Relevant and even prescient commentary on news, politics and the economy.

May Day: Shorter hours — If not now, when?

The litany of shorter work week prophecy is prodigious. Keynes famously predicted a 15-hour work week for “our grandchildren” in 1930. Fifteen years later, in a letter to T.S. Eliot, Keynes parenthetically suggested a 35-hour work week for the U.S. in the immediate post-war period. In 1961, Clyde Dankert cited a New York Times article […]

It was actually quite amusing to see an article in my provincial newspaper a while back where two sides were arguing about a reduction in the work week, and you could play bingo with the excuses the anti-side used. There wasn’t an original idea in the whole article, as the pro-side was almost apologizing and […]

Only So Much To Go ‘Round

The Sandwichman commented the other day on The Economist article, “Britain’s Green Party proposes a three-day weekend.” Regrettably, though, I didn’t pay much attention to their “rebuttal” to the alleged assumption of a fixed amount of work: In fact, if people worked fewer hours, demand would drop, and so fewer working hours would be on offer. […]

War is the Health of the State

Excerpts from Randolph Bourne’s The State: War is the health of the State. It automatically sets in motion throughout society those irresistible forces for uniformity, for passionate cooperation with the Government in coercing into obedience the minority groups and individuals which lack the larger herd sense. The machinery of government sets and enforces the drastic penalties. […]

Say’s Other Law: “Misery is the inseparable companion of luxury”

It was a dark and stormy global night economy and a spectre task was haunting facing Europe… A new supply-side agenda for the left The task facing Europe is to meet the challenge of the global economy while maintaining social cohesion in the face of real and perceived uncertainty. Rising employment and expanding job opportunities are the best guarantee […]

The Role of Experts in Public Debate

Jonathan Portes asks, “What’s the role of experts in the public debate?” He assumes it is his prerogative, as an expert, to define that role: I think we have three really important functions. First, to explain our basic concepts and most important insights in plain English. Famously, Paul Samuelson, the founder of modern macroeconomics, was asked […]

Dean Baker is Clueless On Productivity Growth

Dean Baker’s screed, Bill Gates Is Clueless On The Economy, keeps getting recycled, from Beat the Press to Truthout to Real-World Economics Review to The Huffington Post. Dean waves aside the real problem with Gates’s suggestion, which is the difficulty of defining what a robot is, and focuses instead on what seems to him to be the […]

Gates & Reuther v. Baker & Bernstein on Robot Productivity

In a comment on Nineteen Ninety-Six: The Robot/Productivity Paradox, Jeff points out a much simpler rebuttal to Dean Baker’s and Jared Bernstein’s uncritical reliance on the decline of measured “productivity growth”: Let’s use a pizza shop as an example. If the owner spends capital money and makes the line more efficient so that they can make […]

The 24 Trillion Dollar Bezzle

At the beginning of 2007, net worth of households and non-profit organizations exceeded its 1947-1996 historical average multiple, relative to GDP, by some $16 trillion. It took 24 months to wipe out eighty percent, or $13 trillion, of that colossal but ephemeral slush fund.