You Must Work or Die: The Long History of “Worker Shortages”

Recently "freed" workers on a sugar plantation in the West Indies, 1849, their progress is watched by a white supervisor with a whip.

The current blizzard of stories about a “worker shortage” across the U.S. may seem as though it’s about this peculiar moment, as the pandemic fades. Restaurants in Washington, D.C., contend that they’re suffering from a staffing “crisis.” The hospitality industry in Massachusetts says it’s experiencing the same disaster. The governor of Montana plans to cancel coronavirus-related additional unemployment benefits funded by the federal government, and the cries of business owners are being heard in the White House. In reality, though, this should be understood as the latest iteration of a question that’s plagued the owning class for centuries: How can they get everyone to do awful jobs for them for awful pay?

Source: You Must Work or Die: The Long History of “Worker Shortages”

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