Private Enterprises as Government Jobs Welfare Programs

That’s the position of the Pennsylvania Progressive-Democratic Party’s Representative G Roni Green. She’s proposing, with an absolutely straight face, a State law that would require businesses with 500 or more employees to cut their employees’ 5-day, 40-hour work week to 4-day, 32-hour work weeks—with no change in pay. That’s a government-mandated 25% pay raise.

Jobs welfare doesn’t get much better than that.

Green’s rationalization centers on two premises. One is that society looks and operates differently than it once did in 1938 (when the government-mandated 40-hour work week was enacted). That’s true enough. Society has grown more complex, more technologically capable, and consumers’ needs (consumers being, after all, at the core of society) have grown quite a bit.

All of that, though, requires continued and increasing employee productivity to enable us Americans to continue, and continue to improve, our standard of living. That growing productivity isn’t possible with the proposed 25% reduction in hours of productivity Green is proposing.

That last brings us to Green’s second rationalization.

Technological advancement alone have [sic] significantly increased the productivity of workers allowing more work to be accomplished in less time.

That’s also true. Indeed, technological advancements have advanced to the point that entire worker jobs have been replaced. Technology does a lot of things that employees currently do at least in part. One result of Green’s move, were it to become law, likely would be a further reduction in employee hours, this time on business’ initiative: to substantially less than 32 hours, converting full-time employees to part-time, with commensurate reduction in pay and in most cases reduction or outright elimination of benefits. The eliminated hours of work would be done by robots…technology.

Green further claims (as cited by Fox Business) research [that] has shown that companies have been able to adopt a shorter workweek without compromising productivity. What isn’t looked at in such “research” is the degree to which such a shorter work week caps productivity growth so that there is no longer any improvement, merely maintenance. So much for keeping up with “society’s” increasing complexity and consumer needs.

Technological advancements—spurred by this government interference—will accelerate this trend in reducing human employment and reducing human income.

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