Work More!!!

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144 Responses

  1. Roland Dodds says:

    I hope Jeb wears this comment like a weight throughout the entire campaign. Nothing wins over the voters like telling them to put in more hours for an economic gain that seems unlikely and detrimental to the actual worker.Report

  2. LeeEsq says:

    I suspect that the science of productivity has never really influenced business practices that much because of tradition. The tradition is for long hours, I had to work long hours, and so should you. It’s also a bit of a prisoner’s dilemma. A company is not going to reduce working hours unless all other companies do it to. They are going to be too afraid of getting swallowed up by a company willing to push it’s employees to the limits regardless of what science says.Report

  3. Kim says:

    I actually believe him when he says he was talking about the U6.
    I hope we can charitably give people the benefit of the doubt.

    Of course 4% growth indefinitely is a pipe dream. Natural growth runs at around 1%, and granted we’re pretty much below that… we won’t always be.Report

  4. Stillwater says:

    Jeb Bush thinks that Americans are going to need to work longer hours if we are to achieve 4 percent economic growth a year.

    This is despite the fact that Americans already work longer hours than they did a generation ago…

    And then, ten years from now, when we suffer from Shrinking GDP Growth we can rally people to work even longer hours to Embiggen the GDP chubby, which will eventually shrivel again, which will require an intervention to compel workers to work even more dammit!, and so on. It’s exhausting, no!

    On a more relevant note, even tho I agree that what Jeb said is akin to a self-inflicted gunshot wound suffered while hunting, at least he makes sense. Trump, on the other hand, said that he’ll get the Latino vote by giving them more jobs than any other candidate will. And how, you might ask, will he accomplish that? By “taking the jobs back from China”. One’s a clear-cut clown, the other’s an aristocrat whose hunting dogs treed the wrong fox.Report

  5. Stillwater says:

    The productivity drop-off is so well-documented, I don’t understand where the work more memes come from.

    You’re not thinking about this from the correct angle. It’s not about increasing productivity, it’s about increasing consumer spending.Report

    • morat20 in reply to Stillwater says:

      Well, we’re screwed there. We’ve spent the last few decades making sure nobody has any money.

      I think Atrios mentioned it today: The middle class dream: 25 and a BS or BA with five or six figure debt to spend the next twenty or thirty years paying off. But you can pull equity out of your house, assuming a debt-ridden recent grad can find a down-payment in the next ten years. And then save for retirement, because your 401k is it.

      I’m paying almost 7% on my wife’s Master’s degree. I can’t lower those rates. What investment is gonna match 7%? That’s why I’m frantically paying it off (and I’m lucky. Our undergrad debts were BEFORE college prices went insane).

      You start your working career saddled with debt. You’re supposed to saddle yourself with more debt for a home, because it’ll be money down the line. You’re supposed to save a huge chunk of your salary to retirement, so you can survive when you’re too old to work.

      Where exactly is the money to buy unnecessary crap coming from?Report

      • Saul Degraw in reply to morat20 says:

        Right. I find myself rather stressed out by freelancing and the seeming never ending anemic job growth for things that actually careers. And I am still really lucky because I don’t have any college debt. This is something I am eternally grateful for.

        Banks are getting much tougher on loans for homes. So you have an entire generation that is saddled with debt, potentially underemployed and/or freelancing and then thinks home owenership is dead.

        I will say that a lot of people have one or two things that they will spend money on.

        The other option is that people were willing to go into more debt because it is relative. I have seen people take vacations by going into credit card and the justification is “I already have six figure student loan debt”, this 4000 dollars is a pittance extra.Report

  6. Doctor Jay says:

    Whenever I think to myself, “Can he/she really be that dumb as to say that?” I do a little more research. It seems as though Jeb was talking about underemployment/unemployment, and that he wants total hours worked to be higher. Which is reasonable.

    But he’s a politician, getting your message out correctly is kind of the full-time job.Report

  7. morat20 says:

    Charitably, one could assume that Bush is saying “We have lots of people who want to work but can’t” — either unemployed but looking, or part-time wanting to be full time.

    The problem here is the “can’t” part — generally, it’s not exactly labor’s choice to work part-time when they want to be full-time, you know?

    I don’t recall which elected idiot, in the middle of the Great Recession, was talking about how the problem was unemployment coddling people and how they should just go out and work — this while all around the nation, people were trying frantically to find work — flooding openings with applications.

    Then again, honestly, once productivity comes up I really want to ask: If my productivity is 40% higher than a decade ago, why aren’t I paid 40% more? Because I note that middle class pay has been stagnant for decades despite soaring productivity. I seem to be working harder, more efficiently, and vastly enriching my company — yet I don’t seem to see less and less of the fruit of my labor.Report

    • Saul Degraw in reply to morat20 says:


      I don’t think we are ever going to be done with politicians who say stuff like that. There seems to be no concept that recessions and depressions cause unemployment and there might not be jobs to take.Report

    • Oscar Gordon in reply to morat20 says:

      I love politicians who pander to high ideals, they amuse me.

      You want more people working? Incentivize companies to hire more. You want wages to rise? Incentivize companies to pay more.

      What was Hanley’s rule about policies & incentives?Report

      • Saul Degraw in reply to Oscar Gordon says:


        What are incentives that you think can be done to get companies to hire more people and/or pay more?

        I think we have been through this before. I think a lot of people agree that employee paid healthcare was a historical accident and bad. The difference is that the liberals would replace it with single-payer and the conservatives would replace it with every man for himself. Since liberals are not willing to go along with this and can’t win on single payer, we are stuck with employer healthcare and the ACA.Report

        • Oscar Gordon in reply to Saul Degraw says:

          Honestly, @saul-degraw , I don’t know. This isn’t exactly my field of wonkery. I’m more asking the question.

