More Insane Talk about Shortening the Work Week

If you can live on a part-time job, go do that. No one is stopping you.

But the answer to Newser’s headline question is easy. “When Did Americans Stop Dreaming of Leisure Time?

The answer: When we realized we are poor and times are hard.


Newser was publicizing this editorial by Matt Novak: “The Late Great American Promise of Less Work.”

To his credit, Novak doesn’t tie his thesis to Obamacare. But it is still escapist fantasy.

You might pick up a clue when Novak starts complaining that life isn’t like what George Jetson got to experience.

Once a key component of the American Dream, George Jetson’s button-pushing 3-hour workday has been unceremoniously tossed to the gutter in favor of a half century of increasingly dystopian futures.

Right. And my family doesn’t have a robot maid or a flying car either. Falling short of a cartoon does not count as a sin. And it was never part of the American Dream.

Later, Novak gets more serious and invokes the authority of Walter Cronkite and others.

What if we had a sixteen-hour work week? Novak laughs off the increasing suicide rate some thought we would have to deal with. But should he? Does increased leisure activity mean better health—physical or mental? It might if you made exercise and sports a hobby. But it may just lead to health problems. As the great 93-year-old Charles Euger (see video below) points out, that retirement may be what is causing so many health problems among the aging.

The aged suffer from inactivity, poor diet, overweight and diabetes, etc, just as the general population does. But in addition, this is severely compounded by retirement.  

Retirement is voluntary or involuntary unemployment for up to 30 years!

We know that unemployment causes chronic disease and mental problems, as well as poor health, disability, more medical consultations, more medication and more hospital admissions. 

Work on the other hand is therapeutic, good for health and is an intrinsic part of improving and maintaining health.

Work is a determinant of self worth, family esteem, identity, and standing in the community. In retirement, the physical energy expenditure for occupation is removed, and the pensioner is left with little or no physical or mental activity. 

Remember, inactivity kills!

Now perhaps working part time is not as unhealthy as unemployment. But we should be wary of the possibility that less work could lead to some health problems. There is no basis for simply assuming we will all be happier working part time.

Novak’s basic thesis is that we ought to copy Europe by legislating more time off and more vacation time. Well, since Europe isn’t an economic sinkhole about to implode, I guess we should copy everything they do.

Socialist Europe is obviously not a model for anything except economic self-destruction.

While we all experience times when we could use time off (not just for leisure, typically), we should realize that getting our government to increase spending and debt is suicidal. Likewise, a law requiring more paid time off will simply cause many businesses to close.

A few might benefit, but many will be unemployed—enjoying “leisure” full time.

As to why wages have been stagnant, Novak needs to research the effect of the Federal Reserve system and fiat money which constantly shifts wealth up to the superwealthy.