All work, no play . . .

2005

Charles McGrath in the New York Times Magazine muses on Alvin Toffler's notoriously inaccurate prediction made in 1970 that by 2000 we would all have so much free time that we wouldn't know how to spend it.

Instead, as Thomas Friedman pointed out so memorably, as the French 35-hour working week is coming under increasing pressure from new economic powers such as India, which is busy trying to invent the 35 hour working day.

So is the pressure to work longer a corollary of globalisation or "something along the lines of an evolutionary law that says, paradoxically, the more you try to simplify or eliminate work, the more of it there is to do."

Working hours in America -- the nation in the world with by far the most efficient human engines -- have risen steadily over the last three decades. And far from complaining, we have adopted a superior, moralizing attitude that sees work not as a necessary evil, a means to an end, but as an end in itself. It is now obligatory to boast -- to lie, if necessary -- about how much you work and how little you sleep.

NYT Magazine | No Rest for the Weary

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