Monday, July 26, 2010

Imagine a 20-hour Work Week

Ever wonder why we’re still working 40 hours per week? As if that’s some sort of magic equilibrium between labor/leisure that has just organically emerged over the centuries? It’s insanity, really. And evidence that we aren’t free to choose.


I do not believe for a second, that given all of the technological advances in the last 200 years, a majority of people in the developed world would continue to work 40 hours a week, if they had any say in the matter whatsoever. Imagine a 20-hour work week. Imagine creativity unleashed. Imagine what would happen to progress and productivity, if only people were actually rewarded for the work that they do.

Proof You Are Being Exploited


  1. People can work 20 hours a week... no one's forcing you to work 40... unless... oh my god... they have you chained to a cubicle! Someone call Karl Marx!

  2. First you accuse me of not understanding taxes, and then you write a comment like this, Ginx?

    Did you understand the point that was being made, you capitalist pig?

    Yeah, I can work somewhere "part time" and also earn a whole lot less. But based on general increases in productivity, we should be able to work half the time we are now while receiving the same remuneration.

    they have you chained to a cubicle!

    Yeah, it's not exploitation or wage slavery, we're completely free and I can do whatever I want. Who the hell do you get your ideas from, Rush Limbaugh?

    Someone call Karl Marx!

    The concepts of class war and exploitation were developed by libertarians long before Marx stole them for his own distorted versions.

  3. Yeah... Libertarianism predates Communism...

    You'd be amused to know "Libertarian" used in a political sense was coined by an anarcho-communist, and a French one at that (Joseph Déjacque). Prior to this, it was largely applied to an idea we take for granted as merely true now: that our lives are dictated by free will, not fate.

    Anyhoo... back to the issue at hand.

    The problem is, before the government stepped in (or unions, which are simply another form of insular bottom-up governace), people weren't working 30 hours weeks, they were working 60-80 hour weeks. And forget about weekends.

    No one is handing out more money for less work, especially in a recession with copious amounts of over-qualified candidates seeking work. You know the only way we've proven to stop those at the top from taking too much at the expense of people at the bottom? Progressive taxes. It worked for decades in the US after Eisenhower instituted them, until Reagan removed them and wealth started becoming concentrated.

  4. Ginx, that's just the kind of non-answer I expected from you.

  5. Strange, because I'm a little shocked you can't come up with anything better to say in response.

  6. from the sounds of the comments, he didn't read the OP. If he did, well, Nikkolas, you need to stop feeding the trolls :)

  7. No, I read the amusing hypothetical scenario which has no basis in reality. I just chose to disregard it in favor of college level economics and my observational experience with the exploitative nature of private industry.

    There are already many jobs where someone works less than 20 hours a week. I had one where I clocked in for 40 hours but did less than 15 hours of real work. Companies demand things like "face time" and also must pay people to be available even if no work comes in. This idea is bullshit for the same reason that telecommuting is a pipe dream for more industries. I would love to live in this imaginary world where every libertarian thought experiment were openly accepted by everyone who runs a business.

  8. No, I read the amusing hypothetical scenario which has no basis in reality.
    I've personally created macros that are capable of producing in 120 seconds what previously took someone ~20 hours. And I'm not even a programmer by training/trade. Suck on that reality.

    I had one where I clocked in for 40 hours but did less than 15 hours of real work. Companies demand things like "face time"..

    c'mon don't you think that's even a little ridiculous? I mean, sure, you want me to be in the office and present because I agree there is no real substitute for face-to-face interaction and collaborations etc., but you know as well as I do that you're not in-front of anyone for more than a fraction of those 25 hours.

    Most of my "face time" consists of me, sitting in my cube, not giving face to anyone. I have no complaints attending meetings in physical space towards objective ends, but sitting in the office for the sole sake of sitting in the office, just because someone else might get jealous because Dave is working from home again, is retarded, and accepting such demands as reasonable is silly. Nobody would agree to those terms if they had any real choice. That people agree to such terms, is in my opinion, evidence that they aren't really free, and they don't really have a choice in the matter.

    and also must pay people to be available even if no work comes in.

    In some cases this is absolutely true. In others, it is not true, or it is only very rarely true. There's all sorts of things wrong with paying someone to sit around waiting for work to "come in" but we don't need to tackle those here.

    Let's just say that if that were actually true, nobody would have to worry about being reprimanded for watching YouTube or following the waver-wire on their Fantasy sports team on company time.

    Most people don't enjoy that luxury, they're not being paid to "be available". They are available, and if they are not working, the perception is that they are doing something wrong or slacking off, which transforms that imaginary, idealized arrangement into something more like, "You're being paid to do whatever we ask you to do under any circumstances and in cases where you've done all we've asked, you are responsible for finding something else to do" which underscores my complaint that there is realistically no objective measure for whether rank-and-file employees are doing their jobs or not. Someone can always accuse them of not doing enough, and they can probably back that up with data.


If the post you are commenting on is more than 30 days old, your comment will have to await approval before being published. Rest assured, however, that as long as it is not spam, it will be published in due time.

Related Posts with Thumbnails