The Therapy Sessions
Wednesday, July 07, 2004
Lazy Europe faces facts
Europe Reluctantly Deciding It Has Less Time for Time Off
Like millions of his fellow citizens, he is struggling to accept the stark new reality of life in a global economy: Germans are having to work longer hours...And not just Germans. The French, who in 2000 trimmed their workweek to 35 hours in hopes of generating more jobs, are now talking about lengthening it again, worried that the shorter hours are hurting the economy. In Britain, more than a fifth of the labor force, according to a 2002 study, works longer than the European Union's mandated limit of 48 hours a week.
Europe's long siesta, it seems, has finally reached its limit — a victim of chronic economic stagnation, deteriorating public finances and competition from low-wage countries in the enlarged European Union and in Asia. Most important, many Europeans now believe that shorter hours, once seen as a way of spreading work among more people, have done little to ease unemployment.
"We have created a leisure society, while the Americans have created a work society," said Klaus F. Zimmermann, the president of the German Institute for Economic Research in Berlin. "But our model does not work anymore. We are in the process of rethinking it."
What? You mean you really can't vote yourself leaisure and prosperity? You have to work for it?
My God! What is the world coming to?
Somebody tell the American politicians!