Sharing the Work

I have been reading and blogging about possible alternatives to the consumer society in which we live. I came across an idea that had crossed my mind recently about which I blogged (  ).  Tim Jackson, in his book Prosperity Without Growth, suggests “Sharing the Work”. If it takes 40 hours to do a job, reduce the work hours to 30 and you end up employing an extra person for every four. He acknowledges the obvious problem: can people live on ¾ of the wages they once earned? Most people would say not. He suggests what some countries have done – introduce a basic (or citizen’s) income. This is very different from a minimum hourly wage. It is a minimum amount of money one needs to live, no matter the hours worked. I can’t really imagine exactly how this would work in practice. It would be interesting to consult those other countries that have been doing this. Those who believe that people are basically lazy and would prefer to sit home and watch TV would see this as absolutely non-workable. Those who believe people would prefer to be engaged in meaningful work than to be sitting around might see it as a possibility.

I don’t really know. I do know that my husband, six years into retirement, now works a good 20 to 30 hours each week trying to raise money to support the local Boys & Girls Club – no income. Had his former employer offered to keep him at his job working 20 hours in his 60’s instead of 40 as a kind of semi-retirement plan before final retirement, he would have worked longer. As I talk to people, most feel the way he does. It would be an interesting survey. “Would you keep working for less pay if it meant fewer working hours, guaranteed medical coverage, and being able to use your creativity?”

My son in his blog posed a question recently…something like, “What would you be doing if money didn’t matter?” In a way, this is the same question as above. How many would say, “I would sit around and let other people do my laundry, bring me my food, and hand me the remote?”

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