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An old idea that’s worth revisiting: More leisure

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Far better known for his work The General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money, John Maynard Keynes had another piece plenty of us would love to revisit, especially in these days when working a seventy-hour week has for some strange reason become a virtue: “Economic Possibilities for Our Grandchildren.”

Robert and Edward Skidelsky present a pretty convincing argument as to why Keynes’ vision of a fifteen-hour work week made possible by our “technological progress” makes far more sense than continuing to pursue a strictly capitalist path:

He asked something hardly discussed today: What is wealth for? How much money do we need to lead a good life? This might seem an impossible question. But it is not a trivial one. Making money cannot be an end in itself—at least for anyone not suffering from acute mental disorder. To say that my purpose in life is to make more and more money is like saying that my aim in eating is to get fatter and fatter. And what is true of individuals is also true of societies. Making money cannot be the permanent business of humanity, for the simple reason that there is nothing to do with money except spend it. And we cannot just go on spending. There will come a point when we will be satiated or disgusted or both. Or will we?

Though it sounds like heresy at a time when we’re trying to regain the ground lost in the Great Recession, the points they bring up make a hefty meal when it comes to food for thought.

And to think that Keynes thought we could be at this utopian point by 2030…

Full story at The Chronicle of Higher Education.

Why are we working so much?

Photo credit: Fotolia

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