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Monday, Oct. 20, 2014

The 40-Hour Rut

Posted Friday, September 16, 2011, at 2:19 PM

I remember my fourth grade teacher giving us a glimpse of the future. We were told that things would be so "modernized" 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. I was relieved to learn that I wouldn't have to put in that many hours when I was his 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, employed 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.

To add to this burden, 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, port-of-entry fee, marriage license fee, motor vehicle registration fee, driver's license fee, watercraft registration fee, hunting & fishing license fee, dog & cat license fee, etc., etc.

We're stuck at 40 hours per week with nearly 20 of those hours going to government coffers -- this is insane.

The solution to this predicament seems quite simple -- reduce the individual working hours per week, thereby creating openings for those seeking employment

Less hours per worker means more workers needed for the same productive output -- reducing unemployment rates by cutting individual work hours and hiring more people.

Thus, the birth of the 35-hour workweek or the 32-hour workweek or the 30-hour workweek.

For example, a 30-hour workweek could consist of five six-hour days or four seven-and-a-half-hour days or three ten-hour days.

It would give the economy a giant boost because more workers would be required to maintain the same level of productivity. More workers means less unemployment and welfare -- more money going into the system, less taken out of the system.

Plus the economy would get a second boost with more production of leisure equipment, more travel, etc. And best of all, we'd have more free time, leading to more peace of mind.

Recent surveys show that most Americans don't really like their jobs. They're fed up wasting their lives away so the fat cats on top can get fatter while they get two whole days off each week to rejuvenate themselves so they can start the grind all over again on Monday. They're working jobs they hate in order to buy things they don't need. And sooner or later, these things end up owning them.

This is no longer the 1950s -- we don't need to squeeze everyone into a 40-hour per week job. The world has become more efficient. We should be able to cut back on working hours, creating more opportunities for those shut out of the work place, and still maintain a viable lifestyle.

Instead of continually clamoring for jobs, jobs, jobs, we should make quality of life our common objective. This would include a shorter work-week, less government intrusion into our lives, living within our national fiscal means, etc.

The government wants everyone working at full capacity to maximize tax revenues, in order to increase the scope of the government. The corporate world wants everyone working at full capacity in order to maximize profits. Financial institutions want everyone in debt to perpetuate their credit schemes in order to expand their control of the monetary system. And those who lust for wealth and power by seeking a one-world government want everyone working like obedient robots in order to gain control of the planet and enslave the world.

Endless, mindless growth is a cancer. Happiness comes from being satisfied with what you have, not with yearning for more, more, more.

Nobody, with the possible exception of Hugh Hefner, goes to their grave wishing they had spent more time working at their job.

Those of you wanting to work more than 30 hours per week, I'd be glad to give up some work hours to make you happy. After all, It's better to give than to receive.

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Quote for the Day -- "If you don't want to work you have to work to earn enough money so that you won't have to work." Ogden Nash

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Bret Burquest is the author of 7 books, including THE REALITY OF THE ILLUSION OF REALITY and ORB OF WOUNDED SOULS (available on Amazon). He lives in the Ozark Mountains with a dog named Buddy Lee and where nothing is work unless you'd rather be doing something else.

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Bret Burquest is a former award-winning columnist for The News (2001-2007) and author of four novels. He has lived in Minneapolis, Los Angeles, Miami, Atlanta, Kansas City, Memphis and the middle of the Arizona desert. After a life of blood, sweat and tears in big cities, he has finally found peace in northern Arkansas where he grows tomatoes, watches sunsets and occasionally shares the Secrets of the Universe (and beyond) with the rest of the world.
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