Tuesday, August 15, 2006

vacation

When I was younger my family would take week-long road trips around the country. The first was to Florida at the age of 6 or 7, I remember the oranges dangling from the trees and visiting the gator park with an entrance shaped like a giant crock's mouth. During our second trip to Florida when I was 13 we swung through New Orleans to take in the sights, sounds and, of course, the smells of the French Quarter. It's a one-two punch; the mystical aura of the architecture, the people, and the music disarms you as the city's authenticity possesses you, the complete antithesis of the shrine we patroned on the final leg of the journey - Graceland. On our family's final road trip we visited Mesa, San Diego and Tijuana. California was beautiful. Each morning a thick, gray mist rolled off the ocean, as quiet as a ghost, filling our swimming pool before receding back into the Pacific.


In Bertand Russels' superb essay, In Praise of Idleness, he examines the dark, often unspoken flipside of wealth. Here he treats leisure as a commodity that should be distributed equitably amongst all classes. For instance, imagine a factory which makes widgets. The price of the widgets are as low as they'll ever be and the labor force manufactures them in perfect keeping with demand at 8 hours a day. All of a sudden a new technology emerges allowing for widgets to be made twice as fast and twice as cheap. Instead of firing half the labor force, cut everyone's hours in half but keep the same wage.

This approach has obvious benefits for society. The starving artist can create, the backyard astronomer can explore, the inventors can invent and the musicians can perform. With a surplus of leisure time on everyone's hands we would all be permitted to step back and take a breath. Even those who command no special talent can relax, go rock climbing, take harpooning lessons, enter Buffalo Wing eating contests. Whatever your indulgence might be you'd actually have time and money to pursue it. No longer should leisure be a status symbol guarded by the factory owners but a good shared by all.

1 comment:

groundhogger said...

YOUR BLOG WOULD BE FUNNY IF IT WASN'T SO SCARY. I REMEMBER DURING THE TIME OF THE QUAIL HUNT THAT WHEN THE SHOOTING TOOK PLACE IT WOULD HAVE BEEN TOTALLY DARK. I LIVED IN TEXAS 35 YEARS AND KNOW WHEN IT GETS DARK THERE. AS THEY SAY,GO FIGURE.
GROUNDHOGGER