The exciting SLAVE technology of the 21st century
There can be no doubt the key to success in the 21st century economy is innovation, creativity, competitiveness, and productivity. Each country in this dynamic “flat” new world is under great pressure to maximize the output and cost productivity of its human capital. While labor saving technology is an important aspect in achieving this goal, we mustn’t lose sight of the vast opportunities that exist from innovative and creative policies in the state management of human resources. This is a rapidly growing field of study often referred to as “State Labor and Value Enhancement” or SLAVE. Let’s look at a few recent trends.
The human life span has increased over the past few decades and innovative leaders throughout the world are using that as an excuse to push back the retirement age. This, of course, is an excellent idea but the more creative aren’t stopping there. If we are indeed a healthier population, they say, why should we only work five days per week? The case for extending the work week is exactly the same and just as strong as the case for extending the retirement age. The five day week was established at a time when the working population was far less healthy than today and it would seem only fair that workers be asked to increase the work week accordingly. And, for that matter, the work day as well. Eight hours seems ludicrously short, they note, in light of the increased health of the population and considering that much of the “third world” competition is working 16 or more hours.
The United States is often praised as being the “first world” leader in SLAVE technology and it deserves much credit, having substantially lower levels of unproductive vacation, sick time, and benefits than other comparable countries. But competition is on the rise as other states are exploring innovative new strategies. Some of the ideas, actually, are so state of the art they could end up being the breakthrough technology of the 21st century. Spain is a particular leader in this field. They are developing a technology which completely eliminates the wage! Many workers, it’s been found, are willing to continue working for extended periods without pay.
Charo Garcia scrubs toilets for a living and used to do it with a smile. She sweeps, mops and does other dirty work at a public high school, proud to create a better atmosphere for rowdy teens to learn.
“I clean as if they were my own,” said Garcia, who has a 15-year-old son. There’s one problem: Garcia has not been paid for four months.
Garcia’s plight is shared across Spain: legions of blue-collar workers, from gardeners to bricklayers, are working for months without pay as employers struggle to stay afloat in an economy shaking off recession, saddled with colossal debts, and with slim prospects for any major improvement soon.
People like Garcia are caught in a trap: If they quit rather than wait to be laid off, they lose entitlement to unemployment benefits. And if they do bail out, there’s a monster awaiting them — a 21 percent jobless rate.
“There are a lot of people getting up in the morning and going to work and not getting paid,” said Gayle Allard, a labor market expert at IE Business School in Madrid.
It’s a phenomenon seen in eastern Europe as well, with workers in countries like Serbia, Bosnia, and Croatia waiting months, in some cases years, for a paycheck from cash-strapped employers.
The article notes that hens are better off than the workers, an indication of the tremendous potential of this technology. Imagine if the cost of human capital could be reduced to that of hen capital! And, while some within the flock of human capital may express some understandable frustration, Spanish SLAVE experts happily note that there’s a general acceptance as long as everyone’s in the same “boat”.
At the farm, co-workers occasionally blow up at each other, all out of the frustration of working without pay.
“If someone loses it, we tell him ‘calm down, relax. We’re all in the same boat,’” Garcia said.
It’s self evident that if Spain could expand this exciting technology throughout the whole country, it would become the next competitive powerhouse. There are of course potential limits as it could lead to what Paul Krugman calls a “liquidity trap”. As with interest rates, it’s difficult to reduce the wage below zero. Some SLAVE experts, though, question whether the zero lower bound need hold given the possibility of offering the humans the opportunity to borrow from the central bank in return for extra work.
That’s it for now. I think it’s self evident that the field of SLAVE technology is one of the most interesting developments in our new 21st century world. We’ll try to keep you posted on this site.