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Archive for the tag “court”

Court Refuses To Dismiss Catholic School Teacher’s Suit On Church Autonomy Grounds

This is from religionclause.blogspot.com which you can find here:

In Payne-Elliott v. Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Indianapolis, Inc.(IN Super. Ct., May 1, 2020), an Indiana trial court refused to dismiss a lawsuit against the Catholic Archdiocese brought by a teacher who claims that the Archdiocese interfered with his contractual relationship with Cathedral High School, an independent school that had a relationship with the Archdiocese. The teacher was fired pursuant to a directive from the Archdiocese issued after the teacher entered a same-sex marriage. The school feared that if it did not comply, the Archdiocese would no longer recognize it as a Catholic institution. The Archdiocese argued that the lawsuit should be dismissed under the “church autonomy” doctrine. The court said in part:

In civil dispute involving church as party, the court has jurisdiction to resolve the case if it can be done without resolving an ecclesiastical controversy. The court can avoid the religious controversy by deferring to the highest authority within the ecclesiastical body….

… [T]his Court cannot determine that the directive by the Archdiocese to terminate Payne-Elliott was made by the highest authority in the ecclesiastical body of Cathedral or of the Roman Catholic Church.“

The court also questioned whether the case involved an ecclesiastical controversy at all:

… [A] letter from the President and Chairman of the Board of Cathedral elaborates as to ”What is at stake?” Therein, Cathedral states: ”Furthermore, Cathedral would lose its 501(c)(3) status thus rendering Cathedral unable to operate as nonprofit school.” This rational for firing Payne-Elliott is important,… If Payne-Elliott was terminated by Cathedral for an economic benefit to Cathedral at the direction of the Archdiocese, then that is different matter than Catholic doctrine.

The court also refused to accept several other grounds for dismissal put forward by the Archdiocese.  Indiana Lawyer reports on the decision.

You can learn more about this issue here.

Joe Arcieri Songs: Nature’s Law

Joe Arcieri is a friend of mine who I worked with for many years during my ten years working for Acme Markets.  Joe, when not stocking milk or saving lives as a nurse, is an excellent guitar player.  I have had the privilege, from time to time, of (badly) plunking my bass guitar with Joe as he melts a face or two with a great solo.

As great musicians do, Joe has written some of his own songs and keeps a soundcloud site to post them.  When I have opportunity, I will post his music here as well.

Here is his composition called “Nature’s Law” which you can find here.

Here are the links to the previously posted songs by Joe:

 

I Was America’s First ‘Nonbinary’ Person. It Was All a Sham.

Four years ago, I wrote about my decision to live as a woman in The New York Times, writing that I had wanted to live “authentically as the woman that I have always been,” and had “effectively traded my white male privilege to become one of America’s most hated minorities.”

Three years ago, I decided that I was neither male nor female, but nonbinary—and made headlines after an Oregon judge agreed to let me identify as a third sex, not male or female.

Now, I want to live again as the man that I am.

I’m one of the lucky ones. Despite participating in medical transgenderism for six years, my body is still intact. Most people who desist from transgender identities after gender changes can’t say the same.

But that’s not to say I got off scot-free. My psyche is eternally scarred, and I’ve got a host of health issues from the grand medical experiment.

Here’s how things began.

After convincing myself that I was a woman during a severe mental health crisis, I visited a licensed nurse practitioner in early 2013 and asked for a hormone prescription. “If you don’t give me the drugs, I’ll buy them off the internet,” I threatened.

Although she’d never met me before, the nurse phoned in a prescription for 2 mg of oral estrogen and 200 mg of Spironolactone that very same day.

The nurse practitioner ignored that I have chronic post-traumatic stress disorder, having previously served in the military for almost 18 years. All of my doctors agree on that. Others believe that I have bipolar disorder and possibly borderline personality disorder.

I should have been stopped, but out-of-control, transgender activism had made the nurse practitioner too scared to say no.

I’d learned how to become a female from online medical documents at a Department of Veterans Affairs hospital website.

After I began consuming the cross-sex hormones, I started therapy at a gender clinic in Pittsburgh so that I could get people to sign off on the transgender surgeries I planned to have.

All I needed to do was switch over my hormone operating fuel and get my penis turned into a vagina. Then I’d be the same as any other woman. That’s the fantasy the transgender community sold me. It’s the lie I bought into and believed.

Only one therapist tried to stop me from crawling into this smoking rabbit hole. When she did, I not only fired her, I filed a formal complaint against her. “She’s a gatekeeper,” the trans community said.

