How Did Americans Get So Lazy?

Authored by Jared Dillian via,

Nowadays people prefer easy schedules and time off instead of working hard and making money...

It’s estimated that the average person spends only 10% of their life actually working.

What? How is that true when you work 40 out of 168 hours in a week?

Well, you don’t work until age 18 or 21, for starters, and you don’t work after age 65. If you don’t work weekends and take four weeks of vacation a year … you can see how the free time all adds up.

What I find absolutely incredible is that we have built the society by spending only 10% of our lives working. Imagine if we spent 11%!

On a micro level, most people care about three squares and a roof over their head. Doesn’t matter the profession.

What I find super interesting are the people who don’t have a “number.” For example, I talked to a businessperson over the weekend who had received an offer of $50 million to buy his business. He turned it down.

Then you have people like Amazon’s Jeff Bezos and Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg, who could have sold stock at any point along the way and didn’t. Zuckerberg only recently sold stock, and Jeff Bezos is still max-long Amazon.

Bezos is now the richest person in the world, and he is still max-long Amazon. Why not sell 10% here? You can do a lot with $10 billion. Nope. He has no interest.

The Instagram guys sold for a billion, which looked pretty smart back in 2012. Now: Oops. You have to sell sometime. Or do you?

Relationship between work and money

I think we’ve lost track of the relationship between work and money. It’s a simple relationship: If you work, you get money. But somehow, we’ve come to believe that you can work less and earn the same amount of money.

This belief is widespread outside of Wall Street. I hear more and more stories of people who work shortened days on Friday, or maybe not at all.

As workers, we have become more and more productive, but instead of using that productivity to produce more wealth, we have used it to produce more leisure. And so, we are not really any wealthier, which we profess to be unhappy about.

But it is a choice.

Of course, investing is kind of a way to become wealthier without working more. I say, “kind of,” because it is still work. And lots of people say they don’t have time to spend on investing. That is also a choice.

Well, you can always sub it out to me — I spend way more than 10% of my time on it.

I am not quite like Bezos or Zuckerberg, but I have never been a nine-to-five guy. I work all the time, and I don’t generally say no to things. Years ago, I set an imaginary financial goal for myself, and sometime within the next few years, I will probably blow past it, and I have no plans to scale back.

Becoming European

I worry about the United States sometimes. We are developing attitudes about work and wealth that are similar to folks in Europe.

And it is those same attitudes that have resulted in historically low growth rates across the European continent, rates of growth that we used to snicker at over here in the States.

It’s been a while since we’ve consistently printed 3%-4% GDP, and we’re not likely to attain it anytime soon.

I think what I miss most about the old America is the crass materialism — houses, cars, boats, planes, jewelry and clothes — that people aspired to.

Now, people want “time with family.”

The irony in all of this is that we have a materialistic, hard-working president who doesn’t really spend any time promoting materialism or hard work.

Ronald Reagan did, and Calvin Coolidge really did. President Trump wants prosperity, but like most people, doesn’t make the connection between work and money.


nope-1004 css1971 Thu, 05/10/2018 - 16:53 Permalink

Valuing the unit of exchange at 0% has intrinsic meaning that many younger people realize.  Why no one wants to work for something that has zero value, since it can be so easily borrowed, is clear.

"Screw it.  If I need something, I'll finance it."

Debauching a currency in a crony capitalist setting has social impacts too.  We are seeing that in work ethic.


In reply to by css1971

inhibi brushhog Thu, 05/10/2018 - 17:42 Permalink

No its not, this article is a complete farce unless you count the following:

people on food stamps

Everybody else I know is working 40-70 hour weeks. That is BOTH PARENTS working 40-70 hours a week, getting 2 weeks paid vacation. If you do the math, it is the EXACT opposite: people work for the masters that be about 80% of their time awake. Most people spend more time with their immediate boss (8 hours a day at least) than they do their kids. 

The system is DESIGNED so that you have ZERO free time.

Buying a farm is awesome. You at least work for yourself, so the time spent (though grueling) is at least wholesome and satisfying. Plus you are around your family.

In reply to by brushhog

El Vaquero homonohumanus Thu, 05/10/2018 - 18:59 Permalink

I sure as fuck don't feel lazy after a short wiped out one of the pumps on one of my septic tank.  90 feet of trench that I had to dig by hand to lay conduit to redo the electrical, and still more digging left to do.  And I'm not getting paid for it.  I'm just saving $1,000+ in labor costs.  And getting a fuckload of exercise.  I wish I had known a week ago what I now know about septic systems and how they're pumped.  I would have saved another $1,500 in labor.  Then again, working on septic systems is NASTY, and those guys do earn their pay.  

In reply to by homonohumanus

My Days Are Ge… El Vaquero Thu, 05/10/2018 - 20:26 Permalink

You went to septic school and graduated.  Don't squander your education.  Set up a side business and become a septic go-to man.  Get whatever certificates you need.  You would be the kind of person I would partner with in business.  I have the excavators and sweat equity education about dirt work.  My stuff is all  in Vermont.

I wish you good luck.

In reply to by El Vaquero

Peanut Butter … Endgame Napoleon Thu, 05/10/2018 - 20:57 Permalink

Why don't you stay at home and teach the kids and be a househusband for a change? Since you seem so interested in having a parent at home to raise the kids, it's about time fathers like you make sacrifices for the family instead of just kicking off your shoes after work and expecting to be waited on. Don't bitch and expect women to do those jobs, it's about time men like you take up those jobs that you think are ever so important for family dynamics, you need to make sacrifices. 

