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The Shrinking American Vacation

By sien in Culture
Sat Aug 09, 2003 at 06:56:24 PM EST
Tags: Culture (all tags)
Culture

Ellen Goodman, a syndicated columnist has a column out today call America's incredible shrinking vacation. It is very noticeable that Americans tend to have considerably less time off than Europeans. Since 1980 the days off that Americans have has been reducing steadily.


The question is whether this is a good thing. Perhaps the time off of most others in the rich world, 4-6 weeks plus more public holidays, cannot really be justified. On the other hand perhaps working too many hours for too long eventually just produces unproductive robots.

The site work to live is dedicated to reducing working time to what it thinks is a sane amount. They are organising a vacation campaign to reform the amount of time people have away from their work.

Personally, having worked for European and American firms I think that Europeans get too many benefits and too much time off. A friend of mine has just had a child in Sweden and is now taking 6 months of paid paternity leave. Europeans think this is a human right. In addition sick leave and leave for disability seems to be easier to get in Europe. Many European companies have shifted people on unemployment to be people on disability. Certainly some of these people on disability are there with reason, but perhaps some who are on stress leave are really milking the system.

However, it seems from my subjective experience that Europeans work more efficiently. Looking at GDP per head figures at PPP the US appears to be slightly higher, however these figures assume that almost everyone on a salary works 40 hours/week. In the US this is not the case. Americans have this work, work, work attitude that results in people spending lots of time at the office, but then using that time without thinking. Working smarter not harder may be a cliche, but it has some validity. Just as Europeans are taking too many vacations and too much time off most Americans are, or are being forced to, take too little time off.

In addition to the fact that working more hours does not seem to result in improved productivity over longer periods of time is the fact that it impoverishes lives. Europeans use their vacation to see the world and to do outdoor sports and see friends. To appreciate life. A life spent working all the time, unless it is what someone wants to do, is a life that is not full. People, mostly men, who work 9-10 hours a day in and office and don't have enough time for their children are reducing the quality of their life and the lives of their families. A balance must be found.

The other question is how good working hours can be achieved. In the US, since the Union movement has been very much weakened there is not that much effective lobbying for improvements in working conditions. Perhaps campaigns like work to live can succeed. Another possibility is that the vacation and leisure industry lobbyists take up the cause and supports these initiative. In Europe, the power of the trade unions and their influence has made reduction of any benefits difficult. However some center left governments such as the German government are having some success in reducing the overheads of German business.

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Poll
How much vacation do you get?
o 1 week ( from the US ) 6%
o 2 weeks ( from the US ) 13%
o 3 weeks ( from the US ) 18%
o 4 weeks ( from the US ) 6%
o more than 4 weeks ( from the US ) 7%
o less than 4 weeks ( from outside the US ) 10%
o 4 weeks ( from outside the US ) 9%
o more than 4 weeks ( from outside the US ) 27%

Votes: 236
Results | Other Polls

Related Links
o America's incredible shrinking vacation
o work to live
o GDP per head figures at PPP
o Also by sien


Display: Sort:
The Shrinking American Vacation | 293 comments (250 topical, 43 editorial, 0 hidden)
Fuck that noise (2.00 / 2) (#1)
by TheOnlyCoolTim on Thu Aug 07, 2003 at 05:33:31 PM EST

I haven't had a day off without work or school (including weekends) since July 16, and it would have been since July 10 or 11 if my family hadn't gone on a cruise.

Tim
"We are trapped in the belly of this horrible machine, and the machine is bleeding to death."

Why? (4.00 / 1) (#213)
by FeersumAsura on Sun Aug 10, 2003 at 11:44:06 AM EST

Don't you have a social life? The world is a big wide fun place, enjoy it while it's there.
==
It didn't work the first time.
[ Parent ]
It's very simple... (2.83 / 12) (#3)
by skyknight on Thu Aug 07, 2003 at 08:19:44 PM EST

Cut government dictation out of these things and let the free market decide. It's a crock of shit that a single person should have to pay taxes to fund someone else taking six months of paternity leave. If you want six months of paternity leave, then save up your money before having a kid. Don't expect me to pay for it. There are mountains of things to which people think they have a god given right, but they don't realize that these "rights" are imposing servitude on others. I have a right not to be an indentured servant.



It's not much fun at the top. I envy the common people, their hearty meals and Bruce Springsteen and voting. --SIGNOR SPAGHETTI
You're right-o (3.66 / 6) (#26)
by bob6 on Fri Aug 08, 2003 at 03:17:33 AM EST

but they don't realize that these "rights" are imposing servitude on others.
Just like property rights.

Cheers.
[ Parent ]
So tired of hearing this... (4.00 / 6) (#89)
by skyknight on Fri Aug 08, 2003 at 12:24:49 PM EST

Would you care to enlighten me how there would be a workable labor/reward feedback mechanism for improving property were there no property rights? Am I going to sink tens of thousands of dollars into a rental property to renovate it if I don't have the right to profit from it? When I vacate a house, must I abandon it instead of selling it? Were that the case, I'd have no motivation to leave the place in nice condition, and the place I'd move into would likewise be a shit hole. Please, do tell me your alternate vision for how things would work.



It's not much fun at the top. I envy the common people, their hearty meals and Bruce Springsteen and voting. --SIGNOR SPAGHETTI
[ Parent ]
Stupid (2.83 / 6) (#31)
by megid on Fri Aug 08, 2003 at 03:57:00 AM EST

You obviously never thought about concepts like social justice or compassion or what place you want the society where you live in to be. Look beyond your own little horizon and maybe you realize that you CAN care about the world around you.

Or just stick to your own selfish ego and your twisted perception of "freedom". Your choice.

--
"think first, write second, speak third."
[ Parent ]

planks and eyes (3.50 / 2) (#41)
by jjayson on Fri Aug 08, 2003 at 05:28:45 AM EST

The problem is that all these little distortions, like paying someone 80% of their salary for a year or two for paternity leave or making laws for minimum wages, add up.

So you make employment laws, but they create distortions that need to be fixed. So you make minimum wage laws, but they also ripple out and need fixes. So you give unions extra-legal powers, but they send out distortions so you make more laws, and the process just keeps going and going. When in the end all these distortions don't really help the little people, and they would have been better off without them.

Without these mandated paid paternativy leaves employment and wages would be higher. Of course this takes personal responsibilility to save up, but it makes it easier to do and more efficient. Without the safety net of the government mandate, people wouldn't be so complacent about giving to charities that help these people. If there wasn't a laws for it, a foundation might start up that helped men that couldn't afford it to take a paternity leave.

Distortion after distortion and at the end the little guy looks like he has a giant "HAHA" sign shoved up his ass courtesy of corporate and government interests.
--
"Fuck off, preferably with a bullet, if you can find one that's willing to defile itself by being in your head for a split second." - Parent ]

"Distortions" (4.33 / 3) (#44)
by megid on Fri Aug 08, 2003 at 05:42:37 AM EST

What you call distortions another one would call a push in the right direction. In the USian "everyone cares for himself" world the rich exploit the poor far easier than in a welfare state. Of course welfare states have bureaucracy problems, but whats your alternative? Relying on the goodwill of the rich to solve social problems?

Besides, be lucky to be such an immigrant nation, otherwise you had the same "no children" problem that we have. Because, if people cant afford a child, they simply dont get one.

I for one are quite happy to live in a welfare state where no one must starve, criminal activity is low, everyone gets medical care, and the only mafia is the Unions. At least our state (which is us, in a sense) cares back for us. If that means that I have to pay 50% on my income, so be it. I am still rich enough to live well.

--
"think first, write second, speak third."
[ Parent ]

baseless assertions (4.00 / 3) (#52)
by jjayson on Fri Aug 08, 2003 at 07:08:23 AM EST

You still fail to see the problem. Every time you try to fix something by distorting the problem you create a problem elsewhere. It's like pulling on a piece of carpet too small for a room; it just moves around never covering the floor and soon it tears.

What you call distortions another one would call a push in the right direction. In the USian "everyone cares for himself" world the rich exploit the poor far easier than in a welfare state
No proof at all. Yet we have proof that things like minimum wage lead to unemployment and that when the social net strengthens people give to charities less. They stop viewing helping their fellow man as their responsibility and start seeing it as the job of the state. It's the "out of sight, out of mind" kind of thing. If you can push it on somebody else's plate, then you don't need to worry about it anymore.

I for one are quite happy to live in a welfare state where no one must starve, criminal activity is low, everyone gets medical care, and the only mafia is the Unions. At least our state (which is us, in a sense) cares back for us. If that means that I have to pay 50% on my income, so be it. I am still rich enough to live well.
They are unsustainable though. Every medical care system in the EU and Canada is having severe problems with costs and rationing. Under already economically crushing retirement pensions, and as the smaller younger population needs to take care of the older larger population, these will fail too. The US has a similar problem with social security. Right now in the US there are 3 workers to support every one retiree. Soon there will be only be 2 workers. All other countries have similar problems. Nobody has a solution.

Also, America isn't a land of guaranteed equality of results. It is equality of opportunity. If you want to work 35 hours a week, get 6 weeks off a year, have no desire for social mobility, and want to sit on health care waiting lists for 18 months please go to the EU or Canada. The American Dream is predicated on the idea that you can work hard and create your  own forture. And it happens everday (you see in California over here, there are there are two bigname immigrants running for governov).

You won't be living well for long. Well, maybe you will get away with it, but your children won't.
--
"Fuck off, preferably with a bullet, if you can find one that's willing to defile itself by being in your head for a split second." - Parent ]

Ludicrous (none / 0) (#62)
by Richey on Fri Aug 08, 2003 at 08:41:29 AM EST

You still fail to see the problem. Every time you try to fix something by distorting the problem you create a problem elsewhere. It's like pulling on a piece of carpet too small for a room; it just moves around never covering the floor and soon it tears.

Argument by stupid analogy.

No proof at all. Yet we have proof that things like minimum wage lead to unemployment

Well let's see this proof then.

and that when the social net strengthens people give to charities less.

The social net is far preferable than charities in my opinion. When cash is distributed through charities, it is a) distributed according to the prejudices of the charity, b) the burden is borne by fewer members of society, c) the amount distributed is not very predictable.

They are unsustainable though. Every medical care system in the EU and Canada is having severe problems with costs and rationing.

Why do you think private health care should be cheaper? You still have to pay for it whether it is through tax or directly. And having it paid for by the state is more efficient.

[ Parent ]

Doctors are not becoming doctors (2.66 / 3) (#161)
by debacle on Sat Aug 09, 2003 at 09:28:22 AM EST

Because you socialist cunts think that they should take less and less money for something like open heart surgery, which means that you are in effect putting less and less worth into human lives.

I do not support medical insurance and do not like the idea of cheating doctors out of something that they deserve (And they DO). I don't go to the doctor's often, but when I do I pay in full and I don't dick around with copays. It's a way for the doctors to lose money, me to lose money, and the insurance companies to get rich.

Isn't that what you socialist people hate? Rich people?

It tastes sweet.
[ Parent ]

Nope. (5.00 / 4) (#178)
by pmc on Sat Aug 09, 2003 at 07:05:54 PM EST

Isn't that what you socialist people hate? Rich people?

No - they hate poor people.

[ Parent ]

teenzy little generalisation? (4.00 / 4) (#200)
by TomV on Sun Aug 10, 2003 at 04:52:52 AM EST

Because you socialist c*n*s think that they should ...

Way to go tarring 300 million people "socalist c*n*s" for the social welfare system we've chosen to develop over the last 60 years or so.
A different perspective might be that here in the UK, I consider the fact that we provide free-at-the-point-of-use healthcare to everyone who needs it, so that no-one has to suffer illness as a consequence of their economic position, to be one of the crowning achievements of our nation. It might just be something we're fiercely patriotic about. It might be something that a lot of us consider a hallmark of our status as 'civilised' people.

Similarly, we have a combination of minimum wages (varying by country) and the Working Hours Directive (you CAN work over 48 hours a week, but the employer cannot force you to) becasue in the end we beleive that everyone has the right to the basic dignity of work, and in an environment where the wages are driven ever downwards and the hours are driven ever upwards, there will inevitably be those who cannot find any sort ofwork to support themselves and their families. So we decided we'd share the available work a little more equitably. If you've ever been unemployed you'll know it not only wrecks your finances, it can also do a bunch of psychological and social harm too.

Free Markets are a wonderful theoretical mechanism for a world populated by "rational man" as the economists term him.

Rational Man doesn't exist. Have you ever played a game of chess? If two rational men played chess, they'd pick colours, then Black would instantly conced and both would go on to make more profitable use of the time they just saved. But Rational Man is a chimaera from a textbook and I've never met one and you've never met one and we never will.

TomV

[ Parent ]
Bah. You have free health care for everyone... (3.50 / 2) (#210)
by skyknight on Sun Aug 10, 2003 at 10:14:44 AM EST

and you get what you pay for. My paternal grandparents were/are English and came to live in America when I was about twelve years old. They have/had a very unique perspective and set of experiences because they lived on both sides of the Atlantic for extended periods of time.

While in England, my grandmother had a problem with one of her big toes, a hammer-toe or something to that effect. They fucking amputated it! Years later, while in America, she had the exact same problem with her other foot but they did corrective surgery that, I believe, involved breaking the toe and resetting it properly. It was a more sophisticated and expensive treatment, but the quality of life that was preserved for her was dramatic.

Yes, your bad health care is "free", but if you want to get proper care then you have to pay for it privately, and I'm pretty sure the government won't magnanimously reduce your liability for paying into the universal coverage system. It's a big scam, and everyone is a loser.



It's not much fun at the top. I envy the common people, their hearty meals and Bruce Springsteen and voting. --SIGNOR SPAGHETTI
[ Parent ]
Time gap between operations (none / 0) (#212)
by FeersumAsura on Sun Aug 10, 2003 at 11:42:41 AM EST

While in England, my grandmother had a problem with one of her big toes, a hammer-toe or something to that effect. They fucking amputated it! Years later, while in America, she had the exact same problem with her other foot but they did corrective surgery that, I believe, involved breaking the toe and resetting it properly. It was a more sophisticated and expensive treatment, but the quality of life that was preserved for her was dramatic. How long passed between the operations? Medical technology advances, the NHS is not there to provide the very best. It's there to provide an high level of health care at an afordable rate. You have the option of going private but we can't afford to give everyone the level of healthcare a moderately well off American can afford on their health insurance. Remember as a whole the quality of care averaged over the population is higher in Canada and the UK than in America. Private health care might be able to provide better services for some but not for everyone.
==
It didn't work the first time.
[ Parent ]
I think it an injustice... (none / 0) (#214)
by skyknight on Sun Aug 10, 2003 at 11:56:51 AM EST

that someone who would otherwise be able to afford proper care finds themselves unable to do so because they can't afford both the crushing tax burden and the cost of private health care as well. I realize, however, that I am in the minority opinion here.

I don't think that people have a "right" to a lot of things that they claim, such as a living wage, health care, or what have you. I think that people have a right to pursue things, but that whenever you give people guaranteed access to the actual things, you are imposing servitude on others with the corresponding obligation to provide.

I have a real problem with this. God forbid I should espouse this, though, as I'll be branded as "selfish", even though I'm fighting for the freedom of other people just as much as my own.



It's not much fun at the top. I envy the common people, their hearty meals and Bruce Springsteen and voting. --SIGNOR SPAGHETTI
[ Parent ]
Rights and stuff (none / 0) (#229)
by FeersumAsura on Sun Aug 10, 2003 at 03:22:00 PM EST

I don't think that people have a "right" to a lot of things that they claim, such as a living wage, health care, or what have you.

I'm inclined to agree with you on some of those points. Some people do feel that some things are a right when they are a luxury that a sufficiently developed social system can provide. I have doubts about cosmetic surgery being provided by the NHS. However I can't see anyway you could ever argue the right to deny people a living wage. If you ahve a convincing argument I'd love to hear it.

I think that people have a right to pursue things, but that whenever you give people guaranteed access to the actual things, you are imposing servitude on others with the corresponding obligation to provide.

I think this is one of those points wheer it is near impossible to argue over to your side. I believe that it's the governments duty to provide a safety net and ensure an acceptable standard of living, to accomplish this I believe the government has the right to force those capable to help their fellow citizens.

have a real problem with this. God forbid I should espouse this, though, as I'll be branded as "selfish", even though I'm fighting for the freedom of other people just as much as my own.

It's the I'm all right principle. Yes it's nice to be free to pursue happiness unencumbered by morals and ethics but what about all the others you trample underfoot to achieve your personal happiness?
==
It didn't work the first time.
[ Parent ]

Despite my better judgment, I'll reply... (none / 0) (#267)
by skyknight on Tue Aug 12, 2003 at 08:44:17 AM EST

However I can't see anyway you could ever argue the right to deny people a living wage. If you ahve a convincing argument I'd love to hear it.

You clearly haven't thought about this very much on anything other than an emotional level. If you had, you would at least realize that there are some powerful economic arguments against it, regardless of whether you care about them. The concept of a living wage is completely untenable if you take the time to think about the secondary effects.

First off, it's impossible to define a single "living wage" because the cost of living from state to state, or even from locale to locale within a state is huge. The difference between a "living wage" in the city versus a rural area would be phenomenal, and the difference in cost between various cities is similarly big. I'm in Boston now, and moving to Baltimore. I'm paying $750/month right now for one bedroom in a four bedroom shithole. I'm moving into a luxury one bedroom apartment of my own for $1100. On the other end of the scale, a two bedroom apartment in Manhattan can run you $4k.

Second, and this is the really cruel one, is that unthinking imposition of a living wage just creates an artificial floor on wages, with a short term effect and a long one. The former is that you cause rampant levels of unemployment. I was in Washington state a couple of years ago when they were thinking of implementing a living wage in my municipality. It was going to be $28k. That works out to about $14/hr for a full timer. Do you not think it's a bit absurd to be paying a burger flipper $14/hr?

Businesses' revenue streams don't grow on trees, and many have very narrow profit margins. Force them to double their employee's wages and they will fold like a cheap umbrella in a hurricane. Congratulations! Your obsession with a living wage resulted in nobody getting any wage at all! Maybe if you're lucky it will mean that businesses will merely slash their work forces, forcing individual workers to now do the work of two, since they are getting the pay of two. They will do lousy jobs because they are overburdened, and the other half will have to sit at home, collecting a government welfare check, being paid not to work and thus decimating the economy.

I believe the government has the right to force those capable to help their fellow citizens.

Hrm... Has the right? Last I checked the US government was supposed to be subservient to the people. Forcing economic sanctions on successful, contributing members of society is not something for which I can find basis in the Constitution, and guaranteed supply of living essentials is not one of the rights enumerated in the Bill of Rights. The US was founded on the principal of constitutional republicanism, not authoritarian socialism. Citizens have rights. Governments do not.

It's the I'm all right principle. Yes it's nice to be free to pursue happiness unencumbered by morals and ethics but what about all the others you trample underfoot to achieve your personal happiness?

Well, that's just the most unfortunate comment you could possibly have made. I thought we were having an intellectual debate, and you just went and declared that only your belief system has morals and ethics, and everyone else is just trying to trample others underfoot to achieve personal happiness. I call bull shit, utter and total bullshit. You think that because you are a socialist and I am not that you have a monopoly on morals and ethics? Give me a break! As you might gather from my above arguments, I am clearly worried that your high-minded but ill-conceived ideas will actually cause more harm than good.

I do in fact have morals and ethics, codes that are much more rigorous than most. I am honest, unhypocritical, and I refuse to initiate force to get what I want. As best I can, I base all interactions with other people on mutual voluntary consent. I do not expect other people to work solely to my benefit. I expect that all interactions between myself and other people must be mutually beneficial. My libertarian moral code is just as real as your wishy washy feel-good socialism, and a lot harder to actually live up to, but I have taken it on as my own personal responsibility, as should everyone else, and never gripe about how I'm entitled to anything from the government.



It's not much fun at the top. I envy the common people, their hearty meals and Bruce Springsteen and voting. --SIGNOR SPAGHETTI
[ Parent ]
I'm glad you did. (none / 0) (#273)
by FeersumAsura on Tue Aug 12, 2003 at 03:03:21 PM EST

I'm actually glad you did reply, it's much more interesting when both sides are presented.

The concept of a living wage is completely untenable if you take the time to think about the secondary effects. They've managed it in 9 our of 15 European states so I don't think it's completely unworkable. The main point is what a living wage is, I don't think that it's should be enough to provide luxuries but it should allow people to live comfortably.

First off, it's impossible to define a single "living wage" because the cost of living from state to state, or even from locale to locale within a state is huge.

I'm in complete agreement here, it is impossible to set a living wage over a huge area. In the US it would have to be done at state level.

I was in Washington state a couple of years ago when they were thinking of implementing a living wage in my municipality. It was going to be $28k. That works out to about $14/hr for a full timer. Do you not think it's a bit absurd to be paying a burger flipper $14/hr?

I don't know how much it costs to live in Washington State so I can't argue the figure. However, if $28K is only enough to live comfortably in a shared house or small apartment then I support it.

Businesses' revenue streams don't grow on trees, and many have very narrow profit margins. Force them to double their employee's wages and they will fold like a cheap umbrella in a hurricane.

When the minimum wage was introduced in the UK the small business federation warned of massive layoffs, they didn't happen. The businesses adjusted and the economy adjusted, people now earn enough to live on. For many this wage increase was from £3/h to £4.85/h, a significant increase.

you just went and declared that only your belief system has morals and ethics, and everyone else is just trying to trample others underfoot to achieve personal happiness

Yes I did. If it is moral to care about the lives and happiness of others at expense to you then I'm happy to make such sweeping statements. What protection under an unregulated free market system is there for those who can't compete in a cut throat system? Socialism in some ways recognises how selfish people are and uses governments to force them to be a little more altruistic. Okay, it was a very sweeping statement and it was meant to be directed more at free market capitalism where there is no safety net.

I am clearly worried that your high-minded but ill-conceived ideas will actually cause more harm than good.

Ahh, the free marketeer has a heart, there's hope for us all. Pure socialism, communism or any ism in a pure form is unlikely to work. I believe in realistic socialism, you still have private businesses etc. but with heavy government regulation, high taxes and well funded services.

I do in fact have morals and ethics, codes that are much more rigorous than most. I am honest, un hypocritical, and I refuse to initiate force to get what I want.

These are the best traits to have but they are not exclusively libertarian, you as an individual has morals, ethics and a sense of decency but the political system doesn't. A libertarian country run by people like you would probably work, if you really are that nice. Most people aren't like that and I think that many people wouldn't be able to cope.

My libertarian moral code is just as real as your wishy washy feel-good socialism, and a lot harder to actually live up to

I'm sure it is, I'd hate to live in a society that can live with no safety net, that's partially why I'm a socialist. It's also because I believe in the fundamental ideals such as nationalised industry, co-ops, unions. I dislike the idea of private schools and would quite happily see them taken over by the government. Although that's for other reasons, but I do support the right to private healthcare. As I said I don't like pure forms of political systems.

and never gripe about how I'm entitled to anything from the government.

Why don't you feel entitled to anything from the government? They're there for you benefit, if they get to make laws then surely they should support you and help you when you need it?
==
It didn't work the first time.
[ Parent ]

Depends on the goal (4.00 / 1) (#81)
by megid on Fri Aug 08, 2003 at 11:31:34 AM EST

When you want maximum efficency of a society without factors such as happiness, you are of course right. When the market is free, everything is sold -- everyone works. Heck, *I* could find someone to work 1$ per hour for me, if the market is bad enough.

But that is not what humans want. In a free world, the rich families get richer because they have the power and the generation-long expertise to hold the poor down; and they certainly dont care that a lot of talent is wasted because those poor slobs couldnt get any real (expensive) education. We had that system thousands of years, it wasnt too good IMO.

When you want a happy society, better stick to governmental welfare, because charities are unreliable. I certainly wouldnt want to depend on charities. With the certainty that I would survive no matter what in Germany, I can dare to make my way whatever I want -- philosopher, artist, revolutionary business ideas -- if I crash, I still wont starve. Now I like CS so I am never out of job, but I think of the countless others that are not as lucky as I am.

In the US you only have still artists because you train everyone growing up with the idea of "everything is possible for you" -- if they fail, they fail direly.

And on the main point, a welfare state is NOT unsustainable (unless you have PROOF of your assumption, which I havent seen so far). It is a difficult endeavor, true. But not impossible. I find 50% of my income and the current welfare state in Germany overblown, too. But food, shelter, basic healthcare and access to books/internet is a human right for me. Success, big piles of money, attention, honor and glory is what drives me to work hard -- not the fear that I *must* work to survive.