I should have been stopped, but out-of-control, transgender activism had made the nurse practitioner too scared to say no.

Professional stigmatisms against “conversion therapy” had made it impossible for the therapist to question my motives for wanting to change my sex.

The “Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders” (Fifth Edition) says one of the traits of gender dysphoria is believing that you possess the stereotypical feelings of the opposite sex. I felt that about myself, but yet no therapist discussed it with me.

Two weeks hadn’t passed before I found a replacement therapist. The new one quickly affirmed my identity as a woman. I was back on the road to getting vaginoplasty.

There’s abundant online literature informing transgender people that their sex change isn’t real. But when a licensed medical doctor writes you a letter essentially stating that you were born in the wrong body and a government agency or court of law validates that delusion, you become damaged and confused. I certainly did.

Painful Roots

My trauma history resembles a ride down the Highway of Death during the first Gulf War.

As a child, I was sexually abused by a male relative. My parents severely beat me. At this point, I’ve been exposed to so much violence and had so many close calls that I don’t know how to explain why I’m still alive. Nor do I know how to mentally process some of the things I’ve seen and experienced.

Dr. Ray Blanchard has an unpopular theory that explains why someone like me may have been drawn to transgenderism. He claims there are two types of transgender women: homosexuals that are attracted to men, and men who are attracted to the thought or image of themselves as females.

It’s a tough thing to admit, but I belong to the latter group. We are classified as having autogynephilia.

After having watched pornography for years while in the Army and being married to a woman who resisted my demands to become the ideal female, I became that female instead. At least in my head.

While autogynephilia was my motivation to become a woman, gender stereotypes were my means of implementation. I believed wearing a long wig, dresses, heels, and makeup would make me a woman.

Feminists begged to differ on that. They rejected me for conforming to female stereotypes. But as a new member of the transgender community, I beat up on them too. The women who become men don’t fight the transgender community’s wars. The men in dresses do.

Medical Malpractice

The best thing that could have happened would have been for someone to order intensive therapy. That would have protected me from my inclination to cross-dress and my risky sexual transgressions, of which there were many.

Instead, quacks in the medical community hid me in the women’s bathroom with people’s wives and daughters. “Your gender identity is female,” these alleged professionals said.

Trans men are winning in medicine, and they’ve won the battle for language.

The medical community is so afraid of the trans community that they’re now afraid to give someone Blanchard’s diagnosis. Trans men are winning in medicine, and they’ve won the battle for language.

Think of the word “transvestite.” They’ve succeeded in making it a vulgar word, even though it just means men dressing like women. People are no longer allowed to tell the truth about men like me. Everyone now has to call us transgender instead.

The diagnostic code in my records at the VA should read Transvestic Disorder (302.3). Instead, the novel theories of Judith Butler and Anne Fausto-Sterling have been used to cover up the truths written about by Blanchard, J. Michael Bailey, and Alice Dreger.

I confess to having been motivated by autogynephilia during all of this. Blanchard was right.

Trauma, hypersexuality owing to childhood sexual abuse, and autogynephilia are all supposed to be red flags for those involved in the medical arts of psychology, psychiatry, and physical medicine—yet nobody except for the one therapist in Pittsburgh ever tried to stop me from changing my sex. They just kept helping me to harm myself.

Escaping to ‘Nonbinary’

Three years into my gender change from male to female, I looked hard into the mirror one day. When I did, the facade of femininity and womanhood crumbled.

Despite having taken or been injected with every hormone and antiandrogen concoction in the VA’s medical arsenal, I didn’t look anything like a female. People on the street agreed. Their harsh stares reflected the reality behind my fraudulent existence as a woman. Biological sex is immutable.

It took three years for that reality to set in with me.

When the fantasy of being a woman came to an end, I asked two of my doctors to allow me to become nonbinary instead of female to bail me out. Both readily agreed.

After pumping me full of hormones—the equivalent of 20 birth control pills per day—they each wrote a sex change letter. The two weren’t just bailing me out. They were getting themselves off the hook for my failed sex change. One worked at the VA. The other worked at Oregon Health & Science University.

To escape the delusion of having become a woman, I did something completely unprecedented in American history. In 2016, I convinced an Oregon judge to declare my sex to be nonbinary—neither male nor female.

In my psychotic mind, I had restored the mythical third sex to North America. And I became the first legally recognized nonbinary person in the country.

Celebrity Status

The landmark court decision catapulted me to instant fame within the LGBT community. For 10 nonstop days afterward, the media didn’t let me sleep. Reporters hung out in my Facebook feed, journalists clung to my every word, and a Portland television station beamed my wife and I into living rooms in the United Kingdom.

