A Different Sort of Conscientious Objection

David Ryan

David Ryan is a boat builder and USCG licensed master captain. He is the owner of Sailing Montauk and skipper of Montauk''s charter sailing catamaran MON TIKI You can follow him on Twitter @CaptDavidRyan

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27 Responses

  1. UnixMan says:

    Part of the reason we have 24/7 consumerism today is that more and more, the working-poor and working-middle-class (as opposed to the nonworking poor and the Upper Leech Class) are putting in so many hours that patronizing businesses during the week is difficult.

    Consider: 30-40 years ago, most two-parent families had one breadwinner, with the other half of the marriage either working part-time or not at all. The other partner was free during the week to take care of grocery shopping and other purchases.

    Now compare today: the vast majority of “two parent” families are both working more than full-time, either overloaded on salaried hours or handling multiple part-time positions. There is a much higher percentage of single-parent or single-person households. End result: businesses have to keep other hours, or lose out on potential business. 24-hour department stores arose because there was a demonstrable need for them due to people who cannot reach the open hours of many ordinary businesses.

    There’s also a rise in the number of latchkey kids, especially in poor and low-middle-income areas. Unsurprisingly well correlated with increases in crime and gang behavior.

    I’ve been wondering lately if a governmentally instituted “rest day” requirement would be a good thing. Stipulate that for all non-infrastructure-essential businesses (that is to say: emergency medical facilities or medical facilities with inpatient care) they must either close on Sunday, or be closed on at least one other day of the week. Remembering when I was growing up in the ’50s, nobody would have DARED to open a weekday-available business on a Sunday; even half the gas stations were closed. The benefits should seem obvious: one day a week where families would find it easier to be together, to talk with each other, to raise the kids, to sit down and have dinner with each other at least.

    Of course, this is part and parcel from the rise of more and more giant mega corporations. The bigger a business is, the less it pays any attention to the employees, their safety, their well-being, their mental health, or the morale of the company as a whole.Report

    • Kolohe in reply to UnixMan says:

      Your analysis maybe correct, but your timeline is off.  Single parent households peaked at the 2000 census were flat, (down, but within the margin of error) in the 2010. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Single_parent#Demographics

      The secular trend of increasing women labor force participation rate peaked in the late 90’s and since then seems largely tied with overall cyclical employment trends.


      (remember 30-40 years ago becomes more recent every year 🙂Report

  2. Jaybird says:

    I’ve heard it said that it is easy to make a lot of money… if all you want to do is make a lot of money.

    The problems come in when you want to make a lot of money and (something else).Report

  3. Matty says:

    Off the top of my head.

    -If you inisit on sunday closing you’ll get objections from, for example observant Jews who would have to take an extra day off to observe the sabbath then loose a day’s pay when they would have been happy to work.

    -If you just specify one day a week but leave it up to the business which one how is a shutdown requirement better than giving each person a day off separately?Report

    • Dr. Bat Guano in reply to Matty says:

      Excellent points, Matty.   Having days off needs to be chalked off to the “good ole days”.  It’s just not realistically possible.  If people want guaranteed days off, then go work for the government.   Or become a teacher in the state or public school system which I guess is working for the government.   If you figure in sick time, vacation time and personal leave time, State and Federal employees average about 6-7 weeks off a year.   And of course most teachers have the summer off.  I’m not sure what all the griping is about.  On the one hand, people are ticked off that when they drive to one of their favorite establishments, and doors are shuttered because they’re taking a day off and on the other hand they’re bitching about lack of free time to do the things they enjoy.   If they want government mandated observance of the Sabbath, then the Liberals will go off the rails with church/state issues.   And James, if you’re upset that your lifestyle makes it nearly impossible for you to have a real day off, whose fault is that?  You’re getting your days off but your other responsibilities make it impossible for you to enjoy them.  I think that’s what we call, tough luck.  As a society, we’ve collectively made the decision that having our personal luxuries outweigh the benefits of more time off from work. And this is what,for better or worse, we’ve reaped.Report

      • Jesse Ewiak in reply to Dr. Bat Guano says:

        Somehow, the rest of the Western world pulls it off.Report

      • And James, if you’re upset that your lifestyle makes it nearly impossible for you to have a real day off, whose fault is that?

        I hate people who misread things so badly.Report

      • Matty in reply to Dr. Bat Guano says:

        I may be repeating what I said below, guaranteed days off are not a problem. The working time directive may be annoyingly bureaucratic at times but people should have adequate rest and personal time and I am not against the government making sure this is the case. My commnent was aimed only at the practical implications of achieving this by asking a large number of businesses to all shut down completely on the same day.Report

        • Matty in reply to Matty says:

          Out of interest what are the legal limits on working hours and days in the US?Report

          • James Hanley in reply to Matty says:


            IANAL, so take this with some grain of salt.  In part it depends if you’re salaried or an hourly employee.  If you’re salaried, there really aren’t any limits.  I’ve talked to lawyers who’ve worked 80 hour weeks, and I’ve occasionally put in 60 plus hour weeks, and there’s no extra pay.

