Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Top Economists at Work

This is another one from the draft folder. I'm not sure what else I'd planned to do with it, as it looks more or less finished. No doubt I expected I'd pedantically go on about economists not understanding capitalism or the state, but it probably speaks for itself as is.

The Guardian ran an article the other day last year reporting that "top economists" are urging that the work-week be reduced to 20 hours a week, and the remaining work shared. The article is quite comical. Behold:
A thinktank, the New Economics Foundation (NEF), which has organised the event with the Centre for Analysis of Social Exclusion at the London School of Economics, argues that if everyone worked fewer hours – say, 20 or so a week – there would be more jobs to go round, employees could spend more time with their families and energy-hungry excess consumption would be curbed. Anna Coote, of NEF, said: "There's a great disequilibrium between people who have got too much paid work, and those who have got too little or none."
No doubt! Oddly, the article says nothing about whether those now working too much will have the same income as they currently do, or, if not, how they'd pay their bills. Weird.
Many economists once believed that as technology improved, boosting workers' productivity, people would choose to bank these benefits by working fewer hours and enjoying more leisure. Instead, working hours have got longer in many countries. The UK has the longest working week of any major European economy. Skidelsky says politicians and economists need to think less about the pursuit of growth. "The real question for welfare today is not the GDP growth rate, but how income is divided."
These two paragraphs say quite a lot about economists' capacity for not knowing what the fuck they're talking about.

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