          Stepping aside from the health care question, what else could we be doing to incentivize employers to raise wages or increase hiring? Although I think ending the health benefits incentive is good (give me the tax break!), alone it probably won’t result in more money to me. We don’t want the wage controls of 60 years ago, so we should be structuring corporate taxes to encourage employers to hire & pay more.

          Why do companies pay SS or medicaid/medicare? That should be on the worker, they benefit.

          How much of wages or benefits can an employer write off from their corporate taxes? Can we adjust that so that they are encouraged to pay or hire more? Maybe they get a tax break if non-management payroll is x% of revenue (or expenses or some other relevant metric)? Do they get tax benefits for paying out bonuses to all employees? Or doing profit sharing? If they do, how wide spread are such wage devices? What can be offered to encourage more?Report

          • Kazzy in reply to Oscar Gordon says:


            Totally spit-ballin’ here, but if we want to look at the number of people employed, we could allow employers to claim employees as a ‘dependent’ of sorts on their taxes to allow them to account for some of the costs of hiring/retaining more employees.

            If we want to look at pay, what about shifting their corporate tax bracket based on the percentage of pay/income/revenue/profits (?) that goes to non-management folks?

            These may be awful ideas… I don’t really know. Again, just spit-ballin’.Report

            • Oscar Gordon in reply to Kazzy says:

              Sure, sounds good (remember I’m all for eliminating corporate taxes & streamlining personal ones) . I know very little about corporate taxes & the costs of employing people, beyond the basics. I’m just saying if we want more employment & higher wages, what do we have for various carrot & stick incentive policies we can try beyond forcing companies to pay more (including employee organization) . Also do we know why wages & hiring is relatively stagnant? Kinda need to know that in order to structure incentives.

              Perhaps it could be as simple as a change in accounting & reporting rules. Move wages & compensation from the expenses column to the corporate investments column or some such thing.Report

        • Notme in reply to Saul Degraw says:


          Why not just have the govt order companies to pay workers more? Govt fiat always works.Report

    • Notme in reply to morat20 says:

      We do have lots of people that arent in the labor, in fact i think its a record number. And yet obama is encouraging more illegals to come here.Report

      • Kim in reply to Notme says:

        ” i think ”
        Translation: I haven’t bothered to look at one scrap of economic data in the last 6 years.
        When the U6 got high, the illegals LEFT and went home to Mexico.Report

        • Notme in reply to Kim says:

          You really think before you write. From april when a record 93 mil weren’t in the labor force.

          Those of us working had better work harder.Report

          • Kazzy in reply to Notme says:


            I like how the number out of the labor force is the goto talking point for conservatives now that they can’t harp on unemployment… which was perfectly suitable when it fit their narrative. Looking at absolute numbers in historical terms with no adjustment for population changes is utter stupidity and laughably dishonest.Report

            • Notme in reply to Kazzy says:

              Why do you think the unemployment rate is so low right now? Here is a hint: if you arent in the labor force you arent counted as being unemployed.Report

              • Kazzy in reply to Notme says:


                Is that a modern adjustment to the unemployment rate? Or has that always been the case? Because if the rate has been calculated in the exact same manner forever and it is indeed a rate state (it is!), than we can compare it over time. If your argument is that a great PERCENTAGE of folks are not counted in the labor force than in prior times, than trot that number out. The absolute figure is pretty useless because the population has grown and age demographics shift over time.

                Then again, even a rudimentary understanding of stats (which is all I got!) allows a person to see that. Which means the folks (like you!) who are trotting out that number either A) have practically no understanding of stats or B) don’t want to let facts get in the way of a twisted argument.

                Hey! How about this chart? Set the starting point to say, any year before 1980 and you’ll see that the current rate is hardly a historic ‘low’. It is indeed a modern low and that is something worth investigating. But the idea that the labor participation rate we are seeing is unprecedented is flat out wrong. Wamp wamp.Report

            • Kolohe in reply to Kazzy says:

              shadowstats like u-6 were a popular left of center talking point during bush ii. And all the way back with Reagan the counter talking point to dropping unemployment rate was “but, mcjobs!”Report

              • Kazzy in reply to Kolohe says:


                Sure. Both sides do it and all that. My point is that we need to compare apples to apples and oranges to oranges. As @troublesome-frog points out, looking at absolute numbers for historical trends is just bad math. So, if we want to look at U-6, let’s look at U-6. But let’s not look at U-X for Obama and U-Y for Bush or U-X for Bush and Other Stat Z for Obama. That doesn’t get us anywhere.Report

          • Troublesome Frog in reply to Notme says:

            Not that the labor force participation rate isn’t a real problem right now, but it’s worth pointing out that barring a countervailing trend, any statistic denominated in “number of people” will tend to hit a new “record high” every year.Report

            • Well, what are the percentages per the BLS?


              2003 – 10.1
              2004 – 9.6
              2005 – 8.9
              2006 – 8.2
              2007 – 8.3
              2008 – 10.5
              2009 – 16.2
              2010 – 16.7
              2011 – 15.9
              2012 – 14.7
              2013 – 13.8
              2014 – 12.0

              According to the most recent numbers, we remain on a good vector (but, of course, it’s not getting as good as quickly as it got bad).Report

              • Troublesome Frog in reply to Jaybird says:

                I’m pretty sure that’s exactly the point I made. The numbers aren’t good, but even slight improvements year on year will look like deterioration if you use absolute numbers instead of correcting for population.

                The stats you’re looking at aren’t exactly what notme was referring to. The labor force participation rate is the original number. The U-[1-6] numbers are about the different ways people who try to work can be falling short of full time work. The participation rate is the percentage of people who are of working age who are working. The denominator is “potential workers” instead of “people who made an effort to find work.” Even when unemployment drops, the labor force participation rate may still decline due to people completely dropping out of the workforce (staying in school, deciding to stay home with the kids, getting high while playing video games, etc.).

                But it’s still a rate and not an absolute number, and while it’s a bad rate right now, the rate of nonparticipation is not at an all time high even though the number is.Report

              • Those were the U-6 numbers, for the record.

