"Because Leisure Breeds Radicalism... We Oppose It."
May 22, 2013 9:36 AM   Subscribe

Why we're not allowed to work less. Machinery offers us an opportunity to work less, an opportunity that as a society we have chosen not to take -- by 2000 the average couple with kids worked 500 hours a year more than in 1979. This is the story of how the a few companies like Kellogg's at first bucked the trend, and the massive propaganda campaign against shorter hours that's nearly won it's battle to make capitalism synonymous with the “American Way.”
posted by blankdawn (137 comments total) 90 users marked this as a favorite
 
*waves a tiny american flag made in bangladesh, wipes tear from eye*
posted by entropicamericana at 9:40 AM on May 22, 2013 [7 favorites]


For many years "I don't work Fridays" was my stock answer to the "What's your biggest weakness?" trick question in interviews.
posted by 256 at 9:45 AM on May 22, 2013 [23 favorites]


I am at work for forty hours a week. I spend at least half that time doing things like posting about socialism.
posted by No Robots at 9:48 AM on May 22, 2013 [56 favorites]


Marx wept.
posted by asnider at 9:49 AM on May 22, 2013 [2 favorites]


I am at work for forty hours a week. I spend at least half that time doing things like posting about socialism.

You're in Canada, that's to be expected.
posted by entropicamericana at 9:51 AM on May 22, 2013 [10 favorites]


Mix in healthcare being tied to jobs for extra happy funtimes!
posted by Artw at 9:51 AM on May 22, 2013 [14 favorites]


It's interesting how information technology has facilitated staying connected even when not at work, setting up a deeper relationship between worker and company. At a certain tech company in Seattle, developers and managers take turns wearing a pager to be 'on-call' 24 hours a day. If you miss your page, it gets bumped up to progressively higher levels. It's one of the biggest complaints about the job, adding a great deal of stress and worry to the position, but more to the point, it breeds an expectation of an employee's psychological obligation to the employer.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 9:53 AM on May 22, 2013 [26 favorites]


And for the rest of us we get to not work at all. A proud colonel of the reserve labor army salutes you oh scions of capital.
posted by ishrinkmajeans at 9:56 AM on May 22, 2013 [14 favorites]


I think part of the problem (not kidding) is that those of us empowered to push for change have free, unfiltered internet at work.
posted by 2bucksplus at 10:01 AM on May 22, 2013 [10 favorites]


Blazecock Pileon: "It's interesting how information technology has facilitated staying connected even when not at work, setting up a deeper relationship between worker and company.... it breeds an expectation of an employee's psychological obligation to the employer."

Well, yeah, if you're not a team player, we don't want you on our team! You selfish jerk.
posted by symbioid at 10:06 AM on May 22, 2013 [1 favorite]


I think part of the problem (not kidding) is that those of us empowered to push for change have free, unfiltered internet at work.

So use that tool to push for change, no?
posted by No Robots at 10:06 AM on May 22, 2013 [1 favorite]


2bucksplus, could you be implying that cute animal photos are the new opiate of the masses?
posted by C'est la D.C. at 10:06 AM on May 22, 2013 [4 favorites]


Leisure is, more properly, the basis of culture---if that culture breeds radicalism, the problem is with the culture and not with the leisure that gave rise to it.
posted by resurrexit at 10:06 AM on May 22, 2013 [6 favorites]


Leisure breeds radicalism? Really? I thought it bred contentment or something like that...
posted by Mister_A at 10:06 AM on May 22, 2013 [4 favorites]


unfiltered internet at work
At work?!? You poor glorious bastard. The firewall here blocks some very random things. For example: Reddit is allowed but Imgur is blocked. I can't begin to tell you the horror it is browing Reddit for weeks unaware of that fact.
posted by Blue_Villain at 10:06 AM on May 22, 2013 [3 favorites]


I think part of the problem (not kidding) is that those of us empowered to push for change have free, unfiltered internet at work.

Free, unfiltered Internet is the opiate of the masses?
posted by asnider at 10:07 AM on May 22, 2013 [4 favorites]


At work, Reddit's /r/shitredditsays is blocked, but a lot of the others aren't. minus.com is blocked but imgur.com is not. I don't know what this says about our head of IT.
posted by hellojed at 10:09 AM on May 22, 2013


At a certain tech company in Seattle, developers and managers take turns wearing a pager to be 'on-call' 24 hours a day.

That's not just tech companies. I work at a financial firm and our (pretty small) IT helpdesk staff has a rotation so that someone is on-call 24 hrs. a day in case an analyst or banker is working nights or weekends and can't get into her email or something. It's ludicrous.
posted by shakespeherian at 10:10 AM on May 22, 2013


It's interesting how information technology has facilitated staying connected even when not at work, setting up a deeper relationship between worker and company.... it breeds an expectation of an employee's psychological obligation to the employer.

People in my office sign up for this sort of connection voluntarily; it's so ingrained that you'll be checking your work e-mail at home that no one even stops to realize that they don't have to. I don't do it, because it's crazy, but my colleagues mostly do, despite working in an office with 1) no possibility of advancement and 2) basically no possibility of getting fired unless you get caught running a competing business out the office (which has happened a couple times).
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 10:10 AM on May 22, 2013 [2 favorites]


Free, unfiltered Internet is the opiate of the masses?

The masses in general and a good portion of radicals in particular, I'd guess. I don't know about you, but I've been way guilty of 'signing' something at change.org and thinking I did something.

Not only that, I've little doubt that a lot of people who would have caused large headaches in the past are causing smaller headaches or no headaches at all today because they're glued to one or more LCD monitors, clicking on 'information' and sending micropayments and signing petitions and feeling productive.
posted by Mooski at 10:11 AM on May 22, 2013 [5 favorites]


In my experience, the main reason Americans work crazy long hours is because other Americans work crazy long hours. There's really no reason for the average office to be regularly putting in 50-60 hour weeks – it's not efficient, and it creates more problems than it solves – but because typical corporate culture rewards an ass-in-chair work ethic, when Bob in the next cubicle gets in at 8am and leaves at 7pm, Bob's colleagues are more likely to do the same or risk seeming (and, importantly, feeling) lazier than Bob. Workaholism is infectious.

I have noticed this behavior manifests more often in people who are in a socioeconomic transition from "working class" to "middle class" – i.e., first in the family to go to college, first to have a professional job, etc. Working class ethic demands work be physically taxing. Since there are no set hours for white-collar labor, the result is armies of "Bobs" trying to apply a coal-miner's ethic to paperwork.
posted by deathpanels at 10:11 AM on May 22, 2013 [34 favorites]


Also I should mention something. We're not allowed to work less? Allowed by whom? The world sucks, no doubt, but it's not like there's anyone really holding the reins. No one controls anything and never has. It's much better to think an evil mastermind or cabal has a plan to make the world a terrible place than to realize there's no plan at all and it's just everyone for themselves. Same as it ever was.
posted by ishrinkmajeans at 10:12 AM on May 22, 2013 [3 favorites]


I think I've witnessed more discontent during my lifetime from people who've graciously been "allowed" to work less.
posted by 2N2222 at 10:13 AM on May 22, 2013


Ya know - I've been really really stressed lately at work, to the point of thinking about quitting (which is sad, because we're a lot like family here, but...) due to a bunch of new demands (from outside the company) plus the lack of technological, shall we say, adeptness, on the part of certain persons in the company combined with a desire on my part for LESS work not MORE, well it's a thought that's been crossing my mind.

Thing is, I'm the tech dude. I may not have a huge skill set, and things are hacked together, but it (mostly) works. This means, thankfully, that I can go to any goddamned website I want (so long as I have the free time to do so and am not being stared at like a corpse of a desert rat by a vulture, aka: management or ratfink coworkers). And casual. EVERYDAY (hello Voltron T-Shirt!)

At what point do the great freedoms and amenities that I as a special part of the labor aristocracy have become compromised by all the stressors of a different job? Maybe I shouldn't look a gift job in the mouth, and just accept that maybe it's not so bad here with my awesome internets.

'scuse me, gotta go waste away on icanhascheezburger while surfing in my lavishly decorated chinese internet den.
posted by symbioid at 10:13 AM on May 22, 2013


Also I should mention something. We're not allowed to work less? Allowed by whom? The world sucks, no doubt, but it's not like there's anyone really holding the reins. No one controls anything and never has. It's much better to think an evil mastermind of cabal has a plan to make the world a terrible place than to realize there's no plan at all and it's just everyone for themselves. Same as it ever was.

No one here has claimed this, I don't think. Are you claiming that a society doesn't exert pressure on its members to behave in certain ways?
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 10:15 AM on May 22, 2013 [6 favorites]


You know, it doesn't occur to me explicitly super-often, but THIS is the reason that I block ads, block tracking cookies, and watch TV shows on media (Amazon, Netflix) where they aren't riddled with commercials. Each little 30-second spot is another instruction to consume, consume, consume. And I know that, even if I can intellectually insist I won't buy Budweiser just because they told me to and I won't buy an Audi just because they told me to, there is a cumulative psychological impact to being told over and over and over again all day that consumption is what matters. God knows I can't entirely get out of the rat race; in my industry and my geographic area, your job still depends a lot on being willing to try a little harder and stay a bit longer at work. But every little bit of psychological energy saved helps. It helps remind me when I get up on a Saturday morning to go running or work in the garden or read a book, rather than jump online or go to the store.

