Working less not more - the solution to most our problems? - Xtratime Community
 
LinkBack Thread Tools Rate Thread Display Modes
post #1 of 46 (permalink) Old January 11th, 2006, 03:50 Thread Starter
Legend
Legend
 
Andrix's Avatar
 
Join Date: 04 2001
Location: Toronto
Teams: Partizan
Posts: 15,157
Working less not more - the solution to most our problems?

Taking a break from the usual stuff (Iraq, Middle East, elections, idiotic politicians, America-sucks-no-the-rest-of-the-world-sucks, etc.) I'd like to redirect attention to something more mundane: work.

Yes, work. You know, the thing you get up for in the morning but don't really want to. That.

Consider this: we can produce the standard of living of the 1950s today in half the time it took us (that is, folks back then) to do it in the 1950s.

So, why is the majority of people still working 40 hours per week (maybe a little less, often more) like in 1950 or 1960? Why does the typical family nowadays (with declining avg numbers of children in many countries) now require both parents working when back in the 50s say one could afford all the amenities (suburban house, car, white-picket fence, and all the American dream stuff) on one salary?

Why is North America (together with the rest of the West, although other parts less so) working itself to death? Where have all the productivity gains gone? Why do companies that adopt labour-saving technologies follow up by firing workers rather than reducing their working hours?

Isn't it time we cut down the work week? Say 32 hours (four days) to start. It would lower unemployment, help the environment, lower all sorts of costs, and most importantly, reclaim our sanity. Everywhere I see overworked people. So overworked that wasting their precious free time on shopping binges does not help. It's time to cut down the work week.

Make Love - Not Work.
Andrix is offline  
Sponsored Links
Advertisement
 
post #2 of 46 (permalink) Old January 11th, 2006, 05:11
gOD
***** *******
Legend
 
gOD's Avatar
 
Join Date: 12 1999
Location: Hippotopia
Teams: RSC Anderlecht
Posts: 14,672
Interesting topic and one of my dada's. In any case it is certain that our Western work-ethics are one of the most remarkable but also murderous and ridiculous aspects of our life. Working less (and thus consuming less) is absolutely necessary if we want to make it into the 22ecentury, but let's face it, it wont' happen. We will work ourself and compete eachother to death (or better people will, I won't!). It will only get worse. Life will only get more meritocratic than it is now and that is a dramatic evolution.

We can bomb the world to pieces, but we can't bomb it into peace!

26.000 Faces :frownani:
gOD is offline  
post #3 of 46 (permalink) Old January 11th, 2006, 05:37 Thread Starter
Legend
Legend
 
Andrix's Avatar
 
Join Date: 04 2001
Location: Toronto
Teams: Partizan
Posts: 15,157
I'm a little more optimistic though I do sometimes fear we'll need a depression of 1930s magnitude or worse to realize what needs to be done. However North American culture is so workaholic it will be difficult. The whole thing means workaholics are in charge, in business and in politics. Btw how is France doing with the 35 hour workweek?

Some resources:
http://www.web.net/32hours/
"The End of Work" & "The European Dream" by Jeremy Rifkin
"Working Harder Isn't Working" by Bruce O'Hara (excellent as an intro for the avg person)
http://www.worklessparty.org/
http://www.worklessparty.org/timework/chapman.htm

Even Einstein agrees :

Quote:
As I see it, this crisis differs in character from past crises in that it is based on an entirely new set of conditions, due to rapid progress in methods of production. Only a fraction of the available human labour in the world is needed for the production of the total amount of consumption goods necessary to life. Under a completely free economic system this fact is bound to lead to unemployment...
What I'm really interested in is where the productivity gains have gone. Most of it is clearly not passed on to the workers: I suppose it is devoured by management. However management tends to be the most workaholic of all. A cruel irony perhaps.

Last edited by Andrix; January 11th, 2006 at 05:44.
Andrix is offline  
 
post #4 of 46 (permalink) Old January 11th, 2006, 07:04
World Class Player
 
Sabry's Avatar
 
Join Date: 04 2000
Location: Canada
Teams: Ahly (of Cairo) and Egypt
Posts: 7,935
Quote:
Originally Posted by gOD
our Western work-ethics are one of the most remarkable but also murderous and ridiculous aspects of our life..
What do you mean Western work-ethics .. Are you saying the Germans work as much as the Americans do, for example? Not really. Europeans don't work as much as North Americans do.

