Enterprise zones/MMM

Patrick Patterson ppatt at tiac.net
Sun Oct 22 19:57:10 MDT 1995


On Saturday the 21st C. Davidson wrote the following:
"Now some people might say they don't care about creating new jobs;
instead they might just want to divide the existing work up among
more people.  The 30 hours work for forty hours pay demand is the classic
example of this.  But again, in every factory I've worked in, if the
employer had to pay 40 for 30, he would go broke quick unless he also
raised his prices.  Since 30 for 40 would apply across the board, I
assume it would lead to a general rise in prices, which means the
workers would have to work longer to get the same amount of goods as
before, and, sooner or later, we're back to square one again."

The issue of reducing hours worked and more equitably distributing existing
work is a little more complex than this. Most studies point to a general
increase in productivity when the hours worked are reduced which by
implication would counteract any increase in prices. The increasing
reliance on technology for labor is driven in part by a desire to reduce
prices. To be sure different sectors have different dynamics here but
surely tax laws could be used to address this. Andre Gorz had discussed
these issues in his various books. And though the solutions sugested by
Rifkin in his latest book are not to be taken seriously his discussion of
the distribution of work and unemployment and race is quite good.

A more serious concern though is what work does to individuals. As Louis N
Proyect has noted,labor is inherently alienating. While I do not share his
pesimism about labor in general what he says is certianly true of exiting
forms. A reduction of hours worked could free the individuals to entertain
other possibilities which just might strike back at those existing forms of
labor.

Patrick Patterson
ppatt at tiac.net




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