Agriculture

Back to the Drawing Board for the Four-Day Work Week

Today, the Canadian National Broadcaster, which maintains transmission facilities for its citizens in Cascadia, aired a call-in show about the pros and cons (well, pros) of a 4-day work week. You can listen to it here. I listened to half of it on my long, long drive home from training a new farm manager how to thin these little apples:

 

Then I turned it off. Talk about a slap in the face. See, here’s the thing. If you want organic fruit (and I hope you do), you have, optimally, three weeks to thin your little baby apples, in order to get a crop next year. Otherwise, you get apples every second year. You can cheat a week or two, but not much, and fudging the timing comes with risk. The thinning takes a long, long time. 80% of the apples must be removed, in specific patterns, to get an optimal crop this year and an optimal crop next year. To get all this done, a four-day work week doesn’t cut it, when labour is in short supply and skilled labour even less so. So, if you want a four-day work week, it is predicated on others not having one, and to blithely discuss the increased leisure benefits of a shortened work week, and a related increase in productivity during those 4 days, is just ethically and socially untenable when your fellow citizens are excluded from that, the ones whose partner is the living Earth, where timing is determined by a solar clock, not by a human one. The ultimate solution might be to have an increased pool of farm labourers, but for that to happen, wages would have to increase, food-selling systems would have to change, and land use patterns would have to be transformed. I’m all for that, but in the meantime let’s remember that working by a solar clock, with the timing being out of your hands or control, is an honour and a pleasure. If urban life denies people that, that’s the issue that must be addressed, not the artificial shortening of a solar week. Of course, you can use eat non-organic apples, where the blossoms are poisoned off (to deny people labour and, with the savings, to compete in an unethical food supply system).

Yes, the dwarf trees are to deny people labour as well, and to satisfy the banking system, that wouldn’t bankroll farming if it didn’t concentrate capital in as few hands as possible. So, if you want a four-day work week, change the banking system first, would you? Either that, or volunteer to help a farmer. The planet asks nothing less of us.

4 replies »

  1. Yes, “volunteer to help a farmer.” When I was “cut” to a three-day work week for a good part of a year, I helped a neighbouring plow snow, disc the fields, rake hay, take down old fences and put in new ones, etc. Actually, if it hadn’t been for the situation that limited me to the three-day week (we were dirt poor, though soil-rich–it would have been ideal.

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  2. Living on the land is a 24/7/365 commitment. Like being a parent of people or animals. You sink your soul into it. It’s hard sometimes and rewarding in oh so many little ways. Much better for the soul than 40 hour a week cubicle life.

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      • Mind you (he laughs), Jaon is a nice name, too. My Aunt Joan would have a good laugh with us, if she were still here. Hopefully, she is laughing along in spirit.

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