What you wanted to say to me about "equality of opportunity/results", I cant guess. As a non-idiot, this is a no-brainer to me. It adds nothing to your argument, so: Huh?

Q from Startrek - Nextgen arguments against Capitain Picard by beginning "On the contrary, mon capitain" -- a quote that many find quite funny.

--
"think first, write second, speak third."
[ Parent ]

I don't believe that is true... (3.50 / 2) (#61)
by StormShadow on Fri Aug 08, 2003 at 08:38:55 AM EST

Because, if people cant afford a child, they simply dont get one.

Well, I actually mean I don't believe that is the cause of the very low or even negative birth rate that the EU is suffering from. The news stories I've read seemed to suggest that European women didn't want to have children because having children lowered their lifestyle -- spend money on children and have less for yourself. It has nothing to do with not being able to afford a child -- that is, unless you see that 50% tax rate you are so fond of as an impediment to being able to afford having children.

At the rate that Europe is losing people, they'll be unable to sustain that welfare state you are so proud of. Japan too is facing a looming population crises since their birthrate is also very low. The United States has been protected from population shrinkage due to high immigration rates.


-----------------
oderint dum metuant - Cicero
We aren't killing enough of our [America's] enemies. Re-elect Bush in 2004 - Me
12/2003: This account is now closed. Password scrambled. Its been a pleasure.


[ Parent ]
Basically, you are of my opinion (none / 0) (#77)
by megid on Fri Aug 08, 2003 at 11:15:17 AM EST

By "afford" I do not mean "have a child and starve", but "have a child and lead a life that you dont want". Of course whoever wants children badly still gets some. But ever more people do not want.

IMO this is a disease of consum society. In the former eastblock (hardly technologically inferior, they still produce the best lowcode hackers and theoretical mathematicans), it was different until The Money System took control there too.

So I guess we are of same opinion.

--
"think first, write second, speak third."
[ Parent ]

Stupid (3.40 / 5) (#86)
by skyknight on Fri Aug 08, 2003 at 12:15:33 PM EST

You have obviously never thought about concepts like social justice or compassion outside of your own narrow and woefully limited purview. Look beyond your own little horizon and maybe you will realize that government parasitism actually makes things worse, and that other people do in fact care about the system, but have a different idea of what the problems are.

What about the guy who puts in a full week's work but can't make ends meet because half his paycheck is bled off by taxes? What about his family that disintegrates because he and his wife both have to work insane hours to pay the tax man without forfeiting the purchase of shoes for their kids? The children don't receive proper parenting, and a vicious cycle ensues. As income taxes have risen, so to has the family unit decayed. Thank you, perverse social justice.

What about the guy who exercises regularly, doesn't smoke, drinks in moderation, and eats right? In a national health care system, he pays just as much into the system as the guy who loafs on the couch, smokes like a chimney, drinks like a fish, and thinks that the four basic food groups are junk, fast, canned and frozen. His reward for diligence and discipline is to subsidize the poor choices of others. Thank you, perverse social justice.

What about the guy who is industrious and pulls down a good wage, but can't save money for a rainy day because the tax man's cut is so big? When he loses his job he is forced to supplicate to the government just like any other beggar. Had the tax bite not been so oppressive he could taken care of himself by tapping his savings, leaving his dignity intact. There is perhaps nothing more demoralizing than being jobless and forced to take a government "handout", even if you have more than paid for it with your crushing taxes. Thank you, perverse social justice.

Thanks, but no thanks. This sounds like injustice to me.



It's not much fun at the top. I envy the common people, their hearty meals and Bruce Springsteen and voting. --SIGNOR SPAGHETTI
[ Parent ]
income tax vs family strength (4.25 / 4) (#103)
by speek on Fri Aug 08, 2003 at 04:25:45 PM EST

As income taxes have risen, so to has the family unit decayed.

Yes, we should definitely return to the tax rates of the 50's, when families were strong. Let's see:

1950
lowest tax bracket: 17.4%
highest tax bracket: 84.36% (not a typo!)

1955-60
lowest:20%
highest:91%

1965
lowest:14%
highest:70%

2000
lowest:15%
highest:39.6

And please note, I'm not skipping the 70's and 80's because they show something dramatically different. Throughput most of the 80's the top tax bracket was 50%. For a total of 6 years, 87-92, the top tax bracket was below 39%. You have to go back to 1931 to see another time when the top tax bracket was lower.

So, not only do I not see a trend toward "rising income taxes", I don't see a correlation of tax rate with family strength in the US.

I'll leave it to the reader to verify my tax numbers - the exercise will do you good.

--
al queda is kicking themsleves for not knowing about the levees
[ Parent ]

Of course (none / 0) (#108)
by Grognard on Fri Aug 08, 2003 at 04:54:31 PM EST

a 4 digit income in the 50's would suffice for an entire family.

While the rates for the upper brackets have come down, inflation has pushed the numbers to reach those brackets have stayed relatively static - in other words, inflation has pushed most into much higher brackets without a corresponding increase in real wealth.


[ Parent ]

Why your numbers are meaningless... (4.00 / 1) (#114)
by skyknight on Fri Aug 08, 2003 at 05:33:11 PM EST

Let's look at some successive data sets, and you tell me whether you think that just looking at the highest and lowest points in from set to set are indicative of a decreasing trend.

(17.4 20 21 22 23 84.36)

(20 25 26 27 28 29 91)

(14 30 31 32 33 34 70)

(15 35 36 37 38 39.6)

Now, I just randomly made up these numbers. They have no basis in reality. They do, however, illustrate that your reasoning is entirely specious. Just looking at the minimum and maximum of a data set is completely meaningless, more so than looking at an average. You shouldn't need a statistics course to know that.

Worse still, it's these middle numbers that are the most important for this discussion. It's not the poor that matter. They are in a bad way regardless. It's not the rich that matter. They aren't going to struggle to get by if taxes get hiked. It's the family structure of middle class wage earners that gets hosed when taxes get hiked because they are already teetering on the brink of fiscal insolvency. When taxes erode their effective pay enough, they are forced to have both parents in the family work, to the detriment of the children.

Try again.



It's not much fun at the top. I envy the common people, their hearty meals and Bruce Springsteen and voting. --SIGNOR SPAGHETTI
[ Parent ]
true (none / 0) (#119)
by speek on Fri Aug 08, 2003 at 06:06:57 PM EST

But it would be interesting to look at all the real numbers. Even better, how about tax revenues as a percent of GDP?

Tax revenue as percentage of GDP has barely risen since the 50's. In the 50's, it generally ranged from 7-8% of GDP from individual income tax. In the 90's, it ranged from 7-9% of GDP from individual income taxes. And the same in all the years in between. Now, corporate taxes, on the other hand, have gone down, from 3-6% in the 50's, to 1-2% in the 90's.

I'm still not seeing either a rise in income tax, nor it's causative effect on families.

--
al queda is kicking themsleves for not knowing about the levees
[ Parent ]

And now you're falling into the other trap... (4.00 / 3) (#150)
by skyknight on Sat Aug 09, 2003 at 02:28:28 AM EST

By citing averages, and better still, ones that support my arguments, you have just dug your grave.

Tax revenue as percentage of GDP has barely risen since the 50's.

OK. Backing up in this comment thread, you also previously asserted...

1950
lowest tax bracket: 17.4%
highest tax bracket: 84.36% (not a typo!)

2000
lowest:15%
highest:39.6

Can you see the death blow coming? Here it is. You have stated both that tax revenues as a percentage of GDP have largely remained constant for the past 50 years, and that the top tax bracket's tax rate has dropped precipitously. The only way that both of these facts can be true is if the middle class has gotten squeezed horribly. To make things worse still, since the higher tax bracket people are making more money, then every percentage point their rate drops, the people in the middle have to have their rate go up several percentage points.

Thus in the past few decades, middle class tax payers would seem to have had to shoulder a much larger tax burden. As most middle class people are already living on the edge financially, many have likely been driven into situations where both parents work, so as to make the numbers work.

Checkmate.



It's not much fun at the top. I envy the common people, their hearty meals and Bruce Springsteen and voting. --SIGNOR SPAGHETTI
[ Parent ]
not bad (5.00 / 2) (#163)
by speek on Sat Aug 09, 2003 at 10:15:28 AM EST

Now all you must do, is explain one more statistic:

  • During the 1980s, the highest income tax rate was reduced from 70 percent to 28 percent.
  • As a result, the share of income taxes paid by the top 1 percent of income earners grew from 18 percent in 1981 to 27 percent in 1989.

    This one's tricky though, since it suggests that reducing the tax on the top 1 percent of income earners actually caused them to pay more, but it could be that they just earned a lot more too, and thus paid more in absolute terms and less percentage-wise. Which suggests that the middle class simply didn't have much money to begin with in 1989 compared to 1981, and hence their overall share of taxes fell, though they could have paid a higher percentage of their shrinking income. What would be your explanation?

    --
    al queda is kicking themsleves for not knowing about the levees
    [ Parent ]

  • OK, let's see what I can do... (4.00 / 2) (#206)
    by skyknight on Sun Aug 10, 2003 at 09:39:49 AM EST

    One could argue many things, though admittedly it would involve a fair amount of speculation.

    One avenue of explanation would be that, to some extent, trickle down economics worked. Leaving a larger percentage of income in the hands of its rightful owners spurred investment in businesses that generated revenue for their owners, and thus substantially increased the total taxable income, sufficiently so as to counter the effect of paying a smaller percentage. The issue that I have with any argument about trickle down economics, or for that matter any economic plan, is that typically plans are not allowed to run their course for a sufficiently long time to allow their true effects to manifest. A few years just isn't enough time to draw statistically sound conclusions.

    Another possibility is that while the rate of taxation may have dropped, there was an increase in what was considered taxable income. For example... I forget the name of the law/act/whatever, but right around the time of the Black Monday of 1987, legislation pushed its way through that exposed to taxation a great deal of income that was formerly sheltered in real estate. This and similar such laws could have greatly increased the amount of taxable income in the higher tax brackets, further offsetting the reduced tax rate.

    Yet another possibility is inflation. In 1971 the US went off of the gold standard, and in the ensuing decades there has been substantial inflation. For rich people who have investments in businesses and stock, their revenue stream is fairly well shielded from the effects of inflation. When the value of currency inflates, their stock prices jump with it, and their businesses increase their revenue (the actual number of dollars coming in, not necessarily the profitability). People who are on a salary, however, are at the mercy of their employers to raise their pay in response to the vagaries of inflation. If the response is inadequate, their effective wages will erode. As their effective wages erode, so to does their fraction of the nation's tax burden. Of course, they are getting even more screwed over than usual, just not by the government in this particular case (unless you count going off the gold standard as screwing people over, which you may well).



    It's not much fun at the top. I envy the common people, their hearty meals and Bruce Springsteen and voting. --SIGNOR SPAGHETTI
    [ Parent ]
    more numbers (5.00 / 4) (#117)
    by jjayson on Fri Aug 08, 2003 at 05:54:21 PM EST

    When Atlanta Braves win NL pennants since 1900, the economy starts rising: 1914, 1948, 1957, 1958, 1991, 1992, 1995, 1996, 1999. When they win World Series, get ready for an amazing economy: 1914, 1957, 1995.

    Maybe we should rig it so ATL wins every year.
    --
    "Fuck off, preferably with a bullet, if you can find one that's willing to defile itself by being in your head for a split second." - Parent ]

    A few short answers (4.50 / 4) (#177)
    by Anonymous 242 on Sat Aug 09, 2003 at 05:28:51 PM EST

    What about the guy who puts in a full week's work but can't make ends meet because half his paycheck is bled off by taxes?
    He would be really pulling in the bucks to hit a 50% tax bracket. If he can't make ends meet more than fifty grand per year, he needs to learn how to budget.
    What about the guy who exercises regularly, doesn't smoke, drinks in moderation, and eats right?
    And is still subject to a large number of diseases that cannot be controlled for such as ALS. He gets the same care as anyone else.
    What about the guy who is industrious and pulls down a good wage, but can't save money for a rainy day because the tax man's cut is so big?
    He should get with the first man to pool their money to go to financial counseling.

    [ Parent ]
    Not quite true... (none / 0) (#208)
    by skyknight on Sun Aug 10, 2003 at 09:51:15 AM EST

    Depending on where you live, fifty grand can be a pittance or a king's ransom. On that kind of a salary, living in a rural area in the Midwest it would afford you a mansion, while living in Manhattan you would get to share a three bedroom apartment with two other people and just barely make ends meet. This is compounded further by the fact that the guy who got the house in the former case gets to deduct his mortgage interest from his taxes, while the guy crammed into the tiny apartment gets fully hosed by the government.

    Unfortunately, our current system of taxation does very little to take into account your cost of living. Your federal tax burden is completely independent of where you live. You pay the same rate regardless. With state tax you get some variance, but even still, the difference in cost of living between some rural area in NY and downtown Manhattan is huge. There is even a municipal tax there!

    I work in Boston, and have a friend who works in Manhattan. He grosses $15k more than I do, but my effective pay is way higher than his. Comparing salaries is a completely meaningless exercise unless you take into account all kinds of variables. Depending on where you live, you could very easily fall into the 50% tax bracket and still struggle to make ends meet.

    I feel like this makes a good argument for the abolition of an income tax, and shifting over to using exclusively a sales tax. No system of taxation is perfect, but at least then you'd do away with this system that is totally blind to some very important factors.



    It's not much fun at the top. I envy the common people, their hearty meals and Bruce Springsteen and voting. --SIGNOR SPAGHETTI
    [ Parent ]
    You forget the matter of choice (4.00 / 1) (#215)
    by Anonymous 242 on Sun Aug 10, 2003 at 12:17:08 PM EST

    Unlike some countries, in the US we have freedom of mobility. If people want to live in NYC, they are free to choose to do that no matter how expensive it is. But using the choices of those people to decided a general tax policy is idiocy.

    Aside from that, tell me how much money one has to make to fall into the 50% tax bracket and then tell me if there isn't enough to live on quite well even in NYC.

    [ Parent ]

    You are right, but only to a certain extent... (none / 0) (#232)
    by skyknight on Sun Aug 10, 2003 at 04:55:49 PM EST

    It varies greatly from field to field. Some professions allow you to seek work just about anywhere. Others severely limit your choices to just a handful of places. The tech field is a perfect example of this. The places with the highest concentration of jobs are some of the most expensive places to live in the country: Boston, San Francisco, NYC...

    Yes, you can live elsewhere, but there is a high cost to that too. If you are living outside of the city in the suburbs, you will consume substantial time and money commuting. If you live in an area where there is a low density of tech jobs, then you may very well be forced to relocate if you lose your present job. In some cases, you just can't escape a high cost of living. You might be able to hide the costs, but they are still there.

    As for your obsession with 50%, I think that's my fault for dropping a red herring into this debate. We could very easily have picked 30%, and there'd be plenty of families for whom that value pushed them over the edge into a situation of needing to have a two income family.



    It's not much fun at the top. I envy the common people, their hearty meals and Bruce Springsteen and voting. --SIGNOR SPAGHETTI
    [ Parent ]
    Your new topic is a red herring (none / 0) (#234)
    by Anonymous 242 on Sun Aug 10, 2003 at 05:11:57 PM EST

    I'm glad that you conceded my point, sort of. I find it odd that when I simply parrot your number (50%) back to you, I have an "obsession with 50%."

    Your point about job concentration is irrelevent. If your point was about concentration of open positions in a certain field, I'd be in agreement with you. That high expense areas such as silicon valley have high concentrations of tech jobs is irrelevent when other areas have large numbers of open positions in the same industry. That people are not willing to relocate from NYC or San Jose to Madison, WI or rural Nebraska in order to raise their income relative to their expenses tells us nothing. Now if the entire country were in something akin to the great depression where there were no jobs to be found elsewhere, you might have a point.

    We could very easily have picked 30%, and there'd be plenty of families for whom that value pushed them over the edge into a situation of needing to have a two income family.
    We could also have very easily picked families that have a reverse income tax (through the earned income credit or similar device) because they make so little and see them pushed over the edge into a situation where they need to have two incomes.

    The fact of the matter, is that income tax rates are currently so low in the US, that a given family is seldomly overly-burdened by them. You have to seek out to anamolous situations (such as cities like NYC where the cost of living is astronomical in comparisson to the rest of the country) where the income tax burden is prohibitively burdonsome. And in most (not all) of those situations, there exists ways in which those who are impacted can find relief.

    [ Parent ]

    Speaking of Red Herrings (none / 0) (#258)
    by Argel on Mon Aug 11, 2003 at 06:49:23 PM EST

    A lot of companies are refusing to hire people who have to move to take the job right now.

    [ Parent ]
    Height of silliness (none / 0) (#272)
    by ckaminski on Tue Aug 12, 2003 at 03:03:20 PM EST

    I wouldn't consider using the expense/income ration of the Manhattan/NYC citizens to decide general tax policy silly, since those citizens represent 1/30th of the country.  Similar to California, since they represent ?1/8th? of the country's citizens.

    Not saying it's a good idea, it's just not silly.

    [ Parent ]

    Ra, ra! (3.83 / 6) (#50)
    by HermanMcGuigan on Fri Aug 08, 2003 at 06:57:24 AM EST

    Cut government dictation out of these things and let the free market decide.

    Absolutely. What could be better than a world of unbridled capitalism?

    It's a crock of shit that a single person should have to pay taxes to fund someone else taking six months of paternity leave.

    Indeed. What's even more disturbing is that some American workers want more than $1.50 an hour. If you really support the free market philosophy, surely you can see the benefit American companies out-sourcing to South-East Asian sweatshops and Indian and African development houses?

    If you think a truly free market will lead to anything but an increase in these things, it seems you aren't really in tune with the reality of globalization and the so-called "Free" market. Whose freedom will a free market ensure? The common man? Or the multinational corporations?



    [ Parent ]
    Contract Work (4.66 / 9) (#5)
    by wiremind on Thu Aug 07, 2003 at 08:29:16 PM EST

    The best(and worst) thing about doing Contract work is the time off.

    You decide exactly how much time you take off per month, or per year.

    For example, I give myself 2 weeks vacation at christmas, and I take 3, 9 day holidays throughout the rest of the year.
    Of course, that doesnt include all the little weekend getaways that go from friday night till sunday night.

    The only thing that limits your vacation time is how long you can afford to go without working.

    //read beyond this point for geeky math stuff

    How much time i spend working:

    1. I never work weekends as a rule, cuz once you start something, its hard to stop.
    2. I do work most holidays, so i will not remove them from the equation.
    In a 52 week year I have 260 weekdays I could work.
    I take 3, 1 week holidays = 15 missed work days
    and one 2 week holiday = 10 missed work days
     260 - 25 = 235 days
     235/365 = 64%

    So in 1 year, i work 64% of the time.

    Now how much time i actually spend on vacation:
     2 weeks christmas = 16 days
     3, 1 week vacations = (9days*3) = 27 days

     43/365 = 11%

    So in 1 year, I am 'on vacation' at LEAST  11% of the year.

    <Begins ranting>
    This is for all those people who 'save up vacation time' and wait a year or 2 to go on a vacation they could afford to go on now.

    I am quite suprised by how little people go on vacation, think about it people;

    "Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness"
    NOT
    "Life, liberty, and the pursuit of long hours"

    Whats the point of working hard, if it doesnt somehow bring you joy (short term, or long term)?

    Working is a means to an end.
    Working helps me afford to do the things I want to do.
    If work made it not possible for me to do those fun things( cut my vacation time ) then obviously i'm doing something wrong.

    Like my parents, they live 2000 miles away from me.
    I suggested that for christmas we should all meet in mexico.
    Know what my mom told me, " Both your dad and I dont have enough vacation time saved up, maybe next year. "
    WTF!!!!
    Like, why would you work if you cant even enjoy life.

    This is your life people, there are only 2 guarentee's taxes, and death.

    Do you want to die wishing you had gone on that vaction, seen that landmark, visited those friends on the coast.

    You have to live for today, cuz thats all anyone gets.

    Kyle

    Saving Vacation Days (4.00 / 1) (#18)
    by Urthpaw on Thu Aug 07, 2003 at 11:45:54 PM EST

    If you plan to spend several thousand dollars to go on vacation somewhere, and you have the money on hand, delaying your vacation by a couple years will earn you quite a lot in interest.

    [ Parent ]
    that is true.... (5.00 / 1) (#80)
    by wiremind on Fri Aug 08, 2003 at 11:25:51 AM EST

    but whats the point of having that money if you cant enjoy it.

    I know, with all that money you've saved up in 2 years or waiting, your vacation will be that much funner.

    Meanwhile, I will have gone on 6 vacations; I will have seen mexico once, my parents in PA twice, my very good friend in AZ twice, and las vegas once.

    now which would you prefer? I would prefer the 6 vacations. and thats basicly all i was trying to say.
    Kyle
    [ Parent ]

    Hey, could you please explain (4.00 / 1) (#36)
    by la princesa on Fri Aug 08, 2003 at 04:15:10 AM EST

    how everyone in America can become a contract worker charging a minimum rate over 10 dollars an hour, thus allowing them the luxury of taking vacations whenever they please during the year?  I often this spiel from techie types who get 20 or 40 or 80 an hour for their time, who cheerily assume that if everyone would just contract themselves out 1099 style, higher wages all round would magically appear.  It's nearly as delusional as the idea that a mandatory 'living wage' of 12 dollars an hour will make everything fine for the bulk of Americans.    

    ___
    <qpt> Disprove people? <qpt> What happens when you disprove them? Do they disappear in a flash of logic?
    [ Parent ]
    strange calculations (4.75 / 4) (#39)
    by jjayson on Fri Aug 08, 2003 at 05:19:39 AM EST

    Contractors can get paid more in gross income because the hiring company doesn't need to pay most of payroll taxes on them or insurance or other benefits. It is basically the same outbound cash for a company, but the contractor now has extra expenses (not really a raise).

    If the company needs to pay out more for a the same work, of course not everybody can get that sweet deal. More likely some get shafted and paid less, the company raises its prices, and employment goes down.

    --
    "Fuck off, preferably with a bullet, if you can find one that's willing to defile itself by being in your head for a split second." - Parent ]

    Oh, I know why contractors get more per hour. (none / 0) (#152)
    by la princesa on Sat Aug 09, 2003 at 02:37:06 AM EST

    I just question the likelihood of it as a solution in America until health care and other benefits are more dissociated from 'full-time' jobs.  I put full-time in quotes because an increasing number of people are stuck in permatemp country working for an agency and getting abysmal benefits without even the chance for severance packages that non-temp employees can get.  But they consider it full-time since the assignments are of unknown long-term length (several months or years, generally) and they get paid somewhat more than the actual full-timers.  In fact, the influence the agencies exert would likely make it harder for people in that semiperm situation (the bulk of most contract-type labor in america) to get into the milk and honey sweetness of 1099 income, since a lot of employers won't go 1099.  

    ___
    <qpt> Disprove people? <qpt> What happens when you disprove them? Do they disappear in a flash of logic?
    [ Parent ]
    Ha ha, you think i make good money! (4.25 / 4) (#79)
    by wiremind on Fri Aug 08, 2003 at 11:20:29 AM EST

    I do not make large amounts of money, i just cut expenses.
    Expenses:
    -1 computer
    -1 dsl/telephone bill.
    -1 rent check per month.

    Savings:
    -No sattalite/cable tv, heck no tv.
    -No cell phone.
    -No long distance telephone calls (vo-ip only)
    -No car, or car insurance.
    -no magazine subscriptions.
    -no health club membership. ( no tv causes me to play outside alot :)

    -I get all my books from library (free).
    -I listen to almost all my music in online radio format.

    -And i try very hard to not eat fast food. (make all the food I eat)

    This way, I am saving hundreds of dollars a month.
    And that is how I afford vacations. So often.
    Kyle
    [ Parent ]

    But what about non-computer work? (none / 0) (#151)
    by la princesa on Sat Aug 09, 2003 at 02:28:36 AM EST

    Not everything is as disproportionately compensated as computer work, nor so easily convertable into contractor form.  How are the (relatively) unskilled supposed to be able to get away with what you in your computer-oriented uniqueness can get away with work-wise?  