                2009 and 2010 were *BAD*. I thought that they were pretty bad, but that’s 1 out of 6 bad.Report

              • morat20 in reply to Jaybird says:

                They didn’t name it the Great Recession because everything was roses. 🙂

                Looking at those numbers and thinking of the backdrop — and political claims — of folks running for office in 2008 and 2010 are pretty interesting.Report

      • LWA in reply to Notme says:

        Well who the hell is going to run the FEMA camps and re-educate the bakers and florists?Report

  8. DensityDuck says:

    On the one hand, the reason that many of these people lost their jobs is the same reason that elevator operators and switchboard girls and railroad signalmen lost theirs–that’s just not something we need to have done by people anymore.

    On the other hand, he’s basically asking “do we want a society of expensive products and everyone has a job, or do we want a society where everything’s cheap and everyone’s on the dole?” Or, to put it another way, he’s saying “steady work has a morally-strengthening component and so we should encourage a high-employment economy rather than a maximally-efficient one”.Report

    • Jaybird in reply to DensityDuck says:

      They stopped teaching shorthand at my high school 5-10 years before I got there but there were still teachers who used to teach it in the business department who were still teaching other classes.

      We used to see this sort of thing as awesome.Report

      • DensityDuck in reply to Jaybird says:

        In middle school we had to take a typing class that used manual typewriters.

        We all thought it was hilarous, and yet people are still amazed at how quickly I can type (although I’ve noticed that I seldom use the ring or little fingers of my right hand; since they aren’t involved in using the mouse, the motor functions for them have atrophied.)Report

    • LWA in reply to DensityDuck says:

      This is interesting:

      “do we want a society of expensive products and everyone has a job, or do we want a society where everything’s cheap and everyone’s on the dole?”

      I think the answer to that question depends a whole lot on how one views humanity.

      On one hand, a society where everything is cheap and no one has to work is kind of the techno-utopian post scarcity dream isn’t it? We all sit around studying poetry and music while our monkey butlers serve us?

      On the other hand, a society where everything is expensive and everyone works very hard seems Calvinistic in its conception of humanity- our lot on earth is to earn our bread by the sweat of our brow, and stoically accept it. Like the Four Yorkshiremen, except not funny at all.

      “steady work has a morally-strengthening component and so we should encourage a high-employment economy rather than a maximally-efficient one”

      If we assume that to be true, wouldn’t that point towards a government policy of guaranteeing a job to everyone regardless of economic efficiency, sort of like the New Deal?
      Somehow I doubt this was what Jeb! was going for.Report

      • North in reply to LWA says:

        Indeed my initial reaction was everyone’s on the “dole” and everything is cheap? Man that would be awesome!Report

        • DensityDuck in reply to North says:

          We’re on the dole and everything’s cheap, but does that mean we have a nation of artists and poets, or do we have a nation of Xbox players living on Natty Lite and instant ramen?Report

          • Stillwater in reply to DensityDuck says:

            Since that outcome is bordering on logically impossible we can make the conditions comprising it equally unrealistic: everyone spends their days inventing new happiness tools to alleviate the emotional and psychic suffering induced by excessive boredom.

            Oh wait. We’ve already discovered that tech.Report

          • LWA in reply to DensityDuck says:

            do we have a nation of Xbox players…etc

            Actually, I’m kinda with you on that.
            The techno-utopian post-scarcity society is (IMO) a modern version of the Tower of Babel, a dream of forever escaping our human nature.

            The problem in your pair of alternatives is that they both share the same premise, i.e. – “WORK SUX”;
            Its just that one thinks it can be eliminated, the other thinks we deserve the pain.

            But what if we celebrate work for its morally uplifting qualities, but don’t fetishize consumption?
            What if we value work for its ability to meet our material needs, but once we are beyond that, we celebrate work for its creative properties, and less for its mercenary ones?

            Which is to say (because you know I am going to go here) , suppose we tax the rich so as to provide works projects for the poor?
            And the rich celebrate the fact that not only are their material needs met with abundance, but their brothers also have meaningful work?Report

            • aarondavid in reply to LWA says:

              “But what if we celebrate work for its morally uplifting qualities, but don’t fetishize consumption?”

              Isn’t that Calvinism?Report

            • Saul Degraw in reply to LWA says:


              I am with @aarondavid here. A society that values work but deplores material wealth and consumption seems rather puritanical and not one that I want to live in.

              The goal for humanity should be to decrease suffering and toil. Not to increase toil and decrease pleasure. Should we ban dancing and music next?

              I get where you are coming from with this hypothetical about putting less emphasis on consumption but I don’t think it will make humans more spiritual or freeing in a hippie-sense of being free by not caring about the cool new sports car. I think it will be authoritarian and bland.

              There is probably not an afterlife and there should be nothing wrong with enjoying our time on earth.Report

              • LWA in reply to Saul Degraw says:

                I think there is some distance between “not fetishizing” consumption, and “deploring” it.

                The difference here is that Calvinists see work as toil and suffering leading to moral rectitude, while I am channeling the Catholic social justice theme that work itself is ennobling, by making us “Co-creators with God” in our earthly world.Report

              • aarondavid in reply to LWA says:

                Ok, I see where you are coming from. The closest I get to religion is a Catholic grandma and she wasn’t of the social justice variety. I do agree with you that work is ennobling, but along with @saul-degraw I feel that we should get our rewards in this life. If people want stuff, well, let them have stuff and fetishize it. Judge not and all that.Report

              • Saul Degraw in reply to LWA says:


                What is the difference between the Catholic social justice theme and a conservative politician who waxes about the ennobling nature of work and that is why we should cut the welfare state and unemployment insurance to the bone?

