My essay in (the new and exciting) Aeon magazine looking at Keynes’ suggestion that we could achieve decent living standards for all with an average of 15 hours a week of market work has had mostly favorable responses. But Kevin Vallier at the Bleeding Hearts Libertarian blog has now written a lengthy response and he doesn’t like it. Unfortunately, that’s about all I can say, since he throws a lot of adjectives (sectarian, morally impoverished and so on) at me without actually spelling out an objection.

Vallier’s response is in three parts. The first is a lengthy and fairly accurate, though hostile, summary of my general political position. He doesn’t offer a substantive criticism, but snipes about semantics Vallier objects, for example, to my “derisive” use of the term “market liberalism’ to describe “the sum total of pro-market economic thought that has had some influence over the last fifty years”. In fact, as I said in Zombie Economics, I picked the term precisely to avoid the pejorative connotations of the more commonly used “neoliberalism”[1]. What does Vallier propose here? I can’t spell out “the sum total of pro-market economic thought that has had some influence over the last fifty years” every time I want to refer to the ideas I’m criticising. In essence, I think he is upset that, by giving any name to the dominant ideas of recent decades, I am pointing out that they represent an ideology, with a history, rather than a set of timeless truths.

The second part of Vallier’s response is a summary of the main argument of my essay, but so brief that a reader who didn’t follow the link would have a very limited idea of what I was saying. The third part criticises me for advocating “coercion” against people who want to work hard and make money. Vallier doesn’t say what he means by this. The obvious incorrect inference, drawn by quite a few of his readers, is that I’m advocating statutory limits on hours of paid work[2]. However, he doesn’t seem to mean that. Rather, he seems to object to high income earners being required to pay taxes to support people who don’t work.

But this raises a puzzle. The only policy proposal I discuss in any detail is that for a guaranteed minimum income. But Vallier supports this – in fact, it’s pretty much the central distinction between Bleeding Heart Libertarians and the regular Republican+legal drugs kind.[3] So, is he inferring (correctly) that I’d propose a higher minimum than the BHLs? Or something else? I really don’t know.

In comments Vallier says

John (may I call you John?), I greatly appreciate your interest in my remarks. After reading your blogs and books over the last (eight?) years, I’m most curious to know whether you’ll respond in the style of a liberal perfectionist or the more politically liberal way Ryan suggests above.

Here’s roughly what I have in mind. The first approach would hold that I’m wrong to think a society really can be structured by institutions attractively neutral between a range of conceptions of the good and that you’re *just correct* that the ideals I describe are more morally defective than the forms of life a social democratic society would promote, perhaps because social democracy better promotes autonomy.

The second approach would hold that a social democratic society really is relatively neutral in the Rawlsian sense because it blocks institutional structures that compel people to work more than they would like.

I read the essay twice before summarizing it and I (obviously) gave it the perfectionist reading, which seems to me far more natural. But you wrote the essay!

This isn’t the way I’d think about things, but I would have thought it was pretty obvious from the tagline

The 15-hour working week predicted by Keynes may soon be within our grasp – but are we ready for freedom from toil?

and from the question

Supposing a Keynesian utopia is feasible, will we want it? Or will we prefer to keep chasing after money to buy more and better things?

that I intended the second of these readings. I argue that the recent trend to longer hours (at least for the core workforce) is an undesirable by-product of market liberalism, rather than a reflection of what people really value, but I also point to people who say the opposite.

fn1. There’s also the problem that the term is sometimes used in the US to describe Clinton-style “Third Way” Democrats
fn2. I briefly mention the loi Aubry, which limited working hours in France, but only to say that its erosion indicates a trend to longer hours of work in Europe.
fn3. Vallier mentions that this point has been disputed between members of BHL and members of Crooked Timber, but CT does not have a policy line (as Daniel Davies says, we span the gamut from social democrat to democratic socialist!). As was clear from my comments during that dispute, I’m more sympathetic to the idea that much existing intervention could be replaced by an adequate minimum income than are most of the CT members and commenters.