    ___
    <qpt> Disprove people? <qpt> What happens when you disprove them? Do they disappear in a flash of logic?
    [ Parent ]
    value of money... (5.00 / 2) (#6)
    by pakje on Thu Aug 07, 2003 at 08:56:12 PM EST

    I think you should work as much as you think it's worth to you, how much you like to work or how much you like the money. I personally don't care much about money right now. being free on friday, saturday and sunday to spend time on my hobbies and bike and walk a lot is perfect for me. I don't need an expensive house, widescreen TV, or a new car. But I'm not sure if it will be like this forever. Oh, and there is another thing, maybe you can add it, the time that people stop working. The ambulance service in my country(netherlands) are on strike(partially) now, they want to stop at the age of 55 instead of 59.

    huh? (4.05 / 19) (#7)
    by jjayson on Thu Aug 07, 2003 at 09:02:57 PM EST

    However, it seems that Europeans work more efficiently.
    By almost all accounts, European companies would kill for American-style worker productivity. Besides working longer, the American worker is also more productive with the time he does work. EU Labor unions have a very tight grip on the labor markets. The unions tend to block labor-saving technology with the line that it will cost jobs. This leaves less incentive to create capital building technologies if unions will just block it. The flexibility of the American labor pool is one of the top reasons many EU-based companies site for their inabilility to compete with American companies. Companies like Nokia may have grown, but the top execs attribute this to their regional operations (read: they grow in non-EU areas enough to make up for the slow in-EU growth).

    Unions in the EU has so much power than 7% unemployment is accepted because of artificial labor pricing. In the US when we rise slighly above 6% the country freaks. Funny how unions don't actually help. They, along with minimum wage laws, just seem to increase unemployment and expenses to businesses translating into higher real consumer prices. The NBER, the economic cycle people, did a study on minimum wage laws, looking at people in the gap in both American and Europe. They found that for every 1% rise in the minimum wage, those between the old wage and the new age were priced out of a job to the tune of a 1.4% reduction in employment.

    Some poeple have been so put off by American productivity that they have suggested that leasure time should somehow be incorporated into some new-fangled pseudo-GDP measure. Coincidentally, these people live in places like France and Germany where econonmic growth is nothing but a far off fairy tale. The OECD reported that in the euro zone there was 0.1% growth last year and this year is only predicted at 0.3%. Compare this to American's 2002 3% GDP growth with predictions around 5%.

    Just as Europeans are taking too many vacations and too much time off most Americans are, or are being forced to, take too little time off.
    These figures of working 60-hour weeks in a single job are based on white-collar workers. These are people who, upon signing with a comapany, really can negotiate more vacation time. Even in this tight labor market, personal time off is something that almost all companies are willing to come to an agreement with. Do you know of a single study, or even person, that suggests that people who ask for more time off in their contracts are not hired because of it? I know of nobody "forced" to not take a vacation in three years. It is often personal choice (and remember what poeple say they want isn't always what they really want, actions are louder than complaints).

    I have a better explanation, instead of trying to blame everything on corporations. People in American have much to gain by working hard, so they do. People like things and will work to get those things.

    Holding up the German model isn't too good either. Once thought to be the next economic powerhouse, OECD says they had 0.1% GDP growth last year, they have a 10-1/2% unemployment rate. Exactly what would you like to copy? A few people get the time to go on vacation while we double the unemployment rate?

    Unions don't seem to work. They are often just as corrupt as any corporation. Do you have better ideas?

    The long held myth that people in the US don't get out and see other areas while the Europeans do it in droves gets tiring. In Europe you have all these countries packed in like sardines in that over-grown Asian peninusula. In America we may not go to other countries, because we have states larger than most European countries.
    --
    "Fuck off, preferably with a bullet, if you can find one that's willing to defile itself by being in your head for a split second." -

    Just seeing the US isn't really widening horizons (3.50 / 8) (#9)
    by boxed on Thu Aug 07, 2003 at 09:14:02 PM EST

    "I was in canada once, they've got their own dollars there, do you have that in Sweden too?" as a USian once said to my dad. USians are notoriosly ignorant of different cultures and religions. Why? Because they never leave their small corner of the world. You may think that going to a different country is no big deal if it's very close, but in Europe you're often crossing lingual barriers and you're definetely meeting a significantly different culture. Going between US states is insignificant in terms of cultural difference.

    [ Parent ]
    Generally (5.00 / 2) (#11)
    by KilljoyAZ on Thu Aug 07, 2003 at 10:01:54 PM EST

    the further you have to travel, the more expensive it is. Our small corner of the world isn't that small, and places not named Canada or Mexico are pretty costly to travel to.

    Also, I wouldn't travel to Alabama and tell a local there's an insignificant cultural difference between him and your typical New Yorker or *gasp* Californian.

    ===
    Creativitiy cannot be SPELT by over 98% of all American troops. - psychologist
    [ Parent ]

    Not to mention... (5.00 / 1) (#63)
    by shigelojoe on Fri Aug 08, 2003 at 08:48:16 AM EST

    ...the fact that the further you have to travel, the more likely you're going to run across natives who regale you with stories about the ignorant Americans who came in on the plane/train/boat before yours wearing hawaiian shirts and sandals with socks and saying "Golly gee! The crazy-talking people here don't use dollars like we do! How odd!".

    Who needs that stress? I want a vacation, not a cultural intervention.

    [ Parent ]

    Sheesh! (4.33 / 3) (#133)
    by epepke on Fri Aug 08, 2003 at 10:29:13 PM EST

    "I was in canada once, they've got their own dollars there, do you have that in Sweden too?" as a USian once said to my dad. USians are notoriosly ignorant of different cultures and religions. Why? Because they never leave their small corner of the world.

    OK, so I guess your father was Swedish. I don't know where you reside. But don't you think carrying around a multigenerational family story about something that someone once said to your father, probably years or decades ago, ready to whip it out as an example of how ignorant people from the U.S. are is just a teensy bit suboptimal way of enticing Americans to come visit Europe? "Visit Sweden, so that we can jeer at you for free!"


    The truth may be out there, but lies are inside your head.--Terry Pratchett


    [ Parent ]
    good point (4.00 / 3) (#146)
    by jjayson on Sat Aug 09, 2003 at 12:15:32 AM EST

    I know at least a couple people that could travel to Europe, but would rather go to Hawaii or Mexico. They have this view that Europeans don't like Americans and they would be treated poorly. They sort of discount the idea of crossing the Atlantic since they would rather not deal with that stuff.

    I have no idea if it is true or not, but given what you read on the Web, it seems to be a valid concern.
    --
    "Fuck off, preferably with a bullet, if you can find one that's willing to defile itself by being in your head for a split second." - Parent ]

    two years ago [nt] (5.00 / 1) (#155)
    by boxed on Sat Aug 09, 2003 at 06:22:26 AM EST



    [ Parent ]
    I thought... (5.00 / 1) (#13)
    by SocratesGhost on Thu Aug 07, 2003 at 10:49:02 PM EST

    that raising the minimum wage tended to increase employment. I'm recalling from my macro economics class here that I didn't do so hot in, but it goes something like this:

    You could work, receive no state benefits and live below the poverty line. Or you could stay at home, live off the fat of the country, and live below the poverty line. Given the choice, people tended to stay at home. Raising the minimum wage was less of an incentive to decrease the workforce (which it did cause) but it was an encouragement for eligible workers to get jobs. So long as the number of workers increases at a rate greater than the workforce reduction, this was considered "a good thing."

    There's a point at which what you said is true, that it does cost more jobs than the number of people who want to be employed, of course.

    I always thought this was kind of weird reasoning, but I was just trying to get a passing grade so didn't really care too much to question it (economics has always been a black art to me). But I'd be interested in seeing this information if you have a link to it.

    -Soc
    I drank what?


    [ Parent ]
    Not that I have ever heard (4.50 / 4) (#17)
    by jjayson on Thu Aug 07, 2003 at 11:36:23 PM EST

    Contorted logic that some use does not replace empiracle evidence. Price controls have historically caused shortages, and price subsidies have historically caused surpluses.

    Your explanation just looks at a single variable, the labor supply. However, labor demand, the other side of the equation, decreses as it becomes more expensive. In aggregate, there will be fewer positions offered at that higher wage, and those hurt are the positions sitting between the old minimum wage and the new higher wage (basically, those hurt are the ones it is trying to help).

    If there was a surplus of jobs, then your scenario might be true. However, people are don't refrain from working because there are openings but they don't get paid enough. If there were openings, it would show excess demand in the labor market and wages would rise (just look at the tech boom when programmers became scarce in relation to capital and wages rose to 6-digits, the same happend to transportation people during Kennedy -- I think Kennedy, my history before Carter is a little fuzzy). When people don't work it is because there aren't any positions. And raising the mimimum wage just makes that problem worse. At least that is what the NBER cross-country data shows.

    The reason why people think the minimum wage works is that it is easier to see somebody making that extra 50 cents an hour and the unemployment can easily be scapegoated on other policies. However, the NBER study, I think, does an excellent job of looking at that gap that is most effected and looking for immediate impacts instead of looking ten years later after economic policy builds up and attribution becomes hard to establish.

    Dang it. I used to have this great minimum wage link that wasn't even written by Cato or the NCPA. I'll try and dig though my old bookmakrs and post it later if I can find it.
    --
    "Fuck off, preferably with a bullet, if you can find one that's willing to defile itself by being in your head for a split second." - Parent ]

    Inflation (5.00 / 1) (#277)
    by mduell on Tue Aug 12, 2003 at 09:15:22 PM EST

    Setting a higher minimum wage wont change the real income of anyone, it just changes their nominal income, and then there is just more inflation.

    [ Parent ]
    huh, too. (4.20 / 5) (#14)
    by linca on Thu Aug 07, 2003 at 10:51:14 PM EST

    Besides working longer, the American worker is also more productive with the time he does work.

    Simply false. Support your assertion.

    The difference in working time (and proportion of working population) in the US and Europe is larger than the difference in GDP, quite simply.

    EU Labor unions have a very tight grip on the labor markets. The unions tend to block labor-saving technology with the line that it will cost jobs. This leaves less incentive to create capital building technologies if unions will just block it.

    Actually, the US industry has the smaller amount of machines in the developed world, because of the low cost of labor. Europe and  Japan have got way more robots in their factories.

    Companies like Nokia may have grown, but the top execs attribute this to their regional operations (read: they grow in non-EU areas enough to make up for the slow in-EU growth).

    Mostly because the cell phone market got saturated way earlier in Europe than in the rest of the world.

    Unions in the EU has so much power than 7% unemployment is accepted because of artificial labor pricing. In the US when we rise slighly above 6% the country freaks. /

    Of course putting 2% of the workforce in jail helps lowering unemployment rates. As having so few unemployment benefits that the motivation for declaring oneself as unemployed is low.

    /Some poeple have been so put off by American productivity that they have suggested that leasure time should somehow be incorporated into some new-fangled pseudo-GDP measure. Coincidentally, these people live in places like France and Germany where econonmic growth is nothing but a far off fairy tale. The OECD reported that in the euro zone there was 0.1% growth last year and this year is only predicted at 0.3%. Compare this to American's 2002 3% GDP growth with predictions around 5%.

    Different parts of the world have different economic cycles. Europe's is quite usually behind the US's (Mostly because Europe's economy is based on exportations.) And predictions of around 5%? for 2010, maybe. but by then Europe too will see a couple of years with high growth.

    Indeed, much of the difference in growth last year was caused by the fall of the dollar, not underworking labor.

    I know of nobody "forced" to not take a vacation in three years. It is often personal choice (and remember what poeple say they want isn't always what they really want, actions are louder than complaints).
    /

    Except that taking vacations is seen as "bad attitude" and kills your career, among other thing.

    And it's nice to see you caring about those working class people who can't negotiate vacation time.

    /Holding up the German model isn't too good either. Once thought to be the next economic powerhouse, OECD says they had 0.1% GDP growth last year, they have a 10-1/2% unemployment rate. Exactly what would you like to copy? A few people get the time to go on vacation while we double the unemployment rate?

    Ever heard of the fall of the Berlin Wall? That's what's causing the problems for the German economy, mostly. Integrating a former communist country with underqualified workers is costly.

    And yes, at one point Europeans prefer underemployement or early retirement to the dangerous working conditions so often found in the US. That's jobs for machines, not humans.

    [ Parent ]

    growth comparison (2.50 / 2) (#21)
    by jjayson on Fri Aug 08, 2003 at 01:00:15 AM EST

    The difference in working time (and proportion of working population) in the US and Europe is larger than the difference in GDP, quite simply.
    The difference in GDP growth is from 10x-30x. If the US grew 3% and Germany grew 0.1%, then that is a 30x rate of growth increase (actually, a 3% increase would double the GDP 28.9x times faster than a growth of 0.1% -- 694 to 24 -- staggering).

    The fact that we can grow an $11 trillion economy faster than some countries can grow economies 1/5th of the size is staggering. Your comparison is like arguing that the construction team that build the Oak St. office is more efficient than the team that build the Main St. office, yet failing to mention the Main St. office is a skyscraper when the Oak St. office is just a flat.

    Let's take Germany with a $2.5 trillion economy (purchasing parity adjusted), compared to the $11 trillion economy of America. That means the US economy grew $330 billion compared to $3 billion. America has been plowing through a deflationary recession for a couple years, and besides, CPI only differs by 0.2% so that only makes it a 27x instead of 30x over a single year. I'm took lazy to adjust completely.

    Actually, the US industry has the smaller amount of machines in the developed world, because of the low cost of labor. Europe and  Japan have got way more robots in their factories.
    I don't know about European modernization, but here is a Post article on a group of EU exec that basically said the same thing: "On every European executive's wish list would be reform of product, labor and capital markets. Red tape and rigidity in all three impose unnecessarily high costs on European businesses. Executives also worry about Europe's failure to match rising U.S. productivity. Some European unions are still strong enough to block the adoption of labor-saving technologies, which reduces the incentive to innovate."

    Also Japan's unions are very weak. They have a union per company, not across vocations (so only Toyota workers stike, not all automotive workers). So there is far less bargaining power than other nations. Seems to corroberate the claims of the link. I don't know enough about European automotive markets to say anything about them.

    And predictions of around 5%? for 2010, maybe. but by then Europe too will see a couple of years with high growth.
    No, 5% this year. After the first half of the year, we seem to be a little under target at 4%, but 5% is still well within reach.

    Indeed, much of the difference in growth last year was caused by the fall of the dollar, not underworking labor.
    I assume you are talking about currency inflation? Most of the numbers I gave were inflation adjusted real changes, not nominal. And CPI inflation has been relatively mild. The dollar only appreciated about 10% on gold last year.

    Except that taking vacations is seen as "bad attitude" and kills your career, among other thing.
    Random assertion. Yawn. I know of nobody who has ever lost upward career movement because of taking a vacation at an appropriate time (yes, I do know of a person who decided to take a vacation a month before a new marketing campaign started and didn't get a raise shortly after).

    Ever heard of the fall of the Berlin Wall? That's what's causing the problems for the German economy, mostly. Integrating a former communist country with underqualified workers is costly.
    It really doesn't matter. Yes, the employment discrepencies exist between old East and West sides, however I could have proven my point using France just as easily (altough, you are right, the numbers would have been a little closer). However, many thought Germany was on the right track but was sideswipped by the EU community ideals.

    Excuse me, Baseball Tonight is on soon.

    --
    "Fuck off, preferably with a bullet, if you can find one that's willing to defile itself by being in your head for a split second." - Parent ]

    Imagine this (none / 0) (#23)
    by iasius on Fri Aug 08, 2003 at 02:10:24 AM EST

    You said the unification of Germany doesn't count. Well imagine the US adopting Mexico as a state and trying to raise their GDP to US levels. Now add the fact that Germany has a more socialist style economy with more benefits for the unemployed which are all paid to former workers fired from non viable Eastern Germany factories.

    Following quotes taken from www.worldbank.org
    Consider this: "These politically motivated departures from the prescripts of economic analysis were followed by large fiscal transfers from west to east, to the tune of DM 180 billion (then it was usually about 2 DM = 1 $) a year gross, directed at a population of 16 million (roughly half the total west German tax revenues, 4 to 5 percent of west German GDP a year, DM 11, 250 per east German head), and DM 130 billion net, in the first three years after unification (90 percent of it transferred through the federal government), transfusions that helped raise the share of public spending in and the ratio of public debt to gross domestic product to uncomfortably high levels."

    Or this: "In 1989, Hans Modrow, the last communist head of the GDR, put the East German economy's net worth at 1.5 trillion West German marks (DM). A year later, his Christian Democratic successor, Lothar de Maizière, slashed the figure to DM 800 billion. After unification, Detlev Rohwedder, head of the privatization agency Treuhand, put the value of the assets on his agency's books at a comparable DM 600 billion, but on second thought, a year later, lowered this assessment to zero?assets and liabilities just balancing each other out. In 1994 Birgit Bruel, Rohwedder's successor, put the figure at minus DM 300 billion. By the end of 1995 some DM 700 billion gross (more than $1 trillion) and DM 500 billion net ($750 billion) of public money will have been spent on the "cure of Trabies."

    Of course, German policy regarding economy the last decade (and longer) or so is seriously flawed in many ways, but even then the unification is a major part of the troubles.


    the internet troll is the pinnacle of human evolution - circletimessquare
    [ Parent ]

    so? (none / 0) (#24)
    by jjayson on Fri Aug 08, 2003 at 03:02:59 AM EST

    I can run the numbers with France, Greece, Italy, or any other EU country and show the same thing (I don't know about the tiny countries like Luxemborg though).

    The two paragraphs aren't that interesting (the first one just talks about public debt that has never had a strong correlation to economic progress and the second talks of nominal values saying nothing of growth although they are huge transfers, it they are put in the right area of the economy they should get returns). However there is a later part that names currency inflation and excessive taxation as the two problems.

    However, that link is talking about 7 years ago. It says the final move to bring about wage parity between the two sides will occur in in July of of 1996. So they have had 7 years under new wage structures determined by the West's collective bargaining agreements. The more recently data seems to point so the same problems they had 7 years ago too: excessive regulation and taxation. It doesn't seem like a merging problem, but a mismanagement problem.

    At some point you have to look at Germany and stop making excuses. How many years should it take before it can actually grow? After a while you can no longer blame it on unification and you have to start looking at poor policy decisions. When do you do that? Isn't 14 years enough to get growth levels back to something respectable (we are not talking about nominal GDP levels, just growth)?
    --
    "Fuck off, preferably with a bullet, if you can find one that's willing to defile itself by being in your head for a split second." - Parent ]

    Have you read my last sentence? -nt- (5.00 / 1) (#29)
    by iasius on Fri Aug 08, 2003 at 03:54:53 AM EST




    the internet troll is the pinnacle of human evolution - circletimessquare
    [ Parent ]
    More detailed answer (none / 0) (#33)
    by iasius on Fri Aug 08, 2003 at 04:11:09 AM EST

    "I can run the numbers with France, Greece, Italy, or any other EU country and show the same thing (I don't know about the tiny countries like Luxemborg though)." Yes, many have similar growth problems, but none of them had to incorporate a communist state, which basically means they should do much better. "The two paragraphs aren't that interesting (the first one just talks about public debt that has never had a strong correlation to economic progress and the second talks of nominal values saying nothing of growth although they are huge transfers, it they are put in the right area of the economy they should get returns). However there is a later part that names currency inflation and excessive taxation as the two problems." The first one talks about transfer of funds to the east and only mentions debt as a result of that, not as a major problem. The second one shows how the value of the East German economy has been seriously overstated during and after unification. Which explains some of the bad decisions made then. "However, that link is talking about 7 years ago. It says the final move to bring about wage parity between the two sides will occur in in July of of 1996. So they have had 7 years under new wage structures determined by the West's collective bargaining agreements. The more recently data seems to point so the same problems they had 7 years ago too: excessive regulation and taxation. It doesn't seem like a merging problem, but a mismanagement problem." Yes, that was 7 years ago, wages are now about the same, but productivity is not which is the main problem in the east. After unification a lot of the transfer money had to be spent on modernizing the infrastructure in the east which led to a huge increase in that sector, which of course was followed by a slump when the roads had been rebuilt, phone lines been laid and investors found out that there would be no need for huge new office buildings any time soon. Errors were made because people thought the east would now experience an "economic miracle" like West Germany during the 50s and 60s. That didn't happen of course, but by then a few years had gone by. The economically better solution would have been to integrate East Germany as a kind of special economic zone with lower wages, etc. That was and is politically impossible though. I'm not saying West Germany wouldn't have any problems today without unification, I'm just saying it probably would have been better off economically ... and the East a lot worse. It's a complex problem that can't really be explained in a couple of paragraphs.


    the internet troll is the pinnacle of human evolution - circletimessquare
    [ Parent ]
    More detailed answer, not with proper formatting.. (none / 0) (#34)
    by iasius on Fri Aug 08, 2003 at 04:13:04 AM EST

    "I can run the numbers with France, Greece, Italy, or any other EU country and show the same thing (I don't know about the tiny countries like Luxemborg though)."

    Yes, many have similar growth problems, but none of them had to incorporate a communist state, which basically means they should do much better.

    "The two paragraphs aren't that interesting (the first one just talks about public debt that has never had a strong correlation to economic progress and the second talks of nominal values saying nothing of growth although they are huge transfers, it they are put in the right area of the economy they should get returns). However there is a later part that names currency inflation and excessive taxation as the two problems."

    The first one talks about transfer of funds to the east and only mentions debt as a result of that, not as a major problem.
    The second one shows how the value of the East German economy has been seriously overstated during and after unification. Which explains some of the bad decisions made then.

    "However, that link is talking about 7 years ago. It says the final move to bring about wage parity between the two sides will occur in in July of of 1996. So they have had 7 years under new wage structures determined by the West's collective bargaining agreements. The more recently data seems to point so the same problems they had 7 years ago too: excessive regulation and taxation. It doesn't seem like a merging problem, but a mismanagement problem."

    Yes, that was 7 years ago, wages are now about the same, but productivity is not which is the main problem in the east.
    After unification a lot of the transfer money had to be spent on modernizing the infrastructure in the east which led to a huge increase in that sector, which of course was followed by a slump when the roads had been rebuilt, phone lines been laid and investors found out that there would be no need for huge new office buildings any time soon. Errors were made because people thought the east would now experience an "economic miracle" like West Germany during the 50s and 60s. That didn't happen of course, but by then a few years had gone by.
    The economically better solution would have been to integrate East Germany as a kind of special economic zone with lower wages, etc. That was and is politically impossible though.
    I'm not saying West Germany wouldn't have any problems today without unification, I'm just saying it probably would have been better off economically ... and the East a lot worse.
    It's a complex problem that can't really be explained in a couple of paragraphs.


    the internet troll is the pinnacle of human evolution - circletimessquare
    [ Parent ]

    I shouldn't post before my first coffee ... (none / 0) (#35)
    by iasius on Fri Aug 08, 2003 at 04:13:57 AM EST




    the internet troll is the pinnacle of human evolution - circletimessquare
    [ Parent ]
    talking about meaningless things (none / 0) (#83)
    by linca on Fri Aug 08, 2003 at 11:45:23 AM EST

    The difference in GDP growth is from 10x-30x. If the US grew 3% and Germany grew 0.1%, then that is a 30x rate of growth increase (actually, a 3% increase would double the GDP 28.9x times faster than a growth of 0.1% -- 694 to 24 -- staggering).

    I'm talking about GDP, not GDP growth. Productivity, not productivity variations. You're not even attempting to answer my point.

    The fact that we can grow an $11 trillion economy faster than some countries can grow economies 1/5th of the size is staggering.

    Are you aware that the US is about four to five times larger than Germany? Doesn't seem so. Or that the US has a much higher population increase rate that Germany?

    And growing a larger economy isn't much harder than growing a smaller one, when you take into account that they have the same magnitude. Being the largest in the block has its advantages, like being able to set the world rules of trade. And the US is not redistributing significant wealth to its poorer neighbours, unlike what Germany (Or France, or Italy) are doing in the EU.

    I don't know about European modernization, but here is a Post article on a group of EU exec that basically said the same thing

    Well, Euro executives with an agenda make very convincing points. Ooops, they don't. (oh, and it's a column. No need for fact-checking). Indeed, looking at the international federation of robotics, www.ifr.org, in statistics - key data, the market for robots in 2001 was about 45,000 in Japan and South Korea, 30,000 in the European Union, and 10,000 in the US. Germany itself, a country a fourth the size of the US, has as many robots as the US. The total number of robots in use were 350,000 in Japan, 200,000 in Europe, 100,000 in the US. "labor unions preventing investment in labor saving capital", certainly, but less efficiently than Mexican immigrants ready to kill themselves in underpaid factory jobs.

    No, 5% this year. After the first half of the year, we seem to be a little under target at 4%, but 5% is still well within reach.

    One percent growth in the US for the first half of the year, according to the OECD. Definitely under target to reach 5%. And most of that growth was due to the Iraq war.

    I assume you are talking about currency inflation?