Phew! Sorry if that seemed off topic, but it leaped to mind when I read this.
posted by Joey Buttafoucault at 10:15 AM on May 22, 2013 [38 favorites]


This was a really cool article. It honestly never occurred to me before reading this that what with machines and other inventions that a possible end goal would be to have more spare time. It's like I'm hardwired to want to buy these things to free up time so I can get more done, to make more money to buy more of these things. I'm not being facetious in stating this, it just seemed like that's what we do, and I guess I was never thought there should be an alternative. So simple, but wow. This just blew my mind.

I hadn't really thought about it, but going over my life, regardless of how little or how much money I've managed to make at work, it does appear I have always been able to get by and do most of what I wanted to do, hopelessly lust after what seems just out of reach (just one more bonus/raise!!!), and forlornly pine for what seems forever out of my grasp.

I can say that for whatever reason, the happiest I have ever been in my adult life was finally getting a roof back over my head, a steady paycheck, riding my bicycle to and from work, and discovering the sweet joy of adding frozen vegetables and an egg to Ramen.

Today, I have a home, a '57 Belair, gadgets galore, and the accompanying stress of the desire and "responsibility" which requires me to not only maintain these things but to continue to seek new things once their newness has worn thin.

I have always believe that true change can only be achieved by sacrifice of self.

How does one remove themselves from the cycle of consumption? It just seems so pervasive and ingrained?
posted by Debaser626 at 10:16 AM on May 22, 2013 [8 favorites]


God, it's great seeing these sorts of historical documents where it's all right out there on the surface.

One reason I don't get into arguments against "limousine liberals" or whatever is that I have a hunch that the fate of the world (or whatever overblown term for "everything" you prefer) hinges on the production of as many people as possible who have the resources to be fully human and who also have respect for the full humanity of others and a concomitant desire to help others claim the resources that they too deserve.

I guess a tl;dr version of that mouthful above is "leisure breeds radicalism."
posted by You Can't Tip a Buick at 10:16 AM on May 22, 2013 [5 favorites]




The extra leisure time shows up at the end of the working life, not during. There are more exact ways of doing this, but roughly, the average male born in 1960 had a life expectancy of 66.6 years. Assuming the male retired at 65, then they enjoyed a year and a half of leisure.

The average male born in 1980 had a life expectancy of 70 years, or 5 years of leisure enjoyment.
posted by otto42 at 10:17 AM on May 22, 2013 [2 favorites]


One reason why working hours haven't gone down (and which the FPP doesn't seem to address) is that large sectors of the economy (e.g., housing, education, and health care) haven't seen the kind of productivity increases that have driven down costs for most consumer goods. Some of that is due to policy--NIMBY rules, say, or lack of socialized medicine in the US--but some of that is due to factors that can't be controlled, such as an aging population. So TVs might be cheaper, but keeping a roof over your head and your kids healthy and educated is more expensive than ever.

I would also throw in the fetishization of work as a good thing in itself, as Peter Frase has discussed.
posted by Cash4Lead at 10:18 AM on May 22, 2013 [6 favorites]


The extra leisure time shows up at the end of the working life, not during. There are more exact ways of doing this, but roughly, the average male born in 1960 had a life expectancy of 66.6 years. Assuming the male retired at 65, then they enjoyed a year and a half of leisure.

The average male born in 1980 had a life expectancy of 70 years, or 5 years of leisure enjoyment.


Average age is misleading because so many more people died as children.

The average person at age 65 in 1960 lived another 12.8 years. Now it is 17.7. An increase but not so dramatic.
posted by ghharr at 10:22 AM on May 22, 2013 [12 favorites]


When "full" health insurance and other benefits are mandatory for 40-hour or above workers and potentially absent for anyone who "works less," the disincentives for working less aren't just about a reduction in overall salary or wages.

Would people who complain of not getting enough work be as bothered if they received the benefits of a 40-hour week, but scaled down in proportion to their reduced work hours?
posted by kewb at 10:23 AM on May 22, 2013 [7 favorites]


Odd little correlated anecdote about the 8 hour working day: When I first started with the company I am at now, my boss was about as laid back as could be. Work from your cube, work from home, start work at 10 AM, it didn't matter as long as the work got done. A couple promotions and sidemotions and switcharoos later my new boss has certain hours where my butt must be in my chair in my cube at work. She claims that somehow this embraces cooperation between my coworkers, who are also equally disgruntled at having been forced to occupy a certain space with no obvious advantages over another.

Truth be told, not only did I work longer hours under the old boss, but I was more productive and got more accomplished during those hours too. If I was tired I'd sleep late, and then work late too. The number of 10 and 12 hour days I put in then were huge, because it was me actually getting things accomplished. If I didn't feel like working I'd go home, maybe log on later when the creative juices were flowing. But now I wake up too early to fight traffic for tens of hours a week, only to sit and stare absentmindedly at a cubicle wall for an ungodly amount of hours just so that my boss feels better about my ability to communicate.
posted by Blue_Villain at 10:24 AM on May 22, 2013 [56 favorites]


The average male born in 1980 had a life expectancy of 70 years, or 5 years of leisure enjoyment.

Insert standard disclaimer regarding the skewing effects of infant mortality and disease treatment advances on average life expectancy.
posted by kewb at 10:25 AM on May 22, 2013 [3 favorites]


This article reminds me of a radio piece I heard a few weeks ago about 3D printers and what a radical shift the idea of being able to print objects on demand represents. Except, instead of talking about how awesome the hypothetical "post-scarcity" world that 3D printers represent, the entire thing was about people talking about how to ensure that corporations don't lose their grip on power in a world in which replicators are basically a thing.

Capitalism is so ingrained that even those working on systems that threaten it can't think outside of its box.

Instead of thinking: how can this thing make the world a better place, the question ends up being, "How can I ensure that this thing doesn't disrupt capitalism too much?"
posted by asnider at 10:25 AM on May 22, 2013 [12 favorites]


cute animal photos are the new opiate of the masses?

I CAN HAZ MEANZ OF PRODUCKSHUN?
posted by entropicamericana at 10:26 AM on May 22, 2013 [33 favorites]


At work, Reddit's /r/shitredditsays is blocked, but a lot of the others aren't.... I don't know what this says about our head of IT.

I don't know how the filters work, but could it be the word "shit" that's setting off the blocker?
posted by Hoopo at 10:27 AM on May 22, 2013


I've never been as productive as I was when I worked at home. Now I work in a cubical, and...
posted by blue_beetle at 10:28 AM on May 22, 2013


Take a look at the basic values behind the Kellogg 6hr work day experiment and (reported) outcome:
It was an attractive vision, and it worked. Not only did Kellogg prosper, but journalists from magazines such as Forbes and BusinessWeek reported that the great majority of company employees embraced the shorter workday. One reporter described “a lot of gardening and community beautification, athletics and hobbies . . . libraries well patronized and the mental background of these fortunate workers . . . becoming richer.”
vs. those instilled by the American Way propagandizing:
Consumption was not only the linchpin of the campaign; it was also recast in political terms. A campaign booklet put out by the J. Walter Thompson advertising agency told readers that under “private capitalism, the Consumer, the Citizen is boss,” and “he doesn’t have to wait for election day to vote or for the Court to convene before handing down his verdict. The consumer ‘votes’ each time he buys one article and rejects another.”
Communal and personal investment vs. appeal to the value of (ultimately petty) hierarchy.

The first one seems archaic, kind of black and white 50's PSA and a little Pollyannaish. The second is perfectly contemporary.
posted by postcommunism at 10:28 AM on May 22, 2013


...jobs still exist where you're NOT on call 24 hours a day and expected to work while sick in the hospital/on your honeymoon in a foreign country/attending a funeral?

I can't remember the last time I was able to go shopping or see my family, and some weeks it's easier to go all day without eating than get up if I want to leave work after just, say, 10 or 12 hours instead of 14. Luckily, the Internet provideth most things (thanks, Amazon prime!) that The Job hath taken away. And yes, it's all for The Insurance, though the work itself is sometimes quite fulfilling...

I have unfiltered internet at work and can wear a tube top, jorts and flip flops if I want to the office. That doesn't necessarily make being on call 24 hours a day for 5+ years any easier to endure - it just means that if this week I don't have time to wash my own underwear or go to the grocery store, the 24-hour CVS downstairs will (mostly) keep me alive until I get a break.

A good paycheck? Got it. Six weeks PTO each year? Got that, too. Now, if they'd just stop giving me other departments' responsibilities when people leave instead of hiring people to replace those who leave (WHY DO COMPANIES DO THIS???), I could actually TAKE those goddamned days off. I'm actually losing a day right now because I'm at max accrual. I don't have time or energy to be a good consumer anymore - much less become some kind of radical activist.
posted by Unicorn on the cob at 10:29 AM on May 22, 2013 [13 favorites]


The average male born in 1980 had a life expectancy of 70 years, or 5 years of leisure enjoyment.

Insert standard disclaimer regarding the skewing effects of infant mortality and disease treatment advances on average life expectancy.
posted by kewb at 10:25 AM on May 22 [+] [!]


...and not working on a factory line, or a farm, or in a coal mine, and instead working at a less physically demanding job compared to 1960.
posted by otto42 at 10:30 AM on May 22, 2013 [1 favorite]


No one here has claimed this, I don't think. Are you claiming that a society doesn't exert pressure on its members to behave in certain ways?

Eh, "why we're not allowed" implies a sort of parent figure that would do the allowing. Society may exert pressure on us to behave in certain ways but it's almost entirely the accident of history, resources and demographics. People think of socciety as this singular entity when its just a bunch of people ripping each other off in a common tongue.