28 thoughts on “BHL on JMK

  1. “Supposing a Keynesian utopia is feasible, will we want it? Or will we prefer to keep chasing after money to buy more and better things?”

    I don’t get why would a libertarian ask such a question. If a Keynesian utopia is supposed feasible, then people have more choice on the way they live since they are not coerced on the need to work. I don’t doubt the possibility that some (not all!) people might want longer work hours than 15 hours to buy better goods and services, but they can do so as well at their free will.

    Unless there are some assumption being made when he supposed a feasible Keynesian utopia like higher taxes on high income earners, regulations on work hours or anything else that are disliked by the libertarians. I simply don’t see the reason why he would dislike the idea.

    P.S. I can see Ryan Muldoon is making a similar point in the comment section.

  2. “But Kevin Vallier at the Bleeding Hearts Libertarian blog has now written a lengthy response and he doesn’t like it. Unfortunately, that’s about all I can say, since he throws a lot of adjectives (sectarian, morally impoverished and so on) at me without actually spelling out an objection.”

    In a way, I guess, you should feel honored. You are receiving about the same treatment Keynes himself received from Mises:

    Lord Keynes and Say’s Law

  3. Still squaring this post off with Kevin Kelly’s recent one:

    “Civilization is not just about saving labor but also about “wasting” labor to make art, to make beautiful things, to “waste” time playing… Nobody ever suggested that Picasso should spend fewer hours painting per picture in order to boost his wealth or improve the economy. The value he added to the economy could not be optimized for productivity. It’s hard to shoehorn some of the most important things we do in life into the category of “being productive.” Generally any task that can be measured by the metrics of productivity — output per hour — is a task we want automation to do. In short, productivity is for robots. “

  4. I’m already struggling with the whole Keynsian Utopia, and my answer is yes, I will do more than the minimum work in order to have surplus money to do interesting things. Not the 45-50 hours a week that the average Australian “full time” worker does, but enough that I can buy electronic gadgets and other toys. Or just raw materials to build things with.

    One thing I think we would see is more, more affordable craftsmanship. I expect we’d see a lot of things that are currently uneconomic become more available simply because people who like making them can now afford to do so.

    Having the NDIS would make that even more likely, based on the NZ example (ACC) where a whole lot of barriers to entry for small businesses are only slowly appearing as the health safety net is eroded (I mean, “brought into line with Australia and to a lesser extent the USA”). Not having to have public liability insurance is a huge boost because it means that things you make as a hobby can more easily be sold, rather than it being over $1000 to get insurance before you can safely sell anything.

  5. I think that MMT would be indispensable as a support for creating Keynesian Utopia and parallel currency idea too.
    MMT gives the insight of what is real value and what is nominal value, or at least makes you understand what is important and how to achieve it. At first look i tought that it tries to “take from me and give it to undeserved” but as understanding it better it became ” give to all as needed and i will benefit by better environment”. If someone is trying to cling to idea that some people are “undeserved” then it become impossible to understand MMT.

    With MMT system and organisational structures willing to try Keynesian Utopia, believing in it, we could achieve it within 15-20 years. But off course, to get to that point, people that cling desperatly to present structures have to die off for new generations who believe in KU could try to implement it.
    Parallel currency would be necessary to fullfill the role of enabling those desiring for more then average materialism by using it to pay for extra work hours and accuire luxurious items. It would be a luxury economy just as present system with all restraints aplicable as today. Primary currency reserved for subsistance needs, and luxury currency for materialist desire.

    There is a problem of greed or in such equitable and egalitarian society it is expresed in Private Property Instinct. In capitalism, greed comes from abillity to “earn” more and more, while in socialist society where the contribution to production is close to equal, distribution of it becomes a desire to take more then equal share of production, it is not as clear as greed but feeling as deserving more and having right to have more without realizing that others get less. So i preffer to call it Private Property Instinct, which destroyed Tito’s shot at Keynesian Utopia.

