I read this fine Post from Arnold Kling, and it starts me thinking. Arnold stipulates much of what I feel at fault with the American modeling process. He, of course, remains a very nice person, while I am not quite the same. His belief in the additional leisure remains correct, but I take a rather dimmer view of the process than him. The current Tax Code allows automatically for increased levels of Wages, even as the level of productivity sinks. I could call for a Tax stipulation that only 90% of paid Wages, Salaries, and Benefits could be deducted if the average yearly Productivity did not match the previous year’s Productivity per Worker. This penalizes Labor and Management for a loss of Productivity.
Labor may ask why I, a strong proponent of labor, should take such contentious position. Here is my basic ideation: The loss of Productivity of employed labor means an easing of Management control over both Production and Costs. It is a basic Means to retain skilled Labor during Periods of low Sales and slack Production. This would seem a great benefit to Business, but is it? Management adopts the easy Road of inefficient Business model, with little exertion to increase Sales or alternate Product. A Recession does not mean Opportunity to take the wife on that long Vacation–basically at Consumers’ Expense.
The need to maintain Productivity levels sharpens Labor Skills, forces Management to examine alternate Production strategies and new Product lines, and rehires unemployed labor in desire to maintain peak Production levels after current Labor tires of the increased pace. The Workweek actually shortens, Labor Rolls actually grow, and Wages per Worker actually go down. Labor obviously will find this unattractive, though the economy will show greater promise. I have always been of the inclination to believe that the economy is better-served by added stress being placed on Management to preform, rather than giving them benefits to maintain their current Work schedules under recessionary pressures. I worry about those current Managers who come in at Ten, and leave at 2:30. I don’t think this was the way the current industrial structure was built. lgl