Why we work too much

A 2010 report from UK think tank New Economics Foundation generated plenty of publicity by suggesting that a 21 hour standard work week would significantly improve wellbeing by giving people more time for family, friends, neighbours, and leisure activities.

Interestingly, economist John Maynard Keynes envisaged in a 1930 essay on the Economic Possibilities for our Grandchildren the following situation:

Thus for the first time since his creation, man
 will be faced with his real, his permanent problem -
how to use his freedom from pressing
 economic cares, how to occupy the leisure,
which science and compound interest
 will have won for him, to 
live wisely and agreeably and well.

More specifically he predicted that if population stabilises, then:

By 2030, the grandchildren of his generation would live in a state of abundance, where satiation would be reached and people, finally liberated from such economic activities as saving, capital accumulation, and work would be free to devote themselves to arts, leisure, and poetry.

The productivity gains imagined by Keynes as the source of this freedom from work did eventuate. Everywhere we look we can see far greater output per hour of labour, from agricultural production all the way through the production processes in our complex 21st century economy.

However, recent research suggests that leisure time has been relatively constant since 1900, and time spent on home production activities (cooking, cleaning etc) has actually slightly increased. Additionally, while time spent at work over a lifetime has decreased since 1900, most of this is the result of more time spent studying.

How is it that we continue to fill our time not with leisure, but with work, study, and household chores?

There are many reasons (as discussed here).  I would argue the fatal flaw in Keynes’s comments was the assumption that some kind of consumer satiation would be reached.  Although he did acknowledge that there are basic needs, and what he called second class needs:

Needs of the second class, those which satisfy the desire for superiority, may indeed be insatiable; for the higher the general level, the higher still are they. But this is not so true of the absolute needs-a point may soon be reached, much sooner perhaps than we are all of us aware of, when these needs are satisfied in the sense that we prefer to devote our further energies to non-economic purposes.

We now know that consumer demand is insatiable (though we might debate whether this is the result of our culture or some universal human acquisitiveness).  But the most interesting part of the story for me is that we could all work less with very minor reductions to our standard of living but for coordination barriers between households.  This coordination problem is a hindrance to individuals seeking to make the choice of leisure over work.

To properly explain how the coordination problem occurs at a national level, we need an analogy closer to home. Instead of businesses and industries improving productivity across the economy, imagine yourself improving your productivity during your working life. You start on low pay as a youngster, and edge your way up the ladder to better paying jobs over time.

Immediately we can see the analogy is sound. Most people don’t take their gains in productivity (as reflected by increases in their salary) as leisure time. Rather, they continue to work the same hours, or more, and receive the higher income.

Why?

The answer is a cooperation problem with striking similarities to the classic prisoner’s dilemma. You see, if you take your productivity gains as leisure time, and the next person doesn’t, they can bid up prices for essential consumer items (such as land). However, if you both cooperate and each take more leisure time, you will both face accessible prices since neither party is capable of paying more.

In our analogy, if everyone took some of the economy-wide productivity gains as leisure time our total production would fall by some fraction of the reduction in work hours, and because each person’s income is lower, there would be less opportunity for people to outbid each other on prices, or out-consume each other in status displays.

Furthermore, as our productivity increases (or our hourly rate of pay in this analogy) the gains at the margin from working just one more hour, or one more day, are far greater, tempting us further to preference work over leisure time.  If you make $100 per day rather than $400 per day, your decision to reduce work time comes at a lower opportunity cost.

Of course accompanying this coordination problem and incentive structure are embedded social norms and workplace practices (which Keynes may have expected to be easily overcome).

Is there a solution?

At an individual level the answer is dependent on your preference for leisure time as opposed to consumption of leisure goods and services.  Some people may decide that having time without plenty of money to spend as they please is not their ideal situation.

The answer is more vague at a society wide level. Yes, we can regulate maximum working hours and penalty rates for overtime. However, penalty rates increase marginal benefits from overtime hours. Maybe instead we could have anti-penalty rates. After a certain number of hours by law your pay decreases per hour, until after say 30hours, there is zero benefit from working any longer.

