“Looking for that blessed
hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour
Dear Friends, Greetings! The situation in Syria continues to pose a grave threat to world peace. Our first article below, “AMERICA, SYRIA, AND RUSSIA: OPENING THE GATES OF HELL”, by Paul McGuire , helps put into perspective some of the real reasons that are exacerbating the current situation in the Middle East. As the old saying goes, “follow the money”. And as the Bible confirms, “The love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.” 1Timothy 6:10 Our second grouping of articles continues on with a theme we have used several times in the past few months, Jesus (Yeshua) and His relationship with the Jews. We hope you will find the articles both interesting and informative. Have a great week ahead.
AMERICA, SYRIA, AND RUSSIA: OPENING THE GATES OF HELL
By Paul McGuire
September 2, 2013
The whole world is reacting to President Obama’s decision for America to attack Syria over an alleged chemical attack because
Assad’s forces had been accused of using chemical weapons several times in the last year, including the August 21st attack in the suburbs of Damascus. However, a number of news analysts such as Pat Buchanan and Ron Paul have called this a “False Flag” attack.
The Pentagon is moving a sixth warship armed with cruise missiles to the eastern Mediterranean Sea, giving the U.S. more firepower for a possible attack on Syria in response to alleged use of chemical weapons, a U.S. defense official said. According to reports, the guided-missile destroyer Stout will soon join four other missile-carrying U.S. destroyers within range of Syria. Each destroyer can carry up to 90 cruise missiles which have a range of nearly 1,000 miles. Whether they will acknowledge it in public or not, the international community and the United Nations look to the American Empire to supply its massive military force to solve international conflicts.
What is happening in Syria will not only affect America, Russia, Great Britain, China, Syria, Iran, and Israel. It will affect the entire world because Syria, controlling major oil assets off its coast, occupies a critical position in the global oil economy. It is possible for oil prices to go through the roof, and that would send a tsunami across the global economy. There have been reports put out by big banks like SocGen and Goldman Sachs that oil could soar to $150 a barrel if the Syrian conflict goes hot and draws in Russia and China.
According to an article by Steve Quayle in his, “V - The Guerrilla Economist Updates,” “The trouble for Syria began with two things. First the discovery of natural gas in the Mediterranean right off the coast of Syria, Lebanon and Israel. Read that list again, especially Lebanon and Syria. Is the picture becoming clearer? This discovery took place about a decade ago but the thing is that there already exists in the Middle East a Liquid Natural Gas Producing power house. This is the tiny nation of Qatar.”
Quayle continues, “Now here is where you need to put your thinking caps on. Qatar is floating in LNG (Liquid Natural Gas) it has over 77 Billion Tonnes in Reserve and that is with a moratorium in place. The problem is that Qatar would love to sell its LNG to the EU and the hot Mediterranean markets. The problem for Qatar in achieving this is their regional big brother Saudi Arabia. The Saudis have already said "NO" to an overland pipe cutting across the Land of Saud.” The Qatar / Syria region has vast reserves of natural gas. Russia has a deal with Syria that allows it to sell this Natural Gas and Oil to Europe.”
Russia now controls the oil coming out of Syria and being sold throughout Europe and China. However, there appears to be a battle for the control of that oil.
The Nabucco Agreement was signed by a handful of European nations and Turkey back in 2009. It was an agreement to run a natural gas pipeline across Turkey into Austria, bypassing Russia again with Qatar in the mix as a supplier to a feeder pipeline via the proposed Arab pipeline from Libya to Egypt to Nabucco (is the picture getting clearer?). The problem with all of this is that a Russian backed Syria stands in the way.
Qatar would love to sell its LNG to the EU and the hot Mediterranean markets. The problem for Qatar in achieving this is Saudi Arabia. The Saudis have already said "NO" to an overland pipe cutting across the Land of Saud. The only solution for Qatar if it wants to sell its oil is to cut a deal with the U.S.
Recently Exxon Mobile and Qatar Petroleum International have made a $10 Billion deal that allows Exxon Mobile to sell natural gas through a port in Texas to the UK and Mediterranean markets. Qatar stands to make a lot of money and the only thing standing in the way of their aspirations is Syria.
