Timesizing® Associates
©1998,1999 Phil Hyde, Timesizing Assocs, Box 622, Cambridge MA 02140 USA (617) 623-8080

Why should I be forced to stop work at a certain number of hours per week?!

You shouldn't, if you're doing it for love, not money - in other words, for deflationary, not inflationary incentive. The Timesizing program doesn't say "stop work here" but "change gears here and at this point start reinvesting profits/earnings in training and hiring - it's Give Back Time." If for some people that's the same thing as STOP, they need to be stopped for the same reason that -

They're not the only person in the universe. Small-l libertarians (and a few large-L ones too) tend to forget the vast raft of standards and practices that make even our primitive level of civilization possible, standards and practices that felt VERY CONFINING to a lot of people at first. But...

Humans are a social species, and the key technology possessed by every social species is some level of the technology of sharing.

Other people need to support themselves besides you. And work is vanishing. That's the whole point of technology - to make life easier. And that means making work vanish. The many mainstream economists who argue against this have not noticed the number of times the word "efficiency" appears in articles on downsizing. And if we leave just as much of that work piled just as high on fewer and fewer people as technology takes over more and more of it and makes those fewer and fewer people more and more productive, we're splitting our society into ever fewer, ever more productive workers and ever more numerous, ever less contributive drones. And why should the workers support those dependents, those parasites? Their lives are worth nothing except as consumers to keep the workers clocking hours at pre-technology levels. And sooner or later, that gets old, very old. So, for completely different reasons of course, we keep having wars (but funny thing, they're useful in eliminating the by-now huge, but carefully denied, labor surplus).

But doesn't technology create more jobs than it destroys?
Think about it. If it did, that would mean technology creates more work than it saves, and is inefficient, and offers no incentive for introducing wave after wave of itself into the economy. In fact, if technology really created more jobs than it destroyed, we'd have every reason to root it out of our economy and de-technologize. This myth got revved up by the propaganda wing of the New Deal in the 1930s to ridicule and suppress the work-sharing movement. The work-sharing movement itself was fluid and adaptible. As far as it was concerned, the workweek could go up if the work was there, as well as down when it wasn't. Unfortunately in its original form, the 30-hour workweek bill did not reflect this flexibility but at least if we'd passed it, we'd have been "tinkering in the right garage" for the last 60 years. The New Deal, however, inherently resisted a fluid workweek that could shorten indefinitely to spread the work. The most it could envision was a reduction to an irrelevant 40-hour level during a depression when the average workweek was below 35 anyway. But the arrogant control freaks in the FDR administration, led by Rex Tugwell, spun shorter hours as defeatist and substituted nothing but a giant makework campaign of artificial job creation. (It was funded by government borrowing and eventually by taxing the rich with steeply graduated income taxes once the wartime political climate allowed that kind and level of taxation.)

So if technology really creates more jobs than it destroys, why did the New Deal have to strain so hard, and so impotently (it never solved even half the unemployment of the Depression) for artificial makework campaigns and job creation programs? Technology would have taken care of it automatically.

Why today are state and municipal governments all over the nation giving tax breaks to companies threatening not to take their jobs away from that state or city, or not bring them there in the first place?

Is this not extremely strange behavior on the part of legislators if the unemployment rate is really "low" and therefore there is a big surplus of jobs and shortage of workers?

But it's a shortage of skilled workers, not just workers! "Skills" come from training. Skilled workers are trained workers. And companies throughout the land are so spoiled by the flood of resumes they get for each and every position that they keep raising their advertised job qualifications and expecting to pick exactly the skilled candidate they need right out of the job market. They offer little or no training, little or no OJT (on-the-job training), and as for what training they do offer, it is the first budget line to be cut in a crunch.

During World War II when we had a real balance of employees and employment - what employers perceived with more justification as a "shortage of workers" - OJT was everywhere throughout the American economy. Now it is nowhere. Nobody wants to train. Everybody wants to take advantage of training that happened elsewhere on somebody else's timeclock and payroll. Ultimately that's driving the constant CEO whining for governments to put more actual training into their prolonged "keep'em out of the job market" industry ("education") or for Washington to issue more visas to bring (low wage) high tech workers here from India.

These are exactly the types of CEO attitudes and the kinds of conditions that built up throughout the Roaring 1920s and finally induced the Great Depression on 10/29/29, though even THEN many CEOs didn't see it, and some never did.

Plus we need to share the spending power because the wealthy don't spend enough to support their own mega-investments. They tend to concentrate so much wealth that they suction the markets away from the productivity they're investing in - that's what a market crash is all about, like 1929. "The more concentration, the less circulation."

Plus we don't need to stop absolutely everyone at a certain number of hours per week. We just need to stop those who are doing it just for the money. If you love your work and want to work all 168 hours per week, that's fine with us - but you must prove your love by reinvesting 100% of your overtime earnings in your own skills - by funding OJT in those skills, and sharing those skills - and that wonderful attitude of yours in loving your work. You have what we call deflationary incentive, because you're willing to start a wage-pull whirlpool downwards to counteract our usual wage-push spiral upwards - which some people (e.g., Greenspan) call bad "inflation," but which we call good "closing the income gap."

But isn't it Communist (or socialist, or at the very least, unconstitutional) to stop people from working after a certain number of hours per week?

But isn't there a natural level for the workweek, and haven't we found it at the 40-hour level? - after all, that allows exactly one third of the day for work, one third for play, and one third for sleep.

The 48 hour and 56 hour workweeks allowed that daily division too, and that argument was used at each of those levels to resist further reduction. And the 32 hour (4 day) and 24 hour (3 day) and 16 hour (2 day) and 8 hour (1 day) workweeks also allow that "perfect" 3-part daily division.

And what if you prefer a 4-part day for work, rest, family, and community? This is allowed by the six-hour shift of the 42 (7 day), 36 (6 day), 30 (5 day), 24 (4 day), 18 (3 day) 12 (2 day), and 6 (1 day) workweeks. And so on for the four-hour shift, etc.

Morale: time is fluid and the bottom line is that we need to share the available work (and skills), however little is left for us to do after we unload as much as our current technology levels allow onto our robots, computers and machines. That need is not optional. It is mandatory. And it's imperative nature is shown in the true anecdote about Henry Ford and Walter Reuther in the late '30s - Ford, showing Reuther around a newly mechanized plant, said, "Let's see you unionize these robots!" - Reuther replied, "Let's see you sell them cars."

For more details, our laypersons' handbook Timesizing, Not Downsizing is available at bookstores in Harvard Square, Cambridge, Mass. or from *Amazon.com online.

Questions, comments, feedback? Phone 617-623-8080 (Boston) or email us.

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