Further, there's really no hope of changing anything in a meaningful way because it would be necessary to do so by bloodshed and the costs are just too high. Things are the way they are because of a highly stable equilibrium that takes our indignation into account. So basically "society" is a tragic joke with the poor as the punch line.
posted by ishrinkmajeans at 10:30 AM on May 22, 2013 [5 favorites]


So I'm away from my computer and can't dig up citations, but one of the reasons why Capital is still worthwhile to read is that Marx makes a very convincing argument for why labor-saving devices in a capitalist economy will naturally result in the lengthening of the work day, as the dead labor embedded in machines comes to be more important than the living labor working those machines. Basically, if your boss installs a several million dollar machine or whatever, he has an incentive to make that machine run as close to 24/7 as possible, to get value back out of that machine before it's lost to obsolescence.

Kellogg's experiment with four six hour shifts is interesting, but in most cases employers have found it more cost-effective to run workers in twelve or fourteen or sixteen hour shifts.
posted by You Can't Tip a Buick at 10:31 AM on May 22, 2013 [6 favorites]


could it be the word "shit" that's setting off the blocker?

I've loaded urls with the same string in it and they aren't blocked. It's probably good in the long run because I'd be absolutely exhausted from the moral outrage
posted by hellojed at 10:31 AM on May 22, 2013


It was this latter concern that led Charles Kettering, director of General Motors Research, to write a 1929 magazine article called “Keep the Consumer Dissatisfied.”
Whoa, whoa, whoa. Hold up. Charles Kettering was also the guy who put lead into gasoline and invented CFCs. Are you telling me he's also to blame for our toxic consumer culture?

At this point, are we certain that this guy wasn't some sadistic time-traveler out to ruin the 20th Century?
posted by aw_yiss at 10:31 AM on May 22, 2013 [38 favorites]


From the article: In other words, if as a society we made a collective decision to get by on the amount we produced and consumed seventeen years ago, we could cut back from the standard forty-hour week to 5.3 hours per day—or 2.7 hours if we were willing to return to the 1948 level. We were already the richest country on the planet in 1948 and most of the world has not yet caught up to where we were then.

This is often trotted out, thinking that we could get by with smaller houses, one or no cars, lose the dishwasher, and so on. Living like it's 1948 also means 1948 healthcare, severe rationing of care, and high-school graduate educations only. It also means a lack of welfare and other social services we take for granted now.

Much of the debt people carry is caused by education. The most common cause of bankruptcy in the US is catastrophic medical bills.

Consumption, and more importantly, the type of societies we want to have, drive much of the need for levels of productivity. I'm not going to argue that that's all of it, by any means, but the fact that we want the latest cancer care, good universities and early child at risk programs all demand that we put our 40+ hours a week in.
posted by bonehead at 10:40 AM on May 22, 2013 [4 favorites]


See also: Bertrand Russell, "In Praise of Idleness" (1932) (Link to an earlier comment I made about this text, which I cannot recommend enough. Also, possible shilling for favorites.)
posted by dhens at 10:42 AM on May 22, 2013 [7 favorites]


People think of socciety as this singular entity when its just a bunch of people ripping each other off in a common tongue.

Further, there's really no hope of changing anything in a meaningful way because it would be necessary to do so by bloodshed and the costs are just too high. Things are the way they are because of a highly stable equilibrium that takes our indignation into account. So basically "society" is a tragic joke with the poor as the punch line.


I don't think of society as a singular entity. I think we can change things without bloodshed. I don't think we should assume the poor shall be fucked unto eternity. You seem to be saying we should close the tab and do nothing to help the suffering, but this impression probably comes more from my temperament than from anything you've written, so I'll drop the subject.
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 10:45 AM on May 22, 2013 [3 favorites]


I thought we were going to build robots do do everything and everyone could live a life of leisure much like how people who weren't slaves lived in cultures build around slavery. The robots will be the equivalent of slaves.

What bothers me, is that while a person may be clocked in at work for 40 hours a week, they're spending time community every day, which is required for the work. And more than that, I don't know anyone who isn't THINKING about their job at some point when they're not at work. If I'm at home using my energy to think about work problems I should be paid for that as well.
posted by thylacine at 10:46 AM on May 22, 2013 [2 favorites]


And people think I'm the crazy one for not wanting to own a house or car because I'd have to work longer hours to pay for it.
posted by The Card Cheat at 10:53 AM on May 22, 2013 [3 favorites]


I wonder how much extra work is performed now, so that one can afford his or her leisure years in the future, compared to a period in the past, say 40 years ago.


That is, given an increase in hours worked in the week, as suggested by the article, how much of that extra work and pay is required to finance the longer period between retirement and death versus the shorter period between retirement and death 40 years ago.

I'm would guess there is little or any change in the amount of hours worked when adjusted by the necessity to fund a longer life under retirement. This of course won't mesh with the broader thesis that we are all doomed under the current capitalist system.
posted by otto42 at 11:00 AM on May 22, 2013 [2 favorites]


I'd be interested in a meta analysis of how many of these articles come out during the summer (or are reblogged during the summer). Even though the ideals expressed in the piece are good, the motivation is just to generate as much click bait as possible from office drones who want to go play outside. We could go further with statistics. I would say that, as a hypothesis, 90% of articles or reblogging of these articles occurs around noon between st patricks day and memorial day.

Fight on you crusaders of social justice!
posted by ishrinkmajeans at 11:04 AM on May 22, 2013


how much of that extra work and pay is required to finance the longer period between retirement and death

This assumes that the extra work results in extra pay. It often doesn't, especially for salaried workers. Often, the extra work merely ensures that you don't get laid off when "restructuring" comes around. Work harder for less and maybe you'll get to keep your job for another year.
posted by asnider at 11:05 AM on May 22, 2013 [8 favorites]


One of my favorite articles posted on metafilter over the past few years is In Praise of Leisure
posted by mcstayinskool at 11:08 AM on May 22, 2013 [3 favorites]


This assumes that the extra work results in extra pay. It often doesn't, especially for salaried workers. Often, the extra work merely ensures that you don't get laid off when "restructuring" comes around. Work harder for less and maybe you'll get to keep your job for another year.
posted by asnider at 11:05 AM on May 22 [+] [!]


Sure, nothing to disagree with here. The extra week, month or year you didn't get laid off, either through extra work or keeping your head down or brown nosing the boss is still financing your later leisure years.
posted by otto42 at 11:10 AM on May 22, 2013


and not working on a factory line, or a farm, or in a coal mine, and instead working at a less physically demanding job compared to 1960.
I dunno... I think the epidemic de jour is obesity and diabetes, is it not? Perhaps a bit of farm work would do us all some good. Plus, the increase in the amount of veggies would drive the prices down.

Otherwise we're all just gravitating more and more towards Wall-E status every day.
posted by Blue_Villain at 11:18 AM on May 22, 2013 [1 favorite]


otto42, your whole "all these extra years" shtick has already been shown to be more or less bunk (in this thread and every other one you've ever brought it up in), so I'd say your question is moot at the outset.
posted by Steely-eyed Missile Man at 11:19 AM on May 22, 2013 [6 favorites]


Sure, nothing to disagree with here. The extra week, month or year you didn't get laid off, either through extra work or keeping your head down or brown nosing the boss is still financing your later leisure years.

Which works fine, until you're laid off for having experience and a family to help support and become just too expensive when compared to kids straight out of college who've got student loans they need to repay. I've got friends in more than one industry who've noted the trend of the people more experienced than them being laid off one by one, specifically because they were the most devoted and effective workers — and were therefore an unnecessary expense.

I don't think it's safe, when entering into contracts in the market, to just assume that those contracts are fair. This is especially true in the case of contracts involving the sale of labor power.
posted by You Can't Tip a Buick at 11:20 AM on May 22, 2013 [4 favorites]


otto42, your whole "all these extra years" shtick has already been shown to be more or less bunk (in this thread and every other one you've ever brought it up in), so I'd say your question is moot at the outset.
posted by Steely-eyed Missile Man at 11:19 AM on May 22 [+] [!]


What is to debunk or disagree with?
posted by otto42 at 11:22 AM on May 22, 2013


The extra week, month or year you didn't get laid off, either through extra work or keeping your head down or brown nosing the boss is still financing your later leisure years.

Hey I've got a parable. It was big in the middle ages, and I think it's due for a comeback:
A lion and a donkey and a fox joined as partners, promising to go hunting together. They made a big catch, and the lion ordered the donkey to divide it among them. Making three equal portions, the donkey asked him to choose, but the lion was infuriated, feasted upon the donkey and then ordered the fox to make the division. The fox put everything into one pile, leaving just a tiny bit for herself, and told the lion to choose. When the lion asked her how she learned to apportion things in this way, the fox replied: “From the donkey’s misfortune.”
Brownnose. Tell the boss he's always right and laugh at all of his shitty jokes (even if they're insults to you or yours). Keep your head down. Work extra. And right before you die, you'll get a tiny bit for yourself.

Everyone's a winner!
posted by You Can't Tip a Buick at 11:25 AM on May 22, 2013 [25 favorites]


Like it or not, we face a future where there is going to be less work available per capita, than prior - ironically, due to the efficiencies wrought of advanced computation, software, and robotics.

Thus, whether we like it or not, we are going to have to dealwith the looming problem of less work, and more leisure. Less work - something we have already begun to experience.

Things are really going to get interesting, because the "way of corporate success" is well on its way to being undermined by the seemingly amoral drive for more "efficiency" at any cost, by the corporate sector.
posted by Vibrissae at 11:29 AM on May 22, 2013 [3 favorites]


Sure, nothing to disagree with here. The extra week, month or year you didn't get laid off, either through extra work or keeping your head down or brown nosing the boss is still financing your later leisure years.