The US plays into this in that it has vast wells of natural gas, in fact the largest known supply in the world. There is a reason why natural gas prices have been suppressed for so long in the US. This is to set the stage for US involvement in the Natural Gas market in Europe while smashing the monopoly that the Russians have enjoyed for so long. What appears to be a conflict with Syria is really a conflict between the U.S. and Russia!
The main cities of turmoil and conflict in Syria right now are Damascus, Homs, and Aleppo. These are the same cities that the proposed gas pipelines happen to run through. Qatar is the biggest financier of the Syrian uprising, having spent over $3 billion so far on the conflict. The other side of the story is Saudi Arabia, which finances anti-Assad groups in Syria. The Saudis do not want to be marginalized by Qatar; thus they too want to topple Assad and implant their own puppet government, one that would sign off on a pipeline deal and charge Qatar for running their pipes through to Nabucco.
With the strong possibility of the strike from America happening, there is massive fear in the market and oil prices are surging. Now the end game is to cut Russia's lock on natural gas and oil that it supplies to Europe. If this connection is cut in any way, it will bring severe consequences to the Russian economy as well as Russia's natural gas company Gazprom.
There are two opposing factions in Syria. On one side you have the Qatari backed Muslim Brotherhood and its subsidiaries that have very close ties with the Emir of Qatar. On the other side you have the Saudi backed Wahhabi AL-Qaeda and its subsidiaries. These groups commit atrocities, like the cannibalism of the Wahabis and the "Brotherhood" slaughtering Christians.
What the international bankers are not telling the American people is that the U.S. economy is in reality crumbling and being propped up by the Federal Reserve printing money from nothing which they call Quantitive Easing. Using the pretense of spreading love and democracy throughout the Middle East, the U.S. has already seized control of six Arab nations.
For Russia, Syria is more than just the location of a strategic port in the gas rich Middle East; it is an ssential strategic area. Russia is now forced to draw a very hard line in the sand lest they lose the entire European market to Middle Eastern and Caspian Energy interests. Syria is in the heart of Eurasia and historically, the empire that controls Eurasia controls the world. Russia cannot allow that; this is why they are putting their military assets in place. China, one of the world’s super powers, cannot have its natural gas flow interrupted as well, and China has sided with the Russians when it comes to Syria.
If Obama attacks Syria, some analysts believe Vladimir Putin is prepared to strike Saudi Arabia. This could stop the flow of oil from the Middle East. The United States government could go into a state of emergency and immediately restrict private access to fuel in this country in order to conserve the reserves inside of the United States! This would paralyze our economy. Grocery stores, major retail outlets, and pharmacies which operate on real time delivery principles would be virtually empty in matter of days. It is not inconceivable that banks would be closed and martial law established. Obviously, this is a worst case scenario.
Given the present sociological climate in the U.S. and the stirring up of potential race wars, it would not take much for chaos to take over. There are a lot of people who stand to benefit from this chaos or “manufactured crisis.”
Retiring DHS head Janet Napolitano made an ominous statement about a coming “cyber event.” A “cyber event” would shut down all commerce and communication on the internet. The point of all this is that this is not just about the U.S. invading Syria unilaterally. There is potential blowback from this that could be catastrophic! If you believe in prayer, now is the time to pray, as our Founding Fathers did. That means round the clock intercessory prayer, churches open all night for prayer, fasting, and a sense of intense spiritual urgency.
We are in grave danger!
Pope announces day of fasting for peace for Syria
By Frances D’Emilio
Sep 1, 2013
VATICAN CITY (AP)—Pope Francis on Sunday condemned the use of chemical weapons, but he called for a negotiated settlement of the civil war in Syria, and announced he would lead a worldwide day of fasting and prayer for peace there on Sept. 7.
Francis abandoned the traditional religious theme of the weekly papal appearance to crowds in St. Peter’s Square and instead spoke entirely, and with anguish, about Syria.
