© 2004 Philip Hyde, Timesizing.com, POB 117, Harvard Sq, Cambridge, Mass.02238, USA, 617-623-8080 - HOMEPAGE

For Socialists and Marxists

Dozens of economies have been trapped by Marx's short list of instructions:
  1. Workers of the world, unite.
  2. Throw off your chains.
  3. Seize the means of production, i.e., nationalize everything (and pray you've got better managers in the public sector than in the private sector).
  4. Replace market pricing with centrally planned pricing.
Marx's instructions fade out there, and followers in distress default to Planning, anything and everything. In other words, "Got a problem? Regulate!" This often wound up as micromanagement - a burgeoning maximum of stifling, detailed controls.

Timesizing substitutes a stable minimum of freeing, generalized controls, and provides the rest of the instructions for stabilizing the core of the economy. Timesizing's five-phase instructions (listed at bottom of our main TS page) are so robust, they don't even require Marx's third step of nationalization - which only works when there happen to be better managers in the public sector anyway, which is not a given, not even in a 'democracy' - or Marx's fourth step of abolishing market pricing - which amounts to a tiny subset of market participants setting prices, something that never works as well as the whole population of market participants setting prices.

The appeal of Marxism was its tacit message of sharing. It framed Capitalism as Not Sharing, as indeed it doesn't on any systemic basis. But Marxism didn't either. Marxists didn't share the existing work, they tried to make up artificial work for the unemployed at the same workweek per person as they found when they came to power, thus making the same 1930s mistake as the New Deal Capitalism in the USA and the National Socialism of Hitler's Third Reich in Germany. It was especially tough for Marx to get on the simple sustainable path of economic design, because the main thing Capitalism does not systemically share is money, and instead of addressing that variable directly as we did (dividing it into standing and flowing money, then realizing we had to first share work and skills), Marx blamed money itself, resonating with the old "Money is the root of all evil," mourning an ancient golden age of barter, and basically giving Socialism no future, because without the generalized barter function of money, population densities at the level of Marx's lifetime would suffer catastrophic collapse.

Another advantage of Timesizing Capitalism over Socialism: Marx complained about the "reserve army of the unemployed" - a carefully fostered labor surplus with which capitalists harnessed market forces to keep wages down. Now correct us if we're wrong, but we believe Marx did not then go on to suggest the next obvious step in ending the reserve army of the unemployed and absorbing it into the job market, because he did not go on to suggest work-spreading by means of the control of worktime per person in order to share the immediately available work and employ everyone, regardless of how much or how little there was of natural, market-demanded employment. Instead, Marx detoured off onto makework: public works projects, job creation programs, things that the Socialist Elite and not The Market decided were valuable and necessary, as modeled later by FDR's New Deal, where CCC and WPA workers were out cleaning up cemeteries and producing patriotic artwork. But "who should decide?" We agree with Milton Friedman and others, "Let the Market decide." The dictatorship of the market is better than the dictatorship of any subset or subgroup within it, such as a socialist elite masked by the high-sounding but unimplemented rhetoric such as "the dictatorship of the proletariat." (By the way, Timesizing implements this rhetoric in Phase One with regular public referendums to adjustably define the framework of the Market in terms of share per player, keep its "playing field" "level" and prevent it from undermining itself in a standard-less race to the bottom such as we're seeing now with ridiculously suicidal "free" trade, "globalization" and offshore outsourcing - all of them nothing but camouflage for the top 1% or less to funnel even more of the entitlements of the world.)

Timesizing cuts the straining for sufficient makework to fill up 40 or any other rigid and arbitrary number of working hours per person per week, and just let's unemployment, comprehensively defined, determine that level on a constantly, though gradually, readjusting basis. Under Makework, humanity never gets to enjoy the benefits of additional free time, because the private sector downsizes in response to every jump in technological productivity and the government is saddled with compensating for each jump by dreaming up busywork so that everyone can continue to spin their wheels at the same number of hours per week per person. Under Timesizing, humanity does get to enjoy the benefits of additional free time, because the prevailing workweek is no longer sacred and sacrosanct, and it adjusts downward to keep everyone employed and consuming.

