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How did we get so busy? (newyorker.com)
246 points by ust 1222 days ago | hide | past | web | 138 comments | favorite

Reminds me of this article, which was also here on HN ages ago: http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/06/30/the-busy-tra...

"Busyness" is a social defense against other people making us do things we don't really want to do and a mechanism for coping with feeling guilty about things we know we should do, but don't. My intuition is that people have had to project themselves as busier and busier over the last couple decades as technology has made us more efficient in order for this strategy to continue working.

If you're always "so busy!", your boss is less likely to give you more work; your spouse is less likely to ask you to do more around the house; you're not going to feel as guilty about only seeing grandma once a year or refusing to help your friend move; you can feel a little better about yourself when a friend lands an awesome new job or plans a cool vacation and you haven't really done anything. When you haven't seen someone in a long time and they ask how things are, you can give them the impression that things must be even better than the last time you saw them, because you've clearly been so busy improving your lot in life. Well, that's the idea, at least.

After I read that article I decided to try to be more honest with myself and the people I know about how busy I really was (which is often "not very" - I, like the author, am the "laziest ambitious person I know."). It's a very hard habit to break, and it forces you to be more honest about the things you really want to spend your time on and the things you're avoiding.

Came here to post this. I think this is the key bit:

It’s almost always people whose lamented busyness is purely self-imposed: work and obligations they’ve taken on voluntarily, classes and activities they’ve “encouraged” their kids to participate in. They’re busy because of their own ambition or drive or anxiety, because they’re addicted to busyness and dread what they might have to face in its absence.

There was another article (which I can't find now) that summarized this even further to state that "I'm so busy" is actually code for "I'm a self-important asshole"... and there's a grain of truth to do this. "Can you help me with X? Can you do Y?" "Oh, I'd love to help, but I'm sooo busy doing other stuff that's more important than you!"

"To me, it's a good idea to always carry two sacks of something when you walk around. That way, if someone asks you 'Hey, can you give me a hand?' you can say, 'Sorry, got these sacks.'" - Jack Handey

How else would he fight that pun?

As someone who works a 40 hr/week job and a 20 hr/week job, (and the extra hours associated with learning various things that apply to each) while also having 3 kids, sometimes people are actually busy.

I coach little league, too.

I think you've missed the author's point: she's drawing a distinction between actually being busy (non-self-imposed workload) and telling people you're busy (self-imposed workload). The preceding sentences for context:

Notice it isn’t generally people pulling back-to-back shifts in the I.C.U. or commuting by bus to three minimum-wage jobs who tell you how busy they are; what those people are is not busy but tired. Exhausted. Dead on their feet. It’s almost always people whose lamented busyness is purely self-imposed ...

Working two jobs and rearing three kids is actually busy. Coaching little league and noodling about on HN, on the other hand, is self-imposed.

The self imposed parts keep one sane.

I think this is something a lot of people miss. I actually think it's ok to say you're busy even if that time is spent staring at a wall and I hate that people should feel guilty for wanting that. Cheers for knowing that you need these things to keep sane.

Yeah, I think it's deeper than just being a self-important asshole. It's more about the fact that we are 1000 times more productive, as a species, than we were just 20 years ago, and yet, we all still work just as hard. This, coupled with always being connected means that our work and obligations never end, they just follow us around.

Forget efficiency, forget "self-importance" (to me, those calling others "self-important" are most often the most self-important assholes around), sometimes it's just therapeutic. How many times have we read that a good way to treat depression is to keep busy? If nothing else, it keeps you from thinking about your depression.

It all comes down to the yuppies (myself included) wanting to get ahead. The dream of becoming a wealthy entrepreneur is what keeps me from being satisfied working 40 hours a week and reading and relaxing after that, for better or for worse! Also the dream of injecting wealth into my larger family for generations to come.

A lot of what's being written in this thread hits home for me, but especially the 'wanting to get ahead' bit - part of the problem is job insecurity, knowing that your present position may not last, and feeling compelled to use leisure time to increase your marketability for future job applications. Even when I'm not actually working on work-related skills, I feel like I should be, which creates anxiety.

I agree 100% with everything you said. Considering our savings rates these days are atrocious, even a high paying job does not guarantee future job security

I think the general devaluation of said work is also a factor -- coupled with this idea of all these "money-saving" DIY tips that are severe time sinks.

If you are working two part-time jobs, you're doing just as much work as a full-timer but not nearly as much pay and certainly not as much in benefits (healthcare, time off, stable work schedule, etc.) that could allow you to USE what leisure you have.

I feel your pain, especially when people say that others pretend to be busy for various reasons. They must single. I'm the father of a single infant and co founder of a startup, with no family nearby to support us. Choosing to be busy or not sounds like a nice choice to have.

You chose to be busy when you fathered a child and co-founded a start up.

edit. the guy below me/above me said it before me.

Kids, startup, and distant location were all choices.

well, everything is a choice if we start going that route. the idea is to differentiate the intention behind the choice. if the intention (conscious or not) is to hide behind being busy then it's a problem. if you're actually pursuing something other than pretending due to fear or similar limiting reasons, it's not

>well, everything is a choice if we start going that route.

Exactly. And I would add that part of the point posed by the article is that we seem to be overly busy, given whatever life objectives/circumstances we have. So, given that a person choses to have, say, a job and 2 kids, then they are busier on average than in times past.

So, the question isn't whether an individual person can choose to be less busy. The question is why do we tend to be busier than ever on average, when we should theoretically have more leisure time.

>* [...] they’re addicted to and dread what they might have to face in its absence.*

This definitely was me. Meditating was very hard for me to take up. Eventually I realized it was because whenever I had a quiet moment, I would start to think about something I didn't want to think about. I'd get anxious and suddenly find that I "had" to go do something.

People catch on if you drink all day. But if you're busy (always working, always coding, always arguing with somebody on the internet, always caught up in an absorbing game) they (and you) may never think, "Gosh, maybe there's something wrong here."

It's the fear of silence That gives us away 'Cause when we're alone We have to hear What our aching hearts try to say. - Randy Stonehill

By that theory, we present as more busy because other people are being more demanding of our time. Who are these people? Is it possible to identify and isolate the people who are the root causes of projected busyness and slap some sense into them?

If we translate "I'm busy" as a conversational token with attributes REJECT_INVITATION, TONE:NEUTRAL, RELATIONSHIP:STATIC, BLAME:EXTERNAL, DOMINANCE:INDEPENDENT, HONESTY:FACE_SAVING, there's really nothing better for that niche.

"I don't want to," could possibly be RELATIONSHIP:DOWNGRADE, BLAME:YOU, DOMINANCE:INSUBORDINATE, and HONESTY:BRUTAL, or some combination.

