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Home » Best of, Lifestyle Finance, Live, Personal Asides, Personal Motivation, Workplace Finance

The U.S. is the Most Overworked Developed Nation in the World – When do we Draw the Line?

Last updated by on June 1, 2016

We, as Americans, work too many hours. If you don’t believe so, check out the following data points that compare us to our peers around the world.

American Work-Life Balance

  • 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.


American Average Work Hours:

  • At least 134 countries have laws setting the maximum length of the work week; the U.S. does not.
  • 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 ILO, “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.”
  • Using data by the U.S. BLS, the average productivity per American worker has increased 400% since 1950. One way to look at that is that it should only take one-quarter the work hours, or 11 hours per week, to afford the same standard of living as a worker in 1950 (or our standard of living should be 4 times higher). Is that the case? Obviously not. Someone is profiting, it’s just not the average American worker.

American Paid Vacation Time & Sick Time:

American paid vacations

The Impact of Too Much Work

I’m not telling you to work less hours. If you genuinely love what you do and are doing it for the right reasons, you are more than entitled to spend all of your waking hours plugging away.

But for many of us, more work leads to more stress and a lower quality of life. Without time to unwind, take care of your home, spend time with loved ones, enjoy our hobbies, connect with friends, and generally live a more balanced life. Stress is the #1 cause of health problems – mentally and physically. And there are few things that stress us out on a consistent basis like work does, especially when it takes away from all of the other things that life has to offer.

Americans are the Outliers

And if all of this data tells anything, it’s that we are the outliers, not the norm. Why are we the outliers?

  • Our companies fairly ruthlessly let people go. We want to keep our jobs and not be a ‘low performer’ compared to others.
  • The decline of the union has led to less paid time off and other leave benefits.
  • Cultural value of money over everything else. We love money, we want more of it, and we think money can buy happiness. And the more we work, the more we get paid.
  • It’s been drilled in our heads that we are lazy compared to emerging market counterpart workers in India, Mexico, China, and other parts of Asia. Who isn’t? And what is our mental image of the work environments in those locales? To validate those fears, our jobs are being outsourced to the cheap labor in those countries. In reality, the U.S. is still the world leader in productivity per person.
  • 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.

What we All Need to Remember

What we all need to remind ourselves is that it doesn’t have to be this way.

  • It’s OK to ask to move to fewer hours at work.
  • It’s OK to take a week-long vacation if we need to.
  • It’s OK to ask to work from home.
  • It’s OK to take a month of unpaid leave while you raise a child.
  • It’s OK… you get the idea.

Don’t let life pass you by in the name of fear, circumstance, greed, or misguided hopes. Sometimes you just need to draw a line in the sand and say “enough is enough”.

Overworked Discussion:

  • Do you think we work too hard?
  • Do you like the cultural norm around your workplace on working hour expectations?
  • How have you been able to limit unhealthy overworking habits?

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About the Author
I am G.E. Miller, & this is my story. My goal is financial independence ASAP. If you share that goal, join me & 10,000+ others by getting FREE email updates. You can also explore every post I have written, in order.

  • Danielle says:

    I generally agree that the work-life balance in America is skewed, and that too often people are expected to let their personal lives suffer for their jobs. However, I strongly disagree that families are taking a “huge hit” due to working mothers. I see the increase in the percentage of working mothers as positive – women contribute a tremendous amount to their families when they are happy and earning income. When women don’t have enough opportunities, that unhappiness has a huge negative effect on their children.

    • Daniel Freysinger says:

      If parents would rather be working than raising young children, they shouldn’t have children. Children shouldn’t be raised in packs at some child care center. There are many situations where people don’t have a choice because of the pitiful wages in this country, but far too often parents choose money or personal fulfillment over their children.

      • Lynz says:

        I can’t believe you would say that. A child can still have a good home life and upbringing even if both parents work. Its the quality time that parents make special that really counts rather then being home all day. Family vacations and watching my parents work hard has made me one of the best people I know at budgeting and saving money for the future. I dont have kids now but when I do I know I’ll be able to take some unpaid time off of work because I know how to plan for the future. I learned this from my parents who both worked full time jobs. I want to teach my kids the same things. If you work hard you reap the benefits. This day in age I dont think 1 income families can instill the same values unless one person is a doctor or lawyer who never in the end works so many hours to make the 6 figure salary that the kids get raised by one parent anyways.

        • a frenchie says:

          Well, this is a state of mind. For you work comes first and other things are aligned on it.
          I like to work, this is part of the numerous activities I have (leisure, family, vacation) – not less, not more important.

          • Tracy says:

            I love this idea. I have tried so hard to explain to other Americans this is why we are so unbalanced.

          • H P says:

            I absolutely agree with your perspective. In the long run, all we will have left is our memories and the great times we had with those we love. Not how much we worked.

        • Rue says:

          Let me get things right. First, thank you for your comment. But wouldn´t you consider your system of values? You are being proud of having a childhood separated from your parents? You imply that good parenthood signify being appart from their children? from a very early age? You imply that those Families in which parents share time with their childrens, are families were childrens are not good raised enought? and therefore cannot “plan” the future?. At the end you argue that the problem of 1 income families is that of salary (so maybe your Point was not about parenthood)?

          I apologize for this many questions. Whereas you can feel proud of your parents, maybe they did it becaused they loved you, and they were in the neccesity of being apart for you for getting Money. If not, I may assume you both lost valuable time.

          There is just one life. Being appart of those who you love is nothing to be proud of. It is a social Problem. Working “hard” is for two kinds of People; those who cannot afford doing profitable or highly valuable activities, or persons who believe Money replaces life assets.

          This article raises a serious Problem.

          • yogesh says:

            Hello .. I am an Indian .. In India we do work in Night Shifts for Foreign Customers (right from manufacturing Companies , BPO , IT’s etc ) , Does any Foreigner work in Night Shift ?? Dont Talk about the few . (We work in large numbers , particularly in BPO and IT companies ) .

            We work more than 9 and half hours per day . In Some IT(Information Technology aka Software) Companies Employees need to work for atleast 10 Hours per day ( I worked for 12 hours , 15 hours , even 24 hours without any sleep )and that too happened for many months …

            I worked in Hewlett packard for the past 3 Years and 8 months ) I had not get week off on Week ends (saturday and Sunday) , Even I do have a Family to take care , at my office people right from my Team lead , Managers never allowed to enjoy weekends , Company Holidays , Sacrificed lot of religious festivals for Hewlett Packard (My Family needed me in attending every festival ) But HP denied it , My family needed me in my relatives marriage , HP denied it . Even they questioned me for taking sick leave . Got depressed when I was working in HP .

            It Takes 70 mins to reach my home from office . If I work for 12 hours and lose 2 hours in Travel (12+2=14) .

            Lose my Health , time with Family(Parents) , Time which I ought to spend with my wife , I will lose my relatives , My childhood buddies .. Already I lost many things because of Hewlett Packard .. Got Denied lot of things because of HP .. I do not Understand . Is Americans only allowed to enjoy their Weekends with their Family ? Does Indians/Asians not allowed to Live Happily on Earth ??
            I want an answer for my Question …

          • Carmen says:

            This comment is in regards to working for HP. Yogesh, it’s for you. Your human rights are being violated. You need to find another place to work, because they are treating you as a slave. I have a friend from India, who is part of Shama, an organization that helps families like yours through helping them do work that has good hours and lets the families stay together. Here is the website:
            I want you to know I have also worked in places in the USA that I was not allowed to have weekends off or get paid for sick days, and was told I would be fired if I took more than 3 sick days for a 3 month work project. I feel like this problem happens worldwide and due to the world being a fallen place; people who sin tend to prefer to enslave others. I recently got saved and became a Christian. Beforehand, as a sinner, it was very easy for people to enslave me. Now, I have freedom in Jesus and they can’t do it anymore; He gives me strength to break free from them. Galations 5:1 says “For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.” I was also abused by family, which is a form of slavery, because I did their bidding in order to not get hurt. Now I don’t speak to them anymore. My life is by no means easy, as I am sleeping in my car as I look for work and apply for jobs, with the master’s degree I got, but it is free from slavery and mostly peaceful. 🙂 God bless you. –Carmen

          • mina says:

            This is To Yogesh,

            I know you are mad at HP and I an obviously see why. HP, like many other large corporations, is a capitalist bastards who do not care about anyone but their stoke holders and their bank rollers..! it is not about Indians or Asians…they would treat anyone and everyone the same way whenever they can. Apart from this, you also have to ask yourself why is Indian government allowing them to treat their citizens this way!! HP would do the same thing right here in America and they do…they probably can’t go this far in America because there are laws, all be it, weak laws compared to other industrialized countries but the probably do offer more protection that Indian laws do. in the end, yes, HP find the country of Indian needing the investments and large corporations also are able to bully governments and if not bullying, they would attempt to buy politicians like they do in the states.

            good luck…stand up to these blood suckers…

          • Vicki says:

            Hi Rue,

            Yes, I agree with you. For anyone not raised with one parent at home, they can’t know the experience. I was raised with one parent at home and it is one of my most views of life (even though I was closer to the parent that worked). Being with the ones you love, instead of acquaintances that will not care about you in the end, is the most important thing in life. We should enjoy life and not let others take us away from our family – we only have so much – time. As a society, we used to hold that having a parent at home was optimal for a number of reasons. But now, we have all kinds of social ills, many of them related to a lack of parenting, a lack of love. We also have virtually no culture anymore. All is about buying and selling; it’s really disgusting, actually, how people are treated like things in “social media,” only things that will provide others with money. All our culture is old culture, with everyone concerned only with money. The OP is like that. Work over family life and culture. The powers that be love it: live to work, don’t work to live.

          • Charles Brown says:

            I was thinking the same thing but you said it first. (+1 upvote from me)

            You only get one life so you should NOT trade all of your time for money, only what you must to meet your material needs. CEO’s take more than they are worth from their employees and taxpayers too.

        • jenny says:

          I do not agree with the last part of your statement because my Mom was dirt poor but we were very happy children. 5 of us Dad divorced Mom. My Mom taught us to work hard, be honest and love one another. Money was secondary but we were always first with her, just because you don’t make a lot of money, does not mean that your parent can’t teach you right from wrong or how to be frugal,She had to be. Mom took on work but still had time for us she was not a doctor but worked a golf course serving the public, my grandmother also worked at the same place for 70 years and they both made sure we had what we needed. Even today, it is not the quantity but the quality of parenting that matters! Money aside, please! When it comes to your Children they are or should be above your Job and pleasures always! I never made a lot of money either. My Children knew that I loved them more than any job and would sacrifice my life for them. I also tried to instill in them love, hard work, honesty and a sense of citizenship! To me as long as you are happy at what you do whether it is a nurse doctor lawyer or mechanic your children will be happy and well rounded! So what you said is not true that unless your 1 income family is a doctor can you instill values to it is all in the parents not their income!

        • Nicole says:

          If working hard reaped benefits, than every illegal immigrant in the US who works 80 hours a week in back breaking labor would be millionaires.
          The average American over estimates their wealth grossly. Falsely believing they’re wealthier than what they truly are. One illness away from going bust. In fact, 67% of bankruptcies are due to medical bills.
          The elite are not wealthy because they work hard. They work smart in the sense they get ignorant individuals to sacrifice their health, families, relationships and over all quality of life so CEOS can make 53,000 dollars a day. (Check the salaries of insurance company CEOS)
          The world is much different than 10 years ago, so what you experienced growing up as a child is null now.

        • Mark says:

          Lynx — I appreciate your perspective, as you’re giving it from having lived through it. I’m also cognizant of the concept that “the fish doesn’t know it is in a fishbowl”. Every household makes the decision for both spouses to work based in their own circumstances..,,but unfortunately in our society today all to often we see a childless couple then have a baby, only for that baby to be expeditiously put into daycare so that the mother can return to her career. Whether. It gets couched in the justification of “doing as an example for the children” or to “maintain a standard of living ” that can only be achieved with two incomes, it doesn’t change the fact that the “career” in the work place has been given priority over the nurturing that can on,y be provided by a mother that is present. The lie we’ve all been fed in this fishbowl is that “quality” time, meaning being efficient in our interaction with our children is somehow better than being their when they need us…….

      • Liz says:

        I’m sorry, but that’s a short sighted comment. Back when my first born was a baby, i felt the same way. But two decades and two kids later I’m looking at college for three kids, a mortgage, and retirement. That anti daycare dr Laura jive feels good when you’re changing diapers, but the hit you take on your career, and the financial impact it makes on your family is long term. It’s not just money. It’s security. It’s livinjna decent neighborhood with decent schools. College, healthcare insurance, and – oh my god – teaching your kids a work ethic. Yeah, I stayed home without babies, too. And as a result I’m working two entry level jobs, eleven hours a day, wen I could have been working an eight to six office job for double the wages. So please, spare this mom the mommy war nonsense.

        • TheKnowerseeker says:

          Where the heck is your husband, and what kind of work does he do, that you need to work two jobs? If you are divorced, then that is not a failure of single-parent income but a personal failure between you and him, and a failure of society and church to cultivate Jesus in people’s lives.

          • Kearnes says:

            Really… your solution is Church and Jesus? They’ve done a bang up job so far.

          • TheKnowerseeker says:

            Kearnes, Jesus doesn’t head up any church; people do. The only earthly thing Jesus is responsible for is The Bible, and every organized church chooses to ignore different parts of it; none follow its entirety, so Jesus isn’t responsible for what they do or fail to do. That’s why you shouldn’t depend on any church to show you what Jesus is all about; you should read the Bible in its entirety to figure that out for yourself. A good way to get into The Bible if you’ve never read it before is to try a comic/manga version first, such as The Action Bible or Manga Messiah. (I happen to love comics and manga myself.) As for the church(es) doing a “bang-up job”, that’s *exactly* what I was lamenting.

          • john says:

            to the lady who said that Jesus and Church has done a bang up job in her life so far, i just wanted to thank you for the laugh. i understand your response. i find it so funny when people constantly say the same shit to me. i do believe in jesus but when it comes to him working in my life to help me out IN ANY FUCKING WAY IVE LEARNED IT ISNT GONNA HAPPEN. here you are talking about your 2 jobs and all the lady got out of it was jesus. why cant people use some common sense and try to come up with constructive help for people instead of what others have done for years such as praying. i work two jobs. PRAY! I got yelled at today. PRAY!! i want to put a bullet in my head. PRAY!! ahha and its like they dont even get that your situation is the result and end of all those prayers spoken YEARS AGO!!. DAMN enough of my rant sorry :0

          • john says:

            I graduated in 2001 as valedictorian and i dreamed of little pink houses for you and me and all that shit. i dreamed of the blonde babe that with time i learned you had to buy to ever have. i didnt make it to college. i ended up in a factory making $9 an hr for a company that made 254 million in profits that year. i watched as the best years of my life were spent running around sweating like a dog, being yelled at by bosses, being so exhausted i could barely walk to my car at the end of the 12 hr shift. and all the while i had smartass and prick people down me, blame me, and talk about god the whole time. i believe in god but im done with the prayers. i asked god for a good girl to come into my life because i was single till 25 and he sends me a bipolar,chrons disease, potsmoking, pillpopping welfare drug addict! THANKS GOD! then i asked him for a job just making liveable wage and i end up working as a temp for $9 feeling like an 80 year old man at 30! again THANKS GOD!! theres seems to be no rhyme or reason to this life and it bothers me having made an effort and tried my whole life and realizing that the entire lack of peace and lack of money and lack of girlfriend and lack of power and lack of control ALL STEM FROM A BAD JOB!! that one little aspect of things fucks my whole life up and yet every dickhead i ever grew up with is married, has kids, big house and a beautiful wife??? wtf??? life is a joke. i believe in god and salvation and heaven but i swear this life is hell on earth. it is nothing but a struggle and then everyone surrounds u and says “HEY YA KNOW JESUS LOVES YOU!? REALLY?? WELL WHY THE FUCK DOESNT HE HELP ME THEN?? WHY THE HELL IS EVERY DECISION I MAKE END UP IN ME BEING FUCKED OVER? WHY DO I LIVE IN A WORLD OF DICKHEADS WHO CONSTANTLY ACT LIKE PRICKS AND HAVE SMARTASS ANSWERS FOR PEACE AND SUCCESS?? FUCK IT!!! 🙂

          • Mac Guy says:

            Oh please, my wife and I have been married for 43 years and are non-religious and go to some church for weddings and funerals only. We know several religious couples that are now divorced. So much for your theory.