    No, I'm talking about the variation between the dollar and the euro, which has little to do with inflation. If you believe that markets are the true way of finding values of production, the Euro production has risen 20% in value relative to the US production. (Which is why EU growth is slower than the US now : an high Euro makes exporting very hard)

    Random assertion. Yawn.

    About as random as your "nobody wasn't hired because of asking for vacation". Except that upward career speed is highly related to the amount of overtime you seem to be doing - "motivation for work" and all that.

    [ Parent ]

    Fine. Let's look at the EU as whole. (5.00 / 3) (#101)
    by jjayson on Fri Aug 08, 2003 at 03:52:40 PM EST

    In 2001 (I can find 2002 figures later if you wish):


    statistic... EU.... US.... notes
    population   378m  248m    the EU has 50% more people!
    GDP          $7.9t $10.2t  yet the US has a 30% larger economy!
    growth       0.5%  1.7%    And we are growing 3.5x faster!
    GDP/pop      20.9  41.1    And we support 2x as much per person
    delta/pop    0.1   0.7     And have 7x the growth delta a person

    Care to make any other silly claims. US productivity is staggering. Read the previous link (and google for plenty of better ones). US productivity is the envy of European companies.

    (I have to go, but will try later if I have time. I wonder if the OECD number is annulaized or not).

    Also, currency valutions are not a good way to look at productivity since there are too many other variables.

    --
    "Fuck off, preferably with a bullet, if you can find one that's willing to defile itself by being in your head for a split second." - Parent ]

    Are you aware of what's discussed? (3.50 / 2) (#124)
    by linca on Fri Aug 08, 2003 at 06:41:33 PM EST

    What's discussed is productivity per hour worked, not productivity per habitant (which is meaningless). The US has a lot more people in the labor force, as more young people (Education being mostly free in Europe, fewer students work, for example) and old ones (retirement age is about 10 years older in the US than in Europe) are working. And those that work in the US work much more, in hours worked.

    Indeed, as this pdf shows, US productivity per hour worked was significantly lower than France's, for example. Hardly "staggering". And that was a year with a particularly low Euro relative to the dollar. Yep, us lazy French are quite efficient when we work. We choose not to overdo it.

    What's funny, as you show the 2001 figures, is that in 2002 too growth was higher in the US than in the EU. Yet the EU GDP is catching up with the US's, rather that losing ground, because of currency variation. Indeed, in 1995, the year the dollar reached its recent lows, EU GDP was above the US's, and with a constant exchange rate, would still be above it.

    Finally, the 2000 US Census found 281 m people living in the US. Your 248m figure is "sligthly" wrong ; US GDP/pop is is about 35000, and according to the OECD, in the EU it is 25000, adjusted for purchasing power parity. A significant bit less than "twice the GDP/pop".

    As a summary, EU workers work less, as a choice, and as a result produce less. But indeed, during those fewer hours they are more productive.

    [ Parent ]

    Your data says not to use it for comparisons (4.00 / 2) (#128)
    by jjayson on Fri Aug 08, 2003 at 07:24:00 PM EST

    Honestly I would like to respond, but I not a clue why you are rambling about currency exchange rates. The numbers I gave were PPP adjusted (that includes inflation and exchange rates).

    I really just pulled that chart off of eurunion.org (and added the bottom couple rows). I didn't, nor do I know, have time to go look through the offical tables (I have access to a proprietary database full of detailed US figures that I can query, but I don't have the same for other countries). So, I don't know how the data was collected or what figures were used (it should only include the total number of poeple in the workforce, but they may have slipped up).

    I like how the top of that PDF says: "at present the source is not totally reliable for cross country comparisons." You are clearly using the data in a way the publisher did not intend it to be used.

    And later it states that France's upward revision of their GDP combined with the downward revision of their PPP divisor pushed France past the US, considering the US also had a downward GDP revision. So they seem to be right: The data is too volatile.

    Also, without seeing how the figures were arrived it is difficult to see why France is such an oulier compared to other G7 countries.
    --
    "Fuck off, preferably with a bullet, if you can find one that's willing to defile itself by being in your head for a split second." - Parent ]

    Lol (2.50 / 2) (#131)
    by linca on Fri Aug 08, 2003 at 08:13:12 PM EST

    at present the source is not totally reliable for cross country comparisons.

    Funny how removing the bold of the word "totally" in the cited sentence might totally change the meaning of the phrase, hey? Who's clearly perverting the meaning of the authors of the study?

    Honestly I would like to respond, but I not a clue why you are rambling about currency exchange rates.

    Well, according to the figures I found, PPP adjusted figures are 35000 $ for the US, 25000$ for the EU. You gave 40000$ and 20000$. And the 8 - 10 trillion dollar figures are not PPP ajusted, they are the raw numbers,
    found in this report
    . If you want to brag about "My economy is bigger than yours" with those figures, well, simply recognize them for what they are - and that they change quickly ; with the 1995  exchange rate, the EU economy is larger than the US.

    So they seem to be right: The data is too volatile.

    Less volatile, actually, that the raw total GDP figures you keep on spouting.  

    Also, without seeing how the figures were arrived it is difficult to see why France is such an oulier compared to other G7 countries.

    Finally, France isn't exactly an outlier, with Japan at about 91, UK at 100, US around 127, France around 135. So I don't see any kind of basis for that last sentence.


    [ Parent ]

    correction (5.00 / 1) (#147)
    by jjayson on Sat Aug 09, 2003 at 12:20:34 AM EST

    No, 5% this year. After the first half of the year, we seem to be a little under target at 4%, but 5% is still well within reach.
    Sorry. This is wrong (my db skills are weak and lead to an SQL running the function on wrong data problem).

    Q1 growth was something like 1.5% and I can't remember Q2 growth though, but think it was something like 3.5-4%, however I can't remember.

    Sorry.
    --
    "Fuck off, preferably with a bullet, if you can find one that's willing to defile itself by being in your head for a split second." - Parent ]

    The productivity part is easy (none / 0) (#257)
    by RyoCokey on Mon Aug 11, 2003 at 05:38:19 PM EST

    Besides working longer, the American worker is also more productive with the time he does work. Simply false. Support your assertion.

    Gladly. First of all, US workers are so productive the US worker is the standard for productivity measurement and other countries are rated as a percent in comparison. For comprehensive (although dated) statistics, check here which has historical worker productivities dating back to the 1950s.

    Even today, US worker productivity continues to rise, while it actually is falling in the EU. Note these statistics are per hour worked not cumulative, so a US worker is more productive regardless of work day length.

    Europe's growth has been well behind the US's for the last decade and continues to this day. I find it hard to explain away Europe's poor performance during the 1992-2000 period by a weak dollar, as it was quite strong during that period.

    Ever heard of the fall of the Berlin Wall? That's what's causing the problems for the German economy, mostly. Integrating a former communist country with underqualified workers is costly.

    That could possibly explain Germany's problems, but this performance is indicative of the Eurozone as a whole.



    farmers don't break into our houses at night, steal our DVDs and piss on the floor. No
    [
    Parent ]
    Growth during 1990's (5.00 / 1) (#271)
    by Arkaein on Tue Aug 12, 2003 at 12:37:05 PM EST

    Your second link says that American companies count software development as investment rather than expense, as in Europe, and that this inflated the measurements of American economic growth.

    Unless factors such as these are normalized for, any direct comparisons of GDP per man hour or economic growth are somewhat suspect.

    ----
    The ultimate plays for Madden NFL 2003
    [ Parent ]

    irrelevant statistics. (none / 0) (#281)
    by linca on Wed Aug 13, 2003 at 10:48:14 AM EST

    Gladly. First of all, US workers are so productive the US worker is the standard for productivity measurement and other countries are rated as a percent in comparison. For comprehensive (although dated) statistics, check here which has historical worker productivities dating back to the 1950s

    All that I could find in your link was productivity per worker. The whole point of the article, and of my comment, were productivity per hour worked. So, you are not supporting your assertion in any way.

    Even today, US worker productivity continues to rise, while it actually is falling in the EU. Note these statistics are per hour worked not cumulative

    Yep. A difference of 0.4 % a year, the article argues. During the height of the dot.com boom. And which includes public sector in Europe but not in the US. Hardly conclusive.


    [ Parent ]

    Reading Comprehension (none / 0) (#282)
    by RyoCokey on Wed Aug 13, 2003 at 04:03:38 PM EST

    All that I could find in your link was productivity per worker. The whole point of the article, and of my comment, were productivity per hour worked. So, you are not supporting your assertion in any way.

    That's the first link. Note my comment about "per hour" occurs in association with the second link. From the second link, since you can't be bothered to read it before replying:

    "If one calculates GDP per man-hour for both economies, labour-productivity growth in the past five years has averaged 2.2% in the United States, against 1.4% in the euro area."

    Yep. A difference of 0.4 % a year, the article argues. During the height of the dot.com boom. And which includes public sector in Europe but not in the US. Hardly conclusive.

    The dot.com boom ended in 2000 the figure in question is from 2001. The 0.4% a year is how much the already large productivity gap is growing by.

    Whichever figures one uses, though, labour-productivity growth has risen over the past decade in America, but fallen in Europe...

    The least you could do is read the dang links before replying. Or perhaps I should say, comprehend the links.



    farmers don't break into our houses at night, steal our DVDs and piss on the floor. No
    [
    Parent ]
    reading comprehension (none / 0) (#283)
    by linca on Thu Aug 14, 2003 at 03:20:31 AM EST

    You do seem to have a problem with reading comprehension yourself. You second link doesn't talk about the growth of the productivity gap, but (first line in the article!) the gap in productivity growth between the United States and western Europe.

    What this means is that US productivity per hour is catching up, not going ahead, as your first link actually establishes that US productivity per hour is lower than EU's, with more productivity per worker, but much more hours worked.

    The dot.com boom ended in 2000 the figure in question is from 2001.

    Straight from the article again : Callow at CSFB calculates that in the five years to 2001 productivity,. The five years to 2001 include 4 years of dot com booom.

    Whichever figures one uses, though, labour-productivity growth

    Which is the derivative of what we're talking about (you know, the growth), not what we're talking about. I had read the link, but you apparently did not go to the farther step of understanding it - nowhere does it talks about the actual labour productivity, only about its variations.

    [ Parent ]

    Um, sure. (none / 0) (#284)
    by RyoCokey on Thu Aug 14, 2003 at 09:37:53 AM EST

    the gap in productivity growth between the United States and western Europe.

    This implies there's a disparity, not that US productivity is behind the EU. Link Here (PDF) regarding the long-standing higher US productivity. (With pretty charts, no less!)

    If growth as a percentage has been slower than than the US's, and the US had a higher productivity to begin with, it stands to reason that US productivity is still higher than EU. From the summary of the first link I provided in this thread:

    The very point of this list is that nations with far more liberal governments than ours have created better societies, even with somewhat less productivity.



    farmers don't break into our houses at night, steal our DVDs and piss on the floor. No
    [
    Parent ]
    An impressive list of figures and facts ... (4.75 / 8) (#22)
    by pyramid termite on Fri Aug 08, 2003 at 01:40:03 AM EST

    ... listing the benefits of American economic and workplace policies.

    Do you have one for the costs? You know, stress, lack of time to spend with children, possible increases in illness, divorces, etc. etc. etc. I'm going to bed and won't have too much time tomorrow, but it's worth looking at.

    People like things and will work to get those things.

    Tibetans have this image of the hungry ghosts - they have very big mouths and very narrow necks. They can bite off tons of stuff and swallow very little. I'm still too much like that for my own comfort.

    Yes, we have it ALL. Do we have time or the capacity to enjoy it?

    On the Internet, anyone can accuse you of being a dog.
    [ Parent ]
    As I said, that isn't a problem. (4.00 / 1) (#25)
    by jjayson on Fri Aug 08, 2003 at 03:12:14 AM EST

    Those numbers of 60-hour work weeks are taken from white-collar workers. They have plenty of ability to only work 40 hours a week. I know plenty that do. They can take vacations. Nobody is  forcing them to work that hard. Some people prioritize work above fun so that later in life they may prioritize fun over work. Nobody I have ever know has been fired for taking a vacation. I'm sure there have been, but I don't believe that it is common.

    The only issue I see that you have different priorities than others.
    --
    "Fuck off, preferably with a bullet, if you can find one that's willing to defile itself by being in your head for a split second." - Parent ]

    That approach has always made me laugh (4.25 / 4) (#27)
    by edo on Fri Aug 08, 2003 at 03:48:29 AM EST

    > Some people prioritize work above fun so that
    > later in life they may prioritize fun over
    > work.

    You know, I find that absolutely hilarious. Think of all the partying you will be doing once you're 60! (Provided cancer doesn't get you first, of course.)

    Just to be anecdotal: my happiest friends are the ones that work 32 hours a week at most and do not make all that much money; the ones that put in 60, make loads of money and have stock options (which some of them never shut up about) are almost invariably unhappy.

    I keep telling those in the second group to take it easy, like me (I work maybe 20 hours a week, will never be rich, but have no debts outside my mortgage), and start spending time on themselves rather than dedicating their precious days (and nights!) to fattening other people's wallets. Their answer: "But then what am I going to do with all that time?"

    It takes all sorts I guess... I just hope they won't regret this twenty years from now.
    -- 
    Sentimentality is merely the Bank Holiday of cynicism.
     - Oscar Wilde
    [ Parent ]

    different priorities (none / 0) (#30)
    by jjayson on Fri Aug 08, 2003 at 03:56:01 AM EST

    I've been on both sides from 60 hours a week to 10 a week. It isn't a matter of time, but a matter of reason and desire. You don't do it to "fatten other people's wallets." Why be concerned with what others make above you? The people I know that work 60 a week do it to forward their own career: you build personal capital in, your try to climb higher in the ladder, and have ambitions to stike out on your own. I don't know anybody that works 60 hours expecting to stay in their same position. Those people usually work a minimal work week and don't try very hard since they already have a defeatist attitude.

    I like both. The phrase "work hard and play hard" comes to mind. You can put in your 60+ weeks when needed to get things done, but they, after deadlne, take a 4 day weekend to go climbing. I see no conflict.
    --
    "Fuck off, preferably with a bullet, if you can find one that's willing to defile itself by being in your head for a split second." - Parent ]

    You're sweeping stuff under the rug (4.00 / 1) (#65)
    by pyramid termite on Fri Aug 08, 2003 at 08:59:42 AM EST

    Those numbers of 60-hour work weeks are taken from white-collar workers. They have plenty of ability to only work 40 hours a week. I know plenty that do. They can take vacations. Nobody is forcing them to work that hard.

    I've often heard that when the layoffs come, that the 40 and no more crowd are the first to go - sometimes without regard to how good they actually are compared to people who are there 60 a week and aren't really up to snuff. Of course, that may be not be true - who gets the pink slips in a mass layoff is often a mystery and people fill in the blanks with all sorts of things.

    There are a lot of blue collar workers who HAVE to, if they want to keep their jobs. Been there, done that, will probably do that this year at some point. There are others who would love as much as 40 hours and can't get it where they're working - even while others at the same place are working 40+. I can hear you saying, well, they can just find another job, then - but we both know it's tough to find ANY job these days, much less one that makes you relatively happy. There's a lot of stuck miserable people out there - and a lot of perfectly happy ones. Often they don't get along too well at work.

    A lot of the conflict and confrontation that will be facing us in the future will be at the workplace, over many issues.

    The only issue I see that you have different priorities than others.

    And that's fine - but the issue also is, what happens when different sets of priorities clash, as they often do?

    I notice that you didn't choose to address social costs. Don't you think they exist? Don't you think this matters? For example, having enough time to raise my child rightly is an important priority to me, as it is with many others. It should be an important priority to society, as our kids will be running this world when we're old. But there are those who act as if this doesn't matter in the least to them. And often, their actions in what they demand from their employees have serious effects.

    On the Internet, anyone can accuse you of being a dog.
    [ Parent ]
    numbers? (4.00 / 2) (#99)
    by jjayson on Fri Aug 08, 2003 at 03:36:20 PM EST

    If you have numbers, I am willing to listen, however, I can give plenty of annecdotail evidence too. "I have heard that those who work less get laid off..." isn't going to cut it.

    Besides, why shouldn't they? If you are working longer hours, you are probably more dedicated. It's called a trade off. If I decide to put my career as a priority, then why should somebody pretend that somebody who eeks by on 39-hours a week is the same as me?

    Social costs.. numbers? no?
    --
    "Fuck off, preferably with a bullet, if you can find one that's willing to defile itself by being in your head for a split second." - Parent ]

    Here's an interesting article ... (5.00 / 1) (#137)
    by pyramid termite on Fri Aug 08, 2003 at 10:57:53 PM EST

    ... from Reuters with some information on workplace stress.

    On the Internet, anyone can accuse you of being a dog.
    [ Parent ]
    Individual productivity matters (none / 0) (#242)
    by ptraci on Sun Aug 10, 2003 at 08:43:07 PM EST

    I often get a lot more done in 40 hours than many of my coworkers do in 50, because I want to go home, so I spend less time bullshitting and otherwise screwing off than they do. Fortunately my bosses recognize that, and actually pay me more per hour.
    "Facts are a better basis for decisions than ideology." - Howard Dean.
    [ Parent ]
    Like shooting fish in a barrel, really... (none / 0) (#135)
    by ksandstr on Fri Aug 08, 2003 at 10:38:03 PM EST

    It seems that you have a choice, Mr. Anderson. Either you choose to come to work, at 8 A.M., and work the living shit out of yourself until 10 P.M., or you choose to find an another job.

    OK, so it's a horribly paraphrased and mangled quote, but I hope it tosses my point across.



    Fin.
    [ Parent ]
    huh? (4.00 / 3) (#144)
    by jjayson on Fri Aug 08, 2003 at 11:43:52 PM EST

    Paraphrasing some movie quote is not an argument, nor does it prove any sort of point. I really don't understand. Do you have proof that this actually happens in the real word, besides some movie?

    Also, the person can find another job. All else being equal, if I'm willing to go work 10 hours a day and you are not, why should you get the job just because somebody decides to make a law regarding working level? Some work harder, some work smarter, and some work longer. Everybody has their own unique way to contribute. I may not be the smartest worker, but I might be able to sit and work 25% longer to make up for it.
    --
    "Fuck off, preferably with a bullet, if you can find one that's willing to defile itself by being in your head for a split second." - Parent ]

    Well (5.00 / 1) (#53)
    by TheOnlyCoolTim on Fri Aug 08, 2003 at 07:48:09 AM EST

    If people are fucking themselves up with overwork by their own choice, why should we make a law to stop them?

    Tim
    "We are trapped in the belly of this horrible machine, and the machine is bleeding to death."
    [ Parent ]

    The opposite side of the fundamentalist coin (4.50 / 4) (#28)
    by megid on Fri Aug 08, 2003 at 03:52:16 AM EST

    As well as the author, you make unproven claims and wild assumptions. Only on the other side. And, may I ask, do YOU have experience on both sides of the pond?

    Having worked in Singapore, I can well appreciate the "work cleverer, not harder" thing that the people there miss. Still, they are the most productive country around that region, but certainly NOT (and this is first-hand experience) the most happy. And definitely not the most creative, philosophic, art-loving people.

    I really wonder sometimes why USians are sometimes so cultural. Must have something to do with the "american dream" thing. (hey, I just invited to a "our superiority" rant...)

    And, as a German, you are right, our growth right now is going to zero; nonetheless, you know how economy works. Seven fat and seven poor years. Always make economic points in retrospect. And btw, isnt US economy going down too? How come the US$ is below the EUR?

    --
    "think first, write second, speak third."
    [ Parent ]

    unproven? (none / 0) (#38)
    by jjayson on Fri Aug 08, 2003 at 05:12:15 AM EST

    Would you care to point something out? In that post and a follow-up, I try to go through extensive pains to provide proof.

    And why does my little European experience make a difference? I can read the NIPA and OECD tables regardless. I've worked in a couple international companies, and I intentioally didn't bring in my annecdotal analysis.

    And btw, isnt US economy going down too? How come the US$ is below the EUR?
    Huh? You want to accuse me of not knowing how the economy works, yet say something about currency that makes no sense? The dollar/Euro conversion doesn't really matter. The dollar almost doubled in value over the last half of the 90s and it needed to get back to a sane level. The US recession was caused by deflation. Also for the first half of the year, the US has almost 4% GDP growth. And that 7 good/ 7 bad is just BS used to make people think the economy is beyond the government's control. It's just rhetoric with no real basis in reality. In America there was an 82-91 expansion followed by a year of contraction followed by 10 years of expansion again.
    --
    "Fuck off, preferably with a bullet, if you can find one that's willing to defile itself by being in your head for a split second." - Parent ]
    Unproven. (none / 0) (#45)
    by megid on Fri Aug 08, 2003 at 05:56:09 AM EST

    Not that I wouldnt believe you, but it is always better to have links to some reliable external source. I guess you have them, so why not share them? You obviously take more "pains" than my lazy self, so I guess you actually looked it up.

    Personal experience does make a difference -- I have theorized many times too much in my life before. Even if the theoretical assumptions were flawless, real life is often different.

    On the economy point, of course you are mostly right and I took a simplicistic POV. Yet you also take a rather simplicistic view. Governmental actions effects are felt on a 4 years later average (ok, bad proof by myself, I am just too lazy, some german Business Universities professors stated that ;), plus, I'd like to investigate influx of foreign investions in the US more before making any claims about GDP growth.

    And on the contrary, mon capitain (sorry, couldnt resist that bonmot from Q), the economy is outside govt' control. Thats at least what USian politicans always tell EUian politicans (source: www.spiegel.de (german) somewhere, too lazy again).

    --
    "think first, write second, speak third."
    [ Parent ]

    sources (5.00 / 1) (#49)
    by jjayson on Fri Aug 08, 2003 at 06:56:48 AM EST

    Not that I wouldnt believe you, but it is always better to have links to some reliable external source. I guess you have them, so why not share them? You obviously take more "pains" than my lazy self, so I guess you actually looked it up.
    Not everything is on the Net (nor even if it is, is it linkable). The NBER paper is not online (an abstract might be though, I am not sure). The OECD data is somewhere online, but I was being lazy there. The US data is from a proprietary database (but probably on-line somewhere). I've worked for a couple financial companies, including arbitrage and currency trading, so much of this kind of sticks in my head. Please feel free to doubt the data and check on it yourself. I have been known to be wrong. However, just because I can't provide on-line links doesn't mean things are unproved. There is prove, just not readily available. "Unproven" would mean making some unsupported assertion.

    Personal experience does make a difference -- I have theorized many times too much in my life before. Even if the theoretical assumptions were flawless, real life is often different.
    But annecdotal evidence is terrible for determining things like policy. You can tell me about all your friends, but I want the data. I used to get paid to do this kind of stuff, and we didn't go around asking people how their friends are. We crunched data (mostly).

    Governmental actions effects are felt on a 4 years later average (ok, bad proof by myself, I am just too lazy, some german Business Universities professors stated that ;),
    These types of generalizations are better made by politicians. It really depends on what you are talking about. Currency demands can change before policy is even official enacted. Labor can take years, since it tends to lag behind growth. However, in the right climate, it can also only take months.

    And on the contrary, mon capitain (sorry, couldnt resist that bonmot from Q)
    Huh?

    the economy is outside govt' control. Thats at least what USian politicans always tell EUian politican
    Politicians make terrible economists. They can have good advisors and still not know how to defend their economic policies (Bush is a good example. After Lindsay and O'Neill were told to leave, Bush has better economic advisors, yet he still cannot get the defense right). It is the Friedman monetarists that believe that the economy cannot be helped by the government. However, that view proved absolutely destructive in both the US and UK. Friendman himself in an Atlantic interview says that it would have been better to not try his monetarist experiement. The current US trouble was a direct cause of monetary mismanagement. At any time the Fed could have prevented the strengthening of the dollar, but they didn't (I should really write a story about this). The President could ordered the Treasury and Fed to halt the deflation.

    Monetary and fiscal policy does matter. The IMF and World Bank show that by constantly holding down third world economies.
    --
    "Fuck off, preferably with a bullet, if you can find one that's willing to defile itself by being in your head for a split second." - Parent ]

    Wow. America sure sounds like a fantastic place (1.00 / 1) (#73)
    by Big Dogs Cock on Fri Aug 08, 2003 at 10:34:37 AM EST

    Why don't you write an article about it?
    People say that anal sex is unhealthy. Well it cured my hiccups.
    [ Parent ]
    Sorry to burst your bubble. (4.00 / 4) (#158)
    by Tezcatlipoca on Sat Aug 09, 2003 at 06:33:29 AM EST

    http://www.bls.gov/news.release/prod4.nr0.htm

    That is only one year and only one study which I put forward as "anecdotal" evidence about who is who in productivity, notice how the UK and Germany are there high at the top.