Becoming a woman had gotten me into The New York Times. Convincing a judge that my sex was nonbinary got my photos and story into publications around the world.

Then, before the judge’s ink had even dried on my Oregon sex change court order, a Washington, D.C.-based LGBT legal aid organization contacted me. “We want to help you change your birth certificate,” they offered.

Within months, I scored another historic win after the Department of Vital Records issued me a brand new birth certificate from Washington, D.C., where I was born. A local group called Whitman-Walker Health had gotten my sex designation on my birth certificate switched to “unknown.” It was the first time in D.C. history a birth certificate had been printed with a sex marker other than male or female.

Another transgender legal aid organization jumped on the Jamie Shupe bandwagon, too. Lambda Legal used my nonbinary court order to help convince a Colorado federal judge to order the State Department to issue a passport with an X marker (meaning nonbinary) to a separate plaintiff named Dana Zzyym.

LGBT organizations helping me to screw up my life had become a common theme. During my prior sex change to female, the New York-based Transgender Legal Defense & Education Fund had gotten my name legally changed. I didn’t like being named after the uncle who’d molested me. Instead of getting me therapy for that, they got me a new name.

A Pennsylvania judge didn’t question the name change, either. Wanting to help a transgender person, she had not only changed my name, but at my request she also sealed the court order, allowing me to skip out on a ton of debt I owed because of a failed home purchase and begin my new life as a woman. Instead of merging my file, two of the three credit bureaus issued me a brand new line of credit.

Walking Away From Fiction

It wasn’t until I came out against the sterilization and mutilation of gender-confused children and transgender military service members in 2017 that LGBT organizations stopped helping me. Most of the media retreated with them.

Overnight, I went from being a liberal media darling to a conservative pariah.

Both groups quickly began to realize that the transgender community had a runaway on their hands. Their solution was to completely ignore me and what my story had become. They also stopped acknowledging that I was behind the nonbinary option that now exists in 11 states.

The truth is that my sex change to nonbinary was a medical and scientific fraud. Consider the fact that before the historic court hearing occurred, my lawyer informed me that the judge had a transgender child.

I should have been treated. Instead, at every step, doctors, judges, and advocacy groups indulged my fiction.

Sure enough, the morning of my brief court hearing, the judge didn’t ask me a single question. Nor did this officer of the court demand to see any medical evidence alleging that I was born something magical. Within minutes, the judge just signed off on the court order.

I do not have any disorders of sexual development. All of my sexual confusion was in my head. I should have been treated. Instead, at every step, doctors, judges, and advocacy groups indulged my fiction.

The carnage that came from my court victory is just as precedent-setting as the decision itself. The judge’s order led to millions of taxpayer dollars being spent to put an X marker on driver’s licenses in 11 states so far. You can now become male, female, or nonbinary in all of them.

In my opinion, the judge in my case should have recused herself. In doing so, she would have spared me the ordeal still yet to come. She also would have saved me from having to bear the weight of the big secret behind my win.

I now believe that she wasn’t just validating my transgender identity. She was advancing her child’s transgender identity, too.

A sensible magistrate would have politely told me no and refused to sign such an outlandish legal request. “Gender is just a concept. Biological sex defines all of us,” that person would have said.

In January 2019, unable to advance the fraud for another single day, I reclaimed my male birth sex. The weight of the lie on my conscience was heavier than the value of the fame I’d gained from participating in this elaborate swindle.

Two fake gender identities couldn’t hide the truth of my biological reality. There is no third gender or third sex. Like me, intersex people are either male or female. Their condition is the result of a disorder of sexual development, and they need help and compassion.

I played my part in pushing forward this grand illusion. I’m not the victim here. My wife, daughter, and the American taxpayers are—they are the real victims.

by James Shupe published on March 10, 2019 in The Daily Signal and can be found here.

Nativity Scene On Indiana County Building Property Held Unconstitutional

This is from religionclause.blogspot.com which you can find here:

In Woodring v. Jackson County, Indiana, (SD IN, April 30, 2020), an Indiana federal district court held that the Establishment Clause is violated by a nativity scene displayed on the lawn of an historical courthouse that now houses county offices. The court first concluded that plaintiff has standing to sue:

Her injury is the direct contact she must endure with a display that she alleges violates the Establishment Clause in the course of exercising her rights as a citizen of Jackson County.

Moving to the merits of the claim, the court said in part:

Here … the Nativity scene is not on its own. It is accompanied by two other arguably secular symbols of Christmas: Santa Claus and a group of Christmas carolers….