    Yes, communist countries attempted KU, even triyng to reduce burden of house chores on women by building public kitchens for all and large kindergartens. That was attempted before Stallin and on limited scale in Jugoslavia. It was believed that states did not had resources for it due to need for industralization and repairing WWII destruction, and population unwillingness to accept it as irresponsible and not willing to accept universalisation of education.
    Even tough communist countries used Keynes theories in full trust and printed money for developement, they came to resource constraints and bureocracy that was directing distribution of goods and services decided to preserve thier advantage of distributing more to them and instead working on further devolepement got more into fight with workers to preserve their power which brought economic stagnation.
    This fight came from Private Property Instinct that caused privatisation of common resources unequitably.

    Hitler also implemented Keynes theories in total and thats how he became glorified as god by his countryman. What he did with such power is another thing, but he did implement Keynes theories at full speed and from destroyed economy after hyperinflation in few years he organised full employment. Blaming Jews is how he achieved national consensus to follow him follow idea, national consensus which is a prerequisite for achieving KU.

  6. What i am trying to say is that in 19302 the whole advanced world was implementing Keynes theories with different degrees. The history present the problems they had in implementing it and sustaining the order with childish population and how they tried to solve it.
    Problem of consensus of the whole nation is an imperative to implement Keynes ideas, Hitler achievad it by blaming Jews, Stallin by force and coercion, Roosevelt by education (Fireside chat), Tito by presenting outside enemy, Japan by defference to royalty (god).
    Roosevelt’s way was the most succesfull and durable.

    There is a problem of sustaining it after implementation. Stallin by force, Tito comming off force and coersion into ideaology that did not present problem fully and even imprisoned those that pointed to further development and problems (praxis school), slowly degraded in US by loosing idea and knowledge from Roosevelt under constant pressure of well organised capitalists, but Japan still shows the way in most flexible kind of KU.

    I want to present Private Property Instinct as a natural problem in sustaining KU once implemented and resource constraints (lebensraum) as cause for WWII while trying to sustain system once developed.

  7. Dr Quiggin,
    I think Vallier is actually accusing you of heresy since you are questioning Weber’s “Protestant Work Ethic” as the best and only way to economic salvation. You can expect the market liberalism Inquisition to be knocking on the office door any minute now.

  8. Vallier’s core argument pivots on his view that:

    An ideal is objectionable when it requires the use of coercion against people.

    This is a rendition of Objectivist theory, where coercion is only permissible in retaliation – except the term “force” is usually used.

    In order to distribute income and opportunities fairly and increase leisure, social policy appears to “coerce” some individuals, who (camouflaged by Vallier as) have some vague:

    distinct but reasonable worldviews and philosophical commitments.

    These so-called “worldviews and commitments” boil down to anarco-capitalism but (n.b.) based on a society already constructed by coercion (and savage coercion).

    It is not possible to obtain a capitalist society if everyone starts from a position of equal endowments and equal rationality. Objectivists therefore exploit those who have naturally less rationality and/or less endowments. Objectivists entrench exploitative potential into their so-called:

    reasonable worldviews and philosophical commitments.

    It is a recipe for slavery.

  9. I think it’s odd to be talking of a utopian future when all the evidence is that we face a severe dystopia in the near future. What stares us in the face is the end of growth capitalism caused by the exhaustion of much of our resource base, limits on pollution absorption and six degrees of more of global warming.

    It is worth asking what went wrong with the scientific and humanist revolution. It was swamped by capitalist and religious reaction. It was also swamped I think by personal, sectarian, ethnic and nationalist competition. Our fundamental human biological nature seems to have us hardwired so that we make these kind of mistakes over and over. Unlike some Marxists, I do hold that there is such a thing as basic human nature. For sure it is malleable but not infinitely malleable.

