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Who owns our time? The right to A life.

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posted on Feb, 22 2011 @ 01:49 PM
Most Americans share the belief expressed in the Declaration of Independence that all U.S. citizens are guaranteed the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Implicit in the Constitution and Bill of Rights is the idea that every human being has a right to a life; a life in which they have choices, are free to choose, and are free to determine their life's direction without coercion. And what are our lives but time? Time cannot be banked for future use: each moment must be utilized at the instant of its creation or be lost forever. That is why time is our most precious commodity, to be surrendered neither lightly nor uncompensated.

The most fundamental freedom, the one freedom without which all others lose their meaning, is the freedom to choose how we spend our time. But time and choice is what we are deprived of when every moment is driven and absorbed by the need to survive economically and to comply with government demands. The freedom to participate in a democracy means nothing if the time necessary to consider the options before us is lacking. The social contract that has evolved in this nation has done so on an ad hoc basis driven primarily by and for business interests without much regard for the rights of the other citizens expressed in and implied by the Constitution and Bill of Rights. Businesses are really just people, ordinary citizens once removed. Business interests, therefore, are people's interests. Stated another way, generations of citizens who own businesses have used the apparatus of government to create an economic and legal framework that is primarily arranged to meet their families' personal economic and time-based needs and desires at the expense of those of all others.

The world is a far more demanding and complex place than when the work week was set at forty hours some eighty years ago; who will debate this? Since then, the time required to fulfill the obligations of citizenship has grown. The time necessary to do proper research to make sound economic decisions has grown. The time investment demanded to maintain economic competitiveness has grown. The time essential to properly raise and supervise children has grown. But the amount of time available is rigid: no fiat of business or government can lengthen the day. It is far past time to redress the neglect of the time needs of the non-business class citizen. It is time for a dispassionate in-depth analysis of the time available to citizens and how that amount is consumed by the needs, obligations, and rewards of living the American life, and come to a reasonable, rational, and equitable balance between the needs of the individual, the economy, and the government. It is time to restructure our society in a manner that makes economic and chronological sense for the majority of citizens, not just an elite few.

There are twenty-four hours in a day.

Seven days in a week.

Fifty-two weeks in a year.

About seventy-five to one hundred years in a life.

These are the strictures that frame the debate. Who owns this time? Who has first rights upon it? Who controls how it is used? Is it business first? Does government at all levels have the right to first claim on a citizen's time? Does the individual citizen own the moments of his or her own life? There are nuances to these basic questions that address the balance between these competing forces: if one or the other has first rights, to what extant do they have them? How much time under what circumstances?

These are not imponderable philosophical questions. Neither are they impossible to answer. They are basic questions of governance that can be addressed in a logical, scientific, and provable manner because there are, indeed, twenty-four hours in a day, seven days in a week, fifty-two weeks in a year, and about seventy-five to one hundred years in a life. Because those numbers are measured, anything that fills them can be measured against them.

Some among us would argue that without an economy, nothing is possible, and therefore the needs of business must come first, or at least weigh most heavily in the balance. They would be justified to a certain extent: the economy is important. But is “the economy” the master of society or its servant? Is it the purpose of society to further the economy, or should the economy benefit society? It would help here to know what we mean when we talk about it, however: what exactly is “the economy”?

In one aspect, it is the total collective economic interactions of the populace of the nation. That is the definition normally used by business interests when describing their economic proposals to the general populace. That is too broad a definition to be useful in this discussion, though, and is in point of fact not the one used by those who lobby the government for funding and legal control structures. The economy they describe to legislators consists of the specific economic interests of those who employ them. Over time the regulatory and legal system more and more has become symbiotic with business interests, those business interests being the personal financial concerns of those who can afford to hire lobbyists to promote their vision of what the regulations pertaining to their particular segment of the economy should be. In the end, arguing that the individual must arrange his or her life and time to meet the best interests of “the economy” translates into arguing that majority must submit to the economic dictates and benefits of a minority of fellow citizens.

