Last Wednesday I wrote a piece, “The King of One’s Castle,” in which I wrote about the joys of home ownership, and the sense of import that goes with that responsibility. Putting time in working on and around the house gives me a sense of accomplishment, and deepens the pleasure of ownership.
As a corollary to that post, I’d love to offer up this slight counter: to whom much is given, much is required. I’ve been hearing that bit of Biblical wisdom from Luke 12:48 my entire life, often when I resisted doing something with my musical or oral talents (I possess a deep, rich, chocolate-y radio voice, and am often called upon to announce).
I am blessed to have been given much by way of talents, though I quickly temper that proud statement with sincere humility—there are many others far more gifted and talented than I am. Nevertheless, I do think I possess some attributes that increase my responsibilities to those around me.
That burden is not always easily borne, but it must be, whether easily or not.
There’s been a lot of discussion of UBI—Universal Basic Income—over the last few years, especially with the presidential primary run of Andrew Yang. The concept is seductive in its simplicity: gut the welfare state and its behemoth apparatus of bureaucratic pencil pushers and middlemen, and just cut every adult citizen a monthly check.
For fiscal conservatives, it’s a particularly toothsome Devil’s Bargain: streamline an inefficient and wasteful bureaucracy and simply direct deposit a grand every month into Americans’ checking accounts. Of course, it’s a siren song: we’d just get the payments and still suffer with an entrenched bureaucracy, claiming $1000 a month isn’t enough to meet the specialized needs of whatever community they pretend to support.
Even if the deal were struck and every redundant welfare program were eliminated, there UBI would still be a bad idea. Besides the absurdity of merely paying people to exist, it’s inherently inflationary: if you give everyone $1000 a month, prices are going to go up. Just as college tuition has soared because universities realized they could jack up the price and federal loans would expand to cover the costs, UBI would cause a similar rise in prices. Sure, it’d be great at first, but the inflationary effects would kick in quickly.
It’s no secret—I do not like meetings. It’s somewhat humorous, then, that I ran for an office that pretty much requires me to attend at least one meeting a month. But at least in a Town Council meeting we cover relevant information necessary to the functioning of the town, and occasionally discuss or debate useful topics pertaining to the interests of our residents.
But in professional settings, I typically find anything longer than an occasional half-hour meeting to be a tedious waste of time. I can never shake the sensation that most meetings are opportunities for Karens and busybodies to peacock, fanning their feathers to signal their virtue.
This piece, which is actually one of my favorites I’ve ever written, details that we waste 11.8 hours a week in meetings—over 25% of our workweek. I wonder if remote working has increased or decreased the amount of time spent in meetings; my hope is that it is the latter. At least with Zoom meetings, you can always switch off your camera and do something productive while the social justice commissars in your human resources department drone on about their latest fad.
It was, by all accounts, a meteorologically dreary weekend, with rain that started sometime Friday and lasting through the duration, but it was nevertheless enjoyable. I took in my first movie in the theaters in months, and managed to get a number of miscellaneous items completed (as I’ve always got some side hustles going, I was able to dedicate some time to them, though I still need to work on editing my collection of Inspector Gerard stories).
Besides seeing friends and loved ones, though, I try to use these days to take care of routine maintenance—on the house, on my cars, whatever the case might be. Lately I’ve been borderline fanatical about organization, particularly keeping my desk at home tidy, various writing utensils and calendars at the ready when needed.
This weekend, though, I dedicated several hours to reviving my long lost love: my busted up 2006 Dodge Caravan.
That’s certainly encouraging. In theory, my faith to Christ is my highest priority, although like many Christians, that’s not always the case in practice. In practice—and in a practical, day-to-day sense—my family is my top priority, even if they’re an hour or two away.
The two, however, seem inextricably tied. Some years ago I heard someone (probably Dennis Prager) say that the three keys to happiness are faith, family, and work (most likely in that order). Faith in God gives us purpose (indeed, God gives us our Creation—our very existence). Family gives us people who love us, those we support and those who support us in turn. Work gives us a sense of accomplishment—the satisfaction of a job well done.
Well, the glory of Christmas Break has come to an end, and it’s back to the grind this morning. Due to concerns about The Virus, we’re online for at least this week, and I’ve received word that teachers will be allowed to teach from home for the remainder of the week. That will make the transition back to full-time teaching a tad more endurable, as waking up and rolling over to the computer is much easier than engaging in the hasty rituals of the morning.
Regardless, I’m scrambling a bit this morning, so today’s post will be brief and belated. I’ll cover my trip to Mississippi tomorrow; today, I thought I’d give some general updates as we head into the first fiscal week of 2021:
Well, here it is—the week of Christmas, and the beginning of my glorious, two-week Christmas break. If this blog post feels a bit like I’m rubbing in readers’ faces the bloated excess of education’s vacation time, my apologies. I will note, though, that if you spent hours everyday as a surrogate parent to other people’s children, you, too, would want two weeks off at Christmas.
Indeed, I would argue that more professions deserve more time off at Christmastime. Naturally, I realize that many folks save up their hard-earned vacation days to do just that: enjoy a week or so with their families by the yule log, sipping eggnog and hot cocoa in their festive Cosby sweaters. What I’m advocating for, though, is a widespread cultural movement—maybe even to the point of declaring some federal holidays—in the days leading up to and/or immediately after Christmas. It always blows my mind when people work a full day—even a measly half-day—on Christmas Eve.
I’m embracing the lazy logic of Thanksgiving Break with more throwback posts than usual this week. After Christmas Break, this little Thanksgiving reprieve is my favorite short break of the year. It combines family, fun, and food, with enough time to enjoy all three.
Last year when I wrote “Brack Friday Bunduru: Workers Need a Break,” I was growing increasingly burned out and fatigued from my job and my various obligations. Between work, music lessons, and various ensembles, I wasn’t getting home most nights until 9 or even 10 PM. That clearly showed up in my argument here for giving workers the day of Thanksgiving—and at least Christmas Eve and Christmas Day—off from their toils.
That said, I still believe it. What’s humorous to me, in re-reading this post after a year of lockdowns and shutdowns, is that my call for “[s]hutting down everything but essential services… would be an admirable goal for at least Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, as well as Thanksgiving” came to pass—with deleterious effect—for not three measly days but for months on end. That’s certainly not what I had in mind, but I think workers have had all the breaks they can stand this past year.
Still, in normal times, having a couple of days for Christmas and a day or two for Thanksgiving isn’t going to tank the global economy. Workers could use the break, and the reminder that all that hard work is in service to something greater: family, faith, and God.
I love hard work—indeed, I think it’s one of the keys to happiness and purpose, particularly for men—but there’s hard work, and there’s exhausting yourself for a pittance. Let’s reward the former with some downtime.