Work hours - #1 issue of our times

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Re: Work hours - #1 issue of our times

Postby d30 on February 25th, 2017, 7:58 pm 

Sorry indeed if I was overbearing to you, ForestD. Can't be having that. Thanks for monitoring, Braininvat.

In keeping with Braininvat's suggestion, "chart baby steps that may be feasible now," it seems the first baby step is to get the 30-hour workweek solution known; get knowledge of it spreading around by talking about it with people who generally have no idea there are such ways to start moving in a direction away from rat-race hell and widespread job insecurity;

esp. working people, 70% of whom hate their jobs or are totally disengaged (burned out). Talk to them about how much their lives would be improved with 2 extra hours for themselves each work day, meaning also two hours less having to endure those jobs; able to get more sleep; do things they've been wanting to do but couldn't get to.

"...in the coming 10 to 20 years around half of today's jobs will be threatened by algorithms [rapidly developing artificial intelligence]."

https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/will-democracy-survive-big-data-and-artificial-intelligence/

Technology, accelerating, is indeed the major cause of vanishing jobs, not off-shoring, according to sources I've seen, including Jeremy Rifkin's 1996 book THE END OF WORK. If no adjustments are made, it means steadily increasing numbers of jobless at the same time of a shrinking pool of new jobs to seek, and in competition with ever more growth of population (competition for ever fewer living-wage jobs); i.e., increasing and nationally disruptive suffering, homelessness, crime, disorder.

It's one of the compelling reasons for shorter workweeks, which, in effect, creates a massive number of new jobs to accommodate the increasing number of laid off workers. To make up for the lost 10 hours of work from now 30-hour/week (30HW) workers, government and business will have to hire enough new people to cover that work. As the 1930s Kellogg's Cereals change to 30HW shows, it pays for itself so it's certainly viable.

But have to get going on it now. Change is only welcome to those who see benefit. Given understanding of the 30HW solution, virtually all will see the myriad benefits, but until all see them, best to start with those to whom the benefits will be immediately recognizable. That's unhappy workers. Let's talk to them everywhere.
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Re: Work hours - #1 issue of our times

Postby d30 on February 26th, 2017, 7:30 pm 

Paul Anthony » February 24th, 2017, 4:51 pm wrote:
d30 » Fri Feb 24, 2017 5:18 pm wrote:
The natural trajectory to it is clear in history: in the beginning, all humanoids had to work 24/7 hunting/gathering food to survive; it didn't get much better through ancient and medieval times; then the 60-70-hour weeks of the early Industrial Age "sweat shops," cave mines, etc. Finally came the 40-hour week. 30HW is the obvious next step in that progression. You don't, or can't, suggest another idea, yet treat the one proposed entirely negatively, while jobs keep vanishing en masse and the environment is devoured more, and faster, by the day.


Let's not stand in the way of history! Enough baby steps! Let's go immediately to a 1 hour work week!

Don't kid yourself. If robotics and AI (artificial intelligence) fulfill potential, there will be no need for human labor anymore - i.e., a zero-hour workweek. Such automation, in factories and computerized clerical work (e.g., receptionists long replaced by voice-menu systems), has already eliminated millions of jobs, computerized accounting (spreadsheet apps, etc.), data processing.

AI robots will be doing all formerly human jobs, from food production and distribution to construction and repair; everything. Jobs will be a thing of the past. But it does not mean the end of work, just work for hire (daily doing what employers tell you to do). Humans will be fully freed to work on pursuits of interest to them, from the arts and sciences to sports and other forms of recreation including hobbies, exploration and discovery.

In the least, automation will continue to eliminate more and more jobs. Instead of letting the massive deprivation and disruption grow and grow as time goes by, humanity needs to begin adjusting to it right now, by reducing the workweek in increments, starting with reduction to a 30-hour workweek, which in effect spreads what employment remains among all the people, so all can earn a living.

That is, again, for the 30-hour week, all employers, government and business, will have to hire a huge number of new workers, to do the work formerly 40-hour employees, now just 30-hour, are no longer getting to. (Recall, as already explained, it will pay for itself.)