A simple "no," would be TONE:CURT and possibly DOMINANCE:INSUBORDINATE. Upgrading to "no, thank you," takes you back to TONE:POLITE, but still leaves you at possibly insubordinate and still leaves several contexts undefined. That might require futher explanation.

The PREVARICATION:FACE_SAVING attribute is rather important. Anyone trying to dig past that is venturing into TONE:RUDE and BLAME:YOU territory, and a more polite response would be another HONESTY:FACE_SAVING as an honor-preserving disengagement.

On deeper analysis, busyness often turns out to be a defense around selfishness, but we protect it as a blameless social disengagement because everyone has occasion to be a little selfish sometimes. If everyone around you seems busy, it may be that you are too pushy yourself. People may be willing to make more time for you if you make that time more pleasurable or less painful for them.

Or we could look to Marx, who predicted exactly this state of affairs succinctly by showing that, at the most basic, there are three traditional ways to increase competitive advantage:

1. Work more intensely over the course of a fixed working day (eg. the 8 hours most people normally work in the United States)

2. Work longer hours thereby generating more surplus value while only being paid for a smaller proportion of your overall work. Today, this typically involves creating a culture that incentivizes overwork and disincentivizes the normal working day.

3. Revolutionize the means of production thereby gaining an ephemeral advantage over the competition. Think the Japanese in the 80s with just-in-time production which allowed them to dominate the automotive industry. Automating work would also fall under this category. Notice this can require (1) or (2) as a pre-requisite to such innovation.

Under this analysis being busy would be a natural byproduct of the reigning economic ordering of society.

Marx seems superflous--it's more (likely) the red-queen effect


The point of Marx' view is exactly that he saw capitalism as necessarily forcing capitalists to continuously adapt for their businesses to survive competition. What zenogais set out are how this, according to Marx, leads to the kind of adaptation that gives the state of affairs in question.

The Red Queen hypothesis alone just claims that continued adaptation is necessary to prevent extinction. In that respect it is much more limited, as it does not predict what those changes will look like.

But in terms of mechanism, the Red Queen hypothesis is very much in line with Marx' views on capitalism. He saw the inexorable need for adaptation to remain competitive as a critical part of driving production to a level where socialism would be possible.

How is working longer hours an evolutionary trait towards survival?

Organisms are not the only things that face evolutionary pressures. If bosses spend enough energy on trying to employ only the hardest workers, the end result is work hours increase until as many people quit over hours as join over compensation.

Note that in white collar fields (most of us on HN) people are usually graded on "hours in the office" not "hours of productivity" and rarely if ever quit over hours, they just spend more time at amazon.com, facebook, HN, twitter, that kind of thing. "He's demanding we go from 10 hour days to 12 hour days so he can get a bigger bonus and we will get squat other than maybe a demand to work 14 hour days next year, well F him, I'm going to increase my time playing farmville on my phone and tweeting, from 4 hours to 7 hours per day" I've seen this kind of thing with my own eyes. This is the genesis of the effect where a bog standard boring off the shelf employee, when converted to "contractor" suddenly gets three times as much work done in a mere six hours as an employee required to be butt in seat for twelve hours can accomplish.

I think its a nearly universal truth amongst white collar employees that if they only had to be at work while actually working, they'd probably only be at work about four to six hours per day, but they'd get at least twice as much work done. This is obviously a Fortune50 kind of observation more so than a startup.

In the pre-internet era it was pointless meetings and teambuilding activities and water cooler talk and especially smoke breaks. Oh and extended lunch at desk, in addition to the actual lunch hour, plus extended breaks.

In the end, if not carried out to extremes, it works out for everyone. The white collar workers experience something like a grade school playground or perhaps kindergarten classroom experience where most of their time is spent talking about their feelings, and who's in or out of such and such club, gossip, and what they saw on TV last night, and the boss gets a promotion because obviously he's more effective because he had butts in seats for 12 hours and his management competitors only had butts in seats for 10 hours and that's all that matters because that's all that can be verifiably documented and measured. Its not a bad life, as things go, as long as you don't mind sitting around doing nothing in an office (literally) almost all day.

In our current societal structure, longer hours = more money = more attractive mate or an easier life

Evolution is reactive to current circumstances only, and not toward anything, not even survival. It's absolutely possible to evolve yourself extinct, and it happens all the time.

And that is one of the points of the 'Red Queen hypothesis' posted above. What I'm asking is how does working longer hours fit that theory.

It fits very naturally. You work a bit harder to try to get a small advantage over your competitors. But they do the same thing, so now you work a little harder still. And so on. There's no way to (unilaterally) stop this progression without suffering an immediate disadvantage.

"must constantly adapt, evolve, and proliferate not merely to gain reproductive advantage, but also simply to survive while pitted against ever-evolving opposing organisms"

Where does it not fit?

Are you looking for the link between expressed behaviour and social standing? Or between social standing and reproductive access and mate selection? Or, maybe there is a link between the use of tools (including social constructs) and "an evolutionary trait towards survival"?

> “There is so much to learn and produce and improve that we should not spend more than a dribble of time living as if we were in Eden. Grandchildren, keep trucking.” - Richard Freeman, of Harvard

...somebody shoot this guy. Please.

When will we realize that so many great thought were thought because smart people have had free time to "let their minds wonder around". Think Darwin, the leisure-class naturalist with lots of time to travel, and the theory of evolution. Think Einstein, the underachiever working in a patent office with too much free time to think and the theory of relativity. Who will have time to integrate all the knowledge that we "mine" into useful theories, when we've build a society where the smarter we are, the less time to think you have?!

This became obvious since the '30s, when Bertrand Russel realized the direction we were heading (http://www.zpub.com/notes/idle.html), despite the fact that thinking about such things was not his job, and most likely because at that point in his life he had a lot of free time to think around. As opposed to Keynes, whose job was to think at this, but was probably to "busy" to see the big picture and totally ignore the "red queen effect" of consumerism.

EDIT+: oops, I always forget that Americans can take any invitation to violence seriously :) I toned it down a bit.

That was exactly what I needed at the moment, thanks for sharing "In Praise of Idleness". Brainwashed as I am I keep thinking that I need to shake the slave mentality and focus my life on leisure time to ultimately become more productive of course.

Along the same lines, I would recommend Pieper's Leisure, The Basis Of Culture. It's somewhat a religious work, but for the most part is broadly applicable.

Thanks, very much appreciated!

Thank you, thank you. That Bertrand Russel link is simultaneously one of the funniest and most poignant things i've read in quite a while.

Always seemed odd, this keep everyone so busy working (and consuming), they won't have the time or the inclination to question the reason they're spending so much of their time working.

And your observation about smart people having free time, links into this recent article about Peter Higgs (of Higgs Boson fame) saying "It's difficult to imagine how I would ever have enough peace and quiet in the present sort of climate to do what I did in 1964." (http://www.theguardian.com/science/2013/dec/06/peter-higgs-b...)

