Dean buries his lead... again:
"If we all worked five per cent fewer hours, then seven million more workers could have jobs at the same level of demand."The result of that burial is that only one of the 49 comments (so far) even mentioned the shorter work time angle of Dean's "pay for play" idea.
Dean first mooted his idea for a shorter work time tax credit back in January and since then it has generated hardly any controversy. "Ho hum... create seven million jobs you say? Who cares?"
Now that the prospect of a second (or, more accurately third) stimulus package is looming, what are the chances that a shorter work time proposal will get wider discussion? The Sandwichman is not holding his breath.
I am so sure you could not hold it long enough for economists to get a clue, SMan. By the time they figure it out, 20 million will be sleeping under bridges.
Or, marching on Washington.
This crisis will require a complete revolution in human thinking about work, and that has not yet even begun.
I think Dean is giving a complicated solution that could be solved much more easily. If Congress raised the marginal tax rate it would have the same effect that Dean is talking about--people working fewer hours so more people can have some work. Plus it wouldn't be unconstitutional!
Why does the Sandwichman believe employers would create permanent positions and provide benefits such as health insurance to "seven million more workers" based on Baker's proposal?
Why wouldn't employers cover 3-week gaps with uninsured temps at lower wages, force overtime on skilled workers, or reduce production?
Sandwichman believes there would be a bit of that and a bit of this. I don't agree with the estimate that a 5% cut in hours would result in seven million jobs.
Employers are not 100% nasty bastards trying to do in their workers every chance they get. And "cost cutting" mania is not necessarily cost effective. It actually makes good economic sense for a lot of employers to hire additional workers to cover the time reduction, especially if there is a tax credit available encouraging them to do so.
But realistically, Diane, the point is not that the government is actually going to do anything like this any time soon. The point is to start talking about an important part of the economic picture that has been suppressed for too long. Frankly, a proposal like this wouldn't work if it was simply implemented "out of the blue." It only makes sense if the policy emerges from some sort of social consensus. But such a social consensus can only develop if the taboo on talking about the issue is broken.
It's becoming clear to me that the taboo is not exclusively a creature of the anti-labor elements. There's also a current of fatalism that says, "it'll never happen, so forget about it."
David Lamb: I think Dean is giving a complicated solution that could be solved much more easily. If Congress raised the marginal tax rate it would have the same effect that Dean is talking about--people working fewer hours so more people can have some work.
That is pretty elegant David: Tax people until they find it more lucrative to sit at home than work.
I guess it never occurred to you that government might be complicit in the current overly long work week. It never occurred to you that government might be raising more revenue by working people for longer hours than it could by taxing them more cruelly. And, finally, I guess it never occurred to you that government itself (FDR actually) made the decision to keep the work week at its current length for the past 70 years precisely because it gave it control of vast economic resources.
Yet, somehow, it doesn't occur to you that when this same government raises taxes, this might force people to work longer hours AND, sink into debt, rather than sit at home.
(SMan: There is something at work here regarding hours of work that is not directly comprehensible at least to me -- some reason for the resistance to shorter hours of work. And, I don't think it is stupidity, or ignorance, or even the fault of economists (Although they have their faults indeed!). Work is something important in people's lives in such a deep meaningful way that only its complete and utter loss may be able to allow them to see beyond it. Perhaps, it is the ever present threat of unemployment which makes the thought of a world with less work so frightening. Whatever it is, it is as real as real gets.)
anon: There is something at work here regarding hours of work that is not directly comprehensible...
Yes, anonymous, I've been at this for about 14 years and I'm quite aware of the resistance that doesn't fit in the frame. I think of it as a sort of (virtual) work ethic that has become detached from any concrete job content, creativity or craft skill and cathected onto the abstract idea of work. That abstract idea is fundamentally unstable, which gives rise to clinging and ambivalence. People indulge in "I hate this job" and "I'm the hardest worker" narratives alternatively without noticing the disjunction. Cognitive dissonance.
I think people long for work that is deeply meaningful and fulfilling but mostly have jobs that don't live up to such longings.
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