    The proper practice of science and humanism requires a lot of self-critical analysis. This is required to avoid the mistakes of subjectivity, self-interestedness and bias. Even then, the early foundations of scientific humanism are now found to be naively optimistic. There is a fundamental flaw in the basic assumption that man’s rationality, his science and technology put him outside and “above” natural laws. The flawed notion was that he could manipulate natural laws and a complex biosphere system at will and without concern for unseen consequences.

    It is a classic case of downfall by hubris. The ancients understood our flaws well. Pride, fallability and “sin” are the flaws in question. These flaws in human nature can be ameliorated somewhat by diligent effort but never overcome. There can be no utopia while mankind is imperfect and mankind will always be imperfect at least until he goes extinct. The can be no utopia while there is mortality and mortality too is inescapable.

    In fact, there is much to indicate that the struggle for existence under conditions somewhat tougher than the average Westerner faces today is salutary and necessary for biological beings and either (a) (grandiously) confers a kind of basic nobility to human existence as a doomed fight consciously undertaken with open-eyed courage or (b) (realistically) at least prevents a pointless coda to active mortal existence. It is ignoble to live too long and end up an Alzheimer’s struck vegetable in a nursing home yet that is the precise end for most in a materialist utopia.

    On the other hand we can note that existence is limitation. To exist is to be limited. To be human and to be more aware of those limits than any other animal is a dubious “gift” at best. To cease to exist is to escape pain and limitation. For sure, exist while there is some feeling of enjoyment and freedom (within limits) but be aware that material plenty and leisure is not the way to happiness any more than is excessive privation. A busy and austere life, albeit with all the basic supports, self-chosen or forced on one by necessity, is actually best for humans.

  10. @Ikonoclast
    First, i would recomend reading last two Wallerstein articles about incoming worldwide conflict of these ideas and further developement of capitalism:

    confrontation between Wallier’s and JQ’s visions.
    What will decide who will win?
    How i see about what will triger the violent confrontation?
    Whether more fascist capitalism will win or not is dependent on climate change. With more violent weather destruction and cost of repairs and disaster relief, developed countries will face more and more costly weather events which with present neoliberal ideology they will not want to provide finances for. These disaster areas will grow and grow with more people desperate to feed their families. Faced with death by disease or starvation they will have no choice but to turn to looting/ invading gated comunities. The armed response will triger mass response from rest of the population watching wictims of a weather events being killed by rulling ellite.
    This is only plausable series of events toward real change in thinking. More fascist ideology can win but it can be sustained only for short time untill critical mass reaches boiling point.
    Even tough i can see Obama leading very slowly toward more democratic vision.

  11. @Ikonoclast

    but be aware that material plenty and leisure is not the way to happiness any more than is excessive privation. A busy and austere life, albeit with all the basic supports, self-chosen or forced on one by necessity, is actually best for humans.

    I would prefer that best for humans is to take care of others instead of themselves only. Acctually mixture of caring for others and for yourself is a way to go and both science and Jesus point to that.

    I have the view of science as atempt at a rational thinking to prove Jesus’s message true.

  12. @Ikonoclast

    I too, do not think that we are heading to a Keynesian utopia.

    “It is worth asking what went wrong with the scientific and humanist revolution”

    History provides more than enough evidence that human society makes judgements of right or wrong on non-cognitive basis much more often than cognitive basis. Especially when it comes to issues that conflicts with our interest and “common sense”, Galileo and Copernicus would be the easiest and the most obvious example how non-cognitivism defeats cognitivism. The same applies to climate change, economics and every other issues, people (unconsciously) gives more weight on evidence that favours them and less weight (or completely ignore and denies) on evidence that is against their belief and interest. While I’m well aware that the same thing applies to me as well, in a sense, human behaviour to science have not changed that much since Galileo.