"My heart is deeply wounded by what is happening in Syria and anguished by the dramatic developments" on the horizon, Francis said, in an apparent reference to the U.S. and France considering a military strike to punish the Syrian regime for a chemical weapons attack.
Francis reiterated previous appeals for all sides in the civil war to put down their arms and “listen to the voice of their conscience and with courage take up the way of negotiations.”
With tens of thousands of people in the square applauding his words, Francis delivered his strongest remarks yet to express his horror at the use of chemical weapons.
"With utmost firmness, I condemn the use of chemical weapons. I tell you that those terrible images from recent days are burned into my mind and heart," the pope said, in an apparent reference to photos and TV images of victims of chemical weapons in Syria.
"There is the judgment of God, and also the judgment of history, upon our actions," he said, "from which there is no escaping."
Usually soft-spoken, Francis raised his voice as he declared, “War brings on war! Violence brings on violence.”
His admonishment against resorting to arms as a solution recalled the repeated emotional implorations a decade ago by the late Pope John Paul II in a vain attempt to persuade the U.S. administration then led by President George W. Bush not to invade Iraq.
The deteriorating drama of Syria inspired Francis to set aside Sept. 7 as a day of fasting and prayer for Syria.
Francis invited Catholics, other Christians, those of other faiths and non-believers who are “men of good will” to join him that evening in St. Peter’s Square to invoke the “gift” of peace for Syria, the rest of the Middle East and worldwide where there is conflict.
"The world needs to see gestures of peace and hear words of hope and of peace," Francis said.
No 10 curses, but Britain's illusion of empire is over
The Syria debate has exposed the fact that, while Cameron wasn't looking, both his country and his party changed
29 August 2013
'David Cameron should be effing and blinding instead at his own party, for it's they who have changed without him noticing.' Photograph: Satoshi Kambayashi
Last night in the Commons a great switch was thrown in the national psyche and nothing may ever be quite the same again. This is not a left-right shift, but a long-delayed acceptance that Britain is less powerful and poorer than it was, weary of wars and no longer proud to punch above its weight. No more pretending, no more posturing.
Next week Rule Britannia will belt out loud as ever at the Proms in that partly ironic parade of cheerful patriotism. But the great game is over. Poor David Cameron has been the one left stranded when the music stopped, still singing as everyone else falls silent. From Number 10 came effing and blinding at Ed Miliband, calling him, as reported in the Times, a "f****** c*** and a copper-bottomed s***". But it wasn't Labour, it was Cameron's whole country who had changed while he wasn't looking. Cue last-minute key change in Downing Street's unconditional promise to the US, but he's still out of tune with a country that doesn't want to go to war.
As the true meaning of end of empire sinks in, great questions follow. Why continue to spend more than comparable countries on defence? Why do we (and France) still squat in UN security council seats? What is the point of Trident, dependent entirely on the closest allegiance to America?
Consider the breadth of opposition to a Syrian intervention. First come the British people, two to one against war, with YouGov finding opinion hardening. Outside the gates of Downing Street stand Stop the War demonstrators. Biting at the heels of anxious Tory MPs comes Ukip's Nigel Farage accusing Cameron of "his greatest misjudgment yet" and gloating that his anti-war stance is "the single most popular thing Ukip's ever said". Now add in warnings from the assemblage of military top brass (retd).
Inch nearer to the core of conservatism and yomping, Sir Max Hastings is against, as is our own Sir Simon Jenkins, always for the state doing less. The Mail opposes: "If MPs have the slightest suspicion that attacking Syria will cause more suffering than it can prevent they have a fundamental duty to vote 'No'." They roll out the erstwhile warhorses, with Simon Heffer asking, "How does this relate to Britain's interest?" and Stephen Glover, "We should not trot along obediently as the ever-loyal poodle … We were a global power for 250 years but that period is past … Let's concentrate on our national self-interest." The Express takes the same line, as does the Telegraph, where Peter Oborne calls this "a catalyst and a deadly error" while praising Stop the War for showing "far more mature judgment on these great issues of war and peace than Downing Street, the White House or the CIA". Only Murdoch's Sun and Times hold the Cameron line, minding their owner's US interests. In the FT, Janan Ganesh, George Osborne biographer and confidant, opposes an attack, in line with his forecasts of what a future triumphant small-state Tory party would do, ruling out the expense of military adventures.
