Working seventy hours a week is about close as you can get to being back in the nineteenth century without a time machine. When most people hear about this situation, they immediately think of Charles Dickens’s A Christmas Carol, the story of the miserly Ebenezer Scrooge who only reluctantly gives his long-suffering employee Bob Cratchit a day off for Christmas.

Dickens portrays Scrooge’s miserliness as a personal flaw, and his redemption comes through personal choice. Scrooge changes his ways after he’s visited by three ghosts, who force him to confront unpleasant truths about himself. UPS has also seen Christmases past, present, and future, but, for the company, they’re just pure gold. It won’t have a change of heart.

Imposing a 70-hour workweek — and no, that isn't a typo — is both heartless and dangerous. This is the limit of capitalism as it approaches infinity, and I'm not of the opinion that reform represents any kind of realistic mitigation.

Reform won't stop this trend toward longer hours, harsher working conditions, and higher profits for the one percent because the fundamental economic laws of the capitalist system require unending growth and increasing exploitation of labor. Honestly, reform might just make the change gradual enough that a majority of us don't see any problem at all. If this is going to stop, we need to organize and fight for fundamental change.


The Most Wonderful Time of the Year by Joe Allen