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Polis Report

Worked Up

By Jim Hightower

These days, if you are a typical working person, the 40-hour workweek has become a joke. On average, American workers are on the job 160 hours more each year than workers were just 25 years ago. That's an extra month of work each year added on to the full-time shift you're already working.

For what? Are wages up? Ha! For 80 percent of us, they're down; you're having to paddle faster and work longer just to stay even, and your spouse has to join you in the same rat race. Are we happier as a result; are our families better off? Hardly--our kids are in day care or left on their own, we have no time for leisure or volunteer activities, and we're tired all the time.

Oh, they say, we have to work more for America to be competitive in the new global economy. Really? Germans-- among our main competitors--work nearly eight weeks less per year than we do, get paid more for it and enjoy better benefits. Even the Japanese, notorious workaholics, now have a shorter workweek than we do and are better rewarded.

Meanwhile, our extra work has increased profits, stock values and CEO pay for the privileged few.

Let's face it: it's time to restore some fairness to our economy and some common sense to our lives, by shortening the American work-week to four days.

Abraham Lincoln had this to say about work: I never did like to work, and I don't deny it. I'd rather read, tell stories, crack jokes, talk, laugh--anything but work.

Hey, he wasn't called Honest Abe for nothing.

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From the May 30-June 5, 1996 issue of Metro

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