Wednesday, June 01, 2011

Inefficient Systems

There is a lot of fancy talk among economists about efficiency and productivity. From a business standpoint, maximum efficiency means more profit, lower expenses and that is often achieved by increasing worker productivity and decreasing labor costs. There's some fucking irony there, work harder, better, faster so we can eliminate your job.

But as we can see from the current economic wreck, that's just straight up fucked. The more unemployed workers you have in a society's economic system, the less efficiently it runs. We have, as workers, increased productivity by 20% in the last 30 years. That's an entire day's worth of work every week. That's permanent Fridays off. Or it could be, if we were the ones benefiting from our own increase in productivity.

We have seen, over and over again, that our government that is supposed to work for us, chooses to side with the kleptocratic masters of the universe. There is a really simple way to fix our inefficient system of allotting jobs, and that's by decreasing the number of hours in a full time week to 32. That's the 20% we've gained in the last 30 years. That is part of the reason why there are so many part-time jobs compared to full-time jobs now. So why not consider that full time work? What would you do, full-time workers, with an entire extra day a week to yourselves? It seems only fair since we haven't seen wages keep up with inflation over the last 30 years. Health and welfare benefits have been cut and slashed so that we're lucky if we have full-time employment and an insurance plan that will only pay for basic emergency treatment and nothing else. What do we get for being better workers than our parents were?

If economists were honest (and let's face, most are not) then they would be looking at this massive surplus of labor and seeing the huge flaw in the system. I think it was in Mary Barton that Elizabeth Gaskell wrote "If the masters earn interest on their money, where is our interest on our labor?". If the idea is that the masters take a risk by plunging their cash into business (and with TARP, etc they really aren't taking much of a risk) and receiving interest and rents above their original investment as payoff, then where is our interest for the hours spent working? We aren't even guaranteed a basic living wage, yet it's still our labor that has improved the productivity more than the masters' money has. This system is inefficient. It has to change. And shortening the work week to modern productivity standards is the fastest way to fix that inefficiency.

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