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Author Topic: 20 Hour Work Week  (Read 5490 times)
opebo
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« on: June 03, 2011, 07:54:06 am »
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I was thinking about this when I had to justify my employment recently, and I noticed that they expected a 'forty hour work week'.  I was quite frankly astonished, as I had forgotten about this horror, and assumed it didn't apply to me.

Why don't we have a 20 hour work week, given that it is both more reasonable from the standpoint of human nature and economically beneficial?  (the productivity rate is many times what it was when the 40 hour work week was instituted in the 1930s).
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« Reply #1 on: June 03, 2011, 08:08:01 am »
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An employer would rather fire what he considers to be extraneous employs as productivity rises than give all of his employees fewer hours at the same pay, ostensibly for the purpose of remaining competitive. It's crap, but not a whole lot can be done about it.
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opebo
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« Reply #2 on: June 03, 2011, 08:11:00 am »
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An employer would rather fire what he considers to be extraneous employs as productivity rises than give all of his employees fewer hours at the same pay, ostensibly for the purpose of remaining competitive. It's crap, but not a whole lot can be done about it.

Well, obviously eliminating the 'employer' or strictly controlling his actions (his power over workers) is the only way workers could ever hope to stop being exploited. 
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Liberté
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« Reply #3 on: June 03, 2011, 08:13:58 am »
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An employer would rather fire what he considers to be extraneous employs as productivity rises than give all of his employees fewer hours at the same pay, ostensibly for the purpose of remaining competitive. It's crap, but not a whole lot can be done about it.

Well, obviously eliminating the 'employer' or strictly controlling his actions (his power over workers) is the only way workers could ever hope to stop being exploited. 

Right, because governments founded by the owning class and governing chiefly in the interests of the owning class have proven to be so good at controlling their power over their employees.
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Snowguy716
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« Reply #4 on: June 03, 2011, 08:18:29 am »
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An employer would rather fire what he considers to be extraneous employs as productivity rises than give all of his employees fewer hours at the same pay, ostensibly for the purpose of remaining competitive. It's crap, but not a whole lot can be done about it.

And it only happens because the system makes most people desperate for employment.  The only way to remedy that would be through government regulations.

In a system where productivity rises and pay and leisure do not (or actually decline as it has for most Americans since 1980), staying "competitive" ultimately just hurts businesses in the long run because the increased productivity will create excess supply while demand remains largely the same.  This drives prices downward and further encourages employers to raise productivity and thin out their workforces in a race to the bottom.

When the capitalists at the top of the pyramid relied on human labor to produce the goods that they sold, it was easy to redistribute wealth.  Now an incredible amount of wealth is gleaned off of non-human labor (with computers/robotics/or simply making money off of money)... and that all concentrates at the tippy top.

Ideally, in a society where technology supplants human labor, people would be paid more and more for doing less and less work... thus enjoying the fruits of innovation and technological advances until eventually much of the economy is automated and we find better things to do with our time with all of the wealth we've helped create.
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« Reply #5 on: June 03, 2011, 08:21:01 am »
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The only way to remedy that would be through government regulations.

I have absolutely no faith in a capitalist State within a capitalist framework to actively work against the interests of industry. If the business of the American people is business, the business of the American State is to ensure that the business of the American people remains business. If there exists a solution at all for our economic problems, it lies far beyond the government.
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opebo
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« Reply #6 on: June 03, 2011, 08:34:59 am »
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...If there exists a solution at all ... it lies far beyond the government.

I suppose you think that a 'State' is be nature inevitably capitalist, but I'm not so convinced.  It seems to me the State is exactly like a gun, and whoever has it (at present the capitalist class) points it at the others and makes them their slaves.  Whether this gun can only be utilized by the few to oppress the many, or whether there might be a way for the many to wield it is I agree questionable.  But to fantasize that the gun and the power to kill that ultimately delineates all human relationships within society will go away and be replaced by anything else is, I fear, unrealistic.
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« Reply #7 on: June 03, 2011, 08:41:48 am »
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...If there exists a solution at all ... it lies far beyond the government.

