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For Thanksgiving, Some Answers on the Meaning of Life

It’s common these days for even well-salaried professionals to complain about the drudgery of work, but Lucassen suggests that we’ve never had it so good. Even as enslavement faded as a source of labor worldwide, wage-work was harsh: “Around 1830, earning a living in Britain required, on average, more than 300 11-hour days, or 3,300 hours net per year.” True, the early hunter-gatherers worked less than many of today’s professionals do — an estimated 8 hours a day for men and 10 hours a day for women — but they also had a life expectancy of perhaps 30 years, not least because their existence was ravaged by predators and disease.

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