Stronger competition in all fields nowadays is the reason behind the increasing work hours.. If you don't put in the extra hours you'll eventually fall behind.

Yes, I could do with less work, please.. I average 72 hours a week.. But unfortunately you're not my boss, Andrix.. So no point in whining.
Sabry is offline  
post #5 of 46 (permalink) Old January 11th, 2006, 07:07
Outstanding Post of the Year 2007
Premier Player
 
Romulus's Avatar
 
Join Date: 08 2005
Posts: 2,487
Quote:
Originally Posted by gOD
Life will only get more meritocratic...
Bwah! If only that were true...

You seem to have a problem with the concept of a meritocracy oh the horror

Vada a bordo, CAZZO!!! Gregorio De Falco

You cannot invade the mainland United States. There would be a rifle behind each
blade of grass
Yamamoto

A fear of weapons is a sign of retarded sexual and emotional maturity Sigmund Freud
Romulus is offline  
post #6 of 46 (permalink) Old January 11th, 2006, 09:59
Premier Player
 
Blitzkreig's Avatar
 
Join Date: 09 2004
Location: The Republic Of Mancunia.
Teams: Manchester United
Posts: 1,940
Blog Entries: 1
In an industry like IT there can not be fixed number of hours of work. Some times we will have to work 17 hours a day, for 2 or 3 weeks, but then sometimes there will not be any work other than browsing for months.


All the drugs in this world won't save you from yourself.
Blitzkreig is offline  
post #7 of 46 (permalink) Old January 11th, 2006, 10:06
BANNED!
Star Player
 
Makaveli's Avatar
 
Join Date: 08 2004
Location: Hidin in Cuba
Teams: Crazy bout Parma, Barcelona
Posts: 2,825
I saw some graffiti yesterday that was powerful. I was there for a few minutes just staring at it, It read "produce, Consume, Die"

Thats what we have been reduce to, it sums up our lives. I think its totally FCUKED up, we have our priorities completly wrong. Some of the most content and happiest people I know, are also the poorest people I know.

We all want to get rich, and live in luxury, a few of us make it. And the rest spend the rest of our lives chasing this illusion
Makaveli is offline  
post #8 of 46 (permalink) Old January 11th, 2006, 10:16
World Class Player
World Class Player
 
Bastin's Avatar
 
Join Date: 04 2002
Location: Hertfordshire, the UK
Teams: Arsenal, Watford, UK NTs, and dozens more.
Posts: 7,673
Quote:
Originally Posted by Andrix
What I'm really interested in is where the productivity gains have gone.
We live longer, retire earlier, end education later, take more holidays, and work shorter hours than at any previous point in history. Yet, we still live more luxuriously, and with less income disparity between those in work and those out of it, than ever before. That's where our productivity gains have gone.

Glen: "That last post of Bastin's is just too authoritative to argue against."

gOD: "It scares the f*ck out of me but I'm with Bastin here."

Cacěni: "Ah, there you go using that absurd über-memory of your's...not fair."

Boyo: "Even when it comes to rap, Bastin is an authority."

Attila_the_Nun: "A most respected scion of Misty Albion, the illustious Bastin - the redoubtable defender of all our noble traditions."

Humbird: "Bastin is very attractive when talking nautical! "

Last edited by Bastin; January 11th, 2006 at 10:23.
Bastin is offline  
post #9 of 46 (permalink) Old January 11th, 2006, 11:05
First Place winner, June 2010 Photo Contest
Xtratime Legend
 
Boyo's Avatar
 
Join Date: 05 2000
Posts: 37,153
Blog Entries: 7
Quote:
Originally Posted by Andrix
Isn't it time we cut down the work week? Say 32 hours (four days) to start.
Way ahead of you. In Holland the 36 hour work week, 4 days with 9 hours each, was introduced already 10 years ago. I think it's great. People are free to choose which day of the week they want off. Those who still want to work 40 hours, can do so as well. In their case, the extra 4 hours a week are used to build up extra vacation time, or a salary increase. Standard vacation is 166 hours, which is enough for me. And the extra salary benefit isn't so great that it makes it worth it to me. So I work 36 hours, and have the wednesday off each week. It's a great schedule. Two days working, one day off, two days working, two days off (weekend), etc. It really helps to relax and keep the job in perspective, ie you work to live, you don't live to work.