In reply to by Endgame Napoleon

swmnguy barroter Thu, 05/10/2018 - 19:48 Permalink

I'm old enough to remember that time.  The husband didn't even have to have a high school diploma; just work full-time.  Wasn't necessarily a lavish life, but it bought a suitable house, car that worked, and a vacation every couple years, as well as keeping current on all bills.  And the take-home pay was less because of contributions to a pension fund for the future.

The median wage-earner has taken an effective 50%-60% cut in purchasing power since then.  Nowadays, both spouses have to work full-time in our married couple family, and they're not living nearly as well nor contributing nearly as much into retirement savings.

The value created by all that additional work was skimmed right off the top, and pocketed by the top 10%, and actually by the top .1%.

In reply to by barroter

johngaltfla Bud Dry Thu, 05/10/2018 - 18:41 Permalink

Is this a serious article? Shit, Americans became lazy when Masta Obamaboy said, "youn's can sit on you azzz, smoke da crack, and play da video games. And whitey, youn's can take the Heroin or better yet, steal yo mama's opiod pain pills and get high"


Fuck this. We're going to implode. Trump is just delaying the inevitable.

In reply to by Bud Dry

Endgame Napoleon Lost in translation Thu, 05/10/2018 - 20:37 Permalink

Although you did not participate in the siring, if you are a taxpayer, you are, indeed, on the hook for paying the citizens of other countries who illegally crossed the border $113 billion per year to have sex and reproduce. If you cross a border illegally, do not expect the same money to grow on trees to reward you for sex, reproduction and part-time work that keeps you under the earned-income limits for welfare in traceable income.

In reply to by Lost in translation

secretargentman toady Thu, 05/10/2018 - 22:03 Permalink

The author has it all wrong.  We've all got our priorities. Aside from the obvious problem of government stealing from the productive to finance the "disadvantaged", it's really not anybody's business whether a person desires to become rich through work or work just enough to cover his necessities. Frankly, I highly value time with my family. I'd rather have it than more money. If I had more money, I'd spend it in order to spend more time with my family. That IS wealth to me. In fact, this obsession with "work" is silly. The real goal is not the work itself, but the product of the work. 

In reply to by toady

bloofer secretargentman Thu, 05/10/2018 - 22:56 Permalink

The purpose of work is to produce the things that sustain life and make life good. (There is not much in the way of that kind of work available these days.)

There are many people whose non-working hours are spent more productively than their working hours. Time with family is productive, in educating and modeling adult roles for kids, and for creating strong personal bonds. This stuff pays off, both personally and for the broader community and the culture as a whole.

Household work, such as cooking, cleaning, maintaining the home, sewing, caring for children, etc., is in many cases more productive and valuable than work performed by many paper-pushers and government employees. Many people do way more productive things in their "time off" than they do on the job: fixing the car, raising a garden, milking the goats, tending the bees, remodeling the kitchen, helping the neighbor build a deck.

I've rarely had a "job" that was actually productive and contributed real value. Now that I'm retired, everything I do is productive and intrinsically valuable. I have a small part-time business producing kick-ass (really valuable) products, I write valuable informative articles, and I grow a garden.

A good share of the time, for a good many people, a "job" is a waste of their lives (like the years spent chained to a chair in school), years they could have spent productively.

As was probably true in the old USSR, the time spent off the "job" is the time when actual productive things are done.

In reply to by secretargentman

MK ULTRA Alpha Hal n back Thu, 05/10/2018 - 17:36 Permalink

The US economy has been roiled over and over beating every dime out of people. The television brainwashes poison into the mind of youth.

Those who accumulated wealth, did it illegally. No one goes to prison when the banks are robbed, it's a national robbery each time. Savings & Loans, Tech crash market engineered to rob mom and pop baby boomers, last stab was the 2008-9 banks crash. Each time, houses taken over and over, just lip service from the government. No one goes to prison because it's the Jews.

Constant wars no one understands, taxes thrown away, no infrastructure build, nothing to prove we're moving to a brighter future.

Tonnes of all kinds of drugs dumped on the people, 70 million with their brains burned out because they were told they were nuts and to take the poison. 70 million Zombies, we are to laugh each time we read the insane news of the Zombies. It's sick.

Why? The Jews have broken down America to make it easier to control and rob. Next is to take everyone's self defense weapon as if there are no dangers and the government will protect us. The government is used to rob us, to kill us and destroy our country.

Then the Jew controlled media lies all the time and we never know the truth on anything.

In reply to by Hal n back

Endgame Napoleon Hal n back Thu, 05/10/2018 - 20:44 Permalink

Do managers who are planning the next baby-mommy-look-alike-bulletin-board-decorating contest at work have high IQs?Is this a question on the Wechsler IQ test: What type of entertainment should we have at the next manager’s meeting?  We are going to X fancy hotel, and I just do not want to repeat myself. Last year we had clowns. I am thinking Chippendale dancers might outdo last year’s effort. What do you girls think?”

In reply to by Hal n back

bloofer Endgame Napoleon Thu, 05/10/2018 - 23:07 Permalink

I don't see much indication that others here--or anywhere I else I know of--are experiencing these things you complain about. While I don't doubt your veracity, I can't help but think that you are in some line of work in which these abuses are commonplace. It's true that you see this everywhere to some degree, anywhere there are affirmative-action employees and "protected classes," but this is rarely the culture of an entire business. It's probably the culture of government employment.

If I were you, I would seek employment in some other line of work. You can bitch about it all you want, but nothing is going to change, and if you aren't being reasonably well rewarded in your current line of work, you should obviously move on. Surely you have, or could obtain, some skills that would be better rewarded.

Why are you staying in this situation and devoting most of your energies to complaining about it?

In reply to by Endgame Napoleon