-of-food-stamps/?tid=a_inl

[80] Madrick, “Handouts Are Often Better Than a Hand Up,” accessed at:  http://www.nytimes.com/2016/04/07/opinion/handouts-are-often-better-than-a-hand-up.html?emc=edit_th_20160407&nl=todaysheadlines&nlid=73364733&_r=0

[81] Anthony DiMaggio, “A Citizen’s Guide to Combating Election Propaganda: Debunking Anti-Welfare Myths,” Counterpunch (March 9, 2016), accessed at:  http://www.counterpunch.org/2016/03/09/a-citizens-guide-to-combating-election-propaganda-debunking-anti-welfare-myths/

[82] Robert A. Ferdman, “The crippling thing about growing up poor that stays with you forever,” The Washington Post (February 12, 2016), accessed at:https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2016/02/12/the-crippling-thing-about-growing-up-poor-that-stays-with-you-forever/?tid=a_inl[83] Melissa Hellman, “The U.S. ranks worst among 11 wealthy nations in terms of ‘efficiency, equity and outcomes’ despite having the world’s most expensive health care system,” Time (June 17, 2014), accessed at:  http://time.com/2888403/u-s-health-care-ranked-worst-in-the-developed-world/

[84] Sabrina Tavernise, “Disparity in Life Spans of the Rich and the Poor Is Growing,” New York Times (February 12, 2016), accessed at:  http://www.nytimes.com/2016/02/13/health/disparity-in-life-spans-of-the-rich-and-the-poor-is-growing.html[85] “World Health Organization’s Ranking of the World’s Health Systems,” The Patient Factor, accessed at:  http://thepatientfactor.com/canadian-health-care-information/world-health-organizations-ranking-of-the-worlds-health-systems/

[86] Lee-Anne Goodman, “Food Banks In Canada Feed 800,000; Near Recession Highs,” Huffpost Politics Canada, accessed at:  http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2013/11/05/food-banks-canada_n_4216395.html?utm_hp_ref=canada-politics&ir=Canada+Politics[87] The Canadian Press, “Canada’s foreign-born population soars to 6.8 million,” CBC News, accessed at:  http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/canada-s-foreign-born-population-soars-to-6-8-million-1.1308179

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