Mercedes bastard & Limburger-loving schmuck
Boyo is offline  
post #10 of 46 (permalink) Old January 11th, 2006, 12:36
Xtratime Legend
 
Johan's Avatar
 
Join Date: 10 2002
Location: Lulea
Teams: Milan
Posts: 23,793
Work less and you find yourself being even less attractive on a world market than you already are and employing someone in the western world is already extremly expensive, surely in Sweden at least.

Although should be mentioned that I work at a private company where these things don't apply at all.
Johan is offline  
post #11 of 46 (permalink) Old January 11th, 2006, 13:03
First Place winner, June 2010 Photo Contest
Xtratime Legend
 
Boyo's Avatar
 
Join Date: 05 2000
Posts: 37,153
Blog Entries: 7
Which is why the West shouldn't try to compete on that level, but instead focus on high quality goods and services, that will justify their higher price.

Mercedes bastard & Limburger-loving schmuck
Boyo is offline  
post #12 of 46 (permalink) Old January 11th, 2006, 15:14 Thread Starter
Legend
Legend
 
Andrix's Avatar
 
Join Date: 04 2001
Location: Toronto
Teams: Partizan
Posts: 15,157
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sabry
But unfortunately you're not my boss, Andrix.. So no point in whining.
See, this is exactly what I'm talking about. Of course there's point in whining - well not whining, but doing something. If enough people demand something (or whine about it) and do something towards that end, there's a good chance of it happening. This is how working hours were reduced in the past, by labour movements. The "no point in whining/complaning/doing/thinking about it" attitude is the reason things do not change; furthermore it highlights the cultural workaholic attitude. Most people think that if they asked for less work they'd be thought of as lazy bums or something.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bastin
and work shorter hours than at any previous point in history.
That is in fact false; we do work shorter hours than at any previous point since the Industrial Revolution, but most people prior to it worked less; furthermore the nature of work and its organization was different. The shortening of hours since the Industrial revolution is a natural thing - due to productivity increases - and should only continue.

Besides there is a difference nowadays. There's a reason why they say "the 9 to 5 doesn't exist anymore" - and it's not because people are working less...
http://www.businessweek.com/magazine...0/b3953601.htm

As for productivity gains recently, hm, this may be interesting:

Quote:
Companies have been willing to pay big bucks for those longer hours. Over the past 15 to 20 years, people working a 40-hour week received virtually no increase in real pay, according to research by Kuhn and Lozano. Yet employees putting in a 55-hour week saw their real pay rise by 14%. The implication: The gains of two decades of growth have mainly gone to ambitious -- or fearful -- Americans who are working longer hours.
Quote:
Originally Posted by blitzkrieg
In an industry like IT there can not be fixed number of hours of work. Some times we will have to work 17 hours a day, for 2 or 3 weeks, but then sometimes there will not be any work other than browsing for months.
The IT/software industry is unfortunately not mature yet (or so says my managing-consulting guru prof). Working weekends and long hours there is usually a result of bad planning, bad management and bad communication between the techies and the business-types in the company. Properly managed companies should not have to endure such things often.


Anyways, nice to hear that Boyo. Although I wonder how productive people can be beyond 8 hours per day (or beyond 6 or 7 for that matter), but I suppose it's only 1 more hour and the extra day off helps.
Andrix is offline  
post #13 of 46 (permalink) Old January 11th, 2006, 15:23 Thread Starter
Legend
Legend
 
Andrix's Avatar
 
Join Date: 04 2001
Location: Toronto
Teams: Partizan
Posts: 15,157
Quote:
Originally Posted by Johan
Work less and you find yourself being even less attractive on a world market than you already are and employing someone in the western world is already extremly expensive, surely in Sweden at least.

Although should be mentioned that I work at a private company where these things don't apply at all.
When individual people work less it does not mean that the company works less. It means that the company hires more people. Imagine two shifts: most people working four days a week, the rest working the remaining three days a week. This lowers unemployment (France's cut to a 35-hr week created something like 300k jobs no?). Which lowers the amount of cash the government needs to dole out to the unemployed. With more people working and spending that income, more taxes are payed. So the government can lower taxes. And surely, the tax structure should not be made such as to punish companies for employing more people (i.e. high income tax) but to rather encourage it, i.e. shift from taxing productivity to taxing consumption.