However regulating working hours is a tricky game. Such a law would encourage a cash economy for labour in order to avoid the laws (and avoid taxes), allowing individual workers to bypass the rules to get ahead.

In fact, in the spirit of free choice I would discourage further regulation of hours. Instead I would opt for solutions such as more public holidays (which also allow a coincidence of leisure for more workers), and labour laws that encourage secure part time work.

Of course I don’t want to presume that coordinated reduced working hours are something which society as a whole desires. But if we do, there are options, and perhaps my grandchildren will be so lucky as to face Keynes’s leisure dilemma.

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Comments

    • Surely you mean rents and prices of LAND. All our earning capacity and spending capacity neither increases the supply of land nor reduces the absolute necessity of access to land. So the price of access to land absorbs our capacity to pay, including the fruits of everything we do to increase that capacity: longer hours, 2nd earners, 2nd jobs, depriving ourselves of non-essential consumption items (not that they make much difference), delaying children, not having children at all…

      Individually, we work for our employers. But collectively, we work for our landlords and our employers’ landlords. Collectively, we don’t work for our employers unless they happen to own their premises, in which case we work for them in their capacity as land owners, not as employers. But neither employers nor trade unions understand this. Hence the continuing unresolved brawl over IR, which diverts attention from the real problem.

  1. I don’t buy this.

    Firstly, what about the rest of the world? Those people in the developing world who haven’t met even their basic needs? They’re not going to play along in any agreement to lower living standards by working less.

    Second, having run up large debts in the West, we no have to work to service them.

    It is too late, the door has closed, unless we want to walk away from debt based capitalism.

    • I agree – unless you regulate the place like the French do it will not work. Ask a few young French people what they think about the French model of labour and industrial regulation and they are usually scathing. France is like the state school system here – full of time serving clapped out dead wood who should not be managers.

      The only thing that will encourage sniffing of roses are at least 1 long weekend a month and shutting all but essential businesses on those weekends.

      12 decent long national long weekends per year will make a difference.

      • “The only thing that will encourage sniffing of roses are at least 1 long weekend a month and shutting all but essential businesses on those weekends”

        I can’t say I agree with that. Part of the enjoyment of leisure time is the quality and choice of what can be accessed, particuarly in entertainment services.

        I good study here is what the State of Utah did in 2008 to try and combat the GFC. They instituted 4 x 10 working days instead of 5 x 8. They thought closing the office once a day would diminish costs.

        Costs went down an immaterial ammount, however the postitive reaction from employees was one day off during the week.

        With all goods and services provided, it felt like an ‘adult day off’. Kids still at school, husband at work, but cinemas, cafes, etc there for the taking.

        Seeing the vibrancy in Asian cities, I would conclude (with little study) that a 4×10 working week would work, as long as commute times were 20 minutes at the most and the 3 days off were disaggregated amongst the workforce, thus service levels are optimal at all times.

    • “They’re not going to play along in any agreement to lower living standards by working less.”

      True. I didn’t suggest they could or should, since they mostly haven’t experienced the productivity gains the developed world has in the past 50 years.

    • I don’t think Cameron was actually saying that developing nations should take this up…

      Either way, Australia is relatively isolated to the rest of the world so it would be interesting as an experiment. Although I agree that the best way to sell it would be more public holidays/long weekends, Aussies love a good public holiday.

  2. Kids these days do not know the joys of cruising down the main street of a suburban shopping centre on a Dragster after 12 noon on any Saturday.

    Everything was closed until Monday except a few Milk bars.

    A bit of bummer not being able to find a nice Latte to sip on Sunday but back then coffee had 43 beans and came in a jar.

  3. Why not just let each individual worker decide how much they want to work and let them negotiate their pay with their employer? If one person wants more leisure time they can take it, but why punish those who don’t?

    If you are worried that people aren’t taking enough time off then legislate an extra week of annual leave and let the individual decide when to take it.