        • JJones says:

          But you made the choice. The state can raise your kids, you can raise your kids, or don’t have kids. Those are pretty much your choices.

      • gus says:

        I agree. Why let a stranger raise your kids? It seems people want kids, but not the work of raising them.

      • Thank you SO much!!! Very well said!! I completely agree with you. Much of “why” can be found in this documentary, please watch it all the way through and feel free to email me for progressive discussion. Just wanted to share this with you, mostly because I felt empowered by reading your response.

        Best wishes,


      • Anonymous says:

        Thank you Daniel. Your comment makes so much sense, it’s actually quite true, and in reality, scary. No wonder why many kids and teenagers are suffering from depression more than in other countries (from my research). They don’t get to spend time with their families a lot, and in turn, end up being anti-social and reluctant of their family. It’s also true that younger people in the USA go to school more often than most other countries. This leads to them being obese, lazy, or just obnoxiously insane, because they sit for long hours, leading to lack of oxygen to the brain, and laziness from sitting and writing most of the time. Most schools I’ve visited don’t have allocated recess, in turn leading to laziness. Most school lunches also offer optional snacks, making kids want to buy them and making them obese, while their parents lose much needed money. I wish more people and officials realize this, and go easy on the American work force and the younger generation currently being educated.

      • Gus says:

        I agree.
        People just gloss over the whole female career thing.
        But most women do know how hard it is to work full time and be pregnant or raising kids.
        Something has to give, and employers want you to fully devote yourself to a job.

        No one needs to feel less than, because they choose to raise their kids. Having some job and a job title doesn’t make you a better or bigger person.
        You are not letting any education go to waste when you raise your kids.

        If you put your kids aside to favor a career…you can never get that back.
        New clothes, new furniture, new cars, vacations, and manicures are not that important.

        Decide what is important to you, and don’t listen to the media.
        Someone working in a daycare is not going to care or raise your baby the way you do. No matter how you want to dress up daycares or think about them, no matter what rules you think they abide by, your child is there without you.

      • SDVW says:

        I agree, Everyone has the right to choose but when your kids get up to go to daycare and then you take them home and feed them and put them to bed they become more like pets than your children. I am forced to work because my husband and I are young and just starting out but I finally got a job where I make enough that I can afford to work 30 hours a week and that is still too much in my opinion. But a girl has to do what a girl has to do. (and guys too of course)

      • Ceci says:

        I completely agree with Daniel. If women want to work, FINE, but don’t have kids! Those women simply can’t have it both ways, family and job. They are deluding themselves. It may seem to “work” for a few years, but in the end, how many countless women have finally succumbed to that awful, nagging realization inside of them that says, “you were not 100% there for your children and you know it. You didn’t take care of your children all day and you didn’t really take care of your household duties.” In the end, they’re left with a sense of “job accomplishment,” a nice fat paycheck to blunt the pain, and the sinking realization that they emotionally scarred themselves and their children by passing off their parental duties to some total stranger at a daycare center. The truth hurts.

      • Clifford Bixler says:

        Wow. What regressive views you have grandpa!
        Early childhood education has tremendous positives in terms of socialization, learning, and preparedness for kindergarten. This is not subcontracting parenting. Most progressive childcare centers (as opposed to daycare homes) have licensing standards and certification of ciriculum and provide a positive resource for parents, many of whom need to both work due to the economic environment we find ourselves in. Our society is woefully short on support for people at both ends of the age spectrum.

      • JJones says:

        I heartily agree. We are so fortunate to have a choice. We can have a decent life for our kids with one parent staying home. We can also choose to excel in a career of our choice. But you cannot be best in your field on a half time effort or be the best period with no investment of time, with or without pay. That is reality. It is not about the money. I would not live in ANY of those places nor want their unproductive lives.

    • Chris says:

      Why are you even commenting? You’re wasting precious time that could be spent in the kitchen cooking your husband a hot meal. Like the article says, know your place, woman!

      • TheKnowerseeker says:

        The most important job on this earth is homemaking. I am the sole income earner between my wife and I, and I remind her often of just how important her job is as homemaker, and how much I appreciate her for doing it. She keeps our home clean and running smoothly, cooks our food — which saves us money and keeps us healthy, keeps our finances in order, and takes the kids to appointments regularly and on time.

        She’s also a stay-at-home-mommie for now (since our kids are small), which keeps our kids out of America’s terrible daycares, as well as teacher/tutor since our kids are home-schooled for now — keeping them out of the horrible public schools. (When they are old enough to make a decision to try public school, we’ll let them do so, if possible. Or if — somehow — we have the funds for private school, they can try that as well.)

        • gus says:

          That is great. You will raise kids that are not indoctrinated by the mindless TV and they will be able to think for themselves.

        • Mockababy says:

          When I was young and we were struggling financially both my parents worked, they felt at the time that actually being able to feed and house us was most important. Dad worked very early in the morning but would get home decently early in the evening, then mom would go to work on closing and night shifts while dad stayed home and fixed us dinner and took care of things including housework. They managed to both work as well as always have at least one parent home with us. Of course they barely got to see each other, but they made things work. And after years of hard work my mother was able to stop working and stay home full time as dad had moved up and was making more money by then.

          Just because a kid has two parents working does not mean the kid never sees or spends time with their parents and that the parents aren’t doing everything in their power to make it so.

          • Gus says:

            But with many people, they do not have time for their kids. One parent might travel with their job too.

            It’s pretty impossible, when you work 10 hours, to come home and have time with your kids.

            You can tell the difference between kids from families like Knowerseeker’s above.

            The people killing themselves to earn money for that college education they want to give their kids? Right now, so many people have college educations and cannot find jobs.

    • Teresa M says:

      Well that’s all well spouted but the truth is that only about 1 percent of the women I know in both executive and service industry jobs did NOT choose to work, they had to work to cover the rising costs of survival. In a fairy tale world it would all be by choice, but we aren’t there.

    • Cadmium says:

      That’s a positive way of looking at it but not applicable to everyone. Who can afford childcare easily unless you are paid well? Is having your child in childcare also very stressful? It obviously is easier when the kids are high school age but before that .. not so much.

      • SDVW says:

        It literally costs me more to have my kids in a daycare (I have 2 kids, one 2.5yrs and another 8months old) working 40 hours a week at 10 dollars an hour. I literally would have had to pay the huge daycare to raise my kids for me, and make a zero dollar profit off of it. Thankfully my dad’s girlfriend does in home daycare and she cut me a deal on it, otherwise it was going to be OUTRAGEOUS. The system is so screwed up.

    • Neal Kluge says:

      Anyone can have any number of days of vacation. Just have to accept a lot less money. There was an ER Doctor who teamed up with another to work 6 months a year, So the ER was staffed by these two 12 months a year but each worked 6 months and each got 1/2 wages.

      What some people want is lots of vacation but the same pay and that does not work!!!

      • Neal Kluge says:

        In the USA, personal freedom to work as much or as little as one wants is PARAMOUNT. Any one can reject jobs that do not give himher all the free time he/she wants…..

        • Sean says:

          That sounds good but it’s actually BS companies collude together against workers and workers are not smart enough to do it in return I’m not a fan of unions because they suck and I’m not a leftist but at the end of the day one can’t trust companies to do the right thing and one can’t just leave one employer for the next as of the next offers the same thing they all remember Silicon Valley they just got caught trying to collude together to not hire employees from one another why were they doing that? The answer is simple to put downward pressure on wages. That’s why jobs are shipped overseas and the business community is all for illegal immigration they both pushed down wages and that’s what they’re about pushing down wages and then they blame it on the invisible hand and some people still believe that.
          Forgive my writing I’m speaking into my cell phone

    • Sean says:

      Simple supply and demand women in the workforce means double the workforce you can’t say that doesn’t have an effect on wages. Doubling the workforce puts downward pressure on wages and hurts the ability of households to make a living.

    • george says:

      Families do take a hit when both parents work. No doubt about it just ask your children if they want mommy or daddy to stay home, see what they say.

    • Shawn says:


      I don’t think the author is pointing out that women shouldn’t be working. In fact they said, “I don’t care who stays home and who works in terms of gender (work opportunity equality for all – it’s a family choice)”.

      I think they are more point out that a jump in 40 years from 20% to 70% is significant. I also have no problem with more women working, but I get the point here the author is making. I think it is more about both parents now having to work, there really isn’t a choice anymore for many families. Before Ronald Regan and his Trickle Down Economics, most families only had and/or needed one working parent. I know talking to friends that have kids, both parents (the gal or guy) both have to work so they have a decent life. I worked in finance for many years and Crain’s Chicago did a study on 1980 vs 2000. Twenty years, inflation had over doubled, prices for many goods had gone up 5X, like food and gas, the price of a car had tripled and the average cost of housing was 4X higher. Then they compare 40 different jobs, in different fields, the salary in most had not moved since 1980… some had gone up, but like by 5% and worse yet, some jobs actually had a lower salary in 2000 than they paid 20 years before! Staying the same while inflation runs rapid is bad enough, but to go backwards with less pay, that is horrible.

      People used to make a livable wage, enough to afford that so called “American Dream”, but the average American today will never live as well as their parents did. There is a lot out there about that. Not to mention a recent study said if from the 50’s, if the minimum wage would have kept up with cost, it would be $21.72!!! One other article I read said it would be $23.43, but I think that might be a bit over blown. Can you imagine a whole country were the lowest paid worker is making $21.72 at the prices we pay currently for everything…. that is how people lived up until the end of the 1970’s. Everyone was making at least a livable wage, to buy goods and services… to take small vacations. I have friends I know that haven’t been on a vacation in years, professionals, because they can’t afford it living in Chicago and shelling out $2500 to $3200 a month in rent. Making just about the same as what their counterpart made in 1980, except they paid more like $600 a month for rent in 1980 for the same thing.
      So no, I don’t think the author was targeting woman and/or the fact they should stay home… I think it was more to the point, that choice is almost all but gone.

  • C says:

    I hate the work place standards in the US. Personally, my workload doesn’t actually require 40 hours per week, but my employer does. Everyday is a struggle to stay chained to my desk waiting for more work to come up. But I also think it’s ridiculous to require those people whose jobs could take over 40 hours a week to actually complete the work in that time. Just because we live in a world where you could work around the clock, communicating with people all over the world, doesn’t mean you should. We are not robots, we need a life.

  • G.E. Miller says:

    @ Danielle –

    Please don’t take my ‘working mothers’ data point out of context as a statement that I think mothers should stay home. My point was to show that we’ve lost 50% of adults staying home with their children – whether it’s a man or woman. That’s a huge blow to work-life balance, but it’s almost a necessity these days. My point was that nobody is home with the kids anymore – man or woman – and that’s a shame.

    • Kearnes says:

      Danielle… hush. Miller has a point. Have you actually looked around lately at the youth in america? Kids are growing up with no adults in the house because they’re too busy working 60 – 80 hours a week – some of them with no benefits or any vacation time because they could be contractors. As it seems most companies in the states don’t hire employees, they hire contractors so they don’t have to pay for benefits and vacation. They will however dangle that possibility in your face for years while you pound away 12 hours a day.

      Flame me if you want but if you compare our lives with our european counterparts who are getting upwards of 40 bank holidays a year (not counting vacation time)… american life is the absolute suck.

        • Neil says:

          Unfortunately William “moving” is not that easy. See, we here in the US let anyone come in because the corporations are always looking for the cheaper labor – since there are laws in other countries that protect the workers (read TAXPAYERS) they aren’t interested in an open borders policy because they don’t want to end up like us.

          If the policies in this country change at some future point to where YOU are dissatisfied, is “move…” an answer you’d accept and something you’d do? If so then I would say that’s pretty cowardly of you.

          It’s OK to love the country and hate the policies.

          • Kim says:

            I agree with Neil 100%. It’s so easy for someone to say if you don’t like it, just move. Honestly, I would if I could. But my husband and I have married children, our parents, siblings and other relatives. You can’t just expect someone to uproot their entire life. Most middle class Americans in this country are frustrated, fed-up, exhausted, and stressed out. But truly, there is nothing we can do about it. It’s the American way and we are stuck! Not by choice, but by chance.

          • Sean says:

            Well as a veteran who is the son of a veteran I really don’t see any problem with leaving the US my father disagrees with me on that but if you can find a better living in a better place I for one would be willing to dump the US in a heartbeat I am a little too old for that little too much invested in the game but for my children it is an option and it’s one explained that they have. I don’t think it’s cowardly to leave a place that holds you back looking for a better life but you’re free to hold your opinion.
            Forgive my writing I’m actually speaking into my cell phone.

        • john says:

          “It was true that I didn’t have much ambition, but there ought to be a place for people without ambition, I mean a better place than the one usually reserved. How in the hell could a man enjoy being awakened at 6:30 a.m. by an alarm clock, leap out of bed, dress, force-feed, shit, piss, brush teeth and hair, and fight traffic to get to a place where essentially you made lots of money for somebody else and were asked to be grateful for the opportunity to do so?”
          ― Charles Bukowski, Factotum

          • G says:

            Maybe your life will improve when you stop blaming god for your choice to marry an addict and drop out of college to work in factories. Also, I see the appeal Charles Bukowski has for you but he was an alcoholic depressed a-hole. Find someone positive to parrot.

          • Sean says:

            You know me so well have you been spying on me. You just described my life.