I suppose you think that a 'State' is be nature inevitably capitalist, but I'm not so convinced.  It seems to me the State is exactly like a gun, and whoever has it (at present the capitalist class) points it at the others and makes them their slaves.  Whether this gun can only be utilized by the few to oppress the many, or whether there might be a way for the many to wield it is I agree questionable.  But to fantasize that the gun and the power to kill that ultimately delineates all human relationships within society will go away and be replaced by anything else is, I fear, unrealistic.

That was Vladimir Lenin's philosophy: the vanguard could take over the apparatus of the State left behind by the old feudal order, usher it through capitalism into Communism, and dissolve it. Leaving aside the fact that Communism is not precisely what I'm after, that philosophy has been tried and it has failed. One day, long after I've departed this mortal vale, the fundamental social relationships of our society will change. Why I do not know, but I can tell you how: it will not come through a centralized government with a monopoly of force.
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Snowguy716
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« Reply #8 on: June 03, 2011, 09:34:25 am »
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The only way to remedy that would be through government regulations.

I have absolutely no faith in a capitalist State within a capitalist framework to actively work against the interests of industry. If the business of the American people is business, the business of the American State is to ensure that the business of the American people remains business. If there exists a solution at all for our economic problems, it lies far beyond the government.
And that would be?  Magical fairy dust?  People acting alone as individuals?

What needs to be done is democratization of the workplace.  The big systemic problem with the U.S. is that we demand one man, one vote and a say in the political process... but are just fine going to work in an authoritarian totalitarian regime every day.  Corporations should be done away with in favor of employee owned businesses where every employee gets one vote on company policy.

If we did that, I think our nation would be much happier, less stressed out, and generally more prosperous.
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« Reply #9 on: June 03, 2011, 09:40:48 am »
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And that would be?  Magical fairy dust?  People acting alone as individuals?

Quite honestly? Yes. Self-sufficiency has got to be the principle upon which the Left founds itself. You are never going to eradicate these broad social problems constantly relying on other people from classes other than your own to do it for you, when they do it at all, that is to say half-assedly and haphazardly. 

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What needs to be done is democratization of the workplace.  The big systemic problem with the U.S. is that we demand one man, one vote and a say in the political process... but are just fine going to work in an authoritarian totalitarian regime every day.  Corporations should be done away with in favor of employee owned businesses where every employee gets one vote on company policy.

I don't disagree with you. This is the model I endorse. But it's not going to come down from on high at the hand of any liberal legislation. It's going to come when workers in some industry or another, and probably at some small, barely-competitive business within that industry, are able to purchase that business and operate it co-operatively.
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opebo
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« Reply #10 on: June 03, 2011, 11:05:14 am »
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That was Vladimir Lenin's philosophy: the vanguard could take over the apparatus of the State left behind by the old feudal order, usher it through capitalism into Communism, and dissolve it. Leaving aside the fact that Communism is not precisely what I'm after, that philosophy has been tried and it has failed. One day, long after I've departed this mortal vale, the fundamental social relationships of our society will change. Why I do not know, but I can tell you how: it will not come through a centralized government with a monopoly of force.

I don't think anything will change, though I don't rule it out.  But I also don't think that just because something was 'tried' once historically speaking that it means that idea is definitively a 'failure'.
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Grumps
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« Reply #11 on: June 03, 2011, 11:34:04 am »
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opebo's a lazy (he views it as a compliment, so relax).  If you want to work 20 hours, then 20 hours pay it shall be.
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« Reply #12 on: June 03, 2011, 11:37:35 am »
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There is in existence a thing called "Part-time".  Feel free to seek one of those positions out if you want those kind of hours.
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angus
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« Reply #13 on: June 03, 2011, 11:39:06 am »
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There are plenty of 20-hour work schedules.  They just don't pay very well.

I have two folks working with me this summer.  I tell them that I expect them to be in about 9ish and to be here till around 4:30ish or later.  Except on Fridays.  I understand that folks like to cut out early on Fridays.  I'm usually gone by 3.  So, considering a 30- to 60-minute lunch break, this amounts to about a 33- to 35-hour workweek.  Unless there's a holiday, like Monday was, that's sort of the norm in my lab.  It's not that I consider 35 hours a magic number, but it's just that I'm here during those times, and I think that they would be most productive if their hours overlap with mine.  This way we can meet if necessary, or if they need my help I'm here, or if I have questions for them, they're here.  But I have colleagues that work 40 hours or more, and I assume they want their paid summer researchers doing that as well.  

