Opinion | Working less is a matter of life and death


This is what the Center for Economic and Policy Research called the United States in a 2019 study of 21 wealthy countries that found it to be the only one not to have paid vacations or paid vacations enforced at the level. national. Only 16 states and the District of Columbia have legislation on paid sick leave.

Even Americans who get paid vacation use it sparingly. One study found that more than half did not use all of their free time.

Americans, wrote Samuel Huntington in his book “Who Are We ?: The Challenges to America’s National Identity,“” Work longer hours, have shorter vacations, receive fewer unemployment, disability and retirement benefits, and retire later than people living in relatively wealthy societies. “

Many Americans work long hours to make ends meet. Keynes anticipated the prosperity of modern society, but wrongly assumed that everyone would enjoy a sufficient share of that prosperity.

What is even more striking, however, is that affluent Americans do not follow the lead of the greats of centuries past. Rich people and college graduates actually work a lot more than they did decades ago, and the richest 10% work the most.

Wealthy people of earlier times have shown wealth by conspicuously not working. They wore white gowns or fancy hats or clean gloves. During the last Golden Age, the “leisure class” spent their days doing activities like Downton Abbey, sneaking through the rose garden, hunting a fox, or dressing for dinner.

Today’s wealthy Americans show themselves by working all the time.

Why? One explanation is that people like to work, at least in the types of jobs that wealthy Americans tend to have. Throughout the history of mankind most people had to work, the work was dark and they assumed that no one would work more than necessary. Aristotle said: “The reason we work is to have leisure.” Affluent Americans seem to have decided that leisure is best enjoyed in moderation.

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