In short, in a very unequal society, the people at the top have to spend a lot of time and energy keeping the lower classes obedient and productive. Inequality leads to an excess of what Bowles calls “guard labor.” In a 2007 paper on the subject, he and co-author Arjun Jayadev, an assistant professor at the University of Massachusetts, make an astonishing claim: Roughly 1 in 4 Americans is employed to keep fellow citizens in line and protect private wealth from would-be Robin Hoods. The job descriptions of guard labor range from “imposing work discipline”—think of the corporate IT spies who keep desk jockeys from slacking off online—to enforcing laws, like the officers in the Santa Fe Police Department paddy wagon parked outside of Walmart. The greater the inequalities in a society, the more guard labor it requires, Bowles finds. This holds true among US states, with relatively unequal states like New Mexico employing a greater share of guard labor than relatively egalitarian states like Wisconsin.
The problem, Bowles argues, is that too much guard labor sustains “illegitimate inequalities,” creating a drag on the economy. All of the people in guard labor jobs could be doing something more productive with their time—perhaps starting their own businesses or helping to reduce the US trade deficit with China. Guard labor supports what one might call the beat-down economy. Community Action’s Porter sees it all the time. “We have based almost everything we have done on the idea that we always need a part of our workforce that is marginalized—that we can call this group into action at any time, pay them nothing and they will do anything that needs to be done,” she says. More discouraging, perhaps, is the statistical fact that a person born into this workforce has little chance of rising beyond it.
Özet olarak eşitsizlik endeksi (GNI) 45 civarı olan Amerika'da çalışanların 4'te 1'inin ¨guard labor¨yani polis, bekçi, güvenlik görevlisi olarak üretime sıfır katkı yaptıklarını göstermişler. Makalede ayrıca Yunanistan'daki oranın daha da yüksek olduğu görülüyor. Ben GNI'si 43 civarı olan Türkiye'de de benzer, hatta Yunanistan'dan bile yüksek bir ¨guard labor¨ oranı çıkacağını tahmin ediyorum.