Sunday, April 03, 2005

A Brief History of Time Off

In the '60s, social scientists were predicting that the U.S. would face the major social problem of too much leisure time by the year 2000. The Senate was predicting a 14-hour work week by then, with seven to ten weeks of vacation a year.

We got the technology— and a near doubling of hourly worker productivity. But employers, not workers, have gotten the benefits. All the leisure we might have has been pick-pocketed by the “invisible hand” of the free market and the sleight-of-hand of “trickle-down” (or more aptly, “gush up”) economics.

Today, Americans are actually working longer hours than they were in 1970; working nine weeks more than western Europeans and even more than the famously workaholic Japanese.

The result is a multi-faceted disaster. Overwork and time-stress have left Americans little time for good nutrition or exercise, putting us at risk for diabetes, heart disease, and other ailments. Millions suffer from sleep deprivation.

Lack of time for social bonding also weakens our mental, civic, and political health. American politicians make constant appeals to “family values,” but ignore the fact that the percentage of American families who regularly eat dinner together or take vacations together has declined by one-third.

Robert Putnam (“Bowling Alone”) largely blames TV for the time loss, but forgets that TV viewing is highest in countries with the longest work hours—the U.S. and Japan—and lowest in countries such as the Netherlands, which has much shorter work hours.

TV is the perfect passive “activity” for weary workers. Political participation requires, above all, time—and the mental energy—to understand the issues; one cannot take informed action without time to study the issues.

For more than a century, working people around the world understood that leisure time was as important to life as material goods. Juliet Stuart Poyntz, education director of the Ladies International Garment Workers Union, declared that what employees wanted most of all was “time to be human.”

“Workers,” she observed, “have declared that their lives are not to be bartered at any price.” “No wage, no matter how high,” she continued, was more important than the time that workers needed to be full human beings. But what would not be bartered, could, unfortunately, be stolen.

This short edit by Fintan Dunne
Read the full length original


Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's ludicrous to blame employers in general when the biggest thief of productivity gains are the politically-connected super-rich--those who benefit from the legal counterfeiting practiced by the Federal Reserve. 99.9% of Americans would benefit from a return to the gold standard.

6:57 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What an off topic and myopic comment, Mr. Patriot Movement, Chicken Little. Its only common sense that those who have the extra income should invest in precious metals. If your "broker/short wave radio host" is not giving you this advice, fire him.

The bigger issues regarding monetary standards are ... why not diamonds? What about cocaine or heroin? Just as many dead bodies float to the surface with these options as with gold??? Do a little research in your spare time or maybe you just need a little time off!

8:49 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

So you don't think money supply growth causes inflation?

4:28 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Fiat currency has always been a bad idea,

Thomas Jefferson is reputed to have said that, “If the American people ever allow private banks to control the issue of their money, first by inflation and then by deflation, the banks and corporations that will grow up around them will deprive the people of their property until their children will wake up homeless on the continent their fathers conquered.”

So thats what we have now, how do you propose we undo this thing?

11:09 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Slash government spending. Balance the budget. Define the dollar as worth 1/425 of an ounce of gold.

The only parties I know of that would do this are the Libertarian and Constitution parties. Correct me if I'm wrong.

7:25 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The ideas are basic and good ... but the only way to control government spending is to immediately stop the empire building wars going on in the world. As far as the budget goes, without seriously mandating a balanced budget at the end of each fiscal year, it will never fly. And yes I know that it is already mandated but the pork barrel experts in Washington have figured out how to defeat it.

Is there enough gold in Ft. Knox to back the dollar properly? Or has it been hoarded to foreign countries and would require us to buy it back at some premium over strike price? I can't answer that question myself ... any experts out there? Remember that the Euro has the advantage of being 20% backed by gold at this time.

8:36 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Defense" obviously needs to be slashed radically. That's Libertarianism 101.

The politicians probably won't voluntarily cut spending, but reality will eventually catch up with them. It's not looking good for the U.S. government. There are, as you know, plenty of reasons for foreigners to diversify out of dollar assets into those of other currencies, thereby curbing our government's long term ability to borrow.

You don't need a lot of gold on hand to implement a gold standard; you just have to set the redemption rate at a level you can afford to maintain.

I guess the bottom line about the gold standard is that the establishment has successfully kept the issue out of public debate, so people just accept the fiat currency as a fact of life.

9:14 pm  

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