Besides your competitiveness does not depend on how much work you do (although the typical attitude suggests it: work harder, work harder!) but on the quality of your work, as Boyo says.
Andrix is offline  
post #14 of 46 (permalink) Old January 11th, 2006, 16:54
World Class Player
World Class Player
 
Bastin's Avatar
 
Join Date: 04 2002
Location: Hertfordshire, the UK
Teams: Arsenal, Watford, UK NTs, and dozens more.
Posts: 7,673
Quote:
Originally Posted by Andrix
That is in fact false; we do work shorter hours than at any previous point since the Industrial Revolution, but most people prior to it worked less
What a woefully romanticised image of history. Even in England, which had the lowest percentage of farmers in the world, in 1688, about half of all workers were subsistence farmers or land-reliant cottagers. They worked six days a week, and every minute of daytime, excepting Sunday. Adding on other work that most people did, such as collecting timber, straw, peat, etc, and that's a heck of a lot more than the 1,824 hours a year that they work in the USA.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Andrix
The shortening of hours since the Industrial revolution is a natural thing - due to productivity increases - and should only continue.
Using legislation to bring that about is madness, and would create a labour shortage, as the UK has now, even if phased in over a period of many years Making it harder for people to earn a living is never the answer to anything (except criminals).

In that time, we really ought to cut down commuting time. For most people, that time is completely wasted. Fortunately, cutting commuting has been a very real and very recent phenomenon, thanks to technological advances. By 2056, it's possible that a 2,000 hour working year will mean just that, leaving the other 6,760 hours in the year for us each to do what we want to do.

That and cutting sleep. People sleep too much. What's the point of complaining about working 8 hours a day if one then sleeps for just as long? I for one sleep four hours a day, and suffer no ill consequences, except being a megalomaniac.

Glen: "That last post of Bastin's is just too authoritative to argue against."

gOD: "It scares the f*ck out of me but I'm with Bastin here."

Cacěni: "Ah, there you go using that absurd über-memory of your's...not fair."

Boyo: "Even when it comes to rap, Bastin is an authority."

Attila_the_Nun: "A most respected scion of Misty Albion, the illustious Bastin - the redoubtable defender of all our noble traditions."

Humbird: "Bastin is very attractive when talking nautical! "
Bastin is offline  
post #15 of 46 (permalink) Old January 11th, 2006, 17:00
On Planet Z
International
 
Phoenix's Avatar
 
Join Date: 03 2003
Location: Seattle, WA
Teams: AS Roma
Posts: 6,520
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bastin
I for one sleep four hours a day, and suffer no ill consequences, except being a megalomaniac.
Not even!

Bastin does not sleep. He waits.
Phoenix is offline  
post #16 of 46 (permalink) Old January 11th, 2006, 17:22
Xtratime Legend
Xtratime Legend
 
AMOROSO!'s Avatar
 
Join Date: 06 1999
Location: London
Teams: PAOK and Parma
Posts: 26,731
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bastin
What's the point of complaining about working 8 hours a day if one then sleeps for just as long?
Because some people, including me, actually enjoy sleeping. It's a wonderful hobby, if a tad uncreative.

Love is the drug, and I'm a junkie.
AMOROSO! is offline  
post #17 of 46 (permalink) Old January 11th, 2006, 17:58
Tim
Xtratime Legend
 
Tim's Avatar
 
Join Date: 03 2000
Location: Texico
Posts: 33,807
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bastin
What's the point of complaining about working 8 hours a day if one then sleeps for just as long? I for one sleep four hours a day, and suffer no ill consequences, except being a megalomaniac.
Lucky... I hate sleep, but I can't keep my concentration if I don't get at least six hours a night.
Tim is offline  
post #18 of 46 (permalink) Old January 11th, 2006, 18:00
Xtratime Legend
Xtratime Legend
 
AMOROSO!'s Avatar
 
Join Date: 06 1999
Location: London
Teams: PAOK and Parma
Posts: 26,731
Four, six hours... you people are The Undead. Anything less than 9-10 hours and I'll need a nap around noon.

Love is the drug, and I'm a junkie.
AMOROSO! is offline  
post #19 of 46 (permalink) Old January 11th, 2006, 18:01
International
 
Join Date: 03 2005
Location: The Gorg Hive
Posts: 6,089
Andrix, inflation would account for a lot of the reason that people still work hard. You could survive on very little in the 50s.




