The Soft Path


IMAGINING A FUTURE FOR AMERICA'S WORKING FAMILIES

In place of the old middle-class dream of a house in the suburbs and a full-time Mom who stays at home with the kids, which is now out of date, THE SOFT PATH  explores an alternative now made possible by half a century of economic growth and technological progress: 

It proposes we build New Towns in the Country in which people would be employed half-time (18-to-24 hours a week) outside the home, and in their free time would take part in the construction of their own houses, cultivate gardens, cook and eat at home, care for their own children and grandchildren, and pursue other leisure-time activities.  Under this arrangement parents and grandparents would live in near proximity on one-acre homesteads -- but under two roofs, at opposite ends of the garden -- with the main houses facing traditional neighborhood greens.  The towns themselves would be small enough (10,000-to-30,000 inhabitants) and planned in such a way that people could get around on foot, by bicycle, and in neighborhood electric vehicles. 

A Gallup poll found that half the American people would like to live this way.  Employers should like it because workers can work faster and more efficiently for shorter periods of time than for longer, just as in track and field the short-distance runners always run faster than the long-distance runners. 

By combining shorter workweeks with economic decentralization, the American people would find they are able to make more efficient use of their limited time and resources to satisfy their human needs.  Lives of greater leisure and liberty would be well-suited to the economic realities of the 21st century, and to the egalitarian ideals upon which our republic is founded.