Nevertheless, two facts persuade the Court that this Nativity scene would give a reasonable observer the impression that the government is endorsing a religion. The first of those facts is the geography of the display…. Santa and the carolers are placed to the far side of the display, away from the more centralized Nativity display, which straddles the sidewalk subdividing the lawn…. The crèche is the vast majority of the display … making it appear much larger than the solitary Santa figure…. The carolers have been placed in the back of the display, lessening the attention they would draw from an observer….

The second fact that convinces the Court that the Nativity scene would give the impression of a religious endorsement is the scene’s history. For many years, it was only a Nativity scene, with no secular elements at all….But in 2018, in response to a letter from the Freedom from Religion Foundation questioning the display’s constitutionality, the President of the County Commissioners …physically moved Santa Claus and his sleigh and reindeer and the carolers to a place nearer the crèche…. The addition of less prominent secular symbols at the fringes of the display is not enough to counteract the impression a reasonable observer would have gotten from seeing the Nativity display placed on the lawn of the Courthouse for nearly 20 years. The Court has no doubt that a sufficient balancing between secular and nonsecular elements could bring this display into harmony with the First Amendment despite its history, but that balancing has not occurred here. Thus, the display fails the endorsement test.

You can learn more about this issue here.

Joe Arcieri Songs: This Is How We Roll (Homage To “A Fist Full Of Dollars” )

Joe Arcieri is a friend of mine who I worked with for many years during my ten years working for Acme Markets.  Joe, when not stocking milk or saving lives as a nurse, is an excellent guitar player.  I have had the privilege, from time to time, of (badly) plunking my bass guitar with Joe as he melts a face or two with a great solo.

As great musicians do, Joe has written some of his own songs and keeps a soundcloud site to post them.  When I have opportunity, I will post his music here as well.

Here is his composition called “This Is How We Roll (Homage To “A Fist Full Of Dollars” )” which you can find here.

Here are the links to the previously posted songs by Joe:

Members of previous generations now seem like giants — When did we become so small?

Many of the stories about the gods and heroes of Greek mythology were compiled during Greek Dark Ages. Impoverished tribes passed down oral traditions that originated after the fall of the lost palatial civilizations of the Mycenaean Greeks.

Dark Age Greeks tried to make sense of the massive ruins of their forgotten forbearers’ monumental palaces that were still standing around. As illiterates, they were curious about occasional clay tablets they plowed up in their fields with incomprehensible ancient Linear B inscriptions.

We of the 21st century are beginning to look back at our own lost epic times and wonder about these now-nameless giants who left behind monuments that we cannot replicate, but instead merely use or even mock.

Does anyone believe that contemporary Americans could build another transcontinental railroad in six years?

Californians tried to build a high-speed rail line. But after more than a decade of government incompetence, lawsuits, cost overruns and constant bureaucratic squabbling, they have all but given up. The result is a half-built overpass over the skyline of Fresno — and not yet a foot of track laid.

Who were those giants of the 1960s responsible for building our interstate highway system?

California’s roads now are mostly the same as we inherited them, although the state population has tripled. We have added little to our freeway network, either because we forgot how to build good roads or would prefer to spend the money on redistributive entitlements.

When California had to replace a quarter section of the earthquake-damaged San Francisco Bay Bridge, it turned into a near-disaster, with 11 years of acrimony, fighting, cost overruns — and a commentary on our decline into Dark Ages primitivism. Yet 82 years ago, our ancestors built four times the length of our singe replacement span in less than four years. It took them just two years to design the entire Bay Bridge and award the contracts.

Our generation required five years just to plan to replace a single section. In inflation-adjusted dollars, we spent six times the money on one-quarter of the length of the bridge and required 13 agencies to grant approval. In 1936, just one agency oversaw the entire bridge project.

California has not built a major dam in 40 years. Instead, officials squabble over the water stored and distributed by our ancestors, who designed the California State Water Project and Central Valley Project.

Contemporary Californians would have little food or water without these massive transfers, and yet they often ignore or damn the generation that built the very system that saves us.

America went to the moon in 1969 with supposedly primitive computers and backward engineering. Does anyone believe we could launch a similar moonshot today? No American has set foot on the moon in the last 47 years, and it may not happen in the next 50 years.

Hollywood once gave us blockbuster epics, brilliant Westerns, great film noirs, and classic comedies. Now it endlessly turns out comic-book superhero films or pathetic remakes of prior classics.

Our writers, directors and actors have lost the skills of their ancestors. But they are also cowardly, and in regimented fashion they simply parrot boring race, class and gender bromides that are neither interesting nor funny. Does anyone believe that the Oscar ceremonies are more engaging and dignified than in the past?

