A non-war alternative to downsizing jobs&pay or upsizing gov't&taxes,
War is declared! Universal joy among the merchants!
- New York City newspaper, 1812
Buy [stocks] to the sound of cannons.
- Nathan Lord Rothschild, 1810
||The *Timesizing® Program
= Full Employment & Markets via
Worksharing & Labor Shortage
and a major antidote against 'threat finance,' and the best anchor of national/homeland unity & security
Labor 'shortage' raised wages & spending, creating prosperity during both world wars. ©1998-2012 Phil Hyde, Timesizing.com, Harvard Sq PO Box 117, Cambridge MA 02238 USA (617) 623-8080
5 PHASES —
VARIETY OF FORMS —
CURRENT GOV'T PROGRAMS —
Timesizing is the sustainable form of worksharing, funded for example by a tax on chronic overtime and an exemption for converting overtime into training and jobs. Worksharing, funded by (un)employment insurance premiums, is the emergency form of Timesizing. Like the many fixes it took George Stevenson to get practical passenger locomotives 200 years ago, or the many adjustments it took more recently to solve the Easter Island mystery of how the huge statues "walked without feet" (PBS Nova, Ch.2 Boston 9-10pm 11/07/2012), Timesizing will take a lot of fine-tuning, but here's a simplified, scaled-down outline or model -
The standard response to technological innovation today is downsizing, rationalized by the myth that "technology creates more jobs than it destroys." The myth is rebutted by the globally pervasive job shortage, proven by companies' repeated success in getting taxbreaks by threatening to take their jobs elsewhere, by the huge increase in makework in both public and private sectors, and by mounting numbers of long-term unemployed and people on welfare and disability, and in homelessness, prison, forced retirement and forced "self-employment" with no clients. Globally, downsizing has turned the goal of competitiveness into a race to the bottom and darkened the world's economic and ecological outlook. But the good news is that very few changes in approach can stop the downturn and get everything spiralling UPward again. As Arthur Dahlberg wrote in 1932, "Our balking, backfiring profits economy can - by injecting one planned adjustment - be made to work in socially desirable ways, and even be made to satisfy high-grade engineering standards of efficiency, with even less involved governmental interference and industrial control than we already have." Here are those changes in a nutshell:
Timesizing spreads and shares the still-unautomated work. It is our under-construction effort to design the best embodiment of worktime economics. Timesizing reinvests profits from overtime into training & jobs, then increases the reinvestment by slowly adjusting the workweek mainly downward as far as it takes to achieve full employment, however each political constituency chooses to define that goal. It requires managers to get a lot better at scheduling and suturing shorter shifts. Timesizing is a matter of doing deliberately and automatically what we did haphazardly for 150 years prior to 1929 when working hours edged down from about 84 to about 44 as mechanization swept through farms and factories. It's what the USA (1938-40: 44 to 40 hrs) and France (1997-2001: 39 to 35 hrs) did in primitive one-shot form, nevertheless achieving a corelation of 1% unemployment-cut per 1-hr workweek-cut each time (19% to 14.6%, 12.6% to 8.6%). Timesizing is what America's only profitable steel company has done for decades (Nucor). Timesizing is rapidly becoming an economic imperative because:
- Wake up investors, CEOs, and employers in general to connect the dots between your employees and your customers' customers (= markets) and realize how destructive to your investments in productivity are when you're trying to get Growth alias upsizing by following-up with downsizing. Productivity is nothing unless it's marketable and downsizing cuts your own markets. The key management skill of the future is not doing M&As and downsizing but deepening the 'division of labor' and suturing shorter and shorter shifts that fund more and more employee-shoppers. You really want growth? It's gotta come from stronger markets and more people with spending money, not more difficult-to-invest millions in your portfolios. You really really want growth? It's gotta come from upsizing private-sector employment, not upsizing government, corporate socialism, government debt and deficit. Rising investment portfolios depend on rising marketable productivity = robust markets. which depend on high-velocity currency circulation; circulation depends on maximizing consumer spending; and maximum consumer spending depends on full employment & good pay. If business is hires and sustains its own markets, we can get government and taxpayers OUT of the role of employer and charity of last resort. Metaphor for management = the Ford-Reuther Paradox: Henry Ford takes labor leader Walter Reuther on a tour of a newly mechanized factory in the late 1930s and crows,"Let's see you unionize these robots!" Reuther retorts, "Let's see you sell'em cars."
