Tim Garner, the billionaire property company boss, recently stirred controversy with his remarks at the Australian Financial Review Property Summit. His comments, which have since gone viral, targeted capitalists and ignited a heated discussion online. Garner argued that workers had become “arrogant” and needed to face unemployment rates as high as 40% to understand the “economic pain.” He emphasized that people should remember that they work for their employers, not the other way around.
Garner also claimed that workers’ reduced willingness to work due to the COVID-19 pandemic was causing a significant productivity problem. However, data shows that productivity growth has actually exceeded wage growth since the 1970s. His comments align with the misleading narrative of a “workforce shortage” that emerged during the pandemic, perpetuating the notion of worker laziness.
Instead of blaming workers, left-wing media critic Adam Johnson suggests that a more effective approach to attracting employees would be to increase wages significantly. Garner’s remarks reveal a desire among CEOs to regain complete control over capital, especially at a time when the labor movement is gaining momentum. Workers are increasingly demanding a fairer distribution of the wealth they help create, as evidenced by the record raises earned by UPS Teamsters and the wage increase demands from UAW workers to match inflation.
While Garner describes the “economic pain” workers should experience, many working-class Americans are already feeling it. Data from the US Census shows that the child poverty rate more than doubled from 5.2% to 12.4% in 2022, coinciding with the expiration of the expanded Child Tax Credit. The end of pandemic-era aid programs has also resulted in the largest single-year increase in poverty on record. Millions of people have lost access to healthcare due to the expiration of Medicaid expansion, and many more are at risk of losing their benefits. Additionally, skyrocketing rents have outpaced income increases, exacerbating poverty rates among American workers.
In response to these challenges, various organizations and movements are fighting back. Unions are engaging in bold contract campaigns to reverse wage stagnation, and groups like the Debt Collective are advocating for free healthcare and higher education. New labor organizations are also emerging, focusing on organizing and supporting the lowest-paid workers, such as those in the service industry. As workers unite and resist, it becomes increasingly clear that they are standing against the interests of the rich and powerful.