We have been fighting in Afghanistan without result for 18 years. Our forefathers helped to win World War II and defeat the Axis Powers in four years.

In terms of learning, does anyone believe that a college graduate in 2020 will know half the information of a 1950 graduate?

In the 1940s, young people read William Faulkner, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Pearl Buck and John Steinbeck. Are our current novelists turning out anything comparable? Could today’s high-school graduate even finish “The Good Earth” or “The Grapes of Wrath”?

True, social media is impressive. The internet gives us instant access to global knowledge. We are a more tolerant society, at least in theory. But Facebook is not the Hoover Dam, and Twitter is not the Panama Canal.

Our ancestors were builders and pioneers and mostly fearless. We are regulators, auditors, bureaucrats, adjudicators, censors, critics, plaintiffs, defendants, social media junkies and thin-skinned scolds. A distant generation created; we mostly delay, idle and gripe.

As we walk amid the refuse, needles and excrement of the sidewalks of our fetid cities; as we sit motionless on our jammed ancient freeways; and as we pout on Twitter and electronically whine in the porticos of our Ivy League campuses, will we ask: “Who were these people who left these strange monuments that we use but can neither emulate nor understand?”

In comparison to us, they now seem like gods.

By Victor Davis Hanson and published on October 10, 2019 and can be found here.

AVOIDING AMBIGUITY IN A WILL AND APPLICATION OF THE ANTI LAPSE STATUTE

An anti-lapse statute is a rule of interpretation that is intended to cure a will to ensure that the next individual in line of a pre-deceased child or certain other close relatives receive testator’s devise or bequest.  20 Pa. C.S. § 2514(9).  Specifically, the Pennsylvania anti-lapse statute states that “[A] devise or bequest to a child or other issue of the testator …shall not lapse if the beneficiary shall fail to survive the testator and shall leave issue surviving the testator but shall pass to such surviving issue who shall take per stirpes the share which their deceased ancestor would have taken had he survived the testator….”  20 Pa. C.S. § 2514(9).

When does the anti-lapse statue apply to a will when the testator included language that two children should “share and share alike” and one of children predeceased the testator?  In a case of first impression at the appellate level, the Superior Court recently provided guidance on this matter in In re Estate of Harper, — A.2d —-, 2009 WL 1510255 (Pa.Super.), 2009 PA Super 104.

In Estate of Harper, Testator’s will stated as follows:

SECOND: I give, devise and bequeath all the rest, residue and remainder of my estate to my wife…

THIRD: In the event my wife, FLORENCE J. HARPER, fails to survive me, then I give, devise and bequeath all the rest, residue and remainder of my estate, real, personal and mixed, of whatsoever kind and nature and wheresoever the same may be situate, of which I shall die seized and possessed, or to which at the time of my death I may be entitled, to my son, SAMUEL CARL HARPER and to my son, WILLIAM D. HARPER, share and share alike.

In Estate of Harper, Testator’s wife and son William predeceased him by five years, and the surviving son and currently serving Personal Representative (Executor) of the Estate claimed that he, as the surviving beneficiary of Testator, was entitled to the entire residue of Testator’s Estate, because the phrase “share and share alike” denotes a per capita, or individual, distribution, and necessarily negates any right of representation.

At the trial level, the Orphans’ Court noted that the phrase “share and share alike” “is standard language.  And the Orphans’ Court observed, “these are words that have been used in wills for hundreds of years.” Superior Court citing Notes of testimony, 5/29/07 at 10.

The Superior Court noted that it failed to see how the language “share and share alike” intended to void the anti-lapse statute.  For example, “while the testator provided for the possibility that his wife might predecease him, he did not use any survivorship language in the residuary clause such as “provided this person is living at my death” or “if this person does not survive me” with regard to the two sons.”   Also, the Superior Court noted that “the testator had almost five years after the death of his son to revise the Will if he did not want his son’s share to pass through.”

Ultimately, the Superior Court found that Appellant’s interpretation of the words “share and share alike” to be unreasonable and insufficient, “standing alone, to overcome the statutory presumption against lapsed bequests” because to hold otherwise then “the anti-lapse statute would be effectively eviscerated.”

As a related matter, the Superior Court held that the Orphans’ Court correctly declined to hear extrinsic evidence of an alleged ambiguity in testator’s will, relating to the beneficiary who would now receive the property as a result of the anti-lapse statue.