    Free-markets might be dumb, but they are smarter than governments regulating (pretty sure I read that here somewhere).

    • “why punish those who don’t?”

      That is the heart of the coordination problem. Cooperating to work less provides the optimal outcome, but if someone breaks ranks, it gives them an advantage which comes at a cost to those still cooperating.

      Of course I do agree that more regulation if not ideal (as I mentioned in my conclusion). We seem to agree that perhaps more public holidays, or simple changing existing laws to allows an extra week of annual leave, would be practical and useful improvements.

    • “If one person wants more leisure time they can take it, but why punish those who don’t?”

      This is the “prisoners dilemma” that Cameron was alluding to in his article.

    • I used to work at Telstra 20 years ago. The company hated the fortnightly RDO and asked the workers to vote for a monthly RDO. The compensation offered was a one off payment of $1400. Guess what? They took the money once and lost 12 days off a year for ever…
      I was amazed how stupid people can be!

    • Why not let airline pilots work 14 hour days 6 days a week?

      Its the free market dream. If Capt Fourbars from Brisbane won’t we can find someone in China/Vietnam that will (followed by a Leprechaun’s cackle).

  4. This is what big business wants, complete casualisation of the workforce & workers bidding (downwards) for their labour (Flexible workplace arrangements).
    A fantasy dreamed up by people who can afford it.

    • The argument above seems to be that if that achieves a sufficient lifestyle outcome for those employed by big business, then there’s no reason to not go down that path. The reality is that it’d take a massive cultural change to come to that kind of situation.

  5. This article takes me back to my Leisure Studies days where these types of theories were contemplated…..back then there was some expectation that there would be increased leisure time in the coming years and therefore a need for a range of co-ordinators and professionals to develop programs and facilitate these requirements.

    All well and good from a theoretical point of view, but flawed in many senses.

    As Tali references….if you haven’t got your most basic needs met, then this whole concept goes out the window as all your time would be dedicated to finding food and/or working in a factory for 12 hours a day for a bowl of rice….

    If I think about my situation, in reference to Australia right now, the main driver for me to work more, and my wife to go back to work as well…..is so that we can try to save for and pay off some crappy house which is probably around 40% over valued!! So as Charles Ponzi clearly states and this is my experience…this is a huge factor at least in Australia right now which counter-acts the arguements of Keynes.

    In an ideal world where a house might be worth $150-250,000 either my wife or myself would work (maybe both of us would work part-time) and the rest of the time would be spent looking after our child/ren, gardening, getting involved with sports teams (coaching maybe) and generally doing a range of things which would probably constitute quality leisure time and/or a beneficial contribution to the community.

    Until then, slave away……

  6. Universal health cover till point of death with no waiting periods will truly stop me working on 9 – 5 job and seek out other jobs that are more enriching.

    After all a medical bill that can push me into poverty is one of the greatest security . Other aspects like food , shelter , clothing can be bought at a price that is affordable at current wages. You can buy a dump out in woop woop.

  7. Even today, it would be easy (on personal level) to increase leisure time – by stopping spending frenzy. If somebody, who earns lets say $70k decides to work only 3 days a week he would earn $42k and that is more than enough for decent standard of living if you are not paying mortgage. So, the only reason why we have to work so much in this country, are house prices. There is no single good thing coming form high house prices, not even for investors who are supposedly making profit – they work more than others and have less leisure time and more stress.

    • It is NOT easy on a personal level to increase leisure time. Employers will only allow part time working arrangements if you use children as your ‘excuse’ for not being able to work a full time week. Employers cast their own value judgements on what you plan to do in your spare time to grant you the time in the first place. We have no control over our lives, it’s basically full time work and that’s it.

      • My wife is able to get flexi time, only because her industry has a deficit of optometrists (at least not in the major capitals).

        Earning a wage is still effectively slave renting….the whips have gone, but the relationship is still there.

        The future is self-employment ASX3K!!!!

  8. If house prices were normal, then a couple could work 40 hours combined (i.e. 20 hours each) and still sustain the household.

