Letter: Addicted to work

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Sir: Like Fergal Keane ("Family values fall apart in our workaholic corporate culture", 3 October), I found Panorama on corporate workaholism fascinating, but unlike him I was not so much depressed as utterly baffled. The eagerness with which these grown men and women sought to please the bosses of their institutions would have brought tears of joyful recognition to the eyes of the late Barbara Woodhouse. A dog is liked by its owner for its own sake, while these Titans of the treadmill are treated kindly only as long as they produce money for their masters.

Fergal Keane writes: "In the longer term, you burn out your best people; productivity declines." True, of course, of those individuals. But there are, it seems, more born every minute, and if after 15 years' exertion they break down, they can simply be dismantled for useful parts like kidneys, scrapped and replaced with graduates fresh off the production line. Enough! There are only three reasons to be workaholic: 1) the good of society as a whole (eg a doctor); 2) you genuinely enjoy your work for its own sake (eg a craftsman); 3) what you do is necessary and only you can do it (eg a genuine expert in a difficult, useful subject such as physics). But flogging insurance (or whatever) is a lower-order activity and not worth the effort.

SWENTA HARTVOG

London E17

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