If you look at the word "capitalism" and break it down into its two components you start to see my premise. The word "capital," in this context, generally refers to things of value that you own. AKA, assets. These are things that are generally paid for with money earned by doing work.
The second part of the word "capitalism" is the word "ism." Merriam-Webster.com defines this simply, as a belief, style or attitude referred to by a word that ends in the suffix -ism."
So, that means the word "capitalism" literally means "belief in assets".
As a people, we are all capitalists and we all believe that our value lies in our value.
So, when companies hire us, they are hiring us for the financial value we will bring to the company. Of course, they have to pay us, but the more they pay us, the less value they ultimately get from us. As such, they generally try to pay us as little as they can. At one point capitalists stooped so low as to kidnap actual human beings, forcing them to work, often in horrible conditions. Maybe you've heard of this practice? It's called "slavery."
For decades now, we've been hearing about "illegal immigrants," who are generally defined by the fact that they have come to America from another country and do not enter legally. However, what they really are is the cheapest goddamn labor that can be found. If you're an American citizen, employers generally want to pay you as little as legally possible. If you're an illegal immigrant, they can pay you less. This means we should really be referring to them as "slaves with a minimum monthly payment." Of course, the word "slaves" suggests they have no choice but to stay in their jobs. In some cases they don't, but in most cases, they can just quit and find something else (not that finding something else is always easy--I'm just simplifying this for the sake of the argument).
Well, some companies actually hire prison labor who work for even less money than immigrant workers. Yep, prison labor is legal in the USA, believe it or not. Doesn't that make you proud to be an American knowing that lingerie women buy from Victoria's Secret is sewn by convicted criminals? And those guys can't just take their pay and move to where ever they want.
Even if you are a regular old American citizen and are getting paid enough money to survive on, you're still allowing the system to feed off of you. In order for your employers to make money, by definition, they need to pay you less than you are worth to them so they can make that profit they love so much. This is that "capitalism" thing. You are part of their capital. They are using you to make profit. Of course, we have this thing in the USA called 'the minimum wage."
This just won't do for many corporations. Why else do you think Apple Inc. pays people in China to make your iPhone? It's because you are too expensive to pay. Don't let that whole "immigrants do jobs Americans just don't want to" stuff--the reality is, American businesses don't want to pay enough to get Americans to do those jobs.
So they don't. But unskilled labor won't work for some positions in the US. So, you get hired anyway. However, as mentioned earlier, they'll pay you as little as they can get away with. Not only that, they'll also dump as much work on your desk as they can. Can you even think of a job you've had that didn't end up being waaay more work than was mentioned in your original job description?
They want to exploit us as much as they can because workers end up being a good chunk of the value of a company. Of course, it's a big chunk that no one ever talks about because if we did, we'd all realize how powerful we can be. Why do you think so many big companies hate unions? It's because strikes are expensive.
There was a time when American workers were paid much closer to what they were worth. Why has that changed? Well, employers will tell you that competition has gotten tougher and tighter. Giant car companies used to give hefty pensions to loyal workers but now they say they can't because competition is too tough. The reality is that they are trying to make every thin dime that they can. Why cut their own wages and benefits when they can cut yours?
What it boils down to is priorities. The cost of doing business used to include paying a decent wage to your employees. Now it includes paying as little as possible.
And sadly, we have rolled with it for years now--decades even. We let them eat up our waking hours like the financial cannibals they are. As the years tick by we spend more time working than we do living. Hell, we spend more more time with coworkers than we do our own family.
What the hell is this system of ours?
Capitalism = Cannibalism