26. March 2024 · Comments Off on Civic Action Tapback – March 26, 2024 · Categories: Announcements


Reducing the workweek to 32 hours is overwhelmingly popular, garnering 57% – 34% support in a recent poll of US voters, including 69% of Democrats, 58% of independents, and even 44% of Republicans. Shorter workweeks also work: numerous pilot programs in Britain, in Portugal, at Kickstarter, and beyond have consistently shown that a reduced workweek enhances productivity, improves retention, and increases job satisfaction.

And yet unlike almost any other policy change with that much popular support and that much evidence behind it, the idea of government actually taking steps to reduce the workweek tends to be treated mostly as a daydream rather than something that could possibly happen. But this idea that it’s not serious to consider reducing the workweek is a fairly recent development. In fact, back when the 40-hour workweek was first established, it was thought to be only a temporary compromise, and it was generally assumed that automation and productivity increases would continue to reduce the amount of time humans had to labor. Noted economist John Maynard Keynes even predicted the workweek would be just 15 hours by now. But instead, the official workweek has remained stuck at 40 hours, with salaried workers typically working quite a bit longer, and the whole idea of working less seems to have evaporated from the political conversation. Today, there’s apparently a silent shared conviction among the powers-that-be that work is just naturally supposed to be a long and painful punishment, that human flourishing isn’t worth talking about, and that there are some popular ideas that just shouldn’t be elevated to serious debate.

in new federal revenue could be collected if Congress passes new proposals from President Biden to limit the corporate tax deduction for private plane ownership, and increase the tax on the jet fuel they purchase. The private plane industry contends that private planes are an “essential industry,” and that taxing them is unfair because companies use the planes to fly executives to visit offices and factories.

is the pay rate for people who peel shrimp for export to the US, work that causes many severe skin problems and other health hazards. Some of the most common problems could be prevented simply by providing gloves to shrimp peelers, which cost an unaffordable $3 a box — a day’s wages.

are members of the ultra-conservative Republican Study Committee, which recently issued an official report which proposed raising the Social Security retirement age. While the group frets about “insolvency approaching,” they do not propose raising taxes on the rich to secure retirement benefits.

One of the most remarkable recent economic developments is that over the past few years, wages have increased the most quickly for the lowest-wage workers — a complete inversion of the long-term trend towards inequality that began at the dawn of the trickle-down era. While the lowest-wage workers at the 10th percentile of the wage distribution have seen a 12% increase in their inflation-adjusted wages from 2019 – 2023, the very-highest wage workers at the 90th percentile have seen almost no increase. (But don’t worry, they’ll be fine.) And the gains are especially robust among Black men, young workers, and working mothers. 

Several factors are driving this highly unusual reduction in inequality, including increases to the minimum wage in many states, the strong post-pandemic labor market which is forcing employers to compete for workers, and the whole range of middle-out economic policies pursued by the Biden administration. And while there’s plenty of ground to be made up, this data shows that income inequality has always been a policy choice — and that when our government discards trickle-down and chooses a different path, the results follow.

According to a new report from the Center for American Progress, union members build more wealth than workers who aren’t union members. And it’s not even close. The median union household has 1.7 times the wealth of the median non-union household, with the relative increase in wealth particularly strong among workers of color. In fact, CAP finds that “union households of color have between 167 percent and 228 percent more median wealth than nonunion households of color.

It’s easy to guess that much of this is due to the higher wages that union members are able to negotiate, and that’s true. But there’s more to it as well. Union members are also more likely to negotiate contracts which provide stable employment, buffering them from income shocks that can drain wealth. And they’re more likely to be enrolled in retirement plans that provide additional wealth and security. It all adds up to yet another reason why supporting strong unions is good public policy, and a cornerstone of middle-out economic growth. 

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