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The Ambivalence of Disposable Time: The Source and Remedy of the National Difficulties at 200 (pdf)

Contributions to Political Economy, Volume 40, Issue 1, June 2021, Pages 80–90, https://doi.org/10.1093/cpe/bzab005

Published in 1821, The Source and Remedy of the National Difficulties was an important influence on Marx's analysis of "disposable time" in a section of his Grundrisse notebooks known as the "fragment on machines." That analysis has inspired rethinking of Marx's mature work by authors ranging from Raniero Panzieri, Antonio Negri, and Paolo Virno to Moishe Postone, yet those re-evaluations do not account for the contribution of the 1821 pamphlet. This article examines the neglect of the pamphlet and offers suggestions about what could be gained by attention to this foundational text.

Disposable time as a common-pool resource (pdf)

Unpublished draft

About a decade ago, I wrote a short piece about "labour power as a common-pool resource" that got picked up by Michel Bauwens of the P2P Foundation and led to me being invited to a conference on the commons in Berlin put on by the Heinrich Böll Foundation. I would now like to amend that to regard disposable time as the common-pool resource in question. Much of my original rationale applies as well or better to the new formulation.

Time on the Ledger: Social Accounting for the Good Society (pdf)

Toward a Good Society in the Twenty-First Century, Editors: Karagiannis, N., Marangos, J., 2013

Not only can employment be regarded as yet another common-pool resource among others, but it can also be argued that it is the common pool resource par excellance — the paragon that stands as the single most far-reaching and democratically vital instance of a common-pool resource. Donald Stabile to something in this vein when he noted that "human labor is also the primary constituent of the society whose values must be part of any criterion of social evaluation. The appropriate starting point in any policy directed at social costs is with those imposed on labor."

Why Economists Dislike a Lump of Labor

Review of Social Economy Volume 65, 2007 - Issue 3, Pages 279-291

The lump-of-labor fallacy has been called one of the 'best known fallacies in economics.' It is widely cited in disparagement of policies for reducing the standard hours of work, yet the authenticity of the fallacy claim is questionable, and explanations of it are inconsistent and contradictory. This article discusses recent occurrences of the fallacy claim and investigates anomalies in the claim and its history. S.J. Chapman’s coherent and formerly highly regarded theory of the hours of labor is reviewed, and it is shown how that theory could lend credence to the job-creating potentiality of shorter working time policies. It concludes that substituting a dubious fallacy claim for an authentic economic theory may have obstructed fruitful dialogue about working time and the appropriate policies for regulating it.

The 'Lump of Labor' Case Against Worksharing: Populist fallacy or marginalist throwback? (pdf)

Working Time: International trends, theory, and policy perspectives, Edited By Deborah M. Figart, Lonnie Golden, 2001

This chapter examines the sources of the lump-of-labor claim and its role in scholarly and public policy debates regarding work-sharing . The character of the lump-of-labor case against work-sharing may be summed up by contrasting mainstream economists' longstanding trepidations toward reducing the hours of work with their usually confident embrace of other labor-saving innovations, such as computers, machinery or power technology. Workable policy and voluntary responses to the regime of high fixed costs and long hours of work can be developed, but the stigma of a lump-of-labor fallacy discourages serious consideration of those options by policy makers. The lump-of-labor case against shorter work time emerged as a hodgepodge of borrowed working-class slang, middle-class prejudice and archaic economic doctrine. The claim of a lump-of-labor fallacy is an unwarranted rationalization that obstructs serious discussion of the benefits of shortening work time.

The Hours of Labour and the Problem of Social Cost (pdf)

Marshall Studies Bulletin, Volume 12, 2011

A narrative ellipsis… haunts discussion of the problem of social cost and contemporary labour economics in a way that few acknowledged sources could hope to. This ellipsis is not simply an absence of influence but an odd sort of semi-presence that leaves out precisely the most salient details. A. C. Pigou left out explicit credit to S. J. Chapman for his theory of the hours of labour. The Pigouvian tradition, and especially Ronald Coase's critique of that tradition, elided the key part of Pigou's welfare economics that relied on Chapman's theory.

Missing: the Strange Disappearance of S. J. Chapman’s Theory of the Hours of Labour (pdf)

SSRN, 2008

Sydney J. Chapman’s theory of the hours of labour, published in 1909 in The Economic Journal, was acknowledged as authoritative by the leading economists of the day. It provided important insights into the prospects for market rationality with respect to work time arrangements and hinted at a profound immanent critique of economists’ excessive concern with external wealth. Chapman’s theory was consigned to obscurity by mathematical analyses that reverted heedlessly to outdated and naïve assumptions about the connection between hours and output. The centenary of the theory’s publication offers an occasion to reconsider what has been lost by economists’ neglect of Chapman’s theory.

Jobs, Liberty and the Bottom Line (pdf)

Unpublished manuscript, 2010

The first chapter of this book presented the lesson of an historical struggle of a community of workers for the good object of more free time. Two lessons from that history stand out and bear reflecting upon. First, a powerful movement for progress can emerge with surprising suddenness and call upon remarkable capabilities from the participants. Second, a determined and unified multitude can achieve victory almost as suddenly as the emergence of the struggle itself, even in the face of great adversity.

A Certain Quantity of Work to be Done (pdf)

Unpublished manuscript, August 2018

The lump-of-labor fallacy's alleged -- albeit unsubstantiated -- assumption of a "fixed amount of work to be done" rewords a staple of 19th century classical political economy, the "certain quantity of work to be done" determined by the number of workers who could be profitably set in motion by a previously-accumulated capital consisting of subsistence goods – a "wages fund." Who did or didn't say "a certain quantity of work" or "a fixed amount of work" is the key evidence for or against the fallacy claim and, consequently, the theodicy claim.