We do have a lot more leisure, but it is distributed at the tails of our lifespan, the times of lowest productivity. We sure don't start full-time work at the age that kids on the farm do. And even a century ago, most kids outside of big cities did live on a farm. On the other side of a career, many of us will spend a decade or two in retirement and good health.

But inbetween... well, the typical young upper-middle-class couple (as usual, the real point of fascination here) has committed themselves to huge expenditures of interactive time with their kids. That's really where the time went.

Today, highly-educated parents bring their kids home from soccer or tae kwon do practice, pick up dinner on the way home and read to each of them for a school-mandated half-hour after helping them with homework. This is crazy different from a few generations ago. Ask even your grandparents how much time your parents spent in a "play pen" as toddlers, or roamed their neighborhood after school when they were older. Now there's a competitive cultural expectation that you need to invest in your children's development daily, so they become socially self-realized and not economic roadkill.

> We do have a lot more leisure, but it is distributed at the tails of our lifespan, the times of lowest productivity.

That's fine, for retirement. But this viewpoint presupposes that kids' education is not productive, if not immediately and directly, but eventually and indirectly (eventually as adults, indirectly as productive members of society, which is more than being trained to do some specific job). Kids spend, what, 10-13 years on elementary and high school (and equivalents). And that is not even counting the ones who go into higher education.

Supposedly, this elementary education is necessary in order to be productive in a lot of modern jobs, and in order to be a productive member of modern society - society is certainly more complex than when your whole society consisted of your family's farm and neighbouring farms and a nearby village.

The only thing which might be said is unproductive with kids' childhood is the long summer breaks. Which is, perhaps ironically, a remnant of the past where kids needed to productive on their family's farm in the peak season (though I have for that matter gone to elementary school with the kids of farmers, who needed to be excused from school for some days because they needed to herd their sheep down from their gracing areas).

"The only thing which might be said is unproductive with kids' childhood is the long summer breaks"

That assumes that schooling is relevant to a kids future. My 4th grader already operates at a numeracy and literacy level higher than adults "are supposed to". You're not supposed to be able to calculate percentages and figure out word problems, that will ruin the employment of tax preparers. You're not supposed to be able to read Harry Potter, you're supposed to watch TV. Achievement at or above a 4th grade level is strongly discouraged on a mass cultural level, although obviously not here on HN. Vocational training is useless because he won't be in the workforce for a decade or more making "training" useless, and according to labor force participation rates the odds are reasonable he will not be a participant in the labor force anyway, especially as trends continue, making vocational "education" useless. Depressingly, there are a lot of white collar jobs that boil down to adult day care, fundamentally, where lack of productivity is probably a net societal gain!

So... the true cost is free day care (aka school) is not available in the summer. On the other hand educational costs aka property taxes are microscopically lower. Obviously we are not going to permit teachers to experience a 30% boost in standard of living were we to expand their workload into the summer, so labor costs will not change but obviously energy costs to keep the lights on, and probably air conditioning, would increase, along with internet bandwidth use at the school, cleaning chemicals used, trash bags filled, etc etc.

The reason why kids "need" ever more and more years of education for ever simpler jobs (on a societal average...), is to keep them out of the labor force, to reduce competition. Otherwise, if bright teens put all the adults out of work, the adults wouldn't be able to afford children, which breaks the cycle in about a generation. You need to keep the adults employed in their breeding years long enough to squirt out the next generations kids, no need for much more, and keeping younger adults / teens out of the workforce is a social engineering technology to accomplish that. Its quite possible as existing trends continue that we'll naturally assume no one would ever hire a supermarket cashier or waitress without a PHD in something, perhaps philosophy. That would serve a useful purpose of keeping as many people in (profitable) schools as possible, maximization of student loan income, etc.

> That assumes that schooling is relevant to a kids future.

Yes, that was one of the assumptions: "But this viewpoint presupposes that kids' education is not productive, ".

That whole premise was beyond the scope of my post, though I strayed a little bit into it.

Hi, I've been a lurker here for some time now. I rarely ever comment on stories because, well, I have better things to do. But now, I really need to broaden my perspective. I just don't get it.

*Disclaimer : I am young (23), broke but happy.

This past year, I spent four months in Asia travelling. I rock-climbed for a while, tried bungee, canyon swing, diving, trekking and the motorcycle. I was able to afford all that on my student's salary working and studying for my degree. I met amazing people and I'm just excited about everything since.

There's been a lot of discussion lately about the 80 hours work weeks and quite frankly, I just don't get it! I did work 66 hours work weeks this past fall for my honours thesis. I started getting anxiety attacks. It wasn't healthy.

I don't mean to make a point. I want to hear some. I want to understand how some of you do it, and, more importantly why. I keep thinking that "Hey I was able to have this experience with less than 20k a year. Imagine what I could do with the salary of a `real` job! (Or freelancing)"

Why do you do it?

People with children are of course telling you that you are naive but I think your point of view is just as valid as anybody else's. If you have a very low overhead, and don't develop a taste for expensive things then you can live comfortably on a tiny income. I had a similar phase after college for about one year where I had dirt-cheap rent. I did odd-jobs such as house-painting, did about whatever I wanted and was actually saving money. It was a leisurely, comfortable year but of course I did not have many luxuries.

Then I moved to a big city and my entire savings was depleted almost instantly. I had to work two jobs to pay my bills with barely any time or money to do anything but work. It sucked really bad for about two years until I started moving up and earning a salary that allowed me to quit my second job.

Basically, though, everybody talking about their bills, mortgage, tuitions, etc. These are lifestyle choices and they require a certain amount of income to maintain. There's all kinds of reasons for making these choices. Because you genuinely want that life, because your spouse wants that life, because your friends are doing it, because that's what "normal" people do, etc. Some people want a lifestyle that they can only afford by working insane hours. Some people are able to afford all of that stuff with a 40 hour work week.

Society does tend to pressure you into doing these things in order to feel like you have "grown up" which I know all too well. But, there's many ways to live life and they don't all require 80 hours of work per week.

Because I have a 8 year-old boy, and a wife who takes care of him well.

I want him to have a great education, wide knowledge and experience, and be ready to face life well, be kind to others, be equipped to work hard and make good money, be a good husband and a good father.

That takes lots of time and money, and is completely worth it.

So you work 80 hours a week, meaning that you have almost no time to enjoy life with your kid... so that he can grow up to be like you and do the same thing, and presumably educate their children to do the same as well.

So your ideal of how things should be is to have a saga of people working their asses off, in theory for the good of the next generation, but in practice for nothing because the next generation will work their asses off for the good of the next one, etc.

Maybe it's culture shock (I'm a European) but honestly, how can anyone think that is "worth it"?

Well, I don't "work" 80 hours a week.

I work 40 hours a week.