Which works fine, until you're laid off for having experience and a family to help support and become just too expensive when compared to kids straight out of college who've got student loans they need to repay. I've got friends in more than one industry who've noted the trend of the people more experienced than them being laid off one by one, specifically because they were the most devoted and effective workers — and were therefore an unnecessary expense.

I don't think it's safe, when entering into contracts in the market, to just assume that those contracts are fair. This is especially true in the case of contracts involving the sale of labor power.
posted by You Can't Tip a Buick at 11:20 AM on May 22 [+] [!]


All I am saying is that a greater portion of your labor now is used to fund your "leisure" in the future compared to a period a few decades ago. This happened because your leisure period is longer (people now live longer) compared to a few decades ago.

In other words, a person has to work 42 hours a week now because the last 2 hours are funding the 8 year period between retirement and death. Maybe 40 years ago, a person only had to work 40.5 hours because there were only 2 years to fund between retirement and death.

Here is another guesstimate to hate. To the extent college counts as leisure and not work, the average American today gained about 4.4 years of leisure compared to the average American in 1950.
posted by otto42 at 11:34 AM on May 22, 2013


What is to debunk or disagree with?

Again with this disingenuous line? What is to debunk or disagree with is your incorrect assertion that life expectancy has increased just sooo much (usually with an implicit, "and it's gotta be paid for").
posted by Steely-eyed Missile Man at 11:37 AM on May 22, 2013 [5 favorites]


All I am saying is that a greater portion of your labor now is used to fund your "leisure" in the future compared to a period a few decades ago. This happened because your leisure period is longer (people now live longer) compared to a few decades ago.

People live longer, you say? The two things I'd be interested in looking at in the stats you're using to justify this claim are:
  1. Whether it holds when you account for declining infant mortality (as other people in the thread have noted
  2. but also, how life expectancy for people who live past infancy is different for people of different classes. Do you have that data available? Should we alter your argument based on the different lengths of life available on average to the rich and the poor? he asked innocently...
posted by You Can't Tip a Buick at 11:37 AM on May 22, 2013 [2 favorites]


And you just keep at it. Truly immune to actual facts.
posted by Steely-eyed Missile Man at 11:37 AM on May 22, 2013 [5 favorites]


Sure, nothing to disagree with here. The extra week, month or year you didn't get laid off, either through extra work or keeping your head down or brown nosing the boss is still financing your later leisure years.

Except that my point is that you're not actually earning more by working all of those extra hours. You're not working harder to pay for a longer retirement. You're working harder -- for no extra money -- just to get by right now.
posted by asnider at 11:46 AM on May 22, 2013 [5 favorites]


In other words, a person has to work 42 hours a week now

I'm sure people are not pissed off about a measly 2 hour increase. I worked an 80 hour week 2 weeks ago and almost got fired on Monday for emailing a meaningless internal report a day after the deadline. I was supposed to be fucking thankful they didn't fire me for this. My 80 hour week was worthless to them.

My average work week is at least 50 hours, but when there is literally nothing to do, I still have to stay in the office to warm up my chair, because they can short me free time, but god forbid I dare leave early even if there is nothing to do.
posted by Tarumba at 11:55 AM on May 22, 2013 [8 favorites]


otto42, maybe some people would like to enjoy some of their leisure time while they are still young and in good health...
posted by dhens at 12:19 PM on May 22, 2013 [1 favorite]


People live longer, you say? The two things I'd be interested in looking at in the stats you're using to justify this claim are:
Whether it holds when you account for declining infant mortality (as other people in the thread have noted



Accounted for here:

Average age is misleading because so many more people died as children.

The average person at age 65 in 1960 lived another 12.8 years. Now it is 17.7. An increase but not so dramatic.
posted by ghharr at 10:22 AM on May 22 [2 favorites +] [!]

posted by otto42 at 12:33 PM on May 22, 2013


In other words, a person has to work 42 hours a week now

I'm sure people are not pissed off about a measly 2 hour increase. I worked an 80 hour week 2 weeks ago and almost got fired on Monday for emailing a meaningless internal report a day after the deadline. I was supposed to be fucking thankful they didn't fire me for this. My 80 hour week was worthless to them.

My average work week is at least 50 hours, but when there is literally nothing to do, I still have to stay in the office to warm up my chair, because they can short me free time, but god forbid I dare leave early even if there is nothing to do.
posted by Tarumba at 11:55 AM on May 22 [2 favorites +] [!]


The number is not the point. If I had said 44.76763, someone would have said 44.76764. Moreover, I am not disputing your unhappiness or your right to be angry or sad, all I am saying is that the article's contention is wrong.

I am saying that although weekly leisure time is down, lifetime leisure time is up, or possibly the same, or at least not as bad as the article implied.
posted by otto42 at 12:42 PM on May 22, 2013


The article isn't talking about retirement. It's talking about time in day to day life not spent as an employee: how that "leisure" time would and has provided immediate social benefits, especially for citizens in a democracy.

It also mentions a competing strain of thought, one in which one of the main virtues of work is explicitly to attack that leisure time as a threat to the social order, and especially to the position of those at the top of the pyramid.

It then argues that consumer culture is part of the "solution" to the threat of leisure time, and one which was so successful that it continues to inform the way in which we think about democracy. For example:
And in 2004, one of the leading legal theorists in the United States, federal judge Richard Posner, declared that “representative democracy . . . involves a division between rulers and ruled,” with the former being “a governing class,” and the rest of us exercising a form of “consumer sovereignty” in the political sphere with “the power not to buy a particular product, a power to choose though not to create.”
posted by postcommunism at 12:45 PM on May 22, 2013 [8 favorites]


otto42, maybe some people would like to enjoy some of their leisure time while they are still young and in good health...
posted by dhens at 12:19 PM on May 22 [+] [!]


Who wouldn't?


This is why people try to pull their leisure time forward (ie. retire early.)
posted by otto42 at 12:46 PM on May 22, 2013


[otto42, I feel like we're at point-made-and-argued on this, maybe let this drop now so the thread doesn't become an extended you vs. everybody thing.]
posted by cortex (staff) at 12:53 PM on May 22, 2013


The linked article had some interesting discussion tracing some factors at play in the decline of US democracy/democratic participation, such as:
According to Edward Bernays, one of the founders of the field of public relations and a principal architect of the American Way, the choices available in the polling booth are akin to those at the department store; both should consist of a limited set of offerings that are carefully determined by what Bernays called an “invisible government” of public-relations experts and advertisers working on behalf of business leaders. Bernays claimed that in a “democratic society” we are and should be “governed, our minds . . . molded, our tastes formed, our ideas suggested, largely by men we have never heard of.”
This seems to be the point of view held by much of the governing class in the US today, and should be of great concern to anyone who cares about actual democracy.


In fact, one of the article's major points was that people need more "leisure" time (or at least, time spent not at paid employment) in the present so that they can be better citizens and active democratic participants. One of the other major points of the article, that people need more leisure time in order to maintain communities and interpersonal connections, also depends on that time being fairly uniformly distributed across a lifetime, not concentrated at the ends.

I wish the article had gotten into distribution of wealth and labor more. That's one of the problems with the current US economy: that a significant percentage of the population is in fact doing no better economically or is worse off today than they were 30 or 40 years ago, despite working longer hours. The conclusion was also rather weak. After noting some of the obstacles to just individually attempting to work less and consume less, the article concludes with what is essentially a call to highly individualized action in the form of adopting a vague anti-consumerist attitude; when what's needed to oppose the economic and political forces described in the article, as well as the forces of convention that constrain our job options and economic choices, is clearly collective action.
posted by eviemath at 1:17 PM on May 22, 2013 [5 favorites]


The average male born in 1980 had a life expectancy of 70 years, or 5 years of leisure enjoyment.

You're saying (as someone born in 1972), that I have an expectancy that merely ~7% of my life can be devoted to leisure?!

That is mad, man!
posted by mrgrimm at 1:21 PM on May 22, 2013


Brownnose. Tell the boss he's always right and laugh at all of his shitty jokes (even if they're insults to you or yours). Keep your head down. Work extra. And right before you die, you'll get a tiny bit for yourself.

And while her back is turned, "borrow" rolls of toilet paper, use the copier to make posters for your band, and steal as much fucking time as you can posting to MetaFilter.
posted by mrgrimm at 1:23 PM on May 22, 2013 [2 favorites]


otto42: Who wouldn't [want more leisure time when young]?
This is why people try to pull their leisure time forward (ie. retire early.)


Although I think you are snarking here, I meant that "saving" all of one's leisure until you retire is a poor idea, and probably bad for one's mental and physical health. Why not spread it out throughout one's life?

Also, upthread you called college "4 years of leisure." As a former undegrad myself, I can verify that it is (sometimes) less stressful than a full-time job. However -- if you do it right -- there is still a lot of hard work, and many, if not most, students have to take a fair amount of work during their college career in order to pay for it.

This is the last comment I'll make in response to you, in order not to derail the thread.
posted by dhens at 1:26 PM on May 22, 2013 [5 favorites]


many, if not most, students have to take a fair amount of work during their college career in order to pay for it.

Never mind the fair amount of work they take after their college career in order to pay for it.
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 1:29 PM on May 22, 2013 [2 favorites]


Rustic Etruscan, don't remind me!
posted by dhens at 1:31 PM on May 22, 2013


People are living longer. But they also, over the last half of the 20th century, enjoyed a massive increase in wages. If they saved a small proportion of that gain then the extra years of life are easily paid for. The reason they don't save is consumerism -- precisely the point of the article.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 1:31 PM on May 22, 2013 [3 favorites]


I had a professor a long way back who argued that college serves as an absolutely necessary buffer against unemployment specifically because it takes excess young people out of the economy for a number of years — or at least, it did before everyone who matters* had to start working full time to pay tuition — and so partially ameliorates the there-are-no-jobs-outside-service problem that capitalism tends toward.