                I know this is controversial around these parts but I do think there is a large segment of the political and business elite that seem to think suffering is good and it is good to have a populace that is always hungry. Hunger drives people to take work, any work. I don’t necessarily think they mean this in malice. I think they sincerely think “I lost a job and took a bunch of underpaying jobs out of sheer desperation and worked hard and needed to radically downsize my comfort expectations but I never took a government dime or act of charity” is a much better narrative than “I lost my job, went on unemployment, and found one at the same level a few months or a year later.”

                I think this philosophy is dead wrong.Report

              • LWA in reply to Saul Degraw says:

                The difference is here
                From the Pope John Paul’s encyclical Centissimus Annus (1990, a reflection on Pope Leo’s Rerum Novarum of 1890):
                The obligation to earn one’s bread by the sweat of one’s brow also presumes the right to do so. A society in which this right is systematically denied, in which economic policies do not allow workers to reach satisfactory levels of employment, cannot be justified from an ethical point of view, nor can that society attain social peace.

                So this and many other references provide a moral justification for the government to directly intervene in the marketplace, if and when needed, since work is so compelling an interest.
                Using hunger and poverty to spur people to work is unjust if there is no readily obtainable work to do.

                In Catholic teaching, the heroic individual who never seeks the help of the community is emphatically rejected as a worthy role model.
                Which is yet another example of how national culture warps and influences religious practice- American Catholics tend to downplay this aspect of the Church.Report

              • Kolohe in reply to LWA says:

                American Catholics still tend to vote Democrat.Report

            • North in reply to LWA says:

              LWA, in any world where the rich have enough money to fund both enough make work programs to gainfully employ everyone else AND also the administrative bloat and waste that such a program would need to administer would also be a world where a simple redistributive guaranteed basic income would be easily within reach (and that GBI would pay more than the makework would since it’d require enormously less administrative overhead).

              Conservatives and Calvinists imagine that people would lay around in their own filth in such a world. That seems highly unlikely. What seems more probable is that a significant portion of those people would, unfettered by fears of day to day basic needs, volunteer, invent and entrepreneur ways to help their fellow kind (and life themselves off the GBI floor level of income as well).Report

              • LWA in reply to North says:

                Hey, I am not opposed to the GBI.
                And like you, I don’t imagine that people would lounge around either.

                But how people would react to post scarcity depends on what their moral norms are, and how they relate to their community.

                Giving a violent unjust society massive amounts of wealth would only create a wealthy violent unjust society.Report

              • North in reply to LWA says:

                I dare say that giving a wealthy unjust society massive widely and evenly spread wealth would probably put very strong pressure against the unjust portions. It’s somewhat of a contradiction of course, an unjust society would be highly disinclined to embrace a GBI but assuming it came about a lot of people would probably begin devoting their free time to agitating against the manifest injustices in their society.Report

              • Jaybird in reply to North says:

                In my experience, the massively wealthy instead import people to be unjust to.Report

              • North in reply to Jaybird says:

                Indeed Jay, that doesn’t fit the parameters of the GBI scenario or DD’s hypothetical. But that is definitely a thing.Report

              • Glyph in reply to LWA says:

                I would definitely lounge around.

                At least for a while.Report

              • Mike Schilling in reply to Glyph says:

                If I didn’t have to work, I wouldn’t be one of those lazy bums who just lays around watching TV and playing videogames. I would be one of those superior people who reads and listens to classical music.Report

              • DensityDuck in reply to North says:

                ” What seems more probable is that a significant portion of those people would…[lift] themselves off the GBI floor level of income as well.”

                Why would I need to lift myself off the GBI floor? Are you saying that you’d intentionally set that floor too low to have a good life? That seems to be rather punitive; you’re saying that we don’t all deserve a good life? That we need to, um, work to have a good life?Report

              • North in reply to DensityDuck says:

                Impossible to say DD since everyone’s conception of “a good life” is different.Report

          • Saul Degraw in reply to DensityDuck says:


            Probably both.Report

          • North in reply to DensityDuck says:

            If -everything- is cheap then I’d presume we’d be eating pretty damn well. With all that free time and abundant quality produce you’d get a lot of good cooking done.Report

            • Jaybird in reply to North says:

              Who, as a group, has the most free time now?


              This chart actually surprised me. I’m on the wrong end of those numbers, I tell you what.

              Anyway, when you look at the groups that have the most free time, how much cooking do they do?

              A quick story: the restaurant that helped put me through college was run by a chef trained by Paul Bocuse (*THE* Paul Bocuse). Awesome guy. It was my first job after the Focus on the Family job and, lemme tell ya, I fell in love with the owners (I got invited to his birthday party a month after I started there… I gave him a copy of “White Trash Cooking” and he laughed).

              Anyway, sometimes, when I went over to their house to babysit (I may have fallen in love with them a little *TOO* much, now that I look back), I found the family finishing up a meal from McDonald’s. Beef bourguignon in the fridge. Romaine lettuce next to his own homemade caesar. His bakery’s own french bread next to brie.

              And a royale with cheese was good enough.

              Which probably isn’t a *HUGE* insight into much of anything, but even classically trained masters of the craft just want to gulp it down and get on to the next part of the day sometimes.Report

              • North in reply to Jaybird says:

                Probably the unemployed. I suspect you can pretty clearly see how a depressed unemployed person desperately looking for work or mired in misery worrying about the future with barely a dime to rub together would not be even remotely the same as a person making a guaranteed basic income level. One can argue that without the need to work people would just aimlessly behave like unemployed people do today but I am deeply skeptical to say the least.Report

              • Jaybird in reply to North says:

                Let’s come at it from the other direction, then. Who does the most at-home cooking?

                (Maybe this question is the question that should have the previous anecdote follow it.)

                My immediate answer is something like “paleos, people on Atkins, South Beach people…” but why not look at a study?


                India and Ukraine spend the most time in the kitchen per week with more than 13(!) hours in the kitchen (on average). There’s a clump of countries in the 5-6 hours range and the US is in the top of the fives. South Korea comes in last. (France isn’t on the list so this might be a less-than-awesome poll in the first place.)

