Would Productivity Fall or Rise?

by Don Boudreaux on November 16, 2009

in Frenetic Fiddling, Man of System, Media, Myths and Fallacies, Seen and Unseen, Work

Here’s a letter that I sent yesterday to the New York Times:

Columnist Paul Krugman writes that policies to promote “job sharing” are “worthy of consideration” (“Free to Lose,” Nov. 13).

Let’s start at the New York Times.  I know several economists currently without jobs (and certainly without regular newspaper columns).  I propose that Times Co. chairman Arthur Sulzberger reduce Mr. Krugman’s presence on the editorial page to, say, one column per year.  The remaining hundred or so columns that Mr. Krugman would otherwise have written for the NYT can be written by unemployed economists.

I’ll be very happy to supply Mr. Sulzberger with names of economists who need the work.

Sincerely,
Donald J. Boudreaux

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{ 92 comments }

tw November 16, 2009 at 6:36 pm

Brilliant & funny at the same time….bravo! Please post if the NYT actually does respond to this; will likely keel over if they do.

Curious November 17, 2009 at 5:30 am

Agreed. Brilliant & funny and completely destroying the collectivist’s argument in 1 simple paragraph – Don’s trademark. Bravo!

Justin P November 16, 2009 at 6:51 pm

Awesome, I wouldn’t mind seeing a few of Don’s op ed or Russ’ essays on the NY Time. It would probably blow the mind off of most of the readers though.

Anonymous November 16, 2009 at 7:01 pm

It never ceases to amaze me that people on here can feign a “those people think they are so much wiser than the rest of us – how could they be so conceited” rhetorical strategy against people they disagree with, and yet are so willing to write things like “it would probably blow the mind off of most of the readers”.

sandre November 16, 2009 at 7:05 pm

take a day off, don’t feel compelled to write a comment to every blog post and every comment. Do some justice to what your employer is paying you for.

sandre November 16, 2009 at 7:07 pm

that’s my last comment to you today, regardless of how cute you get in your reply ( which is a very compulsive urge in your case )

Anonymous November 16, 2009 at 7:11 pm

I’m not sure how “cute” I need to be to say: “that single sentence posted in response to Justin is the only post I’ve made during my six hours at work today, so you should chill out”… so I guess I’ll leave it at that.

SteveO November 17, 2009 at 10:49 pm

Amen.

JohnK November 16, 2009 at 7:16 pm

It would blow the mind off most of the readers because they likely have never been exposed to such concepts in their sterile politically correct world.

Oh, and sandre has a good point. Take a day off. It’s cafehayek, not cafekuehn.

matt November 16, 2009 at 7:34 pm

“It never ceases to amaze me…”

What a shocker.

Justin P November 16, 2009 at 7:36 pm

What John said below. NYT op eds are so bias it’s not even funny. Or would you argue that the NYT is balanced? Hell Kristol was the only real opposing view and they ran him off.
Or look at the response on the freakonomics blog over the split in the pro AGW camps. It simply blew their minds that someone can think AGW is a problem and NOT support top down measures like Cap and Tax.

Justin P November 17, 2009 at 6:19 pm

I finally said something that Dan won’t respond too….hooray me!

Mark November 17, 2009 at 5:10 am

Yeah, take a break. This was some weak trolling. Meh.

Anonymous November 16, 2009 at 7:23 pm

When Krugman creates a single job at my company, then he can have a say in setting my employment policies. Until that happens, he can shove his opinion up his black hole – and by that I mean his head, obviously.

Doc Merlin November 16, 2009 at 9:44 pm

Job sharing? Yes that might be better than firebombing for the economy, but not by much.

Anonymous November 16, 2009 at 10:03 pm

Could someone explain to me exactly what the argument against job sharing is? I’m not sure how much it will actually do, but since it’s a way of reducing labor without destroying human capital and necessitating a costly search process, I don’t see why it’s so obviously objectionable.

