Monday, March 26, 2007

Charles Siegel's Report on Work Time & Global Warming

Charles Siegel, the Director of The Preservation Institute in Berkeley, California,
has written a brief paper saying that shorter work hours are a key to dealing with
global warming. Here is the link for his report:

This is a four-page booklet written to make the general public aware of the issues
that are involved. Charles supports choice of work hours rather than a shorter
standard workweek for several reasons.

ON SOCIAL GROUNDS: The standard work week is a relic of a time when families
generally were supported by one bread winner, but families are much more diverse
today. There is no reason for a father supporting a wife and three children to work
the same number of hours as a childless couple with two incomes.

ON POLITICAL GROUNDS: Changing the standard work week creates political problems,
because labor wants shorter hours without less pay, which business resists.
Allowing choice of work hours avoids this problem and focuses the political debate
on the real issue, that people should have the option of downshifting economically
and consuming less.

ON ECONOMIC GROUNDS: Choice of work hours allows people to maximize their own
well-being by choosing between more consumption and more free time. This is similar
to the economic choice between any two commodities. It is a very basic point of
economic theory that, if you require people to consume a given amount, you reduce
overall well-being. If we required everyone to buy a given amount of roast beef,
we would reduce the well being of people who don't like roast beef, and if we
require everyone to work a given number of hours, we reduce the well-being of
people who want to consume less (or more)overall than the average person.

ON POLITICAL AND SOCIAL GROUND AGAIN: As a reaction to global warming, there could
be a strong voluntary simplicity movement during the 21st century. Many people could
decide to work less and consume less to save the world's environment. But people
can make this decision only if they have choice of work hours. A voluntary
simplicity movement has to be based on this voluntary choice.

This blog entry was written by Charles Siegel of The Preservation Institute, Berkeley,
California. E-mail:

Thank you, Charles for sending me this information via the Shorter Worktime Group.

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