Send a Tweet
Most Popular Choices
Share on Facebook 20 Share on Twitter 7 Printer Friendly Page More Sharing
Exclusive to OpEdNews:
OpEdNews Op Eds    H2'ed 8/16/14

By What Means Have Income and Wealth Steadily Been Transferred to the Rich?

By       (Page 7 of 8 pages) Become a premium member to see this article and all articles as one long page.     (# of views)   40 comments
Author 8235
Follow Me on Twitter     Message Richard Clark
Become a Fan
  (110 fans)
- Advertisement -

"Some workers got shorter work hours, but what they didn't get was stable pay," says Karen Nussbaum, who directs the AFL-CIO affiliate Working America. In what's left of the labor movement, nobody is even bothering to ask for shorter workdays; it's hard enough to win a living wage, paid sick days, a bit of vacation time, and parental leave. Compared with when she began organizing women workers in the 1970s, Nussbaum says, "the crisis is different--more acute and more widespread."

You've probably heard of this absurd little book, The 4-Hour Workweek. (Trading stocks on your home computer.) It's a lonely yet best-selling fascination with the idea that by working smarter (as a "day trader"), but not harder, one just might be able to join author Timothy Ferris and the "New Rich" with some solid stock investments and a modicum of maintenance work -- 4 hours a week as the title of the book says. And it can happen--but only to a lucky few, among the million-plus suckers who've bought the book.

- Advertisement -

The idea of the four-hour work day that workers imagined a hundred years ago was different. It was for everyone, the natural and to-be-expected consequence of advancing technology. But in the decades since World War II, capitalism has not provided us with a shorter workday. The coming kingdom of leisure used to be considered a mainly technological issue, but it has turned out to be a political one. And the opponents to its realization are very, very powerful.

The Industrial Workers of the World considered shorter workdays with no cut in pay to be, in the words of one pamphlet, "THE Revolutionary Demand." The so-called Wobblies recognized that fewer hours would make sure workers reap the benefits of progress rather than let those benefits forevermore trickle upward.

- Advertisement -

In the past few months, there have been small indications of progress

After much pressure from organized labor, President Obama announced stricter federal rules on overtime pay; meanwhile, the government estimated that millions of workers might switch to part-time rather than full-time jobs because they can buy their own health insurance through the new system. This prompted Congressman Paul Ryan to express his fear that, with affordable coverage, "the incentive to work declines." Just the thought of the non-rich working less than every available hour of the day, and still having health insurance, was an affront to his idea of the American way. He actually said, "It's adding insult to injury." (Injury to whom, one might ask. To the corporate rich who might by these means have their con job questioned? Perish the thought!)

Time for the universal basic income or guaranteed annual income

- Advertisement -

The most practical approach to winning shorter workdays may be to detach necessities, like insurance, from employment. Peter Frase, an editor of Jacobin Magazine and one of the shorter workday's most capable advocates, calls for a universal basic income. People by that means able to cover their essential needs could then for the first time choose for themselves how much they want to work as a supplement to that. But unless there are powerful, disruptive movements demanding such measures, politicians and other elites will keep on repeating the lie that there simply isn't enough to go around. However, workers in countries with strong labor organizations know better. Gothenburg, Sweden is experimenting with a six-hour workday for municipal workers, while in France, where a 35-hour week is already common, unions are trying out a rule against checking work email after hours.

Next Page  1  |  2  |  3  |  4  |  5  |  6  |  7  |  8

 

- Advertisement -

Must Read 4   Well Said 4   Valuable 2  
Rate It | View Ratings

Richard Clark Social Media Pages: Facebook page url on login Profile not filled in       Twitter page url on login Profile not filled in       Linkedin page url on login Profile not filled in       Instagram page url on login Profile not filled in

Several years after receiving my M.A. in social science (interdisciplinary studies) I was an instructor at S.F. State University for a year, but then went back to designing automated machinery, and then tech writing, in Silicon Valley. I've (more...)
 

Go To Commenting
The views expressed herein are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of this website or its editors.
Follow Me on Twitter     Writers Guidelines
Contact AuthorContact Author Contact EditorContact Editor Author PageView Authors' Articles
Support OpEdNews

OpEdNews depends upon can't survive without your help.

If you value this article and the work of OpEdNews, please either Donate or Purchase a premium membership.

STAY IN THE KNOW
If you've enjoyed this, sign up for our daily or weekly newsletter to get lots of great progressive content.
Daily Weekly     OpEdNews Newsletter
Name
Email
   (Opens new browser window)
 

Most Popular Articles by this Author:     (View All Most Popular Articles by this Author)

Was Pat Tillman Murdered by an American Sharpshooter to Shut Him up?

New JFK assassination bombshells

Two U.S. presidents implicated by ex-CIA black-ops assassin

The cholesterol - heart disease scam: How the medical-industrial complex is raking in billions at our expense

Four Ticking Time Bombs That Will Soon Ignite a Revolution

The Ultimate Goal of the Bankster-led Political-economic Warfare Being Waged Against Us Is . . . ?