    For as long as I can remember, European countries and Japan are regularly more productive thant most countries (including the US) with the adition of some East Asian countries in recent years.

    Having worked for several US based companies in several parts of the world let me confidently assure you that nobody really has US management style in high regard. It is tolerated because it is from where the investment comes from, but that is the end of it.

    In some ocassion I tried to explain to a certain US manager that he should take into account cultural differences when dealing with certain people, the answer came months later with a standarized manual of policies and procedures that mandated certain activities on Fridays. Unsuprisingly offices in Muslim countries silently but surely decided to ignore the nonsense. And that is not even mentioning all the rethoric about  loyalty and all that only to dismiss people at the drop of a not so good quarter in the most undignified manner. here in the UK IT workers in a company I know where close to a revolt after people with many loyal years of service were escorted out of the building by security guards with a cardboard box with their belongings. That may be kosher in the US, it is most insulting in places like Europe, and the Far East.

    You talk about Germany and their paltry growth. Let us level the playing field: the US during the same period of time absorbs a country with 25% its current population with a decrepit industrial base and with no understanding of how capitalism works. Good look achieving any growth at all.

    You talk about how unemployment is not viewed with the same suspition in Europe as it is in the US. Well, no wonder, in Europe there is a cohesive social network that cares for you  while you are unemployed. Certainly there are extremes and excesses which are been corrected, but the basic premise, that in rich country nobody should lack the means of basic susbsistence, is something very few in Europe are willing to get rid off.

    Where all the dispendious expense comes form? Check defense budgets in Europe and the US, social expenditure in both areas relative to GDP and you may have your answer.

    Might is right
    Freedom? Which freedom?
    [ Parent ]

    productivity by country. (5.00 / 1) (#169)
    by stupidcomputernickname on Sat Aug 09, 2003 at 11:51:44 AM EST

    For as long as I can remember, European countries and Japan are regularly more productive thant most countries (including the US) with the adition of some East Asian countries in recent years. The only table I could find in a quick google was this, which shows productivity, but only for 1999. I doubt the numbers have changed tremendously. for people who dont want to click through, the numbers are: Country GDP per member of the workforce 1999 (US$) Switzerland 83,647 USA 81,077 Japan 80,860 France 65,461 Germany 64,556 UK 60,168 Canada 52,487

    [ Parent ]
    This article contains almost no facts (4.00 / 1) (#15)
    by RyoCokey on Thu Aug 07, 2003 at 10:51:23 PM EST

    Just primarily unsupported speculation. Flesh it out a little.

    For what it's worth, the (US) company I currently work at gives 25 days paid vacation a year (Not counting national holidays) to entry-level employees, and up to 40 days for more senior positions.



    farmers don't break into our houses at night, steal our DVDs and piss on the floor. No
    Speaking of facts... (none / 0) (#16)
    by czth on Thu Aug 07, 2003 at 11:18:59 PM EST

    What company would that be? Starting at 2 weeks seems to be the norm in the US, not 5-8 (which is practically 1-2 months). How do they stay competitive?

    czth

    [ Parent ]

    Sorry, gonna have to plead the 5th (none / 0) (#70)
    by RyoCokey on Fri Aug 08, 2003 at 09:28:56 AM EST

    I don't give specifics about my life or my work on kuro5hin. The company in question is an oil/gas production company.



    farmers don't break into our houses at night, steal our DVDs and piss on the floor. No
    [
    Parent ]
    More importantly, (none / 0) (#110)
    by KilljoyAZ on Fri Aug 08, 2003 at 05:18:15 PM EST

    are they hiring?

    ===
    Creativitiy cannot be SPELT by over 98% of all American troops. - psychologist
    [ Parent ]
    probably (none / 0) (#138)
    by speek on Fri Aug 08, 2003 at 11:03:40 PM EST

    Those 25 days are "paid time off" and include time off for any reason, including illness.

    --
    al queda is kicking themsleves for not knowing about the levees
    [ Parent ]

    Re: This article contains almost no facts (5.00 / 1) (#100)
    by ENOENT on Fri Aug 08, 2003 at 03:45:03 PM EST

    This is K5. You expect facts? Sheesh!

    So nyah.


    [ Parent ]
    When I worked for the State (none / 0) (#285)
    by epepke on Thu Aug 14, 2003 at 11:11:49 AM EST

    When I worked for the State of Florida, the formula was a little bit more complicated (one earned a certain number of minutes off for every hour of work), but for what was called Administrative and Personnel positions, it came out to be about 5 weeks per year. This was apart from sick leave, which was about the same amount.

    Of course, working for the state means that you also get paid squat anyway and have to deal with the small-intestine-like bureaocracy, but still.


    The truth may be out there, but lies are inside your head.--Terry Pratchett


    [ Parent ]
    Good point, add data, links. (5.00 / 1) (#32)
    by megid on Fri Aug 08, 2003 at 03:59:47 AM EST

    Especially about terms as "statistic vacation", "productivity", "income distribution" (e.g. high unemployment in Germany vs. 2 shitty McJobs for single mothers in US), journeying (exactly how many countries did an average EUian/USian see?).

    I am sure there are statistics about anything if you search long enough.

    --
    "think first, write second, speak third."

    those off-topic (5.00 / 1) (#37)
    by jjayson on Fri Aug 08, 2003 at 05:00:23 AM EST

    You are talking about poverty level, not income distrubution. Besides, it really doesn't matter when talking about vacation time, too tangentian.

    And the comparison about the number of countries is silly. America is massive compared to European countries. In Europe you can travel 200-300 miles and be in aother country. In American you'd be in the next state. Our states are larger than your countries.

    While being in another country might provide some insight, I am not convinced that opinions and culture differ to a greater degree between European countries than they do between states in America. Given such drastically less access over here in America, it's a silly comparison.
    --
    "Fuck off, preferably with a bullet, if you can find one that's willing to defile itself by being in your head for a split second." - Parent ]

    Heh (4.66 / 6) (#40)
    by nobbystyles on Fri Aug 08, 2003 at 05:23:34 AM EST

    I am not convinced that opinions and culture differ to a greater degree between European countries than they do between states in America

    For starters there's a massive language barrier between countries in Europe. To put it mildly going to France which is 50 miles awy from where I live is a bigger culture shock than going to Florida which I did this year. The US is a sort of distorted and fucked up UK in terms of culture whereas France has a very different culture.

    Plus Europeans do go to lots other countries besides European ones. But I think we are put in the shade by the Aussies and New Zealanders in terms of travelling...  

    [ Parent ]

    No clue, have you? (5.00 / 6) (#43)
    by megid on Fri Aug 08, 2003 at 05:35:13 AM EST

    Not meant to be offensive, but you have never been to Europe, have you? European countries are wildly different, how we could ever become the EU still sometimes wonders me.

    As for the distances -- we all have aeroplanes. And the prices nowadays are ridiculous. Plus, if you go by car, you have straight, empty roads and almost no fuel cost compared to us.

    Besides, I have visited more countries outside Europe than inside.

    Another besides, you are supposed to be the fucking richest people in the world. So dont whine about "long distance, cant afford" either money-wise or time-wise.

    --
    "think first, write second, speak third."
    [ Parent ]

    Whatever (none / 0) (#47)
    by jjayson on Fri Aug 08, 2003 at 06:41:26 AM EST

    We have Canada, Mexico, and America. Going to Canada is like going to another state. If you live in the Canadian border, like Washington, then you have probably gone there for a night or weekend a few times a year too. The same with living near Mexico, and even if you don't live near Mexico many people go there for vacation, like Baja or some other areas, especially for Spring Break.

    Nothing else is even close. Everything else requires crossing an ocean. I wonder how many Europeans have visited the US compared to how many Americans have visited Europe. That would seem to be a better metric of travel.
    --
    "Fuck off, preferably with a bullet, if you can find one that's willing to defile itself by being in your head for a split second." - Parent ]

    A lot of Mexico (none / 0) (#94)
    by andamac on Fri Aug 08, 2003 at 01:45:47 PM EST

    ..is not at all like the US. Unless of course you're going only to the Americanized touristy spring-break spots.

    Canada is a different matter. Practically identical, except for the iceberg farms.

    [ Parent ]

    iceberg farms (5.00 / 2) (#201)
    by TomV on Sun Aug 10, 2003 at 05:26:08 AM EST

    Bienvenue a Quebec, mon ami. S'il vous plait, parlez ici seulement en Fancais. Exactement le meme chose, eh?

    [ Parent ]
    Tabernac, (none / 0) (#241)
    by andamac on Sun Aug 10, 2003 at 08:42:24 PM EST

    vous pouvez m'appeler "bonhomme". ;)

    [ Parent ]
    More holidays please (4.50 / 2) (#42)
    by nebbish on Fri Aug 08, 2003 at 05:32:39 AM EST

    Personally, having worked for European and American firms I think that Europeans get too many benefits and too much time off.

    In what way? Morally? Certainly not economically.

    ---------
    Kicking someone in the head is like punching them in the foot - Bruce Lee

    What say you, pudding? (4.00 / 5) (#51)
    by karb on Fri Aug 08, 2003 at 07:00:14 AM EST

    However, it seems that Europeans work more efficiently. Americans have this work, work, work attitude that results in people spending lots of time at the office, but then using that time without thinking.

    If this is really the case, where is this European Industrial Juggernaut that is crushing american businesses left and right?

    Furthermore, when I'm worried about losing my jobs to inexpensive overseas programmers, the last thing I want to do is tell my bosses that me and my now-quadrupled vacation time per year are even more competitive in a global market ("I now have the basic human right to sit on my ass!").
    --
    Who is the geek who would risk his neck for his brother geek?

    There's no european industrial juggernaut (5.00 / 2) (#66)
    by Ward57 on Fri Aug 08, 2003 at 09:10:27 AM EST

    because europeans don't work as long hours. All he's really claiming is that they work more efficiently - more output per hour worked. Which is logical, since the higher price of labour encourages automation.

    [ Parent ]
    It's a stealth model ;) (4.25 / 4) (#134)
    by ksandstr on Fri Aug 08, 2003 at 10:31:09 PM EST

    There's no European Industrial Juggernaut simply because there's very little point in having one.  After all, it'll just generate a big ugly bubble (boom time, I think it's called) which will eventually either deflate or pop.  Once that has happened, all the economic and productivity advancements we'll have implemented and sacrificed ourselves for will have been for nothing but maybe a couple of pages in a history volume somewhere, much like a rug having been pulled out from under our feet.

    The things that really matter (i.e. arts, sciences, anything that hasn't everything to do with the worshipped ideal of absolute economic efficiency) will take care of themselves in the mean time.  An economic system in a typical European nation (hah, as if there's one) needs only to be efficient enough to keep the country somewhat competitive, not enough to upset any sort of a balance that might have formed but sufficient so that the people don't right out starve... though import/export type stuff doesn't really have much to do with that last bit.

    I guess what I'm getting at is that there's really no natural pressing need for any sort of a rat race, not on the personal or the nation scale. So why even try? That way lies only great personal sacrifice, as we've seen from the US and Japan.

    As for your relationship with your bosses... well, frankly, that's what you get for having an efficiency-oriented job market.  Furthermore, that last bit about sitting on your ass is kind of scary, with the subtext about all your time being the property of your employer by default and everything else being merely "sitting on your ass", i.e. not pushing the employers' vague goals forward in some abstract way and therefore impliclitly less worthy.


    Fin.
    [ Parent ]

    I'm self employed. No vacation in six years. (4.33 / 6) (#56)
    by MichaelCrawford on Fri Aug 08, 2003 at 08:24:18 AM EST

    I am a software consultant. The last time I had a vacation was my two-week trip to Paris and Rome in November '97, in between jobs. That next job didn't last very long, and I started consulting in April '98. I was married in July 2000 - my wife and I have never been on a vacation together. We haven't even had a honeymoon yet.

    It is 8:30 in the morning here on the east coast of the U.S. of A. The reason I am up so early is because I have been up all night working.

    If I don't get a vacation sometime Real Soon Now I will be headed for a trip to the crazy house. The only thing that keeps me sane these days is my writing, however, I know from hard experience that one does not have to be sane to write well.

    It's not like my boss isn't willing to give me time off. I can take time off anytime I don't feel like earning a paycheck. I can take off as much time as I want that way when I'm sick too.

    I have actually taken a number of trips since I've been a consultant, for example I spent a month visiting my wife's family in Newfoundland last year. But I always take my work with me on a laptop when I go. I even did embedded systems development at my parents' house this spring when I visited to be with my dying father in his final days.

    It's not always the case that I can't find the time, however it has always been the case that when I have had the time I haven't had the cash to go anywhere.

    It has become an extraordinarily high priority to both my wife and I that we should take a vacation as soon as possible. As soon as I'm done with the work I've been up all night working on, and receive my paycheck for meeting the milestone, we're going camping.


    --

    Live your fucking life. Sue someone on the Internet. Write a fucking music player. Like the great man Michael David Crawford has shown us all: Hard work, a strong will to stalk, and a few fries short of a happy meal goes a long way. -- bride of spidy


    And remember to leave that cell/PDA/laptop behind! (5.00 / 2) (#85)
    by Akshay on Fri Aug 08, 2003 at 11:58:06 AM EST

    Trust me, you don't want them along with you when you camp.

    [ Parent ]
    Take whatever gives you a restful holiday! (none / 0) (#238)
    by gidds on Sun Aug 10, 2003 at 07:48:05 PM EST

    And remember to leave that cell/PDA/laptop behind!

    Doesn't that depend on how they're used?

    I spend ages using my palmtop, and quite a bit of time using my mobile phone, but then I've only ever had them for my own personal use. If I liked camping, I'd almost certainly take both, and they wouldn't cause my holiday to be any more stressful or less restful.

    Andy/
    [ Parent ]

    As soon as I'm done with work... (5.00 / 1) (#236)
    by Run4YourLives on Sun Aug 10, 2003 at 05:41:23 PM EST

    There's the problem right there...

    I hate to say it, but you wouldn't be in the position you're in if you lost the attitude that work should come first... YOU COME FIRST!

    It's slightly Japanese, but without all of that fanatical devotion to the workplace. - CheeseburgerBrown
    [ Parent ]

    glad to see (1.21 / 19) (#57)
    by Dirty Sanchez on Fri Aug 08, 2003 at 08:25:29 AM EST

    that you're so willing to suck the cock of the man. grow some spine you servile little runt.

    Missing poll option (4.75 / 8) (#74)
    by forager on Fri Aug 08, 2003 at 10:41:45 AM EST

    Missing poll option: I don't get any vacation.

    Part-time workers, including those (like me) who work full time hours at part-time jobs because no one is hiring full-time workers in today's market, get no paid vacation.

    I haven't had a paid-day off since ... well, ever.

    -A.

    Same here! (none / 0) (#260)
    by Big Sexxy Joe on Mon Aug 11, 2003 at 07:04:23 PM EST

    I've never been paid for time off in my 24 years on the planet. I've always tried to come in sick as I don't have any offical sick time and I don't want to be viewed as a bad worker.

    I'm permant temporary worker. In the future I think a lot more permanent full-time workers will have either part-time or temp status. No benefits, no sick time and you can be laid off at the drop of a hat.

    I'm like Jesus, only better.
    Democracy Now! - your daily, uncensored, corporate-free grassroots news hour
    [ Parent ]

    Is that something to be proud of (5.00 / 1) (#292)
    by FeersumAsura on Fri Aug 15, 2003 at 11:38:16 AM EST

    Why do you put up with it? Fight for your rights, just because you government doesn't believe time off is a right doesn't mean you shouldn't.
    ==
    It didn't work the first time.
    [ Parent ]
    well... (4.33 / 3) (#87)
    by regeya on Fri Aug 08, 2003 at 12:16:49 PM EST

    speaking from the perspective of someone who hasn't had a vacation since 1998 (not counting unemployment for four months in 2001) I'd like to see some reforms, plsthx.

    [ yokelpunk | kuro5hin diary ]

    One Difference (4.33 / 6) (#88)
    by makaera on Fri Aug 08, 2003 at 12:24:03 PM EST

    In most European countries, if a worker wants to retire he has a good government safety net to fall back on. In the US, however, the government safety net is not good enough to make it a sole source for retirement income. Plus you aren't eligible for benefits at as young an age as in most European countries. Coupled with the desire of many to retire early, lots of people work hard to claw their way to the top so that they can make and save enough money to retire early and not work at all.

    It's interesting to note that both the US and the European countries are discussing drastic reductions on government benefits, regardless of which system is being used. I have seen several articles discussing people in Europe who retired between the ages of 55-60 several years ago, saved basically nothing for retirement, and may have to re-enter the workforce since the governments in their countries will no longer be able to pay the generous benefits that have been dispersed up to this point. But no one will hire them since younger workers are available. This is creating some tension.

    Not that the US system is perfect. The limitations of our retirement system were just made public when many people lost much of the money in their IRAs due to misdeeds of the company officers, who escaped with their own fortunes largely intact.

    It's interesting that Intel gives all of its US employees an eight week sabbatical every seven years. And someone told me that the design engineers are often given sabbaticals more often than that, especially after they've finished intense projects.

    My opinion (and most of this comment is opinion) is that many US workers waste many of the best years of their lives working too hard so that they don't have to work at all later in life. I actually enjoy the work that I do, so I have no real plans to retire early. On the other hand I'm not working myself to death either. You have to have balance in life.

    And it wouldn't hurt to have a Spanish style workday either.

    "Ninety rounds in there," Joel Andrews said. "If you can't take it down with 90 rounds, you better turn in your badge!" -- from

    Europe is aging fast (none / 0) (#233)
    by nusuth on Sun Aug 10, 2003 at 05:01:03 PM EST

    European governments can not sustain their current social policies because the working population is decreasing and will continue to decrease at an increasing rate for decades to come while the retired population is not decreasing nearly as fast as the working population and productivity improvements are not drastic enough. This is the main reason for the policy change.

    OTOH USA's population is young and increasing. She should be able to give more benefits to her population without problems similar to EU's.

    [ Parent ]

    Fuck Productivity (4.40 / 20) (#91)
    by johnnyfever on Fri Aug 08, 2003 at 12:38:14 PM EST

    My life is about me (and my family and my friends, etc.) Not about slaving away making money for someone else. Obviously for most of us work is necessary. If you can enjoy your job that is a big plus as you will have to spend a large part of your life doing it whether you like it or not.

    I simply do not understand 'career oriented' people. Like most of us, I work with several of them. They have no kids (or worse, neglected ones), rarely take vacation because of the mistaken belief that they are so important that everything will go to pot if they take a week off, and are constantly stressed out. These people are not healthy physically (or mentally in my opinion.)

    Some will argue that you have to work hard in order to improve you quality of life. Bullshit. I make the same amount of money as the career oriented people around me, live in the same neighbourhood, drive the same SUV. In fact I am far less in debt than most of these people - they seem to think that two people with no offspring need a 3000 square foot house and 3 cars - and I typically work a 6 or 7 hour day.

    Call me crazy, but no matter how much I like my job, I would much rather be standing in the lake playing frisbee, skiing, sailing, hanging out with the wife and kids, taking the dog for a walk, having a few beers with the boys, working in the yard, you name it!

    Get your priorities straight. You will be a much happier and healthier person for it. You are not going to change the world being a Role 3 employee at Big Faceless Corporation Inc.

    I could not agree with you any more if I tried. (4.00 / 2) (#102)
    by techwolf on Fri Aug 08, 2003 at 04:01:00 PM EST

    It is called LIFE and as you said it's mine bitch so hands off. I will work and earn what it takes to make me happy and after that, well, fuck you all I'm going home. I just took a nice vaction to the serria nevada mountians. My boss told me "No I can't spare you right now" so I told him "ok but try finding someone else who can do this is less time than it will take me to go on a vaction, because my flight leaves next week" I don't really care if it costs me my job, I will enjoy my life with my family...they are more important than any job will ever be.


    "The strongest reason for the people to retain the right to keep and bear arms is, as a last resort, to protect themselves against tyranny in government." - Thomas Jefferson
    [ Parent ]

    kids (4.66 / 3) (#168)
    by wonkie on Sat Aug 09, 2003 at 11:30:22 AM EST

    They have no kids (or worse, neglected ones)

    Now while I agree that neglecting one's kids is a very bad thing, you seem to be implying that by not having kids, these people are somehow experiencing a lower quality of life (by grouping it together with not taking any vacation and being constantly stressed out).

    What if they simply don't want to have kids? Does that mean that something's wrong with them? Or better yet, what if they realize that they wouldn't be able to devote enough time to kids if they had them, and so decide to hold off/not have any?

    This country has a lot of problems, but "not having enough children" is certainly not one of them. Too many people have kids who either don't really want them or don't realize what they're getting themselves into, and the result is a lot of neglected, unwanted, and poorly raised children. And that's just the "planned" children.

    Now I'm not trying to say that "kids are bad, no one should have them!" Rather, I'm saying that choosing to not have kids does not mean that there's something wrong with you.

    Sorry for the off-topic post, but this statement just struck a nerve.

    [ Parent ]

    he's not saying that... (4.00 / 1) (#235)
    by Run4YourLives on Sun Aug 10, 2003 at 05:37:19 PM EST

    I think he's just using that fact (not raising kids) to illustrate that these people are their jobs... not so much that they hate kids, just that they can't (or won't) devote the time to raising them... not an issue of course if you don't want kids, but I'm sure you could substitute any non-career orientated interest in place of a child.

    It's slightly Japanese, but without all of that fanatical devotion to the workplace. - CheeseburgerBrown
    [ Parent ]
    Negotiate (4.00 / 4) (#95)
    by rujith on Fri Aug 08, 2003 at 02:32:37 PM EST

    Try negotiating. As a developer in the U.S., I've managed to take three-week vacations. My sister in Australia had three weeks of vacation, but wanted to take an extra two weeks no-pay, so she simply told her boss, "This is what I'm doing. Do you want me to return to work at the end of it?" The company okayed it. Next time you're negotiating a new job, once the salary has been agreed, try saying, "I'd like an extra week of vacation - adjust my salary by a factor of 49/50 (or whatever)." - Rujith.

    Vacation -- the reality (4.50 / 4) (#96)
    by John Thompson on Fri Aug 08, 2003 at 03:11:16 PM EST

    I've been at my present job long enough now that I ostensibly have 4 weeks of paid vacation annually.  However, since I am expected to work every third weekend, every other national holiday and cannot take vacation in that prime week between Xmas and New Years and must find my own replacement for the weekends I am scheduled to work it never quite works out that way.  

    This year in fact, because of the nationwide nurse shortage I was only able to get a total of 7 consecutive days for my vacation.  So 4 weeks of paid vacation doesn't tranlate into 4 consecutive weeks away from my job, nice as that sounds.


    VACATIONS ARE TEH GOOD (4.33 / 3) (#97)
    by mattyb77 on Fri Aug 08, 2003 at 03:14:25 PM EST

    Where I work, they give us 21 days of ETO (Earned Time Off). Beginning with your first paycheck, and every one thereafter, you accrue six hours of ETO.

    Works for me, but it isn't like I use 21 days of vacation, especially since I'm the only sysadmin.



    --
    "I bestow upon myself the `Doctorate of Cubicism', for educators are ignorant of Nature's Harmonic Time Cube Principle and cannot bestow the prestigious honor of wisdom upon the wisest human ever." -- Gene Ray, the wisest human ever
    The 30-hour week (4.27 / 11) (#104)
    by jd on Fri Aug 08, 2003 at 04:28:53 PM EST

    Personally, I'm not in favour of excessive vacations, but the US so-called "work ethic" is demonstrably not working. Those lower down the ladder work dangerously long hours for very little compensation. (Overtime pay? Never heard of it!)

    I know plenty of people who work double shifts in the medical field (where mistakes are a little more serious than an "oops!"), where pay is maybe fifty cents over minimum wage and vacations don't exist.

    I've worked myself in jobs where I was on-call 24/7, expected to put in 60+ hours of work a week, where there was zero "official" time off and national holidays were work days just like any other.

    And what did this extra work time produce? Not a whole lot, for either side. For me, pay was fixed. No extra compensation for overtime or irregular hours. For them, nothing extra was achieved, because most of the extra time was spent working around their blunderings. Besides which, you get kinda mentally exhausted after a while.

