Now that we’ve passed the event horizon here in Prince Edward Island, from the unfettered Lord’s Day capitalism of May to December and into the dark wastelands of January to May mandatory Sunday shuttering, Sunday shopping discussion is back in the air – blog, blog, letter, letter – and almost all of it falls into the traditional two camps of libertarian “government has no place regulating business” and the spiritual “God set aside a day of worship.”
Neither argument is particularly compelling – mandatory religion is about as distasteful as mandatory capitalism – and I propose that if we’re going to tinker with the week we go all-in and take a serious look at how we collectively arrange our time.
Here’s my idea, admittedly custom-tailored to my personal work preferences: smooth out the week.
Take the standard work week down to 35 hours, and have everyone work 5 hours every day, 7 days a week. We’d have to hash out the slice of the day we’d devote to work – I’d suggest 7:00 a.m. to Noon, but I’m okay getting up early. Retail store hours could follow on by an hour or two – say from 9:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. – to give working people a chance to get some shopping done. Restaurants, hospitals, snowplows, etc. would continue on their “open all the time” tack.
There are several upsides to this changed system:
- No bias to Christian religions: every religion that has a sacred day has a good chunk of it to worship.
- More work and school productivity. Nobody gets any work done on Friday afternoons right now, and a good part of Monday at schools is spent getting students back into a learning frame of mind. With no large two-day gap to overcome, we all become more productive at home and at school.
- Lots of family time. I don’t know about you, but with supper at 6 and room for a bedtime story and teeth brushing, regular weekdays leave about 30 minutes for quality family time. If we all got home for lunch and had the rest of the day free, there would be untold opportunities for family fun.
- Time for daily personal activities (in daylight!). I think most people are ”working for the weekend” right now, and have very little time available for recreation, fitness, reading, whatever. Open up the afternoons and when not playing Snakes and Ladders with the kids we could be learning how to snowboard or reading War and Peace.
- Week-long shopping. The capitalists get their opportunity to sell things all week long.
It’s possible that there are very good reasons that this idea won’t fly. But at least considering it takes us out of the tyranny of the religion vs. capitalism debate and onto some creative exploration much more substantial rearrangements of our collective timetable.