8 votes

The vanishing resource more valuable than all the gold, silver & FRNs put together...

Our time.

Sadly, a reduction of the 40-hour work week doesn't appear to be even a blip on the radar of the average American. Yet it's the most direct and egregious assault on our personal liberty.


Edit: If we all have to be slaves, wouldn't it be better to have more free time than less?

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Michael Nystrom's picture

This was in yesterday's WSJ

Or was it the day before? The days are a blur and run together for me recently

The Digital Trap

While our technologies may be evolving as fast as we can imagine new ones, we humans and our culture evolved over millennia and are slower to adapt. The body is based on hundreds, perhaps thousands, of different clocks, syncing to everything from the sun and moon to levels of violence and available water. We can't simply declare noon to be midnight and expect our body to conform to the new scheme as if it were a Google Calendar resetting to a new time zone. Neither can we force our businesses to conform to an always-on ethos when the people we work with and for are still obeying a more deeply embedded temporal scheme.

Instead of our offloading time-intensive tasks to our machines, we attempt to match the speed of our network connections. Thanks to the Internet, we travel more on business not less, we work at all hours on demand, and spend our free time answering email or tending to our social networks. Staring into screens, we are less attuned to light of day and the physiological rhythms of our housemates and co-workers. We are more likely to accept the digital clock's illusion that all time is equivalent and interchangeable.

But it isn't.


He's the man.

The Worker's Market

In order to see our situation more easily, some people may need a fresh perspective. Let's, for a second, compare employment to a real estate contract.

Who gets the better deal in a real estate contract? No one can predict it because it depends on whether there are lots of houses that can't be sold or there are lots of buyers that can't find a house. As most here know, this is called "a buyer's market" or "a seller's market", respectively.

If we label an employment contract the same way, we can see a trend and a solution that most people haven't thought of.

In "an employer's market", the employer sets the responsibilities, the conditions, the pay, the hours and the length of the contract. Sure, there are negotiations but they are surface. If you don't like the terms, Mr. Employer will find someone else. And yes, there are even limits to him getting a highly experienced, skilled, educated person in a certain field to accept crap wages. This is obviously because that field is more limited in worker supply. Otherwise, those jobs would all pay minimum wage.

Minimum wage is simply the balance factor for every job that became terminally in an employer's market. In today's market, this has become every non-CEO, non-inventor job. In all those cases, the liberals stepped in and said no to continued wage depreciation for all jobs across the board because those workers in that field lost too much of their negotiating power. This isn't necessarily a bad thing. It's just the wrong fix.

So, we've discussed the employer's market and the backstop to it running away but we haven't discussed the "worker's market" yet. That's because none of us can remember it ever existing. Aside from sparse pockets for short terms, the world has been in an employer's market for most of modern history. (Some would say for all of history.)

Why is this? Why can't workers unite behind this common goal that would help so many of them out? It's because worker decisions are based on the individual need, not the collective one, and collectively, they are in competition with each other. Just like "A" person is smart while a "GROUP" of people are dumb, workers never get the 'unite' thing. Unions were an attempt at this (with arguable success, but their focus has been distracted and lost over time. But if the people did successfully unite with a clear goal, how would it happen?

What would it take for workers to regain (or just gain) the upper hand? They would have to end the competition for jobs. This means there must be many more jobs created or many less workers for the same jobs. The former is what everyone has been pushing for, but that contradicts technological advancement which eliminates more jobs than it creates (That's another topic), so it's an eternal uphill battle. No chance of winning. Reboot.

The latter never gets discussed but that's where the real solution lies. So, how to remove large numbers of workers from the market? Pay them enough to cover all their expenses, entitlements, entertainment, vacations and expected savings before their current retirement age. Encourage them to retire early because they're more tired of working than they are in need of money. See? That was simple. No one can argue with this logic so far, right?

Ah, but the pesky implementation detail. So, how to put this in place? There are two ways. One forces it to happen and the other organically spreads as a result of the first. The first way is to create the jobs ourselves so we are in control of the wages. (This is speaking from the worker's perspective) WE start a company. WE fund one. WE buy a majority of it's stock. We have to get control, one way or another.