I commute 8 hours a week.

I volunteer (he comes with me sometimes) 2 hours a week.

Lunch breaks: 5 hours.

(so far 50 hours)

Then I do all the routine stuff that needs to be done: Grocery shopping, hardware store, car maintenance, etc.

Then I spend another 15 hours a week working on extra stuff (learning, following the news, doing stuff for clients, coding).

Then there is the social events, the school events, church on Sunday, basketball practice on Tuesday at 7 and games on Saturday at 1 or 2.

Then there is sleep, and making dinner, cleaning the house, etc.

In the end, there is about 10 hours a week for just me and him time (watch movie, play games, go out and explore the world, park, read together, etc)

For me? I'm lucky if I get 2 hours a week for me. I'm even more lucky if they're contiguous.

(No time for TV, you notice, and precious little for computer games.)

I commute 8 hours a week.

There's an easy way to get a bunch of hours a week back.

Except my boss isn't happy with that concept.

Its just that, he wants his son to have a better life than him. Thats why the toil. He wants to provide him better means, hence the 80 hr weeks.

Yes it'd depend on what you want from your life. Priorities are different for all.

The intention is noble.

However, chances are that the son looks up to his father, thinks his father's life is normal and how it should be, and will (unconsciously) copy it.

If that happens, will he really have the better life that his father worked for and wanted him to have?

Perhaps that ventures into the topic of parenting. Ideally, the parent would/should communicate to the child that the sacrifice is not idea and explain the tradeoffs, cautioning on the dangers of the parent's chosen lifestyle

When you provide him with great education, there is high probability that he realizes his father's wishes and aspires to fulfill them. Im just guessing he would be smart enough to understand his father.

I certainly understand why you say these things as I have 2 kids.

But do you also want your boy to dream, and try something noble and possibly fail but get back up, to experience as much as the world as he can, and to understand that limitations are self-made? Of course, you do.

So you tell him all this, but he may look at you and say "Well Dad, if you want me to do all these things, why didn't you do them?".

Noble, makes lots of sense.


Having a family.

Some numbers:

- The average annual mortgage repayment is over $20,000/yr.

- Private/Independent school tuition for one child will also cost you more than $20,000/yr by year 12 and continue through University for degrees in Medicine, Law and Engineering. Multiply that by the average 2.x children.

Add in living expenses, utilities, rates, sports, entertainment and trips, a tax rate that has you working for the Government for almost half the year and the required family income quickly jumps to six figures which is where the extra hours come in. Paid overtime, side projects, freelancing, second jobs; whatever it takes to give the kids the best start in life you can stretch to afford.

I do sometimes wonder whether home schooling them might have worked out better.

"Home Schooling" is code for "parent who doesn't work outside the house (and the income that provides)".

Public Schooling is the only way to not burn yourself up, and to get that you have to live in the right districts.

My partner works mostly from home, does the school runs and grosses double I get working for a corporate. The kids are largely where they are (top of their year level in one of the best Independent schools in the state) because of the effort (home schooling) she put in when they were toddlers.

Public schools in Australia generally lack the culture for kids to achieve academically without it being an uphill battle against their peers. It's that environment and being around like-minded families that you pay for.

I don't work 80 hours a week, but my expenses are way above $20k a year. Why? Because the things I want and value cost a lot more than that. I don't want to spend 4 months in Asia travelling, I want to live in a house I love, near to all my family and friends, and bring up my children here. Travel will never be anything more to me than a brief distraction, not a lifestyle.

We have 2 toddlers; double-income household. We live at the edge of a small city center in Belgium.

Originally, we both worked full time, lived in a small house, and had income to spare to save some and do some small-scale travelling within Europe. With no kids, there was not really a lot of stress and "busyness" for us; the household chores had to be done in the evenings and weekends, but other than that we didn't feel overwhelmed. (Although it sometimes did feel that way anyway.)

After the first kid was born, my girlfriend started working 80% instead of 100%, to cope better with the additional tasks imposed by caring for the child. The second kid added to the child care burden, leading us to delegate some of the cleaning chores to a household helper (4hrs every 2 weeks), which is not for free. The situation stabilized, but we do feel overwhelmed by the tight planning of each day, and chores left to do in the evenings and weekends.

Weekends are not always relaxing any more: even family visits have a tendency to start feeling like a burden if they displace other things that you have to do, and if several of them queue up in the same weekend or if several consecutive weekends become fully booked this way. Also, we try to build in "down"time in the weekend to let the kids play or to do something with the 4 of us, but this becomes more difficult with all the other engagements competing for time.

I too have requested a contract change to work 90% instead of 100%, so that I can move some of the chores from the evening and weekend to a weekday. This will hopefully leave us with more relaxed evenings and weekends.

I realize that in some sense we're lucky that our finances permit us to trade some income for more time off work. I think (hope) we're approaching a OK balance between work, child care, "obligatory" off-work stuff, and "voluntary" off-work stuff.

(Note: 100% means 40hrs/wk here)

> Why do you do it?

Not everybody does. You sound like you might enjoy Mustachianism. That's the idea of keeping a lifestyle much like yours and using the low costs to work less, even while "growing up" and raising a family. http://www.mrmoneymustache.com/

but this money mustache was working to retire ealry right ?Though,he most probably will live the same way even after retirement.

Broke gets old. Being thrifty is hard. It's easy to judge yourself by comparison with your peers' improving lives. Loss aversion means that any improvement you make in your material circumstances tends to stick. And once you start paying more attention to your circumstances, it's surprisingly hard to always choose not to improve them.

It's certainly possible to keep a minimalist, low-burn lifestyle. But it's hard. At 23, you're at the easy end of it. I don't think it's that most people really say, "Hey, I'd like a busy, harried lifestyle in exchange for nice material circumstances." It's that they don't have a guiding passion or enormous discipline helping them say no to every single physical comfort or material pleasure that society offers them.

How were you able to do it? I don't condone the 60-80 work week, and myself will never go over 40. (I do have side project of my own though). If I were to take 4 months off to travel to Asia I would have a $0 income when I came back, because I would have been let go. When I was in school I had to work to pay for my tuition and books which meant I wasn't traveling anywhere. I took out loans and had aid, but if I took out more, that would mean that I was just mortgaging my future leisure time that I would have to make up earning that money back at interest.

Pardon the random questions: Did you stay in hostels or family-run hotels? Have you written about this somewhere? What jobs did you do for the money for the trip?

Both, and guesthouses and homestay (one of the best experience of my life).

I maintained a travel diary but travel blogging isn't something that interested me much. And I worked as an intern turned into a web developer before leaving.

Thanks. Good luck on your next adventure(s).

It's easy to get by for cheap if you are not picky about where you live.

I don't work 80 hours a week, but I also would have trouble getting by on less than $20k/year, largely thanks to cost of living. I am bound to a limited set of locations by the career I want to have.

