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A Solution to our Economic Woes...


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Consider the following:

 

We have factories, companies, businesses, industries etc., most of them standing idle for 16 hours of every day, two days out of seven. Most of them run only for forty-odd hours a week, out of a possible 168 hours.

 

What if we let our entire society work in shifts?

 

Let's say a normal accounting firm drops the concept of "business hours" and stay open 24/7? Or a legal firm, its lawyers working in three shifts, seven days a week, because the courts are open 24/7, too?

 

They can't possibly, because the employees need to sleep.

 

And that's the beauty of the entire scheme.

 

This will force them to hire three sets of staff for three separate shifts, so that the business can operate 24/7. And every set of staff gets to choose their "weekend", not to coincide with the rest of the staff's "weekend".

 

But there is still only so much business out there, I hear you say. Two of the three sets of staff will sit around idle?

 

Not so. If a move is made to convert the entire economy to a three-shift system, you'll end up having three times as many consumers, tripling the demand for any and all services and products.

 

This surely will increase pollution?

 

Not so. The biggest polluters, including power generation, foundries, mills etc. are already working around the clock, because to shut down and restart their operations once a day is more expensive than just running on a shift basis. It might, however, increase transport pollution, but that can be countered with more efficient public transport and better cars.

 

This will destroy families?

 

Not so. Not only are we running businesses in three shifts, but all public services (like education) will be run in three shifts as well. An entire family can elect to synchronise their shifts - and a law can be introduced which makes it mandatory for shifts to move up once a month.

 

Let's say the three shifts are:

 

1) 0:00 - 08:00

2) 08:00 - 16:00

3) 16:00 - 24:00

 

across the board.

 

Then, for a month, the entire family will be on shift 1. The next month, shift 2. A month later, shift 3. And so on.

 

All businesses will run 24/7, all shops will be open 24/7. Job opportunities will surely at least double (not triple, because quite a lot of businesses - mostly industrial - are already running a three-shift system).

Jobs in government will surely triple, because very few government agencies work three shifts.

 

Who'll be paying for this?

 

Obviously, if all shops and businesses are open 24/7, with all consumers being spread through three shifts, the load will spread between the shifts. But, the more people are employed, the more people will have money to spend.

 

Other benefits?

 

Sure - with the entire country running like clockwork throughout the day, with different neighbours being on different shifts, crime should come down. There will be no "quiet, wee hours of the morning" anymore when a housebreaker can do his stuff.

 

Businesses, like foundries and mines which are already running a three-shift system, seem to be doing fine. The only problem is that the current set-up don't make it too easy for families, because the kids and the wife are on completely different shifts than the husband, who's stuck at the foundry late at night. If the kids' school hours can synchronise with their dad's working hours, they can have a much better family life. But as far as health is concerned, they seem to be doing fine.

 

But consider for a minute: If we do this, then we triple the amount of students we can accommodate with the current schooling infrastructure. We triple the amount of teachers required, but that will be paid for by the higher taxes the government earns from more individuals and more companies simply earning more.

 

Unemployment will rock-bottom, and the economy should virtually double in a very short space of time.

 

Does this make any sense whatsoever?

 

Us humans have a natural day-night cycle, sure - but experience with companies already applying this scheme shows that humans are very adaptable.

 

I think there might just be some merit in this, don't you?

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Not so. Not only are we running businesses in three shifts, but all public services (like education) will be run in three shifts as well. An entire family can elect to synchronise their shifts - and a law can be introduced which makes it mandatory for shifts to move up once a month.

this part might be a little tricky, especially in the crossover of regulating to a new sleep shift. What about these kids not getting any sunshine and outdoor activity? This could trigger a form of subsyndromal seasonal affective disorder. Circadian rhythm sleep disorders are also common place with people who work the night shift

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I think there might just be some merit in this, don't you?

Of course its of tremendous merit, and in fact industries that are heavily capital intensive--manufacturing, petrochemical production, etc--have been doing it for a century. Many service industries do too: hospitals, hotels, mini-marts, etc. as well as police, fire and other emergency services. In fact in places where there's more manufacturing you'll find more 24-hour services because the demand is there from the manufacturing workers!