You can't just wait through decades of growing en masse human destitution, deprivation, disorder and suffering, to finally reduce all at once from a 40-hour week to a 10-hour, or zero-hour workweek. You have to make smaller, gentle adjustments, one by one, as time goes on, so all can adjust to it far more easily, in manageable steps.

Note that the first step, the reduction to 30 hours, will itself be phased in slowly, gradually, to make adjustment far easier for all. That is, the first year the workweek will reduce from 40 to 38 hours, the next year 38 to 36, and so on, until after five years all are on the 30-hour week.

A shame the already long overdue and desperate need to do this is recognized by so few. In 1960, some sociologists and economists expected the 30-hour week by 1980. So, there's already been 36 years of increasing numbers of unemployed and underemployed suffering from financial deprivation, growing homelessness, etc., that would not have happened were our society at all vigilant, aware and prudent in the big scheme of things instead of myopically always focused on the next paycheck, next quarterly profit statement, next election.

Little or no farsighted vision, as needed for more than the growing employment crisis, e.g., in maintaining and upgrading the seriously neglected national infrastructure (roads, bridges, dams, power grid, sewer and water systems, etc.). Humanity continues to wait and let disaster happen first.
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Re: Work hours - #1 issue of our times

Postby Lomax on March 19th, 2017, 9:47 pm 

Forest_Dump » February 21st, 2017, 1:04 am wrote:
d30 wrote:Off-thread immediately, because it is not about management and organization. It's about our culture and lifestyle, about the quality of life.


Sorry if I quibble but part of the title was "#1 Issue of our Times". By no stretch of imagination can I accept that it is the #1 issue of our times and I can't even see it is the #1 work-related issue. Minimum wage? Lack of enough jobs of any kind?

I might be committing a "lump of labour" fallacy, but if we decrease the number of work hours, won't that increase the number of jobs (assuming the same amount of work needs to be done)?
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Re: Work hours - #1 issue of our times

Postby Lomax on March 19th, 2017, 9:59 pm 

By the way, there are some great texts in favour of d30's position. Oscar Wilde's Soul of Man Under Socialism argues that we shouldn't have to spend all our time working so that somebody else can fetishise profit - or as he puts it, "Socialism would relieve us from that sordid necessity of living for others". Plato, in his somewhat more classist way, felt that (wo)man could not be complete without a great deal of leisure time. Bertrand Russell was no-one to argue, intoning in his In Praise of Idleness that "the morality of work is the morality of slaves, and the modern world has no need of slavery". Five years later George Orwell, in The Road to Wigan Pier argued that a mechanized labour force, with little need or option for human labour, is increasingly in our future, regardless of whether socialism or capitalism reigns; and that we better start learning to make the best of it. Dalton Conley, in The Rich Man's Burden, with apparent awareness that millionaires actually work longer than average hours, attributes long working hours to a change our attitude toward money. "We used to work hard so that someday we wouldn't have to. Today, the more we earn, the more we work." For my part, I'm thinking about the fact that a one-hour-shorter working week means enough time to read perhaps eight more books a year, or 284 books if I make it to the current UK retirement age. Just shut up and take my money.
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Re: Work hours - #1 issue of our times

Postby Lomax on March 19th, 2017, 10:11 pm 

One last scrap:

Paul Anthony » February 22nd, 2017, 6:11 am wrote:I can agree with that portion of your arguments that are supported by facts, but an appeal to social justice doesn't carry the same weight. There is a big difference between scientific evidence and appeals to emotion.

That should read: "doesn't carry the same weight for those not concerned with social justice".
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Re: Work hours - #1 issue of our times

Postby Paul Anthony on March 20th, 2017, 12:45 pm 

Lomax » Sun Mar 19, 2017 7:11 pm wrote:One last scrap:

Paul Anthony » February 22nd, 2017, 6:11 am wrote:I can agree with that portion of your arguments that are supported by facts, but an appeal to social justice doesn't carry the same weight. There is a big difference between scientific evidence and appeals to emotion.

That should read: "doesn't carry the same weight for those not concerned with social justice".