Individuals engaged in estate planning on behalf of clients need to make clear to their clients that if the client wants their assets to pass to the surviving co-beneficiaries that the will must include language to that effect; otherwise, the anti-lapse statute may be applied and instead of the client’s remaining beneficiaries inheriting the property, it might pass, to issue of the deceased beneficiary.

By Adam S. Bernick, Esquire, Law Office of Adam S. Bernick and of counsel to the Law Office of Faye Riva Cohen, P.C.

This article was originally published in Upon Further Review” on August 7, 2009, and can be seen here.

Negligent Violation of Inmate’s Religious Dietary Needs Did Not Violate 1st Amendment

This is from religionclause.blogspot.com which you can find here:

In Mbonyunkiza v. Beasley, (8th Cir., April 24, 2020), the U.S. 8th Circuit Court of Appeals held:

absent evidence that an underlying prison regulation or policy violates the Free Exercise Clause, evidence that a correction official negligently failed to comply with an inmate’s sincerely held religious dietary beliefs does not establish a Free Exercise Clause claim under §1983.

In the case, a Muslim inmate claimed that four times in 257 days, prison kitchen staff served him meals containing pork products. In rejecting plaintiff’s claim, the court said in part:

[T]he Supreme Court’s cases, and all the Eighth Circuit Free Exercise decisions our research has uncovered, have involved claims alleging that a statute, or a regulation or policy implementing a statute, unconstitutionally prohibited a sincerely held religious belief or otherwise unduly burdened the free exercise of religion.

By contrast, in this case NCF’s food policies affirmatively accommodate the beliefs of inmates who do not eat pork for religious reasons. Mbonyunkiza does not challenge those policies. Rather, his Supplemental Complaint asserts that defendants are liable in damages because they did not properly implement those policies on certain occasions.

You can learn more about this issue here.

Joe Arcieri Songs: Play It Again

Joe Arcieri is a friend of mine who I worked with for many years during my ten years working for Acme Markets.  Joe, when not stocking milk or saving lives as a nurse, is an excellent guitar player.  I have had the privilege, from time to time, of (badly) plunking my bass guitar with Joe as he melts a face or two with a great solo.

As great musicians do, Joe has written some of his own songs and keeps a soundcloud site to post them.  When I have opportunity, I will post his music here as well.

Here is his composition called “Play It Again” which you can find here.

Here are the links to the previously posted songs by Joe:

Workism Is Making Americans Miserable

For the college-educated elite, work has morphed into a religious identity—promising transcendence and community, but failing to deliver.

In his 1930 essay “Economic Possibilities for Our Grandchildren,” the economist John Maynard Keynes predicted a 15-hour workweek in the 21st century, creating the equivalent of a five-day weekend. “For the first time since his creation man will be faced with his real, his permanent problem,” Keynes wrote, “how to occupy the leisure.”

This became a popular view. In a 1957 article in The New York Times, the writer Erik Barnouw predicted that, as work became easier, our identity would be defined by our hobbies, or our family life. “The increasingly automatic nature of many jobs, coupled with the shortening work week [leads] an increasing number of workers to look not to work but to leisure for satisfaction, meaning, expression,” he wrote.

1.             THE GOSPEL OF WORK

The decline of traditional faith in America has coincided with an explosion of new atheisms. Some people worship beauty, some worship political identities, and others worship their children. But everybody worships something. And workism is among the most potent of the new religions competing for congregants.

What is workism? It is the belief that work is not only necessary to economic production, but also the centerpiece of one’s identity and life’s purpose; and the belief that any policy to promote human welfare must always encourage more work.

Homo industrious is not new to the American landscape. The American dream—that hoary mythology that hard work always guarantees upward mobility—has for more than a century made the U.S. obsessed with material success and the exhaustive striving required to earn it.

No large country in the world as productive as the United States averages more hours of work a year. And the gap between the U.S. and other countries is growing. Between 1950 and 2012, annual hours worked per employee fell by about 40 percent in Germany and the Netherlands—but by only 10 percent in the United States. Americans “work longer hours, have shorter vacations, get less in unemployment, disability, and retirement benefits, and retire later, than people in comparably rich societies,” wrote Samuel P. Huntington in his 2005 book Who Are We?: The Challenges to America’s National Identity.

One group has led the widening of the workist gap: rich men.

In 1980, the highest-earning men actually worked fewer hours per week than middle-class and low-income men, according to a survey by the Minneapolis Fed. But that’s changed. By 2005, the richest 10 percent of married men had the longest average workweek. In that same time, college-educated men reduced their leisure time more than any other group. Today, it is fair to say that elite American men have transformed themselves into the world’s premier workaholics, toiling longer hours than both poorer men in the U.S. and rich men in similarly rich countries.