Well, I have expensive hobbies. However, I only work enough to be able to afford them. 40 hours a week is plenty... but I do have to work those 40 hours.

I see you don't have kids. If you never have them, you can live like that forever. If you have them, I hope you save your post and look back on it and laugh.

I don't know... Obviously you do. As to whether I should laugh about it or not: That's a different discussion.

During that trip I have met lots of different types of people. Relevant to this discussion would be the ones travelling with their kids, and a grown up kid who was raised for a couple years on a sail boat (turned out to become the youngest surgical clinic manager in his home country, was also a lobbyist before that and now refused an even more prestigious job for the sakes of travelling for a while)

This is anecdotal evidence. True. But it is/was enough for me to question how we live, raise children, and the norms.

Obviously, I don't intend to keep going with only 20k a year. I'm finishing my degree soon. What I'm actually really questioning is anything beyond 40 hours a week. Maybe I'm young and hopeful, but I'm sure there are ways. Different ways. And they may even have better returns than what we are used to. I'm going to try at least.

I tend to agree with you about 40h/week for work. I have been pretty lucky in life and have never had to work more than 40 regular hours in a week (barring some reasonable on-call time, of course; nothing too exceptional). I have advanced to a point where my compensation is enough to pay for a decent lifestyle for myself, my wife and my two children. Now, my hope is that I can (over time) scale back my work hours rather than increase my compensation.

I don't travel much (I don't have much of an urge to), but I tend to live pretty leisurely, even with two young children, a house to pay for, a number of bills, etc. I don't have every luxury my friends have, but I tend to not need those things (and I do have the luxuries I want to have).

That all being said, I live in Canada and not the US, and some of the descriptions I hear about work-life south of the border gives me chills. I suppose we're not much better up here, really, but I'm happy to say I can personally get by without over-stressing my workload (and, of course, that's probably just because of my personal circumstances and whatever luck has befallen me).

> If you have them, I hope you save your post and look back on it and laugh.

And maybe he can experience feeling this fantastic smugness.

By way of Andreas Schou at G+: Malthusianisms


Why, in real life, do we ever encounter hard instances of NP-complete problems? Because if it’s too easy to find a 10,000-mile TSP tour, we ask for a 9,000-mile one.

Why are even some affluent parts of the world running out of fresh water? Because if they weren’t, they’d keep watering their lawns until they were.

Why don’t we live in the utopia dreamed of by sixties pacifists and their many predecessors? Because if we did, the first renegade to pick up a rock would become a Genghis Khan.... [See Aldus Huxley's Island for a particularly depressing exploration of this concept.]

Again and again, I’ve undergone the humbling experience of first lamenting how badly something sucks, then only much later having the crucial insight that its not sucking wouldn’t have been a Nash equilibrium. Clearly, then, I haven’t yet gotten good enough at Malthusianizing my daily life—have you?

"Suppose that a Walmart clerk and a hedge-fund manager both decide to take the afternoon off to attend their kids’ baseball game. For the clerk, a half-day’s forfeited pay could come to less than forty dollars. For the hedge-fund manager, an afternoon’s worth of lost trades may cost millions, which is a lot to give up to watch little Billy strike out looking."

This is bullshit. If you are working at Walmart you can't just take the day off on a whim nor would you because you can't afford it.

This quote from the article pulled me out of whatever fantasy bullshit land the authors are writing from.

People are busy because they want meaning in their lives. Doing things gives you a sense of purpose.

That hedge-fund manager also has legions of analysts and traders that do the manager's bidding. The idea that the manager is doing the actual button pushing on a trading terminal is bullshit as well.

Friend of a friend owns a modest investment fund and hasn't set foot in the office in a year. He directs his staff via smartphone from his boat.

Though I do not agree with th author, the author might be suggesting a situation which warrents the presence of the manager, may be meeting with a prospective client etc. Then there is a high probability someone else picked up the prospect and he lost millions.

Yes, it is all conjecture.

I like this idea:

Change your language. Instead of saying "I don't have time" try saying "it's not a priority," and see how that feels. Often, that's a perfectly adequate explanation. I have time to iron my sheets, I just don't want to. But other things are harder. Try it: "I'm not going to edit your résumé, sweetie, because it's not a priority." "I don't go to the doctor because my health is not a priority." If these phrases don't sit well, that's the point. Changing our language reminds us that time is a choice. If we don't like how we're spending an hour, we can choose differently.

src: http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB1000142405297020335870...

Sometimes "I'm busy" is a way to say "I'm not going to edit your résumé, sweetie, because it's not a priority" without pissing off your SO. We might actually like how we're spending an hour, we just try to control the emotional reactions of others.

I like the winner-take-all hypotheses best. A lot of people are employed in advertising, marketing, PR, sales, lobbying, law, etc. and even those who are not might be required as part of their job to do some of those things from time to time.

The problem is that it's more lucrative to manipulate people to buy things they don't need or to trick them to pay more. Note that there are industries where marketing costs are outrageously high, sometimes higher than production and/or R&D. A company that doesn't spend the same amount on marketing or lobbying might make less profit (e.g. due to network effects, other scaling effects, special protections or subsidies) and thus seem like a bad investment.

This leads to a sort of arms race: everybody needs to hire more and more marketers, patent lawyers, etc. and donate more to political campaigns.

Solution: Heavily regulate advertising and lobbying. Some kinds of advertising could just be outlawed, and the rest could get (time or space) limits. Anonymous electronic cash would also help to make internet publications independent from corporate advertising money. Tax money could be used to support independent institutes or publications that try to spread actually helpful consumer advise.

I think some winner-take-all mechanics might also be at play on a personal career level. Note that there are actually lots of people with nothing but free time, though usually not by choice. Many governments deny those people a decent standard of living (some even a home, food or medical care), forcing them take shitty, low-paying, insecure jobs. The constant threat of losing your income to someone else who will work harder or for less money kind of naturally creates a situation where you either work long hours or not at all.

I don't understand how you can expect to work less hours in a capitalist economy. Basically the whole point is to make money and if you're freeing up time that means you're more productive for other work.

If my job is to do a, b, and c and using technology I make it so I only have to spend time doing a, then an employer is going to find something for me to do. Could be busy work, could be letting someone go and giving me their job to save money.

If I don't they'll find someone else who will.

Technological advances that were suppose to help the employee work less, has only helped business run at lower operating costs.

Overtime the market (through price competition) ought to pass those savings onto consumers (ie the employee) . That is a form of increased compensation -- when your paycheck buys you more of what you want.

To do less work in a capitalist economy, own capital. Buy two houses, rent one live in the other, retire forever if so inclined.


My hunch is that we're so busy because capitalism seeks to find local maxima in the possible space of all profits, and because so many people are involved in it, it works pretty well (as far as hill climbing algorithms go).