This was a prelude to his argument that schoolgoers should be supported by stipends from the state, since students are doing the nation two services: They're getting educated, which is societally beneficial, and also they're staying out of the workforce. (or at least, they were staying out of the workforce, before we broke all our schools.

*: Which is to say, everyone who wasn't born rich and who didn't get into the extremely elite schools that give non-rich students free rides. I feel relatively comfortable treating these two small fractions of the college-going population as basically rounding errors
posted by You Can't Tip a Buick at 1:36 PM on May 22, 2013 [3 favorites]


I think the reason we don't save is that we're getting ripped off coming and going by landlords, employers, and banks, and because the instruments of democratic government that we could use to keep them from robbing us are largely ineffective and co-opted by the snakes themselves.

I'm reflexively leery of the word "consumerism" and the idea of anti-consumerism, since it bears with it an implied sense that consumers have power and that if we consumed better, we'd be better off. Most intelligent analyses (like the ones we've been seeing here) go out of their way to highlight how people configured as consumers don't actually have much real agency with regard to their consumption "choices," but even so the word (to me at least) bears with it a sense that fixing the problem means making different individual choices.
posted by You Can't Tip a Buick at 1:42 PM on May 22, 2013 [7 favorites]


Oh, I forgot, we're also getting ripped off by schools and hospitals.
posted by You Can't Tip a Buick at 1:42 PM on May 22, 2013 [1 favorite]


People are living longer. But they also, over the last half of the 20th century, enjoyed a massive increase in wages.
Over the third quarter of the 20th century, maybe. Real wages have been stagnant for the last 40 years or so, despite massive gains in productivity.
posted by cdward at 1:48 PM on May 22, 2013 [10 favorites]


or at least, it did before everyone who matters* had to start working full time to pay tuition

Only 40% of full-time students, ages 16-24, were working in 2010 (73% of part-time students). The vast majority of those were working less than full-time hours.

The college system may be broken, but it's not true that "everyone who matters" is working full-time to pay for school.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 1:51 PM on May 22, 2013 [1 favorite]


Yeah, I got a bit overblown there. I just can't bring myself to miss an opportunity to note that rich people don't matter...
posted by You Can't Tip a Buick at 1:53 PM on May 22, 2013


Why not a 30 hour work week? Couldn't the answer be as simple as this? If there were 4 six hour shifts instead of the 3 eight hour shifts, then the number of full time employees would need to be greater to fill all the slots. In fact, greater by 33% ceteris paribus. More full time employees means a greater number of benefits packages to provide and more layers of management and bureaucracy to be dealt with. I think that it would be good to shorten the work week, but I don't think that a conspiracy of must consume is what's causing the lack of will to shorten it.
posted by Wash Jones at 1:57 PM on May 22, 2013


People are living longer. But they also, over the last half of the 20th century, enjoyed a massive increase in wages.


Total nonsense. You can look up the numbers yourself here in the President's Economic Report (PDF) Table B-47, based on data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

In 1966 the average hourly wage was $8.37 and today it is $8.76. That is an increase of less than 5% in 46 years (inflation adjusted dollars). In fact, wages today are lower than their peak in the 1970s.

So no, there has been no massive increase in wages. They have been stagnant for the last half century.
posted by JackFlash at 2:13 PM on May 22, 2013 [10 favorites]


Why not a 30 hour work week? Couldn't the answer be as simple as this? If there were 4 six hour shifts instead of the 3 eight hour shifts, then the number of full time employees would need to be greater to fill all the slots. In fact, greater by 33% ceteris paribus. More full time employees means a greater number of benefits packages to provide and more layers of management and bureaucracy to be dealt with. I think that it would be good to shorten the work week, but I don't think that a conspiracy of must consume is what's causing the lack of will to shorten it.
posted by Wash Jones at 1:57 PM on May 22 [+] [!]


The French went from a 39 hour work week to a 35 hour work week in 2000. Only the Socialists that came up with the idea were surprised when it did not work.
posted by otto42 at 2:13 PM on May 22, 2013


The 35-hour work week is still in effect in France.
posted by No Robots at 2:21 PM on May 22, 2013 [5 favorites]


Oh, in current dollars, the 1966 average wage was $19.03 and in 2012 was $19.92, which is a 89 cent increase in 46 years. These are private sector wages excluding agricultural workers who tend to have lower wages.
posted by JackFlash at 2:35 PM on May 22, 2013 [1 favorite]


Total nonsense. You can look up the numbers yourself here in the President's Economic Report (PDF) Table B-47, based on data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

In 1966 the average hourly wage was $8.37 and today it is $8.76. That is an increase of less than 5% in 46 years (inflation adjusted dollars). In fact, wages today are lower than their peak in the 1970s.

So no, there has been no massive increase in wages. They have been stagnant for the last half century.
posted by JackFlash at 2:13 PM on May 22 [+] [!]


The 5% increase seems reasonable especially since pretty much everything else since then has become cheaper on an inflation adjusted basis. A round trip NY to LA airline ticket purchased in 1965 would have cost you $300. It now costs, $475. If the price increased at the same rate of inflation as wages, it would cost $2,200 today.
posted by otto42 at 2:39 PM on May 22, 2013 [1 favorite]


@bonehead
This is often trotted out, thinking that we could get by with smaller houses, one or no cars, lose the dishwasher, and so on. Living like it's 1948 also means 1948 healthcare, severe rationing of care, and high-school graduate educations only. It also means a lack of welfare and other social services we take for granted now.

"Facts" pulled out of thin air and verifiably untrue. A country like New Zealand can get far better health care results spending less than ONE THIRD what we do per person (and poorer countries like Costa Rica can get similar to better results spending MUCH less).

Don't even get me started on college, unless you think that the quality has risen ten times what it was in 1980 along with the price.

The extra work is not going to fund food stamps for the poor. A significant amount funds the military and associated counter-productivity (drug war, etc), which should be ended. But even that is really not an excuse.
posted by blankdawn at 2:44 PM on May 22, 2013 [3 favorites]


...pretty much everything else since then has become cheaper on an inflation adjusted basis.
The mind boggles.

That's the opposite of how inflation works. If you looked at normal expenses like food and rent (rather than luxuries like cross-country plane tickets) that would be obvious.

We used to get the benefits of improved technology and wages that kept pace with productivity. This isn't an outlandish request.
posted by cdward at 2:47 PM on May 22, 2013 [2 favorites]


@ishrinkmajeans

We're not allowed to work less? Allowed by whom?

If you read the article it explains why corporate management has opposed shorter work weeks, EVEN THOUGH they have led to increased productivity and didn't seem to affect the financial "bottom line" (using the Kellogg's example).

They opposed the system (through co-ordinated and explicit propaganda campaigns) at least in part because they viewed the idea of a society with more free time as being against their long-term interests on two fronts, both less money for consumers to buy crap and more free time leading to a more radicalized working class.

This is from THEIR OWN words (industrialists and CEOs).
posted by blankdawn at 2:47 PM on May 22, 2013 [5 favorites]


@ ishrinkmajeans
Even though the ideals expressed in the piece are good, the motivation is just to generate as much click bait as possible from office drones who want to go play outside.

What a cynical view of the world. I'm sorry.
posted by blankdawn at 2:47 PM on May 22, 2013 [4 favorites]


otto42: The 5% increase seems reasonable especially since pretty much everything else since then has become cheaper on an inflation adjusted basis.

Yet more idiocy. Everything has not become cheaper. The consumer price index takes into consideration the prices of all consumer spending for the average consumer, not just cherry picked outliers.
posted by JackFlash at 2:48 PM on May 22, 2013 [7 favorites]


Debaser626
It honestly never occurred to me before reading this that what with machines and other inventions that a possible end goal would be to have more spare time.

...How does one remove themselves from the cycle of consumption?

You seem like a wise person to even be asking the question. There are practical answers that can be more or less relevant to a given person, for example:

* Get roommates
* Try and live without a car, or at least without new cars
* Buy used and/or for the long haul
* Try and push as much leisure activities as possible towards the free and active/creative rather than the paid and passive/consumer. For example, walking/hiking/biking, making music and art, cooking, reading, love, good conversation, free community events

There's also a deeper answer that involves how you see yourself. When I look at a "man's magazine" I see nothing but lists of stuff to buy, fashion, "grooming," gadgets, cars.

Women have it much worse in terms of the "you are what you buy" pyscho-warfare, but as men I think we get a secondary layer in the sense that our attractiveness to women (and long-term value to a woman we love + our kids) is judged (in our heads and often outside them) based on how much crap we can provide for them.

We have to learn to value ourselves for who we are and what we can add to the world without money.
posted by blankdawn at 2:54 PM on May 22, 2013 [19 favorites]


The 5% increase seems reasonable especially since pretty much everything else since then has become cheaper on an inflation adjusted basis. A round trip NY to LA airline ticket purchased in 1965 would have cost you $300. It now costs, $475. If the price increased at the same rate of inflation as wages, it would cost $2,200 today.

Are you out of your mind? Do you take this seriously as an argument?

Like, please, just respond to the say first two obvious glaring holes in your argument, here. Just the first two. Just as a good-faith effort to show that you're taking yourself seriously.
posted by You Can't Tip a Buick at 2:59 PM on May 22, 2013 [4 favorites]


I've really enjoyed the interesting comments, especially relating to the relationship between over-work and under-employment.

