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Reduced Work Time, Participatory Democracy and Time Currency

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Helsworth
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Reduced Work Time, Participatory Democracy and Time Currency

Reduced Work Time, Participatory Democracy and Time Currency,
by Bruno Théret (08-03-2013) Veblen Institute

The potential of time currencies to serve as a tool of social change remains relatively unexplored, and yet these alternative currencies make it possible to combine into a single mechanism several different social and environmental goals: reducing work hours, increasing civic engagement in public affairs, lowering public debt, and redistributing wealth.

The current way in which time is socially distributed is a major obstacle to the democratization of contemporary societies, as equal access to government authorities and public services is largely determined by the amount of time citizens have at their disposal. Paradoxically, we spend much of our lives working in order to finance through taxes political and administrative activities that we could for the most part exercise ourselves, yet from which we are excluded because of the rationing of disposable political time and the liberal-bureaucratic constitution of the state.

The reduction of working time should thus be seen as having a distinct political goal: the development of participatory democracy. This objective is all the more interesting in that it does not necessarily imply lower sala-ries or re-investable profit. All that is required is that reduced working hours be matched by tax cuts accom-panied by corresponding cuts in public spending. The latter, in turn, would be offset by increased civic involve-ment in political activity and public services. Indeed, monetary taxes paid for by additional labor in a capitalist economy can be at least partially replaced by transferring work hours to hours spent on civic activities.

Download the work here: http://www.veblen-institute.org/IMG/pdf/...t_eng_.pdf


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This post was last modified: 09.03.2013 00:45 by Helsworth.

09.03.2013 00:44
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BaktoMakhno
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Post: #2
RE: Reduced Work Time, Participatory Democracy and Time Currency

We could reduce working hours without losing productivity, we have the technology, but then people would have more time to think...


"The beauty of free trade is that 1 and 1 can be 3" - Titian

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09.03.2013 17:02
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Luigi Risotto
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Post: #3
RE: Reduced Work Time, Participatory Democracy and Time Currency

I don't believe that the problem is that people would have time to think. Like they didn't have that already, at least skilled workers. If they don't use their brains in the time they have now, they won't use it in the additional hours.

The problem is that less working hours usually means less profit (where it doesn't, capital reduces them anyway – you wouldn't have an engineer work 14 hours a day since it would actually decrease his productivity). Given the same productive forces, someone who works 4 or 5 hours a day can't produce the same quantity of surplus value as someone who works 8 hours a day. Of course, he could produce a sufficient amount of goods, that is, use value, but use value is only the medium through which capital realizes its surplus. This would still apply if we lowered taxes; if lower taxes could make 4 hours of work as profitable as 8 hours of work with the taxes we currently have, then lower taxes could make 8 hours of work even more profitable than both 8 hours of work with existing taxes and 4 hours of work with lower taxes. Still can't see a reason for capital to decrease working hours since capital per se doesn't know a "too much" in profit.

That is why you won't see capital reduce working hours because it would be nice to have citizens play chess with the elderly.

10.03.2013 02:22
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StatlerNWaldorf
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Post: #4
RE: Reduced Work Time, Participatory Democracy and Time Currency

In the US, that trend took place in the early 1960's. The Baby Boom generation was the first generation that didn't have to work from sunrise to sunset to support itself back then.

When radicalism returned to US politics resulting from people having the free time to challenge social and political norms, and not having anything to lose by doing so, it became apparent to conservative elements within the establishment as to why a reduction in work time is dangerous. So wages were not increased to keep pace with the cost of living. Social services were slashed as soon as it became politically viable to do so. Unions were weakened. The focus of college shifted from knowledge as path to self-discovery to education as a means of finding remunerative work. Collective myths were created around meaningless activities such as sports.

