Where do billionaires come from?
... And other book club content about class-struggle.
You go to work for fifty years of your only life, give up freedom for most of your day, produce a bunch of value with your other workers, get a survival wage if you’re lucky, then your boss and shareholders keep the rest of what *YOU* made.
And we’re all… just fine with that system??
I’m reading a book. And I’m going to make TikToks about it. It’s Class Struggle Unionism by Joe Burns and it’s about how we’re long overdue for a new mass working-class movement in America.
Chapter One: Shop Floor Economics.
The book starts by defining the working class. There are those who have to sell their labor to survive and those who get rich from owning the labor of others. The first is the working class, the second the owning class.
Maybe you don’t think of yourself as working class, but if most of your money comes from your labor, then what else are you?
But the most ridiculous fact that we don’t think about is that the owning class makes money by simply… owning. They sit around, own things, and get the money that working people create because they *own* the right to do that.
That’s the central point of this chapter. What gives anyone the right to own the value that others produce? *You* are supposed to enjoy the fruits of your labor. But in our system right now, the bosses and billionaires are winning big. Three men own more wealth than half the country right now. The average net worth of the Forbes 400 wealthiest Americans is $8 billion dollars.
For perspective, if you spent $10,000 every day, it would take you 274 years to spend a single billion, and 61,376 years spending 10k each day to equal the net worth of a single man, Elon Musk.
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How does that happen? How can one person accumulate even one billion dollars let alone *hundreds* of billions?
It is not possible without taking the wealth that hundreds of thousands of people make for you because you own what they produce.
And that dynamic is how our entire economy is run.
Look at the biggest employers. Walmart, Dollar General, Amazon, the fast-food brands, box stores, and every corporate chain. You create a pile of money, get insulting wages, and the rest is handed out to owners and shareholders that did none of the work. Maybe you voted for Trump, maybe Biden, maybe you’re not political - but we are all in that system.
Class struggle is about controlling the wealth that you create. If most of your money comes from selling your labor, then you’re in a boat with more than 100 million Americans. But they don’t want you to realize that, because that’s power.