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Profit and Class Status Thalia Ashton Soci 250

I work for a small start-up company that provides toxicology testing which is financed by a foreign capitalist and employees 6 people. Since I have been involved with the company since its inception, I am privy to information about the costs, overhead, production and profits of the company. This awareness of profit has indeed affected my attitude about my class position, and it was this awareness of the profit potential of the business that originally motivated me to take a risk by joining this company to increase my class position. Now, almost 2 years later with the same salary and almost non-existent benefits, my study of Marx has really brought to light my class position in the proletariat and how I am viewed not as a human by my capitalist boss but simply as a commodity for my labor time. First, I will discuss how my commodity of labor time generates a surplus value for my capitalist investor. As a lab we produce data with a high level of integrity to doctors who interpret this data while accessing patients. Our data is a commodity as Marx defines it as a thing that by its properties satisfies human wants of some sort or another. (Lemert p. 49) It has a high use value because it is a piece of necessary information that is required by law for the doctor to have when prescribing narcotic medications. It is also of high value to patients who desire the medications to maintain a pain free lifestyle and their insurers to guarantee they are using the treatments. The value is created by labor of the lab employees, as we are able to take urine, a waste product, manipulate it to measure drugs in the patients system and interpret these amounts so that a doctor can use the figures to make an informed decision for treatment. Marx describes this role of labour in creating use value. So far therefore as labour is a creator of use-

value, is useful labour, it is a necessary condition. (Lemert, p54) The urine is useless and flushed away, without my labour time used to create this highly desired commodity of data. While my labor is crucial to the capitalist to make a profit, interestingly what I am paid for my services is very low compared to the profit or surplus value that the data I generate returns. As I have calculated Marxs equation M-C-M' for my company it is as follows for a month: $ 110,000 spent , $280,000 commodity value yielding a surplus value of $170,000 profit or approximately 154% percent profit of the labor/supply costs. This is a huge return that so far has not been seen by the proletariat workers in the form of wage increases, bonuses or even benefits. Instead, the labor costs were scrutinized when insurance benefits were considered. Originally, full health coverage of the employee and 80% coverage of the proletariat families were to be paid by the investor. Upon market analysis, it was deemed that similar sized companies only paid, 80 % of employee coverage and 20% of employee family coverage so this was the coverage that was offered. The human aspect was not taken into account that the insurance coverage costs would be 25 % of the employees current wage or the importance of quality health coverage for workers. Instead, we were viewed as a commodity, like every other article of commerce, and are consequently exposed to all the vicissitudes of competition, to the fluctuations of the market. (Lemert, p41) This new insight has helped me understand how the investor, from the capitalist point of view, made the insurance decision and has allowed me to put aside the hurt that I personally felt initially. I see the clearly the slope between me in the proletariat and my bourgeois investor. I can choose to view this either as a motivator to work hard to drive the company, hoping for reward for my performance to improve my class status or I can become disgruntled that I must sell myself piece-meal (Lemert. p41) each week.