Finally saw this, nice post Childress.
Couple items and have actually read Das Kapital - more than once
There were more than a few items Marx didn't account for. Some Lenin later addressed and that was the relationship of Capitalism to Imperialism. Even with that Lenin missed a bit there as well. Essentially as the position goes Imperialism allowed the Dominant capitalist states to co-opt their own labor movements as partners in their exploitation of 3rd world nations. The move allowed an increase in the standard of living in their own countries at the expense of a brutal level of exploitation overseas. This is the underpinning of the concept of white privilege etc. In the US this meant the denial of basic liberties and opportunities to black and other non-white labor. As an example after WW2 the deal with the southern democrats was to deny black Americans the opportunity to take advantage of various GI bills. A lot of the current disparity of living standards (and the resulting social issues) can be traced to that first generation denied the opportunity to purchase homes that White GIs were afforded. The fracturing of labor over race lines essentially doomed the labor movements ability to truly make more than a superficial impact.
In terms of current environments, living standards in the US have flatlined for years. Even with the employment levels we have now these numbers aren't budging. The latest buzz word is the "gig" economy. It is labor completely unprotected. No benefits, low wages. The millennials espouse this concept where they feel no allegiance to a job and want the freedom of not committing. They get that at the expense of their parents who provide the financial cushion to allow for that behavior.
The cost is their parents retirement income. The millennium generation will be unable to provide that cushion so the next generation is really going to be screwed. The current meme is "Okay Boomer", essentially saying they have little to learn from that generation and a lot to blame. While there is a lot of truth to that, there are some basic issues in that the willingness to work to provide for one's family and do work you may not actually like means financial stability was more assured. The current generation puts off a lot of what we consider "adulthood decisions" like home owning, marriage, children etc. It is too early to say how this will all play out and how people will handle a different lifestyle in a rapidly changing society but I worry that the current generation is not realizing the long term cost of the parameters they use in decision making. The income disparity of the wealthy and the rest of us is worse than it has ever been and the concentration of wealth is showing no signs of slowing. I live in the heart of Silicon Valley and the harm that the industry is actually doing is pretty evident. Not just home ownership, but even renting is out of reach for a significant portion of the population that we all depend on the essential services. Uber and Lyft are not sustainable models of employment.
Back to Marx - his biggest contribution in my eyes is actually the development of dialectical materialism. From Wiki -
Dialectical materialism is an aspect of the broader subject of materialism, which asserts the primacy of the material world: in short, matter precedes thought. Materialism is a realist philosophy of science, which holds that the world is material; that all phenomena in the universe consist of "matter in motion," wherein all things are interdependent and interconnected and develop according to natural law; that the world exists outside us and independently of our perception of it; that thought is a reflection of the material world in the brain, and that the world is in principle knowable.