While this kind of sounds daunting, "WE" are actually the ones who do everything in the company. The execs really don't do anything in most industries, once the business is up and running. They even joke that 'the less work you do, the higher you get paid' and studies back this up. There are departments for every single task.

Why are WE doing all the work and getting such low percentages of the revenue? (Non-exec wages average 11% of average costs while bank's cut can top 40%.) This has evolved over time because the banks have weaseled their way into pseudo ownership of every major corporation. And they have designed the legal structure so that bigger always has an advantage over smaller. The result is that banks swipe the profits off the top before the revenue is even counted. Just take a look at how many stages in every supplier chain, in every transaction chain, in every payment chain and even in the entire tax chain they get a cut from. They even get a never-ending cut from everyone after all debts are cleared by the existence of their inflation.

So, back to the solution. If WE organized in any fashion (mandated, volunteer, anonymously online, crowd-funding, block party or just following a noisy piper) and WE ended up being in charge of the wages of just one significant company, the effect would snowball across the local community. Money scarcity and all the derivative problems would begin a path of steady decline as that community retained more and more of the wealth of it's labor. As this progressed, it would become exponential because the first place people cut when they come into money is to cut out bank interest and fee expenses.

When this is extended successfully to businesses and especially new ones, it has now become "a worker's market".


Charlotte Iserbyt's "The Deliberate Dumbing Down of America" and "The Deliberate Dumbing Down of the World"




work less hours make more money.


"The two weakest arguments for any issue on the House floor are moral and constitutional"
Ron Paul

Hip to time

Come waste your time with me

This would only create jobs

This would only create jobs if they limited a person to one job, otherwise I doubt they are going to pay people more to do less work, so they would need another job to survive.

Please come join my forum if you're not a trendy and agree with my points of view.


But why would they need to get another job to survive? What's really behind the cost of living? That's really the point of the post.

Are you being sarcastic?


Please come join my forum if you're not a trendy and agree with my points of view.

Pullin 80hr weeks

On a special project atm. It's taking it's toll. Got really sick yesterday. Slammin thousands of mg's of vitamin C and taking Airborne is helping me knock this thing out fast though.

I'm glad for the opportunity to do this and make bank for a bit. It's helping me get caught up. I imagine if the law would not allow me the freedom to work longer hours, that I would not be free.

Normally I'm not a big OT guy. I don't want to use the force of government to limit someone else's ability to lift themselves up so they are self sufficient, and not needing to rely on the state which ulitmately costs me money. There should be no law limiting maximum hours per week one may work. Let the individual and employer work that out and contract with each other unhindered.

For my job, I'm forced to be in a union, (they've treated me well though). What scares me is I bet unions are all over this, because, that's more union dues in their pockets each month.

Why stop at 80?

I think you're missing the point of the post. How much time does the average person with average skills who takes care of an average size family on the average side of town have left over at the end of day? And is that sufficient for happiness? Why does the average person always have "catching up" to do? if we worked half the time then people could only pay half the current price. So these unnaturally inflated prices would have to be cut in half.

You are right, I did miss your point.

This being the Daily Paul and all, I realistically thought you meant that the attack on the 40hr work week was "the most direct and egregious assault on our personal liberty."

I was totally wrong. Thank you for clarifying your point. I don't agree with it though. I would like the liberty to contract with my employer regarding the hours I work as we mutually see fit, in such a way that we both gain from the free exchange of goods and services. Government imposed caps on the maximum number of hours one may work limits my freedom and liberty to do just that.

I have exceeded 160 hours of OT for the quarter, so now every hour of OT past that is at double time. From now until march 31st, it's in my employers best interest to get someone else to do the special project I am currently doing, but I am one of the few who holds the certification needed to do it, so I will probably make a bunch of double time next week, and if my employer is ok with that, then I am too. Freedom works.

"Freedom brings people together." - Ron Paul

are you serious


"The two weakest arguments for any issue on the House floor are moral and constitutional"
Ron Paul

That's RP's approach

Merchants set the price at the most money the most will pay. Like RP said about removing Financial aid for school loans. Most kids won't be able to afford the tuition without the loans, there by forcing the schools to lower their tution rates.

Were you going to contribute or just make snide remarks?

so you 're going to force prices down

by having people make less?

