Sunday, March 14, 2004

Excerpt of a letter to a Blood-Relative

I just read an article in the New York Times that claimed sedentary lifestyles to be a leading cause of death in the US--just behind smoking. It's really important to be active; I think it's a shame that the need is not better addressed in our society, along with countless other human needs like meaningful work, scheduling flexibility, or just more free time generally. If you've ever heard of the Israeli "kibbutz"-style of work (basically a communal system), necessary labor and manual tasks are distributed within
the community, so that no matter what your professional specialty may be, everyone gets a turn doing these more physical, labor oriented tasks. Anyway, quite a bit different from what we're used to in the States--although I can't see how we especially benefit from unemployment on one end and the stress-related health problems of working 60 hours a week on the other. The necessary tasks of any community can be distributed sensibly; if everyone has work then no-one works too much. It has similar applications for technology, which can be used either to produce in order to provide
(people work less and benefit more), or to produce in order to profit (people are replaced by automation in the name of "productivity"). Anyway, just some thoughts on the way our economic system meets our needs as people--or doesn't, as I am inclined to think--including our need for integrated active lifestyles. The irony is that educated professionals are among those with the least time for exercise.

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