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The Therapy Sessions
Monday, January 05, 2004

Classic Reading

The Virgin Blowhard

I was sitting on the john yesterday (is that TMI?) reading my latest Men's Health magazine.

Virgin Airlines founder Richard Branson was interviewed and claimed that the United States would be more productive if employees had more time off. He asserted that with more downtime from work, we'd be better able to come up with more creative ideas and products.

I couldn't wait to jump up off the can and run to my computer to look up comparative GDPs around the world.

While I don't doubt that Mr. Branson has done something right to attain the level of financial success he has, someone should straighten him out on his ideas about time off and productivity levels.

As this chart illustrates, the United States ranks number one in the world with a Gross Domestic Product of $10,400,000,000,000 compared to Branson's UK at $1,520,000,000,000.

Now, to be fair, the US has a considerable population advantage over the UK (290m v. 60m). But, the per capita GDP gives the United States an even further lead over the UK.

Yet, workers in the United Kingdom, Sweden, Austria, France, Spain, China, and Ireland, among many others, are guaranteed paid vacation days by law - many up to 30 days.

Unlike the socialist nations of Europe, American legislators have thus far resisted temptations to limit our productivity by mandating vacation days. Though, there has been some discussion of doing it.

I'm certain that Mr. Branson employs numerous people in America. Surely he's not waiting for legislators to create mandatory vacation laws here to implement his more vacation = more productivity theory. He doesn't need a law to offer his employees more time off.

Or, is he a hypocrite who advocates it, but wouldn't implement it unless everyone else did? But, by his assertion, if he gave his employees more time away from the office, he'd have an edge over businesses that only allowed the standard (but not legally required) two weeks.

It's appropriate that I read this on the john, because Richard Branson is clearly full of ...

(Thanks to Joe Kelley)

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