The Company Store – Leaves Almost Nothing to Live On
The comments below are an edited and abridged synopsis of an article by Chris Martenson
In the song “Sixteen Tons,” the idea of the company store referred to a system of debt bondage that trapped workers within an unfair system designed to harvest their labour at very low cost.
Workers weren’t paid cash; they were paid with non-transferable credit vouchers that could be exchanged only for goods sold at the company store, making it impossible for workers to store up cash savings.
This model was simple to understand: Pay your workers with vouchers, then sell them your marked-up goods at the company store, making a nice profit.
The workers were in perpetual service to their employer, and this unfairness led to the formation of unions, as well as to regulations providing protection to the workers.
But capital never sleeps. The temptation to skim and take what they can for themselves is a constant in every hierarchical, post-agricultural society.
Run the company store scam long enough and one day the banks and their proxy agents—private equity funds, hedge funds, endowments, family offices, etc.—will own all of the productive farmland, all of the mines, all of the oil wells, all of the timberland, and every other means of primary wealth production.
Up for discussion: the financialization of the company store; farmageddon (how it works against farmers); the scam (take as much as you can, but leave the host somewhat alive); the abuse is widespread (commodities that suffer the same abuse); and the bitter conclusion.