The Jetsons: Work in the Modern World


“George Jetson: age 34, is a loving family man who always seems to make the wrong decision. He works ‘full-time,’ 9 hours a week, at Spacely’s Sprockets as a computer engineer.” – Wikipedia

For me, one of the most interesting “predictions,” so to speak, from the TV show the Jetsons, was the idea that George Jetson only worked 9 hours a week and could sustain a comparatively rich lifestyle on the income from those hours.

But it wasn’t only this show that was making these types of predictions. John Maynard Keynes, in his paper 1930 paper, “Economic Possibilities for Our Grandchildren,” made a similar claim:

 “I draw the conclusion that, assuming no important wars and no important increase in population, the economic problem may be solved, or be at least within sight of solution, within a hundred years. This means that the economic problem is not-if we look into the future-the permanent problem of the human race.”

However, over 80 years later, the economic problem is nowhere near being solved. Poverty is still a huge issue throughout the world, and in the United States. Workers have become more productive, but are working the same or even more hours than in the recent past. I believe that one of the big challenges for our society will be to shift our vision of the amount of work it takes to sustain a living.

Yet, there are a few people who have surpassed these expectations, living the dream of a Four Hour Work Week.

From a philosophical perspective, the interesting question is whether we would choose to reduce our consumption for less hours worked per week. The notion of working “full-time” is important for many reasons, including retirement saving and health insurance, but what if this notion weren’t so important?

Would you be willing to reduce your current standard of living to work fewer hours per week? What if, instead of getting a raise, you got offered a reduction in the hours you worked per week?

What would you do with more free time? 

This is a question that I think a lot of us struggle with. The tendency to be bored or resort to watching more TV can dominate our minds. Keynes also anticipated this problem:

Yet there is no country and no people, I think, who can look forward to the age of leisure and of abundance without a dread. For we have been trained too long to strive and not to enjoy. It is a fearful problem for the ordinary person, with no special talents, to occupy himself, especially if he no longer has roots in the soil or in custom or in the beloved conventions of a traditional society. To judge from the behaviour and the achievements of the wealthy classes to-day in any quarter of the world, the outlook is very depressing! For these are, so to speak, our advance guard-those who are spying out the promised land for the rest of us and pitching their camp there. For they have most of them failed  disastrously, so it seems to me-those who have an independent income but no  associations or duties or ties-to solve the problem which has been set them.

My challenge to you today is to come up with 3 intriguing ways that you would spend your time if you suddenly found yourself with more free time. What would you do? Let us know in the comments!

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