THERE's nothing I like more than someone flying the flag for part-time working, obviously.
So in some ways, hurrah for the report from thinktank the New Economics Foundation arguing everyone should work a 21-hour week, then do good deeds for each other (and the planet) in their new free time.
It highlights the madness of millions of Britons working miserably long hours, while others are unemployed but would love to work. Why not share it out? After all, that's how we ended up with a five day working week: six days was standard, until the Great Depression made us divvy up what little work there was.
But then again: um, not so hurrah. The report does gloss over the slight technical difficulty that working 21 hours means, well, getting paid for 21 hours.
Author Anna Coote's argument that many of us 'live to work, work to earn, and earn to consume' - so why not consume less, and not need to work so much - does resonate. I did used to feel trapped in a mad cycle of working long hours to earn the cash to pay for stuff (nanny, house nearish the office, gin) that let me, um, work long hours.
But that's really a middle class professional argument. What about the very many people who earn to eat, and pay rent? How do they manage on 21 hours of pay?
Apparently, we will all now have time to grow our own food, and walk or cycle everywhere instead of driving, thus saving money and carbon.
Which sounds lovely, and it's true I've rediscovered both my bike and some half-used seed packets since giving up. But this has not, sadly, compensated for halving my income.
In fairness the report does suggest a higher minimum wage, presumably to help those who needed to work long hours. But how is that affordable? If everyone halves their hours (and salary), we pay less tax and NI to the Exchequer. How do we then fund public services, pensions, and benefits?
If it sounds like I'm carping, I am. But only because this report makes me confront two tricky questions.
Firstly, its suggestion that if we had more time we'd all be 'better parents, better citizens, better carers and better neighbours' makes me feel guilty. Beyond the loaded question of whether stopping work makes you a better parent (and believe me, there are days when I think the nanny did a better job)I'm not really spending my new free time to the benefit of society. (I do some voluntary stuff, but then I always did.) Definitely food for thought.
And secondly, it reminds me that choice has consequences. Going part time may be great for the individual, but if enough of us do it we'll deprive the public purse of cash (because we're paying less tax)that might have reached people needier than us.
Which makes me wonder: is stopping work ultimately a selfish act?