What keeps me up at night is knowing that there is a higher point that can only be found by going down the descending side of the hill, potentially for an extended period of time.

So here I am at the bottom, wondering if I should turn back or try another hill. It was a lot more work walking downhill than I thought it would be. I keep wondering if there’s some other search function I could employ that would reveal where the peaks are or even transport me to them. Sometimes I picture where a hill would be but nobody listens. They are too busy climbing their own hills. Then it vanishes and reappears under someone else, and people admire how hard that person climbed. Lately the best strategy seems to be doing as little as possible and riding the hills as they grow around me. As someone born and raised to climb, I don’t know what to make of this.

" Lately the best strategy seems to be doing as little as possible and riding the hills as they grow around me"

I am not quite convinced that this solution is universal (which is a claim you didn't make) or practical for a large set of people. What does it translate to in more tangible terms? Refuse to go to school/seek a better job/invest in something more worth one's time in wait for an unexpected propulsion to the top of a hill?

I agree that the hills are rather unstable and various unaccounted for factors can cause the searching algorithm to fail. Most often being that we fail to account for all the other dimensions which also have hills that somehow need attention. One dimension is profits and it is a very popular hill, but all of a sudden you hit a point and realize that there exists a hill in health, and relationship, and personal growth, etc.

What do we do as a response? Stop searching? I doubt it. It might be better to instead, accept the fact that our algorithm will never provide the perfect solution; that to optimize for one dimension (income, for example), we will have to sacrifice optimizations in other dimensions (relationships, leisure etc.) due to a finite resources and constraints outside our control, and in doing that, define priorities.

The priorities need not be final values, but mutable based on environmental conditions. Today, a 60hr week might be a reasonable priority in order to - or at least, in the hopes of being able to - eventually drop that to 20hr weeks and 40 hours with family and other interests.

[btw, great analogy]

I'm surprised that nobody has mentioned one of the key components of busy-ness for the average worker: unemployment. Labor force participation is down even though productivity for the average worker is historically way up. Owners of capital get can more done with fewer workers today than ever before for many different kinds of businesses, so it is not surprising that people work harder and are busier while more folks are finding themselves unable to find work in traditional ways.

I think it's a combination of many reasons, many of which the article cited, but then from other articles I've read as well.

At least for myself, I've noticed that I have used busy-ness as an excuse to not do something I dislike. A rapidly growing synonym by the way, is I'm "tired."

As for why people stay "busy" beyond the excuse factor, I buy most into the argument about keeping up with the Joneses. We live in a very consumption-driven society and people are always scaling up their "needs" rather than being happy with what they have. Consider the consultant that buys a house upon making manager, and then a bigger house upon making partner. Were any of those upgrades truly necessary for the 2-person couple? No, but they"felt" necessary because that's what we do. We climb ladders and scale up.

I'm less inclined to buy the argument that people stay busy because working provides meaning. It's not that I don't think work provides meaning, it's that I don't think most people find meaning in their work today. Rather, work is the tedium that you experience so that you can climb a ladder and get stuff, and continue the up-and-to-the-right cycle.

I was surprised that the author did not include the Puritan American work ethic as a possible explanation. That is, the idea that work = virtue.


Why are we busier?

Go here http://www.tradingeconomics.com/united-states/productivity change the start of the graph to 1959. I would argue that technology has radically helped our productivity but at the end of the day, people are always expected to get better.

Honestly I don't know if this is sustainable but the idea of always growing from a gut check doesn't seem to be. The question could be what is the breaking point and what will break?


Gains in productivity don't help the working class much; they mostly help the owners of companies. Those owners have no financial incentive to reduce working hours to compensate for gains in productivity when they could rather cut half their workforce and tell the remaining workers they need to work harder/longer because there is more competition for their jobs now.

Those who predicted a "leisure society" back in the 1950s obviously didn't realize Marx predicted the opposite would happen a century earlier.

Exactly. To achieve a leisure society we would need to see GDP grow while the productivity index either was flat or decreased.

If you use the same link and look at GDP per capita on that same graph, in 2008 area, productivity started to overtake GDP.

My guess is that we as humans tend to look at what we've missed out on rather than what we've gained. During Keynes's time there wasn't quite as much competition for one's time and attention, and whatever they had probably wasn't as cheap. Now we just have so much entertainment at our disposal that we can't feel satisfied with what we have.

I'll call it the Deal or No Deal irrationality. Essentially, if you go on that show hoping to win $1,000,000 but end up with just $100, you probably feel pretty disappointed. The $999,900 you didn't win ends up eclipsing the fact that you won $100. $100! A free night out with your friends! A nice fancy dinner! Who doesn't want that sort of bonus?!

[I might have accidentally stolen the above example from a Dan Ariely book. If I did then I do apologize]

Now in our society we have competing forces of remaining sociable, watching TV, browsing the Internet, maintaining hobbies, going on vacations, and (as the article notes) trying to work and more more in the process. I mean, I've had to sacrifice watching TV and playing video games just because I need to to have 'more productive leisure.' Board games, lifting weights, going out with friends, and programming are things that I like to do, sure, but that doesn't quite fill in the gap a video game may do in the same way. At the same time I'd like to do more biking and get into other more artistic hobbies, but the time cost to learning is so great and the ROI relative to what I already have on my plate.

$100... for the hours of your time it takes to apply, get accepted, show up, sit around in the green room, partake in the gameshow itself, and make your way back home. It's not free money.

And it's not even close to $100, after taxes.

Why is there no consideration of unemployment in this exploration? In order for leisure time to be evenly-distributed, in an anti-freeloader society, work would have to be evenly-distributed as well. That means having two employees working 20 hours, instead of one working 40. However, employers would need to be able to supply the workers the same salary they now pay the 40-hour worker, or else the workers would have to be willing to consume less.

I was reminded of something written by George Bernard Shaw, a contemporary of Keynes and as well as a playwright, a co founder of the London School of Economics, saying the harder he works the more he lives. Maybe people are busy because, to some extent, they want to be. The finding mentioned in the article that the richer people are the busier would fit with that. Quote below:

"This is the true joy in life, being used for a purpose recognized by yourself as a mighty one. Being a force of nature instead of a feverish, selfish little clod of ailments and grievances, complaining that the world will not devote itself to making you happy. I am of the opinion that my life belongs to the whole community and as long as I live, it is my privilege to do for it what I can. I want to be thoroughly used up when I die, for the harder I work, the more I live. I rejoice in life for its own sake. Life is no brief candle to me. It is a sort of splendid torch which I have got hold of for the moment and I want to make it burn as brightly as possible before handing it on to future generations."

Awesome article. I don't have much to add, but it's interesting how "funny" we are as a species in that we're never fully content. What we think of as a "perfect life" today will be trivial in 100 years and that society 100 years from now will yearn for their own perfect life.

