Wednesday, October 20, 2010

America.. Death by Work Ethic

 Talking to my cousin, who is German/ Spanish, and lives in Germany and completely forgets she is related to "those Americans" often exposes a different perspective on things. Here's a connection I think many Europeans miss.. the American "work ethic" is killing us.

 I'm not putting down being a productive worker, but I see a distinct link between our work habits and our health, and it isn't for the better.

 My cousin got 2 years paid maternity leave. Her work week is 35 hours. She gets 6 weeks + paid vacation.. and it's not based on seniority. Then there is the health care coverage.. but that is a whole different tangent.

 The effect of the changes in our lives can be seen.. if you just look at the waistlines. We are running a race at the expense of our health. Give a thoroughbred enough meds and he'll run himself into the grave. 

  Currently.. it requires both parents to work full time to raise a family. The "norm" now is we out source family care. Nannies, day care, before and after school programs, camps, clubs.. networks created to take care of our kids while we try to keep up with the Jones' .. or in this current economic climate.. fight the rip tide to keep a roof over our heads. We're plugged in to a system that leaves us no down time to honestly connect or slow down. This detached method shows up in social interactions. Basic social courtesies becoming forgotten.. rude people everywhere.. and just daily movement becomes stressful... rush hour.

Stress.. stress is amazing at piling on the pounds. I know I'm not the only one who has used vacation time so that I could log in more hours at another job. Taking a month long vacation to go trekking is not unusual for my European family members.

 We don't even have time to cook. "I'll just grab something on the way.." you don't even have to leave your car. The concept of having a long lunch.. long enough where you can eat real food, enjoy it... that's a foreign concept. Literally. We need it fast enough that we can eat while on the move. Time is Money. 

 If you get the chance.. watch Food Inc.  We've sold out our health for the perceived notion of a better life. 

 The more insane things get, the worse our health gets.. the more people seem to daydream about escaping to a quiet farm far far away. The hilarious/ romantic part is that a lot of these people also have never lived on a farm. A petting zoo.. or what they see in commercials is the extent of their connection, or base of information that they have to relate. "Modern" agriculture is nothing like what they dream about.. irony is that it is determining how we live and how fat we get.

 The pace we keep running this rat race can only go on for so long. GMO's, fossil fuels, pills to make you happy/ calm/ focused/ numb/ energized/ sleepy/ alert/ easy to handle, superbugs, the list goes on and on and on.. 

 Privacy no longer exists.. a quiet moment to just breathe a rarity.. In all of this that we have around us.. do we have a better life? Do we have better health? Is life easier? Does most of this offer us more time for family or friends? 

 Or is the truth about what we need in the daydream? 

Forgive the incomplete rambling.. how's this for irony.. I am so busy I don't have time to finish a train of thought about hectic life. *sigh*


  1. You're right on the money.

    Where I work they have always thought we owe them unlimited overtime. We hit 40 hours on Thursday afternoon and then they are so kind as to inform us how much overtime we are required to work that weekend.

    It has gotten so much worse since so many people are out of work that they feel they have complete control...And they are right.

    The only thing limiting me to around 50 hours a week right now is simply that the business is down.

    The race is on whether the economy kills us before the babyboomers leave hell holes like my employer so hard up for workers they have to change their ways.

  2. The average hours worked by an American by Oct. 24th is more than the average hours worked by a European for the whole year.

    They do have most people over the barrel right now. My husband is an example of that.. with low seniority.. to make sure he wasn't on the list for the chopping block he made sure he knew his job.. and as many other positions as possible.

    Our purchasing habits reinforce this flawed system. That's also the means to change it. Make a dollar matter.. and buy (local) American support the small businesses.

  3. Yes, we are so far removed from reality that it is beyond recognition my most at this point. Anyway, I couldn't agree more with you.

  4. I think I retired just in time -- back in the 70s I had a lot of 12 hour days, but the overtime was voluntary and well paid, and the piecework went well too. Couldn't do it now, though.

  5. Heh my Niece is getting married this weekend so just in case I got vacation approved like 2 months ago for Friday. If you have vacation on Friday or Monday in the employee handbook they can't force you to work overtime Saturdays.

    So as luck would have it I managed to get out of a ten hour Friday, ten hour Saturday and six hour Sunday. They just told all my co-workers that was their schedule this weekend this afternoon.

  6. Yay you got the time off! That's awesome timing for you! (I hope you have a blast at the wedding.)

    My husband's bosses are are going to be 1 shingle shy of a square really soon. He put in his notice.. and then last night another guy put in a notice too. What his bosses don't know.. is that there are 4 more actively hunting new prospects. One guy is also about to get married in the next month and his big surprise is he isn't coming back after his honeymoon!