It’s a well known fact: Americans work too much! It is a Saturday here in late August in sunny San Francisco, and taking my daily walk around the neighborhood I can see the sudden influx of extra people on the street…I can feel the extra energy as the people I see are all busy, hustling and bustling about, some catching buses to unknown destinations for unknown reasons, but dressed casually instead of in their work a day drag but all moving with a sense of brisk urgency….
Other people are doing their laundry, doing their food shopping, going by their local convenience stores to pick up necessities for the week, doing their yard work if they have homes to maintain, and no doubt doing other inside the home maintenance projects or delayed tasks behind closed doors, where nobody can see them…
It is all because they have to; we only get a short 2 day weekend to cram in all these extra activities, and Saturday is more of a get things done day, with most people trying to get their necessary chores done during the day so that they can cram in some fun by going to bars or restaurants on Saturday nights….These are especially attractive to younger people, in their desperate search for somebody compatible….For all our vaunted new found freedoms, the “urge to merge” is still a powerful, compelling biological imperative, and many young people take advantage of Friday AND Saturday nights in their desperate, compelling need to meet Mr. or Ms. Right, although most settle for Mr. or Ms. “right now,”,temporary fixes for an itch that must be scratched…
By Sunday, many Americans are already burned out, but as their last day before stepping back onto the treadmill of work world they are bound And determined to DO something….Sundays are mostly reserved for get away days, for road trips and visits to local sights and attractions and maybe visiting with friends and relatives….Some people still go to church or Sunday school and have their days planned out for them with religious activities, but these are mostly older people who don’t work anyway, although there are youth church groups still active….
But I don’t personally know anybody who goes to church every Sunday, and as a veteran of 45 years in work world I fully understand the urgency and the frenzy which we Americans throw ourselves into the weekend activities…Work world really drains you, even an average 8 hour day at the office has to include the approximate 2 hours commute, morning and night, plus all the preparation time for work…If you get a standard 1 hour lunch break, that makes it 9 hours spent totally at the workplace alone, from the moment you punch in until the blessed moment you punch out…
For women it is worse, because they have to get up extra early to put on makeup and fix their hair just so to fit in with the prevailing office standards; I have a good lady friend who tells me these extra preparations take up a full hour for her, each and every day….Women and men usually have to get kids ready for school in today’s hectic world… Men also have to get up early too, they need to shower, shave and get dressed, put on their work uniforms, and we all have to gobble down a hasty breakfast…
Blue collar workers have actual uniforms, slacks and work shirts with their name on it; white collar workers have to suit up, and put on those damn ties that always felt like a noose to me…. But we are all slaves to the alarm clock, that harsh, demanding, insistent warning bell that wakes us up out of a sound sleep, forces us to prepare for the daily routine, jerks us out of sleep and sweet dreams of reverie and relaxation and forces us to begin our preparations for work world…….
But since Americans are slaves to work world, the way we spend our weekends, the haste and urgency that we need to devote to getting all the necessary work done on our so called free days is an inescapable fact of contemporary American life…It is very different in other countries around the world; here are some facts and figures culled form my Google sources…
According to the Center for American Progress on the topic of work and family life balance:
“In 1960, only 20 percent of mothers worked. Today, 70 percent of American children live in households where all adults are employed.” I don’t care who stays home and who works in terms of gender (work opportunity equality for all – it’s a family choice). Either way, when all adults are working (single or with a partner), that’s a huge hit to the American family and free-time in the American household.
The U.S. is the ONLY country in the Americas without a national paid parental leave benefit. The average is over 12 weeks of paid leave anywhere other than Europe and over 20 weeks in Europe.
Zero industrialized nations are without a mandatory option for new parents to take parental leave. That is, except for the United States.
But there’s more way more verified data to crunch when we compare American workers to those in other countries:
In the U.S., 85.8 percent of males and 66.5 percent of females work more than 40 hours per week.
According to the numbers, “Americans work 137 more hours per year than Japanese workers, 260 more hours per year than British workers, and 499 more hours per year than French workers.” And:
American Paid Vacation Time & Sick Time:
There is not a federal law requiring paid sick days in the United States.
The U.S. remains the only industrialized country in the world that has no legally mandated annual leave.
In every country included except Canada and Japan (and the U.S., which averages 13 days/per year), workers get at least 20 paid vacation days. In France and Finland, they get 30 days off – an entire month off, paid, every year.
The reasons for this sad state of affairs is that Americans think that money can buy happiness..…..Our legislative branch of the government (on both sides of the aisle) has been bought and as a result has shied away from passing laws that protect workers that every other industrialized nation has passed. We generally don’t fight for our working rights. We take what is given to us. Like sheep being led to slaughter….
Until Americans wake up and collectively realize we are being overworked and underpaid while the Ceo’s of large corporations, on the average, make 373 times more than their average employees, this sick, sad sorry state of affairs will continue…The average worker earned $36,134 in 2014, while the compensation for CEOs at S&P 500 companies averaged about $13.5 million, according to AFL-CIO calculations.
Think about these fat cats the next time they try to guilt you into working on the weekend, or taking cash instead of vacation days; they are laughing at you, all the way to the bank….The rich get richer, and the rest of get screwed…But it doesn’t have to be that way….fight back!
Ultra Billionaire Koch Brother
We need to realize as a nation that quality of life is way more important, in terms of mental health, emotional satisfaction, and personal and family contentment, than anything else, instead of overworking ourselves every day and then trying to cram everything else that is really important in our lives into a paltry 2 day weekend…We need to stand up and rebel against these bloated corporate suits and the way they exploit us daily, and then discard us when our working careers are over into the trash can of Social Security and Medicare, sadly underfunded and poverty level income for most people as their “reward” for a lifetime of labor…
It all begins with us, the average American worker…We do not need to put up with this BS anymore! Information is power! Support any legislation in favor of the average worker, vote against these bought and paid legislators and representatives, agitate for more time off, for more paternity and personal vacation time…Let’s at least join the mainstream of other industrialized countries across the world!
As the Beatles warned us years ago, “Money Can’t Buy You Love”