Friday, October 3, 2008

Sandwichman Doubts the Work Ethic!

by the Sandwichman

PGL writes "No one doubts the work ethic of Americans..."

Nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition, maybe. But no one doubts the work ethic? What am I? Chopped liver?

Sandwichman doesn't doubt that there are endless panegyrics to hard work in American folklore. But Sandwichman doubts that what American politicians and pundits call the work ethic -- striving for financial success (or just survival), willingness to put in extra hours on the job in exchange for more income -- constitutes a genuine work ethic.

Sandwichman's argument continues to be that the conventional misconception about the work ethic is at the root of the economy's inability to generate sufficient demand to sustain full employment.

The revised American standard version of the work ethic falsely ties higher income to longer hours on the job. Well, if one takes that as an unquestionable article of faith, then there's no point in considering the Stewardian critique and alternative summed up in the ditty, "whether you work by the piece or work by the day, decreasing the hours increases the pay."

That ditty, by the way, expressed the founding philosophy of organized labor in the United States. Today's unions have strayed far from that idea, which may account in part, for their declining influence. But no one doubts? What does that mean? Doesn't it really frame the discussion in such a way as to exclude us nobodies who fundamentally questions the conventional wisdom about the connection between longer hours and higher income?

As long as "no one doubts the work ethic", the debate about how to "stimulate" the necessary demand can continue to go around and around in the same circles: "Reduce taxes" "No, increase government spending (on worthwhile things)" "No, reduce taxes" "No... No... No..."

To use a tired cliche: been there, done that.

No comments: