Friday, July 5, 2019

Lin Parramore - The average American worker takes less vacation time than a medieval peasant

Okay, living in the medieval times was no picnic, but they did have loads of leisure time.

 I read how craftsmen would only work for a few weeks when they had run out of money, and when they had earned enough, they would go back to a leisurely life. No fifty to sixty hours plus a week for them. No looking out of the window and dreaming of getting home, or doing something far more interesting, or having plenty of time to be with friends and family, or just going fishing.

With all the machinary, computers, and automation, we are still working harder than ever.

Life for the medieval peasant was certainly no picnic. His life was shadowed by fear of famine, disease and bursts of warfare. His diet and personal hygiene left much to be desired.
But despite his reputation as a miserable wretch, you might envy him one thing: his vacations.
Plowing and harvesting were backbreaking toil, but the peasant enjoyed anywhere from eight weeks to half the year off.
The Church, mindful of how to keep a population from rebelling, enforced frequent mandatory holidays. Weddings, wakes, and births might mean a week off quaffing ale to celebrate, and when wandering jugglers or sporting events came to town, the peasant expected time off for entertainment. There were labor-free Sundays, and when the plowing and harvesting seasons were over, the peasant got time to rest, too.
In fact, economist Juliet Shor found that during periods of particularly high wages, such as 14th-century England, peasants might put in no more than 150 days a year. As for the modern American worker? After a year on the job, she gets an average of eight vacation days annually.
Business Insider

Lin Parramore - The average American worker takes less vacation time than a medieval peasant


Magpie said...

Some MMT enthusiasts and neoliberals have strangely coincident views on the subject of work and leisure.

During the 1980s local Australian proto-neoliberals/proto-Blairites like Paul Keating (Labor Party) were worried sick the Government wouldn't have enough money to pay age pensions: too many people were living longer. What to do? There were two complementary solutions: (1) people would be forced to save (superannuation), so that the Government wouldn't have to tax to fund the pensions; (2) eventually, retirement would have to be postponed, so that there would be lass survivors claiming the pension.

Fast forward thirty something years and move to the old country. Money no longer is the matter. However, some MMT enthusiasts, like Ralph Musgrave, also advocate for a postponement of the retirement age, as life expectancy is increasing and people are physically able to work longer. And that would be good for them.

Funny, isn't it, how people, following entirely different arguments, end up concluding that workers must work until they drop dead.

N said...

The article cited was rather thoroughly debunked in its original comment section.

(Curiously, Business Insider correctly attributed it to Reuters, but failed to link to the original, and got the date wrong. /shrug)

You can add #comment-75408 to that address to find this fellow's comment, who also went on to write a blog entry clarifying the issue:

Fascinating stuff. :)