At first I thought it was because Krugman proposes a “policy” to encourage it, so the argument is against the government intervening. But Don’s example involves no government intervention (and indeed – many firms have instituted job sharing on their own), so I’m assuming it’s not just that. Can someone help me understand exactly what the problems is with job sharing?

Anonymous November 16, 2009 at 10:15 pm

The problem is that it is not good, all the time, for every business, for every job. When a business thinks it is good, they create shared jobs voluntarily. When a business doesn’t, they don’t. Shared jobs are a problem when they are forced to exist. Don is being critical of the policies that advocate job sharing because the policies will inevitably disturb production in places where job sharing is not ideal.

Anonymous November 17, 2009 at 3:25 am

Re: “The problem is that it is not good, all the time, for every business, for every job.”

Well of course not.

Anonymous November 16, 2009 at 10:17 pm

Daniel,

Do you suppose that existing patterns of employment — which particular workers are used at which particular tasks; the number of hours each worker works; the kinds and amounts of capital goods that each worker has to work with; the kinds and number of co-workers that each worker works with — are arbitrary?

These (and countless other) patterns emerge as they do for good reasons. If government arbitrarily modifies one such pattern, the result will almost surely reduce productivity (and, in the long-run, real wages).

A good bet is that you have a favorite barber or hairstylist. That person knows you, knows your head and hair, you like him or her, etc. There are a lot of details that are important in assuring that you get quality haircuts.

Would you be indifferent if government said “Ok Daniel, every other haircut you get must be done by Mr. Jones rather than by your preferred barber/hairstylist”? I suspect you’d NOT be indifferent.

Haircuts are small beer. But extend the logic to research in pharmaceutical firms; welding in shipyards; piloting commercial aircraft; selling clothes on the floor of Nordstrom’s or Macy’s; writing columns for newspapers of record.

What does this logic tell you?

BoscoH November 16, 2009 at 11:52 pm

I’ve never seen DK’s hair — that could be a bad analogy. But how about if every other comment had to be by someone other than DK?

sandre November 17, 2009 at 12:02 am

DK will not reply until tomorrow. It’s past close of business in the east coast.

Anonymous November 17, 2009 at 12:28 am

OK, but that sounds like your opposition is primarily grounded in that fact that it’s a suggestion for a government policy of encouragement, not an opposition to job sharing. That was really my question.

In some periods consumer demand is such that firms can’t maintain their current payrolls. However, that demand is often expected to revive – even if it happens a year or two down the road. Employers often face a tough choice because they’ve made valuable human capital investments in workers that would be lost if a worker is terminated. Often for cultural reasons it’s hard to distribute the cost across workers by cutting hours or wages – so cots are concentrated by terminating a few, and losing valuable human capital that could be put to use when demand revives.

I was honestly just wondering which it was, because usually you hear economists lauding job sharing. Often it’s hard to separate the political philosophy from the economic analysis in this blog, and if you had an economic reason for being suspicious of job sharing I was curious what it was.

John Dewey November 17, 2009 at 2:17 am

“because usually you hear economists lauding job sharing.”

I’ve read pieces by management consultants which promote job sharing. But neither economists nor consultants are responsible for the budgets of major corporations. I’ve heard many executives and finance managers argue that job sharing is just too expensive. Quite frankly, I think they know their businesses better than any economist or consultant could.

Anonymous November 17, 2009 at 3:11 am

I don’t think the fact that you’ve heard some executives and managers argue that job sharing is too expensive for some companies necessarily means that other executives and managers that have already implemented it aren’t right in thinking it’s right for their companies.I don’t see any obvious costs associated with job sharing over and above layoffs. Either you cut hours in big discrete chunks by cutting workers, or you cut hours by reducing across the workforce. Since there’s no obvious reason why either strategy should cost more than another, I’d imagine the executives who find job sharing worthwhile are the executives who work in industries where it is (a.) costly to search for new talent, and (b.) expensive to train new talent.The executives you’ve “heard” from, I’d guess, work in industries where the search and hiring process is less costly and firm-specific training is less costly. Wouldn’t you think?I highly doubt it’s one size fits all.

mcwop November 16, 2009 at 11:04 pm

The argument is against government forced job sharing, not voluntary. I have no doubt that Krugman would propose the forced variety., but create himself a nice exemption (and politicians would create theirstoo). It’s really that simple.