                Of course, India, Ukraine, and South Korea aren’t on the list from the other numbers I provided so I am not really going to do a side-by-side comparison because I can’t really do a meaningful one.

                Stupid numbers.Report

              • North in reply to Jaybird says:

                Okay well I may not be getting your point but looking at the survey I’d conclude “the people who spend the most time in the kitchen are the people in some of the more impoverished areas where food convenience appliances are least available”?Report

              • Jaybird in reply to North says:

                I’m not arguing toward a particular point, I don’t think.

                I know that my own particular assumption would be that, at first, everyone would take turns hosting dinner parties for their friends and then, as time goes on, we’d see pathologies enter the culture from the generations who have never known anything but Utopia and ruining everything for the people who couldn’t wait to finally have enough time to make paella.

                In the absence of that, I just wanted to see if the countries with the most free time (perhaps the most generous welfare states?) lined up with the countries that did the most home cookin’.Report

              • North in reply to Jaybird says:

                That’s a fascinating question and I think it was a clever way to come at it. Access to time saving devices, though, wrecks it.

                My own theory is that a GBI society might very well develop a lot of restaurants.Report

              • Don Zeko in reply to North says:

                A slightly better comparison might be someone on Disability with a condition that was juuuuust severe enough to qualify as disabled. I’m no Calvinist, but I do think that with the cultural baseline we have to work with, GBI-supported idleness would lead to a worrying amount of dissolution and misery. Even for shitty jobs, we’ve all been trained to attach too much of our purpose and self-image to our work to easily transition to a post-work society.Report

              • North in reply to Don Zeko says:

                Well the theory, at least, is that those who didn’t want to be GBI idle would either seek out what work there is remaining to do or create their own jobs through doing things that, while useful, aren’t something you can get someone to pay you to do today.Report

              • LeeEsq in reply to Jaybird says:

                A lot of professional chefs aren’t that fond of cooking on their free time because it reminds them too much of their work.Report

              • aarondavid in reply to LeeEsq says:

                Indeed, a busmans holiday.Report

              • I love my Mac, but would settle for a Windows box before I’d spend my free time messing with Linux.Report

              • Gabriel Conroy in reply to Jaybird says:

                It was my first job after the Focus on the Family job….


                I’m just curious…what was your job at F o F? I took a tour there about 20 years ago, and we saw some ice cream shop, and it looked like the most horrible place in the world to have to work at an ice cream shop. In addition to the forced politeness that all customer service workers have to do in any customer service job, I’d imagine it’d be ratcheted up by the forced politeness of people trying to be “shiny, happy, people, Christian nice.”

                (You don’t have to answer if you don’t want to.)Report

              • Jaybird in reply to Gabriel Conroy says:

                I was in “Facilities”. The guys who put together the rapid rack for the storage room, the guys who move the cart with the overhead projector (it was the 90’s) to the meeting room, and the guys who empty the trash after said meeting?

                That was me.

                When it comes to the ice cream store, I’m pretty sure (not certain, but pretty sure) that they did their best to hire the people who actually were really that cheerful and polite. There is no shortage of those people in the sub-cultures out here.Report

              • Gabriel Conroy in reply to Jaybird says:

                At the time I took the tour (1995?) I had already begun to be disillusioned with my evangelicalism, but I still considered myself “Christian” (as evangelicals often mean by “Christian). But even then, I didn’t envy the people who had to work the ice cream shop. (I was in the 5th year of what I now know would be a 6-year career in fast food, and I had a certain vision of the type of people those workers would have to serve.)Report

      • DensityDuck in reply to LWA says:

        “a society where everything is expensive and everyone works very hard seems Calvinistic in its conception of humanity”

        Or maybe one focused on the higher levels of Maslow’s heirarchy.

        If you want to say “there’s a lot of really crappy, unfulfilling jobs that people are stuck in”, I certainly can’t argue with that, but I think the next step is to ask why those jobs are so crappy and unfulfilling, and what people might do instead.Report

        • Jaybird in reply to DensityDuck says:

          In Qatar (Jeez Louise, are you still going on about Qatar?), enough of the Qatari Nationals are millionaires or billionaires that they have no one to scoop ice cream and they have to import people to do that.

          And people stand in line to have a shot at scooping ice cream in Qatar.Report

          • Saul Degraw in reply to Jaybird says:

            The truth is that the rest of the world is still pretty poor by American standards. This is why plenty of people who might be PhDs in their native countries are willing to come here and be taxi drivers.

            The question is how much of work and prosperity is a zero-sum game. Do Americans need to get used to a lower standard of living to raise standard of living in the rest of the world or not? This is the question we are debating as many Americans are underemployed or unemployed. I think underemployment is more of a problem than unemployment right now.Report

      • Saul Degraw in reply to LWA says:

        @lwa @north

        I am still cynical on GBI working for a variety of reasons and questions.

        1. How many people are going to be happy with living off of 30K and 40K?

        2. Will these people largely move to low cost of living areas and drive prices up?

        3. What sort of resentment will build against those who just live on the 30K and 40K?

        4. I can see the arts v. XBOX question going both ways. I think you will find a certain percentage of the population finds GBI liberating and they really do use it to have careers in the arts, scholarship, or taking risks at starting their own businesses without stress. I could see starting my own law firm or something else if I had a GBI. Others are just going to sit around and play XBOX all day. Whether this is a societal issue or not or a moral issue or not is another question. If I had kids, I certainly would rather them found their own theatre trope or start-up or try and be in a band over just playing Xbox on their GBI but I am pretty bourgeois in my work-mentality.

        5. Not everything is going to be cheap. I am thinking of rent. People might move to low cost areas but that will drive up the rent.Report

        • North in reply to Saul Degraw says:


          1. The ones who aren’t would probably then use their large surplus of time to find ways to earn more than the GBI 30-40k floor. Then at some point their surplus of time/deficit of funds would balance out and they’d be content.

