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Saturday, February 28, 2009

The summit

NZ Herald reporting one of the outcomes of the generic bringing-sector-groups-together-new-govt-summit - this government quite properly focusing on employment (the alternative like a "growth" summit that may have occurred if the financial bubble had not popped never eventuated because it popped big time) - has had as one of it's most talked about ideas that the PM may consider a training day once a fortnight for workers who are in businesses experiencing a downturn in production.

Not inspiring. But I note that I have not been factoring in the potential social benefits of a policy that reduces the working week. Cactus reckons:

Rather than a day off where the time can solely be used for the worker, let workers drop their hours each day and FORCE them to go off every day at 3pm so they can pick up their kids from school and shock horror, actually force them to spend some time with them before it gets dark.

It would also spread out the traffic in the cities which would be a much more efficient use of the roading and public transport capacity than just having one day a fortnight off. So seeing as how mornings are the real killers make it a 10am or 11am start every day to reduce the morning peak? In the last serious recession we had carless days - now it's credit rather than petrol in short supply we'll be having jobless days. It is astounding to think it has come to this.

And as for all the pointless training that will supposedly occur on this one day a fortnight? Training for what? Skilling oneself in what - how to find another job? I don't know how to tell the PM this, but half of Auckland already goes down the pub bright and early every lunchtime on Friday and they never make it back to the office. We're already effectively taking that one day per fortnight off anyway - now they want to apply that rule to blue collar workers too.

These people were considered skiving, unproductive piss-heads that gave city workers - and the managers that encouraged it - bad names and now they are the heros of the depression; leading the working class' consciousness over day-specific voluntary labour contraction issues in order to save the nation. You legends. Those of us about to be partially casualised salute your years of previous sacrifice.

The cycleway concept had more credibility - although it will take a lot longer to plan and consent and construct than the few short years that the people commenting on Radio NZ yesterday seemed to think.

If that idea is flying then they must have very few ideas at the gab-fest, so here's mine:

Underground the lines.

If the utility companies do not want to take advantage of the $1.5 billion (?) of govt. broadband money then maybe giving the local councils the power to rate the utility companies overhead (but not underground) wires will give the councils some much needed rates money and provide the financial incentive (the imposition of substantial easement rates) to get these ugly lines off the landscape and under the street.

This work would be the right time to then put other services and the capacity for future services into the ground in a conduit accessible to parties other than the current two (Telecom and the local electricity lines companies).

Undergrounding is a capital intensive and labour intensive activity that will benefit productivity and economic growth in the long term.

This could also apply to some extent to Transpower and the high-tension pylons esp. in urban areas. If they complain about, for example, a $1 billion cost to underground a section of transmission lines, the council could show them that the $10m overhead utility easement rates for that section each year is the alternative - at which point the company will probably ask the govt. to go 50/50 on an undergrounding the actual cost of which will probably work out to much less than what they claimed the estimate was.

Literally rate them into the ground.


At 1/3/09 3:56 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I love the idea of reducing the length of the workday, as opposed to giving another day off.
Giving parents time to spend with their children could help to solve so many of the problems we have in society at the moment.
It would also allow for a spread in the peak traffic times to reduce congestion.

At 1/3/09 9:01 pm, Blogger peterquixote said...

Can some one explain to me the value of reducing work hours during the
impending depression
I don't get it, sounds like intellectual garbage to me.


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