Nonfinancial Economics: The Case for Shorter Hours of Work

Nonfinancial Economics: The Case for Shorter Hours of Work

Nonfinancial Economics: The Case for Shorter Hours of Work

Nonfinancial Economics: The Case for Shorter Hours of Work

Synopsis

This book is written in support of proposals to reduce worktime in order to improve employment opportunities. The authors, both of whom have been deeply involved in shorter workweek policy debates, argue that the failure of the U.S. to enact shorter workweek legislation when it was first proposed in the late 1950s was a significant policy mistake. They argue further that reduced work hours are an effective means to full employment, improved income distribution, and a stronger consumer market--in addition to promising a better life to the contemporary American family.

Excerpt

This book is written in support of proposals to reduce work time in order to improve employment opportunities. It is written in defense of leisure, both as a component of living standards and as a stimulus to real and meaningful use of consumer products. Shorter work hours promise a better life to the contemporary American family, where increasingly both husband and wife must work to make ends meet or where a single adult householder bears the entire burden of such responsibilities alone. They are a means to full employment, improved income distribution, and a stronger consumer market. the pursuit of shorter hours is embodied in the best traditions of organized labor. Why, then, is there entrenched resistance among U.S. policymakers to this legitimate aspiration of working men and women?

Some contend that the shorter workweek cause is a matter of its advocates trying to impose their personal values on others who may value leisure less highly. Working people, it is said, do not want more free time--they want higher incomes. the assumption of a tradeoff between leisure and material living standards seems reasonable enough, but, in fact, the connection between the two is weak. in a post-industrial society such as ours, waste becomes a principal driving force behind economic growth. of course, the idea of waste reflects a standard of personal value, but so does wealth. the discipline of economics, neatly quantified though it appears to be, is inseparable from judgments of value. An economic undertaking may have value in terms of dollars, but in human terms be worthless.

We contend that the study of economics also properly includes consideration of the extent to which the Jeffersonian formulation of value . . .

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