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Elm1969's avatar

What would happen if all the labour in the world refused to do the work of the rich?

Asked by Elm1969 (500 points ) June 21st, 2012

I am just wondering. If ALL of the labour force across the world just said no to working for someone else and on say 12/12/2012 decided not to work what would happen? How could we measure it and would the wealthy just carry on as normal? who would man the machines so to speak.

(I know this would never happen as there is always someone that would work in order to capitalise)

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13 Answers

JLeslie's avatar

I think labor needs to start doing this more in the US again, I have no idea about other countries. If we don’t do something to quell some of the extreme and unreasonable demands of employers in the country now, I fear more unions will form and there will be a major breakdown of more than just a day or two in the future. I would start with retail workers refusing to go into work before 7:00am on Black Friday morning if the store has typical opening hours at 10:00am. The new trend of opening midnight Black Friday morning is disgusting, abusive, and stupid to me. I am hoping the stores decided after trying it last year that it was not worth it, we’ll see.

marinelife's avatar

For one day? Nothing much would happen.

But why do you assume that everyone is doing the work of the rich? What about doctors, policemen, firefighters, EMTs, social workers, teachers?

bkcunningham's avatar

It is an odd question. No offense, @Elm1969. Everyone who works for someone else? That would mean everyone who works. I’m trying to think of a worker who doesn’t work for someone else and can’t come up with one. Maybe I’m missing something here. Even self-employed people work for a consumer in some way, shape or form. Right?

I mean seriously; you wouldn’t have anyone at the power plants, the water companies, the grocery stores, the hospitals, gas stations would be shutdown. Farmers would have the day off and crops would rot in the fields and cows wouldn’t get milked. Many tests in labs would fail if the scientists and researchers took the day off.

JLeslie's avatar

@bkcunningham Not all employers are rich. Some are doing daily business and working just as hard as their employees side by side. Many employers treat their employees as they would want to be treated in the same position. But then there are all too many who don’t. The greed is at epic proportions right now, there is a mood in the country of getting richer and richer at the expense of the wee people is a good thing, even Godly. The people abusing the situation, well, it is like the real estate bubble, eventually it will crash down and there will be a huge backlash, the backlash will suck as bad as what caused it in my opinion.

And, yes that is the point, things don’t get done, that is how a strike works. Severe disruption in production and public needs.

I do agree with @marinelife that one day won’t do much, there would have to be a threat of it being ongoing for it to really matter.

Paradox25's avatar

In the end wealthy people do depend upon the not so wealthy to not only obtain their wealth, but the protection of their profits as well. Obviously the wealthy would lose their wealth, assuming that what you’re implying would last for any decent length of time. Would this benefit most of us in the end? I don’t think that anarchism is the answer here.

Elm1969's avatar

I’m talking about the people with millions and billions not doctors that may earn a hundred thousand a year thats small change in regards to the 1% that need the labour to produce the wealth that I am talking about. Some individuals are Billionaires what if their work force decided to have a day off? That’s my point @bkcunningham if every one that is employed decided to not work what would happen? Would the world stop and become poor?

bkcunningham's avatar

So with 1,226 billionaires in the world, the other 7,021,433,124 people would take the day off. Is that what you are saying, @Elm1969?

JLeslie's avatar

FYI: in America I think the top 1% makes about $400k and up. A lot of those people are salaried employees.

Elm1969's avatar

Yes what would the outcome be @bkcunningham ? but not just a day maybe longer. I’m curious to find out if there is a way we could simulate it by using computers to calculate the result.

bkcunningham's avatar

I don’t think it would be the end of the world. Lots of food would spoil and rot. Some animals and people would die. Garbage would pile up. I imagine, if it went on for very long, people would riot and steal from stores for food and water.

Elm1969's avatar

I don’t think it would be the end of the world. Lots of food would spoil and rot. Some animals and people would die. Garbage would pile up. I imagine, if it went on for very long, people would riot and steal from stores for food and water.

It’s like that in some places around the world at the moment.

wundayatta's avatar

Hmmm. Let’s see. Where to start. No garbage pickup. No stores open. No one to fix your car. No schools. No police. No one to fix anything that breaks. No power. No refrigeration. No transportation. No planes, boats, public transit. Houses wouldn’t be built. Nor other buildings. No movies. No entertainment. No TV. No elevators.

Nuclear power plants might go down and melt down. There would be environmental disasters all over the place. The banks would be closed. No money. No economy. There would be riots, probably.

Do you get the picture?

We humans all depend on each other and it’s not because of the rich. It’s because we are all interdependent. The rich might get a little more excess value, but mostly it’s just numbers. They have yachts and houses, but the upkeep of those things gives people all kinds of jobs and money. Maybe not as much as if everyone had more to spend, but we can’t blame the rich for that. It’s human nature.

Arguably, we are all free at all times. Some people might be called slaves and some people might be killed if they refuse an order, but we can still choose death over following orders. Although it would be easier to subvert the order—work slowly. Make hidden mistakes. Create sabotage.

We are working towards a world where people have more choices. Where they can work for who they choose. It’s tougher in a bad economy, but the economy won’t always be bad. Also, there are many people in most of the not-as-developed world that have fewer choices, and until they get more choices, more developed folks won’t be able to do as well.

Those of us who use the internet are probably in the top ten percent of the economy of the world. Not the US or other more developed nations. Maybe top 75% of those nations, but in the world, internet users are currently, I would guess, to 10% wealth. We would be far worse off with a global strike, and probably would receive no benefit from it.

But we all benefit when everyone works. We may not share that benefit equally with billionaires, but we get a greater share of it than most in the world. A rising tide raises all boats. We are more likely to find ourselves climbing aboard a yacht when the tide rises that we might be if the tide is going out. And heaven forbid there is an earthquake somewhere in the ocean. Remember Aceh!

Ron_C's avatar

I don’t see this as a problem between the rich and labor, it is between the middle class and international corporatism that has decided to rule the world to its own benefit.

Most small business owners ( about 30% of businesses down from 50% prior to Reagan) are middle class and so are a great deal of their employees. The problem is that some people will do anything if you offer them enough money or make them think they’ll someday become fabulously rich. Hence the Tea Party people without a pot to piss is supporting the right of International corporations to subjugate and destroy unions and the middle class.

The rich aren’t inherently evil, huge International Corporations are almost always inherently evil. As long as the courts equate money with speech instead of property and the government fails to enforce tariffs and monopoly laws the freedoms and wealth in this country and the world will diminish. Corporations own and operate large legal forces and big city police forces, nothing short of outright revolution will loose their hold on power. After all, when you have all the money you could want, the next step is the quest for power. The right to control life and death in your subjects must be the ultimate rush..

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