One thread that hasn't been touched on yet is how escaping the "work more / buy more" trap is not only good for one's immediate well-being but also necessary to avoid the coming resource crises that threaten to forcibly set back our quality of life in a much more serious way.

The urgency accelerates as the American lifestyle model, which would require several earths worth of resources to support were it universal, is indeed being marketed aggressively to the rest of the world for the short-term profits of a few.

It breaks my heart to return to the Latin countries where I grew up and see that, while people no longer feel safe to walk the streets or picnic by the rivers that new shopping malls full of American brands have become the new "free time" gathering places.

I'm not saying I oppose their economic development and all potential fruits of that, it's just not accurate to say that the greater number of things to buy has increased their sense of freedom and satisfaction.

There are alternatives for society as a whole, but they can't be bought on the market as they require worldwide standards for efficiency and conservation, as well as heavy public funding of R&D and sustainable infrastructure.

Because many current industries would be adversely affected by such a transition, it would also require social safety nets and public employment programs to minimize the damage to workers thus employed.

THIS is I believe why conservatives have come to disbelieve climate change and associated man-made resource emergencies. An effective response will require elements of "socialism," although not the socialism of past "communist" states, which had a horrible record on both the environment and on treating workers as cogs to be squeezed out.

Sorry I've posted so much, but this article hit on the intersection of almost everything I care about for the future. Another world is both possible and necessary.
posted by blankdawn at 3:04 PM on May 22, 2013 [12 favorites]


the fact that we want the latest cancer care, good universities and early child at risk programs all demand that we put our 40+ hours a week in.

I don't think a lot of my spending or labor is supporting cancer care, good universities, and early childhood programs. I'd love to be shown how I'm wrong, though.
posted by weston at 3:28 PM on May 22, 2013 [5 favorites]


Great article, and some good discussion. Thanks!
posted by Rash at 3:51 PM on May 22, 2013 [2 favorites]


What is not cheaper now compared to 1965 on an inflation adjusted basis?

I am really asking?

I believe oil is more expensive, but not energy as a whole. Food is probably a wash. Rent is of course lower adjusted for actual living space. Cars are tough to measure since there was no such thing as air bags in 1965, etc.

Help me understand how your economics work.
posted by otto42 at 4:00 PM on May 22, 2013 [1 favorite]


Another question. If real wages are only up 5% since 1965, what does that mean? Does that mean that if the same person did the exact same thing for 48 years, and the inflation rate was zero, then their wage only went up 5% over that time. I wonder what the probability a person will do the exact same job for 48 years is. My guess it would be close to zero.
posted by otto42 at 4:07 PM on May 22, 2013


@otto42
I've tried to follow your arguments, but it seems either I'm missing your point or else you are missing the point of the article.

People may or may not have increased buying power overall but the big issues is == > Productivity has increased and working hours show no signs of decreasing, mostly because there are (enforced) cultural norms against it.

Do you disagree with this? I think few people have the knowledge or interest to debate the somewhat subjective question of whether "we" can "afford more" today than in the near past.
posted by blankdawn at 4:14 PM on May 22, 2013 [1 favorite]


I believe oil is more expensive, but not energy as a whole. Food is probably a wash. Rent is of course lower adjusted for actual living space. Cars are tough to measure since there was no such thing as air bags in 1965, etc.

Is that so. Tell us more.
posted by You Can't Tip a Buick at 4:21 PM on May 22, 2013


What is not cheaper now compared to 1965 on an inflation adjusted basis?

Well, logically not everything could be cheaper on an inflation adjusted basis, because otherwise there would just be less inflation, right? This is how inflation works, right? Inflation measures changes in the cost of goods and services, if everything is less on an inflation adjusted basis then we've just calculated inflation wrong. Correct me if I'm wrong, but I don't see how what your saying could be true.

I also have no idea what you mean by "rent is of course lower adjusted for actual living space." The house I rent was available to rent in 1965, and the living space hasn't changed; adjusting for inflation, what I pay is the equivalent of $365/month. I have no idea if that's higher or lower than what you'd pay in '65 because I don't have data, but it's not obviously lower.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 4:25 PM on May 22, 2013 [2 favorites]


Blank dawn

I reject the premise that there has been an increase in working hours versus leisure time. I contend that an appropriate measure is the amount of time spent working over a lifetime is more meaningful. I contend that leisure time is therefore not reduced compared to earlier periods. I contend our capitalist consumer society does not have a negative impact on leisure time and may even extend leisure time.
posted by otto42 at 4:28 PM on May 22, 2013


so it's a clear sign that I've done way too much metafilter when I start actually wanting to get involved in these little voyages deep into the worldviews of our more eccentric members. stepping away from the computer now...
posted by You Can't Tip a Buick at 4:33 PM on May 22, 2013 [1 favorite]


"I contend our capitalist consumer society does not have a negative impact on leisure time and may even extend leisure time."

I'll inform the Scandinavians that they've been doing it wrong. (And everyone else has been measuring it wrong.)

Sorry, the argument that the loss of leisure time is somehow justified is one I could respond to, but not this.
posted by blankdawn at 4:36 PM on May 22, 2013 [3 favorites]


(Here I am, breaking my promise not to engage with otto42.)

I contend our capitalist consumer society does not have a negative impact on leisure time and may even extend leisure time.


Yup, just save all the free time until retirement. Oops! I had a coronary at age 59 because of all the work-related stress and now I'll never enjoy that retirement.

Also, this fails to take into account the push to raise the retirement age.

Finally, every human being should be able to have a decent amount of leisure in every decade of their working life.
posted by dhens at 4:40 PM on May 22, 2013 [11 favorites]


Bulgaroktonos

Inflation is not just the increase in price. Very simply, it is an increase in price due to an increase in the money supply. If we take out the increase in price due to the increase in the money supply, then we can say or not if the change in price was due to other factors. We try to adjust for changes in price due to changes in a goods quality.

Your 1965 house is the same size now as it was back then. Only then a mother in law lived there. There were 3.8 people in the house back then versus 2.7 now. The rent is adjusted for the increase in living space. You are paying more because you have more space. Apples to apples.
posted by otto42 at 4:46 PM on May 22, 2013


Finally, every human being should be able to have a decent amount of leisure in every decade of their working life.

Fine. But we can't use a subjective measure, like when someone prefers to not work, and then assert the system deprives us of leisure. I sure as hell do not want to do what I am doing now when I am 65, or 55 if I can avoid it, or 45 if I am very lucky.

My measure is objective and eliminates capitalism as the boogeyman.

More leisure time exists now than in the past. The subjectivity of your decision of when to take it is not an indictment of capitalism.
posted by otto42 at 5:05 PM on May 22, 2013


More leisure time exists now than in the past.
Again, debatable. Frankly, I would like retirement to be taken out of this discussion of "leisure time." One works to live and not the other way around.

your decision of when to take it
Kind of hard to make any choices when those who hold all the capital hold all the power. This is one reason why state-mandated paid vacations are a good idea. Otherwise, of course a company will prefer to hire people who, for one reason or another (often out of fear for losing their job because they are perceived as "lazy" or "not dedicated"), will work all year without a vacation, thereby negating the very notion of choice. No one wins a race to the bottom.
posted by dhens at 5:28 PM on May 22, 2013 [7 favorites]


PS: Also, let's not forget the pushes to raise the retirement age, which seem like a very blatant reduction of "leisure time," even by your metric.
posted by dhens at 5:29 PM on May 22, 2013 [2 favorites]


America and Japan share a lot of similarities in work vs. leisure time. Nominally 40 hours a week for each country, but the reality is that it's much higher. And in Japan, there is an additional cultural element (though it exists in America as well, in varying degrees).

Japanese workers work really long hours--10 and 12 hour days are the norm for plenty of people. And even if you're lucky enough to work only 8 hours, you are expected to go out for drinks after work with the crew. Salarymen sleeping on the train is an extremely common sight in Tokyo.

The thing is, these long hours are supposedly to be for the benefit of the company, increase productivity, yadda yadda. The open secret is that's all bullshit. Japan has a seniority-based culture that Westerners--I think especially Americans--just aren't familiar with. Your boss, who's older than you, is still at the office? You stay at the office. Your work is done? Whatever, take a nap, pretend to be busy, but you stay at the office. Because your boss is there. Why is he there? Because his boss is there. Or otherwise expects folks to stay late...just because.
posted by zardoz at 5:41 PM on May 22, 2013 [2 favorites]


More leisure time exists now than in the past.
Again, debatable. Frankly, I would like retirement to be taken out of this discussion of "leisure time." One works to live and not the other way around.


You can't take retirement out of the discussion because I view it as my leisure time. Leisure time is different from person to person either by choice or necessity.
posted by otto42 at 5:54 PM on May 22, 2013


You can't take retirement out of the discussion because I view it as my leisure time.

It's a future you have no reason to expect to experience.
posted by Pope Guilty at 6:02 PM on May 22, 2013 [11 favorites]


PS: Also, let's not forget the pushes to raise the retirement age, which seem like a very blatant reduction of "leisure time," even by your metric.
posted by dhens at 5:29 PM on May 22
[+] [!]
The push seems more like an attempt to keep soc security solvent rather than an attempt by mustachioed robber barons to keep the public in line for nefarious purposes.
posted by otto42 at 6:11 PM on May 22, 2013


bonehead: "From the article: I...but the fact that we want the latest cancer care, good universities and early child at risk programs all demand that we put our 40+ hours a week in."

