I recently gave a speech at my Toastmasters club that focused on actively quitting work and how it relates to the fifteen hour work week. The speech had a great response and afterwards people were asking me all sorts of questions about how I generate wealth, how I quit work while being “financially self sufficient” and a whole bunch of other questions. But it actually dawned on me that people really aren’t familiar with some very interesting economics ideas like the fifteen hour work week that we should be aspiring to.
What is the 15 hour work week?
I consider Joseph Keynes to be one of the greatest economists who has ever lived because his ideas actually turned out to be worthwhile. Other economists generally have ideas that pander to the specific special interests rather than maximizing good for everyone. His idea of going into fiscal deficit to pull a country out of a depression actually worked, and helped pull the entire world out of the Great Depression. But Keynes had another great idea, that of the titular fifteen hour work week. Basically he believed that by 2030 technology would become so proficient, that all mundane work would be automated. This leaving us more time for leisure and only needing to work fifteen hours per week. A powerful idea! And it s true. Technology has automated mundane tasks and we should only work 15 hour per week. There are reasons why is hasn’t, and I ‘ll address those in another post.
Will technology lead us to a 15 Hour Work Week?
Without a doubt technology can get us to a fifteen hour work week. A couple of years back, I was working on a well paying contract job, and I had to make a large scale enterprise system look good. Rather than do the usual thing of designing each page, I decided to figure out how the system worked, and then write some code to generate all the visuals for me. I worked for effectively a two months, but got paid every month for the two years I was was there. Such a sweet feeling! I ended up spending my free time learning other interesting things.
Technology can definitely ease our time and workload, potentially giving us those free hours. But here’s the thing; I don’t believe technology has changed our mindsets. When technology gives us time, then we will try figure out how to fill that free time with more work. Its makes no sense. We should be trying to work less than forty hours per week. Of course, our national work culture is still adjusting to the ideas of working less. But there’s another mechanism that leads to a fifteen hour work week and it provides the appropriate mindset shift.
Veganism as a means to achieving a 15 Hour Work Week
Veganism inherently means you consume less, dropping your costs, thus requiring that you to do work less. Potentially, dropping the amount of hours you work. As a whole, Veganism is anti-consumeristic, meaning you spend less, and when you do spend, you spend on more meaningful stuff. Very quickly you begin to realize that food is not a big thing. It’s really just sustenance, and once you drop this as a major expense by just eating healthy, your lifestyle costs go down. Now because you’re eating well, you don’t get sick and your medical bills go away too. Then you start noticing that things that once seemed luxurious like leather seats in a car, are really just silly. Why should you pay more for a dead carcass and support a vile industry. You begin question every purchase you make and realize, hang on, I don’t need half of this stuff!
When that happens you’ll also notice that you have a whole lot more cash in your account at the end of every month. And the question arises, “What should I spend all this extra cash on?”. Or you could ask yourself another question, “Do I really need to work 40 hours per week?” Personally, I like the latter question more!
It occurred to me, while watching a video on Shaolin monks who are vegetarian, that Veganism has many things in common with old eastern lifestyles that are simple and basic from a physiological stand point. After all you don’t find too many flashy vegans. So given that Veganism allows you live simply, and if you earn at the same rate, why shouldn’t you be able to generate wealth faster, and then put yourself into a position of working less hours. It’s really as simply as that. If you have no debt, and the only thing you need to pay for are your monthly running costs, you’re a candidate for a fifteen hour work week.
There are some truly wonderful ideas out there like the fifteen hour work week which makes a lot of sense. People need to know about this. Particularly given that they’re quite practical now with the compatible lifestyles like veganism. The fifteen hour work week is a Great idea, and I do think its quite achievable for all of us. It’s a worthy goal, and if it’s within our grasp we should all go for it.