Apparently your colleagues are working 40 hour weeks, maybe by tradition, maybe by necessity, or for any number of reasons, but presumably they have been doing this a long time and they have determined that this is the amount of time it takes for the average worker to perform what they consider to be a reasonable amount of work.'

And some folks work 60 or 70 hour weeks.  My neighbor is an attorney and he's working all the time.  He leaves before I wake up and returns long after we have eaten.  Even on Fridays.  then again, he also makes buckets of money.  Different priorities, I suppose.

but you can certainly have a 20-hour job if you want it.  I had quite of few of those in my younger years.  Be advised that they don't pay much.  
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opebo
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« Reply #14 on: June 03, 2011, 11:41:37 am »
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opebo's a lazy (he views it as a compliment, so relax).  If you want to work 20 hours, then 20 hours pay it shall be.

That's an absolutely destructive, unworkable, and irrational economic policy, Gramps.  The whole point of increasing wages through legislation and unionization, and reducing working hours by the same methods, is to deal with the continuous increase in productivity which will otherwise drown the economy in a disastrous dearth of demand.

Anyone who isn't a lazy is a conditioned rat in a wheel, by the way.
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angus
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« Reply #15 on: June 03, 2011, 11:53:36 am »
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Anyone who isn't a lazy is a conditioned rat in a wheel, by the way.

No, there's a such thing as laziness.  And if you're too lazy, or retarded, you'll not survive.  I'll stipulate that your shock and dismay at what you consider to be an unreasonable demand by your employers doesn't mark you as truly lazy.  Then again, no one's forcing you to keep this job.

But man must build fire to provide warmth and cook foods.  Unless your gods will do that for you.  It's quite simple.  Work is the application of force through a distance.  (one joule is one newton times one meter)  And if you want to survive, you must work.  Even kings and emperors work, grasshopper.
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Grumps
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« Reply #16 on: June 03, 2011, 12:00:00 pm »
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Anyone who isn't a lazy is a conditioned rat in a wheel, by the way.

Guilty.....and since I"m self employed I'm guilty of building the damn wheel.  Tongue
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I only had 3 sandwiches instead of my normal 4.

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« Reply #17 on: June 03, 2011, 02:19:21 pm »
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There is in existence a thing called "Part-time".  Feel free to seek one of those positions out if you want those kind of hours.

That should be illegal.  20 hours max, and no jobs should pay less than 'full time'.  In the interests of a stable and growing economy.

Apparently your colleagues are working 40 hour weeks, maybe by tradition, maybe by necessity,...

No, no, everyone in my office is never there.  Or rather, the office is often at least half empty.  That's the point - no one there really works a 40 hour work week (we're usually about half out of town, in Bangkok, etc), which is why I was surprised that I do have to pretend to have done so in my annual evaluation.

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There are plenty of 20-hour work schedules.  They just don't pay very well.

but you can certainly have a 20-hour job if you want it.  I had quite of few of those in my younger years.  Be advised that they don't pay much. 

Yes, that is precisely the point - for economic health we need to stipulate full time as 20 hours, and make that pay the same as 40 hours pays now.  In other words we need to simply return things to the way they were years ago before the free-market deterioration was allowed to set in.
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« Reply #18 on: June 03, 2011, 02:48:23 pm »
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In the 1960s this idea was explored in The Jetsons.  Do you remember that show?  George Jetson worked for the slavedriving Mr. Spaceley.  "These nine-hour workweeks are killing me!"

Obviously that show was produced in the Great Society era when it was more popular to submit to the idea of government-mandated work schedules.  I'm not sure people are as eager to accept such government mandates now, even if they did encourage more leisure time.  The thinking may be that productivity per worker would fall so much that the living standard would fall as well.  Or maybe we're more ideologically driven than in the past, and are simply offended at the notion of such government mandates. 

I guess you could say that the owning class wealth would fall under such a system, so they don't support the 20-hour mandate and they dream up ways to convince the rank worker not to support it.