"The two weakest arguments for any issue on the House floor are moral and constitutional"
Ron Paul



Mandating a change in hours is not the free market solution

The premise is good, that reduced work leads to many benefits but mandating reduced workweek hours is going to keep more people working later into their senior years. If this was done in a free market fashion, people would work harder when they are young and opt to retire earlier from saved money.

Productivity has increased, not the tenfold that Fishy estimated but a staggering 52 times since 1913. If all inflation related losses had remained flat, this would have meant that we would be doing the same total output with 1/52nd of the people and that unemployment would be in the 98.17% range. Bad thing? It is if those people can't live off their savings. Fortunately, commercialism and technical advances have stepped in and created many times the work to get done.

If, however, instead of creating more fluff jobs (along with some real jobs), what if worker pay had increased 52 times? Those workers surviving on 40 hours (ok, the average was actually 35 hours/family then) would have worked for a while then taken a year off then worked again when they needed money and then taken time off again. As this progressed, the trend would have been to work as a young adult, build up savings and retire when the family things begin to get going. Is this even possible?

Well, it's certainly not possible for the average worker to earn 50x the average back then in value. When adjusting for inflation, their dollars were worth ~20x current value so we would need 20x50=1000x the nominal pay. However, there are a few mitigating factors.

We currently buy 13x as many services and 11x as much material stuff as people of that era did. This increased our standard of living (not its quality) but cost around 12x as much money. Divide 1000 by 12 and you get 80x. So we should be getting 80x the pay from a full career of work to live the same. Nope. Not done yet.

We also increased our family work hours somewhat. We've migrated from 35 total family hours per week to 84. This 2.4x increase has also gotten eaten away. In other words, we're really really getting screwed big time.

What if instead of accepting this, we could reverse the trend and become the recipients of all that prosperity? Most would say it would be great but cannot be done. Fortunately, there is one easy, free market way. We take back the companies. Follow along...

If a factory employs 1000 people now and pays them $40k/yr (today's average wage) and pays the execs handsomely and sends profits to the shareholders regularly... if that company suddenly went out of business, what are the options for those workers? Beyond simply giving up, what if they collectively bought the company from bankruptcy and returned to work. Same jobs and same products but very different economics. Based on very rough averages for entire industries, their pay would be an average of 3x higher. If they dumped the globalization=perpetual growth paradigm, they could stay local and community awareness would replace their marketing costs too. Overall, they could see up to a 5x salary, or $200k/yr.

After the party settled down, they would set their sights on personal finances. First step would be to eliminate debt. Gone would be what today robs workers of 25% of gross pay. This now means they're even $400k richer! Next is insurance because self insuring swaps accountability for slave fees. So this expense which also accounts for 25% of current lifetime wages would be swapped for some increased risk. (However, even that can be minimized with group insurance pools - to as low as $30/month for all ins combined.) Next would be taxes. With the level of wealth $200k x 40 years + $800k ($8.8M projected) available to each family (assuming only one works), would this town need a lame government welfare program, social security, medicaid, bureaucratic public education, DHS, FDA, USDA or so many of the other government interventions we currently have? Hell no they wouldn't. They would have solved these problems faster than you can snap your fingers.

Ah, but what about unemployment? These 1000 workers are wealthy and so are the local businesses they support and so are the trickled down businesses... but many families are still without work. Fortunately, that problem would be self correcting. With so many people earning more than needed, many many of them would choose to get ahead and then retire. If unemployment had been at 10% (credible estimate), then the market would perfectly balance out if the newly wealthy would retire 10% earlier. Instead of working 40 years, they now work 36. As more people retire earlier because family wealth now stays in the family, retirement ages continue to drop. The other end of this balances with how many people are actually needed to do the work. Enter more automation. The factories now increase the level of automation to cover jobs that technology can now perform. As automation increases, it can now balance with decreased retirement ages.

This is how our economy of the 21st century should be working and it is also the only way I see us returning to it. Take back the companies by eliminating investor/bank control and returning companies to local focus.

Yes and what is our life made up of? Time

They are stealing our time as fast as our liberties are being stolen.

Stop Thief!

"Hence, naturally enough, my symbol for Hell is something like the bureaucracy of a police state or the office of a thoroughly nasty business concern." ~~C.S. Lewis
Love won! Deliverance from Tyranny is on the way! Col. 2:13-15

If you are busy paying taxes....

