Thursday, June 12, 2008

Working It

It's all we do in this country apparently. An article on Slate today and a piece on The Daily Show last night (see below)comment on the fact that Americans are planning to take less vacations than ever before. It's not just because of gas prices.

Comparatively speaking, Americans are winning the time-clock Olympics. The typical U.S. worker puts in 1,804 hours at work each year, 135 hours more than the typical British worker, 240 hours (or six full-time weeks) more than the average French worker, and 370 hours (or nine full-time weeks) more than the typical German. The Conference Board's magazine points out that the trend toward increased work demands "has begun to reverse the two-century-old industrial paradigm of equating progress with increased leisure." None of this is good for our family relations. Middle-class couples in the United States, taking both spouses together, are working 520 hours (13 full-time weeks) more a year than such couples worked in the 1980s. Little wonder that the Families and Work Institute found in 2004 that 67 percent of working parents say they don't have enough time with their children, and 62 percent say they don't have enough time with their spouses.
There is a pretty easy tangent to veer off onto here regarding family values versus capitalism, but I hit that one pretty hard a couple of days ago. Instead, I'd prefer that we simply acknowledge that the point of "the economy" has always been to make life better. Is it at all possible to argue that is the case today?

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