Posted 5 months ago on Nov. 25, 2012, 8:59 p.m. EST by Misaki
This content is user submitted and not an official statement
First, working less is the solution to all the problems in society right now. Previous threads:
- The problems in the economy are NOT new, they are old problems!
- "Working less" fixes war and unemployment
- Capitalism for the Workers and a New Global Economy
But if you're as lazy as I am, you weren't going to support the idea if there was a more efficient way to do it. This would have been someone with a reputation publicly supporting it, so that the old media would take it seriously and people would not be embarrassed to admit that it really is this easy.
People with reputations have not supported it, and they fall into several categories.
Influential people who know about the idea, and think it would have a positive result
Reasons for not supporting it:
- fear of change
- fear of alienating friends
- fear of being responsible for any negative effects, such as if after abandoning war we are surprised by an alien invasion... or maybe that this is the alien invasion
- general incompetence, like not having an explanation for why unemployment exists and ignoring its effects in trade agreements
Moderately influential people who know about the idea, but think it would have a negative effect
This is basically some economists.
- they are obsessed with GDP and ignore environmental damage from overconsumption
Economists who don't know about the idea but should have discovered it before
- they assume that rich people are selfish, despite that 95% of people in the top 1% work and get half their income from working, and so even if working less did fix the economy they think that rich people aren't interested in doing so
- fear of change
- poor incentives from a flawed system of university promotions and status within the academic community
- in general they think it isn't possible (see "NAIRU" and "Phillips curve") and so they don't even try
Business people who, unlike economists, actually get results and have experience with hiring people
- they are bad at economics and don't understand that the US has plenty of wealth
- they don't understand why their employees work long hours when work-life-balance policies are available
- they want to do everything themselves, which means working long hours and can't imagine any other way for society to be
This is why we end up with things like the President saying that climate change is not a priority right now because jobs are more important. The same thing logically applies to the military and every other way of creating jobs even if it isn't really necessary in itself.
Maybe the best argument that we can afford to work less is that we have something like 2 million people in prison, costing around $30~50k per person, who would probably not be in prison if they had a job. We are already paying for them to do nothing. It would be better to pay them to actually do some work.
One of the fears people have about working less is that it also means paying fewer taxes. Since so much of government spending right now is just to create jobs, there is no fixed goal for tax revenues and working less would be a good thing.
But once we run out of unemployed people who can fill job slots, we could easily end up with a shortage of tax revenues compared to spending. For example, suppose everyone was employed and spending on Social Security/Medicare exactly balanced the revenues from payroll taxes.
If someone worked less (who is below the $110k cap so their marginal income is subject to payroll taxes), we still have the same number of old people. Spending would stay the same, but revenues would decrease. Unless we decrease benefits, we would need to raise payroll taxes on everyone slightly to make up for the shortfall in revenue.
Some people might think this is unfair. Others might think that if someone chooses to work less and only make $25k/year instead of $50k, they are paying less taxes but they are also getting less money. The people who are working more, and paying more in taxes, should not complain because they are also being paid more. If we raise taxes it will affect everyone but the person who makes $25k/year can't complain about higher taxes because it is their choice to avoid earning more money to offset that loss.