The biggest of the big-picture presentations of this new worktime type of ecological economics is on this present website and in our (Philip Hyde's) Millennium Orienteering Trilogy, particularly the third volume, Timesizing, Not Downsizing (Groundwork Ideas: Cambridge MA, 1998), whose "payload," the second half, is being edited for a new edition. And let's mention here Tom Walker's 2010 *Jobs, Liberty and the Bottom Line (12/02/2010 online draft), and Bob LaJeunesse's 2009 *Work Time Regulation as Sustainable Full Employment Strategy, which has a fabulous title. Its current subtitle, however, "- The social effort bargain," involves an unfamiliar concept that sounds vaguely pleading, when the powerful position we need explored and explained at this time would be reflected in a subtitle like "- An economic system requirement in the age of robotics."
The next-biggest big picture is provided by Bruce O'Hara's 1994 *Working Harder Isn't Working, and William McGaughey's 1981 *A Shorter Workweek in the 1980's and Thomas Geoghegan's 2010 *Were You Born on the Wrong Continent? How the European model can help you get a life, reviewed on 8/25-26/2010 #1.
"Mr. Interlocutor" for worktime economics is *Tom Walker of Vancouver. He has most recently brought out *Jobs, Liberty and the Bottom Line mentioned above, but also published articles in books, such as The "lump-of-labor" case against work-sharing: Populist fallacy or marginalist throwback? = Ch.12 in Working Time, eds. Lonnie Golden and Deborah Figart. In addition, Tom anchors the Work Less Institute of Economics, which has a *website and meets at Lugz Cafe, Broadway & Main in Vancouver (phone 604-255-4812 for details). Tom has recently come up with another well-researched article that fills in a major missing piece of the puzzle posed by Juliet Schor and Ben Hunnicutt, namely, what stopped the momentum of our greatest gauge of progress and the biggest issue in labor history, shorter working hours. Tom's article is "Missing In Action: Sir Sydney Chapman's theory of working hours and its curious disappearance from the canon of mainstream economics," available online.
Even John Maynard Keynes got into the act at the end of a lifetime (1883-1946) of supporting makework. In an April 1945 letter to T.S. Eliot (finder's credit to *Tom "Sandwichman" Walker), Keynes wrote:
..The full employment policy by means of investment [in makework alias non-market "job creation"] is only one particular application of an intellectual theorem. You can produce the result just as well by consuming more or working less. Personally I regard the investment policy as first aid. In US it almost certainly will not do the trick. Less work is the ultimate solution (a 35-hour week in US would do the trick now)...
Aside from top-priority questions like, "Is there a point or range in the process of concentrating the national income and wealth where the process starts to undermine itself?" and "If so, how do we find the range and reverse the process on a natural, market-oriented basis?" Then there's the question: Which will ‘go critical’ first, the economy or the ecology? Worktime economics has a pair of ‘Toronto kids’ working on this question, Hyde & Hayden, one for each possibility -
Worktime economics is the cutting edge of ecological economics. It is a branch of ecological economics that removes the key obstacle to environmental initiatives - fear of job loss - and solves the key kinds of pollution (poor, unskilled and under-employed human beings) and depletion (well-paying jobs). In addition, it uses ecological principles to accomplish these goals (wholism, homeostasis, gradualism, very long-term durable design...). The main ecological economist to look at is *Herman Daly and his books Steady-State Economics and For the Common Good.
Focusing on the straight history of the American workweek, we have *Our Own Time by David Roediger & Philip Foner (Verso, 1989). Their most significant single paragraph is on page 244, because it recounts the time when the largest labor organization in the USA had the most ideas that will be widespread if and when intelligent life on this planet ever moves beyond social control by threatening people's livelihood:
Until 1932, the American Federation of Labor refused even to consider the demand for passage of an Unemployment Insurance Bill, labeling it as the "dole,"
[good from the viewpoint of not wasting time and political capital on bandaids that become unnecessary once you implement the critical worksharing system]
but it was ready to raise the demand for shorter hours as its sole plan to increase employment.
[And a totally adequate plan it is - especially when coupled with automatic overtime-to-training&hiring conversion.]
The advocates of shorter hours in the labor movement reasoned that the depression had been caused by the rate of technological advance, which exceeded that of either wage increases or hours reduction. The inevitable result was technological unemployment, the displacement of workers by machines.
[Absolutely accurate, despite the prevailing contradiction from mainstream economists that technological innovation is great because it makes life easier (presumably because it saves work and working hours) and also that technology creates more jobs than it destroys.]
The solution was to cut the hours of work with no loss in earnings, thereby increasing the number of jobs.
[Even the maintenance of wages is an unnecessary extra, because as shorter hours diminishes the surplus of labor, market forces alone restore any wage loss on an organic, flexible basis. If hours are cut further, market forces raise wage levels and centrifuge the "black hole" of income and wealth in the top fraction of the population. In the short-term transition, the unemployment insurance fund (UEI) can be used to maintain the total pay of low-waged employees, because after all, the worksharing system is maintaining employment and saving money for the UEI fund (see Fred Best's book, next paragraph).]