    “A busy and austere life, albeit with all the basic supports, self-chosen or forced on one by necessity, is actually best for humans.”

    Maybe or maybe not. People are indeed very good with “wasting” free time watching TV, sleeping or doing things that others might regard as meaningless (heck, I’ve done a lot of these things). However, with more “free” time available, people can spend their time doing more reading or researching thus improving the general intellect of the society. I suppose how people use their free time depends a lot on their culture, but Finland can be used as an example of this, where short school hours can still lead to high education standard due to self study. With a busy and austere life, people may have more tendencies to rest, relax and enjoy when they have free time.

  13. Checking back at the definitions, I have made a big mistake in my comment. Non-cognitivism seems to refer to judgement on moral issues only. I’m having trouble finding the correct word, but is there a word that describe people making judgement of true or false on verifiable knowledge (something that can be verified or falsified with evidence) based on emotions?

  14. Tom, perhaps what you are looking for is emotional responses. Although in Social Psychology they talk about humans as cognitive miser (Fiske and Taylor, 1984), kind of ‘near enough is good enough’. This was a evolutionary advantage as decisions often could be made on the hop and so did not take up much time and energy. In the last century in particular, we have changed our cultural, social and physical environment to such a complexity that most of the time humans have not the time nor the energy or will to think things through. Emotional responses is even a faster driven decision or response making mechanism and goes back to reptilian ‘flight-fight’ behaviour. These are faster then cognitive responses as they bypass it altogether. Research by Paul Ekmann and Joseph LeDoux are particularly interesting in that area, as well as Daniel Goleman who coined Emotional intelligence. To a large extent these emotional responses can be learned or are picked up from the dominant social group. To give you an example, how people react to snake is largely copied and embedded by how the social responses were when that person first became aware of concept of snake and quite resistant to change. The emotional reaction to a snake is part of its cognitive concept in our brain.

    Thus, rather than looking for what went wrong with the human and scientific enterprise, I would suggest that the way we have changed the world and for that matter ourselves lately, is way beyond the old and broader social, cultural, psychological capacity response system to risks which are almost beyond comprehension.

  15. Pardon my writing, I am in a fair bit of pain atm and can’t concentrate properly. However, for a similar interesting angle on above, you may want to look up Kenneth J. Gergen. Although having a postmodern slant in his thinking, as in literary and critical theory as well as social constructionism, he came up with a usful complementary theoretical frame work. Particularly some of the concepts he has come up with in regards to transforming social life, enabling change towards more collaborative and participatory relationships.

    Take for example biology, it is riddled with collaborative entities, in fact as individuals we rely entirely on collaborative systems, starting with the base of intra cellular collaboration to complex immune and nervous systems. In fact just as there is no proof for a God you’ll find it hard to find a proof for your ‘self’ (homunculi) , so we as individuals are basically a collaborative entity and could not exist without such.

  16. see for lee ohanian on “Economic Possibilities for our Grandchildren calling his eassy Back to the future for Keynes.
    • The declining hours worked per adult in the last 40 years in Europe are not due to rising wealth, but are accounted for by higher taxation, labor market restrictions and social welfare benefit programmes

    • Keynes’s forecast of a two day week in the 21st century is off the mark due to his mistaken view that the income elasticity of leisure is much higher than that of consumption.

    • Keynes argued that policies that change the incentives to work, consume, and invest would not lead people to significantly substitute from market activities into leisure.

  17. @Jim Rose

    • The declining hours worked per adult in the last 40 years in Europe are not due to rising wealth, but are accounted for by higher taxation, labor market restrictions and social welfare benefit programmes

    This point to government policies have substantial effect on publics decision on working hours without being forcibly coercive.
    When government abandons that policy it creates space for private sector to influence its own preferences onto public which is buy, buy, buy and with it incentivises for more working hours.

    Life satisfaction is higher in Europe due to more leisure time then in places where private sector is allowed to influence public. In addition, more leisure time is aforded by more equal income distribution which is achieved by above cited policy.

