Comment 26035

By Undustrial (registered) - website | Posted July 22, 2008 at 00:45:34

"My Dad hated his work, but he slogged away, counting down the days 'til his retirement."

That kind of statement says it all. Working, at least in the waged sense, sucks. Though productivity has been soaring for decades, ordinary working class people have not seen any serious decrease in working hours (in fact, with the advent of the women's movement, we've seen total working hours nearly double) or real increase in wages. A century ago, and for decades before that, the idea of working less was central to the labour movement - Canada's first recorded labour activism was a group started to advocate for the 9-hour workday, right here in Hamilton. People died fighting for the eight and nine hour workdays, and now in many cases we're actually working more.

Working is not good for people. People die. People are permanently injured. People endure serious physical and mental stress, and in manifests in all manner of negative ways. People commute for hours on the 403 then spend their days at cash registers and desks, and face the mental and physical consequences of getting virtually no excercise. Welders come home spattered with burns from flying molten metal, coal miners come home wheezing from black lung and many steelworkers spend their days risking death in environments which are entirely hostile to human life. While at work we miss out on our loved ones, our friends, our hobbies, our passions and our communities.

Less than 2% of our population grows all of our food (plus much for export). The job market is filled with many effectively nonproductive jobs - management, advertising, finance, and warfare - we could easily cut the workweek down a dozen hours or so and still meet all our our physical needs (housing, food, medicine etc). Though I doubt this will ever become policy, it could easily come about one person at a time, as individuals down-shift their lives away from current levels of consumption, and make more sensible choices about from whom they chose to consume.

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