This would lead to expanding purchasing power and the recovery of the system.
[It's what happened anyway when the war cut the surplus labor hours on offer in the employment market and gave us wartime prosperity. It's what happened when the Black Death yielded "plaguetime prosperity."]
Focusing on timesizing as an alternative to downsizing, we have Fred Best's *Reducing Workweeks to Prevent Layoffs: The Economic and Social Impacts of Unemployment Insurance-Supported Work Sharing (Temple U, 1988). Focusing on the vital economywide function of workweek reduction as the historic distributor of work and purchasing power, and the rising risks of rigidifying the workweek despite waves of technological innovation, we have - in the Scientific American's hardcover version of their September 1982 issue, The Mechanization of Work - the remarkable chapter "The Distribution of Work and Income" by an original thinker with a sufficient foothold in the mainstream to win the Nobel prize in economics in 1973, Wassily W. Leontief (who went to the supermarket in Belmont MA in February/1998 where Phil happened to be collecting signatures for his second Congressional race against Joe Kennedy
Going back to the villain of the piece, proof that Tugwell wrote his book to rebut Dahlberg is shown by the fact that Tugwell's title is a double reversal of a negative phrase in Dahlberg's first chapter, "governmental interference and industrial control." Tugwell's title simply reversed Dahlberg's phrase both in sequence and spin (The Industrial Discipline and the Governmental Arts). The two books are locked in eternal debate. Tugwell has been winning so far because he was one of FDR's braintrusters and Dahlberg was just five years out of his PhD program. However, as long as Tugwell's win is allowed to stand, humanity will see no substantial progress, no substantial benefits from technology in terms of greater freedom from work and worry, and no escape from our ultimate, still-active unemployment solution, war. World War II was what solved the Great Depression (down below 2% unemployment) - not the hodgepodge of big-government socialism spun as mixed-market capitalism known collectively as the New Deal (down to 14.6% unemployment at its best - the pre-New Deal level was 25%).
Tugwell became FDR's scapegoat for the flaws in the New Deal, but he and his books are still well known. Dahlberg and his books are almost forgotten. Phil Hyde has recently (Jan./2000) discovered that Arthur Olaus Dahlberg died in 1989 (obit in NYT, 10/02/89, D12) and got in touch with his son Eric, who was kind enough to xerox for Phil his dad's 1927 book, Utopia Through Capitalism, which foretold the Great Depression.
So far, we have discovered one place where Sismondi indicates the necessity of the government's setting an upper limit on working hours - "Thus, the task of government, as protector of the population, is to set everywhere limits to the sacrifices which everyone could be forced to make on his own; to prevent that a man, after having worked ten hours daily, would agree to work twelve, fourteen, sixteen, and eighteen hours...." (p. 570). This is acutely relevant today when vulnerable "20-something's" are finding themselves working 80, 90, even 120 hours a week (see our "Omen" on 3/12/2000 "The new nerdocracy") - marathons that we have not been conned to run since the 1840's and the heyday of plantation slavery - and an ever greater portion of it on yet more work-saving technology. The more we work ourselves out of a job by producing work-saving technology without increasing our leisure, the more redundant and insecure we make ourselves, and the stronger we make the forces of supply and demand that are flattening and sinking our own pay - leaving us with only one recourse, to not share our skills, to complicate and cut down training opportunities for others - same ol', same ol' BS.
In one famous paragraph (fingered by Heilbroner in his foreword to Hyse's translation, xiii), Sismondi even expressed the reductio ad absurdum of the direction in which we are currently careening. His paragraph anticipates by 170 years Kate Jurow's (and probably many other people's) prediction, upon viewing the relentless mergers and downsizings in the economy, that eventually we'll have one megacorporation staffed by robots and all run by one man, owned by millions of insulated and isolated idle rich - with billions of starving, idle people beyond the pale. Here's Sismondi's version. Commenting on David Ricardo's statement that "Provided its net real income, its rent and profits be the same, it is of no importance whether the nation consists of ten or of twelve millions of inhabitants...," Sismondi says, "Indeed? Wealth is everything, men are absolutely nothing? What, is wealth itself only something in relation to taxes? In truth then, there is nothing more to wish for than that the king, remaining alone on the island, by constantly turning a crank, might produce, through automata, all the output of England." (p. 563, fn). And of course, the whole image conjures up our short-sighted "neutron bomb" concept of business efficiency and the Reuther-to-Ford Retort - Ford "Let's see you unionize these robots," Reuther "Let's see you sell them cars." Morale - downsizing, instead of timesizing, is suicidal in the longer term, and the "longer" term is arriving faster every day.
Note around the same time, Charles Dilke, who said that wealth is disposable time and nothing more, and if capital was left to its own devices then people would only have to work half as much. The Source and Remedy of the National Difficulties (as deduced from the principles of political economy), pamphlet, 1821.
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