The Silent Exodus Nobody Sees: Leaving Work Forever
The comments below are an edited and abridged synopsis of an article by Charles Hugh Smith
The exodus from work that will unravel America’s economic and social orders is getting zero attention. Like the exodus from troubled urban cores, the exodus from work has long-term, complex causes that the pandemic has accelerated.
Shareholder value was the super-wealthy’s justification for unlimited greed as corporations became financialization machines whose sole purpose was enriching insiders.
Financialization of shareholder value put all gains into the hands of those at the top at the expense of the many. The top 0.1% have enjoyed income gains of around 350% since 1979, while the bottom 90% barely topped 20%—a number that would be sharply negative if inflation were included.
These trends will drive both the top and bottom wage earners out of the workforce. The managerial class can either retire or use their human/financial capital to find other, less stressful, ways to make a living and downsize their expenses to match their reduced income.
To equal the purchasing power of the minimum wage earned in 1970 ($1.65/hour), the minimum wage would have to be almost $20 now. The CPI claims that a minimum wage of $12 now equals the purchasing power of $1.65 in 1970, but this is not true. Inflation calculation has been driven by the need to mask the collapse of the purchasing power of wages.
Once the workforce wakes up to this, the exodus will quicken. Permanent unemployment payments, Universal Basic Income, free Fed money; these will enable a mass exodus of those at the bottom of the pay scale, while burnout will decimate the ranks of essential managerial/skilled workers.
It’s payback time. Hey, financial aristocracy, clean your own floors and butcher your own meat. Hey, corrupt politicos, wipe your own tables and watch your own kids. The ‘take this job and shove it’ exodus is gathering momentum.