    At the moment, we need 80+ hours per week to sustain a household in this country.

    It’s not sustainable.

    My partner and I work around 100 hours a week between us.

    • Maybe that will just explain why the Gov loves the high houses price and worked pretty hard to get it at this level.
      So you will work 80+ hours a week, pay lots in taxes and mortgage repayments instead lazing around and generally speaking enjoying your life!

      • i.e debt based slavery. Exactly why governments and banks love it. Its what keeps people thinking they are free. Best to do it on the asset people absolutely need so they can’t escape from the system.

        Wow this sounds like a total conspiracy. But I definitely wouldn’t be working as hard; or would have made my own business if I didn’t have the housing/mortgage risk in my life. People these days aim for stable income, not the best income because most people know they are/will be indebted.

    • but is that cause or effect? Before women entered the workplace in a big way, house prices would have been proportional to a single income representing a household, with any women’s earnings being a supplement to disposable income. When there exists a double income household, it gets an immediate advantage over single income households – and at some point that tips over to the “norm” and single income households are no longer sufficient for sustaining a household, through simple price competition.

  9. rational investor

    Working less is quite easy to do as long as you keep the second class needs in check.

    I’m in the middle of a 12 month calendar year travelling holiday around Australia. Due to the high tax rates for high income earners, the tax return I have received this year, and will next year from only working 6 months each FY (dropping down tax brackets) will pay for the entire holiday except for a few thousand.

    We generally are not money poor these days, we are time poor. Having time to prioritise and strategise about life in general has been invaluable.

  10. Another possible view is put forward in this article:

    CULTURE AND BEHAVIOR: Dangerously Addictive: Why We Are Biologically Ill-Suited to the Riches of Modern America by Peter C. Whybrow

    http://www.energybulletin.net/stories/2011-09-24/culture-and-behavior-dangerously-addictive-why-we-are-biologically-ill-suited-ric

    Basic premise – our brains are not wired for the situation we find ourselves in.

    Excerpt

    “But living now in relative abundance, when the whole world is a shopping mall and our appetites are no longer constrained by limited resources, our craving for reward–be that for money, the fat and sugar of fast food, or for the novel gadgetry of modern technology–has become a liability and a hunger that has no bounds. Our nature has no built-in braking system. More is never enough.”

    • I like this.

      My fellow bogans have dreams. Dreams that entail a marble garage. A garage in which they will sit in their Porsche, watching Two and a Half Men in 3D…that Charlie is such a riot…on the giant screen that is mounted on the feature wall. Every garage should have a feature wall.

      I have a dream. I want to grow cows and smell fresh air. Well, as fresh as it gets with cows hanging about. Large verandahs and wine also sounds good.

      My fellow bogans ask me how I could be happy doing that. “Wouldn’t you get bored?” they ask. No. My own brain provides more entertainment than that scallywag Charlie could ever do.

      These people are addicted to the toys and flashy things. I don’t know what sort of detox this country needs. Maybe that looming recession. But they’ll be back for their jollies one day. Addiction is terrible to watch.

      • hehehe, Excellent!! I heard a great comment the other day when someone was speaking about people and technology. The basic premise was “Oh aren’t young people today so silled with technology”.

        The person (an educator / teacher I believe) replied “They are not skilled with Technology, they are dependent on it. They consume it, they largely don’t produce it.”

        I rather liked that. Given the iThingo’s they all worship are wonderful for *consuming* media, but rubbish for actually producing anything I think he has a valid point.

        Addicted to shiny toys and flashy things to show off with indeed.

      • No, the bogan lusts after a Cayenne, which offers the Porsche cachet in a huge and intimidating package, so they can lord it over the world. The 911 on the other hand is generally regarded as the hallmark of the tosser (albeit being one of the best cars to drive!)

      • No. I would love one myself. I was saving(saving? Remember when people used to do that?) for one but decided cows would be more fulfilling.
        With the detox coming maybe I can pick one up cheap and herd my cows with it.