Surely that isn't what the Founding Fathers had in mind when they framed the Constitution and Bill of Rights.

Just as surely they never envisioned a time when business would expand to fill every moment of every day and eventually attempt to supplant the government itself. But by dint of the majority of people minding their own business while ignoring government to the greatest extant possible we have arrived in this over-stressed, over-tired, under-compensated and time-deprived society run by business interests through elected proxies in the best interests of “the economy”. A minority of our fellow citizens has gradually, through law and regulations, usurped control of our individual lives for their private benefit. They haven't necessarily done this as a consciously evil plot: rather it is simply how the system has evolved with individuals looking out for their own best economic interests. Their collective attitude is best summed up in Charles E. Wilson's once famous but incorrect claim that “What's good for General Motors is good for America”. But I submit that it is a system out of balance with the needs of the nation and the majority of its citizens, and needn't be blindly supported unchanged..

Some might say the government has first rights, and under some circumstances they would be correct. For instance, if the government were to institute a draft it would be exerting those first rights, and the vast majority of the citizenry would agree and comply if they felt the purpose justified. A demand to appear in court most certainly co-opts an individual's time. A good citizen votes knowledgeably and pays attention to local, state, federal, and international issues so as to be reasonably able to judge the candidates' fitness for the offices they seek. A solid case exists for the primacy of governmental time rights.

But the true answer for Americans must be that the individual owns this time and has first rights to it and that neither government nor business has the right to force citizens and workers into time bankruptcy. To argue otherwise is to deny all that America is about.

To properly set up a budget, first you must define what you are budgeting for, and then match the budget requirements to the resources available to meet them. So far as the available resources go, we know the bounds of those. But what budget categories should we define? We have seen that two groups demand their share, if not all, of our time resources: business and government. Between them they leave little room for other recognized categories.

First of the other categories is family. Unless one is an orphan working in extreme isolation we all of us have families, of blood or friendship, with whom we share mutual supportive obligations that society recognizes as valid and necessary.

The second of the other recognized categories is spiritual: organized, disorganized, or cult, we have long since acknowledged that the spiritual realm is legitimate place for an individual to invest their time, and without some time investment in it there is a strong possibility of antisocial behavior.

The third category is that of business and economics: earning/making a living.

The fourth is that of government: time spent complying with mandated activities.

The fifth and final recognized category is probably the original category, that of personal time, despite its being more honored in the breach than the reality in our current society.

Having defined the categories and resources, how then to spend the time budget? Just like any other budget: basic needs first. Start with sleep. A citizen should have the right to eight hours of sleep a night. After all, isn't that what is the doctor ordered? Numerous studies, medical, economic, and traffic, point out the direct costs of excessive fatigue in the form of poor health, shorter lives, decreased workplace safety and productivity, more traffic accidents, medical mistakes, and overall reduction in good judgment.

All the arguments arrayed to justify social controls upon private behavior in the interests of increased public safety would seem to apply to ensuring that each citizen has the right to a full night's sleep. That leaves sixteen hours a day. One must cook or acquire, eat, and clean up afterwards. Is three-quarters of an hour per meal too much to ask?

That leaves fourteen and a half hours. To stay healthy one must stay clean and tend to various bodily needs. Is an hour a day sufficient for personal grooming and bathroom time? That leaves thirteen and a half hours. America supposedly cherishes family an hour a day too much to ask for "family" time? Not family business...that is a different issue. Family time is time enjoyably shared with one's family, whether that family is related by blood or friendship to maintain the bonds necessary for social cohesion. Family time is one the things that makes going to work worthwhile in the first place. That leaves twelve and a half hours per day. There are bills to pay, banking, clothes and food to buy, housework, laundry, get gas, medical needs, etc. That is family maintenance time, again, an absolute necessity. Is two hours a day sufficient for these purposes? Ten and a half hours left. That covers basic needs.