        • john says:

          “We are
          Born like this
          Into this
          Into these carefully mad wars
          Into the sight of broken factory windows of emptiness
          Into bars where people no longer speak to each other
          Into fist fights that end as shootings and knifings
          Born into this
          Into hospitals which are so expensive that it’s cheaper to die
          Into lawyers who charge so much it’s cheaper to plead guilty
          Into a country where the jails are full and the madhouses closed
          Into a place where the masses elevate fools into rich heroes”
          ― Charles Bukowski

        • john says:

          “Nothing was ever in tune. People just blindly grabbed at whatever there was: communism, health foods, zen, surfing, ballet, hypnotism, group encounters, orgies, biking, herbs, Catholicism, weight-lifting, travel, withdrawal, vegetarianism, India, painting, writing, sculpting, composing, conducting, backpacking, yoga, copulating, gambling, drinking, hanging around, frozen yogurt, Beethoven, Back, Buddha, Christ, TM, H, carrot juice, suicide, handmade suits, jet travel, New York City, and then it all evaporated and fell apart. People had to find things to do while waiting to die. I guess it was nice to have a choice.”
          ― Charles Bukowski, Women

        • john says:

          “There’s nothing to mourn about death any more than there is to mourn about the growing of a flower. What is terrible is not death but the lives people live or don’t live up until their death. They don’t honor their own lives, they piss on their lives. They shit them away. Dumb fuckers. They concentrate too much on fucking, movies, money, family, fucking. Their minds are full of cotton. They swallow God without thinking, they swallow country without thinking. Soon they forget how to think, they let others think for them. Their brains are stuffed with cotton. They look ugly, they talk ugly, they walk ugly. Play them the great music of the centuries and they can’t hear it. Most people’s deaths are a sham. There’s nothing left to die.”
          ― Charles Bukowski

        • john says:

          “This is very important — to take leisure time. Pace is the essence. Without stopping entirely and doing nothing at all for great periods, you’re gonna lose everything…just to do nothing at all, very, very important. And how many people do this in modern society? Very few. That’s why they’re all totally mad, frustrated, angry and hateful.”
          ― Charles Bukowski

        • john says:

          “The problem was you had to keep choosing between one evil or another, and no matter what you chose, they sliced a little bit more off you, until there was nothing left. At the age of 25 most people were finished. A whole god-damned nation of assholes driving automobiles, eating, having babies, doing everything in the worst way possible, like voting for the presidential candidates who reminded them most of themselves. I had no interests. I had no interest in anything. I had no idea how I was going to escape. At least the others had some taste for life. They seemed to understand something that I didn’t understand. Maybe I was lacking. It was possible. I often felt inferior. I just wanted to get away from them. But there was no place to go.”
          ― Charles Bukowski

        • john says:

          “How in the hell could a man enjoy being awakened at 8:30 a.m. by an alarm clock, leap out of bed, dress, force-feed, shit, piss, brush teeth and hair, and fight traffic to get to a place where essentially you made lots of money for somebody else and were asked to be grateful for the opportunity to do so? ”
          ― Charles Bukowski, Factotum

        • john says:

          “I couldn’t get myself to read the want ads. The thought of sitting in front of a man behind a desk and telling him that I wanted a job, that I was qualified for a job, was too much for me. Frankly, I was horrified by life, at what a man had to do simply in order to eat, sleep, and keep himself clothed. So I stayed in bed and drank. When you drank the world was still out there, but for the moment it didn’t have you by the throat.”
          ― Charles Bukowski

        • john says:

          “Learn, he says, that there will be hours, days
          and months ahead of feeling absolutely terrible
          and nothing can change that; neither new
          girlfriends, health professionals, changes of diet, dope, humility, or
          God. ”
          ― Charles Bukowski

        • john says:

          119 people liked it


          “alone with everybody

          the flesh covers the bone
          and they put a mind
          in there and
          sometimes a soul,
          and the women break
          vases against the walls
          and them men drink too
          and nobody finds the
          but they keep
          crawling in and out
          of beds.
          flesh covers
          the bone and the
          flesh searches
          for more than

          there’s no chance
          at all:
          we are all trapped
          by a singular

          nobody ever finds
          the one.

          the city dumps fill
          the junkyards fill
          the madhouses fill
          the hospitals fill
          the graveyards fill

          nothing else
          ― Charles Bukowski, Love is a Dog from Hell

          • TheKnowerseeker says:

            The “One” does exist out there, but s/he won’t be perfect, just the best friend you could ever have of the opposite sex. I’m a born-again Christian; when I was a teenager, I had a vivid dream of a little girl, and I knew — somehow — that this girl would become my wife someday. I woke up refreshed and with a feeling of peace and joy inside. I believe that the dream was a vision sent by God.

            Later, when I was 25 years old, I knew that I was finally ready to give up on single life and be married. So I prayed this prayer: “God, I *believe* that you love me, and that you have the right woman for me set aside somewhere. Please Lord, bring her into my life now; I am ready to be a husband and father.” A month later, I met a young woman online, in a Yahoo Christian chat room. At first, we were just online acquaintances; then we became online friends. Next thing, we were calling each other on the phone, even though she was attending college far away. (I was also a student.)

            One day, she told me that her parents live in a city not far away from where I lived and went to college. We made plans to meet during Spring Break. We did meet, and we immediately “clicked” on our first date. It turned out that she had been living life confused and depressed like me, but she had less social support (I had my parents), so she had been flunking her classes. (I had been making “A”s.) Her college basically expelled her. Well, as bad as that was, it worked out in favor of she and I remaining together.

            Before long, I realized that she was the “One” for me, not only because she was the best friend I had ever had — yet was attractive too (but *not* the best looking girl I have ever met) — but I realized that she was the little girl from my dream, now all grown up.

            We’ve been married seven years now, with three children. (We want one more.) Our marriage has not been anywhere near perfect, yet I still believe that she is the best woman I could have, I still love her despite her failings, and my children — whom I love — deserve for their mommy and daddy to be married and secure together. I am happier than I ever was single; that’s for sure.

        • john says:

          “Those faces you see every day on the streets were not created entirely without hope: be kind to them: like you they have not escaped.”
          ― Charles Bukowski, The People Look Like Flowers at Last

        • john says:

          “The area dividing the brain and the soul
          Is affected in many ways by experience —
          Some lose all mind and become soul:
          Some lose all soul and become mind:
          Some lose both and become:
          ― Charles Bukowski

        • john says:

          “Frankly, I was horrified by life, at what a man had to do simply in order to eat, sleep, and keep himself clothed. So I stayed in bed and drank. When you drank the world was still out there, but for the moment it didn’t have you by the throat.”
          ― Charles Bukowski

          • Sean says:

            Well hating God and being a drunk don’t really solve the problems.
            But making laws that actually helped workers well they’re helpful to workers.

        • john says:

          “the masses are everywhere
          they know how to do things:
          they have sane and deadly angers
          for sane and deadly
          ― Charles Bukowski, Love is a Dog from Hell

        • john says:

          “Everything else just kept picking and picking, hacking away. And nothing was interesting, nothing. The people were restrictive and careful, all alike. And I’ve got to live with these fuckers for the rest of my life, I thought.”
          ― Charles Bukowski, Ham on Rye

        • john says:

          “I could see the road ahead of me. I was poor and I was going to stay poor. But I didn’t particularly want money. I didn’t know what I wanted. Yes, I did. I wanted someplace to hide out, someplace where one didn’t have to do anything. The thought of being something didn’t only appall me, it sickened me. The thought of being a lawyer or a councilman or an engineer, anything like that, seemed impossible to me. To get married, to have children, to get trapped in the family structure. To go someplace to work every day and to return. It was impossible. To do things, simple things, to be part of family picnics, Christmas, the 4th of July, Labor Day, Mother’s Day . . . was a man born just to endure those things and then die? I would rather be a dishwasher, return alone to a tiny room and drink myself to sleep.”
          ― Charles Bukowski

        • john says:

          “We waited and waited. All of us. Didn’t the shrink know that waiting was one of the things that drove people crazy? People waited all their lives. They waited to live, they waited to die. They waited in line to buy toilet paper. They waited in line for money. And if they didn’t have any money they waited in longer lines. You waited to go to sleep and then you waited to awaken. You waited to get married and you waited to get divorced. You waited for it to rain, you waited for it to stop. You waited to eat and then you waited to eat again. You waited in a shrink’s office with a bunch of psychos and you wondered if you were one.”
          ― Charles Bukowski, Pulp

        • Charles Brown says:

          Don’t move, change the playing field. That’s what made America great and that is what corporations pay big money to do to the working class every day. They change the playing field. They hire lobbyists and pay off politicians. We should model corporations to be more like those in Germany, which is what they were like in the 1950’s and 1960’s here in the U.S. CEO’s salaries weren’t as large in comparison to workers’ salaries, and unions mattered. How did unions become synonymous with “Marxism” and being leftist? Its’ a crock of dung that the top 1 percent has all of the assets and representation. It is sad that a conservative, working class person has to apologize for sounding like a leftist, and thinks unions are bad. It’s brainwashing. American corporations think they have rights like people do. They want to hire foreign slave labor and to circumvent all of the labor laws, environmental laws and checks and balances that our families have worked so hard to establish.

      • gus says:

        I have to leave the house at 6am. I get home at 7 or 8 pm, if I am lucky. I also work some Saturdays.
        I have no social life, very little time to devote to hobbies or anything else.

        I think it is economic slavery. I am just getting by, and I’ve had some periods of unemployment. So they know they have us over a barrel and can make us do anything. What are the options? None.

      • Sean says:

        It’s okay european demographics are going downhill they’re getting older than everyone in the world won’t take much to get Americans workers to emigrate there in a couple years. We will see how corprate america deals with that.

  • Chris says:

    Just wanted to point out that a change of “20% of mothers working” to “70% of children having mothers who work” does not necessarily translate to a “more than 50% increase.”

    Strictly speaking, it’s entirely possible that the number of mothers who work also have more children (on average) than mothers who do not work. It’s also entirely possible (though unlikely) that the number of children with working mothers has DECREASED, given the available statistics.

  • Josh says:

    It seems impossible to draw the line because employers are strapped and continually demand more. It is much harder to cut back then to push forward. Having the ability to cut your work load is a difficult task especially for a salary employee.

    • Sean says:

      US Employers are absolutely not strapped they have more cash in the bank and higher profits than has ever been had in the history of the world. Please stop repeating propaganda think about what you’re saying consider the facts. US corporations rip off American workers because they’re able to they control the Congress because they paid for it. Both parties in the US are paid for by the corporations and the corporations get from them exactly what they desire.

  • Encouraged says:

    These statistics give me hope that America will continue to be the great country that it already is. I am glad that Americans, on average, work harder than every other developed country in the world. It means that we as a nation will continue to innovate, to create, and to protect the lifestyle we have come to enjoy.

    • Realist says:

      I have worked all over the world, and the level of workplace exhaustion and psychosis I have seen here is unequaled. Also, the majority of the “work” that is done is completed at break-neck speed, with little or no regard for quality. To top it off, the much-touted high standard of living equals, in fact, may hours spent in the car commuting, with no time left for friends or hobbies.

      • gus says:

        Exactly. The only ones getting ahead are the top dogs. Everyone else is just running on the treadmill. We know it’s a matter of time
        before we have stress-related health issues.
        The career gurus say to quit your job. Easy to say, but there are so few jobs out there.

    • Rachel says:

      The lifestyle that we have come to enjoy? Sure, I live in a comfortable 800 sq. ft. apartment in a peaceful, country setting and have more than what is an absolute necessity for life. Now if only I could find a way to enjoy my home for more than sleeping and 2 additional hours of my day. Working an average of 60 hours a week leaves me with little time for much of anything beyond work. There is little time to spend with my husband, friends, or family, on my hobbies, or even getting my laundry done at some points. I can’t even imagine raising a family with this kind of work schedule. I feel exhausted and stressed out because of the pace of my job. Even when I’m not working, my brain is still on-the-job. How can this be considered an enjoyable lifestyle? Now to top it all off, I am a teacher, which means that I actually get a bit of reprieve from this workload and work less hours during the summer months. I can’t imagine working 60+ hours a week every single week of the year.

      • gus says:

        I feel like you do. It’s like a trap and there are no options. People say quit and find another job. There are no other jobs, and even if we could find one, it probably would be the same.

        I notice the gap between the people who have a lot of time on their hands, and those who are working like we do…is getting greater. So is the gap between those working and not working. And the gap between the intelligent and the unintelligent is getting larger too. The intelligent are doing the work.

    • Neil says:

      You must be an employee of the financial industry! I say this because massive debt offered by the banks coupled by the near zero percent interest rates given those banks by the FED is partly why people have to work 60 to 80 hours a week while our government does nothing – having just returned from a 10 day vacation and taking this Friday off.

      Wouldn’t it be interesting if the American people stood together and all chose to go into their offices ONLY when Congress was in DC – and went on “vacation” when they weren’t in session and effectively shut the country down.

      Why don’t we see how long we can function when we don’t show up for work en-masse like Congress does most of the time?

      • Rachel says:

        Actually, I’m not an employee of the financial industry. Not even close. I’m a public school teacher.

        • gus says:

          Try working in medicine, where it’s both mentally and physically demanding. 12 hours a day or longer, and lunch breaks are rare. I’ve worked from 7am to 8pm without a break.

          Sometimes, it never ends. People think those who work in healthcare are just masochistic about taking care of others. We break down too. We just cannot go on and on. So much is being demanded of us.

    • Jennyct says:

      And how does being overworked correlate to your assertions? In fact, studies have shown otherwise.

    • Sean says:

      The problem is those doing all the real work that creates wealth are working harder and getting paid less people who sit in offices and think they’re doing things when they’re really doing very little are getting paid a lot more. Not everyone equally enjoys the wealth that’s being created. Nor do we all have the incentive to keep this thing going. I am teaching my children to avoid debt and avoid working in the capitalist economy it’s not worth it. I went to college and I’m surrounded by people with college degrees that can’t use them. Plus they are useless. When the demographic shift happens when the boomers retire workers will be much more valued but Europe has better infrastructure and It might look better if they have certain policies that encourage imigration from the us.

      • Raymond says:

        If you are waiting for the Demographics to break down to where immigration to Europe will be an attractive alternative for Americans; you will have a very long wait. Businesses there are doing the same as businesses do everywhere. They are allowing a large influx of unskilled and some skilled labor to immigrate into the country from primarily Middle-eastern or Islamic countries. They also have a large illegal immigration problem similar to the United States which is forcing labor wages down. Our best hope is to somehow get manufacturing based businesses back into the U.S., control our borders to force businesses to pay a reasonable wage for labor, and invest in our infrastructure. We as Americans are often compared to European countries in work hours, wages, vacation days, sick days and retirement. One only needs to look at Greece and see what too much of a good thing can bring. Greece has 32 hour work weeks, pay for 14 months of work, 30 paid vacation and a 52 year old retirement. This is unsustainable when you have a zero population growth. Other European and Scandinavian countries on the above list are soon to follow. From these facts it is easy to surmise that they do not have it exactly right either. Somewhere a compromise between how The U.S. conducts business and how The Europeans conduct business could give us both growth and time to enjoy the fruits of our labor.

  • Lauren says:

    I think we are overworked. I have not work in one company where at least 75% of my co-workers were not addicted to coffee aka the working man’s crack. How come we don’t have a siesta like Spain? I think that would help a lot of people if they were able to rest in the middle of day. Then we won’t have so many people addicted to the working man’s crack. I think we should also restructure idea of work. I hate the 8 hour work day. If we are honest with ourselves, we probably actually work 5 hours a day while at work. The other 3 hours are hours where we are surfing the net or doing something else unrelated to work. I read an article in More magazine about the restructuring the way we work. They gave examples of companies that allowed employees to set their own hours. These companies actually had better productivity rates.

    • gus says:

      Because they are trying to squeeze every single drop out of us while they can.
      That’s how the owners are millionaires.
      They don’t care about us, and if one of us falls down, they have someone else waiting in the wings.
      Slavery takes many forms.


      Argentina is the only country that still has siesta really. They also go back to work until like 7 or 8pm and eat dinner at midnight, start dancing at 2am, and the clubs open seven days a week at 4am. I think siesta is the only time they actually sleep.

  • Steve says:

    As already posted on the comments on the wp source, that graph is wrong. The Uk changed to 24 in 2007, and 28 in 2009, effectively covering the national holidays, so if you get them all off you get a minimum of 20, if you work them you get 28.

    This was mandated by EU law (directive).

  • johnny doe says:

    There’s a few factors at play here. One is salary/wages have stayed the same, while cost of living has exploded, in almost every state. To live on your own, you NEED to make $50-$60K a year to reasonably live, and even then, in some parts of the country, that isn’t enough. And if you are salaried, which the bulk of jobs that pay over $50K are, unless you run your own business, chances are very high that you will work mad overtime, without compensation. If you make less than $50-$60K a year, you could live by yourself, but chances are, you living paycheck to paycheck.

    In my opinion, to have the american dream, the same one alot of people enjoyed in the 1950s, you have to work 10-15 times as hard as they did. These days, i’ve noticed getting a house, and making mortgage payments really turns heads in a bar or in any social setting. I wonder if they were

    Also, it is very good business practice from a CEOs perspective to have few workers who work 60-70 hour weeks, instead alot doing 35-40. Less overhead means more profits. Think of when CEOs raise their own salaries while doing mass layoffs. The effect at a company is nobody says shit, gets scared, and works much harder to prove they are valuable. I think it’s one of the greatest tactics in increasing productivity in your workers without increasing, and in some cases, lowering compensation.