Thank god the rich get all that, then. Thank god the poor vote for parties who demand we end early child at risk programs, thank god we don't have public health care for all and only those who have the money can get really proper cancer care without having to sacrifice their life's fortune (or their community's already thinly stretched resources in the hopes of being popular enough to get some charity).

Thank god we work so hard under this Capitalist delusion. Thank god for the American Dream.
posted by symbioid at 6:57 PM on May 22, 2013 [4 favorites]


It "seems like an attempt to keep ss solvent" because THAT Is the propaganda they push. There are many other ways to "keep it solvent" (if it even WERE necessary to do so at this point, but to hear the chicken littles screaming their heads off if we don't do it now, the poor shlubs who work their whole lives for retirement and ss will not have anything left when they retire! The program is solvent until at the worst case scenario, 2030... 2035 is medium-bad scenario and optimist view is is rather pollyannish, I admit. After 2030-2035, SS is expected to remain stable.

Solvency in this case is not the same as "entirely broke" but rather can only pay 75% of benefits. Does something need to be done? Sure, eventually, and it's prudent to have discussions, but those pushing for "discussion" and "change" have been pushing for this since as long as I've been political (which, admittedly is only since the early 90s as a teenager).

Now, the problem lies in the fact that the "solution" is to make old people work longer (when they've worked their whole lives as is), and have been waiting to finally live a happy/healthy life. As others pointed out, life expectancy is predicated upon multivariate factors, and infant mortality is part of that accounting. People in the 1700s didn't actually literally mostly live until 35 then croak. They just had a lot of dead babies (which makes me think I should tell a joke, but then I think this isn't the place for it, so...) So we aren't really "living longer" (this article claims actual lifespans have been stable for at least 2000 years... It may be the case that more people are able to reach that general age of death than before due to technological trends and progress and spread of better health care towards the masses (especially via public health solutions), in general, though... as mentioned, life expectancy is a poorly understood concept.

So, if they make us work more, and we don't actually live that much longer they are, in essence, taking more years from us. If "they" had their way we'd be working cradle to grave with nary a breath between.

The factors for this are the result of the nature of Capital. Exploitation of the working class and the need to both reduce the number of workers one hires (called "Variable Capital") and rely on more "Constant Capital" (machines) means you have a larger and larger reserve army of labor.

Now, as you know, supply and demand create pricing conditions. The more supply you have of something in proportion to its demand, the cheaper it is to purchase. This also applies to labor. You can see a lot of this in the process of globalization where the third world gets exploited for the first world benefits, but adds more labor into the workforce competing for what used to be a localized-only labor force. So we have declining/flat wages vs inflation, because there is more labor supply and thus cheaper labor-cost. Now, how do you drive that down even more? You get the powers that be push to add even more workers into the pull competing for jobs that are already scarce enough. How do you do that? Hey, let's conveniently raise the retirement age to make people pay into it longer. Now you have an even larger pool of labor which can further suppress wages and keep profit going.

Now, this might be all fine and dandy if there was a huge demand for labor in general, but as we know, we're in a bit of a slump right now. The US has pulled out of the worst patch of it, but it's a question remaining whether we've fully escaped a longer term fate. The rest of the world is still struggling, even more so than the US, in general. So you have a stagnant pool of labor, who are now stigmatized by our professional chattering classes as "lazy bums" and one part of the working class is propagandized to hate on those who aren't fortunate enough to have jobs, so there is more social pressure to work work work. All the while, the environment doesn't allow for that, but hey, let's get more people to push for those jobs that aren't even there. So, you have a small number of jobs available for an even larger pool of applicants. *cackle cackle*

Beggars can't be choosers!

So, what's this have to do with jack shit?

Well, you can do the inverse. As James K. Galbraith (yes, the son of John Kenneth Galbraith), suggests, lowering the retirement age will lower the number of workers fighting for a limited amount of jobs, enable more people to retire earlier, and raise wages by reducing competition in the labor market.

I'd rather not have to have "leisure time" when I can least enjoy it due to more potentially debilitating physical ailments and cognitive decline amongst other things.
posted by symbioid at 7:45 PM on May 22, 2013 [9 favorites]


The push seems more like an attempt to keep soc security solvent rather than an attempt by mustachioed robber barons to keep the public in line for nefarious purposes.

There were literal mustachioed robber barons literally attempting to literally keep the public in line for literal nefarious purposes in that article. Mentioning a thing that actually happened in an incredulous way is a bizarre way to attempt to discredit it.
posted by Pope Guilty at 8:11 PM on May 22, 2013 [13 favorites]


This is tangentially related, but I wanted to share this for posterity after experiencing several paranoid events.

If the NSA and CIA were on the side of the American people (LOL) it'd be pretty easy to take care of business for a modest sum.

To solve the debt crisis, use the NSA to wipe all offshore accounts clean. Numbers transfer from sleazebags to treasury. Any other countries involved? Sorry, we'll sort it out later but for now it's ours.

Use CIA/black ops to dispatch any opposition and seize any physical assets (gold, etc). Close all loopholes for the rich; evasion in large amounts becomes treason punishable by firing squad. Invest in education.

kthxbi

But yes, living paycheck to paycheck makes it a total bitch to give a fuck about anything but getting by and enjoying the limited time you have to yourself.
posted by lordaych at 8:20 PM on May 22, 2013 [3 favorites]


Leisure, along with a voracious reading habit, an inquisitive mind, and a rebellious spirit, certainly has bred radicalism in my case. So much so, in fact, that I started a group called Rethinking the Job Culture, and I'm writing a book called On The Leisure Track: Radical Alternatives to Conventional Employment. (Note: relevant self-link.)

Here's a quote I like from Mark Slouka's essay "Quitting the Paint Factory":
"Idleness is not just a psychological necessity, requisite to the construction of a complete human being; it constitutes as well a kind of political space, a space as necessary to the workings of an actual democracy as, say, a free press. How does it do this? By allowing us time to figure out who we are, and what we believe; by allowing us time to consider what is unjust, and what we might do about it."
If I'd worked at Kellogg back in the day, I expect I would have been one of those stubborn mavericks Hunnicutt writes about, fighting to preserve the six-hour day, in the hopes that I and my co-workers would have time and energy to read, think, create, and do all kinds of non-remunerative but socially necessary work.

Charles Eisenstein calls leisure "the experience of the abundance of time." I love that so much. The experience of the abundance of time. Beautiful. And that experience has all but disappeared in this work-obsessed culture. Eisenstein goes on to say:
"The scarcity of time is one reason we overconsume, attempting to compensate for the loss of this most primal of all wealth. Time is life. To be truly rich is to have sovereignty over our own time."
All my life I have fought in various ways - and with varying degrees of success - to preserve as much leisure as possible in my life. It's been a difficult path, because everywhere I look there is overwhelming pressure to work and consume. But I have been fortunate enough to taste that experience of the abundance of time that Eisenstein describes, and it made me a radical. I want to live in a world where everyone who wants to could enjoy that experience.

Here's something that leaped out at me from the FPP article:
"People in the depression-wracked 1930s, with what seems to us today to be a very low level of material goods, readily chose fewer work hours for the same reasons as some of their children and grandchildren did in the 1980s: to have more time for themselves and their families. We could, as a society, make a similar choice today.

"But we cannot do it as individuals. The mavericks at Kellogg held out against company and social pressure for years, but in the end the marketplace didn’t offer them a choice to work less and consume less. The reason is simple: that choice is at odds with the foundations of the marketplace itself—at least as it is currently constructed. The men and women who masterminded the creation of the consumerist society understood that theirs was a political undertaking, and it will take a powerful political movement to change course today."
This is the key point, I think: "We could, as a society, make a similar choice today. But we cannot do it as individuals."

In other words, we can't do it alone - collective action for social and cultural change is necessary. As Eisenstein puts it: "..under the current system, growth in leisure is impossible without some kind of wealth redistribution." We could work and spend a lot less and still live comfortably, if we take collective action to enact the systemic changes necessary to do so (e.g., implementing a guaranteed basic income). Will we, though? I hope so, though I often struggle to hold onto that hope in the face of what seems like overwhelming odds against it. I'm doing what I can, but I'm only one individual.
posted by velvet winter at 8:33 PM on May 22, 2013 [24 favorites]


If you really wanted to live a life of leisure -- if that were Your Thing -- you could probably figure out how to do it. Wrork at some random corporate job just long enough to afford a modest house far outside any major city in cash, find some part-time source of income so you can afford food and transportation, and just drop out of the mainstream full-time-worker economy. The hard parts would be health insurance, and affording college for your kids. But neither of those is an insurmountable obstacle. In former industrial cities like Duluth, MN and Rochester, NY, you can buy a nice place for 80 grand and enjoy the parks and museums and schools left by the robber barons while living on a shoestring.

But it does seem like when given a choice between money and leisure, people almost always pick money. At least for me, it's because work is easier than non-work. I have assigned tasks and knowledgeable colleagues and most of the resources I need to accomplish things. Outside of work, I have a hundred little things going on that are all annoying and I don't really understand. If I took a day off work tomorrow, I'd probably end up weeding the garden and patching my roof and trying to find the book I was last reading so I can pick it up again. I don't have kids, but I imagine if I did there would be even more confusion and anxiety in my personal life. I don't really want to do any of that stuff, so I go into work and get paid use that as an excuse to not do frustrating life stuff. I complain about long hours a lot but when making moment-to-moment decisions about what to do, I end up choosing work voluntarily.
posted by miyabo at 8:33 PM on May 22, 2013 [6 favorites]


There were literal mustachioed robber barons literally attempting to literally keep the public in line for literal nefarious purposes in that article. Mentioning a thing that actually happened in an incredulous way is a bizarre way to attempt to discredit it.