Labour's determination to make strict conditions on legality and objectives is what you would expect under a leader whose first act was to repudiate Iraq. Behind him sit benches of MPs bitterly regretting their vote for that war. Let Dame Tessa Jowell, one-time passionate Blairite, stand as bellwether for that sore lesson: she has been re-reading her verbatim notes of the cast-iron but false assurances ministers were given back in 2003. For many who were there, as for Miliband who was not, this is the chance to show that solemn lessons have been learned. Contrary to charges of cheap opportunism, this hasn't been easy for Miliband, wrenching his close links with Obama's Democrats. Labour's left always had an anti-American reflex, but not Ed Miliband's entourage.
Cameron should be effing and blinding instead at his own party, for it's they who have changed without him noticing. With more than 70 MPs threatening to rebel, he lost control while his top ministers, Theresa May and Philip Hammond, allowed their disquiet to be reported, delivering an "et tu, Brute" stab in his front. The new doctrine of revenge as a legal pretext for war alarms many. The party of Suez no longer, the same impulse that makes them anti-EU has them prize British self-interest more than global status.
The horror of the gas attacks is unbearably raw for all to see on YouTube – but the litany of possible terrors that might be unleashed in a regional conflagration were well-rehearsed in the Commons debate. Weighing risks is as difficult as weighing degrees of moral outrage: 1,000 unarmed demonstrators have been killed by Egypt's unelected military government, no one has said intervene. How is outrage rationed? Britain may be coming to its senses about its real status, but there is nothing appealing about the new little England isolationism on the right: let the world go hang, so long as we're alright. It comes with an unpleasant undertow: why fight in Muslim countries for the rights of a lot of Muslims anyway?
Tony Blair's Chicago speech in 1999 calling for intervention in Kosovo gave a briefly inspiring vision of liberal interventionism, with a moral duty to do what you can, where you can to help others. But between that vision and the reality falls the long dark shadow of 12 years of war, in countries that don't thank us, doing more harm than good, killing many and sending home hundreds of our soldiers in coffins. If the US goes ahead without us, just possibly this week the last illusions of empire will be finally laid to rest.
Time Magazine (Edited from a longer article.)
Putin Sets Uncompromising Tone Ahead of G-20 Summit
By Simon Shuster
Sept. 04, 2013
It was not the most diplomatic way to start a summit of world leaders. On Sept. 4, the day before Russian President Vladimir Putin begins hosting the G-20 summit in his hometown of St. Petersburg, he accused the Obama Administration of lying to Congress, and said U.S. lawmakers were being suckered into approving a military strike against Syria. “We talk with these people. We assume that they are decent. But he lies,” Putin said of U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry. “And he knows that he lies. That’s pathetic.”
The remarks, which seemed more fitting for a barroom scrap than a Kremlin statement, came on the eve of an urgent global debate about how to respond to the Syrian regime’s alleged use of chemical weapons near Damascus last month. At least with regards to that issue, Putin’s tone left little room to hope for compromise, or even civility, at the G-20 or on its sidelines. President Barack Obama still put on a brave face as he headed to St. Petersburg on Wednesday, retaining some optimism about the prospects of the Kremlin changing its line on the Syrian question. “Do I hold out hope that Mr. Putin may change his position on some of these issues? I’m always hopeful, and I will continue to engage him,” Obama said at a press conference in Sweden, which he was visiting before continuing on to Russia.
Y E S H U A IN THE TANAKH
(The Name of JESUS in the Old Testament)
Arthur E. Glass
In dealing with my Jewish brethren for the past many years in Canada, the United States,
Argentina and Uruguay. I had one great difficulty, and it was this: My Jewish people would
always fling at me this challenging question,
"If Jesus is our Messiah, and the whole Old Testament is about Him,
how come His name is never mentioned
in It even once?"