This shift defies economic logic—and economic history. The rich have always worked less than the poor, because they could afford to. The landed gentry of preindustrial Europe dined, danced, and gossiped, while serfs toiled without end. In the early 20th century, rich Americans used their ample downtime to buy weekly movie tickets and dabble in sports. Today’s rich American men can afford vastly more downtime. But they have used their wealth to buy the strangest of prizes: more work!

Workism may have started with rich men, but the ethos is spreading—across gender and age. In a 2018 paper on elite universities, researchers found that for women, the most important benefit of attending a selective college isn’t higher wages, but more hours at the office. In other words, our elite institutions are minting coed workists. What’s more, in a recent Pew Research report on the epidemic of youth anxiety, 95 percent of teens said “having a job or career they enjoy” would be “extremely or very important” to them as an adult. This ranked higher than any other priority, including “helping other people who are in need” (81 percent) or getting married (47 percent). Finding meaning at work beats family and kindness as the top ambition of today’s young people.

Even as Americans worship workism, its leaders consecrate it from the marble daises of Congress and enshrine it in law. Most advanced countries give new parents paid leave; but the United States guarantees no such thing. Many advanced countries ease the burden of parenthood with national policies; but U.S. public spending on child care and early education is near the bottom of international rankings. In most advanced countries, citizens are guaranteed access to health care by their government; but the majority of insured Americans get health care through—where else?—their workplace. Automation and AI may soon threaten the labor force, but America’s welfare system has become more work-based in the past 20 years. In 1996, President Bill Clinton signed the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act, which replaced much of the existing welfare system with programs that made benefits contingent on the recipient’s employment.

The religion of work isn’t just a cultist feature of America’s elite. It’s also the law.

Here’s a fair question: Is there anything wrong with hard, even obsessive, work?

Humankind has not yet invented itself out of labor. Machine intelligence isn’t ready to run the world’s factories, or care for the sick. In every advanced economy, most prime-age people who can work do—and in poorer countries, the average workweek is even longer than in the United States. Without work, including nonsalaried labor like raising a child, most people tend to feel miserable. Some evidence suggests that long-term unemployment is even more wrenching than losing a loved one, since the absence of an engaging distraction removes the very thing that tends to provide solace to mourners in the first place.

In the past century, the American conception of work has shifted from jobs to careers to callings—from necessity to status to meaning. In an agrarian or early-manufacturing economy, where tens of millions of people perform similar routinized tasks, there are no delusions about the higher purpose of, say, planting corn or screwing bolts: It’s just a job.The rise of the professional class and corporate bureaucracies in the early 20th century created the modern journey of a career, a narrative arc bending toward a set of precious initials: VP, SVP, CEO. The upshot is that for today’s workists, anything short of finding one’s vocational soul mate means a wasted life.

“We’ve created this idea that the meaning of life should be found in work,” says Oren Cass, the author of the book The Once and Future Worker. “We tell young people that their work should be their passion. ‘Don’t give up until you find a job that you love!’ we say. ‘You should be changing the world!’ we tell them. That is the message in commencement addresses, in pop culture, and frankly, in media, including The Atlantic.”

But our desks were never meant to be our altars. The modern labor force evolved to serve the needs of consumers and capitalists, not to satisfy tens of millions of people seeking transcendence at the office. It’s hard to self-actualize on the job if you’re a cashier—one of the most common occupations in the U.S.—and even the best white-collar roles have long periods of stasis, boredom, or busywork. This mismatch between expectations and reality is a recipe for severe disappointment, if not outright misery, and it might explain why rates of depression and anxiety in the U.S. are “substantially higher” than they were in the 1980s, according to a 2014 study.

One of the benefits of being an observant Christian, Muslim, or Zoroastrian is that these God-fearing worshippers put their faith in an intangible and unfalsifiable force of goodness. But work is tangible, and success is often falsified. To make either the centerpiece of one’s life is to place one’s esteem in the mercurial hands of the market. To be a workist is to worship a god with firing power.

2.             THE MILLENNIAL WORKIST

The Millennial generation—born in the past two decades of the 20th century—came of age in the roaring 1990s, when workism coursed through the veins of American society. On the West Coast, the modern tech sector emerged, minting millionaires who combined utopian dreams with a do-what-you-love ethos. On the East Coast, President Clinton grabbed the neoliberal baton from Ronald Reagan and George H. W. Bush and signed laws that made work the nucleus of welfare policy.

