September 24, 2004


A Life less Hectic (Radio Netherlands, September 24th, 2004)

Stressed, burnt-out and broken-down workers are the collateral damage of the modern industrialised world and their numbers are rising.

This body count of zombified employees is as high as 30 percent in rich countries, according to the International Labour Organisation. Once stressed, people run increased risk of heart disease, cancer and mental illness.

In the Netherlands some 300,000 people are out of work, long-term sick due to stress and psychologically related problems and in the US stress levels are also soaring.

People in the US work as much as three months longer in hours each year than we do in Europe and they receive far fewer holidays.

In fact, employers in the US aren't legally obliged to provide for paid leave at all.
This week the Amsterdam Forum talked to two campaigners trying to tackle this workplace epidemic. [...]

(Panelist) Ineke Setz runs the Dutch organisation Slowlife.

"Slowlife stands for things like enjoyment, living with the seasons, spontaneous meetings, sumptuous cooking, working with pleasure, dreaming, taking the time for the really important things, a love, a dream, a charity, people."

Stressed, burnt-out and broken-down workers are on the rise? That will be news to mothers, farmers, miners and steelworkers from previous generations. However, there may be something to the implied suggestion that low-grade mental illness and emotional distress are increasing. When you believe you are entitled to a life composed of dreams, sumptuous meals, pleasurable work and endless romance, the human condition may leave you a little stressed.

Posted by Peter Burnet at September 24, 2004 12:14 PM

The underlying assumption of the article: the natural state of humanity is peace, prosperity, happiness and leisure. The previous twenty centuries and the centuries before that were historical abberations and don't matter anyway.

The typical Liberal, utopian view of the world. Sigh.

Posted by: BC Monkey at September 24, 2004 12:58 PM

I believe that burn-out is on the rise because the alternatives to work are far more pleasant now than before. I.e., unemployment benefits vs. starvation. One notes that despite that Americans work harder, there's more burned out workers in Europe.

Posted by: Annoying Old Guy at September 24, 2004 1:10 PM

I think the "burnout" is more likely pathological boredom related to having ones occupation so far removed from the reality of nature.

This trend has been on the upswing for centuries.
So called "desk jobs" are a big part of it in
today's economy, but repetitive manufacturing jobs
in industries like textiles are somewhat analogous.

Why do you think so many of the successful acquire
hobby farms and home workshops? Or do things
like take up sailing?

Posted by: J.H. at September 24, 2004 1:55 PM

The last sentence of the post would make a great t-shirt.

Posted by: BJW at September 24, 2004 2:54 PM

"Burnt-out" Isn't that a term commonly applied to marijuana smokers? Since the Netherlands has a high number of marijuana users, couldn't that be the reason behind much of their population being lazy, mentally ill, and suffering from heart disease, cancer and emotional distress?

Posted by: Vince at September 24, 2004 5:04 PM