Dean Baker of the Guardian newspaper in the United Kingdom reports that the United States could solve its unemployment problem if the government encouraged businesses to spread out their work to include more people. Some people would take a cut in hours so that others could step in and take up the slack. Baker points out that people in Germany and the Netherlands work 20 percent less than we Americans. However, there are some serious flaws in his logic.
One is that the US middle class is working more and earning less, which is the reverse of what is going on in Germany. Also, the German economy didn’t experience a housing or a tech bubble, so people aren’t underwater on their houses in Germany to the same degree as in the USA. Millions of people in the US need to keep working more and more just to stay afloat. They can’t afford to take a cut in hours.
There are a ton of other differences between the two nations, all in favor of the Germans. How about this?
Half of the seats of every board of directors in every German corporation are filled by labor union members. These people most likely aren’t all that interested in shipping their jobs to China and Vietnam and redistributing the difference between the higher paying jobs in Germany and the new lower wages in some third world country from the 99 percent of Germans to the 1 percent via higher corporate earnings, rising share prices and soaring dividends. That’s a primary reason why the Germans have higher wages and rising standards of living, which is the opposite of their American counterparts.
That’s why Dean’s logic to cut worker hours is utterly ridiculous. The German economy is managed so that the vast majority of Germans share in their rising prosperity, while US economic policy for 30 years has been to redistribute the income and wealth of the 99 percent to the 1 percent. Both governments have been extremely successful in their policy objectives.
Click on the link below, if you like, and read Baker’s article.