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Subject:Re: Time, Productivity and Tax Rates From:"Doug, Data Librarian at Ext 4225" <engstromdd -at- PHIBRED -dot- COM> Date:Wed, 1 Jun 1994 13:06:56 -0500
Mike LaTorra writes, replying to my comments on why greater
per-worker-hour productivity has not reduced the work week:
Machines *are* doing more and more of the "grunt" work of everyday survival,
but at a price: somebody has got to pay for these gadgets. So we work long
hard hours to afford our labor saving devices. Add to that cost the various
other costs of entertainment, travel, and other luxurious delights that
most people aspire to, and the bill can become too large to pay.
This answer misses the central point of my question: Why? If you can make
more stuff in the same amount of time, you can also choose to make the same
amount of stuff in less time. After decades of choosing to strike a
balance between less work and higher wages, we suddenly switched to
choosing higher wages only (For the past 20 years or so, it's more accurate
to say wages falling more slowly in real-dollar terms).
Paying for labor saving devices isn't an answer. The productivity I'm
referring to isn't microwave ovens, it's the accumulation of capital goods,
worker training, public infrastructure and experience that has generated
constant-dollar output growth of between 1 and 3 percent per year for
years. We have chosen to spend a lot of it on increased standard of
living, no question. But, I return to the basic question: why (and
through what mechanism) do we choose work and goods over leisure and fewer