Posts Tagged ‘work’

4 Days of Work and 35 Hours a Week?

June 3, 2008

I enjoy driving. Ever since I was a 16-year-old kid with a freshly-printed driver’s license, I’ve enjoyed the feeling behind the wheel. But as much as I love it, I’m intrigued by an idea that’s gaining some momentum throughout the country.

The Workplace Prof Blog quoted a story from Financial Week about shortened workweeks. Instead of working five 8-hour days, commuters are increasingly working four days a week. Of course, their days are 10 hours long, but they save 20% on gas every week. As a student and a renter who spends over two and a half hours in a car every day, I love this idea. If I could, I would dump my girlfriend and marry this idea. Heck, I’ll work 13.5 hour days and come in Monday, Wednesday, and Friday!

Or we could go European and shrink our workweek in general. Alas, the blissful days of the 35-hour French workweek and the daily Spanish siestas after lunch are coming to a sad close. According to the Wall Street Journal, French President Nicolas Sarkozy is drafting legislation that would get rid of the legal limit of 35 hours for a workweek. French unions are up in arms, but French conservatives are pushing the idea.

Nicolas Sarkozy – President, Union for Popular Movement Member, and Slavedriver

My thoughts? I like to work. I like to work more than I like to drive, even. And while I don’t enjoying staying until midnight on a Friday night to accomplish an emergency task, there’s an odd beauty in overtime. I give major props to the investment bankers and corporate lawyers who spend over 100 hours in the office every week – they are more dedicated employees than I. Plus, they make about eight times my salary.

So go right ahead, Mr. Sarkozy. As long as you let them work four days a week.


Goodbye to the American Dream

May 31, 2008

In John Truslow Adams’ 1931 book The Epic of America, he describes the American dream as “that dream of a land in which life should be better and richer and fuller for everyone, with opportunity for each according to ability or achievement.”

According to a recent survey by the Marlin Company, though, the fabled American Dream is considered unreachable by 52% of American workers. This statistic obviously depends on a person’s individual interpretation of the term American Dream, but I’m still disappointed by the pessimism in our working class. Perhaps I’m merely deluding myself with dreams of great success. My father told me that he hope I would be more successful than he was, and I work toward that goal.

I am not an aristocrat. My only major piece of property is my car with 100,000 miles. So why do I look at the future with optimism when over half of my workforce colleagues have given up?

UPDATE: I was skimming today’s posts on the EconLog Blog and I found an entry on Rational Optimism. It referenced a new blog entitled “The Rational Optimist.” The author has only written an initial welcome essay, but his ideas look interesting and promising. Most notably, he agrees with my aforementioned philosophy:

“…pessimism and happiness are ultimately at odds. The satisfactions of smug gloominess are thin gruel compared to the hearty nourishment of a positive, cheerful outlook. And without hope, why even get out of bed in the morning?”