- Reprogram employees to realize that despite constant repetition by the top 0.01% of the population, wages do not depend on workhours or productivity, but purely on supply and demand, same as everything else. Too much on offer? Price falls. Too little on offer? Price rises. Labor surplus? Wages and salaries and benefits sink. Labor shortage? Wages and salaries and benefits rise. But what about low-wage employees who would be seriously hurt by an initial income hit from reduced hours? There are many ideas around to solve this transitional problem. Since productivity counter-intuitively is seldom hurt, often helped, by gradual hourscuts (see Juliet Schor's "Overworked American," pages 154ff.), many employers are willing to maintain pay despite shorter hours, as proven by Ron Healey's 30/40 Plan in Indiana, and by France's experience under the Robien Law of 1995-96, when in the first six months of the program, one third of the 110 participating companies maintained longer-hour pay levels despite shorter hours, and another third only partially prorated pay. Apart from that, consumption per capita can be maintained by dipping into the unemployment insurance fund to supplement low-income wages under hourscuts, per Fred Best's book, "Reducing Workweeks to Prevent Layoffs - Economic and Social Impacts of Unemployment Insurance-Supported Work Sharing." Basic warning for labor? The labor movement gradually gained power for the 100-150 years prior to 1940 because they realized that of their two long-term goals, higher pay and shorter workhours -
• if they could just get one and it was higher pay, they'd wind up with neither, because they were pushing for an artificially high price on a surplus commodity - themselves,
• but if they could only get one and it was shorter hours, they'd wind up with both, because they were cutting the surplus of themselves, the labor surplus, and they were harnessing market forces to raise prices in response to a reduced surplus adn more spot shortages, with no specific action required on their part. And the "price" of labor is wages and salaries and benefits, so...da dada daaa...wages and prices and benefits gradually went up the more that working hours were reduced and employers had to bid against one another for good help.
As soon as labor allowed management to distract them from these simple truths, labor began to lose power by going for higher pay and benefits and forgetting about shorter hours. And today, labor is toast. And labor will remain lying there in the middle of the road as roadkill, an embarrassment to their courageous history, unless and until they get back on their power issue, shorter hours. Recall that our grandparents thought we'd be down to 25-30 hours a week by now, and we're still stuck at 40 and rising, with France's 35-hour workweek spun as radical and a failure by contemporary economic "scientists" who seem to equate progress with 19th-century workaholism. Even a 35-hour workweek in an age of robotics is "an embarrassment to intelligent life in this quadrant," and a slap in the face of freedom, whose most fundamental form is free time, without which all other freedoms are inaccessible or meaningless.
- Let the Market, via the injection of worksaving technology, via the unemployment rate, control the length of the workweek. There is no forever-valid level of the shorter workweek (unless we all want to become luddites and block any new technology). So if unemployment is too high or rising, trim the workweek! (And of course, redefine "unemployment" to include the whole problem of non-self-support). And we do this trimming frequently, regularly, and automatically - no political intervention. Initially our consumption goes up as we reactivate our millions of downsized and marginalized consumers (see Timesizing Program Phase 4 and Phase 1). Then when everyone's safely "on board" with the new worksharing system, we trim the workweek deeper and with it all our excessive, ecologically unsustainable production.
- Automatically convert overtime into jobs. Not enough qualified candidates? So convert the overtime into overtime-targeted training, preferably on-the-job training (OJT). But let the current minority of employees who aren't "doing it for the money" work as much overtime as they like and "infect" others with their deflationary job satisfaction (see Timesizing Program Phase 2 and Phase 3).
These are the four bare-minimum steps to get the global economy and stock markets into a sustainable upward spiral instead of a downward spiral disguised with defined-in but bogus growth and externalized but real decay. That's First Gear, the sharing stage, which gets everyone "on the same page" by sharing the vanishing work. Then when we can "all sacrifice together," we shift to Second Gear, the ecological stage, which cuts the workweek even further to drop all the now-unnecessary excess production - and save the planet by doing more with less. Below, the essence of these four changes are reorganized into a strategic five-phase program for any level of government, including corporate governance of any size.
Timesizing cuts hours a little for everyone,
so everyone stays employed,
instead of cutting jobs completely for a few, and a few more, and a few more... until ...
no consumer base and ... no markets.
Timesizing gives the affluent somewhere safe to put their money
besides unstable, price-inflated, earnings-poor technology-etc. stocks.
It gives them sustainable training>hiring>wages>spending>MARKETS>productivity to invest in.
And timesizing-solidified consumer markets minimize unmarketable productivity & stock-market bubbles.
How's it work? It works by ending the 200-year-old zigzag between stifling concentration of spending power and stifling government micromanagement. It works by facing and fixing the Chesterton pan-utopian flaw - in the most accessible area, employment. It works by turning technology from a mixed blessing of overwork and unemployment into the pure progress of less work and more money for everyone. It works by holding the private sector responsible for maintaining its own markets without the usual boom/bust dramatics, thus slashing the huge public-sector crisis-control bureaucracy. It's based on a real unemployment rate that counts
EVERYONE who is dependent on the taxpayer - & that automatically triggers a chain of ADJUSTMENTS that build and maintain full employment, restore people's wages and spending power, and their role as confident consumers.
So Timesizing - 0. Gets a real unemployment rate that counts everyone burdening the taxpayer
Click on Design solutions for rebuttals of Socialism! Impractical! Unconstitutional! Uncompetitive! Inflationary! Harmful to small business! Lump of Labor Fallacy!... and check out our working models.
- Converts overtime into on-the-job training and high-wage 40-hour jobs
- When that's not enough to knock down that new unemployment rate, cuts the workweek and spreads the natural market-demanded work into more jobs (no government makework required!)
