Four people who knew - but had flawed solutions
© 1999 Philip Hyde, Timesizing Assocs, Box 622, Cambridge, MA 02140
Two more people climbed aboard when destiny called in 1932-33.
- The Forerunner - Stephen Leacock (yes, none other than "Canada's Mark Twain" and incidentally, economics professor at McGill) asked the question, "Why is war so good for the economy?" way back in his 1920 classic "The Unsolved Riddle of Social Justice."
He recommended shortening the workweek to get the same effect without killing people.
However, he did not say how much or how fast to shorten it. "I am not raising here the question as to how and to what extent the eight hours can be shortened, but only urging the primary need of recognizing that a working day of eight hours is too long for the full and proper development of human capacity and for the rational enjoyment of life." (p. 147)
- The Organizer - Howard Scott started the Technocracy movement in the 'twenties based on Veblen's *Engineers and the Price System. He recommended natural work sharing (instead of artificial job creation) as a way to stabilize markets. Scott and his associates published a pamphlet called "Introduction to Technocracy" in 1933. Unfortunately he wanted a rigid 16-hour workweek with no transition plan, no democracy (an engineering elite would rule), and no market system (prices, in ergs and joules, would be set by the energy expense embodied in each product or service). Scott fumbled his big chance on nationwide radio in January, 1933. When he had the mike, he didn't have "the beef."
- The CEO - W. K. Kellogg started putting his company, Kellogg's Cereals, on a 30-hour workweek a year after the Crash in December, 1930, to provide work for 300 more heads of families in their headquarters town of Battle Creek, Michigan. At first they went down to 35 hours' pay, but three wage raises brought everyone back to 40 hours' pay by 1935. The whole story is told in Ben Hunnicutt's "Kellogg's Six-Hour Day" (Temple U. Press: 1998).
- The Author - Arthur Dahlberg wrote his sketch "Utopia Through Capitalism" in 1927 and expanded it in 1932 into "Jobs, Machines,and Capitalism." He also recommended work sharing as a way to stabilize markets. Unfortunately he wanted to jump down to a rigid 20-hour workweek with only a two-week cold-turkey transition and no linkage to unemployment. (Our timesizing program corrects his solution architecture.)
The Politician - Hugo Black, Democratic Senator, presented his Thirty Hour Work Week Bill (S.5267, 72d Congress, 2d Session) to the Senate on Dec. 21, 1932 and pushed it through to passage in the U.S. Senate by a 53-30 vote on April 6, 1933. Black's life reflected the progress of the nation - he started out as a Ku Klux Klansman in his youth and wound up voting in favor of Civil Rights as a U.S. Supreme Court Justice in his senior years.
The Labor Leader - William Green, head of the American Federation of Labor - backed Black all the way from December/32 to April/33.
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