by the Sandwichman
In "The Gospel of Consumption," Jeffrey Kaplan channels the Sandwichman, arguing that if we want to save the earth we can start by sharing the work and the wealth. Kaplan borrows liberally from Ben Hunnicutt's books (Kellogg's Six Hour Day and Work Without End: Abandoning Shorter Hours for the Right to Work) and about the triumph of consumer culture over working less and also features a discussion of the anti-New Deal "American Way" publicity campaign conducted by the National Association of Manufacturers.
Co-incidentally, in my own research on the NAM, I kept stumbling across an article by John Tagg, titled "Melancholy Realism: Walker Evans's Resistance to Meaning". This morning I discovered that I had access to an online version of the article.
Tagg frames his discussion of the NAM American Way campaign with a discussion of the famous LIFE magazine photo by Margaret Bourke-White showing a breadline of African-American flood refugees in front of one of the 60,000 American Way billboards, this one proclaiming the "world's highest standard of living." Later in the article, he goes on to contrast Bourke-White's rhetorical clarity with the melancholic "unreadability" of Walker Evans's photography. In the process, Tagg touches on several of the images that are dear to the Sandwichman's thought.
One of those image in particular binds Kaplan's discussion of the Gospel of Consumption much tighter to the shorter work time movement. It is a leaflet promoting the American Way billboards, which included one proudly proclaiming "World's Shortest Working Hours!" This from an organization that cranked out a steady stream of literature denouncing the "disastrous effects" and "real problem" of the "dangerous fallacy" of shorter working time.
I guess it just goes to show, there's no way like the American Way!