Since meeting Edward and Robert Skidelsky in Florence at a conference sponsored by the Witherspoon Institute, I’ve been a fan of their work, particularly their defense of leisure against those who seek to redescribe Adam’s curse, the labor of man, as a blessing. That said, the father-son pair misses the mark in a column in the Guardian on the Greek workweek.
The object of their criticism is a German proposal that would expand the Greek workweek from five to six days as a condition for a new round of bailouts. They rightly point out that increasing per-hour productivity, not time spent at the office, is the way to prosperity. Yet Germany’s proposed regulation is not designed to encourage simple make-work: It increases only the maximum number of days worked, not the minimum. Like my colleague Mark Movsesian, I am broadly supportive of blue laws that restrict commerce one day a week, but to legislate a two-day sabbath is to mandate for man a rest that God denied himself.