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Forum Post: All your problems are belong to Work Conservation.

Posted 11 years ago on May 28, 2012, 11:27 p.m. EST by Misaki (893)
This content is user submitted and not an official statement


Work concept

A third major way to determine employee compensation, in addition to a monthly salary or hourly wages:

The first 20 hours are paid at 1.2 times the normal hourly rate for full-time work.

Work beyond 20 hours in a single week is paid at 0.8 times the normal hourly rate.

I challenge you to list a social or economic issue (other than resource depletion... which this would at least help with) that this would not solve.



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[-] 2 points by geo (2638) from Concord, NC 11 years ago

Think about it? How would you respond to this if you were a business owner?

To keep the status quo, you would cut wages or hours allowed to work. Wages are a fixed number in the equation for profit. Alter it and the wages will alter as well to compensate, or the time worked.... everyone would become a part time employee.

[-] 1 points by Misaki (893) 11 years ago

Thank you for the first serious reply to this thread. As the continuation of a subsequent thread I have been thinking about what arguments would be effective, and your concern is one of the angles I thought of.

Basically, there are more productive and less productive jobs right now, measured in their contribution to a business's revenues (or service quality). High unemployment drives market wages down, which means that low-productivity jobs can exist. As unemployment goes down, market wages go up which most people would see as positive but some business owners would see as negative.

Note that most business owners have never really been troubled by the cost of labor; the peak during the 1990's was 8% of business owners saying that "cost of labor" was their most important problem (see the small business owner report linked from http://macromarketmusings.blogspot.com/2012/04/is-there-really-aggregate-demand.html). But this is partly because of the high rate of churn for businesses with a small number of employes (1~10 or so) which means that unprofitable companies just go out of business.

So businesses that depend on cheap labor to be profitable would be less successful, as you say. But that's not really an economic problem; when economists talk about low unemployment their main concern is inflation (which work conservation might avoid since people choosing to work and earn less would keep prices competitive). If a business is no longer profitable because of high market wages, that business owner can just become an employee themself at a more profitable/efficient company.

This isn't really for businesses that sell to poor people (like fast food restaurants) so much as it is businesses that sell to the middle class, since "higher market wages" is not really true; inequality would be less and more of the share of corporate revenues would go to wages instead of profits, so the poor would have more purchasing power but the middle class would have less purchasing power.

(Which is exactly why it makes sense that some people in the middle class would not want to support work conservation or reduce unemployment.)

So fast food restaurants would just raise their prices (or everyone else lowers their prices to the same effect) and be just as profitable, but um... a store (that sells to the middle class) which hired someone at minimum wage to clean its windows every 3 days might only be able to afford to have their windows cleaned every 7 days instead.

But a store that sells to the extremely rich would be unaffected, though there would be fewer "extremely rich" people so maybe not entirely true [edit: for the extremely rich, a store can just raise prices and literally hire people to do nothing when there are no customers]... but the poor would have greater relative purchasing power of things manufactured overseas.

The point, as described in the thread linked at the beginning of this comment, is that it is no longer effective to blame the 1%. The middle class had its chance to support OWS's efforts, now their time is up.

[-] 1 points by Misaki (893) 11 years ago

Still waiting.

[-] 0 points by jph (2652) 11 years ago

nice engrish,.

[-] 0 points by Misaki (893) 11 years ago

This is not a joke.

[-] 4 points by MattLHolck (16833) from San Diego, CA 11 years ago

the math seems off

people would get paid less for working longer won't be popular

[-] -1 points by Misaki (893) 11 years ago

People with salaries currently get paid nothing for working overtime.

If they used this they would at least get paid something.

Someone who currently works 60 hours/week with overtime would get paid less if using the 'normal rate' of pre-overtime (60 hours = paid for 70 hours with overtime, while they would get paid for [20*1.2 + 40*0.8] = 56 hours with work conservation) but companies that relied on habitual overtime would just boost the base rate so it works out to be roughly the same.

Unless they're exploiting workers of course, by forcing them to work more than they want to, but work conservation would create jobs so workers could just switch to a better employer.

Since studies of industries (like construction) that actually use forced overtime show that it leads to efficiency losses due to exhaustion, a company would benefit from allowing people to work less at the same (or even higher) average wage... the only reason for mandatory overtime is either if the base wage is very low (see warehouse wage slaves) or if workers want overtime because of the higher pay rate, since it gives an excuse for the business to charge more to whoever is paying for the construction work.