While it’s inadvisable to paint 85 million people with the same brush, it’s fair to say that American Millennials have been collectively defined by two external traumas. The first is student debt. Millennials are the most educated generation ever, a distinction that should have made them rich and secure. But rising educational attainment has come at a steep price. Since 2007, outstanding student debt has grown by almost $1 trillion, roughly tripling in just 12 years. And since the economy cratered in 2008, average wages for young graduates have stagnated—making it even harder to pay off loans.The second external trauma of the Millennial generation has been the disturbance of social media, which has amplified the pressure to craft an image of success—for oneself, for one’s friends and colleagues, and even for one’s parents. But literally visualizing career success can be difficult in a services and information economy. Blue-collar jobs produce tangible products, like coal, steel rods, and houses. The output of white-collar work—algorithms, consulting projects, programmatic advertising campaigns—is more shapeless and often quite invisible. It’s not glib to say that the whiter the collar, the more invisible the product.

Since the physical world leaves few traces of achievement, today’s workers turn to social media to make manifest their accomplishments. Many of them spend hours crafting a separate reality of stress-free smiles, postcard vistas, and Edison-lightbulbed working spaces. “The social media feed [is] evidence of the fruits of hard, rewarding labor and the labor itself,” Petersen writes.

Among Millennial workers, it seems, overwork and “burnout” are outwardly celebrated (even if, one suspects, they’re inwardly mourned). In a recent New York Times essay, “Why Are Young People Pretending to Love Work?,” the reporter Erin Griffith pays a visit to the co-working space WeWork, where the pillows urge do what you love, and the neon signs implore workers to hustle harder. These dicta resonate with young workers. As several studies show, Millennials are meaning junkies at work. “Like all employees,” one Gallupsurvey concluded, “millennials care about their income. But for this generation, a job is about more than a paycheck, it’s about a purpose.”

The problem with this gospel—Your dream job is out there, so never stop hustling—is that it’s a blueprint for spiritual and physical exhaustion. Long hours don’t make anybody more productive or creative; they make people stressed, tired and bitter. But the overwork myths survive “because they justify the extreme wealth created for a small group of elite techies,” Griffith writes.

3.             TIME FOR HAPPINESSThis is the right time for a confession. I am the very thing that I am criticizing.

I am devoted to my job. I feel most myself when I am fulfilled by my work—including the work of writing an essay about work. My sense of identity is so bound up in my job, my sense of accomplishment, and my feeling of productivity that bouts of writer’s block can send me into an existential funk that can spill over into every part of my life. And I know enough writers, tech workers, marketers, artists, and entrepreneurs to know that my affliction is common, especially within a certain tranche of the white-collar workforce.

Some workists, moreover, seem deeply fulfilled. These happy few tend to be intrinsically motivated; they don’t need to share daily evidence of their accomplishments. But maintaining the purity of internal motivations is harder in a world where social media and mass media are so adamant about externalizing all markers of success. There’s Forbes’ list of this, and Fortune’s list of that; and every Twitter and Facebook and LinkedIn profile is conspicuously marked with the metrics of accomplishment—followers, friends, viewers, retweets—that inject all communication with the features of competition. It may be getting harder each year for purely motivated and sincerely happy workers to opt out of the tournament of labor swirling around them.

Workism offers a perilous trade-off. On the one hand, Americans’ high regard for hard work may be responsible for its special place in world history and its reputation as the global capital of start-up success. A culture that worships the pursuit of extreme success will likely produce some of it. But extreme success is a falsifiable god, which rejects the vast majority of its worshippers. Our jobs were never meant to shoulder the burdens of a faith, and they are buckling under the weight. A staggering 87 percent of employees are not engaged at their job, according to Gallup. That number is rising by the year.

One solution to this epidemic of disengagement would be to make work less awful. But maybe the better prescription is to make work less central.

This can start with public policy. There is new enthusiasm for universal policies—like universal basic income, parental leave, subsidized child care, and a child allowance—which would make long working hours less necessary for all Americans. These changes alone might not be enough to reduce Americans’ devotion to work for work’s sake, since it’s the rich who are most devoted. But they would spare the vast majority of the public from the pathological workaholism that grips today’s elites, and perhaps create a bottom-up movement to displace work as the centerpiece of the secular American identity.

How quaint that sounds. But it’s the same perspective that inspired the economist John Maynard Keynes to predict in 1930 that Americans would eventually have five-day weekends, rather than five-day weeks. It is the belief—the faith, even—that work is not life’s product, but its currency. What we choose to buy with it is the ultimate project of living.
By Derek Thompson and published on February 24, 2019 in The Atlantic and can be found here.

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