Anonymous November 17, 2009 at 3:23 am

If that’s the case, then that’s fine. I wasn’t sure because the example Don gave involved no government whatsoever, so I wasn’t sure if he had a problem with job sharing in general.

A lot of people – myself included – are concerned about and interested in the rock and the hard place we find ourselves in: the rock being nominal wage rigidities and the hard place being layoffs. Job sharing is usually looked at as a potential way out. If Don had a different view, I was curious what it was. But yes – I see now the concern was with the government.

Mark November 17, 2009 at 5:07 am

“I wasn’t sure”

Clueless.

“nominal wage rigidities”

Nice jargonese, Wonkiel! Spoken like a true Ph. D wanna-be.

Anonymous November 17, 2009 at 11:22 am

>>A lot of people – myself included – are concerned about and interested in the rock and the hard place we find ourselves in: the rock being nominal wage rigidities and the hard place being layoffs.<<Do you think that the companies themselves — even those that have not adopted job sharing — aren’t also concerened about this? What makes you think that (with their own bottom-lines, on the line) most comapnies haven’t already thought of this. You know, just because Krugman is thorwing stuff against the wall to see if it sticks doesn’t mean that these are original ideas or that they haven’t already been considered and not tried for various reasons. It appears that you don’t like what you’re seeing and would despartely wish more companies would consider something that they may find a losing strategy.

Anonymous November 17, 2009 at 11:35 am

RE: “What makes you think that (with their own bottom-lines, on the line) most comapnies haven’t already thought of this”

Huh? My whole point is companies have thought of this – they are facing these issues – they are thinking about these issues. That’s why I’m interested in the extent to which they engage in job sharing, and that’s why I’m interested if Don actually had a problem with the job sharing strategy. I’m not sure why you’re thinking that I’m crediting Krugman with coming up with this – could you explain that?

Anonymous November 16, 2009 at 11:54 pm

Job sharing is laughable in my business. If I were forced to employ such an employment policy, it would be easier and more desirable to just shut down the entire business.

Krugman is free to employ as much job sharing as he wants in his own company if he thinks it works so well, but job sharing is not widely used for a reason. Oh wait, that’s right – Krugman has never actually run a business or managed employees.

John Dewey November 17, 2009 at 1:53 am

Some jobs are shared, daniel. I’ve hired dozens of college students over the past 15 years to work parttime during evenings at my bookstores. Job sharing fit their schedules and fit my desire to not have a 50% turnover at one store if one eveining employee quit.

Job sharing, though, is generally much more expensive for employers. Many benefits, training expenses, management requirements, personnel department expenses, payroll administration expenses, and much more vary not with hours worked but rather with number of employees.

Anonymous November 17, 2009 at 3:20 am

Training expenses are usually the reason you hear for why job sharing is so great. If your training expenses are high, you don’t want to layoff 15% of your workforce at the beginning of the recession and then have to rehire and retrain that 15% when consumer demand picks up again. You’d rather keep everyone so that you don’t have to pay those training expenses again, but just cut hours by 15% across the board. It also could very well maintain employee morale because they know that as hard as a 15% hour cut is to make ends meet, they know they won’t have to worry about getting laid off – and higher morale means greater productivity.

I guess I’m getting at the difference between job sharing as a strategy for weathering a recession, that is an alternative to layoffs and wage cuts, and job sharing simply as maintaining part-time workers regardless of economic conditions.

BoscoH November 17, 2009 at 3:24 am

You’d rather keep everyone and cut their hours. Yeah, you go manage a company and try that Daniel. Guaranteed to make everyone still working for your company upset. When you lay people off, the people left with jobs at least have a reason to be thankful.

