If we ever again have a period of liberal polity--after Trump, after the 40 or 50 year attack on workers' rights and the middle-class that we are living through, I think historians will look back on our age and our treatment of workers, both low and high-wage, and be aghast.
I was thinking about this this weekend as my wife spent an uxorial 15 minutes in the Verizon store. (An uxorial 15 minutes is a full-hour. If I complain about the time suck, or say 'why didn't you do this yourself?' her response is, 'I thought it would be quicker.' In the modern world, everything promises to be quicker, but takes twice as long as it should because of our societal GIS--Generalized Incompetence Syndrome. For all the vaunted advances of technology, customer service is worse than it was in a coal-town's company store a century ago.)
In any event, the Verizon store got me thinking. My wife's about to spend about $1000/year on a device so the people who employ her can call her, or ping her, or email her 24/7.
Likewise, the internet we have at home, and which costs a similar amount also gives our employers the right to poke, prod and pester us around the clock.
The fact is, there is, thanks to these devices, lack of job security and the like, virtually no separation between home and work. You are expected to be 'on call' and 'reachable' at all times.
In fact, when we are not reachable, it is so rare an occurrence that we remark upon it. "I'm getting married this weekend, and won't be reachable."
It seems to me that we have, after a brief golden age of labor from FDR to LBJ, sunk back into Gilded Age-Lite, where the robber barons (FDR's 'malefactors of great wealth,') hold, once again, all the cards.
Whereas five decades ago the average CEO made 17 times what the average worker made, today that ratio is more like 200:1. ($10 million: $50,000.)
This is the world we live in.
We seem once again to have become serfs. Bound to our Lords as in days of yore--always on call, and always susceptible to being tossed out on our withered asses once our marginal productivity is no longer.
So we traipse to the Verizon store on weekends. Give the duopoly our cellphone dollars, so the oligopoly (the advertising holding companies) have us always on a short leash.
If Marx were here, he'd see us not only chained, but paying for those chains from our own decreasing salaries.