Things are changing locally, and I don’t believe it is a good thing in the short-term. My daughter-in-law has tried to find work for a couple of months. She had an interview Friday and began working Saturday morning. While I am happy for her, she will need to keep searching for work. Why? Because all jobs are being cut back to less than 20 hours per week.
Her employer was brutally honest with her during the interview explaining that because of “Obamacare” (which more than doubled their insurance rates) they have had to cut all positions (except management) to part-time and not only part-time but less than 20 hours per week. As a result the business will be hiring 10 new employees to cover the shifts. At close to minimum wage the most she can expect to bring home in a month will be approximately $500, not a week a month! This will never pay enough to properly support any working adult especially with a family.
You may wonder why I said “I don’t believe it is a good thing in the short-term”. While I can feel for those who will have to juggle 2 and even 3 jobs to make ends meet, This situation will take negotiation between employers and employees to work out a schedule that will allow them to work another job, and those with families will find locating childcare, even free childcare by relatives, to be a scheduling nightmare.
I can see a possible silver lining coming from this trend of part-time employment. What if each person, for their own reasons, got tired of running between jobs? Became exhausted by the struggle to support the lifestyle they previously had? What if all this stress led more people to reevaluate their lives and make changes that would allow them to cut back on hours worked?
Would we see the following things happen?
- Backyard gardens to reduce grocery bills.
- Less reliance on fast food/take out
- Return to whole foods which are cheaper
- Moving to a smaller home that costs less to keep up
- Thriving thrift shops and consignment stores where you could find everything from clothes to furniture
- A resurgence of the local repair businesses
- Less reliance on the car
- More neighborhood stores that catered to the basic needs you couldn’t provide for yourself.
- Return to free entertainment where friends/family gather for a cookout, night of card games or just to st on the porch and visit with neighbors again.
- More reliance on a sharing economy, by which I see not every household owning each item they occasionally use and instead borrow and share with friends and neighbors.
- With less income, we could see the end of the huge malls and big box stores and a return of the independent businesses
- Children getting to grow up at home where they participate in the gardens and other family chores
- I can even see the return of the extended family home, known here as multi-generational homes.. Instead, of giving up the larger home families can’t afford on a reduced income,, grandparents or even aunt and uncles, could move back in, having their own space and help defer costs
- The multi-generational home would also help to reduce childcare costs with more adults sharing the responsibility.
- A good friend says she can see older women, single or widowed, who move into one house to cut costs share in the chores while keeping their independence.
- And to make better money I can see more people starting a small business from their home whether it be in crafting, childcare, or some other business that would be of value to the new economy.
If all these things resulted from one change, in this case the implementation of the Affordable Care Act, just think how different life would look.
- We would once again know our neighbors
- There would be less trash ending up in the landfills, one of my pet peeves, as people would buy less and take care of what they owned
- Reduced rates of obesity from a healthier diet
- Can I hope to see less GM foods being grown?
- Reduced neighborhood crime, (after an initial increase) with more people home at irregular hours due to shorter shifts working
- Air pollution would be reduced because we would have fewer trucks delivering goods to stores to sell to us.
- Less reliance on luxury items which would include cable TV, gaming systems, and other material things which have resulted in our sitting indoors on our butts.
- Home grown businesses would teach the value of a dollar to children and improve the self-esteem of those who are able to create something worthwhile that they enjoy doing.
Earlier today I was reading an article about Andrew Jackson Downing at The Simple White Rabbit. The descriptions of what our homes should be fit perfectly with what I was envisioning as a possible outcome of a society which has to drastically change the way they live to survive with less income. Here are a few of the quotes I found of particular interest, but please visit and read the rest of the article.
- “The true philosophy of living in America is to be found in moderate desires, a moderate establishment, and moderate expenditures.”
“Let the cottage be a cottage – the farm-house a farm-house – the villa a villa, and the mansion a mansion. . . . there is a peculiar beauty that belongs to each of these classes of dwellings. . . .”
- villa must be “large enough to minister to all the wants, necessities, and luxuries of a republican, and not too large or too luxurious to warp the life or manners of its children.”
“But the man of wealth so loves to astonish the admiring world by the display of riches, and it is so rare to find those who comprehend the charm of grace and beauty in their simple dress!”
Our homes suck us dry of funds and limit the experiences we can enjoy when we have a home that exceeds our needs.
What do you think? Can we find a good life come out of a part-time economy?