No, I'll stand by my statement. If we have facts we can make informed decisions. Scientific evidence allows for predictable outcomes for particular actions. Appeals to emotion are good methods for inspiring change, but not a good predictor of what changes will be best.

Allow me to provide an absurd two-part example:

(1) Women, despite accounting for roughly half the population, are considered a minority. Social Justice warriors lament the fact that minorities don't own their fair share of businesses, so the government provides tax advantages to minority-owned businesses, including businesses owned by women.

(2) Gender is discriminatory. The gender one is born with should not dictate the gender you identify as. Anyone should be allowed to identify as a different gender, without surgery or the need to provide any proof of said identity. To ask for proof would be discrimination.

I own a business. I am male. If I choose to identify as female I can increase the number of minority-owned businesses and enjoy the tax benefits that accompany that change. Hooray for Social Justice.
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Re: Work hours - #1 issue of our times

Postby Lomax on March 20th, 2017, 3:44 pm 

Paul Anthony » March 20th, 2017, 5:45 pm wrote:No, I'll stand by my statement. If we have facts we can make informed decisions. Scientific evidence allows for predictable outcomes for particular actions. Appeals to emotion are good methods for inspiring change

That's what "carry weight" means - inspire change. Your decision needs to be informed but it also needs to have a goal, whether that goal is to increase social justice or whatever else. Your somewhat alexithymic pretense to be able to make emotionless decisions comes across to me as insincere. We do know from neurological research, of course, that those dissociated from emotion are worse at making decisions, not better.
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Re: Work hours - #1 issue of our times

Postby Paul Anthony on March 20th, 2017, 6:17 pm 

Lomax » Mon Mar 20, 2017 12:44 pm wrote:
That's what "carry weight" means - inspire change. Your decision needs to be informed but it also needs to have a goal, whether that goal is to increase social justice or whatever else. Your somewhat alexithymic pretense to be able to make emotionless decisions comes across to me as insincere. We do know from neurological research, of course, that those dissociated from emotion are worse at making decisions, not better.


Granted, emotional appeals trigger a response. This can be useful for bringing attention to a problem, but solving the problem requires logic and reasoning. Too many laws have been passed with disastrous results because the action taken was a "knee-jerk reaction" to a perceived problem. Emotional responses do not make good governance.
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Re: Work hours - #1 issue of our times

Postby d30 on March 21st, 2017, 4:00 pm 

Lomax » March 19th, 2017, 5:47 pm wrote:I might be committing a "lump of labour" fallacy, but if we decrease the number of work hours, won't that increase the number of jobs (assuming the same amount of work needs to be done)?

Yes, and that's one of the points of primary importance in the advance to the 30-hour workweek: the major eliminator of jobs is advancing technology (not off-shoring, "temping," etc.). It's accelerating, to the point that eventually, robots and other automation will be doing most of the work - few jobs left for humans, a severe threat to economic, political and social stability.

The time is way past to begin adjusting to this new reality in human evolution. As the number of available jobs continues to shrink, you take the number of human work hours still available, and divide it by the number of job-needing people. That gives you your appropriate current workweek hours per individual so all have a livelihood. It can all be worked out, just as it was circa 1946 when we reduced from a 60-hour week to 40 in the U.S.

Reduction to a 30-hour workweek was expected by analysts in 1960 to arrive in 1980. So, we're very late beginning our adjustment to the realities of industry and work in our times. The 30-hour week is a good, gradual, gentle, not disruptive, first step.

And again, it will pay for itself, as it would have had we gone to it on schedule in 1980, instead of all the vast amounts of soaring overall wealth gain (from soaring productivity [efficiency]) going selfishly into the pockets of the 1% (CEOs and now 2,000+ billionaires [there were about five in the 1960s]).

Let's note that in the age of advancing robotics, "work ethic" is obsolete: there will eventually be scant little work for humans to do. Humans will be truly free at last, to enjoy and/or achieve, each according to their particular interests.

