Timothy S. Colman
Reading Kieran Setiya on work life balance
I wrote this note on Substack as a comment on philosopher Kieran Setiya's thoughts on work life balance.
Work life balance written by someone who confesses at the outset you are a workaholic.
Work life imbalance: permanent threats for survival in the wealthiest country in the world.
Work life balance for me has more to do with others who are attacked on a daily basis.
The person who picks my food in the fields dies on average @ 49 years of age.
Work life imbalance.
Half the country, 60% make less than $40,000. So there is a work life imbalance in service work-- that cashier you think nothing of behind the counter at the 7-11, the proliferation of THOSE people that frequent the Dollar Store and live in the paycheck to paycheck Dollar Store economy.
The work life imbalance in reality is a Mom who works 2 or 3 part time jobs and has no health benefits, no time out and no say about her pay as a disorganized worker.
And yet we live in a land of abundance for Richy Rich.
I think a lot of smart people, many insulated in academic and tech, military networks ( think Boeing, Microsoft, Harvard, MIT mostly white men) have seen the wink of the plantation owner and decided if they work hard, don't make too much of a fuss, the plantation master will give them tenure, and you will be above the chaos reigning down on the worker bees in society.
Here is my experience: there is magic in the caste system we live in....it separates people and makes half of America vulnerable, stressed with economic debt and living precarious lives. In addition to women working for free, the nursing homes are stressed by people with kind hearts working for a pittance. Poverty By America written by Matthew Desmond ought to radicalize everyone about the organized theft that wealthy people are pulling off in plain sight. ( Review here nytimes.com/2023/03/13/books/review/pov… )
The work life balance I want is a society where people work enough to create your art, read and write, visit with friends and share housing, grow food so that there is enough to live simply -- and save for pleasures.
What we get instead of an Epicurean friendship as the highest goal is a pyramid scheme that is relentlessly attacking workers and learning from social networks how to control people.
Notice that your kids generation have organized 300 Starbucks stores because they are part of this work life imbalance, and yet their parents-- you and me still frequent Starbucks and think nothing of monstrous behavior of Howard Shultz and other billionaires hoarding.
The plantation owner -- say Elon Musk or the Koch bros in today's world told Marjorie Taylor Greene and Governor De Santis that if they went after the runaway slave, that she would get the benefits that he has stolen from people working for him for free. Every rich capitalist is a hoarder who operates in the same trauma drama that this work life imbalance inflicts on all of us. It is perpetuated by public policy.
The white wingers openly attack Black people in public and gets full support by white wing billionaires who collude with Trump and the fascists who say you white working class people-- you've been betrayed. I am your vengeance!
Work life balance requires that society balance extraction of wealth from the poor people working in the fields who are denigrated in our society as much as women raising our children.
It requires that the corporate state balance out the oligarchs wealth extraction from the working people of this country with no guaranteed housing, education or food.
Working class mostly agricultural communities that built state colleges in the 1800's are routinely betrayed by state universities that take our collective tax money and then work with Richy Rich to export work to poor countries, creating greater work life imbalances on farms, gutting communities. No balance there over time - say 140 years.
So the white wingers have learned that if you want to keep the oligarch plantation owners happy and make a lot of $$, but you aren't landed gentry, then you need to come up with a vulnerable minority that can be crucified as the rich extract more and more wealth from working people. Racism and othering is a finely tuned distraction for wealth transfers from the disorganized people who create wealth to the bank accounts and 600 room homes of Jeff Bezos and the top of the pyramid scheme.
So we endure attacks on people called "trans", Black men and women, women in general and next up gays and lesbians. Hating others has always been with us, but the rich have learned how to use hate and creation of others not as a lesson to teach loving like origjnal Jesus, love everyone, but hate.
Hate as a distraction for their pyramid scheme where they control more and more unearned assets. Most smart people keep their head down and get paid off enough to not raise a fuss as the oligarchs and socialized corporations extract and concentrate more and more wealth from the worker bees.
In my work life since 1973, the corporate class has learned how to crash the economy every 8-10 years since I began working low wage jobs in 1973.
The side effects of this systemic work life imbalance are everywhere here on the left coast: homeless mentally ill vets, people who are stranded without family are treated as disposable trash.
And they are left there in the streets because the top of the pyramid scheme will not pay their taxes. They would rather hoard and beat their chests with their unearned wealth than build housing for everyone. This keeps the lucrative Dollar Store economy going with abundant precarious class sharecroppers who are enslaved in debt and payday loans.
The hallmark of AI in our lives is technology that will kill even more jobs than the first wave of industrialization.
One in 4 people will soon feel the probably therapeutic pinch of being cut off from their worklife if they haven't already-- as the oligarchs extract wealth from the middle class.
Hannah Arendt said that "The first loss which the rightless suffered was the loss of their homes, and this meant the loss of the entire social texture into which they were born and in which they established themselves a distinct place in the world."
It is a fundamental to have time out to rest. And you have to have a home embedded in a community to have rights.
So I think work life balance is more about us separating ourselves from others when we owe them deep bows of gratitude for scraping dollars together to create universities.
Human beings without public housing free of the speculative housing market are cast off and treated like trash or forced to work in fields full of pesticides to harvest our food dying at an early age.
What is missing in work life balance?
The most content country in the west is Finland.
And you know what? They house everyone. They catch people falling onto the street and house them because they see the loss of meaning that gets created when you don't have a place to land. They have free education and they have healthcare for all.
They haven't betrayed the people who dreamed of a better life for their children like Americans have been betrayed.
You know what else? Finland is 75% union.
When your journalist asks about work life balance here in America, think about being busy as a traumatic reaction to the plantation owner's wink that you and I will be on the same footing as Richy Rich if only we work hard and keep our head down.
Thanks for reading, and making your effort for a more just and thoughtful society.
Overwork = trauma response.