      • Αm I the only person in Australia who drives a falcon on gas because I dont want to work more than 15 years total in my life?

  11. hmmm

    Wages regulated as a faction of company (or whatever) profits (or similar) would be an interesting alternative to the current absolutely-fixed wage system, yes?

    Just a thought…

    • I think there is a bit of “lost in translation” in that NYTimes article. The dutch “part-time” 4-day work week is supposed to be 40 hours still (4 x 10 hours). Of course, no one actually checks that employees are working 10 hours.

      My understanding is that this is legislated – that once you’ve worked for a company for a year, you can choose to work 40 hours in 4 days, so Fridays are particularly quiet (especially Fridays in August 🙂

      • Nothing lost in translation. You’re right that a lot of people work 40 hours a week in a more flexible way (see below), but in addition to that there are a lot of people who do exactly as described in the article.

    • The Dutch workplace offers fantastic flexibility recognising the pressure on modern families to both work, raise kids, be socially engaged, be carers, active citizens, etc. etc.

      Everyone in Holland has five years of annual leave to start off with in addition to the public holidays. On top of that are flexible working arrangements (especially in Government as a way to compete for skills without having the ability to meet private sector wages). For example:

      My regular workweek was 36 hours. My employer and I agreed that I would consistently work 40 hours a week, adding 4 hours of flexitime every week which annually comes down to 4.5 weeks (yes, 9.5 weeks of downtime a year + public holidays). Whenever I needed to do things such as have the car serviced, moving house, chores, taking care of family, or simply unwind after a stressful rush to meet a deadline I would use the flexitime to take a day or two off.

      All this obviously work permitting. I would never take a flexiday close to deadlines, but during a slow period it was a fantastic way to take care of other responsibilities. Others opted to work 4 9-hour days and have long weekends every week.
      This system requires trust between employer and employee and an output/outcome based management style.

      To be honest, I think employment conditions are a huge incentive to go back one day. I don’t see how we can raise a family and enjoy life over here with both of us working (which is not a choice or option due to high prices). Australian employers seem to want to solve everything by requiring their employees to work longer and harder. Stepping back and thinking about how to do things smarter is something I rarely see. However, I believe by now it is well established that work hours and productivity are not linked 1-on-1.

      Dutch productivity is amongst the highest in the world.

  12. I’d be happy to continue 40ish hours, if I could work that over 4 days and have a 3 day weekend..

    Unfortunately some workplaces value time-at-desk as much as output

    • You will find those are the organisations that have workforces primarily over 40?

      Gen Y do not want to be chained to an office. I’d rather be contactable and working from home 12 hours a day, then spending 8 hours in the office and having to commute 90 minutes each way.

  13. Keynes’ prediction probably assumed that governments would ensure full employment and that real wages would grow in line with real GDP (that people would be in a position to choose their work/leisure balance). Its safe to say that since the early 70’s those assumptions have proved naive.

  14. I think the downshifting phenomenon shows that consumer needs aren’t insatiable.

    I think the problem is that markets tend to charge maximum prices for necessities. In Australia at the moment particularly housing.

    Perhaps giving tenants more rights would help.

  15. Debt is what has caused this problem, so kill debt and watch people enjoy more leisure time 😉
    I know that’s what I did and I am sooo much happier now.

    • Debt is simply future earnings brought forward – so at some point your earnings overtook your debt, and you were able to eliminate your personal debt. If you’re arguing that banks should no longer issue debt, the implication would be that those currently applying for debt would have to put off purchases until such time as their savings overtakes the price of the goods they want. As bad as the “GFC” is, extending it another 30 years before households spend is about the worst idea I can think of.

      • Yes good point Karan. There is good debt and bad debt and it seems many folks can’t tell the difference.

  16. Just imagine a society largely free from debt and mortgage stress, where people have time to spend with family, doing things they enjoy, things that benefit broader society and generally improve the non-material aspects of society.

    • > Just imagine a society largely free from debt and mortgage stress, where people have time to spend with family…

      Sounds like a third world country like India – 3 generations living in the same house.