...then you are not as busy fighting taxes.

They know what they are doing.

And if you're busy fighting taxes

you're not fighting bankers.

They set up the system so they could know for sure what you won't be doing.

It will only get worse

do to the affordable care act.

I need write an in depth essay on this subject as I was previously employed by a F500 company and part of my annual review was directly tied to how many FTE I moved offshore/near shore.

I do not have the time now as i need to get back to work but I want to say IT ISNT THE WAGES that drive jobs out - it is REGULATIONS.


Liberty = Responsibility

You don't have the WHAT right now?

He he. Like I said.

Actually, it's the WalMart model...

WalMart has a business plan to have a MAXIMUM of 30% full-time employees, nationwide. Why? Part-timers don't get benefits! By choaking-off the hours to already-underpaid employees, the employees will soon realize they're starving and can't pay their rent. They'll quit their WalMart job once they replace it with something else. Why does WalMart want them to quit? Because if they fire them, WalMart would be on the hook for unemployment benefits! WalMart will soon announce (if they haven't already) that the spouces of the remaining full-timers cannot be added to the employees' insurance. That the company insurance is for the employee only.
Folks, this is about showing profit-per-share...this whole thing is about Wall Street and stock price. At my local WalMart, the full-time department managers have been reduced to 32 hours. Do the math: 32 hours X $crap = panic and depression. Perhaps under Barrycare, those depressed folks can get some big pharma relief...

Silence isn't always golden....sometimes it's yellow.

"The liberties of a people never were, nor ever will be, secure, when the transactions of their rulers may be concealed from them." - Patrick Henry

"The vanishing resource more

"The vanishing resource more valuable than all the gold, silver & FRNs put together..." oh you mean common sense?

Helium! A physicist told me "We're screwed in 30 years!"

Helium! A physicist told me "We're screwed in 30 years when all known stocks are exhausted."

I said, "Time to store that crap an' sell it for a killing when I'm retired."

He said, "Helium leaks through solid containment bottles; helium atoms pass through the metal walls."

I said, "Time to invest in a storage facility on Pluto. If it leaks out, it'll just gather in a pool on the ground."

He said, "Yeah, well, where to invest in this?"

CROWDFUNDING OPPORTUNITY!! Helium storage on Pluto! Who's in?

"Cowards & idiots can come along for the ride but they gotta sit in the back seat!"

More like in 10 years

When you consider the economic factor and the diminishing returns of refining it, commercially available helium will be a thing of the past very soon.

And in one of their less bright moments, the government is now giving up on their stockpile. They have 30 billion cubic feet of it stored around Amarillo, Tx (where almost all of it comes from) and they're selling it very fast. This has made it so cheap to use for super cold cryogenic cooling (-450F) that the market has increased consumption many times. Soon, all those NASA, medical, scientific and astronomy uses will have to use another method to get things really cold. In either case, the storage thing has already been done.

On the other hand, if you really want to cash in, go collect it from the moon. It's very abundant there. Or better yet, stop off at Neptune or Uranus on your way to Pluto because their atmospheres are a rather high percentage of it. The former at 19% and the latter at 15%. Still want to take our helium to Pluto?

What does your physicist friend say about silver?

I have seen experts predict that silver will the first element to "go extinct" and that we are a couple decades from it.
I also was buying party supplies last winter, and could not get helium filled balloons, was told there was a shortage.
And Pluto.... I guess its all right, but I really like Underdog better. Can we store it there?

Love or fear? Choose again with every breath.

He said he's interested in accelerating isotopes of silver

Well... he said he's interested in accelerating the nucleii of various isotopes of silver. Up to now, he's the globe's expert on the behavior of electrons as they accelerate but the DOE's not paying out for that kind of research. They're more interested in heavy ions for some reason or other.

Being a nuclear physicist, he is concerned about what alternatives to liquid helium there might be for his future experiments, should supplies run out.

"Cowards & idiots can come along for the ride but they gotta sit in the back seat!"

Silver is not floating off of

Silver is not floating off of the planet, it just gets buried. Very small amounts may be used in the things we send out to explore space, but it's not a problem like helium floating away.

Please come join my forum if you're not a trendy and agree with my points of view.

Brilliant !!!

I'll prepare the rocket!