Anonymous November 17, 2009 at 4:09 am

Who said I’d rather do that? I’m saying that’s a reasonable option in some circumstances. But the whole point is that, as you say, it is hard which is why a lot of people get excited when they see it actually happening in firms. RE: “When you lay people off, the people left with jobs at least have a reason to be thankful.”Wow. Really? Have you ever been employed at a company that’s had to go through layoffs.? Because I have, and “thankful” isn’t the word I’d choose. “Fearful” is more like it. None of these are happy circumstances for workers or employers.

John Dewey November 17, 2009 at 4:23 am

Tell me, daniel, from whom do you hear that job sharing is so great? I’ve heard firsthand from executives and controllers at airlines, at a package delivery firm, at a food processing firm, and at an oilfield equipment manufacturer.

“job sharing as a strategy for weathering a recession, that is an alternative to layoffs and wage cuts,”

Such a strategy may work great with an economic policy think tank in Washington, daniel, which may employ highly specialized PhD economists. I don’t think it will work with talent which can find jobs in many companies, such as engineers, computer programmers, financial analysts, accountants, lawyers, product managers, sales managers, nurses, and geologists. As I explained before, when management imposes across the board cuts, the best talent leaves and the firm gets left with the mediocre talent.

Anonymous November 17, 2009 at 4:32 am

I heard your argument the last couple times you made it. To repeat my counter-argument, a lot of people would rather have a job they can depend on and live with a temporarily tighter buget than be without a job. It’s ultimately going to depend on conditions in the labor market. The number of job openings right now are a fraction of the unemployed population. There aren’t enough jobs. How many talented workers are going to quit for the exciting opportunity of entering THAT job market? Maybe some – but if you’ve got a family that depends on you you may be a little more risk averse. Not to mention the fact that burger-flippers can be off the job for a long time, and a future employer isn’t going to question whether they can still flip a burger. Employers wonder about laywers or programmers that may be rusty after extended unemployment.It all depends on circumstances, john dewey. Different people and firms are in different circumstances and they’re going to respond differently. It’s not one size fits all. But in an economy where job openings are so scarce, I wouldn’t just write off the prospect that some workers would take a definite pay-cut and keep their job if it prevented (or made much less likely) the prospect of being out of a job. And for firms that know they’re going to have a larger workforce after the recession that don’t want to pay hiring and training costs, it’ll sound like a good deal to them too.

Anonymous November 16, 2009 at 11:53 pm

I just spent a few minutes reading the comments to Krugman’s piece at the NYT. The penchant for central planning and collectivist solutions amongst the commenters is depressing. Of course it is not a random sample. Those who take the time to read and comment on a Krugman article are more likely to agree with him than an average Cafe Hayek reader would be.

Are free market advocates losing the fight? Are we doomed to ever more intrusive government? My fear is that Cafe Hayek, which beams like a beacon to those of us who believe in free markets, may be more like a penlight to the world at large.

Obviously there is much educational work to be done. Don and Russ are to be commended for doing more than their share. Is there more that the rest of us can do?

Jay November 17, 2009 at 12:05 am

I would love to hear someone ask Krugman in a public forum, why don’t we just have the government pay the unemployed $25,000 a year to sit around in their house all day and jerk off. That would do less damage to the economy than the bat-shit insane ideas Krugman comes up with on a daily basis.

Randy November 17, 2009 at 12:07 am

Flying again, and reading Keynes’ “General Theory of Employment”. He seems to be making a very big deal out “insufficienty of effective demand”, and also seems to believe that not achieving “full employment” is some sort of inherent social evil. He’s apparently not a big fan of Ricardo or Hayek. Its also pretty clear that he gets paid by the word. I have a hunch I know where he’s going with this, but I’ll give him a hearing.

Mark November 17, 2009 at 5:14 am

If you need any help understanding anything you read, Daniel Kuehn will be glad to discuss it with you…forever.

Anonymous November 17, 2009 at 2:57 am

Let’s spread the wealth around!

Mark November 17, 2009 at 5:08 am

Hey, send me your paypal info, I’ll send you some cash.

