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France's 35hr work week


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#21 of 63 Jeff Gatie

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Posted March 11 2005 - 03:08 AM

Maybe we Americans work more because we like our jobs. I saw a study once that found 60% of Americans are happy/satisfied with their job. That's amazing to me. I know I love my job. I get to play with million dollar toys, I am responsible for billions of dollars of income per year (not for me, sadly Posted Image ), I get to push my mind to it's limit (both scientifically and creatively) every day if I want and I'm basically irreplaceble so if I have a problem with a superior, I let them know it... very bluntly. Posted Image

I truly would do most aspects of my job for free if it didn't pay so much (don't tell my boss), so it's no wonder I work the hours I do. Responsibility, creativity, challenges, what's not to like?

#22 of 63 Patrick Sun

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Posted March 11 2005 - 03:57 AM

Perhaps the other reason for the 35-hour work week stipulation was to keep more people employed, spreading the hours around.
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#23 of 63 Matt Stieg

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Posted March 11 2005 - 04:04 AM

the blood shed and lives lost in the form of Indians, Mexicans, Africans and other races to make this country(and in turn make money) was just plain wrong and in some form or another it continues to this day. To put it simply, I'm disgusted with the history of this country.

But the way it is now I don't want to live here any more. Especially not after I was given a sweet taste of Scandinavian and European life last year during a visit.

Yeah, because nothing like that EVER happened in Europe.

#24 of 63 RobertR

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Posted March 11 2005 - 04:05 AM

Quote:
Businesses are all too eager to feed the populations lustful passions
“Too eager” to meet the needs and desires of their customers? Interesting...so you think business is better when it ignores its customers more?
Quote:
I think we all know how much the US government puts the dollar before human lives.
I don’t know that. By what criteria is Europe safer to live in than the US? Accident rates? And why would you assume that any differences are due solely to emphasis on money, and not things such as personal liberty, choosing to take more risks, lifestyle choices, etc.?

Quote:
Compared to Europe, they have a more lax attitude towards work and money.
Many would see the difference as “the US values more the idea of being rewarded for hard work and innovation, and being able to keep the results of that hard work”, whereas the European ethic is more “I want to be taken care of with minimal effort on my part, and those who work harder than me are required to make sure my effort is minimized”.

#25 of 63 RobertR

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Posted March 11 2005 - 04:10 AM

Quote:
the blood shed and lives lost in the form of Indians, Mexicans, Africans and other races to make this country
Yes, 20th Century Europe (as manifested by those great humanitarians Stalin, Hitler, Mussolini, Franco, Milosevic, Tito, etc.) was SUCH a shining example of respect for human life in comparison.

#26 of 63 Andy Sheets

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Posted March 11 2005 - 04:29 AM

The theory I've always heard was that the American mania for work came from the Puritan settlers who basically thought that not working constantly was shameful.

A German guy recently told me that "Europeans work to live; Americans live to work" and he didn't mean it in a nice way. Not that he was being a jerk about it but he just thought there was something kind of screwy about the way Americans always seem so preoccupied with working that they don't take the time to enjoy life. I couldn't really disagree since most people I know are really happy if they can just keep their two-week vacations (and it's getting harder to do that as companies keep demanding more and more of your time as you go up the ladder), but all the Europeans I know get four weeks of vacation and shorter work weeks as well.

#27 of 63 Philip_G

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Posted March 11 2005 - 05:08 AM

I swear my friend in germany works like 40 hours a MONTH at most. It's rediculous. Every month it seems he's off to italy or spain or some other nice location for a holiday Posted Image

from what he tells me the labor laws in general in germany are rather interesting compared to the US.

#28 of 63 andrew markworthy

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Posted March 11 2005 - 06:00 AM

Quote:
Many would see the difference as “the US values more the idea of being rewarded for hard work and innovation, and being able to keep the results of that hard work”, whereas the European ethic is more “I want to be taken care of with minimal effort on my part, and those who work harder than me are required to make sure my effort is minimized”.


