After the criticism Joe Stiglitz recently received for allegedly using the "lump of labor fallacy" I see that one who criticised this criticism was a reader named Sanwichman who commented about it both at Nick Rowe's critical piece about Stiglitz and here at Diary of a Republican Hater in our analysis of it.
It was with considerable interest when I discovered that Sandwichman has done considerable work on the lump of labor fallacy and that it's his opinion-on this he is far from alone-that the lump of labor fallacy is itself a fallacy.
What I do also notice, however, is that while there is considerable push back among some about the lump of labor fallacy many of them seem to have another commitment on a shorter work week.
For example this website here calls for a 21 hour work week
It claims that a shorter work week "will enable us all us all to flourish in the 21st century." What I don't get is whether criticism of the lump of labor fallacy as a fallacy necessarily implies a commitment to a shorter work week. I would assume not.
I wasn't even thinking about the issue of a shorter work week but simply the criticism of Nick Rowe, et al, regarding Stiglitz's claim that part of the current unemployment problem-maybe a very big part-is due to structural changes in the economy as the computer and Internet boom have sent jobs out of the manufacturing sector to the service sector.
For me the question of a shorter work week is not without interest though it seems to me hardly the highest priority now. The most important problem in the US now is not those who are overworked but those who lack work at all.
As someone who knows first hand about unemployment in today's American, I've got to wonder if this is the best way to cut unemployment. Even if this were to created 1 million new jobs, in each job there would be a winner and a loser. The fellow who gets 20 hours a week who was previously unemployed this is progress.
But for the person who had a full time job it's a demotion. Even if employment went up, income would go down and many who currently had adequate income would now see their income reduced.
Maybe there's more to it but that on the face of it doesn't sound like the right solution. In the longer term the idea of shortening the work week somewhat so that we are more in line with Germany and France sounds like a decent project. If the work week was closer to 35 or 32 hours that would be social progress, though how to make it work economically would remain-I presume it would be solvable as they made it work in Europe.
But that is not the major concern right now. If you are currently overworked consider yourself lucky. Get no sympathy from me.
The question of Stilgitz is legitimate. There is no question that we have seen this move from the manufacturing sector, the trouble is that there are not enough decent paying jobs in the service sector at least not yet.
Sandwichman analyzes the lump of labor fallacy and sees it as the continuation of the old Luddite Fallacy.
"The problem with monetary or fiscal cures for a structural problem is that the cure is temporary but the problem is ongoing. In the long run, we're all dead but before that our children have grown up in a different world than the one we grew up in. I suspect that Ryan Avent commits a version of the Dorning Rasbotham theodicy here. He makes a number of highly questionable but unstated assumptions that, if true, render Stiglitz's argument "unfortunate." If not true, they're simply a digression. I agree that Stiglitz's analysis and prescription are flawed. But not in the way that Avent thinks."