I wouldn't necessarily couch it in that language, or emphasize such aspects.  There is economic and social mobility, and leisure time is not viewed as important by some as by others.  And you are still free to change your employment situation if you find that it doesn't suit you.
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opebo
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« Reply #19 on: June 03, 2011, 02:52:35 pm »
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Obviously that show was produced in the Great Society era when it was more popular to submit to the idea of government-mandated work schedules.  I'm not sure people are as eager to accept such government mandates now, even if they did encourage more leisure time.

Which shows how ignorant people are, because they currently do submit to a government mandated work schedule - whatever the lords of industry, privileged by the State to control the populace, stipulate.  Work or die! 

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The thinking may be that productivity per worker would fall so much that the living standard would fall as well.  Or maybe we're more ideologically driven than in the past, and are simply offended at the notion of such government mandates.

It is pure ignorance, fear, envy, power-worship and gullibility.  People are so vile nowadays you almost don't pity them, but then I suppose we tend not to pity the whipped cur that licks its torturers hand. 

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There is economic and social mobility, and leisure time is not viewed as important by some as by others.  And you are still free to change your employment situation if you find that it doesn't suit you.

Well no, there is no economic or social mobility, and I am not free to change anything.
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« Reply #20 on: August 13, 2011, 12:13:46 pm »
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Opebo,

There is of course the restaurant world.  At my restaurant (where I do deliveries and am 10% owner since last year btw, thus joining the ruling class) you can work full or part time.  Most tipped employees only work about 15 to 20 hours a week, as they make around 25 to 30 dollars an hour (minimum wage plus tips).  But, you could work more hours if you'd like.  I work about 30 hours a week, used to do 40 hours a week, far more than any other tipped employee.
      One thing is to manage expenses.  If you don't spend a huge amount of money on horse back lessons for the kids, don't drive an expensive car, and don't take expensive vacations, you don't need to work as many hours.  My wife works about 5 hours a week at our restaurant, so combined we work 35 hours for a family of four, and still save about 30% or our income( now supplemented by ownership income), yet we know lots of people who combined work maybe 70 hours a week (husband and wife) and are just getting by.
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opebo
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« Reply #21 on: August 13, 2011, 01:31:23 pm »
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There is of course the restaurant world.  At my restaurant (where I do deliveries and am 10% owner since last year btw, thus joining the ruling class) you can work full or part time.  Most tipped employees only work about 15 to 20 hours a week, as they make around 25 to 30 dollars an hour (minimum wage plus tips). 

$25-30/hour?  Wow, I have to believe that there are very few of this kind of restaurant left. I know when I was last in the Bad Place, a huge percentage of the medium-high end restaurants had gone under due to the depression. 

I think what remains are mostly places where there is no tipping, or very minimal tipping.

Impossible.

Nonsense, Link.
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« Reply #22 on: August 13, 2011, 03:40:07 pm »
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Would the democratization of the work place ensure workers decide to work 20 hrs per week for full wages? Perhaps if the employees are idiots, but in all likelihood, no.  You might not get a full 40 hours, but I think the workers will see the benefits of more productivity.

But that's the good thing about co-ops and such. The workers decide how many hours are good for them. Perhaps they can make a good wage at just 20 hrs. Perhaps it would require 60 hrs. It all depends on them.
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« Reply #23 on: August 13, 2011, 05:25:15 pm »
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Would the democratization of the work place ensure workers decide to work 20 hrs per week for full wages? Perhaps if the employees are idiots, but in all likelihood, no.  You might not get a full 40 hours, but I think the workers will see the benefits of more productivity.

But that's the good thing about co-ops and such. The workers decide how many hours are good for them. Perhaps they can make a good wage at just 20 hrs. Perhaps it would require 60 hrs. It all depends on them.

I agree wholeheartedly.  Why should we demand democracy and freedom at home but be expected to blindly accept fascist autocracy in the work place?
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« Reply #24 on: August 14, 2011, 02:19:30 am »
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READ my post.  If people start working only 20 hrs a week they would have to at LEAST double their work force.  It would increase their costs a lot... if they add another employee that doubles those costs for them before the employee has worked one hour.

Yes, I read it, Loink.  I want to increase costs - reflate the economy.  Productivity has increased tremendously since the 1930s when we last decreased the length of the work-week, and none of that benefit has gone to the workers.
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