I wondered how long it would be before someone said this. If I may be permitted a European response in the same tone as the passage I've just quoted, then we could equally validly have the following:

Many would see the difference as 'Europe values the idea that you should look after others as well as yourself, and if you are fortunate enough to receive a larger income, then your duties to others are proportionately larger. But if you're American then you see nothing wrong in being selfish and keeping as much as possible for yourself and screwing the poor.'

Both statements are just plain wrong. As I've been at pains to point out, as have others on this forum, it's a myth that Europeans are lazy and expect something for nothing. Just where do you think you got your Protestant work ethic from, guys? The difference between us is one of balance, nothing more.

#29 of 63 andrew markworthy

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Posted March 11 2005 - 06:06 AM

A thought has just occurred to me.

How many of you good hard working people are typing your replies during work hours? Posted Image

#30 of 63 Jeff Gatie

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Posted March 11 2005 - 06:15 AM

Quote:
How many of you good hard working people are typing your replies during work hours?


Another reason I love my job, unlimited (mostly) internet access. I did say I was irreplaceable.Posted Image

#31 of 63 Patrick Sun

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Posted March 11 2005 - 06:16 AM

We, uh, multi-task!
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#32 of 63 RobertR

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Posted March 11 2005 - 06:53 AM

Quote:
'Europe values the idea that you should look after others as well as yourself
I don’t see the logic. What does taking lots and lots of vacation time and working fewer hours have to do with “looking after others”? Conversely, how does the desire to work hard prevent one from helping others?

Quote:
Just where do you think you got your Protestant work ethic from, guys?
From people who came from a long-ago Europe whose present day culture is quite different.

#33 of 63 Sami Kallio

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Posted March 11 2005 - 07:23 AM

I have worked in the US for 6 years now and my observation is that for Americans it matters how long you stay at work, not how much work you get done. They do work longer hours than most of us Europeans here but they tend to take looooong lunch hours and spend a lot of their time chit-chatting with each other. Nothing wrong with that if you get your work done. Nothing wrong with leaving early if the work is done.

I do get a little over 5 weeks vacation each year, same as I would get back home, but that is only because I have been with the company for almost a decade. There is no way I could go to a 2 week vacation plan, even if the money was much better.

#34 of 63 Kenneth

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Posted March 11 2005 - 07:31 AM

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The difference between us is one of balance, nothing more.

I suspect that varies from country to country Posted Image Great Britain and the US may be two countries separated by a common language Posted Image however there are some dramatic cultural differences between the US/Japan and other members of the EU. Some countries (like France perhaps) have much more adversarial relationships with their employers due to the strong labor unions. Also, when France had that heat wave during their summer holidays and tens of thousands of their elderly died (some left unclaimed) it wasn't exactly a textbook example of how well balanced they were Posted Image

That said, if the Europeans can stay competitive enough to avoid outsourcing and still work less than 40 hours a week then power to them. One of the few advantages American workers have over their much cheaper counterparts in the developing world is our productivity. I would rather work a few extra hours a day and be employed rather than have a full schedule with no job.

Quote:
for Americans it matters how long you stay at work, not how much work you get done.

Where is this company, I want to work there Posted Image My job is objective based so I have to finish my objectives or else. They are somewhat flexible on hours (within reason) so if I come in early for an 06:30 meeting with my European counterparts I can leave a little early. They also allow you to work from home using VPN when you have emergencies or such. But since I don't punch a clock the hours I spend there don't count for anything if I don't get my tasks completed on schedule.

Cheers,

Kenneth

#35 of 63 CharlesD

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Posted March 11 2005 - 08:08 AM

Quote:
Also, when France had that heat wave during their summer holidays and tens of thousands of their elderly died (some left unclaimed) it wasn't exactly a textbook example of how well balanced they were


What happened in France during that heat wave is no different from what happens in the US during a heat wave: old and sick people without air conditioning die.

Every summer here there is a push for people to donate fans etc to old people without a/c. The difference is that in many parts of the US hot summers happen every year, whereas in northern Europe life threatening heat is much rarer so fewer people have a/c & therefore more people are vulnerable when it does get very hot.