By the late 1980's, the radicalism of two decades before was dead. It had been killed by professional wrestling, the Superbowl, MTV, sitcoms, and low-wage dead end jobs. The spectre of poverty and homelessness frightened people into taking such unfulfilling work rather than conjuring ideas of how to manifest radical change. With the fall of the Eastern Bloc in 1989 and the USSR in 1992, America's major competitor disappeared. As collective bargaining had only been supported by the US gov't as a means of preventing people from going Red, the collapse of Communism was the death knell of America's unions. With China leaving Marxism behind for something more like Confucian capitalism, these unions were further weakened. Now, they have almost no power, and can barely fight back when they are attacked.

In the US today, we are paid lower wages than we need to support ourselves. We are told to praise CEOs making arbitrage profits as "job creators" when in fact they create little other than debt. We bail out the banks, so as to shift the burden of their failures onto the backs of the poor. Now, we work for temporary agencies, where there are no benefits or pensions. Our college tuition is now so high that nobody in their right mind would take on that kind of debt, therefore keeping us overworked and undereducated. There is a new social class in America-the precariat. Unlike the proletariat, who spent all their lives in one profession, developing skill and craft, our circumstances are so precarious, we are in constant danger of being laid off or fired or furloughed. This precariousness keeps us all on a knife edge of terror. we work as many hours as we are asked to, take any kind of work no matter how mindless, and never whisper criticisms of the system or our bosses for fear of termination. We are disposable, and can be gotten rid of immediately. there are so many unemployed, that there will be no problem replacing us.

The precariat is so desperate, so frightened, and therefore so volatile. We see shootings now all the time, as this system has driven everyone mad with paranoia and insecurity. The presence of the Patriot Act, DMCA and such mean that on top of this insecurity over employment, we are now monitored as heavily by the NSA as if they were the Stasi. We are so used to being watched all the time that we now watch reality TV shows, which is ironic. Television used to be about escaping reality, about abstraction and fiction and ideas. Now, its little better than watching a security camera or a CCTV.

Some in America have it very well. Some have it better than most. But more and more, we see our ranks falling into poverty and precariousness. The idea of a career is long gone. Nobody thinks they will work for the same company for 20 years. After seeing 401k's wiped out in the 2008 meltdown, we don't plan on ever retiring. Everyone is on the edge, which is why Occupy Wall Street was so chaotic and frenetic. It was sort of a primal scream, and utterance of despair and inchoate rage at a system that seemed to take everything away and give nothing. Its also why it was so unfocused that it accomplished nothing.

We have no time, we have no money, we have no security. We have only fear. And its been developing like this ever since they found out why giving people too much free time was a bad idea, 50 years ago. This is the reaction to the radicalism of that time. Those of us who weren't even alive then are being punished for the change our fathers sought.

10.03.2013 04:17
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Helsworth
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Post: #5
RE: Reduced Work Time, Participatory Democracy and Time Currency

I don't see why we can't have full employment, price stability, and a reduction in working hours at the same time.
Labor intensive jobs are still needed, like in education and in the medical field.
There isn't a problem of physical productivity by shortening working hours. And as for monetary profits, they are meaningless. If the private sector (households and companies) are stymied to save; then the government can reduce fiscal drag.
The problem has always been redistribution of wealth. Stupid governments sell bonds worth billions and billions to the bankers, instead of simply issuing currency and giving that currency to the working people, the actual ones who are producing wealth. Banks don't produce wealth. They perform a simple intermediary service.

~Thomas Edison:
"If the Nation can issue a dollar bond it can issue a dollar bill.
The element that makes the bond good makes the bill good also. The difference between the bond and the bill is that the bond lets the money broker collect twice the amount of the bond and an additional 20%. Whereas the currency, the honest sort provided by the Constitution pays nobody but those who contribute in some useful way. It is absurd to say our Country can issue bonds and cannot issue currency. Both are promises to pay, but one fattens the usurer and the other helps the People."


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This post was last modified: 10.03.2013 09:51 by Helsworth.

10.03.2013 09:51
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Titian
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Post: #6
RE: Reduced Work Time, Participatory Democracy and Time Currency

BaktoMakhno Wrote:
We could reduce working hours without losing productivity, we have the technology, but then people would have more time to think...


