Media: You’d Be Better Off as a Medieval Peasant

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“The average American takes less work holiday than a medieval peasant,” reports The Sun (U.K.).

Obviously evil capitalism at work again!

We read that during some periods, peasants worked no more than 150 days per year. (The vast bulk of this phenomenon had to do with the Church’s many feast days, on which work was prohibited.)

Sounds great, right?

Except for this, which we read in the same article: “Medieval workers toiled hard in the fields and battled disease and famine — but they had a lot of leisure time.”

Just a small detail.

All that leisure time must have made starving to death much more convenient — no need to call in sick.

The Sun quotes a historian as saying: “The tempo of life was slow, even leisurely; the pace of work relaxed. Our ancestors may not have been rich, but they had an abundance of leisure.”

They had an abundance of leisure. To…what? Read? No printing press. Appreciate music? No professional orchestras. Travel the world? No appropriate transportation. Take a course? Pursue a hobby with like-minded enthusiasts? Learn a language?

The lesson in all this isn’t super clear. They had lots of time on their hands, but they were subject to waves of disease and famine, and they lacked the social and cultural infrastructure for most of them to exploit their leisure time in ways we would consider enriching.

Any American today could live at a medieval peasant’s standard of living and have plenty of leisure time. Absolutely anyone. That nobody chooses to do this ought to suffice to inform us of how most people prioritize things.

(1) Latest post: “Admit It: You Love When I Share Emails From Crazy People.”

(2) Tomorrow on the Tom Woods Show: the Mises Institute’s Jeff Deist joins me to discuss p.c., social media, and the fate of dissident voices.


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