The Work Day to Lose 2 Hrs in Gothenburg Sweden
|May 5, 2014||Posted by Staff under Activism|
This 2014 excerpt of The Atlantic, Apr 9, is by Uri Friedman.
In the Swedish city of Gothenburg, the governing coalition has proposed a year-long trial that would divide some municipal workers into a test and control group at the same pay rate, with the test group working six-hour days and the control group working the traditional eight.
They hope to get the staff members taking fewer sick days and feeling better mentally and physically after they’ve worked shorter days.
In Sweden, towns have abandoned the approach in the past when it proved costly and detrimental to workers’ health (it turns out working non-stop for six hours isn’t great for you, either).
The bottom line is that productivity — driven by technology and well-functioning markets — drives wealth far more than hours worked. And very few jobs in developed economies nowadays are classic assembly-line positions, where working 20 percent longer will mechanically produce 20 percent more widgets.
At least 40 years of studies suggest that people work harder if you limit their time to complete a certain task. In some cases, working too hard can actually reduce output. Long working hours are also associated with ill health, which means lost labor in the long term, as well as higher medical costs for employers and government.
Ed. Notes: Since we humans are political animals, we seek a solution that is a mandate: “thou shalt” or “thou shalt not”. We, as a majority, do not seek an organic solution whereby you don’t boss people around but instead create a context for things to work out for the better — sort of like child-proofing a home so a baby can’t stick its finger into any electrical outlets. In this case, to create an ideal length of time for working (during a day, week, month, year, or career), you wouldn’t set a limit. Instead, you would pay everyone a share of the common wealth, the worth of Earth in the region, the annual rental value of sites and resources and EM spectrum. Getting this extra income (from the money that people spend for the nature they use), a resident would not be so desperate to work more than they want; instead, they could work as long or as short as they like.
They could also work with whomever they like, so government would not have to enforce integration. Plus, they’d have the leverage to negotiate higher wages, so government could forget about minimum wages. And they could demand safer conditions, so government could forget about its bureaucracy of inspectors. Further, they could win a say in management, so corporations would evolve into co-operatives naturally, organically.
You can expect this cascade of benefits when you redesign the whole system rather than just address each symptom. But you’d have to have a whole world view, rather than just be a political animal. And that’s hard for us humans.