Next comes what government requires: the time burden of good citizenship. Few, if any, time management studies take this aspect of time demands into consideration. Taxes must be calculated and paid, licenses applied for, vehicle insurance acquired and vehicle registration completed. Will an average of fifteen minutes a day average cover standing in all the lines government requires? Ten hours five minutes. Citizens are exhorted to pay attention to what's happening in state, local and federal government and get involved. If they don't they are told the results are their own fault for inattention. Political issues and proposed legislation must be examined, considered, and decided. Candidates and their positions must be researched. Is an hour a day enough to pay proper attention to self-government? Nine hours five minutes. The government can take children from a home for neglect. Schools complain about lack of parental involvement. Is an hour a day enough to fulfill parental obligations to ensure that their children succeed in school, don't bother the neighbors or drag on the economy? Eight hours, five minutes. Perhaps that covers legally required government obligations.

That might look like eight hours and five minutes a day left for business purposes, but work-related overhead hasn't been calculated yet. First comes commute time: for most commuters this means about hour a day five days a week, counting from leaving your front door to clocking in. statistics/html/table_01_65.html statistics/html/table_01_64.html

Note that these links provide one-way commute times. Seven hours, five minutes per day left. Next is education. In order to stay competitive and maintain value to an employer one needs to stay current in one's respective field. If one wishes to improve their economic value then more time must be invested than that required merely to stay current. An hour a day is insufficient, but available time is growing short. There are six hours and five minutes a day left. Just a shade over forty-two hours a week. Should business purposes be allowed to consume all this time? Where is the personal time, the regenerative time, the time devoted to the exercise of faith, the time devoted to eldercare, the time to read, to think and to reflect? Where is the time that makes all the stress and work worthwhile? A citizen should be entitled to two hours a day for these purposes. That leaves four hours and five minutes a day for commercial business purposes: twenty-eight hours and 35 minutes a week. That would represent a proper balance.

But at current wage scales that leaves a money deficit; already working full time at minimum wage doesn't come close to matching the cost of living. Therefore the minimum wage should be set to match the minimum cost of living based upon a thirty hour week. A business that fails to pay living wages places the burden of the deficit upon other taxpayers for all the absolute needs the minimum cost of living requires, and helps create the conditions that breed criminal behavior. No matter what time/wage base is used, the gap between minimum wage and the minimum cost of living is a hidden subsidy of business that drains our economy to the somewhat benefit of the business class; somewhat because the gap deprives business of access to a huge potential market and raises the cost of doing business through the taxes necessary to deal with poverty and poverty-related crime. Raise the minimum wage and suddenly there is a thriving economy in which people are empowered to buy that which they couldn't previously afford. Raise the minimum wage to meet the minimum cost of living and the size of the off-the-books untaxed economy is sharply reduced. Raise the minimum wage to meet the minimum cost of living and the amount of poverty-related crime is drastically reduced. Few people are willing to risk criminal behavior if their basic needs are being met through honest work. Raise the minimum wage to meet the minimum cost of living and the number of citizens paying taxes explodes, allowing the individual tax burden to be reduced.

Although business will protest that such a scheme is inefficient and too expensive, the issues of comparative efficiencies and expenses are never raised. What is efficient for a single business within the context of its market segment is not efficient for a nation. Maximum business efficiencies usually entail eliminating redundancies within the economy: just-in-time delivery, minimum stock on hand, fewer competitors, the cost savings associated with consolidation. But what is good for a business in isolation can be bad or fatal for the nation as a whole, because such a model assumes minimal disruptions to the supply chain. With fewer suppliers, manufacturers and distributors, choke points emerge that make easy targets for terrorists, natural disasters, and foreign competitors. For business, redundancies are bad; for a nation, they are insurance. Is it better for the nation if more tax-paying citizens are employed at a living wage, or for many to be chronically unemployed or under-employed thus not only reducing the tax base but also requiring state assistance to survive? Is it more efficient to have more people productively employed or to have the same people unproductively jailed for doing whatever they must to survive economically, even if it involves breaking laws?
edit on 22-2-2011 by apacheman because: format

