Wage slaveryWage slavery is a pejorative term that refers to a system that compels workers to work in order to get money to live. It may also refer to people that make a cult of work (the extreme case is dying of karoshi), or those who require one to work in order to be socially acceptable.
Critics who use this term, such as anarchistss and communistss, believe that one should have freedom to work without a boss or obligation. While the blatant exploitation of workers in various societies is an obvious and literal application of the term, its common use is with reference to capitalistic economic systems, which tend to demand a standard working week of 40 hours or above.
Defenders of the capitalist status quo argue that the term 'slavery' is inappropriate as a citizen in a capitalist democracy can choose his or her mode of income. In fact, it is a central tenet of the free enterprise theory of capitalism that a worker's working conditions are a matter of mutual consent and open to negotiation in accordance with the market forces of supply and demand.
It may be argued by the dissenter, however, that compliance with the dominant economic system, and those empowered by it, is nonetheless mandatory. While employees are not physically co-opted into accepting undesirable working conditions, they still have little choice if they wish to maintain a reasonable and secure standard of living.
Dissenters may also assert that capitalist economic systems have a tendency to commodify the very things that should be most freely available in society — especially one that is technologically advanced. A pronounced lack of leisure time (to devote to personal development and relationships) is commonly the focal point of such an argument.
The classic methods advocated to avoid work within the capitalist model encourage one to invest money in property that produces income, rather than purchasing unproductive properties such as expensive cars or other nonessential items (see consumerism). These properties may include rentable real estate, or businesses run by employees. Such properties can produce cash which can be reinvested or, after the cash production exceeds one's desired income, the excess can be diverted to safer, less-productive, more passive purchases, or to charities.
A middle solution which attempts to retain some of the benefits of capitalism is the mixed economy. In this case, the government owns some things and not others. Some people will advocate that it only own that which is essential to life and provide it for free while at the same allowing the rest of the economy to remain capitalist.