I could never answer it satisfactorily to their way of thinking, and I admit I often wondered why His name was not actually written in the Old Bible. Oh, yes, I could show them His divine titles in Isaiah 7:14, 9:6 and Jeremiah 23:5,6, and even the word MESSIAH in several places; but the Hebrew name that would be equal to Jesus, that I could not show. Then one day the Holy Spirit opened my eyes, and I just shouted. There was the very NAME, Jesus, found in the Old Testament about 100 times all the way from GENESIS to HABAKKUK! Yes, the very word - the very NAME - that the angel Gabriel used in Luke 1:31 when he told Mary about the Son she was to have. "Where do we find that NAME?" you ask. Here it is, friend: Every time the Old Testament uses the word SALVATION (especially with the Hebrew suffix meaning "my," thy," or "his"), with very few exceptions (when the word is impersonal), it is the very same word, YESHUA (Jesus), used in Matthew 1:21. Let us remember that the angel who spoke to Mary and the angel who spoke to Joseph in his dream did not speak in English, Latin, or Greek, but in Hebrew; and neither were Mary or Joseph slow to grasp the meaning and significance of the NAME of this divine Son and its relation to His character and His work of salvation. For in the Old Testament all great characters were given names with a specific and significant meaning.
For example, in Genesis 5:29, Lamech called his son Noah [Comfort], saying, This same shall comfort us concerning our work and tell of our hands. In Genesis 10:25, Eber calls his firstborn son, Peleg [Division]; for in his days was the earth divided. The same is true of Abraham, Sarah, Isaac, Jacob (changed to Israel-God's Prince), and all of Jacob's sons (see Genesis, chapters 29-32). In Exodus 2:10, Pharaoh's daughter called the baby rescued from the Nile, Moses [Drawn-Forth]: and she said, Because I drew him out of the water. And so we can go on and on to show the deep significance of Hebrew names.
Now then, when the angel spoke to Joseph, husband of Mary, the mother of our Lord, this is what he really said and what Joseph actually understood: And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name Jesus [YESHUA (SALVATION)]: for he shall save [or salvage] his people from their sins. (Matthew 1:21). This text was so forcibly brought home to my soul soon after I was converted over 24 years ago, that I saw the whole plan of the Old Testament in that one ineffable and blessed NAME.
So let us proceed to show clearly the Hebrew name YESHUA (Greek = Iesus English = Jesus) in the Old Testament.
When the great Patriarch Jacob was ready to depart from this world, he by the Holy Spirit was blessing his sons and prophetically foretelling their future experiences in those blessings. In verse 18 of Genesis 49 he exclaims, I have waited for thy salvation, 0 Lord! What he really did say and mean was, "To thy YESHUA (Jesus) I am looking, 0 Lord"; or, "In thy YESHUA (Jesus) I am hoping (trusting), Lord!" That makes much better sense.
Of course YESHUA (Jesus) was the One in Whom Jacob was trusting to carry him safely over the chilly waters of the river of death. Jacob was a saved man, and did not wait until his dying moments to start trusting in the Lord. He just reminded God that he was at the same time comforting his own soul.
In Psalms 9:14, David bursts forth, I will rejoice in thy salvation. What he actually did say and mean was, "I will rejoice in (with) thy YESHUA (Jesus)."
In Psalm 91:14-16 God says, Because he hath set his love upon me, therefore will I deliver him: I will set him on high [raise him above circumstances], because he hath known my name. He shall call upon me, and I will answer him: I will be with him in trouble; I will deliver him and honor him. With long life [eternal life] will I satisfy him, and show him my [YESHUA (Jesus)] salvation. Of course. That promise is realized in Revelation 22:3, 4: And there shall be no more curse: but the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it: and his servants shall serve him: And they shall see HIS face.
