Saturday, March 29, 2008

Secular Sabbaths

A pet interest of mine has been the need for a cultural recovery of the "sabbath."  Not "blue laws" but a generally held and working "expectation" that would precede any civil statute and inform our definitions of things like: fair wage, fair tax, benefits, poverty, earned income, income from interest and dividends, estate income, etc.  It's important to avoid a repeat of the past and confuse this cultural sabbath keeping with the blue laws of the past.    Blue laws were forced on minority populations to support the personal - lifestyle - religious choices of the majority.  I remember when the theaters were not allowed to operate on Sunday.  I remember as a child asking my mom when the Jewish kids got to go to the movies.  We still have vestiges of that era with the fairly widely practiced bans on the Sunday sale of alcohol.  

Mind you, my interests have always been governed by a moderate libertarianism.  I don't like the "gubment" telling me what to do when those actions would impinge in no way on the rights of others.   Vestigial blue laws are not the only intrusion of the government into the free market (goods and ideas).  Our "current occupant" and his regime have so supported the upper class in this society and protected the portion of what cannot honestly be called the free market in which are vested their interests less than 10% of the population can afford to "take a day off."  

To develop a sabbath expectation in culture just start with thinking exploitation of the lower class, of minorities, of immigrants, of the environment, of the economy, then back up one step and you still have a strong case. Why do bank computers run "realtime" 24/7 but customer access to those same computers does not?  Why do public schools charge fees for required materials?  Why is access to public lands and waterways so often limited to commercial/corporate interests seeking a profit?    These are "sabbath" questions. 

Sabbath standards wouldn't allow the wealthy/powerful to force a pace onto the economic lives of lower income persons.  Heck, even the banks could afford to turn off the computers one day a week.  Once civil authorities undertake education and make attendance compulsory, required fees limit  only the access of the poor by forcing them to choose between necessities and not between options.  Sabbath standards would protect land, sea and air for all, including nature itself.

Blue laws are inadequate but stripped of their religiosity and directed toward the benefit of the poor or -- even better -- the middle class they would be a start toward the sabbath our culture craves.

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