In Praise of Leisure - The Chronicle Review
By Robert Skidelsky and Edward Skidelsky Imagine a world in which most people worked only 15 hours a week. They would be paid as much as, or even more than, they now are, because the fruits of their labor would be distributed more evenly across society. Leisure would occupy far more of their waking hours than work. It was exactly this prospect that John Maynard Keynes conjured up in a little essay published in 1930 called "Economic Possibilities for Our Grandchildren." Given when it was written, it is not surprising that Keynes's futuristic essay was ignored. He asked something hardly discussed today: What is wealth for? We in the West are once more in the midst of a Great Contraction, the worst since the Great Depression. The first defect is moral. Second, the crisis has exposed capitalism's palpable economic problems. So let us imagine that everyone has enough to lead a good life. Let's begin by pondering the reasons for the failure of Keynes's prophecy. It was not ever thus.