          2. If people were unfettered by work location needs then it would be very hard to “drive the price of rent up” because there’d be so many places to live.

          3. Presumably the extremely successful and wealthy who’s capital is being taxed to support this system would inveigle and fume. If they were few then they’d be politically powerless.. the more of them there were the less they’d fume since the lighter their burden would be.

          4. If you had kids in a GBI world maybe you’d choose to spend your time hectoring them to do more with their lives than subsist at the GBI floor. Maybe they’d listen to you/ maybe they’d spend their time evading their busybody old man and hang out with cool uncle Leesque instead.

          5. There are only so many people and in a GBI world there’d be a lot of low cost areas. The non-GBI floor people would presumably occupy the most scarce/desirable regions. No doubt that’d incent some people to not lounge around playing xbox all day. Others probably would not care. I suspect they’d sort themselves out geographically.Report

          • morat20 in reply to North says:

            GBI would let some people just…do nothing, true.

            But it’d let a lot more people do jobs they love, rather than jobs that pay well.

            I think it’s better to look at folks who retire early (not out of medical need) — virtually all the ones I’ve known have ended up picking up something (laying aside those who desperately needed money) — contracting on jobs they like, taking up part time jobs that are more hobbies than anything.

            People get bored pretty quickly. That’s not saying what they want is ‘work’. What they want is something to do they enjoy. For a lucky few, that’s their job.Report

            • Jaybird in reply to morat20 says:

              Where are we getting “a lot more” from in the second paragraph?

              I mean, if *I* won the lottery tomorrow, I’d likely spend the rest of my life playing vidya and doing open-ended THC toxicity experiments so I might be projecting… but because I’m projecting, I’m wondering if you’re also projecting.Report

              • morat20 in reply to Jaybird says:

                Mostly just, as I noted, from watching folks retire early. But maybe that’s more from a lifetime of being conditioned to work. Who knows what they’d do if they were rich from the start.

                Lord knows what I’d do. I’d probably code personal projects and apps for fun and maybe minor profit.

                I know at least a handful of teachers who teach solely because “they can afford to” because their spouses make solid money. Maybe we’d get more good teachers. (heck, my wife is one of them! Until we got married, she couldn’t AFFORD to teach. She made more, once benefits were included, as an admin assistant to an aerospace concern than as a teacher).Report

              • North in reply to Jaybird says:

                Jay I would say it’s a pretty safe assumption that a lot of people might get bored with unproductive pursuits. Social structures being what they are a lot of people might feel impelled to not be content with living at the GBI floor as well due to peer pressure.

                But really even if a large percentage of people decided to just vegge out at the GBI floor? I’d say let them. Who the hell would we in general be to say they shouldn’t? Speaking from a Darwin point of view over a number of generations I’d presume nature and society would end up selecting for a more vigorous and engaged populace.

                You once joked, in a thread a long time back about Star Trek, that the show was only about the 1% of the population of the Federation that stepped outside the holodeck for a glass of water. I don’t actually see a problem with that if it’s what they choose to do.Report

              • DensityDuck in reply to North says:

                “even if a large percentage of people decided to just vegge out at the GBI floor? I’d say let them. Who the hell would we in general be to say they shouldn’t? ”

                So people who want to work and make money have a moral obligation to support those who would rather just hang out and chill all day?Report

              • Jaybird in reply to DensityDuck says:

                Offer vasectomies/tubal ligations and offer free internet and periodic thin client upgrades.Report

              • DensityDuck in reply to Jaybird says:

                Sort of like the future in “The Blade Runner”, then; you get free medical care for life, but you have to be permanently sterilized. Otherwise you take your chances on the doctor black market.Report

              • Oscar Gordon in reply to DensityDuck says:

                See, what we need is reversible sterilization (with an acceptably high success rate), so if you are on GBI at 18, you get procedure (like it or not). If you make enough money to afford to reverse the procedure, you can have kids!Report

              • North in reply to Jaybird says:

                Probably unnecessary, the “contemptible layabouts” that DD is hypothesizing about would probably avoid having children like the plague. Raising kids or paying child support is not an activity a lazy person would enjoy.Report

              • Oscar Gordon in reply to North says:

                True but they’d also be having sex like crazy (unless we get something like what Japan has where people forget how to positively interact with the opposite sex) .Report

              • Notme in reply to North says:

                Here in the US we give the useless eaters more money if they have more kids. No surprise, they have more kids.Report

              • North in reply to Notme says:

                Well if you wanted more kids you’d do that. But if you wanted less kids then you’d make the increase smaller and you’d make sure that the father contributed significantly from his GBI for child support. I doubt you’d see a lot of child rearing going on.Report

              • DensityDuck in reply to North says:

                ” the “contemptible layabouts” that DD is hypothesizing about”

                Probably worth pointing out, at this time, that it wasn’t I who called anyone “contemptible layabouts”.Report

              • Mike Schilling in reply to Jaybird says:

                I misread that as “offer litigations”, like, people could occupy themselves by suing each other.Report

              • North in reply to DensityDuck says:

                DD, in a post scarcity economic model a few can make enough to sustain the many which means there aren’t enough “jobs” to go around. In that scenario yes, you would want those lease inclined and least capable of being productive in a job to be laying around. The Calvinists and work fetishists talk about creating make-work to occupy the masses but why the fish would you want to? It’d be inefficient, wasteful and would risk sweeping non-layabouts up into unproductive wasteful make-work.

                And as to your “why” you’d allow the unproductive to lay about? One thing many people have an ingrained capacity to do is cause trouble when they’re miserable. You definitely would not want, in a post scarcity model, them to be seriously considering that as an alternative.Report

        • Richard Hershberger in reply to Saul Degraw says:

          “I can see the arts v. XBOX question going both ways. I think you will find a certain percentage of the population finds GBI liberating and they really do use it to have careers in the arts, scholarship, or taking risks at starting their own businesses without stress.”