Estne volumen in toga, an solum tibi libet me videre?



ULTRA GORGATRON is offline  
post #20 of 46 (permalink) Old January 11th, 2006, 18:11 Thread Starter
Legend
Legend
 
Andrix's Avatar
 
Join Date: 04 2001
Location: Toronto
Teams: Partizan
Posts: 15,157
Quote:
What a woefully romanticised image of history.
I never said their lives were prettier or easier...but work was different. Yes they worked 6 days per week. Yes it was difficult work. But...in many societies about half the year were holidays (Christian holy days, in Roman times the plethora of holidays and games, etc.) during which most people did not work. I know many people who live in agrarian areas or hail from there and still make a point of doing absolutely no work on St.-this-day and St.-that's-day (many do it out of superstition). Agrarian work also tends to be seasonal, leaving a lot of work to be done in certain times of the year and little at other times. Plus, work was generally not sequestered from the rest of one's life as it became in industrial times. Which makes it hard to categorise. One could go about categorising all the different things they did as work, however, today, lots of what we'd call work for them is not counted as work for us; if I grow my vegetables in my garden rather than buying them in the supermarket accross the street, that doesn't count as work as it is not payed and I do it in my free time. For a 17th century farmer, you'd probably count the tending of those vegetables as work.

Quote:
In that time, we really ought to cut down commuting time. For most people, that time is completely wasted. Fortunately, cutting commuting has been a very real and very recent phenomenon, thanks to technological advances.
Commuting time would not have been such a problem (at least not in North America) if proper urban planning had been been applied. Overzoning, suburbia, and inadequate public transit are all things which have contributed to long commutes. We don't need to rely completely on technological advances (although ultrafast public transit trains for example would be real nice!) and probably shouldn't, because such solutions are likely to be energy-intensive...cutting commuting is a no brainer: make people live closer to their work! Which means, mix business and residential zones and allow for work within one's community, in walking distance. This is not so much as a problem in Europe as it is in North America.

Quote:
That and cutting sleep. People sleep too much. What's the point of complaining about working 8 hours a day if one then sleeps for just as long? I for one sleep four hours a day, and suffer no ill consequences, except being a megalomaniac.
I do think you're just taking the p*ss. Otherwise you're insane. Four hours per day!? Get yourself some help! Caffeine is bad for you. p

Quote:
Using legislation to bring that about is madness, and would create a labour shortage, as the UK has now, even if phased in over a period of many years Making it harder for people to earn a living is never the answer to anything (except criminals).
I'm not a fan of legislation - I just don't see any other way it can be done. A reduction in hours also needs to be applied consistently (phasing in over many years is not so good - change should be somewhat more abrupt). Society is synched to the 5 day week so in a 4 day week or double-shifting environment it should be synched to that. That is the only way everyone benefits. If it is done partially, the people/companies to change first have to the most to lose why the ones which change last have the most to gain - therefore no one wants to go first, so nothing happens.

Now I don't know whether the UK has a labour shortage - I think over here there's a surplus. In any case as long as there are people willing to work that can't find work (in the broadest of sense; not "I'm a plumber and can't find plumbing work" type of thing) I can't see there being a labour shortage. As for making it harder for people to make a living, I fail to see how that applies: lowering work hours should increase employment. Unemployment puts pressure on the employed giving employees more leverage on the other hand.
Andrix is offline  
 

Quick Reply
Message:
Options

Register Now



In order to be able to post messages on the Xtratime Community forums, you must first register.
Please enter your desired user name, your email address and other required details in the form below.

User Name:
Password
Please enter a password for your user account. Note that passwords are case-sensitive. Try to avoid choosing short (like '1'), simple (like 'abcd') and easy to guess passwords (like a name of your favorite team, player, etc)! Complex and long enough passwords, that consists of random string of alphabet and numerical characters, are almost impossible to be stolen and misused.

Password:


Confirm Password:
Email Address
Please enter a valid email address for yourself.

Email Address:
OR

Log-in











Currently Active Users Viewing This Thread: 1 (0 members and 1 guests)
 
Thread Tools
Show Printable Version Show Printable Version
Email this Page Email this Page
Display Modes Rate This Thread
Linear Mode Linear Mode
Rate This Thread:



Posting Rules  
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are On
Pingbacks are On
Refbacks are On

 
For the best viewing experience please update your browser to Google Chrome