Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Workers of the World -- Relax!

by the Sandwichman

One of my Work Less Party peeps, Conrad has made a short film you should all see.


"What if we used our gains in productivity to slow down ? We could work less and produce less. It would also mean consuming less.

"If you like the film please forward this website to a world that desperately needs some slowing down."


reason said...

I can remember when I started working at the Reserve Bank in Australia, my boss complained about that the Aussie's just wanted to lie on the beach. I thought about it - why not - other people PAY to be able to do that. It is clearly something productive!

Then eventually came my "Leisure theory of Value". Value is produced from two things - goods and the time to enjoy them. Sometimes the time needed can be moved from one person in a household to another, but the goods aren't sufficient, time is also needed. We can substitute more goods or more leisure, but there is a law of diminishing returns for both. In this way you can see that "final" consumer goods are really in fact intermediate goods (or consumer durables are really capital goods). Our models have made us forget that real value is created first in the household.

Shag from Brookline said...

I am reminded by posts such as this of Kurt Vonnegut's "Player Piano," his first novel back in the late 1940s or early 1950s. (Years later, I was impressed by what's-his-name's "The End of Work.")

At age 77, I would rather be working at lawyering (as no heavy lifting is involved). But semi-retirement provides me with plenty of leisure time, so I surf - no, not off the shores of Massachusetts, but on the Internet. I consume more information but its quality may be questionable. My consumption of material things has declined significantly, although I was never much of a consumer.

But I'd rather be working at something meaningful. The depravity of TV with its continuing reality shows suggests to me a decline in intellectualism in America. Too bad Kurt Vonnegut isn't around to update his "Player Piano."

Sandwichman said...

Reason, I agree with you on the leisure theory of value, see this for example. Actually, Adam Smith beat us both to it in his Theory of Moral Sentiments and the anonymous pamphleteer of 1821 stated it unambiguously: "wealth is disposable time, and nothing more..." -- a quotation Marx pondered with evident relish.

Anonymous said...

Gary Becker of all people puts time and goods into a 'household production model.' Kelvin Lancaster too, if memory serves. The practice does not seem to have spread too much.