As for the so-called "lump of labour" fallacy, it's not a fallacy. If advancing productivity, automation, etc. make it possible for people to produce in 30 hours what used to take 40, why should they still be working 40 - so 25 percent of them can be callously discarded so the rich can pocket the cost of their wages and benefits, transforming them from millionaires into billionaires now with plenty of money to keep corrupting our government more and more, to the point where democracy is now in grave danger.
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Re: Work hours - #1 issue of our times

Postby vivian maxine on March 21st, 2017, 4:32 pm 

d30, you are right about the robotic labor. Then there is one more thing. The customer being required to assembly his own furniture and/or appliance. Probably many other examples but I can't think of the others now. Oh, yes: set his computer, assemble his own cell phone, install his own furnace.

That reminds me of something from Science Daily. Some ophthalmologists have invented a new machine for examining and photographing the eye without dilating. It involves using a much less expensive machine than the one they now use. Only $135. I got all the way to the end of that article and started reading that this new machine is so simple to assemble that anyone can do it. And so small that you can carry it in your pocket. Hmmm. Next thing you know, they'll be asking us to do our own eye exams.

https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2 ... 143848.htm

The "do it yourself" culture grows. Put the employees out of work.

One thing I can say. When it comes to setting up my own computer, I keep the experts in business. That is if I can find an expert who wants to work. :-)
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Re: Work hours - #1 issue of our times

Postby Paul Anthony on March 21st, 2017, 5:45 pm 

vivian maxine » Tue Mar 21, 2017 1:32 pm wrote:d30, you are right about the robotic labor. Then there is one more thing. The customer being required to assembly his own furniture and/or appliance. Probably many other examples but I can't think of the others now. Oh, yes: set his computer, assemble his own cell phone, install his own furnace.


It may not make that much difference. Some people are not DIY material, so another service industry has grown - doing the assembly/set-up that many people can't do themselves. With the increase in online shopping, expect to see more small local outfits popping up to fill the need. That's entrepreneurial and a great alternative to working for some large corporation.

Big Box stores that don't include delivery may have helped U-Haul rent pick-up trucks, but if you buy a couch from Big Lots they will offer delivery which is provided by a separate company that contracts with the store. When one retailer cuts service, another comes along.
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Re: Work hours - #1 issue of our times

Postby Lomax on March 21st, 2017, 7:26 pm 

d30 » March 21st, 2017, 9:00 pm wrote:As for the so-called "lump of labour" fallacy, it's not a fallacy. If advancing productivity, automation, etc. make it possible for people to produce in 30 hours what used to take 40, why should they still be working 40 - so 25 percent of them can be callously discarded so the rich can pocket the cost of their wages and benefits, transforming them from millionaires into billionaires now with plenty of money to keep corrupting our government more and more, to the point where democracy is now in grave danger.

The idea of the fallacy is that higher work hours can create more jobs, not less - because they lead to more capital (opening up the possibility of investment in capital-intensive jobs), advance the infrastructure, etc. They also put more money into the labourer's pocket, and (s)he is more likely to spend it, which means more in circulation overall. It's the reason "the immigrants" are not "taking our jobs".

If the question becomes one of machine productivity, this is controversial among economists too (which is not to say it's necessarily false). Ryan Avent argues that technological advance simply pushes humans into less productive areas of work, in a way which is self-canceling. Paul Krugman explains.
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Re: Work hours - #1 issue of our times

Postby d30 on March 21st, 2017, 11:47 pm 

Lomax » March 21st, 2017, 3:26 pm wrote:
d30 » March 21st, 2017, 9:00 pm wrote:As for the so-called "lump of labour" fallacy, it's not a fallacy. If advancing productivity, automation, etc. make it possible for people to produce in 30 hours what used to take 40, why should they still be working 40 - so 25 percent of them can be callously discarded so the rich can pocket the cost of their wages and benefits, transforming them from millionaires into billionaires now with plenty of money to keep corrupting our government more and more, to the point where democracy is now in grave danger.

The idea of the fallacy is that higher work hours can create more jobs, not less - because they lead to more capital (opening up the possibility of investment in capital-intensive jobs), advance the infrastructure, etc.

Seems to all miss the main, inespcapable point - the rapidly approaching, worldwide livelihood crisis. That is:

1. How would "higher work hours [longer work weeks]...create more jobs, not less" when it would do nothing to slow the advance of automation/robotics that is eliminating the need for human labor - i.e., whatever new jobs are created will inevitably themselves be taken over by the machines (robots, etc.), and more quickly as time goes on?

