Thursday, July 9, 2015

If you're explaining, you're losing...

Washington Post: 
HUDSON, N.H. -- Jeb Bush raised eyebrows on Wednesday by suggesting that "people need to work longer hours" in order to grow the economy. 
But he later clarified the comment, moving quickly to quell a fresh assault by Democrats eager to characterize the Republican presidential front-runner as out of touch.
Not so fast, Bush told reporters as he clarified his comments after a town hall meeting at a Veterans of Foreign Wars hall here. 
"If we’re going to grow the economy people need to stop being part-time workers, they need to be having access to greater opportunities to work," he told reporters.
"You can take it out of context all you want, but high-sustained growth means that people work 40 hours rather than 30 hours and that by our success, they have money, disposable income for their families to decide how they want to spend it rather than getting in line and being dependent on government," Bush said. [Sotto voce: note the reflex kick at people working "only" 30 hours a week as scroungers "getting in line and being dependent of government."]
Bush wasn't actually explaining his earlier statement. He was reinterpreting the statement, "people need to work longer hours," to mean something entirely different than "people need to work longer hours." "Working longer hours" and "having access to greater opportunities to work" are not equivalents.

Jeb Bush "at work"
One way to increase opportunities for involuntary part-time workers to work more hours is for those who are working 47 hours a week or over 50 hours a week to be working shorter hours. Heaven forbid! According to an August 2014 Gallup Poll, full time workers in the U.S. reported working an average of 47 hours a week, with 39% of full-time workers claiming to work over 50 hours a week -- almost as many as the 42% who say they work an FLSA standard 40-hour week.

I would take those figures with a tablespoon of salt. People lie about how hard they work. They think saying they work incredibly long hours makes them appear better than everybody else. Actually, it makes them look unproductive. Nevertheless, the Gallup results have held steady for the last 14 years at close to those numbers. If people are padding their hours for the pollsters, they are at least consistent about it.

If those superfluous seven hours per week were "lumps of labor" they could readily be redistributed to involuntary part-time workers and the unemployed eliminating both unemployment and underemployment! But of course, there is not "a fixed amount of work to be done" and the mere fact of redistributing work opportunities would increase productivity and output thus exacerbating the problem of insufficient demand unless that redistribution of hours was accompanied by a substantial redistribution of income in the form of higher wages.

Well, now you see why Jeb Bush was calling for longer hours rather than shorter hours. Longer hours means less pressure for wage increases. Wouldn't want that. Heck of a job, Jebbie!