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                           What Politicians and Other Notables Have Said of this Idea


“Dear Mr. McGaughey:

I cannot possibly answer your letter in full. But let me only record my frank opinion that it is based on a fallacy ...

It is not desirable, in my opinion, to enforce a shorter work week. The type of proposal you make is one that always comes up whenever there is temporary periods of unemployment. It was a very popular proposal in the 1930s during the Great Depression. It was then argued that there was simply not enough work to go around, and the thing to do was to share work by reducing the work week. If you compare the total output of this country now to what it was in the 30s, it is clear that that was wrong then. I believe it is wrong now. Such a solution is a make work solution rather than a solution which opens up wider opportunities for everybody.

I share your objective, so I am sorry to have to disagree with your prescription. Thank you for writing to me ..”

Milton Friedman, Professor of Economics, University of Chicago, January 14, 1972


  “Dear Mr. McGaughey:

Thank you for your thoughtful April 24 letter on full employment ...

I believe your proposal for regulating hours as a technique for dealing with unemployment is a good one. I have received this suggestion from other people in the course of Joint Economic Committee hearings around the country and have asked the Committee staff to investigate its feasibility. They are doing that at the present time and we may well want to propose something in this area in the future.”

Sen. Hubert H. Humphrey of Minnesota, chairman of the Joint Economic Committee, May 10, 1976



“Dear Mr. McGaughey:

Thank you for sharing with me a few of your ideas regarding the possibility of alleviating our current unemployment troubles by instituting a shortened workweek. I found your comments and attached articles quote interesting.

As you may know, I am holding hearings in the Senate Finance Committee to study and define our employment difficulties ... During this process, it is helpful to have the benefit of your views on this important matter. We will be, needless to say, paying careful attention to proposals that offer credible, long-term solutions to reaching our nation’s goal of full employment in future years. I will certainly keep your suggestions in mind and i appreciate your consideration in taking the time to write.”

Senator Bob Dole of Kansas, February 18, 1983

“Dear Colleague:

On March 2, 1983, I introduced the Fair Labor Standards Amendments of 1983 (H.R. 1784), and I welcome your cosponsorship. The Bill would reduce the standard work week over an 8-year period from 40 to 32 hours, raise overtime pay from one and one-half times to two times the regular rate of pay, and require the consent of employees in the scheduling of overtime work.

Reduced work time as a means to curb unemployment and create a large number of new jobs has been standard practice in several European nations. In the U.S. the standard work week has remained frozen for over 40 years, despite the fact that in the decades prior to the adoption of the 40-hour week in 1938, continuous reduction in work time facilitated an expanding labor force, promoted productivity growth, and boosted income standards ...

Overshadowing particular business cycles is a long developing structural change in the nature of production and work itself. We stand on the threshold a new technological economy in both manufacturing and services that can substantially reduce the labor input...”

Rep. John Conyers of Michigan, March 3, 1983



“Dear William:

Just a brief note to let you know how much I appreciate your sharing your views. I would be interested in receiving more information on a shorter work week. Please stay in touch.”

Gov. Bill Clinton, Clinton for President, October 9, 1991


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