    Personally, I'd argue that shorter hours would achieve a number of benefits:

    • Better communication, because you don't have the extra time to waste on inefficiencies
    • Better work practices, because employees would have greater reserves to call upon, combined with having to focus better because they've less time to achieve the results
    • Lower unemployment - an empty office earns no profit. By having fewer hours for a given person, maximum profitability would require more employees
    • Better management, because managers would need to focus on what they actually need. By forcing management to work in fewer hours, there'd be less opportunity to waste meetings with trivia, and greater risks in creating such waste
    • Greater accountability, because it's harder to hide stuff in a smaller space

    Of course, my opinion is irrelevent, but if I had the One Ring of Power, I'd probably consider the following:

    • 30-hour weeks. Maximum. Regardless of the field you're working in. You can't really do anything productive past that point, so maybe the extra time could be better spent elsewhere.
    • 12-hour days. Maximum. The idea of pulling double shifts in very high-risk professions is barbaric. So-called "medical malpractice" kills more people and costs more money each year than all the terrorism in the last decade combined. If we can get all wrapped up over something that's really quite rare and fairly insignificant in the scheme of things, maybe we should be much more concerned about the common-place, multi-billion dollar, tens of thousands of lives kind of dangers.
    • Mandatory 30 paid days off a year. When you take them should be your business, not the company's, but the company should make very certain you do take them. You're no use to them or yourself, burned-out and brain-dead.
    • Mandatory paid sabaticals. Dead skill-sets aren't much use to anyone, either. Learning in addition to working is never going to be as efficient as concentrating on acquiring new skills and refreshing old ones.

    In other words, there should be time off, but people should be encouraged to use it productively. Fossilized, worn-out, burned-out wrecks don't make for a good workforce. They never have, and never will. So don't keep employees in conditions that promote fossilization, wearing out or burning out. It's cheap in the short term, but it's very stupid in the long run.

    Oh, and I'd probably raise minimum wage to the minimum livable wage. If you can't live off what you're earning on one job, you'll just end up having to do twice as bad over two jobs to keep yourself afloat. Encouraging bad work is no way to run a country, or a business. It only works in the "market economy" we have, because there's no serious competition in the affected professions. Those who work at those extremes don't have the room to innovate, but they do have the room to copy their competitors' malpractices.

    Minimum Wage (4.66 / 3) (#112)
    by TheOnlyCoolTim on Fri Aug 08, 2003 at 05:26:54 PM EST

    It's livable, as long as you're smart enough not to go off and pump out some babies....

    Tim
    "We are trapped in the belly of this horrible machine, and the machine is bleeding to death."
    [ Parent ]

    No offense, but... whee! (1.66 / 3) (#136)
    by ksandstr on Fri Aug 08, 2003 at 10:51:22 PM EST

    The things you describe in the first four paragraphs sound suspiciously like what used to go on in USSR-style communist countries -- fixed pay for practically forced labor (USSR: work, or uncle Stalin eats you; US: work, or be homeless and get eaten by organized crime etc), no room for personal growth (unless you can do that while sleeping), no vacations (hey, I think the USSR had some national holidays, though I'm not quite sure), etc...

    Again, I don't mean any particular offense to you personally, but... Who's the commie now? Ahhahahah.


    Fin.
    [ Parent ]

    That is one big reason (4.87 / 8) (#172)
    by jd on Sat Aug 09, 2003 at 12:52:07 PM EST

    I am skeptical about the system in the US, and why I believe that the system itself created the conditions that resulted in the recent economic collapse, the one in the Reagan era, and even the Great Depression.

    Sure, it's easy to blame the politicians, but they're just a product of the system. How can they be otherwise? Their understanding of politics comes from the system they live in.

    British junior doctors are often expected to work 90-hour shifts. This isn't limited to the US. Even countries with some moderate comprehension of welfare are just as prone to permit abuse of those at the bottom of the ladder.

    There has to be a better way to do this. There has to be a way for all people to be able to improve their lot in life. Whether they choose to or not is their business, but if you don't allow room for growth then you limit the Einsteins and Hawkings of the world to only the richest families, because they're the only ones able to provide the means to improve.

    Sorry, but I have a problem with that. There are just as many talented poor people, but if they can't make use of that talent, they're stuck flipping burgers for the rest of their life. Both they AND society as a whole are the losers in that deal.

    A mechanical genius who can't afford University courses would be lucky if they got a job in Pep Boys as a minimum-wage mechanic. What good does that do anybody? There are plenty of people who could ONLY work as a low-end car mechanic, who would really appreciate the job. Instead, because there's only a limited market for car mechanics, they're most likely going to end up in the homeless shelter. Nobody is going to hire a person because they need a job.

    So there's a knock-on effect. The boy wonder in the above example could be designing and building the next-generation of aircraft. They could be revolutionizing some part of the high-end industry, by being in a position to use their innate abilities. No degrees, no high-end job. Simple as that. These days, there are many professions which consider the minimum to be a masters or a PhD.

    You also have a person who could be constructively employed doing nothing (at best) or feeding the worms at worst.

    What good does this do? Where's the profit - for the companies, for the individuals, for the country - in wasting perfectly good people and perfectly good skills? Sure, it's "cheaper" to only have the wealthy be educated. But the net cost, in lost opportunity, is far greater.

    Sounds a little "socialist"? Perhaps. But if the profit is enough, then isn't it also "capitalist"?

    I'll wrap this up with a little ancient history. There are plenty of people with a Celtic background. They might want to ponder this. When the Roman Empire finally conquered Britain, their historians noted one thing above all else. There was no homelessness and poverty didn't exist. Rome, at that time, was still mostly mud huts. The population wasn't much different from that of Londinium (now London). Yet both these things were rife in Roman civilization.

    What does this tell me? It tells me that these things are optional. We choose to allow poverty and deprivation in our society. It would be perfectly possible for America, or any other country, to opt to eliminate these conditions entirely. "There will always be the poor" is because that is what we've elected to have, not because it's inevitable.

    I don't know if it's practical to eliminate poverty and deprivation entirely, in the US. There are a lot of people known to be below the poverty line, and there are probably as many again (or more) unrecorded people in conditions far worse. Again, though, that's a choice. We don't have to choose to be "practical" in everything we do. It's not mandatory.

    What I believe is that it's not only practical but profitable to raise the living conditions, education and health of as many people as possible. To make use of our greatest untapped resource - ourselves. If the US truly believes in the power of the dollar, then there's a lot of power out there which is being left to rot.

    Note that I'm not looking at the humanitarian side. It's always more humane to improve the lot of others. That's a given. But since when did humanitarian reasons ever really change anything? Since that isn't "good enough" for today's society, I'm focussing on the things that are - what's in it for you? Why should you care about someone else's education? Why should you care what hours someone else works? What do you get out of the deal?

    What I'm saying is that there is something in it for you. One of the BeeGee's died, due to catastrophic mistakes in the medical care. This is a person who had plenty of money to pay for quality care, but whose medical care killed him. Doctors want to cap awards in malpractice suits, because there are too many such suits, and the damages are too great.

    Why so many suits? Think about what I said in the earlier post - double or tripple shifts for medical workers. Some medical staff can be expected to work 90 hours at a time. I think I can see one absolutely stunning reason why there are so many errors made in medicine. This is "mission-critical" stuff - mistakes can be fatal. Yet we allow hospitals to push their staff beyond the point of exhaustion.

    More staff and fewer hours for each may be more expensive, if you only look at the payroll, but if a single award is in the tens of millions (or more), how many people can you afford to hire, to eliminate even just one error?

    If an aircraft has a faulty design and crashes, killing hundreds of people, how many people can you afford to put through high school and university, to get the extra engineers you need to prevent those mistakes? (This is a serious question. The DeHaviland corporation lost a lot of aircraft, resulting in a few thousand deaths in total, because a single panel was poorly designed on the Comet jet aircraft. The company went belly up. For the same net cost, how many extra engineers could they have hired, to prevent that mistake, and keep the company not only going but profitable?)

    Too much that is good ends up on the scrap pile, because we're too short-sighted to see the long-term effects, and too blind to the possibilities to gain from the opportunity.

    In England, there's an expression "turning muck to brass". It refers to those who make the effort to turn what everyone else sees as trash into a golden opportunity. Good for them. What I will never understand, though, is those who, even when they see this happening in front of them, still persist in rejecting much that is golden as mere muck. You'd think we'd learn. No, we just call those who do this "geniuses" and play-pretend that the people are doing something unique and unfathomable, rather than admitting that we blundered, and all they'd done is avoided the same mistake.

    [ Parent ]

    who pays up? (none / 0) (#255)
    by TheBeardedScorpion on Mon Aug 11, 2003 at 01:40:51 PM EST

    More staff and fewer hours for each may be more expensive, if you only look at the payroll, but if a single award is in the tens of millions (or more), how many people can you afford to hire, to eliminate even just one error?

    Not to disagree with the spirit of your comment, but I believe that doctors are personally held liable for mistakes that hospitals make, NOT the hospitals themselves. That may be why the hospitals don't seem to care about overworking their staff and causing fatal mistakes.

    [ Parent ]
    Just what... (none / 0) (#185)
    by Kal on Sun Aug 10, 2003 at 12:00:17 AM EST

    I know plenty of people who work double shifts in the medical field (where mistakes are a little more serious than an "oops!"), where pay is maybe fifty cents over minimum wage and vacations don't exist.

    Just what jobs are they doing and where? I ask because everyone I know in the medical field, including my wife and my sister, are very well paid. Personally, I still don't think they get paid enough but it's certainly a lot more than I make as a programmer.

    [ Parent ]
    Mostly the psychiatric and junior doctor levels (none / 0) (#220)
    by jd on Sun Aug 10, 2003 at 02:44:12 PM EST

    And it's mostly in South Carolina. Pay for these kinds of positions is typically around $12,000 per year, for those with a degree, and $30,000 for those with a Masters.

    [ Parent ]
    Very suprising. (3.00 / 1) (#221)
    by Kal on Sun Aug 10, 2003 at 02:51:57 PM EST

    My wife, as an RN, makes 50-60K, depending on the shift she works, in both New Jersey and Pennsylvania. My sister, after a three year radiology program, is making around 65K in Pennsylvania.

    [ Parent ]
    Don't tell me how much I can work. (3.33 / 3) (#205)
    by Morally Inflexible on Sun Aug 10, 2003 at 08:42:11 AM EST

    Where does the government get off telling me how many hours I can put in? Before I reached the age of 18 and got a salaried programming position, this was a major problem for me.

    At one point, I actually got a second job at a lower pay rate because my first job did not want to pay overtime on hours past the first 40. The laws ment to protect me fucked me. Again.

    I can take care of myself. I don't need the government telling me when to rest.

    [ Parent ]

    Yeah, yeah. (3.50 / 4) (#219)
    by jd on Sun Aug 10, 2003 at 02:41:59 PM EST

    And I bet you can drive safely on an Interstate at 110 mph, after a 24-hour shift and 12 pints of beer, too.

    Cut the crap. We both know it's not about hours, it's about pay. You even said as much. If pay were covered, then the hours are irrelevent. If the Government ensured that you were paid decently in the first place, why the hell would you WANT to work 12 hours at a time?

    If companies were put in a position where they had to get quality time, not quantity of time, then they'd likely find that they could get far more from far less.

    In other words, it would be in their interests to pay you more, work you less, and allow you to develop further.

    Ultimately, it has nothing to do with telling you how long you can work. It's telling the country how to get the best out of the work that's done. It's about making optimal use of people, rather than treating them as necessary but unwelcome burdens.

    [ Parent ]

    Maybe I like working. (3.00 / 3) (#237)
    by Morally Inflexible on Sun Aug 10, 2003 at 06:54:49 PM EST

    Yes, mostly it's about the pay. I dono about you, but I felt that $7.15/hr was a decent wage for a guy with no education and some social problems. My first job, I made less than minimum wage, but I was 15. I would have done the work for the free computer parts they gave me. The experience was hundreds of times more valuable than the pay.

    Developing myself is *my* responsability, not the companies, or the government's. I want to develop myself in directions I want to go- not in directions my company or the government wants me to go. I only worked the 60 hour arrangement for a month, because I felt I was not learning enough. One of the jobs was basic computer support, and the other was warehouse labor. I wanted to be a programmer, and as I had no desire to go to school, I knew I would have to teach myself. I did, and Within a year, I had my first programming job. (Now, I had been working on training myself for more than just one year- it took closer to 6 years)

    Developing myself now means expanding my side business to the point where I can quit my dayjob and become a full-time entraprenuer. Why would the company want to help me with this? they will loose one of their senior systems administrators.

    I now have a good 4 years experience as a programmer/SysAdmin, and a salaried position. I usually work a 45 hour week, usually putting in one 12 hour day during that week. This is how I choose to work, even though I'd get paid the same for doing 35 hours.

    If you can not understand why a person wants to work on something until it is done, I can not help you. I can only hope that I never have to work with you.

    [ Parent ]

    universal health coverage would also help (3.00 / 1) (#239)
    by ptraci on Sun Aug 10, 2003 at 07:58:46 PM EST

    If someone besides our employers paid for our health insurance, Our employers could afford to hire more of us and give them better other benefits. Yes, we would probably have to pay more in taxes, but more of us would be employed to pay those taxes.
    "Facts are a better basis for decisions than ideology." - Howard Dean.
    [ Parent ]
    Tax Rates (4.00 / 1) (#254)
    by cam on Mon Aug 11, 2003 at 12:35:08 PM EST

    Yes, we would probably have to pay more in taxes, but more of us would be employed to pay those taxes.

    You would be surprised. When I first started working in the US and Australia had an income based tax system ( it is now flat rate + GST), I did the sums to see which had better taxation. It was about the same. Australia had a public health system which my taxes contributed too. I pay about the same in tax in the US and there is no public health.

    The US does have public health, about 25% of the US Federal Budget goes to a mixture of Welfare and Health. That is as much as the military gets and doesnt include the amount that the States, Counties and Cities spend on health. There is a huge amount of money spent on health by government in the US. Where does it all go?

    I dont think employers should be paying for health it is a barrier of entry to entrepreneurship. I dont like it at all. Health should either be payed for at the individual level for the purposes of freedom or at the national level by government for the purposes of equity.

    Australia had a mixed private/public system and it worked better than the US system. I have been a health consumer in both and the Australian system was easier for the consumer.

    cam
    Freedom, Liberty, Equity and an Australian Republic
    [ Parent ]

    Good Old-Fashioned Efficiency (3.28 / 7) (#105)
    by freestylefiend on Fri Aug 08, 2003 at 04:35:25 PM EST

    I think that Europeans get too many benefits and too much time off

    For what purpose would we (European residents) work longer?

    We (people of Earth) produce more than we ever have before (ignoring recent fluctuations). We work longer than we have done in some less productive times. We could improve efficiency (in terms of useful productivity for effort) by not doing so much unnecessary transportation, public relations and manufacture of packaging.

    Even if we returned to an earlier level of productivity, then we would still produce enough.

    Idle hands (1.63 / 19) (#106)
    by sellison on Fri Aug 08, 2003 at 04:39:37 PM EST

    do the devils work.

    Paid vacations are a socialist concept that Americans should avoid like the plague.

    Patriots know we need to work harder than any other nation to maintain our ability protect the honest Christians of the world!
     


    "No, I don't know that atheists should be considered as citizens, nor should they be considered as patriots. This is one nation under God."- George H.W. Bush

    You're new here aren't you? (2.87 / 8) (#107)
    by debacle on Fri Aug 08, 2003 at 04:54:31 PM EST

    We have a very advanced form of de-trolling stories called comment moderation. It's not that effective but it does work in the long run.

    Here, let me show you.

    It tastes sweet.
    [ Parent ]

    I've experienced the liberal censorship (2.13 / 15) (#109)
    by sellison on Fri Aug 08, 2003 at 05:11:43 PM EST

    effect, note my previous mention of how all you socialists press the 1 or 0 rating (if you've been given THAT awesome power)like rats pushing buttons for zaps to their pleasure center, when confronted with ideas you can't handle here.

    Makes you understand things like Stalin's purges, Robspierre, and the 'Cultural' Revolution: give a liberal the power to suppress other people's ideas, and he will jump all over it.

    But the only one who can rate me is God, and I believe I'm getting straight 5s from Him.


    "No, I don't know that atheists should be considered as citizens, nor should they be considered as patriots. This is one nation under God."- George H.W. Bush
    [ Parent ]

    God called me. (4.00 / 5) (#148)
    by andamac on Sat Aug 09, 2003 at 01:25:08 AM EST

    He thinks you smell funny.

    [ Parent ]
    I just did (5.00 / 2) (#174)
    by edo on Sat Aug 09, 2003 at 01:37:59 PM EST

    > But the only one who can rate me is God, and I
    > believe I'm getting straight 5s from Him.

    Well, I just gave you one for giving me the biggest laugh of today. Many thanks!
    -- 
    Sentimentality is merely the Bank Holiday of cynicism.
     - Oscar Wilde
    [ Parent ]

    Forgive me for stating the obvious... (5.00 / 1) (#270)
    by synaesthesia on Tue Aug 12, 2003 at 12:30:51 PM EST

    ...but if you were a Christian rather than a troll, you'd have rather more humility than to state, "I believe I'm getting straight 5s from Him".

    Ah shit, I forgot, you can't forgive me, only God can do that.


    Sausages or cheese?
    [ Parent ]

    So why do I STILL see you commenting here? (nt) (none / 0) (#265)
    by Ta bu shi da yu on Tue Aug 12, 2003 at 04:58:03 AM EST



    ---
    AdTIה"the think tank that didn't".
    ה
    [ Parent ]
    Work *is* vacation for loyal workers. (3.11 / 9) (#111)
    by eSolutions on Fri Aug 08, 2003 at 05:25:34 PM EST

    Slacking may be "cool," but as one matures one finds that hard work offers a rush and "high" better than any doobie Johnny Pusher has for sale.

    The comments here say things like "a short vacation refreshes me" and "I deserve rest to enrich my personhood." These people need to dig into their work. Have you actually gone balls-out full-thrust towards meeting a project deadline? Have you actually seen the look of Christmasy joy on the face of a young CEO when he sees the Enterprise Solutions you provide, and the Synergistic DNA they will grant his iGanization?

    Either work -- really work -- or don't. The choice is yours.

    --eSlns.

    Perspective (3.80 / 5) (#118)
    by JanneM on Fri Aug 08, 2003 at 06:04:42 PM EST

    Either work -- really work -- or don't. The choice is yours.

    Um, OK. I don't, then.

    There are several comments here with the general thrust of this one. It's a sort of "work ethic" that implies that work is always an end in itself. For a lot of people, that simply isn't true anymore.

    I like my work. I enjoy it a lot. In many ways I am one of the lucky ones that get to work on stuff that I would probably be doing in my spare time anyway. But for me, it is still work. If I did it as a hobby, I would do it differently, with different time schedules, and would do somewhat different things.

    The reason I am doing it as work is to get paid. Payment is good. It pays the rent. It pays the bills. It pays for groceries, transportation, beer and all the other elements of living. But that's it. The work part of work is just an enabler for the important parts of life.

    Someone noted (I forgot who) that there are plenty of senior citizens regretting that they didn't travel more, or spent more time with their loved ones, or that they didn't commit to expanding a talent or hobby. Nobody ever regrets not having spent more time working.

    ---
    Trust the Computer. The Computer is your friend.
    [ Parent ]

    Salieri did. (5.00 / 1) (#121)
    by eSolutions on Fri Aug 08, 2003 at 06:08:48 PM EST

    Nobody ever regrets not having spent more time working.

    Those who really care about craftsmanship -- about reaching the sort of immortality that only old-fashioned dedication can bring -- look back and regret not having worked more.

    Consider Salieri, forever mediocre compared to Mozart. You can bet your ass he wished he'd worked harder.

    --eSlns.

    [ Parent ]

    don't bet everything on a card (none / 0) (#129)
    by svampa on Fri Aug 08, 2003 at 07:34:08 PM EST

    Do you mean Salieri could have reach Mozart?, there are a lot factors involved in success, hard work is one of them, talent is another, and luck is the other one.

    Do you know what brokers do? they don't buy only stocks of one company, they buy from a lot of companies. Do the same, you mustn't bet you whole life on success in work, if that fails for different reasons, you won't have anything. Get an alternative, get a life.



    [ Parent ]
    but is it work? (3.00 / 1) (#132)
    by horny smurf on Fri Aug 08, 2003 at 09:54:50 PM EST

    If you really do care about your craftsmanship that much, you're probably doing something you love, something you would do even if you weren't paid (ceterus paribus). In which case, are you really working?

    I know there are 9-5 musicians and artists, but that's often a "lifestyle" career.

    [ Parent ]

    Eh? (none / 0) (#180)
    by lb008d on Sat Aug 09, 2003 at 08:09:07 PM EST

    Consider Salieri, forever mediocre compared to Mozart.

    You've obviously never listened to any of his music - mediocre is hardly how I would describe it.

    [ Parent ]

    how about (none / 0) (#218)
    by Battle Troll on Sun Aug 10, 2003 at 02:03:42 PM EST

    "mediocre compared to Mozart"

    Also, have to listened to 99% of the Baroque composers? I lived in the same damn city as Tafelmusik, and let me tell you, that was far too close.
    --
    Skarphedinn was carrying the axe with which he had killed Thrainn Sigfusson and which he called 'Battle Troll.'
    Njal's Saga, ca 1280 AD
    [ Parent ]

    Either live -- really live -- or don't. (none / 0) (#127)
    by svampa on Fri Aug 08, 2003 at 07:17:15 PM EST

    Are things like that? binary working: You work, or you don't, you live, eat, drink, talk about/for/in your work, xor you're not working.

    Isn't there analogic work?. You can work 0 and you can work 100, but you can work 77.17 too.

    Well, of course there a levels, and of course companies love people that don't have a life and live for their work 100, and there are companies that have got the full staff of 100% working people.

    Is it worth? For the company, sure. For you, I don't thing so. Even if you enjoy at work or you are the owner of the company, get a life, you can have both, a life and a work.



    [ Parent ]
    Riiiight (4.00 / 1) (#192)
    by scruffyMark on Sun Aug 10, 2003 at 01:31:35 AM EST

    Sure, we should all work in a balls-out synergistic deadline-driven jobs, for the rush it gives us all.

    One catch. If everyone did that, you'd starve to death. Naked. In the dark. Because the really important jobs, the ones without which we would all be too busy hunting and gathering and digging our own latrines to provide Enterprise Solutions, are not exciting. There is just no way that you're going to get a balls-out deadline-driven adrenaline rush from a shift at the flour mill, the fish packing plant, the power plant, or in the cotton fields. These are jobs for which you show up, put in your eight hours, and go home to not think about work until the start of your next shift, and from which you damn well need a vacation to keep you sane.

    Besides which, you said "synergistic DNA", which automatically renders any arguments you may put forth invalid for the next hour at least, no matter how sound the ideas. The vengeance of the gods of Language is inescapable.

    [ Parent ]

    You either own the company or are a fool (3.50 / 2) (#193)
    by lukme on Sun Aug 10, 2003 at 01:35:54 AM EST

    What people like you need to remember is that loyality is earned and is a 2 way street.

    Are there any loyal companies? I don't know of any. Quite frankly, when company management is loyal and fair to its workers, then the workers may be loyal and fair in return. In this respect, actions speak louder than words.

    Just so that you know, here are some examples of what not to do:

    1) Give employees limited raises, missmanage their retirement accounts, yet be able to pay out ~70,000 for a new car to replace your 2 year old car simply because it was old.

    2) After having spent a several month paid vacation, child your employees for not spending enough over time to produce a quailty product.

    3) Attempt to motivate people by firing their coworkers.




    -----------------------------------
    It's awfully hard to fly with eagles when you're a turkey.
    [ Parent ]
    so.. (none / 0) (#207)
    by Mizuno Ami on Sun Aug 10, 2003 at 09:45:26 AM EST

    How often do you do that? Or are you retired...?

    [ Parent ]
    Johnny Pusher sells shit. (4.00 / 4) (#225)
    by Innocent Bystander on Sun Aug 10, 2003 at 03:12:14 PM EST

    If you think the rush of fulfilling the avarice of little Capitalist Mc Greedy the Fourth is better than any doobie; you, my friend, have never smoked a good doobie.

    Either toke -- really toke -- or don't. The choice is yours.

    [ Parent ]

    Good example (3.00 / 2) (#115)
    by SwampGas on Fri Aug 08, 2003 at 05:36:52 PM EST

    I've been working non-stop as a freelance coder since high school.  Unless you consider an overnight trip to Atlantic City or a day time outing to Centralia, PA a "vacation", I haven't seen it in 7 or 8 years.