In such case "we" could produce the same level of output as now but even more if the people decide to continue working. After all, they wouldn't do this if they wouldn't get out anything from it.
Btw, keep the law of diminishing marginal returns and hence MRTS in mind.
It could require a lot of investment to replace all labour with capital and, in the long run, this could decrease living standards significantly as higher savings are required to hold the much larger capital base constant. Oh, and you mustn't forget about population growth.


@ Helsworth
You still didn't attend even an economics 101, did you?

btw, banks do/can produce wealth, yes they do/can.


"If you grab them by their balls, their hearts and minds will follow." (Yes, Minister)

This post was last modified: 10.03.2013 20:40 by Titian.

10.03.2013 20:38
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Helsworth
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Post: #7
RE: Reduced Work Time, Participatory Democracy and Time Currency

Titian Wrote:
@ Helsworth
You still didn't attend even an economics 101, did you?

btw, banks do/can produce wealth, yes they do/can.

You need to elaborate on that. If you consider interest created money as wealth creation, then you believe that money has intrinsic value. It doesn't. I attended accounting 101. Economics 101 is pure delusion. You neoliberals don't even know how your own theories work. For instance, market demand curves do NOT obey the law of demand.


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This post was last modified: 10.03.2013 20:52 by Helsworth.

10.03.2013 20:50
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Titian
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Post: #8
RE: Reduced Work Time, Participatory Democracy and Time Currency

Helsworth Wrote:

Titian Wrote:
@ Helsworth
You still didn't attend even an economics 101, did you?

btw, banks do/can produce wealth, yes they do/can.

You need to elaborate on that. If you consider interest created money as wealth creation, then you believe that money has intrinsic value. It doesn't. I attended accounting 101. Economics 101 is pure delusion. You neoliberals don't even know how your own theories work. For instance, market demand curves do NOT obey the law of demand.


Postkeynesian, eh?
I'll elaborate on this in a couple of days. Still got a couple of problems to sort out first.


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10.03.2013 21:22
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Helsworth
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Post: #9
RE: Reduced Work Time, Participatory Democracy and Time Currency

Understanding the need for deficits, does not require swearing allegiance to high Keynesian theory – it is simply an accounting reality. But if you need further debunking of neoliberal bs, here's Steve Keen.


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This post was last modified: 10.03.2013 22:09 by Helsworth.

10.03.2013 22:08
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BaktoMakhno
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Post: #10
RE: Reduced Work Time, Participatory Democracy and Time Currency

Titian Wrote:

BaktoMakhno Wrote:
We could reduce working hours without losing productivity, we have the technology, but then people would have more time to think...


In such case "we" could produce the same level of output as now but even more if the people decide to continue working. After all, they wouldn't do this if they wouldn't get out anything from it.
Btw, keep the law of diminishing marginal returns and hence MRTS in mind.
It could require a lot of investment to replace all labour with capital and, in the long run, this could decrease living standards significantly as higher savings are required to hold the much larger capital base constant. Oh, and you mustn't forget about population growth.

Thats a quote from Brave New World. Seems no one got the reference.

In the real world most people don't have the option to reduce their working hours while keeping a secure job. Further it has been policy for the US and UK governments over the last 30 years to intervene in the economy to keep unemployment up (google NAIRU for the pseudo scientific justification if you dont believe me). This skews the balance of supply and demand in the labour market, making labour cheaper and deincentivising the replacement of labour with capital.

See here:
http://deanbaker.net/images/stories/docu...cns.html#3

I assume you are using the special, obtuse definition of 'living standards' favored by rightwing economists. Real living standards would be much better served with more leisure and less stress rather than the ability to chase more flashy, over-advertised trinkets.

Britain invests less than 3% of its GDP in R&D. A sensible figure would be at least 20%.


"The beauty of free trade is that 1 and 1 can be 3" - Titian

"There is no conversation more boring than one where Globaltom speaks" - Triniterias

This post was last modified: 12.03.2013 12:00 by BaktoMakhno.

12.03.2013 11:53
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