    I totally agree with this guy too, America doesn’t get pissed about workers rights. They get more pissed about tax raises.

    But this is a very general opinion of mine, based on what I know, so take it for what you will.

  • TheDude says:

    Encouraged – You are hilarious! I read your comment and I’ve gotta tell you that was one of the funniest things I’ve read in a long time! You should definitely think about becoming a comedian!

  • Infuria says:

    Some food for thought

    In Canada (more specifically British Columbia) we get 18 months maternity / parental leave in which both the father and the mother can split between them.

    We dont get paid our full salary, but you do earn roughly 50% up to a max of something like $45k a year.

    I couldn’t imagine leaving a child that young with a care taker.

  • Kim says:

    The increase of 20% to 70% is an increase of 350%. (70 is 3.5 times 20; things that don’t increase or decrease are 100% of the original, and 3.5 times the size is an increase of 350%.) A 50% increase would have the number of working mothers grow from 20% to 30%.

  • Roy says:

    Getting back to that slave economy we lost over a century ago.

  • Stoz says:

    It’s an increase of 250%. 70% is 350% of 20%, but it is a 250% increase from 20%.

  • Natalie says:

    I think this is deplorable, but it is something we are doing to ourselves. In 1950 the average house size was close to 1000 sq ft. Now it is closer to 2000 sq ft. Also we insist on having two cars and going out to eat regularly and many more extravagances. If we returned to simple living we wouldn’t need two incomes or long work weeks.

    My husband and I recently went from a two income household to a one income household when I became pregnant with our son. We downsized our house from 2050 sq ft to 1300 sq ft, got rid of one car, we eat home cooked meals, and cut out most of our consumer spending. Despite living on only 60% of the income (now only 36k/yr) we had before, I believe our quality of life has improved.

    Americans’ commitment to long hours reflects our values as a society. People would rather work more and have more things than free time. Until we value free time more than money, I doubt much will change.

    • JM says:

      Natalie you are acting like the typical family that already has everything. What about the people that say had dental work done that cost 20k and you lost your job and were out of work for almost a year and then play catchup on credit cards. Why sell one of your cars as you will sure as hell lose the value and not get nearly back what you paid for it. These small cutback wont replace a salary. Maybe its because the person you or your spouse made so little it didnt make much a dent. This thinking is very unrealistic for the majority of the working class. I live in a one bedroom apartment both me and my wife work and have no kids. We are stuggling and hardly do anything like go out to eat or go on a trip. Wake up to the reality most americans face.

      • john says:

        jm your comment to natalie is totally correct. i dont know what planet shes on. i end up working at Lonestar at age 30 and they make me salad guy for 8 an hr. i bust my ass with no training and then the bosses say i need to do fry station too so i say ok BUT THEY REFUSE TO TRAIN ME IM JUST SUPPOSED TO DO IT?? so i tell the boss that i want to be dish guy and left alone. i tell him that his bunch of assclown cooks are a bunch of pricks and i just want some goddamn peace. i tell him im 30 and have done manual labor bullshit for 12 years and i just want to be left in peace. so what does he do? he makes me do dishes and tacks on sweeping the parking lot,mopping the entire restaurant, cleaning the bathrooms,doing food prep, assisting servers, and then after that help out IF I CAN DOING SALADS AS WELL!!! AND PEOPLE WONDER WHATS WRONG WITH LIFE AND THIS COUNTRY??? ASSHOLES LIKE THIS THAT WORK YOU DOING 5 DIFFERENT JOBS FOR $8 AN HOUR!!! I had a $500 rent to pay and i could never pay it thanks to this Animal Farm society.

    • Mockababy says:

      I don’t know where you live but where I live the difference between cost of living and wages is extremely high. I actually don’t know a single person who was able to successfully move out of their parents home before 26. My brother’s girlfriend works nearly full time (she is still doing school one or two classes at a time) and can still barely afford her one room apartment, and that’s low income housing! Which is limited, good luck qualifying as half the city seems to need it. People are stuck.

      And in my household we do need at least two cars. I take the bus now and then but when I do graveyard shift there aren’t exactly buses running at that hour, and I’m not about to ride my bike 15miles at 3am, especially as a girl and especially in an area that has a growing crime issue if all the tagging and break ins are anything to go by.

    • CC anonymous says:


      I completely agree and have had to reevaluate my free time over money. I always thought I needed more money to survive because I kept hearing that other people made more than me but lived paycheck to paycheck. HOW was this possible? I grew up with a very strong sense of saving and investing. At 13 I worked. By 15 I realized that life was more than the stuff that I owned. Because my parents were immigrants and invested I have what I have today.
      By 26 I owned a 1300 sq ft townhome (with my mother). It’s fully paid off because my mother was smart enough to have us invest in this. Both my parents are 56 and have been in the US since they were 18 or 20 making server wages, sometimes just making $60/day. They saved. They invested. They are working 2 to 3 days a week now and do have back problems from serving, but they are ready to retire.
      I mention all of this because I had to step back and realize that I don’t need to make as much money as my peers that live paycheck to paycheck because I don’t need fancy sh*t. I paid off my car but it’s a Hyundai. I will take more free time to enjoy my life, have hobbies and more hours in a day spent doing what I want over making more money but having no time to enjoy it.
      At the end of the day and my life what will I have to show from all this “work”? Oh, I owned a lot of fancy stuff that I can’t even enjoy because I had to work to maintain them. Doesn’t sound like a life to me. BUT I say this because my parents put me in the position that I am today. Not so well off but you know what, it actually is pretty well off to be so SIMPLE.

    • Sean says:

      My house is 1400 ft.² my wife doesn’t work try getting time off people don’t work because they want to work all the hours. And their not getting paid more for the amount of work they work althe while producing more per worker as worker productivity statstistics demonstrates

  • Jeff says:

    Sorry but your stats are wrong. US workers do not work more than the Japanese. How do I know? I live in Japan and see how many work hours they put in in a day. Also, you article put the ILO website as the source of your informantion but you don’t reference the exact article. When I searched the website I found other evidence to suggest the complete opposite of what you are saying. In fact, if you search working hours you’ll also see that the US doesn’t even come close to overtime hours put in by other nations. If any, the average US worker is lazy, complains and generally has poor performance at work compared to any other nation on earth.

  • bellumregio says:

    Family values! Middle Class wages in the US have been stagnant since the early 1970’s. To make up for wage stagnation women in most households went to work and Americans started working longer hours. But this was not enough. So families started tried to refinance their homes during the real estate bubble or, during rough times, borrow with credit cards. Family costs have increased- for health care, for houses, for child care, college, and retirement. And all this at a time when risk for individual families has increased- where once there were pensions now everyone who is lucky enough to have retirement has it in the volatile stock market or in their now collapsed house value.

    While all this is going on for Middle Class families- forget the poor, they are now destitute- the richest 1% increased their incomes 400%. They are now richer then they have been in over 80 years and they pay lower taxes than in any other developed country. In short, all the productivity growth and all the tax cuts over the last 40 years has been done for the benefit of the top 1% of earners.

    • Sean says:

      This is all absolutely true.
      Of Course Union suck and I’ve destroyed American education as well as a lot of other things and so we should not turn to unions.
      Use your legislature to make mandatory pensions. Laws for specific defects Instead of giving power to oligarchs and The politically well-connected.
      Forgive my writing I’m speaking to my cell phone

  • BE says:

    U-S-A, U-S-A, U-S-A, We’re Number One! We’re Number One! We’re Number One!

    And just think what it will be like in 4 years if the Republicans retake control of the House and the White House!

  • Stu says:

    I would be currious to see how the tax rate compares with ours. It seems that since reagan all we hear is that we pay to much in taxes yet if memory serves me right we pay the least amount of any industrialized country and work the most.

  • Obbop says:

    “There’s class warfare, all right, Mr. (Warren) Buffett said, but it’s my class, the rich class, that’s making war, and we’re winning.”

    • Sean says:

      Warren Buffett’s a stupid liberal prick he’s a hypocrite you can mouth off all he wants but he’s not willing to pay taxes himself he still fighting to keep $1 billion from the IRS. And he will end up winning because he’s rich and can afford lawyers. Drop the ideological politicking it’s not going to solve any problems when the Democrats get in the same thing the Republicans are doing will continue to happen. The Democratic Party is no more a friend of the workingman than the Republican Party is anyone that believes otherwise a fool. Do us all a favor and wise up.

  • Shaun Connell says:

    Of course we’re overworked, but it has nothing to do with the government. Geez. I think everyone should find ways to be frugal and work less, but the idea of capping how many hours people can’t put in is economic insanity, especially during a recession.

    Besides, the only people that would influence are employees — that would put another insane level of pressure on small business owners with a lot to risk, and would push us closer to a corporately controlled economy — even worse than it already is.

  • Seska says:

    @Stu: Our taxes may be lower than a lot of other developed countries, but they are also getting a lot more out of their taxes (i.e. universal healthcare).

    I am a salaried employee for a government contractor, and so I don’t get paid overtime. However, my boss constantly tries to pressure and guilt people into working overtime because it “shows dedication to the job.” Like one of the other comments said though, my job usually requires less than 40 hours to actually get the work done. I think our work days in the U.S. should be shorter, since most people are not productive for all 8 hours of the “normal” work day. Paid sick leave should also be required…I’ve seen way too many people working while looking like death warmed over because they can’t afford to take a sick day (I will admit I’ve done it myself, at a job where if you called in sick the day after a paid holiday, you didn’t get paid for the holiday or the sick day, and of course I got the worst flu I’ve ever had over Thanksgiving!), and all that does is spread the germs around and probably make the recovery time for the sick person longer since they aren’t able to rest.

  • Jeff Walden says:

    I’m not telling you to work less hours.

    …and yet:

    You say that the US is an outlier in not having a national paid parental leave benefit, suggesting your support for such a benefit. Thus you would tell and require companies to not demand a willingly-provided higher quantity of work.

    You say the US is an outlier in not having a mandatory option for new parents to take parental leave, suggesting you support such a benefit. Thus you would tell and require companies to include a new-parent parental-leave option in their compensation packages, even if employees desired the same compensation in a different form.

    You say the US is alone in not having laws setting maximum work-week length, suggesting you support such laws. Thus you would tell companies they couldn’t allow people to normally work more than a certain number of hours a week. You would also tell people that if they wanted to normally work more than a certain number of hours a week, they would have to awkwardly and inefficiently split those hours between two jobs. (I make an assumption that max-hour limits still permit occasional overtime, but I don’t actually know how these laws generally function, and what exceptions they permit — if any.)

    You say the US is alone in not requiring paid sick days, suggesting you support requiring them. Yet what if I’m a typically healthy person willing to trade higher overall pay for the rare sick day being unpaid? You’re telling me I can’t make that tradeoff, and companies can’t offer it to me.

    You say the US alone doesn’t require mandated annual leave, suggesting you support that requirement. Yet what if I truly love my job and have no wish to take time off? You tell me I am not allowed to make that choice. (The company that did this may well be shortsighted, but shortsightedness should not be a crime.)

    (Your graph does nothing more than illustrate what your previous bullet points said, right? Just want to be sure I understand its added importance other than for shock value. And of course, what’s legally required doesn’t have much relevance to what actually happens, which as the link notes is that the average American gets 13 days off a year — but that’s not as shocking as a disingenuous zero, so you don’t emphasize it.)

    For someone who claims not to be telling people what to do, you seem to be doing an awful lot of it (even if you might only support application of some subset of these requirements, and not necessarily all of them — you don’t firmly take a position regarding your statements of policy, so I’ve been forced to draw inferences).

    Turning to another point:

    (or our standard of living should be 4 times higher). Is that the case? Obviously not

    Can you really dismiss this possibility so flippantly? TV now really probably is four times better (at least, even just by the raw metric of number or variety of channels) than it was in 1950 — and it’s color now, for goodness’ sake. The Internet didn’t exist. If you wanted to buy a book, and it wasn’t a popular book, how easy was it to get that book? Modern cars emit less pollution doing any manner of driving than cars from 1950 did not moving. They’re also far, far safer in terms of how they crumple and protect the driver in crashes. What about picture-taking? Sixty years ago you had Polaroid for instant photos, and that was it — and you had to carry around film. Now, you can take an order of magnitude more pictures with any decent digital camera, with greater ease and with a smaller camera and less to carry around. Music? Break out that phonograph and throw it in your pocket for a run around the block — I’ll wait for you to get back. How many more gears do you get with any decent bike these days than you did with even a twenty-year-old bike? And how much lighter is your modern bike, with its aluminum frame, compared to a solid steel frame from the ’50s? In 1950, you didn’t have Ziplocs! (I marvel at the ability of past generations to go backpacking without them.) And these are only the standard of living improvements I can see (or nearly see, in the case of the TV) from where I sit on my bed in my room; I’m certain there are many more I could name without much difficulty.

    I’ve said more than my piece here, so I’ll stop now. 🙂

    • Daniel Freysinger says:

      You seem to imply that more stuff makes for a higher standard of living. I would argue that more time with my wife makes for a higher standard of living.

      It seems like the author has hit a nerve with a few workaholics. We need strict labor laws to save society from those who would consume the available work like locusts.

      • Jeff Walden says:

        I was implying that better stuff (and not just more stuff) makes for a higher standard of living. That has nothing to do with the choice between more stuff and more leisure, and its translation into a standard of living. I think you misunderstood the point I was trying to make in the second half of my comment.

        (And if you were responding to the first half of it…well, I was arguing the author was engaging in paternalism despite claiming not to. I don’t see how your comment is a response to that argument, either.)

  • EntryLevel says:

    Speaking as one working in an entry-level position doing customer service at a bank call center, wanting to take vacation time is frowned upon, and actually needing to take sick leave actually counts against a person when trying to get a promotion. Part of our statistics is how much unscheduled leave (aka times a person has called in, sick or otherwise) one has taken. Even if a person has the time available for sick leave, if one has to take it and call in, that person is considered undependable and will be passed over for projects and promotions. Personally, I believe such practices are incredibly unfair to those who choose to exercise their right to use their sick days and paid time off. The choice seems to be: further your career or take care of your health. I, for one, don’t like it.

    • Mockababy says:

      And of course those requiring such rarely apply it to themselves. For years I worked for a boss that was constantly pressuring people to work longer and harder for nothing, of course that was when he himself bothered to show up. And you know those rich assholes at the top probably have more vacation days than working days. Greedy hypocritical assholes.

  • canuck says:

    I remember the first time I ever read that the USA has no Labor Law pertaining to paid vacation time and I thought that what I was reading was inaccurate but upon further confirmation I realized it was a fact.

    But then again America worships the climb to the top, even though once you get there you find out it may not have been worth it.

    I get 4 paid weeks holidays but I am a Unionized employee working for a private employer. Because my job requires a fair bit of Overtime I also take 2 weeks ‘Leave of Absence’ unpaid, every year. The LOA is easily taken because we have a slow period starting in the first week of Dec until March.

    When I was 20 something(and now at the end of 40 something) I had lofty goals but as the years go by you start to realize and appreciate what you have and that life is short so why kill yourself trying to reach some lofty goal that may never come….just make the best of it and try to make the future better for the next generation……….

    • Daniel Freysinger says:

      Maybe one day people will realize what they lost when Unions went away.