  18. Jordon, Europeans do not have more leisure time. When taxes increase, individuals start doing for themselves what they could purchase in the market.

    Richard Freeman and Ronald Schettkat (2001) studied time allocation data for married couples in Germany and the US in the 1990s and found that
    · Americans devote more time to market work and less time to home production than do Germans.
    · total time devoted to work (i.e., market work plus home production): it turns out that the two countries are virtually the same.
    · patterns of consumer expenditure differ correspondingly: Germans spend more time preparing meals at home and spend less at eating establishments.

    Freeman and Schettkat (2005) extend this analysis to a larger set of countries. Time spent in home production in Europe is about 20 percent higher than in the United States. The increased time in home production only partially offsets the decrease in time devoted to market work.

    Steven Davis and Magnus Henrekson (2004) found that an increase in taxes of one-quarter of one percent leads to a decrease equal to 2.4 percent in the employment share in the broad set of sectors that have good home-produced substitutes


  19. @Ootz

    Thanks for the recommendation Ootz, I agree on your take that the society has also changed and this affects the approach people takes whether or not they will rely on emotional response.

  20. Tom, it is refreshing that some one is asking these fundamental questions of definitions. Years ago I came to the conclusion that we do not have ecological or environmental ‘problems’ as such. Rather, a pragmatic view would say the problem is in our head, the way we are frame it and go about it. Thus, very similarly the core problems with the economy is not the economy per se, because at the source of the problem we will find unresolved epistemological issues as well as our assumed ‘natural’ behaviour in an economy. E F Schumacher’s, who after all was Economic Advisor to the National Coal Board from 1950 to 1970, identified in “A Guide For The Perplexed” that ‘materialistic scientism’ and the current philosophical ‘maps’ which are prevalent in western thought and science are both overly narrow and based on some false premises. And so looking at definitions and humans as actors within economy, is a discussion we have to have to be able to address core issues or problems.

    In regrds to change in society, the tectonic changes in the landscape of social and psychological environment over the last century or indeed even over the last few decades of the information revolution, can not be ignored when addressing or solving existential human problems. When you look at evolutionary psychology, the way we map knowledge and constitute common sense has changed remarkably as we progressed as humanity through the major social, psychological and environmental steps we have undertaken since our emergence as Homo sapiens, as a group of roughly 1500 individuals surviving the previous ice age 120k years or so ago. If we seriously do wish to keep that enterprise going and do justice to our distant ancestors who struggled enormously at times to make it, we do have to look at our present thinking including definitions, our desires and behaviour and test these for congruence.

  21. Jordon, an unusual left-right unity ticket has emerged to explain depressions in the 1930s and the depressed EU economies after the 1970s: the great vacation theory.

    In the late 1970s, Modigliani dismissed the 1969 Lucas-Rapping paper on the U.S. great depression as the great vacation theory where the mass voluntary unemployment of the 1930s is explained, in Modigliani words, as a congenital attack of laziness.

    An increased preference for leisure is another name for voluntary unemployment.

    As Prescott pointed out in papers in 2002, 2004 and 1999, the USA in the Great Depression and France since the 1970s were both 30% drops in hours worked per adult. That is why Prescott refers to France’s economy as depressed.

    Others such as Blanchard attributef the lower labour force participation rates in the EU to their greater preference for leisure. is he saying they went on vacation and did not come back?

    In reality, time use studies conclude that lower hours of market work in Europe is entirely offset by higher hours of home production, implying that Europeans do not enjoy more leisure than Americans despite the widespread impression that they do.

  22. @Jim Rose
    I do not want to dignify any vacation theory with response. Even this much response is too much of a response.

    Home production is higher in Europe then in USA but it has totaly different conotations and impact on human wellbeing then largely undemocratic environment at market work.
    But what is interesting that you are getting an argument that is comming from Marx, that all work is work, even raising kids, preparing food and house maintenace.

