So this year has seen me swamped by work. Again. Still…. I’d estimate that I’ve been working around 70+ hours a week since the start of the year. This is not the first time that things have been so out of control. It is not a badge of honour, I am not proud of this, nor do I encourage it. In response to this, and the long list of things I “need” to do this weekend, I’ve been reading about how and why we should reduce the normal work week to 3-4 days, 20-30 hours etc. There appears to be a realisation that this is primarily an option for the affluent, but there is also a growing awareness that significantly increasing the minimum wage and even moving to a unconditional basic income- everyone gets to survive – is an absolute must if this is going to be tenable for everyone.
The problem, which is not directly mine or yours, is where does the money come from? It would appear now that we, as a society, need to pay two people to do one job. The reality is actually that we have all been taking on more and more – for whatever reason, but usually need – and doing two jobs for one salary. People’s time has been devalued, especially those at the “bottom”. I’ve been at the bottom and I’ve worked plenty of crap jobs to survive, so I do not say that with any disrespect – we all do what we have to, and what we can, to survive. So all this requires is a shift towards paying people what they’re worth, rather than what the market can afford.
I am not an economist, so I’m sure I don’t understand how all of this fits into a bigger picture, but someone has to figure that out, and soon, because this needs to happen now. We need to pay people a standard living wage – and I would add, that should be for a 20 hour week. Employing people shouldn’t be a burden – it is often claimed that the overheads of employing two people part-time for the one job are too high. There are probably many other obvious things that can be done but they need to be done from the top down, on a global political level.
When I say that, I probably mean that this capitalist-driven approach is not working. At least it is not working for everyone, which is the same thing. If you are worried that this sounds too socialistic, think about that for a minute, or if it helps call it something else that happens to put society and people first.
What can we do as people? If you are at the “bottom” probably not very much, so if you are not there, then it is up to you! If you can drop your hours, do it. You’re body, mind, friends, co-workers and employers will all appreciate it. Ok, it might take a while for your employer. If you’re an employer you have even more power. Pay people what they are worth, and if you can pay them more and allow them to work fewer hours and hire more people, do it. Most studies indicate that your business will do better. Eventually economic Darwinism may take hold and the companies with the slave workforce will eventually die out.
So that all sounds like a load of naive claptrap. It probably is, but on a good day I hold out hope for humanity. If we are going to survive the next 50 years as a functioning global society, the current economy will have to drastically change. I encourage you to do what you can.
Would reduced hours, increased minimum wage, or a standard living wage, work for you, your job, your company, your town/state/country?