Work, value and the curse of 168
By Edema Tosan
Few years back when my oldest son was in the 9-10th grade (high school) and aged 14-15 years, I made him research different annual income pay/wages scales disparity for about 10-15 different occupations. The assignment criterion were as follows; after you figure out each wages then you figure out standards of living (guest-imate) by accounting for cost of housing with car, health, retirement, food, groceries, family events, wedding anniversary, kids school costs, clothes, family dining , tuition, monthly loan, insurance and other miscellaneous expenses before subtracting the total anticipated expenses from the annual incomes of each of the occupations he had chosen. My son decided a spreadsheet was best designed for this task and oh boy, was he right! The overall take away from the data he presented reveals what life is truly about. It is the difference between the haves and the have nots!
Of course my son and I then surmised that playing hockey or football for 1-5 years at the pro level is perhaps the magic bullet to a successful life and subsequently one of the cures to the curse of 168. Our rationale in arriving at this conclusion was simple; the amount of money a mid-high level draft professional player (hockey/football/basketball) makes in a year is equal to what a professional high school teacher makes in 10-20 years depending on certain factors like standard of living and opportunities. This summation also correlates to movie stars/musicians vs transit/most government workers; likewise executives, physicians and CEO vs laborers, nurses and other essential workers. These stark differences are so grand that the rich get richer doing less work day in and day out and most of the times the poor get poorer even working twice to thrice as hard. The ultimate key my son and I agreed on from this above research is that working hard doesn’t equates to riches or guaranteed success, working smart is the key to wealth or success, It was like we had coined the expression, ” it’s all about the brain power baby!!!”
A good example of this theory is Peyton Manning playing in the NFL for over 15 years mostly with his brain, not brawn versus Tim Tebow’s 1-3 years stint in the same NFL playing the same position but with brawn and not brain. The main lesson from above is using your brain serves you better and longer than using your brawn/muscles.
What is 168? You ask and what has 168 got to do with life and work and why is it being referred to as a curse? 168 is the world’s most singular underappreciated, and understated lexicon that measures our existence without been mentioned. A 2-3 years personal survey of 100-200 randomly interviewed people revealed as follows: eighty percent saw 168 as; just a number, ten percent related to 168 as an address, five-seven percent didn’t/don’t know, and the rest of three-five percent hinted that it could be about some type of time relativity. The same group however reacted differently when I shared with them that 168 is the total maximum number of hours you as an individual have to spend in a single week. Twenty-four hours per day multiplied by seven days: you guessed it now; 168 hours! Seventy-five percent of the same group didn’t even or ever think about 168 as having to do with time relativity, ten-fifteen percent thinks about it sometimes in weeks, the remaining 10 percent thinks about it sometimes in months.
Of the same group, most people, 90-95 percent, wish for more hours per week for different reasons. Some of their reasons are as follows: more sleep hours (25%), more chore hours, more rest/relaxation hours, more or longer weekend hours (40%), more fun hours (35%), more errand hours and more bed story time hours. All the above sound legitimate and warranted except the same people did not mention more work hours (0%). Furthermore; inquiries into why they did not wish for more work hours reveals that 100 percent comprehend that more work hours for money comes with huge sacrifice to one’s lifestyle in some ways and fashion. This sacrifice carries a latter price/burden that is counterproductive to their overall future. One of my wise participants said: “life is not about working the hardest and the most hours for more money; life is about putting yourself in the highest position you can to maximize the most income in a relatively short time without causing irreversible/irreparable damages to your body like a vehicle with too much mileage and subsequent wear and tear.”
To expand on my wise friend’s statement, I now tell my kids and friends to go to school now and keep going if you can to get your PhD. There is always money to be made at any given point in life, the trick to making good money is putting yourself in the best position to make the most money in a relatively short time. “You have to put yourself in the best and highest position to make the most and then retire to enjoy life with your family”, I tell my kids every now and then when opportunity calls for it. A PhD will garner you an average 100-200% more in pay/wages than a GED or high school diploma, associate degree, bachelor of education/science. Not to mention the other intended and unintended benefits and perks associated with a PhD, like RESPECT, AUTHORITY and POWER.