    Even if I were to disappear in Florida or Hawaii for a week, I'd still have my laptop to work and wireless phone to stay in touch.

    It's not that I can't stop working...it's that I have this need to stay connected.  I forget where I read it (probably on Slashdot), but people nowadays developing a dependancy on information.

    I can't believe this getting +1 votes. (3.70 / 10) (#125)
    by jjayson on Fri Aug 08, 2003 at 06:49:44 PM EST

    With sentences like: "However, it seems from my subjective experience that Europeans work more efficiently."

    Immediately followed by a link that disproves that with the silly comment: "the US appears to be slightly higher"

    Where apparently "slight" is defined as 16-20% higher (according to the link).

    Also the data does take into account different times of working it seems to say. From the link: "Hours worked: estimates based on Eurostat figures and OECD figures for the average hours worked per person employed per country"

    So it seems that the numbers of hours worked per country was averaged against the size of the workforce.

    Nevermind that fact that the US is growing an $11 trillion economy while the EU is struggling to hit $8 trillion.

    Yes, Americans work longer than they should and are probably overly consumerist at times. However, they also reap the rewards for that in terms of higher wealth and higher productivity.

    It's funny. A European can claim to work more productitve than an American and K5ers will believe it. When the figures prove that wrong and somebody claims that Americans are more productive (like virtually everybody already knows), it is called nationalism or narrow-mindedness.

    Yet again, the American-hating faction wins out at K5.
    --
    "Fuck off, preferably with a bullet, if you can find one that's willing to defile itself by being in your head for a split second." -

    why do you hate k5 so much? /nt (3.00 / 2) (#139)
    by rmg on Fri Aug 08, 2003 at 11:09:13 PM EST



    _____ intellectual tiddlywinks
    [ Parent ]

    You haven't been around here long, have you? (5.00 / 2) (#141)
    by porkchop_d_clown on Fri Aug 08, 2003 at 11:12:07 PM EST

    Stick around for the next burn-America-in-effigy campaign. There's bound to be one soon.


    --
    His men will follow him anywhere, but only out of morbid curiousity.


    [ Parent ]
    why do you hate America so much? (1.00 / 1) (#142)
    by rmg on Fri Aug 08, 2003 at 11:21:04 PM EST

    that's the problem with you stupid liberals. you think with your emotions instead of using logic.

    _____ intellectual tiddlywinks
    [ Parent ]

    *blink* *blink* (4.00 / 2) (#170)
    by porkchop_d_clown on Sat Aug 09, 2003 at 12:25:57 PM EST

    You really haven't been here long, have you? How many gun-owning Christian clowns do you find in the democratic party?


    --
    His men will follow him anywhere, but only out of morbid curiousity.


    [ Parent ]
    liberal != Democrat, TYVM. (nt) (none / 0) (#181)
    by amike on Sat Aug 09, 2003 at 09:13:49 PM EST



    ----------
    In a mad world, only the mad are sane. -Akira Kurosawa
    [ Parent ]
    you are quite a piece of work mister d clown. (3.00 / 2) (#198)
    by rmg on Sun Aug 10, 2003 at 02:10:38 AM EST

    are you braindead? i know perfectly well that you are not a liberal. that is why i call you one.

    that is why turmeric says "you stupid liberals think with your emotions instead of using logic." turmeric is a pinko commy like everyone else on this site and he knows that the best way to piss off a "conservative" is to call him a stupid liberal who thinks with his emotions instead of using logic.

    you see, conservatives are simple creatures. they love to annoy liberals. they like to talk as if they are the most backwards, politically incorrect confederate flag waving mofo this side of the mississippi.  many of them feel insecure about their conservatism. when faced with someone who appears to be more conservative, they start to question their values. enter turmeric. he comes in ranting about how saddam hussein gassed his own people and spouting various other "conservative" insanities. he then proceeds to call his victim, usually a conservative or moderate type, a stupid liberal. trolling gold.

    i have pulled this on you twice now. both times you have made ridiculous responses like this one. don't let it happen again.

    _____ intellectual tiddlywinks
    [ Parent ]

    Talk a lot, don't you? (3.50 / 2) (#244)
    by porkchop_d_clown on Sun Aug 10, 2003 at 11:03:35 PM EST


    --
    His men will follow him anywhere, but only out of morbid curiousity.


    [ Parent ]
    ZING !!!! (1.00 / 1) (#247)
    by rmg on Mon Aug 11, 2003 at 12:56:05 AM EST

    what a clever response. this is what seperates k5 from slashdot.

    _____ intellectual tiddlywinks
    [ Parent ]

    Productivity and Vacations (4.00 / 2) (#164)
    by cam on Sat Aug 09, 2003 at 10:16:14 AM EST

    Yes, Americans work longer than they should and are probably overly consumerist at times. However, they also reap the rewards for that in terms of higher wealth and higher productivity.

    One of the focuses of the Work To Live site was that working more does not lead to more productivity from an individual. It also leads to greater burn out and higher stress. They are arguing longer hours and less vacation is hurting productivity as well as raising health costs.

    cam
    Freedom, Liberty, Equity and an Australian Republic
    [ Parent ]

    European VS American productivity (none / 0) (#280)
    by muyuubyou on Wed Aug 13, 2003 at 06:34:18 AM EST

    There are several reasons to absolutely disregard those figures: - GDP per hour worked has much more to do with macroeconomic factors than with productivity. Having natural resources and a good strategic position boosts your "productivity" a lot. Just check Japan in the stats. Absurd. Japanese productivity is really high - just work in Japan for a while. - Real worked hours can't be estimated by claimed worked hours. Two words: "fake figures". Most of the companies are paying their employees much less hours than they're really doing. I guess it's patriotic to swallow. - Eurostat has little credibility those days. They have several corruption trials going on. Nevertheless, who can blame you for defending the USA if it's your home country? BTW I think they really milk the system too much here in Europe where I'm living now. Too much subsidizing leads to too much fraud and worse competitivity.


    ----------
    It is when I struggle to be brief that I become obscure - Horace, Epistles
    [ Parent ]
    You left out the best option (3.75 / 4) (#130)
    by Mister Pmosh on Fri Aug 08, 2003 at 07:44:33 PM EST

    As an American, I work a few months, take a month off, then work a few more months and repeat the process. I make as much in four months now as I used to make in a year working full-time.

    Personally, I get paid hourly as a consultant, which is how it should be. Salary is simply theft by businesses against individuals. If you work more than 40 hours a week and don't get paid for it, you're a fucking idiot, period. It's unfortunate that so many people allow themselves to be raped by their employers like this and get nothing in return other than carpal tunnel syndrome and other problems due to overwork.
    "I don't need no instructions to know how to rock!" -- Carl

    Practice versus reality (4.66 / 3) (#145)
    by seppyk on Sat Aug 09, 2003 at 12:06:42 AM EST

    I personally think that contracting makes a great deal of sense for companies in terms of project planning, budgetary concerns, and an understood lack of commitment between the employer and employee.

    As far as employee gains, you hit the nail on the head... Your working schedule is more flexible. However, it could be argued that salaried workers have more flexibility with a solid personal and vacation time package. You also get paid for all of your hours even if you work overtime.

    Your average, middle-class Joe likes job stability though... especially when someone has a family to care for or is in fear of today's hellish job market. Many contracting jobs do not exist for extremely long periods of time or even indefinitely. There is a clock ticking on those jobs and many people don't like to have that anxiety-ridden burden on their shoulders as to what to do next. At least in the US, the lure of a white collar, salaried job also brings something most contractors don't have automatically, health insurance. Yes, contract workers can buy health insurance, but a complete and comprehensive plan is very expensive.

    Currently, I'm working as a contractor and getting paid a higher amount than a salaried worker of the same position. Given the current market, if I am given the chance to have a salaried/benefit job, I will jump on that, bend over, and say 'Thank you, sir. May I have another?' However, my wants will change when the market rebounds and job choices increase.

    ---
    "If you're going to sig me, at least give me credit." - Run4YourLives
    [ Parent ]
    The problem with working full-time (4.00 / 2) (#176)
    by Mister Pmosh on Sat Aug 09, 2003 at 03:47:04 PM EST

    You are right, but I think that the stability of a full-time job is a myth. I was laid off once, and about to be laid off a second time before I started consulting. I decided that full-time work is a myth, and that there's no certainty and that I would not have anything to gain when I eventually retired. So now, I will be making as much money as I can, and I can plan for retirement on my own. I also get to take more vacations and enjoy life for now rather than waiting.
    "I don't need no instructions to know how to rock!" -- Carl
    [ Parent ]
    Work is the quickest way to waste your life (4.45 / 11) (#143)
    by Stick on Fri Aug 08, 2003 at 11:22:19 PM EST

    What is the only thing you can't buy (yet)? Extra lifetime! It's more valuable than gold, silver, or anything else, and people are selling it more a measly twenty bucks an hour. Twenty bucks for something priceless. If anything we should be aiming towards not working at all. Some amount of work is required by everyone of course, otherwise we wouldn't have all the luxeries and options we have today. However, what point is there working for these luxeries if we don't have the time to enjoy them fully?


    ---
    Stick, thine posts bring light to mine eyes, tingles to my loins. Yea, each moment I sit, my monitor before me, waiting, yearning, needing your prose to make the moment complete. - Joh3n
    Idleness and complacency = quickest way to death (3.60 / 5) (#153)
    by cooldev on Sat Aug 09, 2003 at 03:45:53 AM EST

    That is an extraordinarily naive attitude you have there. So what is it that you propose we do for the 40+ hours we would normally spend working? Paint? Make music? Visit exotic places? Play golf?

    The fact is that while life is short, most people -- especially those with halfway decent careers -- find work fufilling; it fills a very basic human need to be needed and to contribute to society. Sure, working at the expense of other things such as you family can be bad, but that's an extreme.

    Many retirees go back to work out of boredom, simply because hobbies aren't all they're cracked up to be. Oh, and like most hobbies, of the "non-work" things I mentioned above, all of them are are also possible career choices. Imagine that.



    [ Parent ]
    Where the fuck do you get this stuff? (2.60 / 10) (#160)
    by debacle on Sat Aug 09, 2003 at 08:46:48 AM EST

    "it fills a very basic human need to be needed and to contribute to society. "

    If I could sit on my ass all day play my GC/PS2 and have all the eateries I wanted, I'd fucking quit my job right now.

    You're a fucking moron.

    It tastes sweet.
    [ Parent ]

    I am right (4.00 / 2) (#183)
    by cooldev on Sat Aug 09, 2003 at 11:50:15 PM EST

    If I could sit on my ass all day play my GC/PS2 and have all the eateries I wanted, I'd fucking quit my job right now.
    And you would become depressed and very unhappy soon thereafter.

    [ Parent ]
    No (4.00 / 1) (#195)
    by Stick on Sun Aug 10, 2003 at 01:57:33 AM EST

    You would become depressed and very unhappy soon thereafter. You can predict how it will affect him.


    ---
    Stick, thine posts bring light to mine eyes, tingles to my loins. Yea, each moment I sit, my monitor before me, waiting, yearning, needing your prose to make the moment complete. - Joh3n
    [ Parent ]
    That should be can't, not can [nt] (none / 0) (#196)
    by Stick on Sun Aug 10, 2003 at 01:59:23 AM EST




    ---
    Stick, thine posts bring light to mine eyes, tingles to my loins. Yea, each moment I sit, my monitor before me, waiting, yearning, needing your prose to make the moment complete. - Joh3n
    [ Parent ]
    The jobs exist (none / 0) (#197)
    by The Vulture on Sun Aug 10, 2003 at 02:02:45 AM EST

    You can get a job sitting on your ass playing GameCube or Playstation 2 games, with all the eateries you want (well, assuming you pay for them).  I know people who have done it, they were QA Engineers at Sega (whereas I was developer support at Sega).  Get a job with a company that develops games.

    You'd think that these people would be happy, but in reality, they were miserable.  Truth is it's not fun playing the same video game for eight hours per day, five days per week.  The pay was miserable also, these people were making $10/hour living in San Francisco, making it a bit difficult to make ends meet.

    But, the gaming companies just won't take anybody to test games, no, they want people who are methodical.  You have to be able to drive the course backwards in a racing game the entire race, multiple times, without losing your mind.

    -- Joe

    [ Parent ]

    May I ask why? (5.00 / 1) (#204)
    by debacle on Sun Aug 10, 2003 at 08:38:45 AM EST

    Why would I become unhappy with games to play and food to eat and a nice warm toilet to drop a load in?

    It tastes sweet.
    [ Parent ]
    Contribution To Society (5.00 / 1) (#166)
    by freestylefiend on Sat Aug 09, 2003 at 10:54:29 AM EST

    it fills a very basic human need to be needed and to contribute to society

    Many doctors, nurses and teachers in Britain find that they work too hard to do their jobs as well as they want to. People with non-empowering jobs often feel that they are not able to contribute much at work, or that there are more rewarding ways to contribute. Perhaps some people feel guilty about what they do for a living and that their work doesn't contribute to society.

    Many people want more time off precisely so that they can contribute more to society. Some of the good is done by volunteers and hobbyists.

    [ Parent ]

    ergo (3.25 / 4) (#171)
    by calimehtar on Sat Aug 09, 2003 at 12:49:58 PM EST

    We need the government and our employers to tell us we can only have 6 weeks of vacation.... No, it doesn't follow. Only we, as workers, should have to decide how much we need to work in order to feel useful and productive.

    If it's true, as stated in the article, that Europeans are only slightly less productive than Americans I think it does follow that America has the work/vacation mix a bit wrong. The only evidence I need is the extraordinarily high standard of living in countries like Switzerland, Luxembourg, Germany etc. Who benefits in America when worker rights are scaled back? Nobody, except perhaps the top 2%. Even company execs keep working harder and harder every year.

    [ Parent ]

    Don't misinterpret my comment (4.00 / 1) (#184)
    by cooldev on Sat Aug 09, 2003 at 11:59:36 PM EST

    I think that workers deserver far more flexibility in their work hours and vacations, but I don't think it should be *given* to them for free.  In other words, if you want to negotiate getting six weeks off per year for a slightly lower salary (four weeks less salary if standard vacation policy is two weeks), then that should be possible.  Today employers hold all of the cards, and for most jobs that's wrong.

    [ Parent ]
    I don't get it (4.00 / 3) (#175)
    by Timo Laine on Sat Aug 09, 2003 at 01:43:06 PM EST

    The fact is that while life is short, most people -- especially those with halfway decent careers -- find work fufilling; it fills a very basic human need to be needed and to contribute to society.
    There is a good chance that most of those people are simply obedient puppies. Where you see a very basic human need, I see the result of a thorough training that begins at a very early age of a person's life. People are taught to do their homework, obey and be nice, and they are rewarded for it in school. Are you surprised that working is the only lifestyle choice they will understand as adults?
    Oh, and like most hobbies, of the "non-work" things I mentioned above, all of them are are also possible career choices.
    Sure, but I'd say the vast majority (in fact, almost all) of jobs there are are things people would never do if they didn't get paid.

    I can understand that some people really are interested in stuff I consider boring. (I am interested in philosophy, and most people consider that pretty boring.) But then again, most people haven't thought really hard what it is they want to do anyway. If a person is honest with himself and still believes that spending time doing a boring office job is valuable and fulfilling, I have absolutely no problem with that. But I'm afraid most people that have those jobs wouldn't pass the test.

    [ Parent ]

    I am equally baffled... (none / 0) (#179)
    by Stick on Sat Aug 09, 2003 at 07:37:02 PM EST

    By your attitude. I think the difference between our views is our answer to this question, "So what is it that you propose we do for the 40+ hours we would normally spend working?". I have no bother filling that time with productive and rewarding activities (not drinking, tv and video games). I've done it when unemployed for a year, so I speak from experience. However, most people would probably just laze around being bored (I've seen it) so you are probably right for a lot of people. Just not me.


    ---
    Stick, thine posts bring light to mine eyes, tingles to my loins. Yea, each moment I sit, my monitor before me, waiting, yearning, needing your prose to make the moment complete. - Joh3n
    [ Parent ]
    Only one year (none / 0) (#186)
    by cooldev on Sun Aug 10, 2003 at 12:04:15 AM EST

    Tell me, what do you do Stick?  Are you telling me that you have no desire to produce anything?  To help people?  To take on big projects?


    [ Parent ]
    I don't like to say exactly what I do here... (5.00 / 1) (#199)
    by Stick on Sun Aug 10, 2003 at 02:16:30 AM EST

    But I've done big projects. I'm sitting on a product right now that is potentially worth millions and has already attracted the attention of some very important people in the music world. It's going through the process of being patented and trademarked at the moment. However, at the end of the day I'm only doing this so I have enough money not to work. While it is a really cool product and fun to work with, there are lots of other things I would like to be doing. There's so much stuff to do, to learn, and experience. Things that work only prevents you from pursuring fully.


    ---
    Stick, thine posts bring light to mine eyes, tingles to my loins. Yea, each moment I sit, my monitor before me, waiting, yearning, needing your prose to make the moment complete. - Joh3n
    [ Parent ]
    Sorta like... (none / 0) (#290)
    by Kaki Nix Sain on Thu Aug 14, 2003 at 04:41:48 PM EST

    Things that work only prevents you from pursuring fully.
    Sorta like the things that school only prevents you from learning fully.



    [ Parent ]

    Work CONTENT important... (4.40 / 5) (#194)
    by n3uropil on Sun Aug 10, 2003 at 01:41:20 AM EST

    Work may indeed be fulfilling, but the important thing, that which much of the West has seemingly "lost" is the CONTENT of that work.

    Two hundred years ago, a blacksmith MADE things for people - made the plows that helped the farmer farm, repaired the scissors that helped the housewife grow. Merchants were pretty close to the products that they traded and dealt with. Positions were important for living, and the maintaining the livelyhood of others.

    Nowadays so many careers are just paper-pushing, computer typing, moving numbers from column A to column B. The WORK involved is so removed from the actual BUSINESS or PRODUCT. So then tell me, cooldev, why should people CARE about what they do in a lot of business? So much of business in the West is really unnecessary, in the survival sense. To use a personal example, my father worked in the processed food business for decades, in the marketing dept. He never actually MADE the food, and if his whole position, in all food companies across the world were to just dissappear - civilization would still stand.

    Now, there are still many jobs that HAVE a connection to life and the PURPOSE of the job - doctors, farmers, teachers, engineers, scientists, etc. But still for all the paper-pushers, administrators, IT workers, and service industry people - many see work as just a way to make money to do pay the bills, and to to FUN things they actually enjoy, which fulfills them. I think many, if they could would either choose to paint, etc. all their lives (your statement seems to think that this is somehow WRONG), or move into careers that have that fulfilling aspect.

    So I think your claim about work truly fulfilling people was pretty much pulled out of nowhere. For people to be fulfilled, they need to not only enjoy what they do, but also see the real NEED for it. I just don't see that happening in most jobs in the West these days.

    Sincerely,
    n3uropil

    [ Parent ]

    We need balance (none / 0) (#256)
    by Cro Magnon on Mon Aug 11, 2003 at 05:17:25 PM EST

    I've been unemployed, and I agree that it's boring as hell. However, I also have a life away from work, and that life is often too short.
    Information wants to be beer.
    [ Parent ]
    I know it's perverse of me (3.83 / 6) (#149)
    by livus on Sat Aug 09, 2003 at 02:06:46 AM EST

    but I would have really loved it if this article had included something about vacations, productivity, and the 3rd world sweatshops American (and European) companies are so fond of employing.

    Seriously, you're not being critical or even clear on what your criteria are in terms of concepts of "productivity" and "too much vacation". For example you don't explain what youmean by productivity or who it will benefit. There is a difference between, say, company, national, or personal accumulation of wealth as a result of productivity. There is also the question of the extent to which gross material productivity governs living quality (as in the sweatshops example).

    ---
    HIREZ substitute.
    be concrete asshole, or shut up. - CTS
    I guess I skipped school or something to drink on the internet? - lonelyhobo
    I'd like to hope that any impression you got about us from internet forums was incorrect. - debillitatus
    I consider myself trolled more or less just by visiting the site. HollyHopDrive

    sigh... (4.22 / 9) (#154)
    by the77x42 on Sat Aug 09, 2003 at 04:29:26 AM EST

    I don't like reading stuff about work. Right now I'm finishing off a degree at university. To think that within the next couple years I will be effectively working for the next 40+ years of my life does not appeal to me. Having worked for numerous shitty employers so far, I can't help but think I will be stuck with yet another one by the time I'm on my way to a long life of repudiated labour.

    Sometimes I think that life is too long. Why the fuck do I want to spend the better part of a century pulling in crap pay for some shmuck who thinks he can run the world all to support some 'loving' family that I don't even want to have?

    Seems like life is a waste unless I'm constantly learning and changing and progressing. Maybe I should go into research or something academic. Vacations are when you actually live.


    "We're not here to educate. We're here to point and laugh." - creature
    "You have some pretty stupid ideas." - indubitable ‮

    There are certain incentives (3.33 / 3) (#159)
    by debacle on Sat Aug 09, 2003 at 07:50:35 AM EST

    To joining a commune. There is probably more than one within 500 miles of your home, and they accept most anyone (Although you should do some research online, and if they don't have a website they probably wont have internet access for you either).

    You might think commune=communists, but in reality many of them are very nice people, and only a few of the communes have actual gulags. If you really want to enter an honest commune, though, you might want to relocate to another country. A lot of them are springing up in Canada and New Zealand has the highest concentration of communes per capita than any other nation. You want to make sure that when you enter you're not signing over your life or any/most of your material wealth.

    A lot of communes are just ploys by some asshole with a little knack for deception to make a lot of money off of the people who live there. In that respect I guess you could consider kuro5hin a commune, but we wont go there.

    And if you're a conservative they even have communes for you, they're called "Amish Country" here in the US, or maybe "Utah" if you live in the western US. They're not too bad if you don't mind having sex with your daughter and having a wife who wont have sex with anything but your mule.

    Your other option is to go to a third world country or decide that you'd rather live like a hermit (As one kuro5hin member, who will remain nameless, does quite well).

    There are many options you can pursue, and although you may not like any of them the thing to keep in mind is that you are beholden to no one, and if you don't want to work you don't have to. The greatest sin you can commit against yourself in life is believing that you do not have a choice.

    <Insert witty comment about the Matrix here>

    That is all.

    It tastes sweet.
    [ Parent ]

    If you're serious (none / 0) (#173)
    by calimehtar on Sat Aug 09, 2003 at 12:52:59 PM EST

    I'm always a bit suspicious on this site.... but if you're serious, you should round up some links and write a story about this. I really didn't know that there are still communes.

    [ Parent ]
    I'm not really an authority (none / 0) (#189)
    by debacle on Sun Aug 10, 2003 at 12:12:54 AM EST

    But I have a friend from NZ who works a lot with them setting up their internet connections and such.

    Perhaps he can give me some links. I only know of one or two here in New York.


    It tastes sweet.
    [ Parent ]

    There are hundreds of communes (none / 0) (#240)
    by Smaug the Golden on Sun Aug 10, 2003 at 08:25:34 PM EST

    ic.org is probably the best resource.

    You don't need to move to a commune to get the advantages of living in one, and you may be better off starting your own. You don't need to work in the field all day and smell bad to have your own commune either.

    First, I would like to recommend gardening on your own. If you are out of work or worried about it, read this. Gardening is great for a lot of reasons. The work you do is for yourself, it is between you and nature. There is no middle man to take his share. People talk about feeling good about your work, and I have only recently known what they meant when I started gardening. It saves you money (and can be seen as self-employment) and doesn't take a lot of time. You can produce all of your own food with 4 hours of work a day, or do less and buy some.

    First you need compost (the stage I am at), and this takes barely any time at all. If you still have a job, consider this part an investment in the future. Either get an attachment for the lawnmower to collect grass, or just let your grass grow 4 inches or more before you cut it so you have something to rake up. Put it in a pile with some layers of dirt and keep it a little wet. When fall comes, mow the leaves and mix them in. I know this sounds like boring work, but when you are doing work for yourself it is very fulfilling. Don't forget to bring an mp3 player when you do it. Now once you are out of work you will have some high quality compost. Just get a gardening book from the library and you will not only have something positive and healthy to do with your time off, you will be more independent and saving money.

    Find a few other geeks who are interested in doing the same, and you have an intentional community or "commune". Diversity is great, but like everything else, in moderation. You don't want to live with people you have nothing in common with, and starting an ic/commune with some friends is probably the best way to do it. The main monetary advantage communes have is resource sharing. Less vehicles, only as much housing as needed. Not everybody needs their own kitchen for example, while they do need their own bedroom.