edit on 22-2-2011 by apacheman because: clarity, ease of read

edit on 22-2-2011 by apacheman because: clarity

posted on Feb, 22 2011 @ 02:02 PM
I really like the discussion you want to generate here. But many folks are quite illiterate and incapable of reading so much text. Go through your post and in the middle of each paragraph somewhere, press enter. Just split it up a little more, I don't require this but I am sure you will have 10complaints of "oh my eyes, my brain cannot function" etc.

About your topic:

I would argue the Government has no rights at all. None.

They are only the protectors of the rights of their citizens.

We issue orders to the government, and the govt must carry them out. They are the servants.

Individual human beings have rights, it can be argued that animals have some type of rights possibly, but the government for sure has no rights at all. They aren't a living entity.

Government employees have rights as individual humans yes, but they do not gain "special rights" when they become a government employee.

Yes I would also argue that if a court summons you, you don't have to go. If they really want you there, they will arrest you and place you there against your will.

posted on Feb, 22 2011 @ 02:04 PM
This is a great post! I'm just afraid no one will read it because of the wall of text.

I thought I'd share some helpful hints:

Use paragraphs! Break up thoughts into paragraphs and the "wall" will look much more inviting.

Try to shorten long posts by editing. Can you say something with fewer words?

Use bullet point icons or check marks to make short points.

But beyond that, I agree with you! Your post was well thought out and well written.

But, I'm surprised at how surprised you are that we have no free time! We are slaves to the sytem! Our job is to just keep shoveling coal into the giant furnance that is our government. That's what we do all day...shovel coal...wake up..shovel coal.....

posted on Feb, 22 2011 @ 02:10 PM
reply to post by muzzleflash

Point taken and edited as suggested. Better now?

Thanks for bringing it to my attention: it was originally formatted for a book I'm writing titled:

Transforming America: Policies In Search Of A Party

posted on Feb, 22 2011 @ 02:19 PM
reply to post by MRuss

I'm not at all surprised, that's why I did the research and thinking in the first place.

The only thing that surprise me is that so few bother doing the math for themselves and coming to the logical conclusions.

No matter what, things are coming to a head soon, and will change, but to what is anyone's guess right now.

I thought I'd at least introduce a framework against which to weigh our choices.

posted on Feb, 22 2011 @ 02:43 PM
A bump after further editing for ease of reading and to add some material accidentally edited out of the OP.

Thanks again for the suggestions.
edit on 22-2-2011 by apacheman because: sp

posted on Feb, 22 2011 @ 02:48 PM

Originally posted by apacheman
A bump after further editing for ease of reading and to add some material accidentally edited out of the OP.

Thanks again for the suggestions.
edit on 22-2-2011 by apacheman because: sp

I am one of those lazy readers muzzleflash talks of and I think you could do with a little more editing. Interesting topic though

posted on Feb, 22 2011 @ 04:12 PM
reply to post by woodwardjnr

Alas, I had some chores to do and ran out of time for further edits.

Please bear with me on it, though, and offer your thoughts about my points anyway; it would be much appreciated.

posted on Feb, 22 2011 @ 06:04 PM

But the true answer for Americans must be that the individual owns this time and has first rights to it and that neither government nor business has the right to force citizens and workers into time bankruptcy. To argue otherwise is to deny all that America is about.

You do in fact own your time and DO have the right to life,liberty and the pursuit of happiness. What You don't have the "right" to is to live in a a 3-4 bedroom house,electricity,cable,free food, motor vehicles etc.

Go live in a tent/travel trailer and you'll have all the time you need to be free and pursue happiness.

The problem is with people living above their means.

