Monday, January 19, 2015

I have a Dream...

This august will mark 52 years since MLK gave his historic speech beginning with, “I have a dream.”
On this day of his remembrance, I wonder what you would dream, if you could imagine a somewhat feasible positive change to our humanity.

Of course, we’d all like to live in a place of world peace, where the military budget wasn’t greater than the budget for almost everything else combined (see below)  and where we could make a living watching cat videos…but the dream that’s been floating through my head is altogether different.

I dream of a society where everyone works part time. I know. Random? But before you respond with, “Well yeah, that’d be great, but how could I…” let me try to answer those questions from the perspective of a big chair in my little house.

First I should explain that this is stemming from my personal experience of being a (kind of) part time employee of various organizations. I do work very full time (over 100hours a week) for a few weeks a year, but I also work less than 20hours for a number of weeks.

So let’s get to it- why is part time work part of my American dream? What benefits could there be in that?

1)      Working less means having more time to spend on the things you care about. So instead of working 10 hours a week just to pay for Johnny’s babysitter…you could cut the time and babysit Johnny yourself. Now when you reminisce about how those “years fly by,” you’ll have more memories of them to look back on.
Or- if you like to travel: remember that adage that it’s not about the destination, it’s about the journey? But you only have 5 days off from work so you have to fly there and back to maximize your time. If you worked part time (depending on how that part divides up), you could take a bus or a train and actually see the points between you and your destination. Or go rouge and rideshare.

2)      Less money made means living a thriftier lifestyle. So you don’t have the money to buy that $5.00 2oz bag of Kale Chips that you just love? Then make them yourself. Or heck- you could grow them with all the time you have. I’m not saying everyone should become a farmer (but we do need some people to at least hold on to the profession), but there is something special about connecting with the food you eat in a slow way. Actually cutting up potatoes and cooking them in the oven rather than driving past a window of a funky smelling building and getting handed some greasy potatoes in a little paper carton is more fulfilling in many ways.
Beyond finding crafty ways to meet your basic needs, there’s always room for DIY in other ways. I don’t buy shampoo because I have time to make it. As a result, I know what’s in my hair products and I get to take ownership of my healthy hair. Why spend $4.00 on a crappy card that says something in pretty cursive that you would never actually say? When we’re not so sucked up in making money to pay for such things, we can make them ourselves.

3)      You can work more by working less! (?) Now I’ve never had a full-time 9-5 sort of job…especially one where you sit down and stare at a computer all day, so I’m doing a little imagining here, but I imagine that you don’t spend the entire 8 hours of work actually doing work.
And I’m not saying that you should still be asked to meet the same quotas in half the time. After all, with the money they save from paying you half, they can hire another person to work just as efficiently (there you go, I figured out the job problem! Thank me later, Obama).   
Despite all this, I think if you really love your job enough to want to work more than 20 hours—then put that time into your job, be compensated for it.

In sum—ever since I heard the phrase paradigm shift, I hoped I would live to witness a world-wide shift toward my personal views (don’t we all?). Actually, I think our world is pretty screwed if we don’t start at least over analyzing decisions like I do…but I digress. I’ve read a lot about the problems with the world- mass slaughtering of species we don’t even know exist yet, deforesting, genocide, relatively low rates of happiness in developed countries… and often find myself day dreaming of a world without those problems. While I don’t think one thing could change them all, I was surprised when I realized how much positive could come out of people working less. I don’t know how this change would come about, but it’s some food for thought.

I’m not sure who you are out there in reader-land, but you probably aren’t convinced. In any case, working part time has worked great for me. It’s allowed me time to travel, spend with family, and be creative/crafty…and I still enough money saved for a rainy day.

Happy MLK day.

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