          Look at the Victorian gentry. This was a fantastically wealthy society (compared to what was around it or came before) with a substantial class of people who lived on investment income. They were, for the most part, precluded from going into business. That is nearly the definition of “gentry,” and being a member was considered highly desirable.

          So how did they spend their days? Some went the social butterfly route, or its evil twin, the Heathers route, spending their days playing stupid fashion games. Some spent their time in recreational activities such as hunting (the Xbox of the day). Some went mad out of sheer boredom. Some found employment in the few fields open to gentlemen (traditionally the army or the clergy; medicine and the law were also possibilities, though not as respectable). And yes, some went into the arts and scholarship. Victorian scholarship shows its age, but it could be incredible, with some guy making it his life’s work to write the definitive book on Sanskrit or Amazonian beetles or the Sassanid dynasty or electromagnetism. Given my own quasi-academic proclivities, I have a lot of empathy for these guys.Report

        • Will these people largely move to low cost of living areas and drive prices up?

          I’m not sure you appreciate how much habitable land this country has.Report

          • North in reply to Will Truman says:

            Exactly, sever the location requirements of jobs and people would scatter all over the place. Coast? America has a hell of a lot of coast. Add in rivers and lakes and it has even more. Add in picturesque hillsides and mountain views and it has an absolute mass of it.Report

            • Will Truman in reply to North says:

              From Galveston to Brownsville, and Portland to San Francisco, man.

              That being said, the “relative wealth” aspect would likely continue to be a concern for a lot of families, and I would expect a rat race to continue (even if it diminished in importance). But that’s something no government program can really fix.Report

  9. Troublesome Frog says:

    I’ll spot him the “we’re not working enough hours” position just because there are still a lot of unemployed and underemployed people. I just can’t forgive him for claiming that he can give us 4 years of 4% growth just by glaring at the economy hard until it gets its act together. Everybody knows only Reagan can do that and it’s a little bit disrespectful to say otherwise.Report

    • morat20 in reply to Troublesome Frog says:

      Let me guess his solution: Tax-cuts on the rich, deregulation, and possibly privatizing Social Security.

      I know I’m way out on a limb here.Report

    • I would have been more impressed if he had addressed a different group — employers: “We’re going to have to hire more skilled workers. We’re going to have to pay them well enough to attract them. We’re going to have to invest in capital to make them more productive. We’re going to have to do more in-house training.” The claim from the Republicans has always been that if the business owners just got another tax break, they’d hire vast numbers of new workers for well-paying jobs. The tax breaks have been delivered; now it’s time for the owners to deliver on their side of the deal.Report

  10. Jaybird says:

    It’s important that we don’t conflate “wealth” with “money”.

    I absolutely and positively wish to make everyone on the planet much more wealthy.

    When it comes to making sure that they have better wages, I find myself wondering about a wage/price spiral (as is being seen in various places on the West Coast as we speak).Report

  11. Christopher Carr says:

    More work hours make you less marginally productive, not less absolutely productive. Try telling a surgeon she’s not being productive after hour fifty. As for “well documented”, a link to a CNBC article hardly suffices. In any case, the real question is whether working more is worth the trade-off with leisure, plus the ding to the consumer economy when people have less time to spend money because they’re busy making it. I for one stand with Jeb: – but I support work for work’s sake and not for some quasi-scientific growth-at-all-costs macroeconomic nonsense reason.Report

  12. Chris says:

    Gotta do that Marcuse reading group!Report

  13. Jaybird says:

    Out of curiosity, do we have Jeb’s full quote?

    It doesn’t appear to be in the article you linked to.Report

    • Jaybird in reply to Jaybird says:

      Nevermind. I found it.

      “My aspiration for the country and I believe we can achieve it, is 4 percent growth as far as the eye can see. Which means we have to be a lot more productive, workforce participation has to rise from its all-time modern lows. It means that people need to work longer hours” and, through their productivity, gain more income for their families. That’s the only way we’re going to get out of this rut that we’re in.”Report

      • j r in reply to Jaybird says:

        I saw the quote earlier (as @jaybird mentions, not in this post or the linked article) and wondered what is up with the extra quotation mark. I wonder if there is something missing or if that is the whole thing. In the context of the quote the bit about working longer hours is a bit of a non sequitur. It is not clear whether Jeb meant working longer hours in the context of increasing labor participation rates or meant it as a separate thought about the median American worker putting in more hours.Report

        • morat20 in reply to j r says:

          I suspect that Jeb might be taking some ration of grief just from the fact that Republicans have not been entirely careful about hiding the belief that “too many Americans are lazy and should get out there and work more”.

          At best it’s moral scolding from out-of-touch rich guys. At worst, it’s idiots trying to slash unemployment in the worst recession since the Great Depression.

          Let’s be honest — “people just need to work longer hours” fits in pretty nicely with the “47%” worldview. All those lazy moochers out there, you know? Obviously not working, if they don’t pay [income] taxes. Obviously lazy.

          If they weren’t lazy, they’d be working! Making more money! Heck, they’d be starting their own businesses, which we all know is the real mark of whether someone is a lazy moocher or a real American.Report

          • j r in reply to morat20 says:


            That’s all fine. And I don’t care enough to object to that sort of thing. If the left wants to spend it’s time spreading clickbait articles about Jeb Bush, more power to it. Same goes for the right. I’m sure that HRC will give them more than enough with which to work.

            All I can say is that if you give me the chance between having a conversation about economics and poverty and the future of work and a conversation about which team rules while the other one drools, I am going to choose the former conversation every time. And twice on Sunday.Report

            • morat20 in reply to j r says:

              I’ll be sure to quote this to you when Jeb finally offers his plan: Tax cuts on the upper brackets and deregulation to stop ‘strangling small business’.