JohnK November 17, 2009 at 11:48 am

60 comments, 19 from dk.

cafehayek or cafekuehn?

Political Observer November 17, 2009 at 12:40 pm

John

Understand we are rewarding the behavior. Daniel thrives on the fact that others feel a need to respond to his post no matter how unrewarding his perspective is. If you want to shut him off – just ignore him. He offers nothing and there is no reason to reward the behavior by acknowledging it.

Justin P November 17, 2009 at 4:10 pm

Same goes with Muir.
DO NOT FEED THE TROLLS.

Anonymous November 17, 2009 at 5:29 pm

“DO NOT FEED THE TROLLS…”

…IT ONLY SATIATES THEIR FRAGILE EGO.

BoscoH November 17, 2009 at 3:02 pm

Cafe Hayku

Terry Noel November 17, 2009 at 12:11 pm

Up to now, I thought reports of Krugman’s Keynesianism were greatly exaggerated. I stand corrected. One wonders just how big a stimulus would, in Krugman’s mind, “do the trick” and what the aftermath might be. Hyperinflation, anyone?

JohnK November 17, 2009 at 1:57 pm

I’m pretty sure Krugman said $2trillion would be sufficient.

Terry Noel November 17, 2009 at 2:00 pm

Ahhhhhh…I thought he was talking about a lot of money…

Anonymous November 17, 2009 at 3:09 pm

And if that didn’t work, Krugman would just say that he underestimated the magnitude of the problems caused by GWB.

Never mind that of the currently available stimulus funds, only a fraction has actually been spent.

Justin P November 17, 2009 at 4:15 pm

Keynesians never talk about the time problem. They assume that everything government does is done instantly, oh but don’t tell them that prices adjust as quickly as they think government can shell out cash!.

Justin P November 17, 2009 at 4:14 pm

If 2 is good….$4 trillion is better! Imagine the increase in AgDemand then!!! But remember what Keynes said, wages are sticky so we can ignore inflation in the short run….and in the long run….this is the best part….we are all dead! So we never have to worry about inflation, ever!!!!!!!!!!!

Mark November 17, 2009 at 5:02 pm

When I think about how smart-n-wonderful-caring JMK was, it makes me cry!

Anonymous November 17, 2009 at 5:31 pm

First rule of government spending: Why have one when you can have two at twice the price? :P

Anonymous November 17, 2009 at 9:20 pm

I waited through that whole damn movie to see the alien and it was her father! :(

And it’s not twice the price – it’s something more like 2.8x the price. I think that’s called the “Keynesian multiplier.”

Anonymous November 17, 2009 at 4:17 pm

Professor Boudreaux, this comment was priceless. Thanks very much for the belly laugh.

Anonymous November 17, 2009 at 9:49 pm

I think it’s pretty clear by now that Kuehn is a troll who doesn’t really listen to anyone and should be banned.

John Dewey November 17, 2009 at 3:19 am

daniel kuehn: “I don’t see any obvious costs associated with job sharing over and above layoffs.”

I already provided them for you, daniel. One more time:

Many benefits, training expenses, management requirements, personnel department expenses, payroll administration expenses, and much more vary not with hours worked but rather with number of employees.

My guess is that you do not see such obvious costs because you have worked very few years in profit-seeking companies in positions where you are exposed to real budgets.

John Dewey November 17, 2009 at 3:29 am

daniel kuehn: “I’d imagine the executives who find it worthwhile are the executives who work in industries where is it (a.) costly to search for new talent, and (b.) expensive to train new talent.”

Do you have any real examples where firms have done so sucessfully? I doubt job-sharing occurs very much with the most talented employees. The reason is very simple: cutting the pay of talented workers is the fastest way to lose them. I have seen it tried, but not successfully. When firms cut salaries acros the board, the best workers find better paying jobs elsewhere. The less than best workers are unable to do so. So the firm which tried to equalize the pain ends up with a lower quality workforce than it had.

You may not realize how much this happens, but businesses use economic downturns to rid themselves of workers they should have fired earlier. Terminating employees for being non-productive is difficult for managers to accomplish, bith emotionally and legally. Terminating those same employees because of falling revenues is very easy.