    • john says:

      i personally have stopped caring about “making it” i used to want the american dream but hell it is an impossibility. im just gonna be like bukowski and get a wine bottle and head off to a country that is worth a damn and the people dont act like materialistic, heartless pricks 24/7 always lieing to you some more and dangling that carrot. i know one boss who was pissed because he only had 1 bonus that year instead of 2 for “not implementing efficient working practices with employees” AKA only giving employees 2 jobs to do instead of 3 for their $9 an hr. this country is shot im out 🙂

    • Mockababy says:

      I never had much of a desire to climb the ladder, but it seemed out if my hands since where I was at wasn’t paying the bills. My parents were very motivated to climb the ladder just so they wouldn’t have to struggle by day to day. A lot more people would be satisfied where they’re at if they could actually afford to live off of it.

      It doesn’t help when your jobs keep getting outsourced to cheaper labor. Illegals are also causing a lot of issues here. Everyone says crap like they do jobs Americans won’t. Not true, it’s merely that Americans can’t afford to compete with someone who will work for half the amount under the table. So many guys we used to know in the roofing business who were doing well for many years making good money and owning their own business, until they could no long compete with the guys hiring only illegals. Half them went out of business, the other had to severly cut back their crew. And then to be told that you’re a lazy American who is unwilling to work hard long hours in the sun is very insulting. I could do that, are you willing to pay me enough to actually have a place to live and food to eat at the end of the day? We had a family down the street that had like at least 8 adults living there and I have no idea how many kids. Well ya I could afford this wages too if I had 7 other people helping with the bills, especially if they’re all related to me. How the hell are others suppose to be able to compete with that?

      • Raymond says:

        Very well stated on the immigration issue. Of course illegals willing to do the job at half what you would want are forcing the labor wages down. It’s exactly as you stated. It is not that we are afraid to work but we simply cannot afford to live at those wages. When you have 8-10 adults living in the same house and sharing the load because it is still better then what they came from, so no big deal. That drives wages down and the standard of living with it. People wrongly surmise that illegals are in the farm industry only. They are providing cheap labor for any job that requires muscle.

  • Your mom says:

    I swear after reading so many ‘positive’ comments about our situation that there are a number of people who post over and over again using different names claiming this is good for the people or our country.


  • Your mom says:

    Oops, forgot to mention they’re being paid by the RNC.

    I came across a page the other day on a ‘weak’ looking Cheney and his wife hosting a discussion and gave up reading the comments after the first 10 mind-numbingly called Dick Cheney ‘an american patriot’ and a ‘hero.’

  • Brandy says:

    I do not believe American’s are victims. I choose to work 50 hours a week. It bothers me greatly that you all feel that you are victims. 40 hours a week is nothing!! What the heck can’t you get done in the rest of your time?

  • VoteYES Prop19 says:

    This is the kind of stuff that every American needs to know. We are getting *screwed* in this country by the corporate power system. If the average idiot tea party fool had any idea of what he was fighting for… more corporate power… less worker rights. I mean… what if they realized that they are fighting against themselves?

  • Christy says:

    @Brandy – You must not have kids.

  • Christy says:

    @Brandy – I’m guessing you don’t have kids.

  • Hrankta says:

    Demanding all those things that other industrialized countries have will price yourself right out of the market. The US already has the second highest corporate tax rate in the world. If we were to lower it down to the levels of other industrialized countries, we would see a flood of jobs flow into the US instead of out of.

    Post WW2, with high union membership, high marginal tax rates, and full employment is not the norm, even though generations have grown up seeing it that way. It is easy to thrive in that environment when you are the only country left on earth with intact industry and literally every country on earth needs your product. However, that is not the case anymore. The American workforce needs to be competitive, and due to the high taxes on companies, we are already starting at a huge disadvantage.

    And I’m sorry, I’ve known FAR too many people from Japan. Saying that Americans work more hours than Japanese people has to be a lie.

  • joey says:

    I agree with this article. but i still don’t know what to do about it or if there’s anything that i can. if i ask my boss to let me work from home, he gives me this lecture about how it’s important not to loose productivity and that if he let’s me work from home, he will have to do the same with everyone else!

  • webman says:

    isn’t this how we all achieve the american dream. we work out butt off to get what we want. this is how we can all afford huge houses and all the newest technologies. If we didn’t work so much we wouldn’t have as much.

    • john says:

      1 it has nothing to do with “hard” work 2 has everything to do with making a decent wage and 3 you end up having no time to LIVE in that fucking huge house or ENJOY all the latest technologies.

  • LeeAnne says:

    I’m canadian. We receive 1 year of parental benefits. As well, if your doctor allows it, you are entitled to 12 weeks sick leave benefits, for a total of 64 weeks potential parental leave. The dollar amount isn’t that great, only to a max of 55% of $43k, but you can purchase private insurance that will top you up to 90% of your gross.

    As for holidays, we have 12 statutory holidays (all employers are required to give) and typical start off at 3 weeks paid per year, 4 if management.

    For sick leave, I receive 1.5 days per month worked.

    However, with all of the above said, I typically work a 50 hour week (I’m management), I never take sick days because the thought of coming back to my desk afterwards terrifies me. I only took 6 months of my parental benefits because of a private arrangement with my employer that they would top up my benefits to my previous take home IF and ONLY if I came back sooner verses later.

    It’s all about an individuals drive for success. I have the benefits, but choose not to use them for the dream. I enjoy the nice home, I enjoy the fact that I have a vacation property. I appreciate the money I can put away for my retirement and my children’s college funds. Do I work hard? Yes, I do. Are the results worth it? Yes, they are. Oh, for the record, I am a single mom to two year old twins. It’s only me, and if I have to sacrifice some personal time to provide my family with the best I can – so be it.

  • Christopher says:

    Some of these comments are truly sad. Some people have really drunk the Kool Aid. The average American does not live in a big house or enjoy the plentitude that some suggest. There are many industrialized countries with a higher median standard of living than we have in the US. These statistics are only the tip of the iceberg when you start investigating this stuff. The fact is that we work our asses off not to buy ourselves boats and big cars but to buy them for our bosses, the tiny fraction of the population that have grown hugely rich by dismantling the social benefits that we once enjoyed.

    Yes, hedge-fund managers who work 80 hour weeks are amply rewarded, but they aren’t what drives these stats. Its waitresses and home health aides and meat packers who work two or three jobs and never see their kids and still live from paycheck to paycheck.

    George Carlin got it right: Its called the American Dream because you have to be asleep to believe it.

    • john says:


  • Realist29 says:

    Americans played golf on the moon more than 30 years ago for crying out loud. The Center for American Progress – good Lord. Bottomnline no one asked people in the USA to work longer and harder than they should in comparison to the Euro benchmark. I’m sure the $70 an hr (wages benefit package) that a UAW earns to bolt the door onto a substandard Jeep Cherokee isn’t complaining.

  • Daniel says:

    I only have a few points to make. First, many seem to be missing what I think was the point – which is much less about what specific labor laws the US has, how many hours Americans work, etc., and instead more about the godlike status that we have allowed “work” to rise to in our list of priorities, made more prominent when you consider the financial returns have not been equally reciprocated to most workers. And I’m sorry, I don’t consider more TV channels as a measure of a better quality of life … in fact I would consider it much more as part of the problem if anything. I think the commenter who argues that a parent should be able to not take maternity leave/parental leave if they want proves my point, in some sense … its your children vs. your job, and you want to be able to choose your job? Really? And this makes you think nothing is askew about our priorities?

    Secondly, I hate to break it to you, but those who think this is solely a right-wing, left-wing, or even tea-party symptom are just as deluded as the groups they are attacking. These are distractions, nothing more. Whichever party is in office/power does not change the enormous imbalance between the wealthy and the middle class; at best, it only changes the means by which our money is taken.

  • Daniel says:

    One last thing I forgot to add, which might better illustrate my point and what I took to be the underlying message here. Consider this statistic in relation to the article: according to the WHO, America tops the list of population percentages suffering from depression, with a whopping 9-10%. Nigeria: .8% … and yes, that’s a decimal before the eight.

    But no, no, nothing’s wrong, right?

  • Zach says:

    If we are so over-worked and underpaid then why do we have all the immigrants (legal and illegal) coming here to work and send money back to their families in other countries…

  • Zach says:

    And seriously… publicly funded parental leave for 25-35 weeks? Just think what that would do in the projects. As if we didn’t already have a huge problem with irresponsible people having too many kids… now lets give them incentive to have kids and to keep having more and more. You can just keep popping them out and getting paid to do it. Might only have to work 10-20 weeks out of the year. Oh but wait, we forgot ‘mandatory’ vacation (also paid)… add it all up and you can just make a living by being a baby maker. We should get the unions rolling to make sure employers don’t fire and replace the baby makers while there are on leave… that would be unfair!

    You know what, screw it all, lets just be like Greece. Work less than 30 hours a week until age 50 (or younger) then retire on government money…. wait, that didn’t go so well.

    I still believe in the America that views work as a privilege. And sure, work shouldn’t be the center of your life, but don’t go asking me to pay for you’re decision to have a baby. And don’t expect your employer to pay for a 15 week vacation. Paid vacation is a benefit, not a right.

  • bohol says:

    Even so, still, Americans are paid much higher compared to other industrialized nations. The American Dream is still alive.

  • Jeff Walden says:

    I think the commenter who argues that a parent should be able to not take maternity leave/parental leave if they want proves my point, in some sense … its your children vs. your job, and you want to be able to choose your job? Really? And this makes you think nothing is askew about our priorities?

    I’m not sure it’s necessarily the right decision (and I don’t think it’s the right priorities), but it should be the parent’s choice, not the state’s. Legally we give wide latitude to parents in how they raise children: what they eat, how they’re disciplined, what religion they are or aren’t taught, which decent school they attend, and so on. I don’t see why this particular instance warrants an exception.

    I also suspect there are jobs which are so sensitive to employee absence that they simply can’t tolerate the extended absence of parental leave. Rather than essentially prohibiting such jobs, it seems better to leave it up to employer and would-be employee to mutually conclude that, if there may be a possibility of newfound parenthood in the near future, the would-be employee should accept another position or job. I’d fit the profile for such a job at the moment (multiple years out, perhaps not); others wouldn’t. Some jobs just aren’t for everyone.

  • a frenchie says:

    The information for France is incorrect. As a general rule we work 217 days a year. Since the work week is 35 hours, when you are not on a per-hour basis you get about 20 days extra (it’s complicated to explain in details). Anyway – the number of days off is about 42 per year (work days). This is a month a a half off, with 10 continous compulsory days (you have to take 2 weeks off in a row).
    It is strictly forbidden to interfere with vacations – all have to be taken by June each year.

    I have worked for 15 years for a very, very large US company (I was employed in Europe). The US office was empty at 5 PM. People in France go back home about 7-8 PM.

    I guess that the numbers provided are more or less random — but that’s fine as “work” also differs from company to company and position to position.

    • Mockababy says:

      They might go home at 5pm in the American office and 7-8pm in the French, but I am curious what time they come in. My dad comes home anywhere from 4-6pm in the evenings, he leaves for work by 6:30 though, he wakes up at 5:30. He says though he prefers it this way because when he comes home from work he feels like he still has some of his day left to get things done at home or just relax. If he was working from 8:30-8pm instead then he feels all he is doing is waking up to work and then coming home and sleeping not enough hours of free time in row to enjoy.

  • cokids says:

    My point was that nobody is home with the kids anymore – man or woman – and that’s a shame.

    Yes, it IS a shame, but who was it that pushed ‘family values?’ Is keeping an adult at home with the kids a ‘family value?’

    Who makes it impossible? When we have living wages again, we may get adults who choose to stay home with the kids! Why is it that so many people work long hours and can’t live on what they earn?

  • a frenchie says:

    @Joe: I am not sure your comment is linked to mine?

    The 35 hours work week was indeed intended to be a cure for unemployement (it depends what “massive” means – it was about 8% at that time). The idea would be that the remaining 5-8 hours per week would be filled in by the unemployed (in average).
    This did not work out (we are at slightly below 10%) but the 35 hours stayed, together with the extra days off.

    • Mockababy says:

      The problem is that while that might help the unemployed get a job it screws over the person working that many hours and still barely making it by, how is cutting their hours back doing anything but screwing them over unless they raise wages to compensate. Some people are barely making it as is. They haven’t been raising wages properly in all these years and I doubt they will start without their arms being twisted behind their backs.

  • Joe says:

    While I don’t support overworking like this article is talking about, I have think that the French work week numbers might be flawed. Wasn’t France experimenting with mandatory work furloughs because of massive unemployment?

    • akka69 says:

      The big “innovation” in the French system is that you keep working around 39h/w, but the official week work duration is 35h.
      Each month, the extra 4 hours add up to a certain amount of full days off you can take if you need ever to go and see a doctor, have a sick child or just want to go shopping.

      The socialist theory behind it is that there is a set amount of total work hours and that companies would hire to compensate the difference.

      Of course this is bu**t and didn’t change anything to unemployment figures.
      It’s actually more confortable for people who already have jobs, but most lost any entrepreneurial skill they could have.

  • James says:

    The US lives to work and Europe works to live.

    The US would have a lot less social ills if we would rebuild the family unit. Can’t do that if you work 60 to 80 hrs a week.

  • Tina says:

    Thank you for this article! It is something we intuitively know but (for some reason) refuse to address.

  • Brad Chaffee says:

    Everyone is working so hard to pay off their debt. I bet you could find a correlation between the time debt became more widely used and when more people in each household started working.

    I don’t think we need the Government stomping in telling everyone how often or how long they can work though. You just fine the crap out of the employer that was being abusive to keep him from taking advantage of workers down the road.

    We certainly don’t need the Government that can barely handle the responsibility they have now, put more regulations on the table. They’re most of the reason people go out of business or go overseas to run their company. To force a company to pay a woman’s maternity leave for up to 20 weeks is absurd. Some time is needed but not 20 weeks. That’s something that should be negotiated in the hiring process. It’s why they’re called benefits.

    A better solution than Government:


  • Stu says:

    Brad, I do take some acception to your statement that there is to much government. This has become the montra of the republicans so that they can reduce regulations that protect workers and ship jobs overseas. The deregulation that started in the 80’s is what got us in this mess today. While I do agree that 20 weeks may be excessive there needs to be some type of limit set to help parents of new borns so that they don’t feel as though they will loose there job should they take time off from work. If getting out of debt was only as easily done as we all would like to think I doubt most of us would continue to have some. We need to remember that 50% or more of the work force is just one paycheck from getting behind on payments. We all like to blame government but who is the government? Isn’t it us?

    • G.E. Miller says:

      @ Stu/Brad –
      I don’t want to make this a political debate, but I think you are both on to something, but I have a slightly different take on it. Brad is correct in that getting out of debt can free us, and it takes a lot of hard work to get there, in addition to living humbly.

      At the same time, de-regulation is one of the big reasons that got us in to so much debt in the first place. And had our government protected us more all along, we wouldn’t have to work so hard to get out of all the debt. Business, when not regulated properly, will operate in unethical ways in order to profit. Need proof? Financial crisis. The banks and their political friends spent decades de-regulating the industry and then finding reasons to get people in to mortgages that they could not afford. I work with someone who worked at Countrywide Financial (which went under b/c people couldn’t pay back the gaudy loans they had and the homes had to be foreclosed), who said that underwriters were told to take the attitude to ‘look for a reason to approve someone for a loan’ vs. ‘look for a reason not to approve someone’. He said it was a joke amongst everyone and they all knew it was unethical. Guy has held a steady job for two months? Approved for $500,000! Banks convinced everyone they could afford more than they could, which inflated home prices for everyone, resulted in the foreclosure crisis, and put many banks under. De-regulation (or lack of it in the first place) mixed with a poorly financial educated consumer base are the reasons for the financial crisis.

      Credit card companies? Look what de-regulation resulted in there. The onus of responsibility is on our governments to protect us from unethical business practice. When they don’t? We all pay, in one way or another. Businesses won’t do it on their own and there aren’t enough of us who are smart enough to wade through all of the traps.

      With all of that being said, I think there are other reasons why we are overworked and being in too much debt is just a small part of it.

