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LEISURE TIME AND WORK TIME – THEN AND NOW

September 12, 2013

LEISURE TIME AND WORK TIME – THEN AND NOW

During humanity’s hunting and gathering era, there was precious little leisure time available to our predecessors. The pursuit of food was necessarily first and most important on their agenda. There was little time or inclination to pursue what we now call civilized activities, though the wonderful paintings in the caves of southern France by painters in the hunting and gathering era suggest a regional abundance of food. There must have been plentiful game and edible vegetation in the area for a protracted period  for our Cro-Magnon ancestors to have had the time to paint so magnificently on their cave walls.

These paintings constitute an isolated event, however. There is little known evidence of similar moves toward civilization as we know it until the successful and large scale domestication of plants in the so-called Fertile Crescent of what is now Iraq, the birthplace of sustainable agriculture (and Father Abraham, born in Ur). That enormously important agricultural event may have been the biggest move toward civilization in history.

That event, in addition to improved herding techniques of domesticated animals, allowed for the first time leisure time and specialization by craftsmen. It allowed the possibility of thinking beyond tomorrow’s search for roots and berries and into arts and philosophy. Statecraft was now possible, and the world of ideas and innovation was now economically feasible. Without surplus agriculture, there could likely be no opportunity to engage in philosophy, mathematics or physics. Sculpting and serious painting were unknown (with the southern France exception). It was a world we can scarcely imagine today, where many complain that they have nothing to do and others complain of boredom.

We not only have millions who complain of having nothing to do; we have politicians these days who guarantee it by their trade and other policies designed (apparently) to keep millions of Americans unemployed or underemployed. The result (and this is long after the Fertile Crescent agricultural revolution) is that we modern day Cro-Magnons have regressed, i.e., millions of Americans are back to finding daily food again. These Americans are relegated to food stamp offices in their search for food rather than the environs of the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers. The people who put them out of work (Wall Street and other greedy corporations with the paid connivance of their captive legislators) loudly proclaim through their organs of propaganda that the people they put out of work are lazy and takers instead of givers; that such people are not educated for the work that has to be done etc. (Query – But the coolies from Chinese rice fields imported into the cities to work are better educated for the jobs?)

Unemployed American workers have had enough “leisure” time. They want to go to work, to be productive, to rejoin those in pursuit of “The American Dream,” a rapidly fading idea headed for myth status. They don’t want to “hunt and gather,” whether on the riverside or in food stamp offices. They want to work and play and live their lives and raise and educate their children. It is not their fault that Wall Street has found cheaper labor elsewhere, and it is certainly not their fault that Wall Street and its corporate cronies have hijacked American trade policy via their bought politicians in order to profit from such a differential in costs. They have had enough “leisure;” they are properly looking to government for relief from these bizarre policies that reward alien labor at a great and continuing cost to American labor and our economy. No? Then let’s change the policymakers. Enough of this insanity!  GERALD  E

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