      It’s not that nice 🙂

  17. Debt is the key as many above have already stated.

    Although it won’t please the banks of the world, getting rid of debt would increase productivity.

    I would also suggest getting rid of commercial TV/cable…Huxley was right, Orwell had it wrong way about: http://www.prosebeforehos.com/image-of-the-day/08/24/huxley-vs-orwell-infinite-distraction-or-government-oppression/

    The problem is not productivity or economic regulation, its social, its the dumbing down of the species.

    Infinite distraction, immediate gratification and no link with community.

  18. I expect the offer from my employer will be delivered by robot, driving a hovercar to my house where I am loading trucks “working from home”.

  19. Mostly what we bid up is land prices, this is the heart of the prisoners dilemma mentioned. Better location allows us to save time or money and as we get more income we just keep bidding each other up.

    A decent land tax helps a bit here by shifting some of the incentives and killing off the speculation / investment / ponzi side of things.
    But at its heart is the cooperation dilemma. Add to that the uneven bargaining power of employers and you can not resolve this without regulation.
    Although bonus points for trying and best of luck, I’d be interested if a solution could be found.

    On the subject of overtime and penalty rates this works because while the employee may still have incentive to work more the power is in the hands of the employer and they are penalised in this case and will preference less work or more employees. This keeps overtime down and makes the regulation effective.

    • What you are saying makes a lot of sense. Unfortunately to me it makes the bear’s argument in the long term for most essential assets/consumables (houses, food, water, etc) look weak. And I want to be a bear; and until recently I was one. This argument effectively crushes most arguments in the long term because it is affected by human nature; nothing more. We all want to survive; and we individually do the things that would be good for us but bad as a whole. The problem of the commons basically sums it up.

      As long as people have to work harder and harder for the same things (i.e land in this case) we will do so. The limit is where we can’t do this anymore and maybe a long term crash in prices will happen then; comparing this to some third world countries and the work ethic of Asia (not unheard of for parents to not see their kids for most of the year while they are working) we have a lot to compromise still before that limit is reached.

      Its a race to the bottom; and its a tragedy IMO if this factor is the driving factor of most people.

      • We can’t really work much harder given the overtime laws, trading conditions down for pay is possible but mostly in a finance hijacked economy like ours what we do is pledge increasing amounts of future labour towards land. This expands with the availability of credit and ponzi pricing and leads to the bubble we have now.

        It is a bit sad, but solving this sort of dilemma is why we need governments rather than a Libertarian utopia.

      • Or rather we need to let governments get out of the way so banks can’t lend as much – or rather wouldn’t think its worth the risk of doing so because they will be bailed out by the taxpayer. I do think the siutation wih debt has gotten to the stage that it has due to the Government and its guarantees on interest rates, keynesian stimulus policies and bank guarantees – all can kicking measures that cause us to get into ever increasing debt.

        If you want less debt unless you change human nature you nee more frequent recessions so that greed is balanced by fear. Not the most humanitarian argument; I personally feel sorry for people and their families in times of crisis. But as a collective I’ve seen nothing to suggest that we are smart and learn from our mistakes. We take stability for granted and do stupid things; the sooner we are punished the less time the bad behaviour can continue.

  20. Debt is the slavery of the free. Individual sovereignty. Liberalism is freedom from the State, i.e. from the predation of the statists. Statists are those who which to use the law to steal.

    Give me what is mine and I don’t care what you do with yours.

    As Prince stated above, it’s social. Yes, the socialists and “crony socialism”.

    Try this: get real production out of the public services and we all can have a day off. In the meantime, get back to work and see you in a thousand years.

    The problem with this sh*t, is that the socialist would rather be equal in slavery or poverty rather than unequal in freedom.

    • So how would you prevent the rent-seeking? The use of privilege to steal?
      Monopolies, Land rents, all theft. Just the same as the Governments own Rent (Tax).
      If you have a real way to free the country from both Government rents and Private rents at the same time I’d like to see it.

