The Big Problem With Jack Ma’s “Four-Hour Workday”

We don’t often go on rants. But this one threatens to grow into a doozy.

It’s about the idea of work. It’s become a nasty four-letter word.

It’s a dangerous and dumb trend.

We say men who don’t want to work… don’t want to succeed.

It’s true in everything. It’s certainly true with our Triad. If you want Liberty, Know-How and Connections – the proven keys to a happy, fulfilled life – you’ve got to put in the work.

There’s no arguing it.

And yet… some folks sure will try.

FLAWED LOGIC

Earlier this week, the apparently crazed CEO of China’s Alibaba, Jack Ma, jumped in front of the cameras to talk about his big promise… that within 30 years, people will work just four hours a day… four days a week.

We have no doubt the man is right.

Plenty of people will work a mere 16 hours each week.

Lots of folks do it now.

They’re the folks who can’t pay their mortgages… who don’t have a dime saved for retirement… and who keep wondering why they can’t get a business started.

A full day’s work is not something to be loathed. No, it’s an idea that should be cherished.

Ma – not my ma, Jack Ma – made the point with a bit of a heartfelt story.

“My grandfather worked 16 hours a day in the farmland and [thought he was] very busy,” he said. “We work eight hours, five days a week, and think we are very busy.”

It’s quite a folksy tale… too bad it’s entirely flawed.

Never mind the contradictory fact that Ma spent 800 hours last year traveling the globe spreading this message… and just said he was upping the plan to 1,000 hours this year to reach more folks.

That idea alone – that Ma clearly believes harder work and longer hours lead to bigger rewards – should be enough to send the CEO’s argument to the unemployment line.

But no… we’ll scratch our head harder and think a bit deeper. We’ll provide even more irrefutable evidence that Ma’s idea is not only bad… but dangerous.

THE COMPETITION WORKS

Here’s the deal. The uber-successful Alibaba CEO is not lying.

His granddaddy probably did work 16 hours a day in the fields. And he’s right: The standard workday is eight hours these days.

But Ma is doing the same lazy comparison that so many folks tend to do in our modern age.

We get the point he’s making. He’s trying to tell us that technology has made work far more efficient… and therefore we have to work less.

It’s that last part that’s flawed.

Despite vast technological improvement, find a farmer who works just 40 hours a week, and I’ll show you a farm that will be growing vinyl-clad condos in five years.

Hell, find a farmer who makes a living without depending on some sort of assistance from Uncle Sam or an off-farm job, and I’ll show the feds a farmer who’s growing something he’s not supposed to.

Remember, the competition also has the latest and greatest technology Ma is talking about.

Fictitious Farmer John down the road has a brand-new, ultra-efficient seed drill. And, yeah, he can plant his fields in 12 hours where it once took 12 days.

Farmer John could rest when the field is planted… but he doesn’t.

Oh no, he knows that hard work leads to big rewards. So he spends his newfound time buying a few head of cattle… then he starts a small trucking business… then he starts trading futures to lock in the very best corn prices.

Next thing we know, the margins on John’s farm are large enough that he can sell his crops at a far cheaper price than his neighbors can.

He outworked the competition.

If they succumb to the four-hour workday fallacy… he’ll own their farms someday.

HONOR OUR WORK

Ma is drunk on technology if he thinks a 16-hour workweek will lead to anything that any of us would be proud of.

We’d love to see the plumber, the electrician or even the doctor who can survive by working four hours each week.

So would their competition!

Listen, we like to play as much as the next guy. But our culture is losing its respect for the notion of a good day’s work.

Work is honor. Work is good.

It’s not something to be ashamed of.

It’s not a four-letter word.

If you don’t do it… we surely will.

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