Now our founding fathers were the heads of big corporations they didn't have employees they had slaves(George Washington was the biggest producer of alcohol in the colonies and also the biggest exporter of salted fish to Europe in the colonies.) These guys weren't your average blue collar guys as everyone seems to believe.

I tend to agree with You though that people working 60,70 or 80 hours a week just to keep their head above water has become a bit ridiculous. I tend to think women entering the workplace was the cause of this,because once they did all the money they earned was seen as expendable income and TPTB saw how much money that the poor were able to save/spend on frivolities and couldn't have that now could they so here comes inflation to their rescue to sap the people of all this extra income.

posted on Feb, 22 2011 @ 06:16 PM
A few links detailing commute times: Commute_Time 8804,2026474_2026675_2032830,00.html

I've been trying to find some stats on how much time child development specialists recommend as the minimum amount of time a parent needs to spend with their children, and at what level it would fall into neglect. The level at which it would fall into neglect would seem to be the irreducible minimum that can be allocated for the purpose.

Parents. a little help? What is your consensus for the minimum amount of time you think must be spent focussed on directly raising your child, i.e., homework help, discipline, answering questions, communicating, etc.?

posted on Feb, 22 2011 @ 09:16 PM
Interesting post, Apacheman. You've got the start of a fun little project here. May I pick a few nits?

I think some of your times are excessive; an hour a day in the bathroom, 1 3/4 hours a week doing government stuff, one hour a day job education and another hour for civic education, all seem a little high. (I told you I was going to pick nits.)

I think you should have spent a little more time considering that, if there are kids, there are probably two parents. I know, not always, but more often than not. That spreads the work around. For example one person does dishes while the other does taxes.

The other area I'd like you to expand on is the stage of life. For the first 18 years there is little commuting, etc. for the last 20 years or so there is only employment related time spent if you want there to be (usually). Demands from your kids vary wildly, etc.

The economics of your last few paragraphs are interesting, but subject for another note.

posted on Feb, 22 2011 @ 09:52 PM
reply to post by charles1952

Hmmm, you aren't married or in a relationship, I take it? Ask any woman if an hour a day bathroom time is excessive. But think about it: a daily shower, shave, toothbrushing and bodily functions takes about 20-25 minutes all told, twice a day for most people, before and after work. Add in the home-time bathroom use and an hour a day is reasonable.

Being here on ATS is an example of civic fast does an hour go here? In order to cast an intelligent vote, yu need to do something like participating in a forum like ATS or the equivalent. An hour a day is the minimum I would find acceptable for a citizen to spend to stay abreast of what is happening in the country. Everyone here decries ignorance and stupidity, but curing ignorance takes hour a day isn't nearly enough to cure some folks. Stupidity, alas, is incurable.

How much time do you spend on your taxes? on researching auto insurance? health insurance? filling out school forms? in line at the DMV? There are a million little things the various levels of governments require that eat into our time budgets, and it doesn't take an awful lot of spending a morning at the DMV, a few days finding affordable insurance and the like to wind up averaging an hour or two a day. But a few minutes might be shaved there, perhaps, depending on what a comprehensive study of the time burden imposed by government showed.

I know for sure that whatever time most parents devote to raising their children currently, it isn't enough. That should be obvious to everyone and beyond dispute.
edit on 22-2-2011 by apacheman because: sp

posted on Feb, 22 2011 @ 10:08 PM
reply to post by apacheman

Dear Apacheman, you may very well be right but as I say, those are nits. I'm more concerned with considering a second parent as a helper with those chores and the way our time demands fluctuate depending on the stage of life we're in.

But I see something else in your post, something that reminds me of the national budget. All of the activities that are listed are good things. There may even be some things that we've missed (maybe neighborhood activities?). I wonder if there will always and everywhere be more good things to do than there is time to do them.

posted on Feb, 22 2011 @ 11:02 PM
reply to post by charles1952

Quite true: more things to do than time to do them. That's what choice is about.