Anonymous November 17, 2009 at 3:55 am

Yes… my employer has for our senior researchers. I’m still working full time – but then again I’m still pretty cheap labor.

We hire PhD economists. That’s a very competitive market, and we’d prefer to keep people with institutional knowledge and we’d prefer not to disturb functional team dynamics that have developed over time. One solution is to cut hours for the senior researchers.

Not every firm in the economy operates like your bookstores.

John Dewey November 17, 2009 at 4:07 am

“Not every firm in the economy operates like your bookstores.”

Actually, as I pointed out below, my bookstores did employ workers who shared a job. But the four Fortune 500 firms which employed me as a finance controller and labor planner allowed very little job sharing in professional jobs.

John Dewey November 17, 2009 at 4:33 am

daniel, you really should consider this blog as a place from which to learn. Most who comment here have many years of real world experience to draw on when they provide insights. When someone tells you this is how it is done in the real world, consider asking yourself why rather than arguing that it is not done that way or implying that you understand the real world. Washington think tanks are not real world.

Anonymous November 17, 2009 at 4:13 am

If you would actually read what I wrote after that sentence you’d see that I was refering to payroll – which is simple: L*h*w, if L is employees, h is hours per employee, and w is the wage. You gotta cut one of the three or some combination to get your wage bill down. There’s no obvious reason why cutting L is more costly than cutting h. Depending on the circumstances of the firm, of course, each could have different derivative costs associated with. But without knowing details of how the fim is run, you have no way of convincing anyone you know which will be the more costly strategy.

Anonymous November 17, 2009 at 4:24 am

Right… my only point is that every firm is different. My understanding is you’re in agreement with me on that, right?

As I mentioned in my post to mcwop, a lot of people – myself included – are concerned about and interested in the rock and the hard place we find ourselves in: the rock being nominal wage rigidities and the hard place being layoffs. Nominal wage rigidities prevent or slow a recovery, and layoffs destory firm-specific human capital and necessitate hiring expenses during the recovery. Job-sharing seems to get around the problem, but it’s a tough sell to employees.

I couldn’t tell from Don’s initial post if he just had the usual problem with government, or if he had a dissenting opinion on the potential value of job-sharing for getting out of the nominal wage rigidity/layoffs trap. I was just curious about that. I know it’s not appropriate for all types of jobs (I outlined some conditions where it would probably be more appropriate above) – I’m in agreement with you on that.

Anonymous November 17, 2009 at 4:44 am

I come here to learn. You should do the same. Who commenting on here can tell me “how it is done in the real world”? There are billions of ways that it “is done” in the real world. You keep giving me these examples of where job sharing doesn’t work as if you’re disproving my point, when my whole point is it works for some people and it doesn’t work for others.RE: “When someone tells you this is how it is done in the real world, consider asking yourself why rather than arguing that it is not done that way”Are you kidding me? You asked me for an example of where job sharing is used and I gave you one. I didn’t argue that it isn’t done the way you mentioned in other companies. I was just answering your question!

Mark November 17, 2009 at 5:04 am

“I couldn’t tell from Don’s initial post ”

For a researcher, you sure have a hard time figuring out what people mean.

Anonymous November 17, 2009 at 10:09 am

FFS, I keep pressing Like instead of Reply.

Anyhoo: “I couldn’t tell from Don’s initial post if he just had the usual problem with government, or if he had a dissenting opinion on the potential value of job-sharing for getting out of the nominal wage rigidity/layoffs trap.”

Krugman’s piece, which Don is making fun of, is about government policies promoting job-sharing and some other stupid ideas. This site is called ‘Cafe Hayek’. Figure it out dude.

Mark November 17, 2009 at 5:11 am

Dan doesn’t get the fact that we need a break from him. He’s never understood that, even though we’ve been like this to him all his life. He just don’t get it.

Mark November 17, 2009 at 5:13 am

Dan knows. He’s looked into it. He’s a researcher.

