Currently available courses in worktime economics and timesizing
together with an overly harsh critique
We need someone with math aptitude to bull their way through a mainstream economics department, the bigger-name the university the better, someone to put up with the oceans of irrelevant and intimidating econometricks, and steal away with a PhD (hold the phone, Bob LaJeunesse may have done this! He has - not at U.Chic. alas but at Colo.State in Ft.Collins). Then we need to do the numbers on worktime economics. We need to model how much more voluminous, speedy, dynamic, robust, sustainable economic growth we would have if we re-activated the tens of millions of consumers de-activated by downsizing jobs & wages and upsizing the trillion$ coagulated in the top one percent of the income brackets. We need the charts and graphs. We need the articles in mainstream economics journals. So far, we have Dean Baker of the Economic Policy Institute and Bob LaJeunesse of the EEOC within the beltway. And coursewise, here's what we have -
If any readers are aware of other college courses on trimming the workweek or better, adjusting it against unemployment, whether in English (in USA, Canada, UK, Australia, New Zealand, India, or South Africa/Zuid Afrika), French, German, Japanese, Afrikaans or whatever wherever, please let us know. E-mail us or phone 617-623-8080 (Boston).
Meanwhile, here's is an evolving outline of our dream curriculum for a Department of Worktime Economics:
A) Worktime Economics 101: Defining economics as political arithmetic, statistics, quantification, math as a second language. Defining time as quantified motion or activity and in context of dimensional paradigm of measurement and stepped de-specification. Defining work as quintessentially timed transfer of control in exchange for money. Defining money as generalized access to others’ time (services) or output (products). The pioneers in worktime economics: Petty, Sismondi, Technocrats, Dahlberg, Reuther, Hunnicutt, Schor.
B) Economic Design 101; what is the institutional core? avoiding the pitfalls, such as one step to perfection, mixing politics and economics (per person vs. per job), inflationary vs. deflationary incentive, defining vs. refining, the role of direct democracy, preventing sabotage, enabling program succession, maintaining and satisfying rising expectations, managing macho competitiveness. Impact of worktime economics on free trade. Designing company-specific trade regulation based on “consumer base: it gets your jobs or you lose its markets.” Why productivity has to be per-hour, not per-worker, and why free trade & competitiveness have to be qualified by a new groundrule, “You get to access our consumer markets only insofar as you employ them.”
C) Constructing Worktime Economics Within Ecological Economics - A New Strategic Subdiscipline: Designing ecological principles into core economic institutions and systems: minimum necessary departure from status quo, incrementalism, punctuated equilibrium, sustainability, homeostasis: in unemployment-controlled worksharing, in overtime-controlled training and hiring.
D) The three major obstacles to shorter hours: labor’s priority (higher pay, not shorter hours) mgmt’s selfish delusion (concentrated income creates jobs via investment, not centrifuged income via circulation) everyone’s 18th century mindset (if I’m busier than you, I’m more important than you)
E) Current Events and Trends in Worktime, eg: S.Korea cutting workweek 44 to 40 over seven years, isolated unions, eg: in Australia, talking about shorter hours, but in general, slippage backward over a wide front because we have not made the case for the technological imperative of shorter hours - in order to avoid a consumer-collapse depression. And we have not made the case for SWT’s labor-power imperative - as long as labor keeps fighting for higher pay instead of shorter hours, they will keep losing because they are bucking market forces instead of harnessing them. What we’re seeing on the daily worktime news-tracking is a massive rollback in Europe and both sides are using the competitiveness argument. E.g., “The group said tight [workweek] limits hurts competitiveness with wealthier western nations.” So we need to attack at the core, the schools of economics and management that teach short-term employment-concentrating consumerbase-eroding longer hours, against their own self-interest, but also against discipline for them, CEOs and employers in general - discipline for anyone else is fine
F) The Role of Boredom in Management & Economic Decision-Making: eg: Sydran Group to leave fast-food business (10/02 NYT B4) and Toys’R’Us to leave toy business
And here are some additional topics that at the moment are just concepts for single 1-1½-hour lectures or workshops:
Menu of Proposed Keynotes (or Workshops) -
A) How SWT Can Unite the Nation with a Democrat-style Social Safety Net and Republican-style Small Government: Replacing business downsizing and government upsizing with timesizing as the real “Third Way”
B) Boosting the ‘Recovery’ by Trimming Hours, Not Jobs, in Today’s Workaholic America
C) Why We Have to Implement Several Ideas at Once or Shorter Hours Looks Stupid and Ludicrous and Arbitrary and Guilty and Counter-Intuitive and Lazy and Crazy, eg: Chirac “recently cheered foreign observers when he threw his powerful advocacy behind moves to change the ludicrously-backward 35-hour maximum working week schedule imposed by the previous Socialist administration as a ‘job sharing’ measure (in truth, an un-, or at least under-, employment sharing one).” (Sean Corrigan of Mises.org, 9/23/04)
D) Worksharing as “next up” in human evolution - Humanity’s five great sharing techniques so far, each parallelling a major social science, and how fundamental progress will speed up once we debug and implement automatic worksharing.
E) Why is longer hours more dangerous than offshore outsourcing? Because the core is already swinging against free trade: “Rethinking free trade” 9/29/2004 Boston Globe, A15, and “An elder [Samuelson] challenges outsourcing’s orthodoxy” 9/9/2004 NY Times, C1, and we have long experience dealing with free trade’s “tragedy of the commons”.
Menu of Proposed Workshops (or Keynotes) -
A) Designing a Gradual, Market-Oriented Full-Employment Program Using Shorter Hours: The Timesizing Model
B) How Can We Educate Labor to Quit Shooting Themselves in the Foot Putting Higher Pay for Themselves Before Shorter Hours for Everyone?
C) The Place of Time among the Dimensions - Is it really fourth or have we skipped an important step? (Yes, as a special case of momentum, it’s actually fifth. Newton was right, mass is fourth, and skipping that has slid us into skipping over time balancing into a premature attempt at money balancing. Ergo, our unsustainable skimming-and-charity system)
D) Fundraising for Shorter Worktime: Making the case that next to the basic time-providing contribution of nuclear disarmament, SWT is the All-Points Priority Issue and Cause, the Master Conundrum to be solved and acted upon, because it solves or eases the maximum number of other human problems in our lifetimes, large and small. It is the greatest problem intersection and conjunction, the vulnerable core of the economic Death Star, detoxifiable with finite time and energy. It solves the problem of un- or under-employment in the Automation & Robotics Age and gives us the Pearl of Great Price, a win in the greatest of Great Games, secure possession of the Holy Grail of economic design...