    There are a lot of options out there. Just use what works for you.

    [ Parent ]

    Wow... (none / 0) (#289)
    by Kaki Nix Sain on Thu Aug 14, 2003 at 04:34:56 PM EST

    I really didn't know that there are still communes.
    This is sad. An entire way of living that has been propagandized to the point that many don't even conceive that it can still exist.



    [ Parent ]

    Communists != nice people? (nt) (none / 0) (#190)
    by scruffyMark on Sun Aug 10, 2003 at 01:21:03 AM EST



    [ Parent ]
    Fuck yes (none / 0) (#188)
    by TheModerate on Sun Aug 10, 2003 at 12:09:51 AM EST

    This has to be, without a doubt, the most insightful comment I've read this year.

    "What a man has in himself is, then, the chief element in his happiness." -- Schopenhauer
    [ Parent ]

    thanks (none / 0) (#248)
    by the77x42 on Mon Aug 11, 2003 at 01:20:00 AM EST

    ... i'm just criticizing the current view of life; my own opinion of life may not be any less dull in another's eyes.


    "We're not here to educate. We're here to point and laugh." - creature
    "You have some pretty stupid ideas." - indubitable ‮

    [ Parent ]
    Other countries (4.50 / 2) (#182)
    by doormat on Sat Aug 09, 2003 at 11:31:21 PM EST

    It was on a prime time news program a few weeks ago... US gets less vacation time than...
    • Europe
    • Australia
    • Communist China
    More time off would be nice, three weeks a year should be enough. 15 days a year is more than one a month. One thing about all of these studies I've read so far is they dont seem to put in how many days people get off for national holidays. Most office people get off at least 5 days off a year if not more, between New Years, Presidents, Memorial, July 4th, Labor, Columbus and/or Veterans, Thanksgiving, Family Day (the day after Thanksgiving), and Christmas.
    |\
    |/oormat

    What? (4.66 / 3) (#209)
    by FeersumAsura on Sun Aug 10, 2003 at 10:09:26 AM EST

    More time off would be nice, three weeks a year should be enough. 15 days a year is more than one a month.

    Speaking as a lazy European I'm shocked. I wasn't too impressed when I found out my job only gave me 21 days + public holidays adn I had to use 5 of thos holiday days for the days between boxing day and the new year.

    Also fifteen days, yes it's more than one a month but... it's still not enough to have a holiday and take days off for long weekends.

    Most office people get off at least 5 days off a year if not more, between New Years, Presidents, Memorial, July 4th, Labor, Columbus and/or Veterans, Thanksgiving, Family Day (the day after Thanksgiving), and Christmas.

    Five whole days, maybe even six. Oh I wish I was living in your wonderful country. Public holidays are there to allow the country to grind to a standstill, for everyone to hit the beach in the summer and watch tv in the winter. They force workaholics to take a break, they keep our gardens neat, our houses painted and ice cream vans in business.

    America, you need these holidays, they keep you sane.
    ==
    It didn't work the first time.
    [ Parent ]

    The economic system of China is not Communist (4.00 / 1) (#245)
    by dogeye on Sun Aug 10, 2003 at 11:47:21 PM EST

    It is basically a free market economy. They are members of the WTO, which I believe will not accept countries with communist economic policies.

    I run a small business that purchases items from factories in China. At one of these factories, the workers work 12 hours a day, 7 days a week. So they may get more vacation time than us, but they sure as hell work more hours per year. By the way, these workers are paid $60/month, but they get free room and board. The factory is near Hong Kong. Of course, it's possible that the factory owner is lying to me about these hours/wages.

    [ Parent ]

    .17 cents per hour (none / 0) (#278)
    by psinpsycle on Wed Aug 13, 2003 at 02:50:55 AM EST

    Based on a 4 week month (336 hours) these people are being paid only 0.17 cents per hour. Even accounting for room and board it's not much of a wage. Perhaps you should talk to the owners about increasing their pay. Doubling the wage would probably result in only an insignificant increase in the cost of your products. If that's not an option maybe you could arrange for the to be paid the same but have 2 days off per week.

    [ Parent ]
    bah (5.00 / 4) (#187)
    by ataltane on Sun Aug 10, 2003 at 12:08:01 AM EST

    A badly enough written article (or perhaps I just disagree with its thesis), but raising some interesting points.

    having worked for European and American firms I think that Europeans get too many benefits and too much time off

    Bizarre opinion. I'm not even sure what the phrase "too much time off" means. And no, I don't think work is Evil - evidently it's possible/productive/fulfulling to work hard. That's clear enough. But that's a different issue from vacation time. A person's life shouldn't be about their career, even if their career is an important part of it. It's only a means to an end, whether that end be money, productivity or improved self-opinion. Some people will think otherwise, but clearly their opinion shouldn't be mandatory. Those who so desire can work during their holidays.

    I get stuck on the phrase "too many benefits" - how? Don't they deserve it? in other words, do they deserve less (than they currently get)? Simply because people in another country work more and on whole accept their lot? Of course not - each country and culture sets its own standard.

    Despite the usual language of global affairs, there's no competition. Sensible people live their lives in the context of their immediate surroundings and the context that provides. In particular, there's no need for Europeans to compare their working hours to those of the citizens of a distant county, especially when there's a democratic mandate for a minumum quality of life standards



    I'm not even sure what the phrase ... means (5.00 / 1) (#227)
    by the on Sun Aug 10, 2003 at 03:14:03 PM EST

    Same here. It suggests some kind of universal standard by which we measure benefits. I guess one interpretation is that benefits place burdens on employers and that can be bad for the economy as a whole. But that needs careful arguing to support it.

    --
    The Definite Article
    [ Parent ]
    too much time off? (4.57 / 7) (#191)
    by crazycanuck on Sun Aug 10, 2003 at 01:27:16 AM EST

    you make it sound like we should be thankfull we get any time off at all, as if the company owns us and we owe the company every waking second.

    maybe Europeans simply have more self-respect?

    you know that expression, work to live not live to work...

    I dissent (5.00 / 1) (#202)
    by Erbo on Sun Aug 10, 2003 at 06:26:23 AM EST

    People talking about "Americans take too little vacation" rings pretty hollow when you've been out of work for four months. If and when I'm employed again, I don't plan on taking any vacation any time soon. I will work and I will be thankful I even have a job, damn it! Sure, lack of vacation sucks. But it sucks a whole lot less than wondering whether you're going to be able to pay your rent next month.
    --
    Electric Minds - virtual community since 1996. http://www.electricminds.org
    What if... (4.66 / 3) (#217)
    by baruch on Sun Aug 10, 2003 at 12:59:40 PM EST

    What if the American peoples would take more vacations?

    Maybe, the employers would need more employees for a any given time since more of their employees would be on vacation. This could mean that they would hire you AND you'll have paid vacation to enjoy instead of the forced one which you obviously don't relish.

    [ Parent ]

    Ooh, and then! (none / 0) (#223)
    by skim123 on Sun Aug 10, 2003 at 03:11:37 PM EST

    Well, since each employer has to hire more workers, prices will go up, and our friend will still be stuck in the same position - struggling to get by.

    FORCING businesses to do anything ultimately leads to lowered productivity. As a society, we have decided that certain force is needed, such as providing a safe place to work, paying a minimum wage, etc., but there is a very real limit on how far this can be taken before it has negative consequences.

    The author of this story mentions Europe's lengthy vacation time - of course he doesn't mention Germany's 10%+ unemployment and the real trouble these nations will be in as the birth rate continues to dwindle and the senior population who no longer work and live off of social support continues to grow...

    Money is in some respects like fire; it is a very excellent servant but a terrible master.
    PT Barnum


    [ Parent ]
    Immigration (none / 0) (#264)
    by Spendocrat on Tue Aug 12, 2003 at 01:23:18 AM EST

    Should fix that problem up nicely.

    [ Parent ]
    Hopefully (none / 0) (#287)
    by skim123 on Thu Aug 14, 2003 at 03:35:19 PM EST

    But many countries in that part of the world seem to be fairly xenophobic.

    Money is in some respects like fire; it is a very excellent servant but a terrible master.
    PT Barnum


    [ Parent ]
    Unlikely (none / 0) (#246)
    by Erbo on Sun Aug 10, 2003 at 11:51:18 PM EST

    More likely, it would just give the company more overhead, and lower profit margins. Then they'd lay people off to cut costs, and there'd be someone else out of work in addition to me.

    Or the parent company might decide that the subsidiary was burning too much money, and close the whole organization down, laying off everybody. (Which is what happened in my case.)
    --
    Electric Minds - virtual community since 1996. http://www.electricminds.org
    [ Parent ]

    Only assuming (none / 0) (#263)
    by Spendocrat on Tue Aug 12, 2003 at 01:22:18 AM EST

    That workers wouldn't be more efficient with more rest time. I don't think that's a reasonable assumption to make.

    [ Parent ]
    One of the reasons I'm considering law (4.00 / 1) (#203)
    by bigbtommy on Sun Aug 10, 2003 at 07:55:51 AM EST

    Is that you are self-employed, get paid a lot for each case, and you can take time off when you want to. Work hard, take time off, etc. All good fun.
    -- bbCity.co.uk - When I see kids, I speed up
    Differing Values (4.66 / 3) (#211)
    by FeersumAsura on Sun Aug 10, 2003 at 10:17:46 AM EST

    A friend of mine has just had a child in Sweden and is now taking 6 months of paid paternity leave. Europeans think this is a human right.

    It's all a matter of differing values, Europe has experimented with both far left and right wing governments, this has resulted in a group of governments with moderate socialist values and some right wing values. By and large you could sum Europe as being to the left of centre in most cases. This coupled with a healthy (in many countries) trades union movement results in much better working conditions.

    Maternity (not paternity) leave is considered a human right by most people. You're bringing a new European into the world, you should be helped by the government. If children are our future it is the governments duty to make sure they are safe, healthy and well educated. Most European countries also encourage paternity leave (usually 1~2 months) for the father, this allows both parents to be there during the first few months.


    ==
    It didn't work the first time.

    maternity leave laws is an attempt to increase... (none / 0) (#222)
    by BerntB on Sun Aug 10, 2003 at 03:08:16 PM EST

    The laws regulating maternity leave in Sweden is an attempt to increase low birth figures to at least 2.1 childs/woman (replacement level).

    (The paternity laws are for equality reasons. Obligatory splitting of maternity leave 50/50 between the parents seems to be most unpopular by the mothers -- something the politicians pretends not to notice in traditional fashion...)

    [ Parent ]

    Proving the childs worth (none / 0) (#226)
    by FeersumAsura on Sun Aug 10, 2003 at 03:13:35 PM EST

    The laws regulating maternity leave in Sweden is an attempt to increase low birth figures to at least 2.1 childs/woman (replacement level).

    Birth rates are dropping for many reasons, none of which are important at the moment. If increasing maternity leave increases the birth rate and these children have their parents around at an early age it seems to be a win-win situation. Assuming that increasing birth rate is a good thing and that having both parents available in the first few months has a positive benefit in the long term.


    ==
    It didn't work the first time.
    [ Parent ]

    SHare it (none / 0) (#224)
    by the on Sun Aug 10, 2003 at 03:11:54 PM EST

    If children are our future it is the governments duty to make sure they are safe
    Then why isn't that shared across all of society. Insetad the burden is placed on employers. I don't for the life of me see why employers should have the burden of generating the cannon fodder for the next generation.

    --
    The Definite Article
    [ Parent ]
    The business escapes unharmed (5.00 / 2) (#230)
    by FeersumAsura on Sun Aug 10, 2003 at 03:32:36 PM EST

    Well the business is affected but in a small way. The extra costs are passed onto the consumer and other costs are paid by the taxpayers. It's the thing with taxes, you don't get to pick what your moneys spent on. Also in the end these well educated, happy, safe children go into the workplace. Businesses need employees and they need ot think to the future. Businesses of the future need these children so they're going to have to bankroll it now, think of it as an investment.

    There is another alternative, ignore your social system. Let your public schools fall into a state of disaray and end up in this sort of situation.

    Out of 191 million adults in the US, as many as 44 million cannot read a newspaper or fill out a job application. Another 50 million more cannot read or comprehend above the eighth grade level.http://www.wsws.org/news/1998/oct1998/ill-o14.shtml

    It seems that nobody wanted the burden of educating these 94 million people, well I bet they're usefull members of the workforce. Could this be the reason for a low average wage and a slow takeup of automation. Nearly 50% of US adults can't read well enough to operate them.
    ==
    It didn't work the first time.
    [ Parent ]

    in Switzerland (none / 0) (#269)
    by wh4tn0w on Tue Aug 12, 2003 at 08:51:54 AM EST

    the official policy for paternity leave is 2 days.

    [ Parent ]
    Not Europe (5.00 / 1) (#274)
    by FeersumAsura on Tue Aug 12, 2003 at 05:04:24 PM EST

    The Swiss are part of the continent Europe. They're not part of "Europe" which is what most EU citizens mean when they talk about Europe.
    ==
    It didn't work the first time.
    [ Parent ]
    Left of what center? (none / 0) (#288)
    by Kaki Nix Sain on Thu Aug 14, 2003 at 04:09:20 PM EST

    By and large you could sum Europe as being to the left of centre in most cases.
    Whose center? Wouldn't "summing up Europe" give you the center?

    Relative measure statements without context are noise.



    [ Parent ]

    Sample size (5.00 / 1) (#291)
    by FeersumAsura on Fri Aug 15, 2003 at 02:43:51 AM EST

    Whose center? Wouldn't "summing up Europe" give you the center?

    Only if Europe was your only sample.
    ==
    It didn't work the first time.
    [ Parent ]

    Amen! (none / 0) (#216)
    by Spoonman on Sun Aug 10, 2003 at 12:53:30 PM EST

    The problem is, things will never change. It's up to each of us to make our own changes, because it's too late for grand-scale change. There's too many niches for workers to really get together. It's one of the reasons for cubes...keep 'em in separate pens, they won't try to break oout.

    Firstly, what needs to go is "at will employment". Basically, you can be fired for any or no reason. It's supposed to be a equal treatment for employers because employees can quit at any time they like without repercussions. The problem is, even with the loss of someone "significant" to the organization, the company will survive. A peon who is canned for designing a website in their personal time that's against the tastes of the CEO is fucked. (My site in the sig for details if you're interested). Out of 50 states, I believe only 2 don't have at will employement. An interesting fact: I live in NY, and when I got canned, I looked into legal recourse. I found 17 pages of laws protecting contracted employees, but none for regular peons. Um, seems to me that if you have an employment contract any problems would be covered under CONTRACT LAW, wouldn't it?

    Secondly, salaries. As stated before, it's only slightly better than slavery. There once was a time when it wasn't a major problem. Salaried employees rarely worked more than 40 hours. The purpose was to simplify payroll accounting. Nowadays, salaried peons are EXPECTED to go beyond 40 hours, yet still get paid for 40. Yeah, that makes sense. Well, what makes less sense is those that do it.

    Thirdly, regular employee reviews of managers. They can be anonymous, but MUST be taken seriously. I once intercepted a mail between the head of our HR department and the CEO (got caught in the spam filters for some reason). Anyway, it was a reply to a mail he'd forwarded to her from a former employee. The employee was explaining how her manager was a real prick. The CEO was concerned about it, but the HR head replied with..."He seems to always get the whiners, I wouldn't worry about it." Uh, if there's a lot of people in his group complaining, maybe there's something to complain about!



    ---
    Answering the age-old question: Which is more painful, going to work or gouging your eye out with a spoon?
    www.workorspoon.com
    workorspoon (none / 0) (#243)
    by stormie on Sun Aug 10, 2003 at 08:54:47 PM EST

    Hey, www.workorspoon.com looks great! I had a quick browse, but I think I'll save the serious reading for this afternoon, when I'm ever more bored and unwilling to work than I am now. :-)

    [ Parent ]
    Thanks! (none / 0) (#253)
    by Spoonman on Mon Aug 11, 2003 at 10:19:41 AM EST

    We're very proud of the site, and working hard to make it better and better. The world needs a place to vent. :) BTW, I mentioned in my comment that there was info on being fired for stuff done in your own time. Here's a link to the full article, I need to update our "History of the Spoon" page....

    http://www.workorspoon.com/show_article.asp?ID=20

    Oh, and don't just read, send us some stories! :)



    ---
    Answering the age-old question: Which is more painful, going to work or gouging your eye out with a spoon?
    www.workorspoon.com
    [ Parent ]
    But the lack of vacation makes the US great! (3.00 / 2) (#228)
    by the on Sun Aug 10, 2003 at 03:17:20 PM EST

    I used to think there was something special about the US in that maybe the workers were smarter, or that the entrepreneurs were more entrepreneurial. Maybe that better technology was devised to increase productivity or maybe that the salespeople were better at making sales. But I now realise that none of this is the case. The US is the economic powerhouse of the world because they squeeze more hours out of their employees. What a let down discovering that.

    --
    The Definite Article
    strange...... (2.00 / 1) (#231)
    by /dev/trash on Sun Aug 10, 2003 at 04:37:47 PM EST

    When I had a full time job I had 2 weeks of vacation.  One full week I took in one chunk, the other week I took in individual days throughout the year.

    Off the top of my head, all the people I know, all take at least one full week off a year.

    So maybe it's true for some people but for me and those I know, vacations are still being taken.

    ---
    Updated 07/20/2003!!
    Summer Tour!

    uhm.. (none / 0) (#251)
    by Eivind on Mon Aug 11, 2003 at 05:28:27 AM EST

    2 weeks is pretty darned pathethic. In most of Europe you will have 4 or 5 weeks vacation a year.

    The question ofcourse is if you live to work, or work to live, it seems most Americans do the former.


    [ Parent ]

    I guess..... (none / 0) (#262)
    by /dev/trash on Mon Aug 11, 2003 at 09:37:21 PM EST

    5 weeks off would be nice.  I have never lived to work though.  I am content with 2 weeks of vacation 9 holidays and a week's worth of sick days.

    ---
    Updated 07/20/2003!!
    Summer Tour!
    [ Parent ]
    gee, Santa (2.20 / 5) (#249)
    by chimera on Mon Aug 11, 2003 at 01:51:33 AM EST

    so not only are we Europeans snotty, half-muslem&half-nazi, never working beyond age 42, never working after 3pm, lean, diplomatic, terminally drunk, wel-clad, kill-taxed, overheated, coffeeloving, multilingual, artsy, good looking, whoreusing, whoretaxing, communist, sickleaved, peaceloving with superior intelligence and analytical abilities when it comes to weaponry - humans?

    gee Santa. Thank You :)

    just a note: without all them mexicans and guatemalians imported just as slaves in Texas and California every year for the ultra-low-waged jobs, US production would be DEAD. Fat arsed USians dont want to work. Fat arsed USians want to be Europervs.

    Perv-envy, thats all this article is about...the more you deny it, the more obvious it gets.

    I know I am superior, you flatter me thus.

    There are many factors that make things this way (4.00 / 2) (#252)
    by xutopia on Mon Aug 11, 2003 at 09:42:52 AM EST

    One of the factors is that most Americans are really in debt. In many european countries the goverment pays for university but not in North America. So a your adult just out of school immediately feel the pressure of the accumulated debt and has to work like a slave to pay off half his life. The other half he's paying off the other debts he accumulated.

    Another factor is the right-wing propaganda against communism. A result of this propaganda is that today most Americans do not know the difference between socialism and communism and think both are evil and costly.

    On my last contract I worked three months in a call centre programming their CRM. The people there were so overworked that they would get sick for 3 months at a time. One was on sick leave for two weeks, came back for two days and was off again for now three months. I'm wondering if she would have taken that time off if she was allowed and encouraged to take 5 weeks of vacation every year.

    I worked in North America and in Europe and there is no doubt in my mind that Europe is more humane with their employees. In North America they are nice to you until they pressed all the juice out of the lemon. They give you the boot if you get tired.

    Half right. (5.00 / 2) (#261)
    by porkchop_d_clown on Mon Aug 11, 2003 at 07:27:14 PM EST

    You're right that he spends the first half trying to dig out of debt. But then he spends the second half trying to somehow alleviate the debt his kids are about to incur...


    --
    His men will follow him anywhere, but only out of morbid curiousity.


    [ Parent ]
    Okay, so (none / 0) (#259)
    by mmealman on Mon Aug 11, 2003 at 06:56:42 PM EST

    What's involved with moving to Europe?

    Dead easy (none / 0) (#266)
    by FeersumAsura on Tue Aug 12, 2003 at 06:37:29 AM EST

    1) First find a map of the world.

    2) Find Europe on it.

    3) Realise Europe is made up of multiple countries that differ greatly.

    4) Realise how stupid Americans sound when they say "I'm going to Europe"

    5) Pick a European country to move to.

    6) Double check they speak English.

    7) Pick and English speaking European country to move to.

    8) Find your passport.

    9) Realise that there's a 2 in 3 chance you din't have a passport and apply for one.

    10) Stay in America.

    Europe is not a country, Europe is a land mass. The Europe most Europeans talk about is actually the EU.


    ==
    It didn't work the first time.
    [ Parent ]

    First, (none / 0) (#268)
    by wh4tn0w on Tue Aug 12, 2003 at 08:45:44 AM EST

    a commitment by your employer to provide a work permit. This can take up to ten weeks. Without the permit, you have three months to stay. Second, money, money, money. I estimated it cost me over 10k US to move to Switzerland, and I recouped little of it in the end. Third, language skills.

    There. I have been trolled.

    [ Parent ]

    Oddly.. (none / 0) (#275)
    by betel on Tue Aug 12, 2003 at 06:28:53 PM EST

    This was something I looked into when I was put forward for a job at an US company operating in the UK.

    Apparently, they offer UK employees 15 days holiday a year (presumably putting them on the same footing as US employees), despite the fact that legislation was passed that entitles UK workers to 4 paid weeks leave per year.

    This is all tied up in the Working Times Regulation 1998 (http://www.dti.gov.uk/er/work_time_regs/) , though of course there are get-out clauses (especially if you're a junior doctor).

    [Here follows my interpretation of the linked document]

    Those 15 days may or may not (i'm not sure which applies in this particular case, but the legislation permits either) include Bank Holidays (of which us here the GB part of the UK get 8 per year).

    The reduction from 20 (for a 5 day week) to 15 is possible due to representatives of the workers being able to waive the leave entitlement, but only with the consensus of the workers.

    The 48 hour week limit (average over 17 weeks) can only be waived by an individual within a separate document to the contract of employment, though sometimes they are (unlawfully?) combined.

    So, where am I going with this? I think I'm a happier employee with my holiday allocation - I can work extremely hard for a few of months, and then take a week off after a project has ended to relax and unwind without jeopardising any possibility of a annual holiday (abroad!). I come back with a fresh mind to a new project without the previous ones' problems hanging around with excess baggage..

    I get 6 weeks a year (none / 0) (#276)
    by blisspix on Tue Aug 12, 2003 at 08:05:16 PM EST

    I work in Australia and get 6 weeks in lieu of long weekends, bank holidays, public holidays etc which usually add up to a week and a half (on top of the normal 4 weeks).

    I never use all my leave. Mostly because it's impossible - if everyone in my team took their 6 weeks off, we'd be a staff member down 6 months of the year.

    I try to save my holidays up for big trips. I aim to go overseas at least once a year. It's not worthwile to take a week to go to Europe for example, so I need to save 6 weeks.

    Why so little? (none / 0) (#279)
    by walwyn on Wed Aug 13, 2003 at 04:23:51 AM EST

    One place I worked at the annual leave was 25 days, and there are 8 bank holidays in the UK. Which gave 33 days paid holiday a year. However, the working week was 42 hrs which meant that every 4 weeks you were credited with an extra days leave to bring you back down to 40hrs. Then there was the reduction to 39hrs which gave an extra 6 days per year bringingg the total holiday entitlement to 52 days. We were in the process of negotiating a 35hr week when I left.
    ----
    Professor Moriarty - Bugs, Sculpture, Tombs, and Stained Glass
    [ Parent ]
    Missing Poll Option (5.00 / 1) (#286)
    by Valdrax on Thu Aug 14, 2003 at 02:24:34 PM EST

    I don't get vacation.  I'm hourly.  If I want off, I don't get paid.  Even better, my job and financial security aren't good enough for me to take more than a day or so per month.  The idea of a week-long vacation is merely a nostalgic part of my childhood.  Thanks to financial concerns, I haven't had a break from work (or school) since I started on a co-op (work/study) program 5-6 years ago.

    Hmmm...  I wonder why I'm so burned out...

    The Shrinking American Vacation | 293 comments (250 topical, 43 editorial, 0 hidden)
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