An alternative that is not to be easily dismissed is that in 100 years we will have learned to manipulate our contentment. If handled badly enough, this could become our final discovery. Not that we would then care.

reminds me of a previous front page submission: http://lesswrong.com/lw/1lb/are_wireheads_happy/

An evolution-based theory is that we are genetically programmed to ensure our offspring's survival. This means that whatever tools, knowledge and experience parents have picked up along the way are improved and applied to raising their children. Parents will therefore observe and learn from other parents and their own research for healthier foods, better education tracks, both leadership and teamwork development activities, and whatever else we are convinced will help.

That drive then gets co-mingled with the need for acceptance and competitiveness (also evolution-based). The soccer mom satisfies all those drives concurrently: Improved survival rate for offspring, need for acceptance by a group, competitiveness for resources.

Thanks to evolution, we are pretty much spring-loaded to drive ourselves crazy busy in our 21st century world.

Email+IMs+notifications, everywhere, anytime, that's how.

False sense of urgency.

I'm a naturally competitive individual and I like to out-compete my peers at work - in other words, to win. I don't think this part of human nature will ever lessen no matter how far technology advances.

You should re-calibrate your winning condition to "spends the most time relaxing" instead of "makes the most money".

Really, you should do whatever you like, but part of the problem is that our collective winning condition is based on a number that has, after a certain point, little relation to happiness.

Personally, I try to optimize my happiness. I'm not doing that great a job though because I still spend more than 40 hours working a week. I think my ideal would be to spend 25-ish hours at work and the rest on "leisure"[1] activities.

The nobel economist who invented the GNP (predecessor to GDP) even warned that "the welfare of a nation can...scarcely be inferred from a measure of national income"[2]. Yet here we are 80 some odd years later and it seems the only thing that matters for a nation is GDP growth and the only thing that matters for a person is salary.

Those are nice things to track, but they don't tell you anything about the welfare and happiness of people. Trying to optimize GDP/earnings growth is almost entirely the reason the US doesn't have universal health care, or a higher minimum wage, or mandated child-care leave or vacation leave, etc. We're too scared that it might impact a number without any regard to the actual humans who have to slave away in misery* to attain it. We need to recalibrate our winning conditions to something more, well, humane.

* - misery is mostly hyperbole, fwiw

[1] - leisure activities for me would be a side business, cycling, hiking, gardening/farming, but they could really be anything. [2] - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Simon_Kuznets

Jonathan Haidt's "The Happiness Hypothesis" makes the point that very few things actually long-term moves the needle when it comes to happiness:

Meditation does. As does therapy. And drugs.

These can move our "normal range" of happiness. Most other things, Haidt argues, will temporarily bump our happiness up or down, but we quickly revert to our normal range.

Some things that generally don't affect our happiness in the long term according to Haidt: The amount of time we work or spend on leisure activities. Major health problems that are not degenerative (heart attack, losing your legs). Winning the lottery. Getting that big raise at work.

The reason, it seems, is that we adapt very quickly. Winning the lottery will make us very happy for a short while, but without a lot of discipline we've shortly adapted to our new-found wealth and the needle goes back down to our "normal range". Losing your legs will make you depressed for a while, but soon we adapt and the needle springs back up. Getting a raise is great for a month or three, but then we're used to it and looking forward to the next one.

As long as things are steadily getting better, we are mostly happy. If they are steadily getting worse, we are mostly unhappy. Even seemingly earth-shattering events that totally changes our lives only tends to affect most people for a while.

This does explain some of the obsession with GDP: It is a proxy for growth, and ongoing growth is associated with happiness. But as point out, optimizing for GDP can happen at the cost of negatively affecting other things that are also associated with happiness, and the net result is not necessarily all that great.

An interesting aspect of Haidt's claims is that we should not aim for a too rapid improvement if they make further improvements harder. That is, it's better to get a steady 3% increase in salary, than 50% now, and then nothing for many years. If you do get that 50% raise (or a huge exit), it is better not just for your finances but for your happiness to invest most of it, and slowly increase your spending over time.

Interesting and seems to match my experience.

My guess is the freedom to try new things would be a way to maintain or improve ones happiness. There are a ton of things I wish I had time to do/learn/experience, but the general trend of society is to chase the dollar through "steady" work.

You are only busy if you choose to be in this country. However, how you make the choice is implicit by your level of consumption. I am happy to live on 30k/year even though I make almost 200k, because in 5-10 years, I don't want to be so busy.

You can make the choice--either live an extravagent lifestyle and remain busy, or live modestly for a decade or less and then do whatever the fuck you want 24 hours a day.

Doing 'whatever the fuck you want' costs money too, and its something you'll have avoided due to the frugal life style. So, at the point you retire early, either your frugal habits have become ingrained, or you quickly learn that 'fun' comes at a price. Its an interesting conundrum to say the least.

>Doing 'whatever the fuck you want' costs money too, and its something you'll have avoided due to the frugal life style.


Going without a fancy car and electronics isn't the same thing as "doing whatever the fuck I want."

For me, I consider myself frugal in a sense. I don't have hardly any material wants and I try hard not to buy much of anything. I don't want a fancy car, I went for a cheap efficient one. I basically don't have any wish to keep buying "stuff." I don't care what anyone thinks of me because I don't have good "stuff." I drove a beat up car FOREVER even when everyone made fun of me for it.

What I do is I spend my money on fun. Taking weekend trips at least once a month for example as something that costs money or going out with my friends. I'm not frugal in that sense, but it is what I choose to spend my money on. I try to do things cheap as possible. I have plenty of money and way more than I need even with these expenditures because I don't acquire "stuff" or want or need a big house for all my "stuff."

In all honesty from what I noticed just from the people I know that the "I'm so busy" people are the same people who are running on the hedonistic treadmill faster and faster.

Realign the things you want to the free things in the world and your perspective may change a bit. I have a habit of sometimes vanishing from work on particularly nice days, for no reason other than to lay in the grass at the park. I live way up north, so there are only so many nice days a year here. I figure a few hundred truly perfect days over the rest of my life.

I also enjoy fishing, which really only has startup costs for a rod/reel combo and some accessories (or a found stick and a hook on a line). After that, I can find bait in the garden, to my wife's dismay.

Anyway, the point is fun is really what you make of it. As they say, some of the best things in life are free.

I'm a firm believer in the diminishing marginal returns of happiness that levels of consumption provide. I have no delusions that I wouldn't be happier if I were a billionaire than a 1-2 millionaire early retiree. But how much happier?

I don't believe in any type of extreme frugality, though I do plan on increasing my spending to the 100k/year range by retirement at 35. I'm saving more now because each additional dollar saved now means a lot more than money saved later, plus since I work, I honestly just don't have time to enjoy large expenditures right now, but I will in retirement.

