“ Back in 1930, renowned economist John Maynard Keynes predicted technological advancements would mean we would all eventually work just 15 hours a week. That same year, evolutionary biologist Julian Huxley predicted the two-day work week. Both men warned that someday, we would have so much leisure time, we would be bored out of our minds.”
Can you imagine that? 15 hours per week! Bored out of your mind!
What the hell happened?!
According to a recent article in CNN/Money – we all got really greedy!
“These great thinkers were right about one thing. Technological progress has made workers more productive than ever before.
Yet rather than cutting the work week gradually over time (like the Europeans did), productivity gains have fueled a consumerism boom in the United States. So instead of taking time off, Americans are just buying much more stuff.
Benjamin Hunnicutt, a historian at the University of Iowa, calls the shorter workweek the “forgotten American dream.”
In most cases, fewer hours mean workers might have to take a pay cut, and would not be able to buy as much. But in exchange, they’ll get more free time, save on child care costs and likely be healthier and happier in general.
For example, Dutch workers are on par with American workers in terms of productivity per hour. They pay higher taxes and earn less than Americans. But on average, they work roughly 11 weeks less than their American counterparts each year, have access to government-funded health care, pay little or nothing for a college education, and have far more leisure time than the American.
When UNICEF recently ranked 21 industrialized nations by well-being for children, Netherlands was on top and the United States was near the bottom, in 20th place.Guess who also ranked happier with life overall? The Dutch worker.But Americans still labor on.
“The idea that we can grow our economies forever and ensure everyone a full-time job is a myth,” Hunnicutt said. “We have to deliberately choose to work less and therefore buy less.”
So, are you willing to go with less, so you can work less? I think most people would say – “No.” I see it far to often, especially in the boom or bust economy of Michigan’s Auto Industry, when times are great and overtime is being worked by all – you see the new cars, the summer cottages being bought, etc. People work more, to accumulate more, with the thinking at some point they’ll be able to stop and enjoy it all. Then one day you look up and realize, you have to keep working to keep all that you’ve accumulated. Consumerism is a bitch!
I wonder what life would be like if I had less. A number of years ago my family relocated and we were between houses and staying in corporate apartment – all we had was our cars and some clothes. My wife and I look back at how easy of a life that was! No yard to mow, no house to constantly take care of, no keeping up with the Jones. We took the kids to parks, we did more as a family, we were never happier, and we had less. There’s something to say for less…