Change is the law of life. And those who look only to the past are certain to prolong reaching the future.
I remember my fourth grade teacher giving us a glimpse of the future. We were told that things would be so modernized when we grew up that we would have much more free time on our hands than our parents.
My father, like almost everyone else in the 1950's, was working 40 hours a week. My mother was being a 1950's mother, staying at home to take care of the family. I was relieved to learn that I wouldn't have to put in that many hours when I was my parent's age.
But it never came true.
More than a half century later, Americans are still stuck in the rut of a 40-hour workweek. In fact, Americans now average more hours per week than they did fifty years ago and have less vacation time than any other industrial nation in the world. And in many cases, both parents are forced to work just to stay even.
The average American family pays more in taxes than food, clothing, shelter and transportation combined. Either we are incapable of being personally responsible for our own welfare or government has gotten vastly out of control.
Nearly 50 percent of our income goes to government. This includes federal & state income tax, social security tax, Medicare tax, real estate property tax, personal property tax, state & county & city sales tax, self-employment tax, gasoline tax, liquor tax, cigarette tax, federal excise tax, import tax, luxury tax, gift tax, inheritance tax, hotel tax, transportation tax, federal & state & county telephone tax, etc., etc.
We're stuck at 40 hours per week of labor with nearly 20 of those hours going to government coffers.
This is insane.
Instead of finding a rational solution to this tedious work load, the federal government keeps churning away trying to find new ways to fit everyone into a 40-hour per week job to keep the giant economic engine going. They are stuck with a 1950s model of the way things ought to be, rather than figuring out ways to lesson the tax burden on the people and lower government spending.
The government assumes the solution to unemployment is to create more jobs into a full-time 40-hour week paradigm. Instead, it would make much more sense to be flexible with the 40-hour per week system. If the work week was shorter, more people would have jobs, creating the same amount of output.
For example, if you have 80 people working and 20 people on unemployment at a 40-hour week, you have an output of 3,200 man-hours of production. But if you reduced the work week to 32 hours, all 100 people would still create 3,200 man-hours of production per week. Flexibility of hours allows everyone to work and shortens the hours, without any loss of productivity.
An even more radical solution is a 3-day work week of 9-hour days. This would allow half of the work force to work 27 hours for 3 days and the other half to work 27 hours the next 3 days. This would increase overall output from a 40-hour week of productivity to a 54-hour per week productivity, whereby we would actually produce more while working less individual hours, plus there would be "jobs" for twice as many people as before.
Nobody, with the possible exception of Hugh Hefner, goes to their grave wishing they had spent more time working at their job. Recent surveys show that most Americans don't really like their jobs. They're working jobs they hate in order to buy things they don't need, and half of what they earn is confiscated from them for various dubious government adventures that are overly costly and almost always include unintended adverse consequences.
A prime example of the wastefulness and sheer ignorance of consequences of the federal government was the recent Cash for Clunkers program, which they naturally claim was a smashing success.
A clunker that travels 12,000 miles a year at 15 mpg uses 800 gallons of gas a year. A vehicle that travels 12,000 miles a year at 25 mpg uses 480 gallons a year. Thus, the average Cash for Clunkers transaction will reduce US gasoline consumption by 320 gallons per year. They claim 700,000 vehicles were involved so that's 224 million gallons saved per year, which equals about 5 million barrels of oil. And 5 million barrels of oil at $70 per barrel costs about $350 million dollars. Therefore, the government used $3 billion of our tax dollars to save $350 million, which amounts to costing $8.57 for every dollar saved.
This is the same government that creates a penny at a cost of 1.7 cents per penny.
And everyone keeps grinding away, 40 hours per week, 50 weeks per year, pouring money down a rat hole, while their inefficient central government is having endless meetings trying to think of ways to create more 40-hour per week jobs.
If we reduce the workweek, more people will have jobs. Plus, everyone will have more free time, which in turn will create more job opportunities in various travel, recreational, vacation, entertainment, hobby, crafts, art, and environmental sectors.
Instead of trying to maintain a 1950s model of existence, we should endeavor to improve our quality of life. We need to work less and enjoy life more. As predicted, everything has been modernized. My fourth grade teacher would be amazed -- electronics, robotics, improved vehicles, computers, Internet, satellite communications, i-pods, e-mail, cell phones, laser technology, medical advances, etc.
A rigid 40-hour workweek contributes to the "unemployment" problem, not the lack of jobs. A shorter workweek is the solution, not creating more tasks for people to do. Flexibility and adaptability is the key, not trying to fit the modern world into the distant past.
The wasteful, ever-growing federal government intrusion in the economy is beyond the scope of their function and will only make matters worse. Their task is to ensure a level playing field, protect individual rights, maintain a common infrastructure and allow the freedom of the marketplace to flourish on its own. It is not within their purview to define or maintain or manipulate or manage the private jobs of private citizens.
An administration that attempts to solve the over-spending of the past by excessively over-spending even more in the present and the future is not to be trusted with the economy, or anything else.
Plunging the nation into unprecedented debt may be the governmental prescription for keeping its citizens enslaved into working full-time forever, but it's not much fun for the slaves.
The USA is based on life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. We have a long history of sacrificing lives to maintain our individual freedom. Yet in 2009, we are being treated like cogs within a monolithic, socialistic central government machine.
Planet Earth is slowly becoming a prison planet. And if we stay the course, it will culminate in a monolithic, socialistic one-world government.
The struggle for freedom never ends.
Instead to rallying for more jobs, we should be rallying for less work and more freedom.
Quote for the Day -- "The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants." Thomas Jefferson
Bret Burquest is an award-winning columnist and author of four novels. He lives in the Ozark Mountains with a dog named Buddy Lee and where modernization includes indoor plumbing. His blogs appear on several websites, including www.myspace.com/bret1111