In Isaiah 12:2, 3 we have something wonderful. Here SALVATION is mentioned three times. The reader will be much blessed by reading these glorious verses in his Bible, but let me give them as they actually read in the original Hebrew with Jesus as the embodiment and personification of the word SALVATION: Behold, might (or, God the mighty One) is my YESHUA (Jesus-in His pre-incarnation and eternal existence); I will trust and not be afraid:, for JAH-JAHOVAH is my strength and my song; He also is become my YESHUA (Jesus).... And the WORD (Jesus incarnate) became flesh, and dwelt among us. (John 1: 14). ... Therefore with joy shall ye draw water out of the wells of YESHUA [Jesus - waters of salvation flowing forth from Golgotha]."
Something very interesting occurred one spring in St. Louis: I was visiting in the home of our friends, Brother and Mrs. Charles Siegelman, and another Jew was present there. He claimed Jewish orthodoxy for his creed. Of course the conversation centered around Him Who is the Center of all things -- Jesus. This good Jewish brother opposed the claims of Yeshua in the Old Testament verbally, and in a friendly fashion, most violently. His best offensive weapon, he thought, was to fling at me and at all of us there the well-known challenge: "You can't find the name of 'Jesus' in the Old Testament;" and this he did.
I did not answer him directly, but asked him to translate for us from my Hebrew Bible, Isaiah 62:11. Being a Hebrew scholar, he did so with utmost ease, rapidly, and correctly; and here is what and how he translated that text verbatim: Behold, Jehovah has proclaimed unto the end of the world. Say ye to the daughter of Zion, Behold thy YESHUA[ Jesus] cometh; behold, His reward is with Him, and His work before Him. Just then he crimsoned as he realized what he had done and how he had played into my hands, and he just fairly screamed out, "No! no! You made me read it 'thy YESHUA' Jesus], Mr. Glass! You tricked me!" I said, "No, I did not trick you, I just had you read the Word of God for yourself. Can't you see that here SALVATION is a Person and not a thing or an event? HE Comes, 'HIS reward is with HIM, and His work before him.' Then he rushed at his own Old Testament, talking away frantically saying, "I'm sure mine is different from yours." And when he found the passage, he just dropped like a deflated balloon. His Old Testament was, of course, identical. All he could use as an escape from admitting defeat was to deny the divine inspiration of the book of Isaiah.
Then skipping on to Habakkuk, we have the greatest demonstration of the NAME "Jesus" in the Old Testament; for here we have both the name as well as the title of the Savior. In Habakkuk 3:13 we read literally from the original Hebrew: Thou wentest forth with the YESHA [variant of ESHUA-Jesus] of [or for] thy people; with YESHUA thy MESSIAH [thine Anointed One: i.e., with Jesus thy Anointed] thou woundest the head of the house of the wicked one [Satan]. Here you have it! The very NAME given to our Lord in the New Testament - JESUS CHRIST! So don't let anyone - Jew or Gentile - tell you that the Name JESUS is not found in the Old Testament. And so when the aged Simeon came to the Temple, led there by the Holy Spirit, and took the baby Yeshua in his arms, he said, Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace, according to thy word: For mine eyes have seen thy salvation [YESHUA (Jesus)] (Luke 2:29-30). Certainly! Not only did his eyes see God's Salvation - God's YESHUA (Jesus) - but he felt Him and touched Him. His believing heart beat with joy and assurance as he felt the loving heart of God throbbing in the heart of the holy infant YESHUA.
And thou shalt call his name Jesus (SALVATION = YESHUA); for he shall save [salvage] his people from their sins!
Yesha’yahu – Isaiah 53:1-12
“The remnant shall return, even the remnant of Jacob, unto the mighty God.” Isaiah 10:21
The Great Debate
Why a medieval peasant got more vacation time than you
By Lynn Parramore
AUGUST 29, 2013
Life for the medieval peasant was certainly no picnic. His life was shadowed by fear of famine, disease and bursts of warfare. His diet and personal hygiene left much to be desired. But despite his reputation as a miserable wretch, you might envy him one thing: his vacations.
Plowing and harvesting were backbreaking toil, but the peasant enjoyed anywhere from eight weeks to half the year off. The Church, mindful of how to keep a population from rebelling, enforced frequent mandatory holidays. Weddings, wakes and births might mean a week off quaffing ale to celebrate, and when wandering jugglers or sporting events came to town, the peasant expected time off for entertainment. There were labor-free Sundays, and when the plowing and harvesting seasons were over, the peasant got time to rest, too. In fact, economist Juliet Shor found that during periods of particularly high wages, such as 14th-century England, peasants might put in no more than 150 days a year.