 

The problem is not so much the companies, but the fact that most people don't *want* to work second or graveyard shifts. They want to be able to go out with their friends at night or always have weekends free. Thus, unless you have real scarcity of jobs, people will demand to be paid more to work those shifts and weekends, and when the business is *not* capital intensive, it becomes cheaper to leave those assets idle because the incremental cost of operating them is not justified.

 

Further, as a feedback loop: since most people don't want to work or even be awake at those hours, service businesses that operate on demand (which is quite frankly most businesses), have no benefit to being open when customers are simply not around to demand the services.

 

Oddly enough in my business (software) you'll quite often find the buildings operating 24 hours a day, simply because programmers like to work whenever they feel like it!

 

Is there excess capacity? Sure, but that's not a bad thing, the converse of the situation you're describing is a fast growing economy, and if you don't have spare capacity you'll suffer horrible inflation!

 

Hard work never killed anybody, but why take a chance? :phones:

Buffy

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What you're suggesting is to increase supply without increase in demand during a recession of depressed demand. Increasing supply like this would result in the market being flooded by product, thus reducing value, thus destroying investment, thus destroying wages, thus destroying the economy. What we're looking at in our situation is strawberry shortcake compared to what would happen if we increased supply three-fold.

 

Your idea is already well understood, and is used when practical for reducing cost. This is an entirely different issue than our economic woes.

 

Edit: Unemployment would definitely bottom out very quickly like you say, but the subsequent backlash would be so dramatic we would be losing several million jobs a month due to demand having been royally ****ed

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What you're suggesting is to increase supply without increase in demand during a recession of depressed demand. Increasing supply like this would result in the market being flooded by product, thus reducing value, thus destroying investment, thus destroying wages, thus destroying the economy. What we're looking at in our situation is strawberry shortcake compared to what would happen if we increased supply three-fold.

 

Your idea is already well understood, and is used when practical for reducing cost. This is an entirely different issue than our economic woes.

 

Edit: Unemployment would definitely bottom out very quickly like you say, but the subsequent backlash would be so dramatic we would be losing several million jobs a month due to demand having been royally ****ed

Demand would surely increase, as there are now more consumers with more money in their pockets to buy more stuff that's being produced in more factories working more hours.

 

How do you expect demand to stay stable if you've suddenly got more consumers buying more stuff with more money in their pockets?

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It would work for a very short time, but as the market became flooded with product they would devalue too much, and investors would essentially paying for labor that doesn't produce more than it costs.

 

Your idea is actually part of Keynesian stimulus in times of recession, but only one part and there are much better to do it. Your idea would not benefit over the long term, but yes it would help during short term. However, it wouldn't be nearly as cost effective over the short term as what we've already been doing i.e. expanding unemployment insurance and shovel ready projects.

 

Creating income is not hard. It's creating sustainable income that's hard. In this crisis, we have done very well at making the increasing unemployment not much of a problem; the real solution is in fixing the financial sector.

 

So actually your suggestion is on the right track WRT one area of a recession, but what I don't like is creating more supply in doing so. A better solution involves creating more demand without the increase in supply since we have too much supply

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We would have to have 66 percent unemployment, or close to it, to implement that idea.

 

In addition, we've already overproduced, which is why we have the crisis. Scarcity of money is a result of overtrading, and overtrading is a function of overproduction.

I don't think that we'd need an exact 66% unemployment rate, because most of the big polluters are already working on a shift system.

 

I suppose the biggest requirement will have to come from service industries who're currently only doing the nine-to-five grind.

 

I think the biggest benefit will be in education. Way less kids per class. But then where do you find the teachers?

 

I fully accept that this whole scheme is utterly and completely pie-in-the-sky, but heck - makes for good speculation... something might just come off it?

 

MIT can now enroll three times as many rocket scientists, because there's no one-shift limit on infrastructure... and so on and so forth.

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