Paid Time Distribution

The principle way we earn money is by being paid for our time fulfilling the contracted terms of a job description or statement of work.

This paid work, called “jobs” for the sake this post, can be offered by employers or contractors in the public sector or the private sector, which covers non-governmental organizations (NGO) and cooperatives among others.

Not all jobs are created equal in terms of paid time distribution. Some pay more than others for the same block of time. As a rule, jobs that pay more are harder to find and the requirements to get them are more stringent.  Conversely, lower paid jobs may be more plentiful and easier to get, but a person must work multiple jobs to earn the equivalent of a higher paying one. As a result, pay scale determines the time a person spends in paid work and the range of choices a person has to participate in quality of life activities outside of paid work.

The diagram below applies these characteristics of jobs and pay to Maslow’s Hierarchy.

Doing so shows how the distribution of paid time relates to meeting basic needs and enjoying a reasonable quality of life. The demarcation between these two can be represented as a poverty line. In this case, the poverty line represents the amount of income from paid time from employment, public services, and volunteer services sufficient to meet one’s basic needs.

At a minimum, a fully functional society assures each member receives daily basic needs in exchange for 24-hours of life in that society. Ideally, society provides opportunities for each member to meet daily basic needs through no more than 8 hours of paid time, leaving 16 hours of unpaid time available for sleep and quality of life endeavors as described in the previous post, Lifetime Hours Revisited.

Oftentimes, societies fall short of the ideal and, in more difficult situations, fail to be fully functional. The consequences are borne by families that must put more time into paid work or supplement it with income from public services and volunteer services in order to meet their basic needs. The diagram below illustrates this dynamic in the form of a question:

Of course, at the heart of this question is an even more fundamental one which asks what does the future hold for a family that cannot spend the time and generate enough income from all sources to procure basic needs? And what does that say about the condition of the society to which those families belong?

Questions for consideration in subsequent posts…

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