#36 of 63 ScottHH

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Posted March 11 2005 - 09:25 AM

According to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), the per capita income in the EU-15 was $26,600 in, 2003, while it was $37,600 in the United States

www.oecd.org/dataoecd/56/4/33746760.pdf

The following quote comes from Timbro, which calls itself "the think tank of Swedish enterprise":

"If the European Union were a state in the USA it would belong to the poorest group of states. France, Italy, Great Britain and Germany have lower GDP per capita than all but four of the states in the United States. In fact, GDP per capita is lower in the vast majority of the EU-countries (EU 15) than in most of the individual American states. This puts Europeans at a level of prosperity on par with states such as Arkansas, Mississippi and West Virginia. Only the miniscule country of Luxembourg has higher per capita GDP than the average state in the USA. The results of the new study represent a grave critique of European economic policy."

www.timbro.com/euvsusa

I'm not saying Americans are happier than Europeans, or Europeans are happier than Americans, but 292 million Americans produce more than 456 million Europeans.

#37 of 63 andrew markworthy

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Posted March 11 2005 - 07:16 PM

Quote:
I don’t see the logic. What does taking lots and lots of vacation time and working fewer hours have to do with “looking after others”?


The statement was meant to be illogical, as I acknowledged in the original post - it should be read in context.

Quote:
If the European Union were a state in the USA it would belong to the poorest group of states.


Simple statements like that ignore profitability (i.e. rate of return on capital employed) of companies within particular countries. When that is taken into account, you get a rather different picture:

1. Norway
2. Finland
3. Belgium
4. UK
5. Estonia
6. Italy
7. Australia
8. Canada
9. South Africa
10. Israel
11. Spain
12. Mexico
13. Denmark
14. Japan
15. USA

Extracted from here.

[Only private companies were used, so there can be no accusations of state subsidised industries distorting the figures]

I suppose you guys can take consolation for the fact that you're more profitable than Iceland (no 23 on the list).

In any case, bear in mind that workers have to bring in more money than Europeans, because you guys have to pay for what we get for free - i.e. health care, etc. Factor that out of the equation and it's a much more level playing field.

Now possibly that argument is no more accurate than the GDP one, but the simple truth is that you cannot form an argument based on economic statistics that ignore intangibles such as quality of life, etc.

Quote:
Also, when France had that heat wave during their summer holidays and tens of thousands of their elderly died (some left unclaimed) it wasn't exactly a textbook example of how well balanced they were


If you read up the case carefully, you'll see that the majority of extra deaths came suddenly at the peak of the heatwave and the damage was done before medical help could be summoned. In the remaining cases, yes, more could have been done, but I seriously doubt if the USA would have fared much better. In part the French problem was due to the simple fact that the whole of France (including the doctors and nurses) goes on vacation in August, so everywhere was understaffed. This is a problem with scheduling vacations. not the state of health care per se.

#38 of 63 John Watson

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Posted March 11 2005 - 07:23 PM

I think most people should "work" a lot less hard.

The planet is awash in Walmart type crap, and pollution is geting out of hand.

Giving "customers" what they want? Yeah, give candy to babies while we're at it Posted Image

Slackers of the World, Unite!

#39 of 63 Jason L.

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Posted March 11 2005 - 10:42 PM

That is a bogus list. The only area where Estonia is ahead of the US is "per capita turnip consumption" or "people who smoke 5 packs of cigarettes a day".

I looked at the article and I'm not sure where they get the final figure. They put the US #1 as far as profitability in services. Services comprise something like %70 of US GDP and manufacturing is less than 20%, I believe - so I don't see how it adds up.

Furthermore, you can't buy food, clothing, or shelter with Return on Capital. Otherwise, Mexicans, who are "allegedly" ahead of the US, Japan, France, and Germany wouldn't be streaming across our border by the millions every year.

#40 of 63 Cees Alons

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Posted March 11 2005 - 10:57 PM

Quote:
Otherwise, Mexicans, who are "allegedly" ahead of the US, Japan, France, and Germany wouldn't be streaming across our border by the millions every year.
There's also a decisive difference between "mean, average" and "median", e.g. if income per head is concerned.
In some countries, the distribution of total "wealth" is more evenly than in other countries.

BTW, I find some comments in this thread (both, related to the USoA or reversely to "Europe in general" rather offensive - and unnecessarily so).


Cees


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