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Letter: The Overworked American

I’m a journalist, author and psychoanalyst.  I have written editorials and have been editorialized myself in Newsday,The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal. When I read Michael Miller’s “Viewpoint” (“American’s Deserve a Life After 6 p.m.,” The Weekend, April 30-May 6), I recognized it as one of the finest editorial pieces I have ever come across.

 

I recall the first time I watched the infamous Cadillac commercial Mr. Miller referred to, and how persuasive and really evil it was. For those who have not seen the ad, it was a 60-second spot of a handsome actor walking through his luxury home, past his built-in pool and approaching his new Cadillac. All the while he discusses how ridiculous the lazy French are for taking off “all of August!” and how Americans are so smart to be willing to sacrifice all their time and energy to work and buy and work and buy.  

 

What is abundantly clear to everyone is that America is an overworked culture in striking contrast to European life, which is far more relaxed, healthier and happier. I have traveled to Europe many times to write, and I am always struck by how simple and easygoing life is there. In Italy, they call it “La Dolce Far Niente” or “the sweetness of doing nothing.”

 

I congratulate Michael Miller for giving voice to this issue. I consider our entrapment in this endless cycle of work and consumption to be America’s number one health problem.

 

And I would add that when Mr. Miller stated that American income has been flat for the last decade, in fact the statistics show that American income has been stagnant since the mid 1980s. What this means is that both partners in any marriage must work long hours and that the kids are left to fend for themselves.  A grim situation, indeed. 

 

— Tom Ferraro, Ph.D.