As for the modern American worker? After a year on the job, she gets an average of eight vacation days annually.
It wasn’t supposed to turn out this way: John Maynard Keynes, one of the founders of modern economics, made a famous prediction that by 2030, advanced societies would be wealthy enough that leisure time, rather than work, would characterize national lifestyles. So far, that forecast is not looking good.
What happened? Some cite the victory of the modern eight-hour a day, 40-hour workweek over the punishing 70 or 80 hours a 19th century worker spent toiling as proof that we’re moving in the right direction. But Americans have long since kissed the 40-hour workweek goodbye, and Shor’s examination of work patterns reveals that the 19th century was an aberration in the history of human labor. When workers fought for the eight-hour workday, they weren’t trying to get something radical and new, but rather to restore what their ancestors had enjoyed before industrial capitalists and the electric lightbulb came on the scene. Go back 200, 300 or 400 years and you find that most people did not work very long hours at all. In addition to relaxing during long holidays, the medieval peasant took his sweet time eating meals, and the day often included time for an afternoon snooze. “The tempo of life was slow, even leisurely; the pace of work relaxed,” notes Shor. “Our ancestors may not have been rich, but they had an abundance of leisure.”
Fast-forward to the 21st century, and the U.S. is the only advanced country with no national vacation policy whatsoever. Many American workers must keep on working through public holidays, and vacation days often go unused. Even when we finally carve out a holiday, many of us answer emails and “check in” whether we’re camping with the kids or trying to kick back on the beach.
Some blame the American worker for not taking what is her due. But in a period of consistently high unemployment, job insecurity and weak labor unions, employees may feel no choice but to accept the conditions set by the culture and the individual employer. In a world of “at will” employment, where the work contract can be terminated at any time, it’s not easy to raise objections.
It’s true that the New Deal brought back some of the conditions that farm workers and artisans from the Middle Ages took for granted, but since the 1980s things have gone steadily downhill. With secure long-term employment slipping away, people jump from job to job, so seniority no longer offers the benefits of additional days off. The rising trend of hourly and part-time work, stoked by the Great Recession, means that for many, the idea of a guaranteed vacation is a dim memory.
Ironically, this cult of endless toil doesn’t really help the bottom line. Study after study shows that overworking reduces productivity. On the other hand, performance increases after a vacation, and workers come back with restored energy and focus. The longer the vacation, the more relaxed and energized people feel upon returning to the office.
Economic crises give austerity-minded politicians excuses to talk of decreasing time off, increasing the retirement age and cutting into social insurance programs and safety nets that were supposed to allow us a fate better than working until we drop. In Europe, where workers average 25 to 30 days off per year, politicians like French President Francois Hollande and Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras are sending signals that the culture of longer vacations is coming to an end. But the belief that shorter vacations bring economic gains doesn’t appear to add up. According to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) the Greeks, who face a horrible economy, work more hours than any other Europeans. In Germany, an economic powerhouse, workers rank second to last in number of hours worked. Despite more time off, German workers are the eighth most productive in Europe, while the long-toiling Greeks rank 24 out of 25 in productivity.
Beyond burnout, vanishing vacations make our relationships with families and friends suffer. Our health is deteriorating: depression and higher risk of death are among the outcomes for our no-vacation nation. Some forward-thinking people have tried to reverse this trend, like progressive economist Robert Reich, who has argued in favor of a mandatory three weeks off for all American workers. Congressman Alan Grayson proposed the Paid Vacation Act of 2009, but alas, the bill didn’t even make it to the floor of Congress.
Speaking of Congress, its members seem to be the only people in America getting as much down time as the medieval peasant. They get 239 days off this year.
next week...keep on believing.
sleep of a labouring man is sweet, whether he eat little or much :
but the abundance of the rich will not suffer him to sleep