That "Overwhelmed" book is excellent. Halfway through it now and it's really altered my perspective on everyday life.

One analogy to consider is that peoples with argiculture had much worse living standard than hunters-gatherers. Yet, given that they were tied to a patch of ground, they've drove the hunters-gatherers out of their traditional hunting-gathering grounds and eventually took over the world.

The progress doesn't necessarily prefer better standard of living.

Am I naive to believe that we're on a good way of fulfilling Kenyes's prediction and that it's all thanks to capitalism? The world is a much better place today than it was 100 years ago.


It is possible to make a business out of being idle, although I suspect Tom and Victoria are quite busy really.

tldr. I'm basing my below comment on the title of the article.

I think it's just an out growth of our evolution. I mean throughout human history we've had to be 'busy' to survive. Now there is a small historical ripple in that pattern where we empirically don't have to adhere to the same ethic to survive, but it's still ingrained into us from our history.

Why people need boolean logic as in "Keynes was right OR wrong" ?

Contrary to computer science you can be right AND wrong.

Usury. The only way money is generated is by debt. Debt, by definition is encumbered by interest. Thus, the only way to generate money to cover the interest is to generate more debt, this is a feedback cycle, requiring accelerating borrowing just to stay where you are. I think this is a large part of why we are so busy today. We are always behind the eight ball, at every level.

> The only way money is generated is by debt

Huh? There are loads of other ways to make money. Write some software for example. Or if you are the government then print some.

I really can't help but read the diaereses, they insist on using, as umlauts.

Offtopic, but the date on the article says 6 days from now..

That's probably the day the article will appear in the print. It's very common practice among websites of print publications, so that there's no discrepancy in dates between the online and print editions.

Close. Yes, they keep the same date, but the common use of the date is the _last_ day it should be available for sale, so the day before the next issue is out. This lets bookstores and newsstands throw out everything with a date before today, no matter the frequency of publication. For weekly magazines, it is thus six days in the future. Monthly magazine need give only the month, and that does correspond to when it should be sold.

That's very interesting. Thanks for explaining it.

That's likely the print (as in physical print) date.

The New Yorker prints weekly every Monday. This week's issue (available in print today) is dated May 26th.


If you look at corporate employment (the situation of the lower classes is a different matter) people are doing about 5-10 hours of real work per week. Real work is so rare that it's a political token allocated as a favor. If you pay your dues and make your bosses happy, you might get a real project after a couple of years.

The rest of that time is spent acquiring and maintaining social status.

Under corporatism, you don't get a leisure society. You get total disenfranchisement of those who lose in (increasingly noisy and degenerate, over time) political tussles and end up with "the wrong kind" of resume, and a frenetic but wasteful contest in which those who are still in contention beat the piss out of each other to make themselves eligible for the (dwindling) supply of real projects.

When you have such a large number of people with nothing better to do but jockey for social status, you have a lot of cheap labor and it's easy to assign pointless grunt work that doesn't need to be done, and that does little for a person's career or general employability-- and people will do it.

That, above, is what happened. Also, read nlawalker's post, because (s?)he nailed it.

How did we get we busy? (or did we?)

Average American watches 5 hours of TV per day: http://www.nydailynews.com/life-style/average-american-watch....

Perhaps people spend more time at work then they used to, but while not at work they spend way less time working on things like mowing the lawn, cooking, washing clothes, ETC.

Women blaming men for them being too busy need to weight their options IMO. If you are too busy, quit your job and stay home. To maintain the quality of life that existed while Keynes wrote this book, a single income is often adequate. It's not worth killing yourself over.

I think what much of what explains the wealth gap is free trade and illegal immigration. We import everything from China today. We would not allow these sweat-shops in our country with children working in dangerous conditions for pennies an hour. We wouldn't allow it here, but we do support it by buying these products. This breaks the whole premise that Keynes was basing his predictions on (Illegal immigrant employment as well). People can get rich paying illegal workers almost nothing, or importing a product from China and marking up it's price by 8-10x.

This throws things out of the balance that he envisioned.

Or, you know, male significant others could take up an equal amount of responsibility in the household.

Most of the "responsibility" is dumb things that don't actually need doing; more equal households are generally more equal not because a man's doing more but because a woman's doing less.

US employers make it hard for professionals to work part-time and hard for those who do to get promoted, so it's probably better to have one partner focus solely on gaining income and the other taking care of the household. AIUI the evidence is that both men and women are happier when they adopt the traditional roles than when they reverse or try to balance them.

Of course they blame men. Never mind blaming misguided feminism, pushing women to endlessly new heights of perfectionism, elitism and competition both within and across their fairer sex.

And strangely its not OK that the man knows how to relax, minimizes extraneous work and does a sufficient job...

Hits a nerve for me if you can't tell.

It's interesting that despite the authors conclusions that women are busy because of men not taking on equal responsibilities, this is the only discussion of gender in the thread at the moment. I suspect that many who commented on the post did not bother to read the article.

So many downvotes, so few counter points. At least the crazy guy who got banned had the respect to post something.

EDIT: and for anyone hating on the fact that I used the word "Feminism", keep in mind it has "misguided" in front of it. I am referring to feminism that aims to go beyond equality and simply wants to gather unlimited power for women (and oftentimes for all minorities), irrespective of where the pendulum of power currently lies.

You sexist... How dare you challenge feminists, They have every right to fight mother nature... So what if they are biologically and mentally a perfect fit for taking care of children and domestic duties. So what if men are the obvious natural choice as breadwinner. So what if this ruins countless marriages and families, so what if kids are raised by day care providers who don't give a lick about them, so what if it causes tens of thousands of abortions by career women each year.

Taking the man who is biologically programmed (via evolution or creation) to be the leader, head decision maker, and breadwinner essentially switching him into the minority power role because he is not the primary breadwinner? How could that ever hurt a marriage? How could that ever make his wife respect him less?

Taking the women and putting her in roles of abstract logic and non emotional decision making against her nature? how could that ever cause stress for her. How could sending her kids off each day to be raised by a day care provider ever cause her guilt or grief due partly to her in-built nurturing instincts/programming? How could she avoid hating her husband for not being the mother that he should be?

How could any of this negatively affect society today and for future generations? That would be obscene. Just look at the positives of where we are today... Emmm better get a microscope.

I don't blame feminists for their beliefs, I blame men (past and present). If men would have respected and taken care of their wife's and daughters the way they should have, they would have been happy, fulfilled, and never started rebelling and trying to turn against men and even against nature itself.

Dude, when you figured out you were banned, what maked you think that posting the same comment under a new account is a good idea? Try taking a hint.

By the way, that's the naturalistic fallacy you're pushing, and it's horseshit. Horseshit you have elaborated into a self-justifying worldview. You might ask what's so wrong with your life that you need to spend your time like this.

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