      • Souffle says:

        Yes, it was unethical for the banks to have given loans to people who couldn’t afford it. Big government did that. They should not have stepped into that, it ended in a lose-lose situation. The banks went under and lost profit, people ended up in debt and their homes were forclosed. I agree with you on that. Regulations need to be adjusted, not added. There are some regulations out there that just are not good on anybody. Like that small business startoff thing(excuse my lack of exact numbers, I’m going by memory here), Small business made up about 99% of jobs, and, big businesses all had to start somewhere. Our economy needs more businesses, so everybody’s working conditions can improve. If businesses had to compete for employees, they’d make better offers, just like their products/services.

      • rp2012 says:

        its all government, not regulations. our problem stems from the federal reserve lending out 16 trillion in 2008 to banks, effectively crushing the value of the dollar. pay raises do not happen enough to fight the inflation.

        and then taxes. we pay a minimum of 40% of all money earned back to the government.

    • booboo says:

      is not ok to take a week off, or even a month….they’ll fire ya! Then you’ll be even more depressed as you lose your house, car, and end up living under a bridge.

    • PJ says:

      The larger your government, the smaller your wallet! Government cannot exist unless you pay taxes that pay the government employees. Where do you think Uncle Sam gets his money? from thin air? No, it comes directly out of your wallet. The more government workers, the smaller your wallet. Republican smuglian……has nothing to do with it. It’s plain old common sense! The bigger the governemnt, the higher your taxes, the less money you bring home on payday. Howdoya like going broke?

      • Reika says:

        Big government taking our money is not the problem here. The real problem is the fact that wages in this country have not even tried to match inflation over the years. If we had the minimum wage in this country would be near $20 an hour (about the equivalent that it was in the 50’s). We wouldn’t even notice or miss the small portion of that income the gov’t would need to give us all those awesome programs and benefits ALL the other first world countries get to enjoy. Also more parents would be able to stay home and create better home environments for the next generation to create better happier workers. But the american people decide to believe the lies that big business feeds into the media that if the wages were higher they would leave. Oh, well. Long live America! LoL!

        • Raymond says:

          All those awesome benefit and subsistence programs that all other First World countries are giving their citizens are causing them to fail. They are taxing their citizens at up to 50% (France). Is that cool with you? They also no longer have enough workers paying into the pot to pay for those benefits that the government provides “Free”. There is no such thing as free. Somebody, somewhere is paying for that benefit package. As for government? I would rather not have to depend on them for much of anything if I did not have to.

          • akka69 says:

            The “50%” you don’t get rightaway on your pay check is not all taxes.

            Taxes actually amount to around 25%.

            The rest are amounts you must pay for your retirement, unemployment insurance and medical care mutual funds that technically will be paid back to you later when you need it.
            I think in the US, it’s the worker decision to decide if he/she needs such things, in France you must pay a minimum compulsory protection, but you generally get it back in one way or the other provided you don’t die before retirement.

            If you check the details, French work about the same as any industrial countries.

            The reason French economy performs less is that the French system tends to make it difficult to fire people from their jobs, which makes it diffcult for companies to adapt to any econmic change.

            This profound cultural difference affects the way people think there, making them far more conservative and risk-adverse.

  • Brad Chaffee says:

    Stu, I think you may be underestimating not only our ability to pay off our debt and live a different life, you may be underestimating how much of a problem debt really is. It is as simple as that, BUT that’s not to say there aren’t other factors to throw into the mix.

    What you are saying is that if Government stepped in (when needed) to stop evil people from taking advantage of others. I am saying you don’t need regulation to get what you say you want to get.

    I can only speak from example here but bare with me because I think this is powerful. My wife and I used to live paycheck to paycheck. We also had $26,000 in debt. Our payments were killing us, and truly hindering our ability to get our head above water.

    We decided to take responsibility for our financial situation which meant relying on us to fix OUR problems. We made hard decisions and sacrificed and cut our budget to enable us to move forward. We were also both working at the time.

    We worked HARD. Debt freedom baby!

    Now we have two kids, no debt and an emergency fund, and guess what else? Only one of us works now, and it’s completely because we became debt free and freed ourselves from handing over our paychecks to lenders.

    We were able to take a $30,000 cut in income and that’s a conservative estimate, all because we were doing things different. We had no debt and we had for the first time ever, emergency savings.

    I am the stay at home parent in our situation and not only did we avoid crappy daycare, I get to work from home and spend lots of precious time with my kids. All I am saying is that we took action and our situation changed, and we aren’t special, we just did something about it instead of wait for Uncle Sam to do it for us.

    About the maternity thing. It’s against the law to fire someone that is taking a legitimate maternity leave. (at least in VA)It’s when they want to be off longer that causes the problem. My wife took off 3 months and we felt it was too long. Again the COMPANY should not be required to pay someone for 20 months and expect to still have a business for very long.

    You mentioned sending jobs overseas. Regulations and higher taxes and minimum wage regulations make it harder to run and maintain a business. It’s not a company’s responsibility to take care of and wipe their employee’s butts. Their only job is to pay their workers what their workers agreed to accept as payment for their work. That’s it. And some companies choose to offer benefits to reliable hard working employees in order to keep them.

    Sorry about the extremely long comment, I had lots to say. I stick by my statement that debt is one of the biggest reasons for the problems people face in society today. Eventually the diaper has to come off and people have to be responsible for themselves. I know that sounds harsh to people with views like yours but I can tell you that it wasn’t until I changed my perspective that my life changed for the better. I used to ask when the Government was going to make my life easier too.

    Let’s just say I waited and waited but no one showed. I’m now 35 and my life is wonderful.

    Very respectfully,

    Brad Chaffee
    Enemy of Debt

    • Hans says:

      Go ahead, bust your ass, socailism (not communisim) rules! I’ll pay my 60%+ tax for all my benefits and free time. Less crime, more freedom, and no involvement in wars, I love it.

      • Franz says:

        It is certainly working well for Greece and Spain

        • Erika says:

          That’s not the reason either of those countries are in trouble. And actually, it works great for Sweden, Norway, Finland, Iceland, Switzerland, etc.

          • Tim says:

            All countries with exceedingly low populations and extremely non-diverse economies. Those nations also don’t participate in global events like shit blowing up in Haiti, Japan, and a little place called Africa. We’re OK working harder than everyone else. Put your hard hat on, pick up your pick and take a little pride in it.

          • Daniel Freysinger says:

            Speak for yourself Tim. I would much rather spend my taxes providing medical care and food for the hungry than blowing stuff up in some country half way across the world. Jingoism is expensive.

  • Sick Rat says:

    In a way, it does look like wage slavery. One objective indicator of wage slavery, in my opinion, would be the percentage of workforce actually having two or more jobs or wishing they had. What a second job really means is that people are willing to part with an increasingly scarce resource (quality time, a.k.a worthwhile life) without due monetary compensation in the form of overtime pay.

  • Brad Chaffee says:

    G.E. Miller,

    I get that some regulation is needed, but I think when you start saying that it’s the reason people are in debt, you’re taking a lot of the blame off of the consumer and ignoring a major component to why Americans are struggling.

    The scariest thing you said was “de-regulation is one of the big reasons that got us in to so much debt in the first place.”

    So you’re saying that because mommy stopped wiping Junior’s butt when he was 5, she’s the reason he pooped his pants when he was 6.

    You’re talking about grown adults here, most of which have a college education, that decided to spend more money than they actually made. No one forced them to do that, and I would be willing to bet that most of them new exactly what they were doing. Debt is a temptation people chose to partake in, they aren’t forced. (except for in medical situations)

    Saying businesses won’t do it on their own is a pretty broad statement. You’re essentially saying that all business is bad and can’t be trusted. I would be willing to say that MOST EMPLOYERS are fair and honest and should be given credit for that. Sure there are some that become greedy and take advantage of others in the name of profit, but you deal with those employers on a case-by-case basis. You don’t punish the whole group for what a few did wrong. If someone mistreats an employee unfairly then they should be reported and dealt with legally.

    If you want to look at how over regulation hurts business and why so many have resorted to moving overseas, you should look at the impact of unions in this country. They were once needed but now are used to exploit “evil” businesses for PROFIT.

    Unions are to employees what debt is to families. It tears down what could be strong in the name of helping. Gee, thanks for the help.

    The bottom line is that if someone is working somewhere where they do not feel they are making what they’re worth, then they need to get off their butt and apply for a job that will pay them enough. If they don’t have the skills to make more money then they need to get the skills. Minimum wage shouldn’t be raised because some people can’t figure out that a minimum wage job which requires no skill, is not meant to support a family.

    This country needs more people to realize that taking responsibility for their decisions instead of expecting someone else to save them, will teach and help them grow the most.

    We need mommy to stop wiping our butt when we’re 5 because if she keeps doing it then we’ll never learn how to — or care to — do it ourselves.

    Perhaps instead of trying to convince people that they need someone to save them, it would be a better idea to educate them before they become a stupid adult. Regulation isn’t what’s needed, it’s better financial education. Most of which leads to better paying jobs and helps people make more informed financial decisions. You can’t take advantage of an educated uniformed consumer.

    Sorry for the blog post here but again, I had a lot to say. I must add that I have enjoyed this pleasant discussion. Thanks guys. 🙂

    • CLC says:

      Most of these people are not college educated, as the US has one of the lowest rates of college graduates among industrialized countries. We have great universities, but only a select few can afford them. Some low-income people may be able to get a grant or scholarship, but most cannot.

      While I agree that people must take individual accountability, I am sure that to do so there must be a level playing field. This means that corporations should not be able to pay lower overall tax rates than individuals (subsidized lending, income tax, sales tax. etc.). It also should mean that a company should have an amended set of freedoms, not full individual constitutional protection.

      The blame is on both sides, but the potty-training needs to be done for companies as well. Imagine if every individual in the US had their student loans erased instead of irresponsible corporations receiving bailouts. Companies are too big to fail, but our workforce isn’t? Interesting.

      As the saying goes, if the truth was really true, it would be so obvious that there would be no debate. Take care.

      By the way, I am new to posting comments. Not that it matters, but my qualifications are being a manager of a multimillion dollar multisite healthcare clinic system, earning an MBA with a 3.95 average, and having over 10 years of experience in finance. I also have a degree in public administration and a degree in nursing. It doesn’t make me correct, but may add background to my comments.


      • john says:


        • Shawn says:

          No, it’s because most people aren’t smart enough to get into elite institutions. That’s why they’re elite. If everyone is smart, it’s no longer smart… it’s average. And remember, half of people are below average!

    • Souffle says:

      100% agreed, booyah. Man, you said what I wanted to, only better.

  • Brad Chaffee says:

    * That’s supposed to read, “You can’t take advantage of an educated well-informed consumer.”

    Thanks again for the discussion.

    • Rational Person says:

      “You can’t take advantage of an educated well-informed consumer.”

      I disagree…or at least question your understanding of a well educated and well informed customer:

      All you need to do is throw out loads of BS out that means nothing, and an educated well-informed consumer will stop wasting time trying to figure out what is up, down, left, or right. They will start to make decisions based on personal experience, and BAM.. .all you need to do is keep filling them with BS and they’ll keep using your product.

      It’s what advertisers, companies, and politicians have done for a long time. Well-informed is something America does not specialize in.

    • catfrog says:

      unless the market is limited and youre the only supplier or a product that is needed.

      patents need to be more vigorously regulated, as it stands its a big problem.

      there are companies who file for bogus patents, which get approved for whatever stupid reason, who charge small amounts of money to developers to use what they “own”, so its cheaper for the million companies that this effects to each pay the nickle instead of paying for a lawyer to fight against it.

      right now there are so called “patent trolls” who do this with just about everything, apple is one, they are trying to say that other companies cant make rectangular phones because they were the.. well maybe not the first, err not the second, but they were there somewhere, and they made a phone, and it was rectangular, and now no one else can make a rectangular phone, or black either, their phones were black, so no one else can make black phones.

      and what apples doing is just the tip of the ice burg, i dont know your background (so im not sure how technical i can be, ill assume no knowledge of software development), but many software companies cant make their products anymore unless they get the go ahead from some of these patent trolls: its been said that being a software developer today is like trying to operate a store without doorways, because theyre the one who ‘invented’ doorways, you know the thing that you walk through, ya that thing, you cant use one unless you pay me $10 every time someone walks through that doorway.

      just look at how patenting has skyrocketed in the last few years by certain companies and you’ll see who the culprits are, microsoft has something like 15k patents, apple has something like 10k patents, how many do they need to be successful in their business? well lets look at one of the most successful software companies in history, google has something like 600 patents

  • Curtis says:

    Speaking of long work weeks, I work in an industry here in the US where they legally don’t have to pay overtime until you reach 60 hours. This rule, in the trucking industry is meant for the long haul, over the road drivers that put in 14 hour days, however the freight companies get away with using it for their dock workers, office workers, and hourly city drivers as well. My company has everyone scheduled for five ten hour shifts a week, and nobody is allowed to go over sixty hours, because their policy is to not pay OT at all.

  • Brad Chaffee says:


    Here’s an idea. How about instead of complaining about a job that doesn’t meet your expectations, you find a job that will?

    The Fair Labor Standards Act “REQUIRES overtime to be at least one and one-half times an employee’s regular rate of pay after 40 hours of work in a workweek.”

    If the company you work for is breaking that law they should be reported.

    More importantly, why would you want to change a company policy and still work for the same evil people that were breaking the law in the first place? Why not report them and go work for someone a little more honest.

    Also a company is not bad for not wanting to pay overtime, only for allowing people to work overtime and not pay them properly for doing it.

  • ndalum says:

    Koreans work much longer than Americans. Is Korea not an industrialized country? It has the 7th largest economy in the world.

    • chris says:


      On paper it appears so. The same would be true of the Japanese as well. On paper they appear to work much much longer hours, but the truth is they are much less productive. My wife who live in Japan for six years and had short stints in Korea has told me numerous stories.

      The average skilled office working Japanese man or woman comes to work at 8-9am. They sit at their cube for 4 or 5 hours surf the web, IM, facebook, etc. Then they hang out with their co-workers at lunch hour. Then around 1:30-2:00pm they sit down and finally start working. The men are especially bad. Around 8:30-9:00pm they finally finish up working and go out and hit the bars, strip clubs, etc.

      Around 2:30am – 3:00am they come home, drunk, etc. and are not into work until 8:30-9:00 the next day. The Koreans are very similar in this regard as well.

      So again on paper based on the number of hours, it appears they leave USA in the dust as far as working hard, but in reality they are very inefficient in the hours of work actually performed.

      • chelsea says:

        I live and work in Japan right now, and well… that’s somewhat accurate. I have 20 paid vacation days a year and I fully intend to use them all. However, while most Japanese workers may have slightly more paid vacation days than in the US, they rarely use them all. Also, we are technically supposed to get separate days for sick leave, but oftentimes you are somewhat indirectly forced (japan is a very indirect country…..) to use your vacation days for this.

        I will say this, as far as productivity goes, Japanese workers aren’t necessarily the serious robots/drones you would imagine. They often fall asleep at their desks and do plenty of unproductive things at work. Of course, there are super serious ones, too. The important thing is that they /look/ busy. They also go out and drink a lot. Public drunkenness is very socially acceptable here and it’s customary for offices to have many work parties throughout the year and get drunk together. Going to snack bars (small bars in which hostesses/ladies of the night work at) is very common for Japanese men and it’s not really seen as a scandal.

    • Mike H. says:

      Agree.. have lived in Korea for 17 of the last 25 years, and their work ethic makes us look bad. 6 day work week, 10-12 hour work day.. And they do not compare to the Japanese, who look at life from a totally different mind set. Their kids succeed because they are driven, or should I say driven by their parents. They take this work ethic in to their participation in Sports too, and have been very successful on the world stage there (baseball, skating, soccer, archery, etc)

      Don’t agree with Chris on that they waste their day on facebook and long lunches, but do agree that they like to their drink and other social activities. Most Koreans spend Sunday charging up (sleeping and eating) in preparation for the coming week.

