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Worktime Economics
See also Bibliography of worktime economics and *proliferating *... *videos *... and a prime example

Worktime economics is a new type of ecological economics. In fact, it's the first in a series of new types, each of which upgrades the economic core for increasing sustainability. Worktime economics balances worktime per person in the age of robotics, and its 5-phase structure can be used to satisfy rising expectations in subsequent upgrades that balance, in hard-wired strategic order, income-, wealth- and credit-per-person. At each stage, the corresponding per-job controls can be safely dismantled and turned over to that great natural organism known as The Market, corresponding taxes can be abolished, and corresponding progress can be made from less-accountable general-revenue taxation toward more-accountable fees for service, so that increasingly, "you get what you pay for" (and you don't get what you don't, so for example, no more massive shakedown of taxpayers by Wall Street).

Boys and girls, standard politicians have not leveled with you. They talk the talk of freedom and liberty, while diminishing that most basic of all freedoms, financially secure Free Time, without which the other freedoms are inaccessible or meaningless. They have frozen the maximum workweek at the pre-technology level of 1940, despite waves of worksaving automation and robotics since then, and condoned a standard management response of downsizing instead of "timesizing," of cutting jobs instead of maintaining jobs, wages and markets by cutting hours - for all. The resulting job insecurity has no one wanting to leave the office first at night, so workhours are getting longer and longer despite more worksaving technology than ever before in history, and the resulting labor surplus has depressed wages and markets and economic equilibrium, let alone growth.

And also, boys and girls, standard economists have not leveled with you. They have a gigantic blind spot in the middle of their theory. They not only neglect worktime as a control variable but they assume the workweek and more specific variables (including workday, workmonth, workyear/vacation and worklife/education&retirement) are eternally useable constants. They completely ignore the economic history of workweek reduction that went on throughout the developed economies for 100 years between 1840 and 1940, not to mention the central, top-priority, strategic importance of that process. And in consequence, they've sunk into blindingly obvious contradictions like trying to get growth alias upsizing, by downsizing, plus clobbering growth (raising interest rates) to control inflation.

And now, with people living longer and a smaller relative workforce, the pressures are on to eliminate mandatory retirement, i.e., to decontrol the worklife unit. Note the cover story in the 9/04/99 issue of The Economist magazine, "Let old folk work." This heightens pressure to rationalize controls on the shorter units, particularly the workweek, which, swayed by the USA, has been legislatively frozen at the arbitrary 40-hour level in most of the industrialized economies since 1940.

Standard economists' rationalization for dismissing any serious thinking about aggregate worktime, especially with regard to any heretical thoughts about (oh nooo) worksharing, is known as the Lump of Labor Fallacy critique. It's a skein of sophistry that sets up a straw man and knocks him down. They accuse worksharing advocates of assuming a fixed fund of employment (which they misname "labor") with no specific timeframe and then they knock it down in the long term. Worksharing advocates, of course, assume nothing. They observe not a fixed fund, but a shrinking fund of employment in the immediate term (Marshall's "market term") in which people are getting laid off - otherwise, there'd be no layoffs. They advocate, with Lincoln Electric, Nucor, Volkswagen and other companies who value stability, morale and a full skillset over dramatic/ heroic Rambo tactics, sharing the shrinking fund of employment and keeping everyone employed rather than putting the whole burden on a few who are fired, and then a few more, and then a few more.... In the one case, the strategy spreads and worsens the corporate downturn. In the other case, the strategy cushions and contains it.

It is this second strategy, worksharing - in tandem with automatic reinvestment thresholds - that the Timesizing approach represents.

For more details, see our campaign piece, Timesizing, Not Downsizing, which is available online from *Amazon.com, at *Porter Sq. Books, Cambridge, Mass. 02140 USA, and for $14 check with free US/Can. shipping from Phil Hyde, Timesizing.org, POBox 117, Harvard Square PO, Cambridge MA 02238 or paypal US $14 to ecdesignR@yahoo.ca .

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


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