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Feminism - a capitalist plot

Because there are people who will intentionally misunderstand me so that they can accuse me of being a male chauvinist pig, I will preface this post. Nothing in this post is intended to suggest women have any less rights than men. Nothing in this post is intended to suggest that anyone should or shouldn't do anything they are capable of (I'm not going to defend the rights of men to have babies here. It's been done.)

I will further add that this post will be composed over the course of an all nighter where my brain has been set into park. The primary intention is to keep me awake while watching a line try to plateau. I may well edit things later. If I have said something outrageously stupid, let me know.

Ok, enough procrastinating. Capitalist economic reality: The price of a commodity is generally related to two factors - it's availability (supply) and its demand. As a result, it is possible to manipulate the price of something by changing the supply relative to the demand. Fairly standard, yes?

So if I want to purchase a good or a service more cheaply, if I can work it so that it is available in a more plentiful supply, then that will drive the price down (unless I start driving people out of business, which corrects the oversupply), and if I can work it so that other customers don't want the product as much, then this sends the demand down.

As a side note to this, this shows that there is no Jewish conspiracy to take over the world. If there was, we'd all be driving electric cars to cripple oil demand...

As always, I'm not going to do anything silly, like actually research this, but I'd imagine that a company's biggest operating expenditure is on labour costs. Consequently, to a leading order approximation (ignoring changes to productivity and morale and things like that), the cheaper you can get your labour, the better.

Let's say you have a situation where most of the workforce gets paid enough to support themselves and a spouse and a couple of kids in a comfortable lifestyle. Not necessarily extravagant, but comfortable. In this case, the employer is at a disadvantage, because the demand for labour outstrips the supply, so that the labour prices stay high.

Imagine that you are a cynical and machiavellian employer. You realise that if you can just increase the pool of workers, your labour costs go down. The grapes of wrath have already been picked, and ended up as nothing more than a little wine. Where do you find your next source of workers to force down your labour costs?

You realise that a large portion of the populace do not engage in paid labour. They are married to someone who does. Their task in the relationship is to manage the home and the family. They have a wide range of skills which are easily adaptable to the work force. Further, as the workforce moves away from manual labour based tasks to providing a wider range of tasks not requiring strength, there are less jobs that they are (on average) less suited for.

The problem, then, is to convince them that they need to work. So what do you do? You control the media, so you promote the idea of everyone working rather than specifically staying home. You embark upon a creative campaign by propping up a couple of women as feminist icons. You allow a feminist leadership to flourish. You promote the idea that people can have it all - a full work life and an undiminshed home life.

This is, of course, garbage. There are 24 hours in a day we'll subtract 8 hours for sleeping. This leaves 16 hours in a day. This leaves a couple with 32 person-hours in a day. Let's say that an 8 hour workday requires 11 hours of your time, then a single-income couple is left with 21 hours for house-maintenance and relaxation. If, on the other hand, both people work, this leaves just 10 hours. I'll get back to this point shortly.

Ok, so we have convinced women that, not only can they work, but they should work. Bigger pool of workers, we can drop the pay, so that less people are able to afford to live as a single income family, so we bring more women into the workforce and on it goes.

Alright, so we have used a cynical ploy to drive wages down. The capitalist system nods approvingly at us. Can we do better?

Let's go back to that 10 hours a couple now has. We have suddenly increased the demand for "labour-saving" devices. We have the easy marketting of "this will reclaim an hour or two of your precious spare time" so we now have a new range of products which seem far more appealing. Let's take the washing machine as an example. You'd think a set-and-forget thing like that would save time, right? Wrong. Clothes now get washed far more often than if washing was done by hand, so that partly balances itself out, and then of course, the washing still requires hanging out on the line (unless you buy a dryer as well) and then you have to sort and fold a lot more.

You get to partially recoup your lost time if you have increased consumption, but, of course, for the consumption, you need the income, so that as these things move from luxuries to necessities, it becomes more important for both partners to work, again increasing supply of workers.

And once you have things which need to be dealt within a few hours, such as a load of washing, it ties you to having to be home, which then means that your hard-earned leisure time is spent chained to the home, which probably means television, which is the perfect medium for beaming adverts for products which will bind you to the lifestyle you are in and would like to escape more and more, by selling you more and more stuff you don't need or even really want.

So what have we got? The feminist revolution has provided a greater pool of workers, forcing labour prices downwards. It has cut time for housework, increasing the reliance on labour saving devices., thus significantlyboosting the market for these. They then achieve a market position where theyare seen as essentials, and so they then become standard boosting rather than labour saving, so that there is need for more labour saving devices.

So many economic stimuli coming from the large scale introduction of women to the workforce. It may be that it is 4AM, but I am unable to think of an effect which disadvantages employers. And no, maternity leave doesn't count. The slight financial cost doesn't overcome the decrease in labour costs because of the increased labour supply (no pun intended). Even better for the employers, because there is the oversupply in workers, you can *encourage* workers to work long, unpaid hours under the slogan of the exploiter "Do you want to have a job or a career?"

Now, where's going to be the next source of over-supply of workers? At the moment the threat is to move to India or China. Once they catch up and expect to be paid the same as workers in other coutnries, the other source which will be used is based on age. We will see nice little myths coming forth, like "We are running low on workforce. We need the elderly to keep working" or "You need to have more children to keep the workforce supplied." Lie back and think of Costello.

If we have a surfeit of workers and a surplus of jobs, then it would make sense to export the low-end jobs which don't require any particular skills and don't add any particular value. Except that it is in business interests to keep the workforce pool as large as possible.

None of this says that there aren't some genuine, non-cynical reasons to support equal rights for women and for women to be entitled to work if they want to. This is just to say that the opportunities should still exist for one partner to stay home and not work if they want to, with one income being sufficient to support a family.

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