Gospel of Consumption(7 posts)
Great article. It's interesting to see how people's concerns over longer work weeks are basically the same today as they were half a century ago, as well as in the 1800s.
The shorter work week is akin to ERE in a sense, since both require giving up some income, and some consumption, in order to have more free time. Many people throughout history have recognized the fact that having more free time while having less money (but still enough to meet all your needs) makes for more well rounded and happier people.
One should also note that, as mentioned in the article, a shorter work week helps reduce unemployment. ER(E) does the same thing in a way, which is a good response to anyone criticizing the lifestyle.
I enjoyed the article as well. I think the article skews a little bit to the positive with the Kellogg case study... saying the workers were all but too happy to scale back to 6 hour days... what I think they neglect to highlight was that they knew the alternative was layoffs, which could have led to even more layoffs, as the plant was such a huge part of the local economy. I believe it was during the Great Depression that this all happened? Although kudos to Kellogg's for even offering that as an option.
What is interesting is, after they were forced into fewer hours, they found that their qualify of life increased, but I don't believe many foresaw that increase.
I wonder, if the offer was made in a different economic climate (such as today), if people would have been willing to take the shorter work week option? Many ERE types likely would, but I don't think the average person would. It would likely need to be legislated in some fashion, either from corporate leadership, or from the government, and I think we are quite far away from that happening at the moment, sadly enough.
an sadly ironic twist in the present day: more and more jobs are posted with 30/32/34-hour weeks... to avoid providing health benefits.
maybe these callous skinflints are unknowingly ushering in a future society of reduced consumption and increased civic participation...
The article claims that we could cut back from the standard forty-hour week to 5.3 hours per day if we wanted to consume as we did in 1991 or 2.7 hours if we wanted to consume as we did in 1948. Well, I just crunched the numbers and found out that I meet all my living expenses in the first 2 hours of work per day, though granted that is for a single person household. But still, I'm typing this on my flat-screen TV!?
Edit: blogged at http://www.shouldhavebeenacowboy.com
I have studied that Kellogg article in the past. It goes pretty well with the desires of today to downsize and reduce spending, and live a simpler life with more free time. Sort of experiencing "part time retirement". What is wrong at this time in history is simply people trying to make ends meet can't afford a cut in pay. These are the one who have no idea of downsizing or reduced spending lifestyles. These have bought the grandioso big houses and two cars and all the other things listed in many posts on this forum. These people need "more" hours, not less. These are the people who will soon be living in their car if things don't get better, or at least if they don't get smarter and wake up and realize the US of A is not the all encompassing utopia of palaces for everyone that they think it must surely be.
Of late, I am of the opinion that the attitudes of people living today would be too dangerous to others if there was actually more free time. Like the nut job who shot up his daughter's laptop this week with his .45 colt pistol. What will he do if he loses his job, or has to take a cut?
No, it is better to keep "some" people hard at work for long hours to keep them out of trouble. Can't have them free to sit on the couch or lazyboy smoking weed or chugging beers with a .45 in their hands. The world is not able to reason.
When I started reading it, I instantly thought "Edward Bernays", who then appeared later in the article. If you've never read "Propaganda" (pub. 1928), its worth a read:
It's how the consumer culture was really built.
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