Your Lifestyle Has Already Been Designed (The Real Reason For The Forty-Hour Workweek)
David Cain discusses the phenomenon of the 9 - 5 job. After returning from a 9 month backpacking experience, he reflects on the changes he sees in himself and the world around him.
The first thing he notices is the way he spends money.
"As a small example, I’m buying expensive coffees again, even though they aren’t nearly as good as New Zealand’s exceptional flat whites, and I don’t get to savor the experience of drinking them on a sunny café patio. When I was away these purchases were less off-handed, and I enjoyed them more."
He explains the consumer culture we are raised in, and argues that the amount of work we do is directly related to how much money we waste on silly purchases like toys, trips to theme parks, etc.
"The ultimate tool for corporations to sustain a culture of this sort is to develop the 40-hour workweek as the normal lifestyle. Under these working conditions people have to build a life in the evenings and on weekends. This arrangement makes us naturally more inclined to spend heavily on entertainment and conveniences because our free time is so scarce."
He suggests that the more money we have, the less time we have. The less time we have, the more we'll spend our free time on frivolous things.
"I don’t think it’s necessary to shun the whole ugly system and go live in the woods, pretending to be a deaf-mute, as Holden Caulfield often fantasized. But we could certainly do well to understand what big commerce really wants us to be."