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The latest attempt at conservation by the Philippine government here is the implementation of a 4 day work week for all government agencies.  Private industries are expected to follow suit of the government’s lead.  Their reasoning is that a great deal of money will be saved by the average employee, mainly in commuting costs, personal grooming, and lunches.  Of course, the Philippine government avoids addressing the many downsides.  First, since hours will be extended, more employees will need to commute home after dark.  Everyone knows that most muggings and rape on girls occur under the cover of darkness.  My fear is that muggers will have a whole new playground in which to operate.  The second problem I have with an extended work period is the fatigue factor.  In my experience, the longer you make an employee work, the more mistakes they make.  This is especially true at the end of the shift.  So if the production of an employee drops off substantially after 6 hours, we now have 4 hours of “garbage time” instead of the previous 2 hours.  The final point, and probably the best argument against a 4 day work week is that it will hurt the Philippines economy.  I can’t imagine the pain the convenience stores and diners that operate in Makati would immediately feel, especially the ones who can barely survive on a 5 day work week.  Rent is very high next to busy government agencies, justified only by the steady flow of potential customers taking a break from their errands.  By lowering the number of days that government agencies can remain open, you have effectively cut 20% of their sales.  After bills have been paid, this 20% gross reduction could effectively cut their net profit by more than 50%.  An owner of a convenience store whose profit was Php25,000 per month will likely fall to Php12,000 or less.  Suddenly the justification of working long and hard hours of going into business for oneself has been made null and void.  This is not to mention a return on investment that goes from 3 to 6 years.  Why would they want to open a business in the Philippines and create jobs for the Philippine economy if they can get the same return for less risk in a bank time deposit?

The circulation of money in the economy is what creates wealth for a society.  If nobody is spending their money as consumers, an economy that is barely hanging on will now be at the risk of collapse.  But then again, perhaps it could be a good thing for those people who own liquor stores.  Drinking would now start at 5 pm on Thursdays and end 2 days later instead of one day later.  In other words, if this concept catches on with the private industry as well, I hope that everyone starts selling their energy stocks and starts buying shares in San Miguel.  It is my opinion that their sales will be up probably 20% in the next quarter alone.  Finally, let’s not forget the police…we’ll need a lot more of them too to deal with all of the additional alcohol induced crime.  My tip?  Invest in San Miguel and security companies.

April 5th, 2005

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