  21. I had free time and no money, those were my uni years. Now when I’m working I have no money and no free time.
    It’s a lose/lose scenario.

    I guess for those of us whose leisure activities don’t rely on money, it’s a great idea, but for most of us, leisure costs money.

  22. I’d say that the killer of this entire thing is… ‘inflation’.

    Inflation makes us more willing to spend, and the more we spend the more money we need to feel comfortable.

    Driving up prices means we’re always behind the 8 ball, trying to catch up.

    Also, ask a billionaire why they don’t spend all their time relaxing on their yacht. Ask Warren Buffet why he’s not on perpetual holiday.

    We’re greedy buggers, it’s human nature. We feel a need to provide for our offspring, and the more we can provide, the better chance they have of surviving and thriving. I have no idea how that can be shaken other than a complete social paradigm shift.

  23. The treadmill doesn’t end when you’ve paid off the mortgage on your own home. The next step is to buy an investment property. Suddenly, working 6 month of each year is no longer an option because you need to remain in the 40% tax bracket in order to gain the tax benefits from negative-gearing. It reminds me of those old adverts for red-spot specials at K-Mart: How can you afford not to “save” all that money?

  24. I personally work (hard I might add) excessive hours because I want a house.

    Baby Boomers will be disappointed if they think that I will be their cash cow though because the Landlord is bleeding me dry and wages aren’t keeping up with the cost of living.

  25. This is a reasonably straightforward bit of math, actually

    For utility to be a thing we can maximise, it needs to be a concave function. With this in mind, the marginal utility at low values of the function must necessarily be larger than at the maximum or near it. So if we for some reason have overshot a maximum and work “too much”, going backwards takes us up the utility curve rather than down it

  26. you need to read henry george’s “progress and poverty”, which explains why progress (ie, growth) is not able to cure poverty.

    there is a reason he has been banished by economists. because he speaks the truth.

  27. You are all talking of managing your prisoner’s dilemma but none of you are talking about how to break out of the prison. It is a common disease of the captive, to love and admire you captors.
    So you do not want to break out, but you wish to better organize your hell with new laws and codes. But those new rules and regulations are just paintings on your shackles. They make a prettier prison, but it is still a prison.

    So you examine the other choice, try to get a better job or to be a boss or a manager. Yes, then your life will be swell. But you do not see the prison that is still around you, that you are only the warden or the gang lord.

    There is one way out of your prison and it is to end the myth of private property. It is not a new way of life, but a very old one.

    If there is nothing hoarded, there is nothing worth stealing. If there is nothing worth stealing, there are very few thieves.

    http://infoshop.org/page/AnAnarchistFAQ

    • Sounds great but it kinda was attempted before in the Soviet Union and that didn’t work out. Basically because as much as we may loath it, capitalism (not the excessive post 1995 version) in some form is a better fit to human nature.

      That’s coming from a lefty who definitely agrees life is not all about work.

      • If at first you don’t succeed…

        Anarchy was never a large movement in Russia or the Soviet Union. In Spain it held on for a bit. Why not read the link I posted?

      • I had a skim of the link, and the bit that bothers my H.1.4 http://infoshop.org/page/AnarchistFAQSectionH1

        If the State was abolished overnight, do we really think that nothing would rise up in its place? How will the people enforce the contracts between them as they cooperate to produce goods in the economy?

        Who would stop the army taking control (if enough of the army so desired)?

        To me anarchy is based on an unrealistic assumption of human nature – that 100% of people would cooperate in the belief on an anarchist system. If just a few % stop believing, and have the force to take control, why wouldn’t they?

      • What you fear is what currently exists. Isn’t the army in control right now? Look at the U.S. Budget and who gets the most money.

        The price of freedom is vigilance, yes?

        There would still be laws, just not a centralized state that dictates laws in direct opposition to the people’s wishes..

        I am not advocating Anarchism out of any lightness or ignorance. I have a degree in economics. Just keep reading the FAQ and the books in the bibliography, it all comes together. Skimming your way towards freedom is not advised.