A Discussion on the Work Week

And that in the 1930s, Kellogg’s, they actually did it. I mean, they increased productivity. They went down to a 30-hour work week. They were paying people more per hour than they had been before. I mean, it’s everything you would think that we want. And so then people would have all this extra time, at least theoretically, in which they could make music or write novels or just hang out with their friends or play sports or take a walk, whatever it might be.

And then the denouement of that story was kind of shocking to me. It’s not that the Kellogg’s corporation brings back the 40-hour workweek, but the work force votes back the 40-hour workweek, largely because in a world of more material goods, they want the option to be able to make more money. So how do you read that story? Because that struck me as a real example of like, OK, we had the choice. And it wasn’t like the capitalists forced it back in. But the workers said, nah, in the society, unless everybody jumps at the same time, we’re not going to be the only ones working 30 hours a week and not being able to give our families or ourselves as much as everybody else is getting.

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