Anonymous November 17, 2009 at 7:31 am

Everyone is born with two ears to hear and one mouth to speak. If you would learn, Daniel, listen more than you write.

Anonymous November 17, 2009 at 5:36 pm

“I come here to learn.”

DK, you should have been a comedian.

“Who commenting on here can tell me “how it is done in the real world”?”

Clearly, no-one could possibly have anything to teach anything to a clever little one such as yourself who has lived as long as a whole quarter of a century. Why, we were all groping in the dark for decades until you enlightened us.

“There are billions of ways that it “is done” in the real world.”

And you don’t know any of them.

Anonymous November 17, 2009 at 7:34 am

and yet they are happy circumstances for entrepreneurs, who merely have to hire people, rather than having to hire them AWAY.

Don’t think of a layoff as a destruction of a job. Think of it as trading in an old job for a new job. Think of it as the freeing-up of labor to do the new jobs that entrepreneurs are creating. THAT is why companies should be allowed to fail, and fail fast.

Anonymous November 17, 2009 at 11:30 am

>>Who said I’d rather do that?<>Wow. Really? Have you ever been employed at a company that’s had to go through layoffs.? Because I have, and “thankful” isn’t the word I’d choose. “Fearful” is more like it.<<

This tells me an awful lot about you. It also doesn't say much at all for the people that were let go in those instances (multiple instances?). I wonder if your Internet usage at work contributed to the companies having to do the drastic; perhaps the wrong guy was let go.

Anonymous November 17, 2009 at 11:01 am

You don’t think it’s possible to recognize that job destruction is necessary for robust job creation, but still recognize that (1.) it’s not exactly an enjoyable process, and (2.) in an especially severe recession, some job destruction goes beyond what is necessary for robust entrepreneurial growth. It is the “freeing up of labor to do the new jobs that entrepreneurs are creating”, but since entrepreneurs are creating those new jobs at a much slower rate than layoffs are occuring, that doesn’t mean it’s something that I or anyone else are obligated to be too happy about.

Anonymous November 17, 2009 at 11:02 am

RE: “Krugman’s piece, which Don is making fun of, is about government policies promoting job-sharing and some other stupid ideas. This site is called ‘Cafe Hayek’. Figure it out dude.”

This blog does more than libertarian talking points, greego. They do economic analysis as well.

Anonymous November 17, 2009 at 11:15 am

>>But without knowing details of how the fim is run, you have no way of convincing anyone you know which will be the more costly strategy.<<

And there you have it; top-down Daniel.

Anonymous November 17, 2009 at 11:32 am

How is it “top down Daniel”? I’m trying to impress upon John Dewey that his top-down approach is unconvincing precisely because he doesn’t know the unique situations that each firm faces – and that these circumstances make it sensible for some firms but not for others. Later, if I understood him right, John Dewey got around to agreeing with this.

Read what John Dewey said two posts up about what he “heard” from managers. Who is taking the one-size-fits-all, top down approach here? Me or him?

Anonymous November 17, 2009 at 11:40 am

RE: “You did write that you were concerened; twice!”

And if that were the “do that” that he was refering to, you’d have something resembling a point.

It was a different job that had the layoffs. This one has a had a couple, but not many. I do most of my posting before work – only do a lot during work when there’s substantial lag time, and most of that is during my lunch hour. I take a lot of work home too – it’s not exactly a clock in/clock out, nine to five sort of work environment, and you can rest assured they’re very comfortable with my productivity. Nice job avoiding any substantive points on that one, though.

Anonymous November 17, 2009 at 4:29 pm

John Dewey is clearly and obviously not taking a top-down or one-size-fits-all approach here. How did you get that interpretation from what he wrote?????He was also correct that job sharing is more expensive (at least most of the time). What he wrote about costs associated with the number of employees is true for the vast majority of companies, so your thinking was completely unrealistic in excluding them.

You did correctly identify costs associated with having to hire new workers. IMO, each company should be left alone to evaluate those trade-offs for themselves.

