Sunny Days in Heaven
Spiritual/Political/Philosophical Blog on the Nature of Truth and Falsehood and Heaven

Saturday, December 11, 2004  


It is being reported that the French want to go back to work. Their 35hr/week increases unemployment and their economy suffers, so they are looking to alter that.

But I think they have it right and not enough so.

I always thought that 40 hour weeks took away too much from people's lives.

Years ago I recall reading a study which asserted that 6 hours of concentrated activity was all that humans were capable of and that productivity dropped steeply after that.

I discovered that was true of myself whether I worked in a machine shop or was comfortably writing a play. I could force myself to contine, of course (and had to in the machine shop), but I wasn't nearly as alert and focused (or creative) as I had been.

I also found that working five straight full time days wore down my spirit. I had a resevoir of psychic energy for four days of work, but the fifth day was an effort I had to push through.

For some strange reason, rather than obey the natural rhythms of life, we have arbitrarily determined schedules which defy our actual natures and needs.

We distinguish between part-time and full time labor, for example, and those who work full time feel superior to those who don't.

Part-timers (if they are adults and not students) are generally seen as losers, failures, or slackers in a similar way that people who wear suits and ties feel they are more serious than those who don't. (And yet can anyone think of a clearer metaphor of abject submission to a taskmaster than to literally put one's neck into a noose?)

When I work for myself, like most others, I put in longer hours than 6 or eight. That is, my creative work won't be longer than 6 hours (if that), but the operations of organizing the work, running errands, fixing the details, and coordinating things -- the busy work -- can often run longer. That's because it's not really taxing. It's simply tasking just as if I sat down after work and did some knitting, took out the garbage, went out for dinner, mowed the lawn, or played tennis.

I feel bad for people who own their retail stores or other businesses where they put in long, full days and then have still more work in terms of accounting chores, purchasing and inventory tasks. Self-employment in such cases can easily run 14 - 16 hours a day for more than five days a week.

Americans are the most productive people in the world. No one works harder or smarter, but I consider it a mixed blessing. While it is generally true that a great many people wouldn't know what to do with more time on their hands or would misuse it, it's a shame that so many others who could put such time to good use and personal enjoyment beyond additional TV watching can't.

There is no doubt that the free market provides great incentives for work, but its great flaw is that work becomes an end in itself and subsumes everything else in life; and even those who don't wish to be driven by such incentives are forced to yield to the merciless demands of the marketplace.

Just look at what secularism and the free market have done to the Sabbath.

Two of the strangest days of the year are Thanksgiving and Christmas day. You wake up in the morning and what do you hear in the streets and neighborhoods around you?

Why, you don't hear anything. It's quiet. Nearly everyone is at home doing nothing much.

That only lasts for a little while until after dinner people head out to the movie theaters because they are so bored by that point that they can't stand it anymore. (And TV is showing the same old lame shows they do every year and the sports games are over.)

Anyway, that's life.

posted by Mark Butterworth | 10:10 AM |