leisureIt is clear that we all work too much, much more than necessary. For the wise Aristotle, happiness depended on leisure, i.e., the activity that was undertaken purely for its own sake rather than as a means to something else. This old question haunts us since the dawn of time… As we are confused about it, the “smart” guys and psychopaths take profit from all the others.

With the Industrial Revolution, “work” became the synonym of wage labor, i.e., time that we spend obeying somebody else’s orders in exchange for money. Across the history of capitalism, workers have fought in an attempt to reduce working hours to leave more time for leisure, while employers denied it. Since the late 19th and early 20th centuries, workers won the battle and got the 10-hour day, and after that, they had rights to the eight-hour day. But, unfortunately, progress has stalled, and now it is clear that only with strong political organizations worldwide and legislative reforms, humankind will get back their human rights.

John Maynard Keynes wrote an essay entitled “Economic Possibilities for Our Grandchildren”, contemplating the reduced number of daily working hours, and imagining what people would do with the leisure time. With the Great Depression, this healthy trend stopped. Since 1970 productivity improved, but wages remained stagnant… there is always the possibility to replace someone at work, the workaholics…

With higher minimum wages, people could work less… In France, some politicians ask for the “universal basic income”. Money should be a public asset, to serve people, and free as the air and water. But what we witness is money become a private asset, countries are suffocated by debt, there is no resolution on the horizon, and there is this pain, this over exaggeration of working hours, our kids working in school too much, in a way that at the end they don’t know how to repair a car, how to play music and develop other hidden talents that each one of us have their assets and life destiny. Will we die before retirement?…

 

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