  • Curtis says:

    @BRAD… thanks for that great idea. After rereading my post however, I don’t think is sounds like complaining, more like informing. I work for a great company, and they are well within the legal parameters for doing this. It is not so cut and dry, where all employers must offer overtime pay after 40 hours a week. If you go to the US labor law website you will see there are certain exemptions. Furthermore, if they were an OT after 40 company, then they would limit my hours to just that, so I am fortunate for the ability to put in more time some weeks when the extra cash is needed.

    I do thank you though for your general concern for my well-being, although I am quite worried about you if your only options for 10:22 on a Sunday morning are to pick fights with random people on blogs.

  • Brad Chaffee says:

    CURTIS, sorry if you were offended dude. I was certainly not picking a fight with anyone, just stating my opinion based on what I thought was being said.

    I saw nothing disrespectful or bully-ish about what I said, I was just making a suggestion based on my experience. Had you actually been complaining about how many hours you worked, it would be completely reasonable for me to suggest the alternative.

    I have no idea what’s relevant about what time or day I decided to respond though. What does it matter what day it is? Would Monday at 5:30 sharp be better for you?

    Sorry if I misunderstood your post, it seemed like you were complaining about how many hours you had to work without actually getting paid overtime. This post was about needing government to step in and save us and your comment seemed to imply that your situation was an example of why the post was right.

    Perhaps I made the mistake of assuming you were responding to the post when you could of been referring to a comment someone made about long work weeks.

    For the record, I disagree with any company being exempt from paying someone who worked over 40 hours overtime pay. Sorry about the misunderstanding on my part.

  • Igor says:

    Forgot something:

    That our thug managers or whoever is above you in the pecking order is siphoning what you might have made, in a raise you didn’t get or bonus, into his or her bonus. Of course its impossible to prove since its all smeared out in the accounting but being captive what can anyone do about it. “Don’t like it? Then you know where the door is.”

  • Ron Ablang says:

    Does anybody still think we’re not a 3rd world country anymore? Sure feels like we are.

    • newreader says:

      Why the 3rd world country comparison? Have you been to one of these countries? Then you’d realize it’s ridiculous. Do you see young children in America, under the age of 10, out on the streets peddling souvenirs, begging or scrounging trash heaps for metal or other scrap that they can sell and earn themselves the price of their next meal? No? Well, point made then.

      Frankly American parents spend far too much money on rather useless gaudy toys, such as game consoles etc., on hyped designer brand clothing or celebrity line clothing or sports shoes and so on – and the parents who WOULD object feel pressured to not make their child the only one without such things and the social outcast or misfit so they cave in and buy that stuff. Of course, you can’t blame them with all the pressure from advertising, and children wanting to emulate their Hannah Montana or sports star/music star idols. That’s probably where this mentality of living beyond one’s means and keeping up with the (celebrity/rich) Joneses comes from and why there’s a lot of credit card debt and lack of proper saving for the future.

      • kcmom says:

        I sooo do not agree with us being a third world country YET, but I do have to disagree with the no homeless children line…I was one and tge statistics are in the thousands. That is all.

      • kcmom says:

        I am behind the post(er) that mentioned efficiency. I think all of us agree that the companies and agencies that we deal with as consumers and citizens are most times on the verge of useless in the way of accomplishing/offering the represented service/product. Idk about you but I can guesstimate 10% of the time do I ever have a pleasant, efficient experience when dealing with a purchase or service of that item. They are behind, over capacity, have a heavy workload or some other lame excuse as to why MY ball got dropped and I have to call or visit and ask the right damn question just to get the minimum of what I already paid for!!
        So back to the original I want gov to interfere HELL NO they got their hand in enough cookie jars!! O believe me they would pinch something out and tack it on their personal Christmas…I think the answer lies in this efficiency notion, as in forcing companies to do what they claim and get paid for right the first time…in other words force ethics…a damn shame!!

      • liz says:

        You obviously haven’t been to the inner city lately. I live outside of Philadelphia, and some areas are no different from a third-world country. Actually, no–there is a difference: the houses are older and more likely to kill residents when they collapse or catch on fire. I’m from a small town in Vermont; these neighborhoods are like an alternate universe. There’s a reason people refer to them as ghettos. (

        The plight of many people in the southeastern area of the country is similar. It’s not uncommon have no running water or no electricity–not because it’s unavailable, but because it’s unaffordable. My boyfriend would let their neighbor’s two young children use his garden hose so they’d have enough water to flush their toilet.

        If you think these people are just not working hard enough, that they should “pull themselves up by their bootstraps,” let’s examine the resources they’re given:

        In Detroit, the functional literacy rate is around 53%. (“Functional literacy” means that you are able to fill out a form or read road signs.)
        According to the U.S. Department of State, Haiti–the poorest country in the western hemisphere, with an average per capita income of $733 per year–has a literacy rate of 56%.

        Think that Detroit is an exception? Nope. One in seven people in the United States can’t read what you’re reading right now. In Washington, D.C., the CAPITAL OF THE COUNTRY, 19 percent of the adult population lacks the ability to read basic prose.

        That sure as hell doesn’t sound like a first-world country to me.

        This is a huge nation. Just because you don’t regularly see desperate poverty doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist. It just means that you can afford to ignore it.

        By the way: I’m not saying that I’m not privileged. I’m just saying that we should appreciate how lucky we are–we’re a lot closer to the third world than most people think.


    • john says:

      we definitely are. we dont live in huts but then again they dont pay $500 dollars for the roof over their heads. you know we are in a 3rd world country when people think $10 an hr is good and you literally have to beg and plead just to work at mcdonalds. get ready for a revolution this country is finished.

  • SarahG says:

    @Brad Chafee:
    Brad, I think you’ve made some extremely valid points on the debt problem in this country, however I do think that deregulation and lack of financial education had something to do with it.

    Problem 1: The level of consumerism in this country is getting out of hand. We are a culture that needs ‘instant gratification’, and that mixed with the growing level of consumerism is a huge contributor to the immense amounts of consumer debt in this country. For example, if you car is still fully functioning, what is the real reason you feel the need to purchase a brand new car? Beacuse our culture puts a high value on material things.

    Problem 2: The lack of financial literacy in this country is unbelievable. A vast amount of Americans do not even know how to create a basic budget. To @Brad Chafee’s earlier point, “You can’t take advantage of an educated well-informed consumer” – those consumers who knew what they could afford, knew what fit into their budgets, and were disciplined enough to stick to that amount, didn’t get ‘conned’ by these shady mortgage brokers (and yes, the problem was perpetuated by the shady mortgage brokers and shady mortgage practices within large mortgage companies). We, as Americans, need to take some responsibility of our hard earned money.

    Now – that had noting much to do with G.E’s article. My take on that is simple. Whether or not you agree with the amount of hours that are worked, the amount of vacation that is alotted, etc, the fact of the matter is that working endless hours isn’t actually productive. If you’ve ever read the book ‘The Way We’re Working Isn’t Working’ by Tony Schwartz, Jean Gomes, and Catherine McCarthy Ph.D., you are familiar with the research behind these claims. If you’re not familiar with it, I highly recommend taking the time to read it – if you’re on here reading through these comments, you have at least a slight interest in the subject. Companies that encourage 60/80/120 hour work weeks are not actually getting the best out of their employees, and working longer hours does not make you a better performer. You may be doing more work, but that work is subsequently of lesser quality – our brains don’t have a 10-14 hour attention span.

    We all have different priorities in life – whether we ‘live to work’ or ‘work to live’ – they are your personal priorities. If you choose to put work before your family/friends, it’s your choice. If you choose to strive to make more money, to climb the ‘corporate ladder’, etc that’s your choice. That may not be the way that I choose to live my life, but if it’s how you derrive happiness, then more power to you.

    • john says:

      its not a choice anymore about working to live or living to work dont you get it. the majority of people are working $9-11 an hr jobs getting absolutely nowhere and HAVE TO LIVE TO WORK. WHEN ASSHOLES START PAYING LIVEABLE WAGE PEOPLE CAN HAVE SOME FREEDOM BUT THIS LITTLE WHORE SOCIETY IS TOO HEARTLESS AND MONEY HUNGRY TO DO THAT!!!

  • Jeff Walden says:

    Does anybody still think we’re not a 3rd world country anymore? Sure feels like we are.

    Take a step back, let your emotions cool down some, mentally set aside your preferred public policy positions for the moment, and look at what life in third-world countries is actually like. I think, if you make a serious attempt to do this, you will realize the US is nothing like third-world countries (no wars, no famines, much less political corruption, much less crime, freedom of speech and of the press, freedom of religion, right to a fair trial, &c.).

  • Xjy Xjy says:

    The key paragraph in this article is:
    “Using data by the U.S. BLS, the average productivity per American worker has increased 400% since 1950. One way to look at that is that it should only take one-quarter the work hours, or 11 hours per week, to afford the same standard of living as a worker in 1950 (or our standard of living should be 4 times higher). Is that the case? Obviously not. Someone is profiting, it’s just not the average American worker.”
    Very few comments here take up this historical perspective.
    Now, I read Reader’s Digest back in the 50s (god help my soul) and every number was full of gush about labour-saving devices and the good life these promised. Lighter more enjoyable work, cleaner, healthier environment, more and better leisure. Getting better all the time. And for everybody, of course.
    You’d think we’d feel the goodness if all this was the case. But we don’t, cos it ain’t.
    “Labour-saving” devices have eaten jobs and increased pressure on their operators.
    Work may be “lighter” in some ways, but that depends who you are and what you’re comparing. Some of our deadlier jobs (body and bone breaking, toxic, etc) have been exported, along with some of our worst old working conditions and labour relations. And these conditions of slave labour are used in the most cynical fashion to
    threaten us back home.
    More enjoyable work? For Google employees, maybe.
    Cleaner, healthier environment – for who? In inner cities? Near nuclear waste dumps? Noise pollution, light pollution? Go for a pleasant walk around your neighbourhood, any time you feel like it? Well, the Cuyahoga River doesn’t catch fire as often now, but would you swim in it?
    More and better leisure – HA. Someone mentioned better TV… Kids have a real choice out in the suburbs – drugs or the church. “I go out walking, after midnight, in the starlight…” – yup.
    Getting better all the time – only today none of us feel we will have a better life than our parents did. And our parents damn sure don’t envy us!
    For everybody…
    Americans right now are too traumatized and terrorized by the fear-mongering propaganda fed them day in day out to think straight. They imagine that however crappy their own conditions are, everywhere else is worse, hence more frightening. The imagined threats from foreigners – aliens – are just their own fears projected on to others.
    It’s a social, economic and political challenge, and needs dealing with outside “official”, established areas of debate and policy-making.
    So, good luck America.
    And good night.

  • cole says:

    I am not genius. I will not pretend to be. I simply found this interesting and had a few thoughts:

    I think a healthy dose of personal responsibility and a pinch of gov’t regulation would be great. Family values are super important to me, much more important than the material things some use to measure standard of living. In fact, one could argue that those material things that equate to a higher standard of living are the very things that are causing us to be so overworked. It seems like we view more and more things as necessary these days… but are they really? I think this post kind of hinted at that. I also think that some of the reason people are feeling the pinch is that they simply got in over their heads by buying those things and, yea, spending money you don’t have isn’t a great idea even if banks and CC companies are trying to pull you in all the time. We do need to man up about money.

    I know that these times are trying, however. As much as people would like to work less or request time off, sometimes that’s just not realistic and that makes me terribly sad, too. I’m ridiculously grateful for the opportunities I’ve had this past year. I’m even grateful for the time I’ve spent below the poverty line because it gave me perspective.

  • Natalie says:

    Danielle said, “I see the increase in the percentage of working mothers as positive – women contribute a tremendous amount to their families when they are happy and earning income. When women don’t have enough opportunities, that unhappiness has a huge negative effect on their children.”

    Notice how this comment seems to be equating earning income with happiness. As the article states, this is part of the problem in the United States. In fact, I have personally noticed that most children in my community never get to see their parents for any real quality time any more, and instead turn to video games and gang activity. This may not be a trend all over the country, but considering the percentages within my immediate community alone, I’d say that we’re working too damned much.

    Mr. Miller, thank you for this article. People can deny it all they want, but that graph is a perfect illustration of just how shafted the working Joe/Jill in America really is.

  • villas lloret de mar says:

    I’m pretty sure most Americans work to pay for all the expensive shit that living in American society dictates they need to own, as long as they’re not just working to pay their credit card bills/mortgages.

  • a frenchie says:


    … euuuh … yes I do: I am on vacation this week. This is my fight.

    Oh sorry, I forgot to switch on the fighting words, here we go:

    YES I DO !!!!! I AM ON VACATION THIS WEEK !!! THIS IS MY FIGHT !!! TIME OFF RULEZ !!! (checking which other words you used — you are my role model as the internet, keybord typing fighter, living room couch Rambo) BLAH BLAH FUCKING STUPID !!! YEAH !!!

    (nice, the shouting really helps)

  • stephanie says:

    This article is utterly ridiculous. Other industrialized nations can afford to pay for maternity/paternity leave for a year or more because people pay 45%+ of their paycheck to taxes. Leave is paid for by the government, not by the employer. Very few people have jobs that could be left for a year or more without an employer having to hire someone else to do that work – why should your employer continue to pay you for that year, AND have to pay someone else to actually do your job? Do you really want the government deciding what everyone should and should not spend money on, by taking your money and then spending it for you instead of allowing you to make your OWN choices about what you want?

    And as for vacations, etc. – Economics research has shown over and over that employers pay people for the work that they do. If you get 3 weeks of “paid vacation” every year, you’re trading off for a smaller salary (other things constant) than someone who doesn’t require that time off. So if the government mandates paid time off, then salaries are going to decrease. Maybe some people LIKE working and would rather work and make money because we don’t feel a need to have 3+ weeks off work every year.

    And as a young professional woman who has no intention of having children, I think it’s ridiculous that I’m paid less because of the expectation that I’ll choose to have kids at some point and possibly quit my career, or at least cost my company a lot more in terms of leave and health insurance benefits. I think that people should be free to make their own choices about how to live their lives, but I don’t think that I should have to subsidize the choices YOU make by working longer and harder to make up for you taking time off for personal reasons.

  • a frenchie says:

    Stephanie: you are correct about the taxes. I have a PhD, I work in a large international company at an executive level and earn a very good salary. I will be able to afford a reasonable retirement. Nothing fancy but reasonable. In the US I would retire at 50 and live a cozy life.
    I had several opportunities to move to the US at an equivalent position with a good salary. I decided not to – just because I prefer to have a family life and long vacations.

    As for vacation; the compulsory 3 (your case I guess) to 8+ weeks (my case) are there so that some people are simply not worked out to death. Have a look at a book called “Germinal” by Emile Zola. I am sure you have in the US your fair share of pre-“compulsory paid vacation” stories.

    Finally about your last point. In a world where everyone pays for himself and there is strictly no people-subsidized groups (think government, schools, hospitals, …) I agree with you. If this is not the case (and it is not neither in my country nor in yours) YOU should have to pay (a lot) if you do not want to have children. This is because someone needs to pay for current and future expenses of the country. This is your free choice, and it comes with a price tag, like everything else.
    Along the same line – if a woman wants to have children, her employer should be heavily payed so that he has the slightest interest to employ women (that is you). Otherwise, in this wild world you describe you would not have a single chance to get employed as you would be more risky than a man, at equal competencies. You may always get pregnant and this would be a loss, isn’t it?