Now now, they might not all have had moustaches.
posted by dhens at 10:18 PM on May 22, 2013 [2 favorites]


So this was the study I was thinking of, that a number of people used to argue against the "but we live longer so it's okay to raise the retirement age" argument when that particular talking point went around (otto was present for at least one of the rounds of that nonsense here, and I believe others at the time linked to this study and/or to articles that reference this study).

I hesitate to post it, because, well, doing so looks very much like my absolute least favorite method of internet argumentation (I think it's even worse than the "pay attention to meeee" method). What is this method?
  1. Search jstor or proquest or whatever for an academic paper (any academic paper) that appears to support your argument.
  2. Post it assuming that no one is going to read it.
And that's sort of what I'm doing here, and I'm sorry. Because, I have to admit: I haven't read the entire thing. Yeah, I know. I've skimmed it. Also, I have to admit, I first found out about it from a Paul Krugman piece, and I at least in part trust it because Krugman trusts it and I trust him.

This is the graphic (from the Krugman piece) that springs to mind whenever someone presents hypothetically (but not actually) lengthened retirements as a bizarre compensation for bad work conditions.

But even if the lengthened retirements thing weren't, just, not true, it would still be a deal that only a fool would take.1 No, thank you, I will not enjoy spending all of myself for an employer and then taking what's what's left after they use me up. That is dumb. I like me. I would prefer to keep some of me to myself.

If anyone here wants to tell me that Krugman is a moron or that the Social Security Administration Office of Policy isn't a valid source or if they want to insist that their weird metric for average congealed abstract socially allowed total life leisure time among workers does too matter to the lived experience of actual concrete earthlings in any meaningful way, I will gladly take them up on it in memail.

Returning to the thread, I'd like to echo pope guilty in noting that the original article isn't about a bunch of robber barons sitting around pondering the ethicality of their schemes and deciding after long consideration of everyone's interests that it was all okay because the poor workers would be compensated with additional leisure time after retirement. It's an article about suppressing leisure time in part because leisure breeds radicalism.2

I apologize for participating in this boring, repetitive threadjack. As penance I promise not to comment on any articles without reading the article first for, like, an entire month.

1: Really, it's quite an achievement, crafting an argument that is simultaneously conceptually nonsensical and provably wrong. Normally you have to pick either nonsense or falsehood; both at once is something special.

2: I am going to get a tshirt or a bumper sticker or something made up that just reads "LEISURE BREEDS RADICALISM", in white text on a black background. I guess I shouldn't be proud that so much of my political philosophy actually can be boiled down to a slogan, but there you go.

posted by You Can't Tip a Buick at 10:22 PM on May 22, 2013 [4 favorites]


People are confusing the fact that the US economy seems perfectly designed to fuck over the lower and middle classes with the point of the article. Real wages have gone up substantially in Australia in the past few decades but we still work too hard also. It's advertising, consumerism and individualism that are the culprits.

You can step off this treadmill but it is hard. I work a 30 hour week and that's the way I like it, but I don't buy the status toys and holidays that my peers do . No regrets from me though.
posted by wilful at 10:22 PM on May 22, 2013 [2 favorites]


See also Keynes "economic possibilities for our grandchildren", 1930.
posted by wilful at 10:26 PM on May 22, 2013 [5 favorites]


The average person at age 65 in 1960 lived another 12.8 years.

Yes, but I work with, and have worked with (not for) a number of people over 65. Heck, my dad is 72 and still working. It is a trend to work much later than before. Gallup reports that people are retiring 4 years later than they were just in the early 90's. Has life expectancy crept up 4 years since then? More than half of nonretirees aged 58 to 64 expect to retire after age 65. The leisure time being saved for later is being put off for longer.
posted by Garm at 10:28 PM on May 22, 2013 [1 favorite]


"People in the depression-wracked 1930s, with what seems to us today to be a very low level of material goods, readily chose fewer work hours for the same reasons as some of their children and grandchildren did in the 1980s: to have more time for themselves and their families. We could, as a society, make a similar choice today.

Done and done. I'm quitting my job to stay home with my young kids. It's a big financial sacrifice ... fingers crossed!

If I took a day off work tomorrow, I'd probably end up weeding the garden and patching my roof and trying to find the book I was last reading so I can pick it up again.

Ah, but a day won't do it. You need 5 days per week. It's been my experience that the "frustrating life stuff" is frustrating because not nearly enough time is available to manage all of its possibilities.
posted by mrgrimm at 10:53 PM on May 22, 2013 [7 favorites]


In other words, we can't do it alone - collective action for social and cultural change is necessary.

Yes, I think that is probably true. Wouldn't it be wonderful if the same kind of collective action (though not the same institutions) that brought Obama to power could be used to push through a program of legislation to improve the lives of all American citizens - whether by mandating decent working hours, and time to vote and practice their constitutional rights, or dramatically increasing their security and protecting them against uncertainty with a national health service, guaranteed work or state-provided unemployment insurance etc. etc. ?

A lot of Americans have been taught that being ambitious, being demanding in this way, being, in short, someone who won't accept bad service from the state - that that is somehow sacrilegious. I'm not so sure.

I think people are maybe beginning to realize, en masse, that the way things are now is in fact a redistribution, an unnatural redistribution, of the wealth created by effort and creativity, which has somehow been stolen away and accumulated at the top of society, in a very shady way; and that the men who pulled off this trick have dressed it up in a lot of claims that it is somehow natural, but those claims don't hold up well under scrutiny. In the past they would have been kings using religion; now, they are an oligarchy that uses the scholastic wrangling and three-card-monte mathematics found in certain traditions in economics. But either way, it's all a rather shabby trick.

As that illusion begins to fray a bit around the edges, I wonder if more and more people aren't starting to explore alternatives in a way in which they haven't in years - and starting to get a little more healthy selfishness with it.

After all, if we can produce enough for everyone to have a good standard of living on thirty hours of work a week, why shouldn't we? What, are we not good enough for that? Because I'm sensing the beginnings of a pretty serious market demand for that freedom.
posted by lucien_reeve at 6:57 AM on May 23, 2013 [4 favorites]


Well, logically not everything could be cheaper on an inflation adjusted basis....

Back in the day you could buy a Coke for $1.65. Now it only costs a nickel.

(Tangent - Funny story on Coke)
posted by Smedleyman at 7:06 AM on May 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


I don't know if I'd call hopping from hospital to assisted living facility, as three of my four grandparents do (the other still works, though he's officially retired), "leisure time", but whatever floats your boat.

Also, if you're under 40 and you think you're going to afford retirement, you're either rich or delusional. The Democrats are trying to cut Social Security and Medicare, while the Republicans are actively trying to destroy them. That money you're saving will, at best, cover your medical expenses when you get old. We as a country have decided that our standard of living is too high (while the standard of living of the super-rich is not high enough).
posted by dirigibleman at 7:54 AM on May 23, 2013 [5 favorites]


I reject the premise that there has been an increase in working hours versus leisure time. I contend that an appropriate measure is the amount of time spent working over a lifetime is more meaningful. I contend that leisure time is therefore not reduced compared to earlier periods. I contend our capitalist consumer society does not have a negative impact on leisure time and may even extend leisure time.
posted by otto42 at 4:28 PM on May 22


otto42, you seem to be deliberately ignoring the point that the article and many other commenters(eg.) are making that a more uniform distribution of leisure time across people's lives is also important. You, personally, may care only for the total amount of leisure time in your life, and that is fine if that lifts your luggage. But the entire point of the article is that people in general need leisure on a weekly basis (or at least monthly) for various reasons including:
  1. so that they can be better citizens and active democratic participants, and
  2. in order to maintain communities and interpersonal connections.
The article does not treat leisure as an end unto itself, but as a means for enabling civic engagement and maintenance of communities and social ties. How does delaying leisure until end-of-lifetime help these goals? Do you think that only retirees should be engaged in the political process? Will you suddenly have strong family ties, friendships, and be well integrated into your locational or other community after you retire if you have not put any work into developing these relationships throughout your entire working life?

Perhaps these issues are not of interest to you: perhaps you are happy with the current political situation in the US and would just as soon not put effort into the responsibilities of citizenship such as researching issues, forming informed opinions, lobbying your representatives, becoming involved in local government, and voting. Perhaps you have no friends and no family that you are close to and are quite happy with this. Perhaps you live in a little fortress-castle and leave your home in a fortress-car through a well-secured garage-entry and could care less what sort of neighborhood you live in, how safe it is, or how toxic or non-toxic your local environment is. If that is your preference, that is fine. But keep in mind that this is not how most people care to live.

If you do have friends and loved ones, how do you maintain those relationships? How much time do you, personally, have outside of work, how much do you spend on maintaining your personal relationships, and in what manner do you go about this? If you have some fabulously efficient method for doing this, I certainly would appreciate being enlightened so that I could make use of your methods to improve my own life.

If you are concerned, pre-retirement, about the responsibilities of citizenship (as your participation in metafilter discussions on economic and political manners might suggest), how much time do you spend per week or per month researching issues so that you may form informed opinions? How do you go about this efficiently? Are you involved in local politics? Why or why not, and if so, how? How much time does that take? Schedule-wise, when do you spend the time on these efforts?
posted by eviemath at 9:05 AM on May 23, 2013 [5 favorites]


As an adendum to the last paragraph, how much time do you spend reading and commenting on metafilter? When do you do this - are you able to do it at work, or is this part of your leisure time?
posted by eviemath at 9:08 AM on May 23, 2013


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