2. Even if longer work weeks "lead to more capital" presumably creating new investment thus new jobs, technology will continue eliminating evermore jobs for humans, not to mention the fact that much of the increased capital will be invested in accelerating technology thus automation even more?
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Re: Work hours - #1 issue of our times

Postby SciameriKen on March 22nd, 2017, 12:43 am 

Lomax » Tue Mar 21, 2017 11:26 pm wrote:
d30 » March 21st, 2017, 9:00 pm wrote:As for the so-called "lump of labour" fallacy, it's not a fallacy. If advancing productivity, automation, etc. make it possible for people to produce in 30 hours what used to take 40, why should they still be working 40 - so 25 percent of them can be callously discarded so the rich can pocket the cost of their wages and benefits, transforming them from millionaires into billionaires now with plenty of money to keep corrupting our government more and more, to the point where democracy is now in grave danger.

The idea of the fallacy is that higher work hours can create more jobs, not less - because they lead to more capital (opening up the possibility of investment in capital-intensive jobs), advance the infrastructure, etc. They also put more money into the labourer's pocket, and (s)he is more likely to spend it, which means more in circulation overall. It's the reason "the immigrants" are not "taking our jobs".

If the question becomes one of machine productivity, this is controversial among economists too (which is not to say it's necessarily false). Ryan Avent argues that technological advance simply pushes humans into less productive areas of work, in a way which is self-canceling. Paul Krugman explains.


Avent offers a much clearer explanation: https://medium.com/@ryanavent_93844/the ... .5cr1hkacw

Krugman is an idiot.

The crux of their arguments is basically why haven't the robots taken over yet. Avent raises a good point in that there has already been some technological push - sending an already cheap labor market, cheaper, and thus it is still cheaper to use human labor than retool for robotics/AI. I think you can also add globalization has further depressed the labor cost, probably more so than any technology to date. I think bottom line, the profit motive isn't there - mainly the low wages for the past few decades has extincted the consumers - and further - the technological push sits on the sideline waiting to pounce on any semblance of recovery.
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Re: Work hours - #1 issue of our times

Postby vivian maxine on March 22nd, 2017, 6:26 am 

Paul, are you forgetting that the customer who cannot DIY pays extra for those services? I once tried to find someone to assemble a grocery cart that I bought. I found someone. He charged $45. That was more than the cart cost

That said, I just remembered a story of old. A large newspaper publisher's main printer broke down. Without it he was out of business and no one at the company could find and fix what was wrong. He called in a expert. Expert walked around the machine a few times, asked for a hammer, hit one small piece and printer was back in business.

When the expert sent his bill for $100, the publisher said it was worth the cost because it saved his business. Still he wanted to know why it was so much just to hit one small piece with a hammer. The expert answered with a detailed bill: $1 for fixing the machine; $99 for knowing what to do. :-)

I hope you all are right about these little mom-and-pop stores popping up and all these fix-it people offering to do jobs. So far all I see is more and more small shops closing. Repair work? Not supposed to do that. Just toss and buy new. Isn't that the philosophy now?
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Re: Work hours - #1 issue of our times

Postby Lomax on March 22nd, 2017, 9:08 am 

d30 » March 22nd, 2017, 4:47 am wrote:1. How would "higher work hours [longer work weeks]...create more jobs, not less" when it would do nothing to slow the advance of automation/robotics that is eliminating the need for human labor - i.e., whatever new jobs are created will inevitably themselves be taken over by the machines (robots, etc.), and more quickly as time goes on?

2. Even if longer work weeks "lead to more capital" presumably creating new investment thus new jobs, technology will continue eliminating evermore jobs for humans, not to mention the fact that much of the increased capital will be invested in accelerating technology thus automation even more?

Because the phenomenon becomes circular. If Avent says "robot labour is pushing humans into less productive labour, which means a plateau in productivity" and you say "yes but this causes more robot labour", it does nothing to address the point that more robot labour doesn't necessarily mean higher productivity, does it?
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