We can deal with unemployment every bit as effectively by having people work fewer hours, as we can by increasing demand.
The most important point to realize is that the problem facing wealthy countries at the moment is not that we are poor, as the stern proponents of austerity insist. The problem is that we are wealthy. We have tens of millions of people unemployed precisely because we can meet current demand without needing their labor.
It’s great for the government to generate demand insofar as it can productively employ people. This means either providing immediate services, like healthcare and education, or in investing in areas that will provide future dividends, such as modernizing the infrastructure or retrofitting buildings to increase their energy efficiency.
However, it can also employ people by encouraging employers to divide work among more workers. There is nothing natural about the length of the average work week or work year and there are, in fact, large variations across countries. The average worker in Germany and the Netherlands puts in 20% fewer hours in a year than the average worker in the United States. This means that if the US adopted Germany’s work patterns tomorrow, it would immediately eliminate unemployment.
— Dean Baker: co-director of the Centre for Economic and Policy Research
Read the whole thing at: The Guardian
Also check out: Refusal of Work Movement