A contest announcement arrived in the Sandwichman's inbox yesterday. It was from Working America, the "community affiliate" of the AFL-CIO:
Working America is going to be sending two grand prize winners and up to three honorable mention winners to the Good Jobs, Green Jobs National Conference, to be held Feb. 4–6, 2009, in Washington, D.C. Winners won't just get a free trip (up to a value of $1,500), they'll get an opportunity to hear from activists and experts from around the country on how we can create jobs and help the environment at the same time.
To enter, go here and answer the question: "Why do you want to fight for a green jobs economy and why are you the right person to represent Working America's members at the Good Jobs, Green Jobs National Conference?"
So the Sandwichman visited the conference website and perused the agenda. M.S., B.S., Phd. (more of the same BS piled higher and deeper). To remedy the apparent lack of analysis besetting the GJGJ conference, the Sandwichman is offering a prize of his own to contest entrants pointing out the contribution that the reduction of working time can make to a greener economy (see for example, the CEPR paper by David Rosnick and Mark Weisbrot and "Are Shorter Work Hours Good for the Environment? A Comparison of U.S. and European Energy Consumption").
The Sandwichman will award copies of Peter Victor's book, Managing Without Growth: Slower by design, not disaster to up to six contest entrants who make the environmental case for shorter hours. One of those prizes will go to the entry I like the best and up to five book prizes will go to any shorter hours entries that are selected as finalists by Working America. Just send a copy of your entry to the Sandwichman at "lumpoflabor(remove this)at(this too)telus(ditto)dot(ditto)net".
By the way, entries arguing against shorter working time will also be eligible for the prize, if anyone is so inclined! Here's the Sandwichman's own entry (not eligible for the prize):
The name "Good Jobs, Green Jobs" rings a bell. It recalls the theme of an issue of the Canadian environmental magazine, Alternatives, from 2001: "Green Jobs, Good Work." One of the articles, "Good Work, Less Toil" by Anders Hayden, explored the relationship between work, consumerism and the environment. As Hayden pointed out, "much of our work today feeds unsustainable forms of production that torment the planet." That article was concerned with more than just the tension between the slogan of "jobs, jobs, jobs" and the environment. It also addressed the time famine that many over-worked North Americans endure even while others remain underemployed or out of work. Sharing the work is thus an indispensable part of sparing the planet.
The dream of cleanly, efficiently and renewably retrofitting an economy addicted to unlimited growth is seductive but futile. As the 19th economist W. Stanley Jevons predicted -- and American experience in the wake of the energy crisis of the 1970s confirmed -- increasing energy efficiency alone leads to more, not less, total consumption. Similarly, green technologies can indeed lower emissions of greenhouse gases per dollar of output. But it is total emissions -- not just the intensity of emissions -- that need to be reduced. Urgent targets for reducing total emissions are only achievable by combining greener technology with slower or no economic growth.
In Managing Without Growth, Peter Victor, an ecological economist at York University in Canada modeled the effects on the environment, poverty and unemployment of various economic-growth scenarios. If we rely on economic growth averaging 2.5 percent annually to supply jobs, greenhouse gas emissions will increase by around 75 percent over the next 30 years even if the intensity of emissions continues to decline at a rate consistent with the historical trend. Even so, poverty and unemployment will creep upward. Simply ceasing economic growth, however, would result in catastrophic increases in poverty and unemployment. Only by slowing economic growth, reducing working time and targeting investment and regulatory policy on greenhouse gas reductions in combination can the goals of environmental protection and reduction of poverty and unemployment be approached simultaneously.
But how does the reduction of working time square with the goal of creating good jobs? Eighty years ago, economist Raymond Henry Mussey wrote that, "no student of American labor history can fail to be struck with the extraordinary importance of the eight-hour issue in union thinking during the formative years of the American Federation of Labor." Mussey affirmed that the shorter hours theory ideally fit the organizational needs of the labor movement. Indeed, in the face of the depression of the 1930s and concerns about job loss to automation in the 1950s and 1960s, the labor movement returned again and again to the issue of the shorter workweek. Today, what needs above all to be understood is that the reduction of working time creates opportunity for greater freedom and enjoyment through leisure and not a grim necessity to be borne with regret and resignation.