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According to a video tweeted out today by the AFL-CIO, the middle-class is “a fiction.” That’s probably going to be a real surprise to a lot of middle-class people and also to people who thought the AFL-CIO’s goal was to support workers entering the middle-class rather than deny such a thing exists. Here’s a post on the AFL-CIO’s website titled “Let’s Rebuild the Middle Class by Rebuilding Our Infrastructure.” That was just over a year ago. Do they not believe in such a thing anymore?
The speaker, who identifies himself as a “Marxist roofer” later in the clip, said this: “Class is actually determined by a person’s relationship to or ownership of the means of production. The means of production being a factory, a plantation, a skyscraper. Something that generates money and requires workers.”
Okay, let’s take a break here and just point out that this definition is nonsense. The main problem with it is that it takes a given moment of time as if it is fixed. There are workers and there are owners and those things never change. In fact, most factories were built by people who started with an idea or a product and built the business. That’s true of Apple Computer, started by two guys in a garage. It’s also true of Sears, of Amazon, of just about any big chain store or large company you can name.
Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak were workers when they founded Apple, selling their homemade computers by mail. The success of their innovations made them owners of a great many things eventually.
Something similar is true of anyone who gets a law degree or becomes a doctor or an engineer. They may start out working for someone else for a few years but at some point they could become a partner in a law firm, or a medical practice, or start their own engineer firm. The line between worker and owner is one that many middle-class people can cross if they are willing to take the responsibility and the risk to do so.
— AFL-CIO (@AFLCIO) May 14, 2019
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