    But you can see that home production is democraticly decided and shared, and total home income is also somewhat democraticaly shared, while there is no democracy at the workplace (mostly) except in co-ops, collective associations.

    To tell a story; At the diner table at home, when father asked a kid, who that day had a course in microeconomy, to help mom clean the table, the kid asked $5. Imediately a slap followed by how can you ask for money when we all do things out of love for each other; I made money for mom to buy groceries and cook dinner which you enjoyed and now you ask money for it? How dare you? We do not do things to each other for money, we do it for love.

    Point is that there is no love or at least cooperation in market work, it is all cut-throat attitude and such psycosis can affect people mentaly and cause the mass murders, depression and anxiety in people.
    WHile work at home is democraticly decided and even tough there is more of it in EUrope then in USA there is the reason for higher wellbeing in EUrope and Australia.

  23. @moz does nothing
    Moz, I didn’t get your point about the NDIS. Is it something to do with PL insurance changes in NZ, and how is that related? Is there a NDIS in NZ?

    And can you say more about this: “a whole lot of barriers to entry for small businesses are only slowly appearing as the health safety net is eroded.” Did you mean disappearing? Thanks.

  24. @Jordan You claimed that “Life satisfaction is higher in Europe due to more leisure time”.

    Home production is highly gendered, but is really leisure time – I stand corrected.

    Do women in Europe have any grounds to complain about sexism and a gendered division of labour in the household and in raising children reducing options in life?

    Under your taxonomy, this extra housework work – extra share of home production – is actually extra leisure time for which women should be grateful to have more off.

  25. @Jim Rose
    Nope, your preconceptions on division on house work is misplaced somewhat. Going more south, it is closer to such picture but not completely. There is an equitable share of work up north, while in south it is suported by many patriarchaly leaning phylosophy within women also supported by church that they have their place, but that is changing.

    In Croatia, which is south central Europe, on the coastal areas with long tradition of sailors, i have heard from few women that it is normal to be patient while their sailor husbands cheat on them. Many of sailor wives cheat too i would say. But it says on level of patriarchal power.

  26. Jordon, the Swedish time use survey 2010 found that Swedish women spent an average of 4 hours on unpaid household tasks. Swedish men spent an average of 45 minutes less on housework than women do.

    While tax rates are highest in Scandinavia, hours worked per working age adult in Scandinavia are significantly higher than in Continental Europe. Hours are higher because much of the higher government spending funds income transfers contingent on working.

    See tables 5 and 6 for discussions of hours worked by gender for Austria, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, Norway, and Sweden.

    Americans work more in the market. Europeans split their working time more evenly between home and market activities.

    The overall allocation of time for American and European men is similar.

    American women spend 28.7 hours working in the market and 30.1 working at home.

    European women allocate 20.7 hours of market work, 40.5 hours of home work). Time allocated to personal activities and leisure is essentially the same for these two groups

  27. I can remember Erich Fromm’s “Escape from freedom” p 226. The problem of freedom with it’s negative nature makes an individual an isolated being whose relationship to the world is distant and distrustful and whose self is weak and constantly threatened. Fromm thought the solution lay in Spontaneous activity which can enable one to overcome the terror of aloneness without sacrificing the integrity of oneself. Spontaneity brings man closer to nature, a situation where work is not a compulsive activity to escape aloneness, not work as a relationship to nature to dominate it (which explains hostility to actions to protect the environment), not to worship and be enslaved by the product of one’s own hands but to become one with nature in the act of creation which affirms the self with nature. His view was that what is inherent in freedom, individuality and aloneness is dissolved by spontaneous action. This could lessen the Masochistic (people need to know their place, austerity, aesceticism) and Sadistic (same unfortunately) nature of the current dichotomy of work. However I suspect the drives are too strong and embedded to curb.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s