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The 4-Day Workweek is on the way. It won’t become a thing because of legislation, but paradoxically because Americans are more in love with their work than ever.

What’s going to fascinate about the gradual institutionalization of the 4-day week is that it realistically foretells a 7-day workweek, the productive 4-day worker putting in longer hours than ever, and a rising aversion to retirement amid ever more feverish work.

It’s all of a piece of what I contended in my 2018 book, The End of Work. In it, and in a plainly desperate plea to be remembered for something, I penned Tamny’s Law. Here’s what it said:

“Laziness decreases as prosperity increases, expanding the range of work options so that every person can do the work that most accentuates his individual talents.”

A 4-Day Workweek is a sign of raging prosperity, and a certain effect of all this prosperity will be that Americans will work more than ever. Call the 4-Day Workweek the bullish beginning of the 7-Day Workweek.

To see why this will eventuate itself, let’s start with the practical. If people are increasingly “only” in the office four days per week, or expected to be on the job four days per week, this implies a surging desire among those with reduced hours for more entertainment.

What this means is that formerly slow hours and days for restaurants, movie theaters, amusement parks, and countless other entertainment options not yet formed will gradually be erased by prosperous people in possession of both time and money at varying times, but seven days per week. This was addressed in The End of Work. The U.S. economy went from being an agricultural economy to a manufacturing economy to a service economy. The “next economy” in the U.S. as predicted in the book will be “The Entertainment Economy.”

As worker productivity soars in concert with reduced hours in the chained-to-a-desk sense, the prosperously employed over fewer hours at the desk will yet again want to be entertained. See above. In addition to restaurants, theaters, malls and other places of entertainment and relaxation being filled more than ever, the entertainment economy will flower as more and more people do for a living what they loved doing as kids. We’re already seeing this now as people earn princely sums by virtue of showcasing how they put on makeup, how they play videogames, and how they sleep on the internet. As the 4-Day Workweek broadens, those making serious money off of what they can’t not do will only grow.

As for the 4-Day Workers, let’s not forget why they can theoretically work less: it’s a productivity thing. With technology increasingly doing for us what we used to have to do, our ability to specialize grows and grows. And when we’re doing what we’re really good at, we accomplish quite a bit more in much fewer hours. It’s a reminder that short workweeks can’t be decreed as much as they’re a consequence of soaring specialization.

All of which speaks to why Americans will most certainly work than ever despite the workweek shrinking. When we're doing what reinforces us and elevates us, what is described as work increasingly takes on qualities that don’t at all feel like work. The late Tony Bennett was known to say that he never tired of singing “I Left My Heart In San Francisco.” Well of course he didn’t. He was doing “work” that showcased his unique genius.

Of course, in a future that will be defined by technology freeing us from the worst aspects of work so that we can narrowly focus on the aspects most unique to us, more and more of us will view our “jobs” in the way that Bennett viewed singing his hit songs. Work will publicize our brightest skills, which means that we’ll be working even when we’re not working.

We already see this now care of smartphones and other devices that allow us to work from anywhere. Watch them evolve in ways that have us increasingly on vacation and enjoying entertainment, but never disconnected from the work that animates us, and that we can’t get enough.

Keep all of this in mind as the perpetually worried (will worrying be a profession too? Bank on it) claim that Americans don’t have enough money for retirement. Of course they don’t. Why would they when they don’t plan to ever stop working. It’s too entertaining.

John Tamny is editor of RealClearMarkets, President of the Parkview Institute, a senior fellow at the Market Institute, and a senior economic adviser to Applied Finance Advisors (www.appliedfinance.com). His latest book, set for release in April of 2024 and co-authored with Jack Ryan, is Bringing Adam Smith Into the American Home: A Case Against Homeownership

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