A Factory in the Countryside Run on Part-time Jobs?


It has often been observed that many a new revolutionary idea, no matter how true it turns out to be, looks completely crazy at first. In this post I shall make the case that the idea of factories in the countryside run on part-time jobs falls into that category. Indeed, I shall go further and argue that factories of this new type will come to be seen, not only as the final stage in the evolution of capitalism, but as the practical fulfillment of the socialist ideal.

But to see why this might be so, we must first understand why factories of this new type, provided they pay their employees in direct proportion to their output, can be expected to out compete conventional factories employing full-time workers. There are two reasons for believing that this will be true:

First, from a purely physiological point of view, part-time workers can work faster than full-time workers—just as in track-and-field the short-distance runners always run faster than the long-distance runners.

And second, because manufacturers will be free to offer their employees slightly fewer hours on the job each week than they might voluntarily prefer.

Putting these two facts together, and given that these part-time employees are to be paid in proportion to their output, it follows that they will be motivated to exert themselves to the maximum degree possible. The result will not only be higher hourly earnings for the workers involved, but higher rates of return on the capital invested in any given manufacturing facility as it churns out more product in any given period of time.

Of course, for this idea to work it will be necessary that the people working in these factories have something useful to do with all their spare time. That’s why the factories must be located in rural areas where land is cheap and families will have room as well as time to build and maintain their own houses, cultivate small gardens, cook and care for their children and grandchildren, and pursue hobbies and other outside interests, much as Marx fantasized would be the case under socialism.

To illustrate this theory, let me tell you a story about what happened when, years ago, I put this idea into practice in my own small landscaping company in rural Appalachia. The first thing I saw was an immediate forty percent rise in output per man hour, a rise that continued unabated for the next twenty years. My company’s annual revenues and profit likewise increased by forty percent.

But this is only part of the story.

Read the rest of this piece at The New Country Town.

Luke Lea is the author of A Part-time Job in the Country: Notes Toward a New Way of Life in America.

Photo: USDA via Flickr in Public Domain.