The Thirty Hour Work Week is Long Overdue
And pay increases too. They are only a century late.
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In 1930, economist John Maynard Keynes predicted that by this century, work weeks would be reduced to fifteen hours per week and leisure time would be in abundance. In his time, the work week was about fifty hours per week.
With all of the advancements in technology, why have we only seen a ten-hour reduction in the work week in almost a century? We already know that over working has an impact on our health and does not increase productivity.
For most Americans, the reason is inequality. The prosperity is here, but the working class doesn’t see nearly as much of it as the wealthy.
For others, work has become their identity, their religion. It is where they find meaning, purpose and a community.
Whichever camp you may align yourself with, those with the money make the rules. They keep us working, we do what we have to do just to keep up.
Guess what. Trickle-down economics doesn’t work. Wealthy people do not put more money into their underling’s pay. They don’t spend it to boost the economy. They invest it. They tax shelter it. As long as they can get away with paying their workers a barely livable wage, they will. As long as they can siphon more hours out of their workers by placing a carrot at the top of the company ladder, they will.
The average American needs two things; more time and more money. Working two jobs to earn enough money is not a solution. Employers should not be the steward of a person’s time. Each person should have the freedom to steward their own time. But in this economy, it often isn’t possible.
Photo byChristian Erfurton Unsplash
If the populace had autonomy with more free time we may see a surge in the emergence of thought leaders, inventors, authors and artists in our society. Instead, we produce stress, anxiety, mental disorders and burn out.
We know what goes on with time in the office (or other work environment). How many hours a day do you feel like just a “butt in a seat”? How many hours do you spend chatting or on social network sites? Lets be honest, if employees worked six hours instead of eight, productivity would not see a hit.
But stress levels would go down.
Home life would be happier.
Mental health issues would decline.
Physical health would improve.
More jobs would open up to combat unemployment.
Concerns regarding the replacement of jobs by technology may be alleviated
Parents wouldn’t need before and after care for school aged children.
Robert Owen’s 1817 slogan; “”Eight hours labour, eight hours recreation, eight hours rest,” is two centuries old now. Two centuries.
What happened to technologicsl progress benefiting all of humanity? Since 1914, the advances in computer science alone should have substantailly decreased the time required to perform manual tasks. Why have we not seen a reduction in work hours or a more substantial increase in the economic success of all citizens?
How can either political party claim to support “American Family Values” when we are the only country which does not provide maternal or paternal leave?
Alright listen up “leaders” in America (are there any good ones out there? Please stand up to be recognized), here is what this society needs;
An improved, wholistic and humane education system to produce a thoughtful, compassionate and informed electorate.
An improved, wholistic and humane workplace model to maintain a thoughtful, compassionate and informed electorate.
The workplace model should include:
· A reduction in workweek hours from 40 to 30 (approximately 6-hour work days),
· An increase in wages of at least 20% across all industries and positions,
· Paid maternal leave of 24 weeks per child,
· Paid paternal leave of 24 weeks per child,
· High quality healthcare as a human right for all,
· Universal Basic Income of $1,000 per citizen. Don’t balk. We know there is enough money out there. With a safety net like this, women would not be trapped in abusive situations, crime would decrease and the economy would see a huge boost. I am sure the company profit margins and multi-million dollar CEO salaries can take the hit.
· College education for all citizens through their choice of a trade school or a Bachelor’s degree.
Between the insane amounts of money horded by the wealthy and the abhorrent amounts of money we spend on the Department of Defense, we can make this happen. We can become a more progressive, more humane society.
Who will lead the charge?
And can we please NOT choose a white male?
Photo by Joanna Nix-Walkup on Unsplash