Since I looked this up recently I can quote statistics. Labor costs average over $60/hour in the US for skilled trade categories, while costing just $2~3/hour in China. http://www.turnerandtownsend.com/construction-cost-2012/TT_ICC_Report_Interactive_PDF_QV9eI.pdf.file

And if, for example, a business pays the same for accident insurance for a construction worker whether they're working 30 hours per week or 70, either the business or the insurance company is stupid and could get a better deal by changing terms.


[-] 0 points by Misaki (893) 11 years ago

No challengers... sigh.

Is Occupy Wall Street a serious movement or is it just a way for college students to amuse themselves?

[-] 0 points by riethc (1149) 11 years ago


[-] 0 points by Misaki (893) 11 years ago

I seriously don't know if this forum is worth posting on if people are either

1) Just amusing themselves
2) Not bothering to think
3) Unable to think

[-] 1 points by riethc (1149) 11 years ago

Your idea is just show delusional it makes me laugh.

[-] 0 points by Misaki (893) 11 years ago

People are often wrong about things. It sometimes gets them killed from wars and so on.

Example of people being objectively wrong

[-] 0 points by riethc (1149) 11 years ago

Did you just link me to a World of Warcraft message board?

Also, if you wonder where Orwell stands, read the Open Conspiracy by Orwell.

[-] 0 points by Misaki (893) 11 years ago

Not serious enough for you? What about real-life wars? http://www.pipa.org/OnlineReports/Iraq/IraqRealities_Oct04/IraqRealities%20Oct04%20pr.pdf

"Despite an abundance of evidence—including polls conducted by Gallup International in 38 countries, and more recently by a consortium of leading newspapers in 10 major countries--only 31% of Bush supporters recognize that the majority of people in the world oppose the US having gone to war with Iraq. Forty-two percent assume that views are evenly divided, and 26% assume that the majority approves. Among Kerry supporters, 74% assume that the majority of the world is opposed."

Statistics for WMDs, etc. are similar of course.

Over 4000 US military killed. Hundreds of thousands, or even millions of Iraqi dead. Hundreds of billions of dollars spent, which we loaned from China and are still paying interest for.

Let me guess, you don't care if it doesn't affect you personally.

[-] 1 points by riethc (1149) 11 years ago

Of course I care about ending the US wars of aggression! You're changing the subject and trying to pigeon-hole me.

It's your idea at the top of the page which I think is whacked out.

[-] 1 points by MattLHolck (16833) from San Diego, CA 11 years ago

the numbers are off and reversed (like in the walker recall)

at no time does a worker receive normal pay scale

[-] 1 points by Misaki (893) 11 years ago

at no time does a worker receive normal pay scale

At 40 hours per week, they receive the exact same under every system.

That's specifically so companies where people work full-time don't have to pay more wages if people switch to this system. That's why the marginal rate is never 1x "normal". For jobs with lots of forced overtime, the overtime rate is in fact closer to "normal", but explaining that every time would just be too complicated.

[-] 1 points by MattLHolck (16833) from San Diego, CA 11 years ago

so the numbers are extra steps

why not simple pay those working over 29 hours 1/3 less ?,

the results would be the same

[-] 1 points by Misaki (893) 11 years ago

People get confused when you talk about "normal" rates.

Basically see here: http://www.city-data.com/forum/work-employment/1530381-would-you-accept-job-compensation-scheme.html

Since adopting this system (1.2~0.8x) would be the choice of a company (maybe under pressure by workers or society though), it's important to emphasize that it's not supposed to lead to lower average wages for workers.

The exact numbers aren't that important; as suggested in one of the arguments on the dedicated site, it could even work off of the entire year as well with "credits" that you build up from not working which is a system that might be used by companies with seasonal demand. As long you somehow get a higher average rate for working less, it will work.

[-] 1 points by riethc (1149) 11 years ago

I think the idea of being less productive is harmful to society. And no, I don't believe the planet needs to be "saved" either.

[-] 1 points by Misaki (893) 11 years ago

I think the idea of being less productive is harmful to society.

Well, this would make people more productive per unit time spent working. http://jobcreationplan.blogspot.com/2012/04/low-consumer-demand-and-inefficiency.html

If by productive you mean "spend less time working and do less total work", well... we could take the 10 million unemployed and train them all to be lawyers, and have them spend their time prosecuting people who pirate songs online... but is all work really equal in value?

[-] 2 points by MattLHolck (16833) from San Diego, CA 11 years ago

a good deal of work now has no value

when work is the bottom line

when obama signed healthcare over to private insures

he said he didn't want to put so many people out of work (private insurance companies)

[-] 1 points by Misaki (893) 11 years ago

Well, someone seems to disagree (downrated my comment).