- Provides a transcendent viewpoint from which to criticize all the small thinking in the media despite our millennium-change timepoint
- Answers the question that seems to bother many - what do we do for an encore? what's next after we achieve a very low workweek? (and how low is that?)
Our principal researcher, Phil Hyde, has designed timesizing to achieve liberal goals with small government & taxes. You can contact Phil at The Timesizing Wire, Box 622, Cambridge (Boston), MA 02140, USA, phone 617-623-8080, email email@example.com.
"Timesizing" is a minimal design upgrade to our current mixed-market version of capitalism, with several key automating and stabilizing features. Besides electronic democracy and other fiscally conservative, socially centrist programs, Timesizing is Kennedy rival Philip Hyde III's main advocacy issue.
Timesizing involves removing the rigidifying controls on the standard "full-time" workweek, restoring the flexibility that prevailed for the first three-quarters American history, and using it to automate just enough ongoing frontline reinvestment in mass purchasing power to ensure that the economic growth we experience is solid consumer-supported boom, not hollow "where are the customers" bubble. Timesizing can be implemented on any scale, large or small, in either the private or public sector.
The timesizing solution is based on plain common sense (not to mention a number of ecological, hitech-design, and linguistic principles, plus working models, plus the social and economic history of the interwar period, 1918-41). For example,
The timesizing approach responds to the core problem - the fact that the concentration of wealth has gone far beyond the threshold where it begins to suffer the "marginal efficiency of wealth." The middle class no longer has sufficient leverage to keep its wages up with productivity gains - it has become a surplus commodity relative to the number of good middle class jobs. Technology keeps pouring work savings into the economy and we're cutting workers/wage-earners/consumers/markets instead of work (i.e., work time).
- Minimize arbitrary settings in definitions and goals.
- If you must have an arbitrary setting, get it as close as possible to a market determination by giving all participants in the market input into the decision.
- Minimize rigidity - keep settings flexible and dynamic.
- Keep change gradual - give everyone lots of adjustment time.
- Make only a "minimum necessary departure from status quo" at each point.
- Modularize, for better understanding of design and maintenance of program.
- Look for "gaps in paradigm," e.g., senior:junior::seniority:*juniority (* = unattested = gap in paradigm)
- Ask the obvious question - accept the obvious answer - and build on it.
- Simplify, simplify, simplify.
For stability, we need to deconcentrate wealth back below the threshold where there are enough market-supported investment targets for it again. However, it's easier to share work than money. Share money first and you create dependency and damage incentive. Share work first and you maintain incentive, since taking away work means giving back free time.
The whole timesizing program is designed to share the work by
1. converting overtime into training and hiring
2. if that isn't enough to fully employ everyone, resuming our long history of shrinking the workweek
3. motivating the program by defining unemployment more broadly to include welfare, disablity, crime, forced part time, forced self-employment and indeed, anyone dependent on the taxpayer
There are two modules in the program -- a private sector ramp-up to educate the public and a public sector ratchet-up to standardize and leverage the solution.
In the private sector module, we publicize parts of it as an immediate self-interested corporate strategy (Ron Healey's 30/40
plan in the Indiana plastics industry...), the companies that are already doing parts of it (Lincoln Electric and Nucor...) and have done so in the past (Kellogg's...) and we spread it on a voluntary company-by-company basis (Robien plan...) offering tax breaks for companies willing to cut their workweek and hire more staff. We start with a small-company emphasis (municipal and state levels), we move upwards (regional and national levels).
In the public sector module, we have 5 phases designed to plug the top internal quality leaks (1), do the timesizing (2-4) and plug the top external leaks (5).
For more details, our layperson's handbook - Timesizing, Not Downsizing - is available at bookstores in Harvard Square, Cambridge, Mass. or from *Amazon.com
- Phase 1 sets up regular referendums to (A) redefine unemployment on a broader basis and (B) set interest rates.
- Phase 2 motivates companies to maintain employment rather than downsize, and to train and hire rather than to use overtime, paid or unpaid (corporate overtime tax with an exemption for training and hiring...).
- Phase 3 ("moonlighter catching") motivates individuals to share the work rather than overworking (individual overwork tax with exemption for mentoring and hiring.
- Phase 4 makes the start of "overtime" (i.e. the length of the workweek) flexible and linked to vary inversely (and SLOWLY - lots of adjustment time) with the new broader unemployment rate.
- Phase 5 provides the referendum option of shifting unemployment pressure from the workweek to a population variable (menu: imports, immigrants, births) and the referendum option of moving the whole automatic balancing process to the next base variable beyond employment per person.
Each phase may take up to 10 years and each 5-phase module may take up to 50 years. We want plenty of adjustment time. Gating and pacing the whole process with referendums takes care of this automatically.
And then what? Most idealists and reformers stop there = one program for permanent perfection - yeah, right, how long are we going to stay that naive? - like, human expectations are going to stop rising just because we got employment balanced at last. Uh uh, there's gotta be more - there's gotta be something else, something beyond timesizing - and there is...
- Beyond timesizing, we can use the same 5-phase format to balance the next big skew in the strategic priority of dysfunctional disparities.
Questions, comments, feedback? Phone 617-623-8080 (Boston) or email us.
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