Anonymous November 18, 2009 at 12:50 am

I don’t believe you are reading JD correctly.

You! As usual.

Anonymous November 17, 2009 at 4:41 pm

RE: “How did you get that interpretation from what he wrote?????”

I opened the exchange simply by saying that job sharing makes sense under certain circumstances – while I never said job sharing always make sense, john dewey said “I’ve heard many executives and finance managers argue that job sharing is just too expensive” (completely undifferentiated with no recognition that what may make sense in some companies doesn’t make sense in others – for john dewey it’s “just too expensive”).

I’m clearly and obviously not taking a “top down” approach because I say repeatedly “often is”, “right for their companies”, “without knowing the details of how each firm is run…”, and I also list conditions under which job sharing is probably more profitable and when it is less. It’s always qualified when I write about it – sometimes it’s sensible, sometimes it’s not.

How, after reading all that, could you possibly think that I’m advocating a top down position? I’m really very curious.

Anonymous November 17, 2009 at 4:49 pm

“How, after reading all that, could you possibly think that I’m advocating a top down position? I’m really very curious.”

Nothing I wrote suggests I think you’re taking a top-down approach; it’s obvious to me that you are not. (How did you reach the conclusion I thought you were?????)

I’m really very curious how you can so frequently see what’s not there and miss what is in things written here.

John Dewey November 17, 2009 at 7:52 pm

daniel, you started this “exchange” by asking:

“Could someone explain to me exactly what the argument against job sharing is?”

I provided several reasons why most firms reject job sharing, both during normal times and during recessions. I explained exactly why job sharing is expensive, which, as a corporate controller and labor planner, I am expertly qualified to explain. Rather than learn from this “exchange” with someone who has decades of real-world business experience, you tried to invent a new argument. As you so often do, you have rephrased your question:

“Under what conditions is job sharing economically justified?”

I never claimed that job sharing is always the wrong policy. But given that this blog is about Paul Krugman’s advocacy of widespread job-sharing, I think it makes sense to point out such action would be foolish for most companies.

Anonymous November 17, 2009 at 4:55 pm

Aha – that was LCJ.

So frequently huh? I’d ask how you can so frequently think I so frequently do so many things, but that sort of infinite regress gets old.

Anonymous November 17, 2009 at 7:01 pm

my word’s but a whisper, your deafness a shout…

Anonymous November 17, 2009 at 7:59 pm

Oh give me a break, johndewey. I never changed or rephrased anything. I’m allowed to wonder a couple things: “why would someone a priori oppose this?”, “under what conditions would it make sense?”, etc.

I read and enjoyed all your thoughts on it – you’re just bent out of shape that I still disagree with you on the issue of training expenses. You keep defending your experience. Well john, I’ve never belittled your experience the way you’ve belittled mine several times at this point. So please – spare me the sob story about how crafty I am with reinventing arguments and refusing to give due deference.

If you want to argue against Krugman’s point, that’s fine. Krugman may have implied the need for widespread job sharing. I never did. I was just trying to gauge whether the disagreement with Krugman was purely over the government intervention, or whether there were other concerns about job sharing too. I never made any claim that this shoudl be widespread practice.

Anonymous November 17, 2009 at 8:04 pm

And regarding: “I was just trying to guage whether the opposition to Krugman was just over the government intervention or wether there were other concerns” – you DON’T need to reiterate your other concerns once again. I read them the first time, I know they exist, and it’s not the first I’ve heard of HR/overhead type points.

Anonymous November 17, 2009 at 9:44 pm

As usual kuehn’s infantile way of looking at economic matters. Enjoyability has nothing to do with it retard!

Anonymous November 17, 2009 at 10:50 pm

The market is flooded.

Anonymous November 18, 2009 at 11:31 am

Subjective valuation (enjoyability) is at the heart of economics. And you should know – when you call people “retard” you sound like a child.

Anonymous November 18, 2009 at 6:05 pm

I’m extremely impressed that you recognized that obscure quote! Correct you are on the Keynesian Multiplier.

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