But the things I am laying out are irreducible minimums if we are to have a healthy prosperous economy.

It is because too much time is allocated to the needs of business at the expense of all else that brings us to the dismal place we are currently in.

Restore the proper balances and the economy will begin to straighten out. Continue on the current path and it will collapse sometime soon.

In reality it is probably already too late for the US. The spring floods to come will probably drive the final nail in many cities' and counties' budgets and drive them into bankruptcy, with devastating ripple effects.

posted on Feb, 23 2011 @ 03:49 PM
I'm disappointed so few have chosen to address this fundamental question.

It is the bedrock upon which any society is built. It goes hand in hand with the question:

"What does being an American citizen actually get you?"

Physical protection? Not from the police: how many"gotcha!" laws are there, designed merely to seperate a citizen from their cash, or to proscribe their freedom to do stuff that harms no one? Not from criminals: police and courts act after you've been hurt.

Economic protection? Not with all the union-busting and shipping out of jobs financed by the citizens. Ditto economic opportunity.

Spiritual freedom? You're free to be almost any brand of Christian you like...but woe betide you if you are a paganist or atheist: you freedom will be extremely circumscribed.

The only bennies immediately visible are ones that the conservatives wish to loot: Social Security and medicare.

It seems to me that the first goal of a government is to prevent severe imbalances of anything within the country, not to promote business to the exclusion of all else: preventing imbalances of wealth, power, and opportunity is what makes a country prosperous and stable.

Our country is now in severe imbalance and it shows: we are neither prosperous nor stable. If the union-busting going on now succeeds, and the economy is further divided into the ultra-rich, a shrivelled middle class, and a lot of newly poor, stability will be a distant memory soon.

posted on Feb, 25 2011 @ 08:08 PM
Dear Apacheman,

You're going to have to either go a little slower for me or find some quicker pupils. You are thinking of good and important things and I'm glad you're explaining it to me.

It is just dawning on me that your original post, of the number of hours spent on various activities, was just looking at the proverbial trees and you expected us to take the step of creating the forest from them.

It seems to me that you're saying that balance and priorities are essential for successful living, and that Americans are pressured against finding that balance. Further, if we find that balance, all of society would be better and not just the economy measured in dollars.

I have more to ask, but if I'm on the right path, please let me know.

posted on Feb, 25 2011 @ 09:01 PM
reply to post by charles1952

Yes, you are getting there.

One of the unstated assumptions about American working life is that it ends at 5 pm and all else is "free" time.

It isn't: it is filled with demands from employers and the government, with precious little left for famliy, and none left for necessary recharge. ue.cfm

A poll completed by the National Sleep Foundation found that most Americans agree their work performance is impaired greatly when they don't get adequate sleep - putting them at higher risk for workplace injuries, accidents, and health problems. Industry experts estimate that fatigue in the workplace costs at least $77 billion annually.

Shiftworkers are two times more likely than the average American to experience sleep apnea - a condition characterized by constantly interrupted sleep, pauses in breathing while sleeping, and loud snoring. Sleep apnea causes fatigue since the individual isn't able to get enough sleep, and has been directly linked to higher workplace injuries and accidents.

Not only is fatigue causing workplace injuries, but it's also estimated to be the cause of about 25% of all highway accidents. As people work longer hours, the number of accidents on the roads caused by fatigue increase.

According to the National Sleep Foundation poll, most people support regulation of the number of hours worked by employees in certain demanding professions, like pilots, doctors and truck drivers. In many states, legislation already limits work hours for doctors and nurses, and the trucking, aviation, motorcoach and rail industries are debated u

Remember, your time is the ultimate finite resource.

posted on Feb, 25 2011 @ 09:16 PM
Dear Apacheman,

If I remember from your previous posts, you saw the time problem as too many hours of labor required for the necessities of life. How do we persuade companies to give the same amount of money to people who start working half-time?

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