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When the Crunch Becomes the Norm: Cries from Inside the 24-Hour Work Clock

According to no end of authorities extrapolating forward from the trends of the early 20th century, Americans should be wallowing in free time by now. A four-hour workday, the technocrat Harold Loeb wrote in 1933, would “satisfy fully the material needs of each member of the community at a minimum expense of human effortand lift that preoccupation with economic security which has always weighted the soul of man except on a few tropical islands.”1 On the island of Manhattan, I can report, work life has veered off in a different direction. (New York City is a special case, of course, but readers in other regions of the nation may recognize the broad patterns of behavior described here.) I offer in evidence, for starters, my friend Jackie and her colleagues in the publications and presentations unit of Cavalier & Rathbone. When Jackie went to work there as a graphic artist, a decade ago, the 40-hour work week still existed, at least as a Platonic ideal. Things could get fairly hectic when a big proposal was due,

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