              It’s the same plan the GOP has offered since 1980.

              I don’t consider that an actual conversation, since the ‘plan’ has not altered an iota in almost 40 years despite massive changes to underlying economic reality.

              That’s just rote dogma.Report

              • j r in reply to morat20 says:

                It’s the same plan the GOP has offered since 1980.

                Considering what the economy looked like in 1979, I do not find this to be such a bad thing.

                And do we really want to get into a conversation about dogma? Generally, what that always comes down to is the other side is dogmatic, while my side is just right.

                This is a conversation about work and what role it will, and maybe ought to, play in economic growth. That conversation is far more interesting than the political meta conversation. I care much more about whether workforce participation ought to be a public policy goal than I care about whether the TPM is being fair to Jeb Bush.Report

              • morat20 in reply to j r says:

                This isn’t 1980.

                That’s the point. Reagan offered a plan in 1980, based on the economy of the time. Since then, no matter what the economy has done — up, down, left, right — the plan has remained the same.

                If I, as a doctor, prescribed you antibiotics when you showed up with swollen lymph nodes, red lines creeping up your arm from a barely healed cut oozing yellow gunk — why golly, I might have made a good choice.

                But if that’s what I do, each time you’re in my office, no matter what your symptoms? Well, maybe I might get lucky and you have another infection. But what about the dislocated knee, the allergies, the broken finger, and the raging case of jock itch?

                That’s the problem here (and indeed, Jeb did clarify: Cut taxes and cut regulation. I AM SHOCKED) — no matter the underlying state of the economy, it is the same solution.

                So no, we’re not going to have a conversation about work because Jeb Bush doesn’t want to have one. Because what he wants is tax cuts and deregulation. Work is just some word he tossed out as an excuse.

                But you knew he wasn’t serious too.Report

              • j r in reply to morat20 says:

                But you knew he wasn’t serious too.

                We are having two very different conversations.Report

      • Richard Hershberger in reply to Jaybird says:

        This can be taken as more hours have to become available for currently underemployed part-timers. If so, it was poorly worded. The bit about “people need to work longer hours” seems to assign agency to those people, suggesting that whether they work more or fewer hours is their individual responsibility. A more thoughtful statement would make clear that we collectively need to create conditions that facilitate the creation of these additional hours.

        Is the left going to do its best to crucify him, regardless? Absolutely. Should they give this a pass? Only if the right agrees not to do the same thing. In other words, no. This is hardly ideal, but it is the world we live in. I would feel worse about it if I believed that Bush had any coherent plan for creating these favorable conditions. As it is, I’m pretty sure his ideas on the topic begin and end with tax cuts for the rich.Report

        • Yeah with the GOP’s economic position for the last ten, twenty years or so they don’t enjoy the benefit of the doubt. The left can inveigle and froth but what really screws the GOP with the center is that it’s actually believable.

          That said I definitely think Bush was thinking of un-under employed people getting up to full employment rather and fulltimers putting in more overtime. He definitely flubbed the wording.Report

        • Brandon Berg in reply to Richard Hershberger says:

          A more thoughtful statement would make clear that we collectively need to create conditions that facilitate the creation of these additional hours.

          Or at least stop actively penalizing the creation of additional hours, as in the Obamacare employer mandate.Report

  14. DensityDuck says:

    People have this idea that a GBI would turn us all into a nation of artists and amateur scientists. I’m picturing something more like this.Report

    • Saul Degraw in reply to DensityDuck says:


      I think the conditions that create the Japanese shut-ins are much different. There are really no alternatives to working long hours in Japan. There are plenty of options in the United States.Report

    • North in reply to DensityDuck says:

      Let em if they want to. They’d be doing no harm to anyone but themselves so why not? That propensity would fade out in prevalence over time.Report

      • DensityDuck in reply to North says:

        Hikiomori are a self-limiting problem?

        Whoa. I mean…damn, dawg, we libertarians can only stand in silent awe of how strongly you stand by your principles even as they lead to unsavory results.Report

  15. Lurker says:

    Census-Taker: Listen, don’t worry about it. I’m gonna put you down as the Primary Resident, okay? Now, are you currently employed?

    (Christopher Walken as) Mr. Leonard: Yeah.. part of the time.

    Census-Taker: Well, you work part-time. How many days of the week?

    Mr. Leonard: Every day.. but just part of the day. From 9 to 5.

    Census-Taker: So, you work a full day?

    Mr. Leonard: I wouldn’t say that. There are huge chunks of time.. at night.. where I’m just asleep. For hours. It’s ridiculous.

    Census-Taker: No, it’s not that ridiculous.Report

  16. Kazzy says:

    For whatever it’s worth, it helps if you link to an article that has the actual quote, instead of one that simply discusses it and recites the same points made here.

    To the issue itself, the full context of the quote makes it seem pretty reasonable. Maybe his economics are off — I have no idea if getting part-time workers who want to be full-time closer to their stated goal will improve the economy the way Jeb hopes — but his position doesn’t seem ridiculous. Dems pouncing on this is more akin to the GOP pouncing on Obama’s “You didn’t build that…” then Romney’s 47% comments.

    But, hey, what’s an election season without taking quotes completely out of context and making memes from them?Report

  17. James K says:

    It seems like Bush is making a common mistake – confusing productivity with how hard you work. It’s not that these things are entirely unrelated, but there are a lot of confounding variables that separate how hard you work from what your productivity is.Report

    • Mike Schilling in reply to James K says:

      Does any one reads Ambrose Bierce any more?

      The Hare and the Tortoise

      Of two Writers one was brilliant but indolent; the other though dull, industrious. They set out for the goal of fame with equal opportunities. Before they died the brilliant one was detected in seventy languages as the author of but two or three books of fiction and poetry, while the other was honoured in the Bureau of Statistics of his native land as the compiler of sixteen volumes of tabulated information relating to the domestic hog.