The question recently came up as to whether or not a capitalistic system requires an impoverished class to work. Science suggests that it does.
But Who’s Going To Clean The Toilets?
Recently one of the classes I teach was involved in a discussion of whether capitalism requires an impoverished class. In other words, is poverty a part of the structure of capitalism? The consensus seemed to be that yes, poverty is necessary for a capitalistic system to work. The presence of a lower class is important to capitalism. As one person so elegantly put it, “Someone has to clean the toilets.”
Someone has to clean the toilets.”
According to the second law of thermodynamics, the universe is in a state of entropy; that is, it is running down and going from a state of order to a state of chaos. We can see the law of entropy in our everyday life; cars wear out and rust; we all get old. Entropy is inevitable in nature and especially in a closed system. The only way to delay entropy is to spend resources pulled from an outside source. For example, changing your car’s oil or washing it will prolong its life, but inevitably, even in an open system, the car will wear out.
In the universe, the concentration of matter and energy in the form of galaxies, solar systems, etc shows a high degree of order. Eventually though, stars burn out and the universe is probably doomed to a slow heat death as energy is dispersed, throughout the system leaving a cold dust-like spread of energy and matter.
This current organized concentration of matter and energy in the universe can also be a metaphor for economic systems as well. Is it possible that the current concentration of money (energy) in a few hands will be eventually dispersed to the masses at large thus obeying the laws of entropy?
One reason this hasn’t happened yet is that corporations, Wall Street bankers, The Koch Brothers, Donald Trump, Rupert Murdoch, and others are able to pull in resources from outside their system. Wall Street received bailout money. Many others, both those listed above and others, receive tax benefits and use tax loopholes that middle and lower class Americans can’t use and yet pay for.
However, the piper has to be paid and eventually the taxpayer is going to be tapped out and the money and resources to bailout the wealthy will no longer be available. When that happens, not all the gated communities in the world can keep out the wolf pounding on the door. As Poe explains in his story, The Masque of the Red Death, the unwelcome visitor will come calling. Maybe not for you, Rupert Murdoch, David and Charles Koch, and the many Wall Street Bankers who receive those breaks, maybe not next week or next month or even in five years, but soon, very soon, your children or their children will fall to the law of entropy.
So to you, Rupert Murdoch, David and Charles Koch, and the many Wall Street Bankers, I would suggest that you get out your mops, buckets and gloves. Prepare to clean the toilets with the rest of us. For when your money is dispersed to the world, as the law of entropy claims it will, perhaps we all after a hard day of swabbing down toilets will be able to enjoy a bottle of Dom Perignon or a meal of Chateaubriand with the dispersed money. Who knows, you may even learn to enjoy our company over that bottle of champagne. Although the question is still open: will we enjoy your company?