Eighty-five percent of the same group confirms and agrees that growing up in previous eras; (40-60yrs) ago, an average household only had one parent working full time or 1.5 full time job(s). Almost 93% of the same group agrees that the one working parent household status back then is absolutely better and different than what we currently have in our current on-steroids society. Back then a household with just working dad/mom means the non-working mom/dad has additional available 20 plus quality hours per week to spend with their children. Compare this to what obtains today with more than 40% of both parents’ simultaneously working more than one job each to make a living and just barely to survive, week in and week out. Either parent at the end of the week barely average combined 10 hours of quality times with their children weekly. This probably accounts for the lack of morals we tend to find in our kids these days. In fact, back then the ratio of hours kids spend outside home like school/play time/sport activities almost equals the amount of quality hours one or both parents can afford with their kids weekly; with some exceptions of course. Now fast forward to today, the gap is widening, and the ratio of hours kids spends outside the home to the quality hours one or both parents can provide their kids is a staggering 2:1 and in some instances 3:1, as a result of the current trend with the average parent today working more than one job each to survive.
It then is this QUALITY times or hours that matters so much to the 168 doctrine? You might want to buckle your seat belt for this ride. Let’s jump start the process by adopting a nurse, a mother of two school children and her working husband with 1.5 jobs. At the beginning of this nurse’s week, she starts off with a clean slate of 168 hours, this nurse works 4 (12 hours shift totaling 48 hours), but ends up really working 55-60 hours because she has bills to pay. This same nurse drives 20-40 min one-way in traffic to work (5-8 hours/week). The nurse also drops off her kids in school – another extra 20 minutes one-way (4 hours/week). And then she does groceries, other errands 8-12 hours per week. This nurse also spends 10-20 hours weekly cooking, cleaning and house chores. And of course she needs her “ME” time 10 hours weekly if she can afford it and another 5-10 hours/week social times with her friends. To bottom-out this scenario, the same nurse needs her sleep 8-10 hours per night (60 hours/week) if/when affordable. By now the math says the same nurse only has less than 10 hours left to maximize her quality time with her kids since both parents are working and in most cases more than one job. Unlike in the past era with just a single working parent as the sole breadwinner; the other parent (stay at home parent can provide an additional 10-20 quality hours to their children due to their availability).
168 is an ongoing curse in today’s steroid world because this stagnant, immovable and immobile number can no longer successfully accommodate our crazy world demands and supplies. For example; weekly sleep hours continue to depreciates subsequently resulting in overall unhealthy lifestyles and significant health repercussions/ramifications. Less family weekly hours continues to produces children with issues going forward-lack of morals, humor, respect and increasing lots and lots and lots of mental health quagmire. More weekly and commute hours compare to less quality family hours poorly reflect on most parent in society as having below average parenting capabilities; which translates to our next generations not truly comprehending the moment, learning from where they came from and clueless to whats the future holds.
This number is always the same from era to era, it never changes only evolves like physical matter. Does it gets better with aging? Some day, is there going to be light at the end of the tunnel? Probably not as long as we continue on the same path where greed, value and shady market principles perpetuate our population more than humanity’s basic core principles. This humanity core principles has nature’s ancestral, traditional, religious and progressive connotations like: be thy brother keeper, your shit is my shit, we are all one in thy eyes of the creator, from dust to dust, share and spread the wealth if and when you can. Instead almighty greed has and always drives a wedge between us to negate nature and humanity’s core principles.
The solution or solutions to this cause is/are easier said than done; very intricate and complex because the train might have left the station for too long but might be railed back in with a universal collective mandate with accountability for all to see this as problematic. The first obvious solution is to raise everyone’s pay automatically and probably retroactively. This is however dead on arrival and so there is no point expanding on it any further. The second solution is coming up with ways to compensate for standard of living better than we currently have to negate standard of living cost which usually erodes our hard earned CA$£€H the most. This idea will require more from employers, company and government that are already behind the eight ball.
The third option is the socialism mandate. I can hear my critics calling out- “no Bernie Sanderlism” and I totally comprehend some of my reasonable and rational critics’ point of view.
The fourth is probably how we have made this situation worst than it should and here it goes. More capitalism; open the markets more, hello Bill Gates, hello Jeff Bezos, hello Oprah Winfrey, hello Dangote. This solution only widens the gap between the haves and the haves not in the long run.
The fifth solution is what I call the pragmatic approach; life is always about we or the team not I. Life is also about and involves families, communities, villages, towns, cities, countries to do the absolute correct daunting stuff. One such proof is the stark difference between the Ebola response vs the corona response. This pragmatic approach will incorporate the best of all the above options for a better overall progressive and accountable-sustainable outcomes for majority of our population.
I dream for the day when the average work week hours would be under thirty hours not forty, where the same nurse cannot work more than 3 (12 hours) shifts per week; which will then equate to the same nurse having additional 10-20 more hours per week to spend on raising her children. Of course; she can also choose to use the extra time to do drugs or party like it’s 1999. At the end of the day, everyone has choices and what they do with the said choices is entirely up to them, you can lead a damn horse to the river, but you can’t force the said damn horse to take a lick if the damn horse isn’t thirsty.