21 hour week

January 16, 2012

Via http://www.stumblingandmumbling.typepad.com/ came two links to blogs on the New Economics Foundation’s proposal for a 21 hour working week.

You can read more about that idea here http://neweconomics.org/events/2011/11/22/about-time-examining-the-case-for-a-shorter-working-week.

The blog posts are here http://crookedtimber.org/2012/01/14/towards-a-21-hour-working-week/ and here http://www.iea.org.uk/blog/an-evening-with-the-new-economics-foundation.

My instinctive reaction is it feels like a good idea but the practicalities of it seem incredibly problematic. How would someone be able to afford rent and the like on half the wage? Obviously that would require something to give in terms of housing costs but i’m not sure anyone is proposing any method for how that could be dealt with.

There’s also the feel of judgement being passed on lesser beings with regard to ‘pathological consumption’. The narrative being that we all enslave ourselves to a 50 hour week in the pursuit of more stuff. I think you can point out the downsides of consumerism: ecological damage, debt, vast shopping centres you can only visit by car without getting moralistic about the act of shopping. People seem to enjoy shopping and probably won’t get over excited about ideas of going down the allotment instead. Sometimes green types seem to be crusading more against people’s use of their own leisure time than against the impact or consequences of these choices. The latter should surely be more important.



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