Note two things. First, the "and consuming" part here is the feature that makes Timesizing Capitalism sustainable and very long-term. Contrast Downsizing Capitalism, which by invoking layoffs in response to technology, is constantly weakening its consumer base. Second, environmentalists might fear that the "and consuming" part here is ecologically damaging. Quite the contrary. Timesizing Capitalism sets an upper limit on share per person in terms of worktime and lays the foundation for similar upper limits on income and wealth. Contrast Downsizing Capitalism, which sets no upper limit on share per person in worktime, and thereby necessitates, regardless of advances in productive technology, that each person fill up 40 or more hours a week with productive work. The desperation to find markets for all this production regardless of consumption, all this productivity regardless of marketability, then opens a Pandora's Box of evils - high-pressure sales, invasive advertising such as junk mail, telemarketing and spam, the proliferation of frivolous styles and fashions that needlessly consume resources, predatory lending and predatory marketing culminating in economic imperialism, and underlying it all, an endless continuum of More that everyone worships by wanting that magic 25% More that will allow them to acquire the next level of "positional goods" and boost them up the next step in the materialistic pecking order, without limit. And when it's entirely possible for 1% or less of the population to acquire 99% or more of the work, income and wealth of the nation, you have, because of the relativity and regardless of the absolute levels involved, a generally desperate population trying to keep up or break out of the bottom with such careless energy and anxiety that they are in no mental state to think long-term or exercise ecological sensitivity.

Another advantage of Timesizing Capitalism over Socialism: Why is Timesizing aka worksharing so powerful relative to socialism etc.? Because leftists and socialists (and most other reformers, alas) have only a "grocery list," that is, a random wish list of problems to target and solutions to seek. In the 1970s, nuclear disarmament, self-sufficiency and alternative energy were popular items on the list. Now it's campaign finance reform, gender equality and ending racism.

Timesizing asks the question, what one solution would expedite all others. Let's move from a grocery list to a Pert chart, prioritized and strategized. Campaign finance reformers claim that their issue is the 'biggy,' the sine qua non, but it threatens to fall into the same trap as Marx, namely, what do we do when we achieve it, and wouldn't it be easier to achieve if we knew a bit about what we wanted to begin with? - a bit, that is, beyond the usual liberal grocery list which has rightly come into disfavor lately because it just means big government and high taxes and no real "change of script," just a "change of roles" - with new top dogs, more insufferable because more self-righteous, and a reshuffled majority of oppressed people.

So our criterion for top issue, at least in terms of beefing up the background vision, has got to be something different from -
"a burgeoning maximum of stifling, detailed, peripheral controls."

Well, let's just run each of those descriptors in reverse:
"a stable minimum of freeing, generalized, central controls" - theoretically just one.

The time dimension is a good place to look for this paragon of issues, because it is so general. Time is the general quantifier of all activities on the surface of this planet and by extension, below and above that surface. We could start with money and the income gap, but redistributing money without redistributing work fosters unsustainable dependency rather than sustainable self-support and mutuality. Redistributing work avoids this problem and can be done in terms of worktime.

That's how we get to the Timesizing full-employment program - it evens the distribution of working hours on a range instead of an unnecessarily stifling point, it approaches the range experimentally with no preconceptions of what it should be - and keeps that range adjustable and dynamic, and it basically just takes the best of the existing system, self-support, enhances the design and standardizes on it, thereby enabling the shrinkage of liberal government and taxes, which have become largely about peripheral job creation while leaving the central problem, the maldistribution of working hours per person, untouched.

Thus Timesizing is our best candidate for the most facilitating and expediting solution. It gives everyone more free time and more money and power to work on all the smaller, peripheral issues according to their interests.

"Truth in packaging" (packaging together of approaches to long-standing problems) - The Timesizing.com Party opposes certain commonly held socialist/leftist approaches such as minimum wage laws (problem handled better by maximum hours laws), government job creation (handled better by self-adjusting worksharing) and uncontrolled immigration (no solution can keep up with that).

For more information, see our handbook Timesizing, Not Downsizing (140 pages) available for US$12, plus $3 shipping, from:   Phil Hyde, Timesizing.com, PO Box 622, Cambridge-B, Mass. 02140, USA.

Questions, comments, feedback?  Phone 617-623-8080 (Boston) or 819-771-8546 (Québec), or email us.

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