The notion of our standard work week here in America has remained largely the same since 1938. That was the year the Fair Labor Standards Act was passed, standardizing the eight hour work day and the 40 hour work week. Each Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday workers all over the country wake up, get dressed, eat breakfast and go to work. But the notion that the majority of the workforce should keep these hours is based on nothing more than an idea put forth by the Federal government almost 70 years ago. To be sure it was an improvement in the lives of many Americans who were at the time forced to work 10+ hours a day, sometimes 6 days of the week. So a 40 hour work week was seen as an upgrade in the lives of many of U.S. citizens. 8 is a nice round number; one third of each 24 hour day. In theory it leaves 8 hours for sleep and 8 hours for other activities like eating, bathing, raising children and enjoying life. But the notion that we should work for 5 of these days in a row before taking 2 for ourselves is, as best I can tell, rather arbitrary.
The idea of a shorter work week is not a new one to anyone old enough to have lived through the energy shocks of the 1970\'s. It should be fairly obvious to anyone interested in conserving oil that reducing the number of daily commutes per week would reduce the overall demand for oil. There are about 133 million workers in America. Around 80% of them get to work by driving alone in a car. The average commute covers about 16 miles each way. And gas on the rise currently...
So stop and do some math. A 4 day work week would reduce greenhouse gas emissions and other air pollutants, reduce workers exposure to pollutants, mean less traffic congestion, reduce money spent on new road construction and existing road maintenance, result in a reduction in personal expenses, mean a reduction in absenteeism, increase productivity, give us more time for family, decrease labor costs, decrease operational costs, would mean a reduction in the cost of childcare, would provide time for a transition into the informal economy AND the 4 Day Work Week would feel great!
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