            If you’re an hourly wage employee, overtime starts more than 40 hours in a week.  There is no actual limit on hours in a day or days in a week.  (However if you work more than 6 hours in a day, they must give you a lunchbreak.)

            This is covered in our Fair Labor Standards Act.Report

  4. Burt Likko says:

    Chick-fil-A is another business that has enjoyed quite substantial success, was founded by people guided strongly by religious convictions and faith, distinguishes itself from its competition by excelling in every metric of performance, and has remained true to their faith in their business decisions. They make a damn tasty chicken sandwich, and they don’t do business on Sundays. For a nonbeliever like me who often runs errands on Sundays, this has been an annoyance to me, and I’ve seen some “philanthropic” decisions that company has made that did not cause me pleasure. Point is, they are true to their conviction that Sundays are different and they want their people to go to church, spend time with their families, and do things other than work all the time. They they think those other things are important too so they forego the chance to make even more money than they already do.Report

    • Friday Next in reply to Burt Likko says:

      Franklin Covey the calendar and time manager consultants are the same way. But since the proliferation of smart phones and PDA’s I am not even sure if they are in business any more.Report

  5. James Hanley says:

    Hobby Lobby is also closed on Sundays, which I occasionally find to be a nuisance. But nothing more than an occasional nuisance.

    I think the idea of a true rest day is a good idea, although Matty notes the pragmatic problem with trying to mandate it top-down. But I find one of the most thoughtful verses in the NT to be when Jesus says, “man was not made for the sabbath; the sabbath was made for man.” What with the nature of my job and my kids activities, it’s not uncommon to go several weeks in a row without a true rest day (and if we then get one, it’s used to catch up on laundry, etc., so it’s not really much rest).

    For most of us, having a day or two here and there to truly just kick back is very important, and in our modern world it can take some conscious sacrifices to make it happen.Report

    • Lyle in reply to James Hanley says:

      So as you point out is also your kids activities that prevent rest days. One could just say no to them. So it is not just work but other things that infringe on rest. If there were to be a Sunday closing law, would it also ban Sunday childrens activities? If not it does not accomplish your goal. Of course in the old day Sunday was not a day of rest you had activities at the church that took most of the day.

      Of course on the subsidence farm there was never a day off the cows had to be milked etc. Someone at home never has a true day off unless you go out to eat that day.Report

  6. Matty says:

    Don’t misunderstand I’m all for people having adequate time off work. It’s just the idea of everyone getting the same day that I think is impractical. It’s hard enough to manage once a year for Christmas and even then you can only cover (at a guess) around 95%, which is good but nowhere near all but essential workers. Doing it weekly would be an organisational nightmare.Report

  7. Liberty60 says:

    What I find admirable and interesting about the Plain people such as the Amish and Mennonites, is that while they refuse to partake of the modern social welfare state, they also- and for the same reasons- refuse to participate in the modern consumer culture.

    They refuse to take SS benefits, but by the same token, they do fund their own forms of elder care, and participation in their form of social safety net is every bit as compulsory as our. There are no rugged individualists there.Report

  8. Jonathan says:

    I was once invited for an interview at Christian Marketplace (a large retailer of, well, I probably don’t have to spell it out). They were open on Sundays. Go figure.Report

  9. Great post. I’d like to write a longer response when I get some more free time.

    For now, though, PCB sounds like an interesting dude. That was a great obituary.

    I’d gladly hand over any money that will be used for palliative care or keeping my vegetable-semi-corpse from rotting for that much longer if it means my kids can use that money for beer and DVDs.Report

    • Matty in reply to Christopher Carr says:

      I’d gladly hand over any money that will be used for palliative care or keeping my vegetable-semi-corpse from rotting for that much longer

      My mother worked in palliative care for many years. It is not about keeping the comatose going for another day, it’s virtually all pain relief for people who are conscious but know they won’t recover.

      From the sound of it terminal illness really hurts so if you mean it about going without those painkillers I can only admire your bravery.Report

      • Christopher Carr in reply to Matty says:

        I don’t mean to belittle the palliative care industry, but it’s just not for me. If I can’t act, I cease to exist. I’d rather say good-bye to my friends and family and then have one of them put a spear through me the next time I slow down the hunt.

        It’s not about being able to resist the pain. I, like anyone else, would like to go out with as little pain as possible. Morphine is not particularly expensive, but large hospital staffs and last-ditch rolls of the dice are.Report