    OK, time to go back to family life…

  • Robert says:

    I feel that we really dotn have much to complain about compared to those that live in 3rd world countries with little resources.But I was just reading something about our taxes and how many hours a year we work to pay our taxes it like over 100 days of work .Even the poor felon makes a living wage the problems is that taxes hurt us .If I could work and actually keep that 300 dollars a week I would earn working full time hell Id be better of . I see the logic in paying taxes workmens comp ,SSI ,roads need repairing if we got invaded do you think soilder would defend us hell theyd be running we have to brainwash the youth to be killers for us where captialist god dam it .

    We shouldnt die for money or to protect our ant pile .We shouldnt allow religion to flourish ,we should get rid of all that divides the masses . Create equal jobs and more equal oppurtunity .According to this article Europe is giving its women parental leave up to 20 weeks a year Holy cow .I say this is good in America lets give women homemakers benifits ,and extra bonus for cleaning the pots of pans of us men so men can have jobs and also afford to buy prettier hookers.


  • Robert says:

    I think it is mostly due to the reason Americans like to live way above their means. so of course spending more than you have means more hours need to work.

    • john says:

      yeh god forbid a 500 dollar apartment and ramen noodles. thats the reason!! thats the reason people cant make it they are dreaming too big!!!! come the fuck on man. i have nothing and still cant make it in this fucking society because the majority of jobs pay less then 12 an hr? in this socalled land of opportunity!

  • Jonathan says:

    People tend to think that working longer hours will mean more work gets done. This is absolutely not the case. People need to work smarter. We’ve become way to bogged down with bureaucratic crap that we don’t even know what efficient means anymore.

  • Mark says:

    America: The land where we buy crap we don’t need to impress people we don’t know. We then spend more time at work to earn back our crap money so we can continue the endless cycle.

    We are overweight, antisocial, depressed, worried and status-obsessed.

    Trust me; this is not common in certain parts of the world.

  • joesixpack says:

    Interesting. Let’s pick through a few select parts of this article.

    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.

    This is one of the many times in this article that you call for more government regulation of the free market. Why is this? Why should the government force companies to have “paid parental leave”?

    At least 134 countries have laws setting the maximum length of the work week; the U.S. does not.

    Why should the government limit production by limiting the amount of hours employees can work? All this will do is drive more companies out of the U.S. and increase unemployment. Do you really think it’s wise, especially in this second Great Depression, for the government to LIMIT production in this country?

    Using data by the U.S. BLS, the average productivity per American worker has increased 400% since 1950. One way to look at that is that it should only take one-quarter the work hours, or 11 hours per week, to afford the same standard of living as a worker in 1950 (or our standard of living should be 4 times higher). Is that the case? Obviously not. Someone is profiting, it’s just not the average American worker.

    Hmmm. Have you bothered to check inflation levels since 1950? Probably not. Sure, the amount of dollars on an employees paycheck has gone up since then, but his buying power hasn’t. The dollar is worth less than it was in 1950, which means that a man has to work more to achieve a good standard of living. Of course, you can blame the idiots in our government for this. You know, the same people you want to have meddle in private business by telling them how many hours their employees can work.

    Our companies fairly ruthlessly let people go. We want to keep our jobs and not be a ‘low performer’ compared to others.

    No. Typically, the only way you are going to be let go from your employer is if you are a bad, lazy worker or the company falls on hard times. Work harder and better than others and your will have a job.

    Cultural value of money over everything else. We love money, we want more of it, and we think money can buy happiness. And the more we work, the more we get paid.

    And whats wrong with this? If you want more money, then work harder. It’s not just going to appear at your doorstep. If you don’t care about how much money you make, then find a job that will allow this.

    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.

    Again, with the increased government meddling. I typically have no problem with employees standing up to management if they feel like they’re getting pushed around or taken advantage of. But at the end of the day you work for your employer, not the other way around. If you want better “workers rights”, then start your own business.

    The author says he dreams of “financial independence and freedom”, but judging by his writing here, he seems to think something like that is easy, and it should just happen to you. Sorry, it doesn’t work that way. The only way to financial independence and freedom is hard work. There’s a reason why old people retire. You work hard while your young, invest your money or save it, and then you get to spend your later years relaxing and doing what you want.

    Don’t worry though. You’re young, and in years time (and with the wisdom that comes with it), you’ll look back and see how ignorant (not stupid, just ignorant of the way things work) this whole thing is.

  • Matelot says:

    One important factor is missing: commute
    I dare to say US workers have the longest commute as well.

    No thanks, Asshole boss, for banning work-fr-home!

  • mangeek says:

    “average paid vacation time in industrialized countries”

    That’s actually a graph of legally mandated paid vacation days. The ‘average paid vacation’ in America is not zero. Most folks with middle-class service jobs get two weeks paid, six or so holidays, and at least three paid days of ‘sick’ or ‘personal’ time.

    I work at a university where we have pretty generous paid time off, and I usually can’t even use all my days before they time out. I can’t imagine taking upwards of three days a month off, that seems crazy. I run out of stuff to do when I’m out of work for more than a week.

  • Stephanie says:

    My dad is a 61-year-old psychologist who works about 7 hours per day, 7 days per week. He takes one day off per month to recuperate and an occasional day off to do something he’d like to do, like go to a gun show or just have time with my daughter and me. He has been doing this for the past 5 years, and up until my mom started dying about 4 months ago, he was also on call every Thursday from 6pm until 12am. My boyfriend (22) and I (21) would be happy to help…if we could just find jobs.

    Doesn’t anyone else find it frustrating and depressing that so many people have to work that much just to make ends meet?

    • john says:

      sure. hell my dad missed the first 5 years of my life truck driving working like a madman and he had no choice. most people without a degree nowadays are running around like chickens with their heads cut off. they get two jobs, get sick, cant pay bills and all the while the people dont say “damn raise the wage” instead they say “why dont you spend 4-5 years and get 40,000 in debt and then maybe you can make livable wage!” ???? at 30-40-50 years old?? come on people need a time to live and some fucking opportunity. getting in debt to Maybe get a job after graduation is just a pisspoor financial decision. fuck it

  • Elizabeth says:

    @ Joesixpack
    What if people have different preferences than you? Why is it about your work values? What if it is OK for some people to have a smaller house/ share with roommates? Why do you find this kind of view threatening? Are you a troll?

  • a frenchie says:

    @joesixpack: you are obviously ignorant (not stupid, just ignorant) but no worries, though – when you realize that there is a world outside yours you will understand a lot of things.

    Like, say, that some people may want to have a life outside work and spend it with their families? And that they are not the super fighter kind of people who will stand up to their management?

    Or maybe, like in my case today – there was snow around Paris (lots! at lest 5 inches :)) and I decided to stay at home and work from here (not a normal thing to do)? My employer was happy as people were still working, could take care of their families (children are on one of their many vacations now) and be happy, return hopefully tomorrow happy to work and work more efficiently.

    You know, the kind of things we think about when we grow older. And wiser. And think that our children are gone and we actually missed everything when they were growing up?
    Listen up to “Cats in the Cradle” and you may understand why I enjoy having 42 days off over the year and spend plenty of time (no tonly “quality time”) with my kids.

  • joesixpack says:


    [b]What if people have different preferences than you? Why is it about your work values? What if it is OK for some people to have a smaller house/ share with roommates? Why do you find this kind of view threatening? Are you a troll?[/b]

    It’s not about “my work values”. I never said that it ISN’T OK for someone to have a smaller house or whatever. What this article is calling for is the government to come in and control, among other things, how many hours employees can work. Do you not even realize how detrimental to production this would be? I really don’t care what you do with your life.

  • joesixpack says:

    @a frenchie:

    you are obviously ignorant (not stupid, just ignorant) but no worries, though – when you realize that there is a world outside yours you will understand a lot of things.

    Like, say, that some people may want to have a life outside work and spend it with their families? And that they are not the super fighter kind of people who will stand up to their management?

    Or maybe, like in my case today – there was snow around Paris (lots! at lest 5 inches 🙂 ) and I decided to stay at home and work from here (not a normal thing to do)? My employer was happy as people were still working, could take care of their families (children are on one of their many vacations now) and be happy, return hopefully tomorrow happy to work and work more efficiently.

    You know, the kind of things we think about when we grow older. And wiser. And think that our children are gone and we actually missed everything when they were growing up?
    Listen up to “Cats in the Cradle” and you may understand why I enjoy having 42 days off over the year and spend plenty of time (no tonly “quality time”) with my kids.

    What are you babbling on about? I really don’t care what you do or don’t do with your life since it’s none of my business. But plenty of people (much like you, I would guess) want the government to come in and tell me how to run my life, particularly my business (if I should ever choose to start one). Go on and have your 42 days off a year. If that’s what your company offers, then good for you and your company. But don’t call for the government to come in and try to create a “one size fits all” solution, because all that does is stagnate growth and hurt the small businessman..

    You see, YOU are the one who can’t see outside your own bubble. You demand your 42 days off a year, and when you can’t get it, you want the government to force it on everyone. Maybe some people don’t want that much time off. There are people out there who enjoy working their fingers to the bone. I know I would probably lose my mind if I had THAT much time off, because I would run out of things to do.

    You are still free to start your own business, and then you can give yourself as many days off as you want.

    I realize I’m outnumbered here, but I really don’t care. This mentality of “I want, I want, I want, I want, but I don’t want to have to work too hard for it” is destroying this country.

    • a frenchie says:

      Yes, I want the government to come and legislate about how businesses who employ people should treat them.

      You are surely aware of how work life looked like some time ago (and how it looks like in some “liberal” countries): there was a class of the rich ones and a (large) class of workers who spend their life (literally) at work. No time off, no social security, nothing.

      If you want to work on your own nobody will decide about your life. You can work 365 days a year, spend 15 hours at work. You will get rich.
      Hopefully you have no family then otherwise this is plain irresponsible. Children want to spend time with their parents, even if it means less money.

      So no “one size fits all”. But one “size fits all who want to be in that size”.

      I am for basic protection and I do not care to pay for it (though taxes – and this is not something which is missing here in France). I am not a hero, just an average guy for whom life is not just work but 156 other things beyond that.

  • joesixpack says:

    @ Stephanie

    My dad is a 61-year-old psychologist who works about 7 hours per day, 7 days per week. He takes one day off per month to recuperate and an occasional day off to do something he’d like to do, like go to a gun show or just have time with my daughter and me. He has been doing this for the past 5 years, and up until my mom started dying about 4 months ago, he was also on call every Thursday from 6pm until 12am. My boyfriend (22) and I (21) would be happy to help…if we could just find jobs.

    Doesn’t anyone else find it frustrating and depressing that so many people have to work that much just to make ends meet?

    Yes I do find it frustrating and depressing. Frustrating and depressing because more than likely most of those people didn’t bother to think ahead when they were young and plan for the future, and they typically want the rest of us to pick up the tab for their mistakes.

    • tjan says:

      It is people like you, that have no empathy for others, who think everyone lives in your perfect world. Instead, think if you had set up an IRA early in your career, paid taxes worked hard and followed all the rules. Now you are faced with a catastrophic illness or situation. For some reason beyond your control you have to take a leave from work. Your company decides it is too long and you no longer have benefits or income . You start to tap your savings to pay the bills. Medical expense escalates and you take a second mortgage or loose your home . Say you try to sell it and the value in todays market is 1/2 of what you bought it for. You have to sell at a loss. Meanwhile the IRA you worked so hard to accumulate is the next to go. This done, costing you penalty and taxes for early withdrawl, you watch as your life takes a downward spiral and depression starts to take a toll on your ability to maintain hope of regaining your life as you knew it.Say you were fortunate enough to rise above all this and try to regain lost ground. You had a set back. How many companies are going to be willing to hire you with an adverse medical history? They also check your credit report.You have gotten older and some companies don’t want to invest in someone who might not stick around, isn’t as resilient as a younger candidate? Not to mention the jobs are more and more scarce. How far do you think you could get on minimum wage at this stage of the game? No benefits with many of these jobs, what if you become ill again? I worked with a man who had this similar story.He built 2 businesses and didn’t have to worry about pinching pennies. He found himself alone, collecting pennies off parking meters and city ledges to buy ramen for dinner. Life sometimes happens while you are making plans.

  • Stephanie says:


    WOW, you are misinformed. I love how you assume that *most* of the people like my father didn’t plan ahead when they were younger.

    When my parents met, my mother was already disabled with a degenerative disease called RSD. Despite having a Masters degree in psychology, when my parents got married, Dad was out of work for 16 months because he just could not find work. Despite that, Dad ALWAYS found a way to pay his child support while doing everything in his power to support our family; my biological father never paid child support and owes my sister and me over $46,000 in back child support.

    In November 2006, we found out that the medication my mother had to take to control her chronic pain had, in effect, caused her stage IV colon cancer and metastatic liver cancer. She might have lived longer if surgeons didn’t screw up so much that they had to perform six surgeries within eight months time, which destroyed my mother’s liver and parts of her digestive system because of the large amount of scar tissue. She died September 15. We still have medical bills to pay off dating back to her first stay in the hospital almost four years ago.

    What happened to insurance? Well, my dad has private insurance, but premiums for my mother went up after her diagnosis; and she had BlueCare, but they dropped her after they found out she didn’t have the “right” kind of cancer (breast or cervical).

    You know, joe, I don’t tell you this to try to get your sympathy; I know better than to expect it from people like you. I tell you this to let you know what a self-righteous, presumptive, downright cruel prick you are. Go to hell.

    • Raymond says:

      He is not being a presumptive prick. It’s just life. Bad things happen to good people and you just try to do the best you can with what you have been dealt. Nobody ever said that all these things we are going through as a country and as individuals were ever going to be easy. I am sorry this happened to your dad at this time in his life.

  • Stephanie says:


    So terribly sorry that my family couldn’t “plan ahead” for all the horrible things that have happened over the years.

  • Get Happy Life says:

    I didn’t know the US don’t have maximum working hours set!

    But it’s terrible how may hours people are willing to sacrifice from their lives. Overworking is not a good thing – it affects citizens’ health as well. That should also be kept in mind.

  • crocket says:

    This is exaggerated and is a lie.
    The reason that USA citizens lie their workhours are the longest, I guess, may be to strengthen their rationale.
    But I have to tell you a big truth.

    South korea surpasses USA in the length of workhours.
    Many south koreans aren’t even paid for their overwork.
    Please pay attention to south korea.
    We, south koreans, are poor people.

  • The Man says:

    Yes, we may be a very overworked nation in the United States, however let’s keep in mind that we generally are compensated very well and in many professions even respected. There are many other countries where people are forced to work many long UNDOCUMENTED hours of manual labor for very minimal pay. Yes, long hours do cut into family and personal time, but let’s still be glad we live in a country with labor laws that require employers to pay overtime. I know it could be better, but it could also be a lot worse!!

    • john says:


      • Raymond says:

        I don’t know why you think you are owed or promised anything in this life. I was living out of my car at age 25. I am not doing so now. Not saying it is not tough but I am sure you can find a way to get to the goals you have set for yourself. Just remember that other like yourself were in some very same circumstances but they found a way. You can do the same. I have faith in you. You obviously are not happy with your circumstances. You seem intelligent.

  • Stella says:

    I have been in the car business my entire life & now am a single mother of two young children. My son is soon to be 8yrs old & daughter just turned 4yrs old, after stating the above facts about my stupid career choice I soooo much regret more everyday I am fortunate enough to see them. Today is the first time in 7years I have told my employer “NO my son has school activities I must attend & you can pass the deal on to someone else. ” I simply don’t care about the money anymore but at the same time have an overwhelming feeling of guilt about it….. What is worse losing money or disappointing your children? I just miss my kids & this is literally bringing tears to my eyes thinking about everything I have missed out on because….. I was selling a vehicle & more worried about making money than how empty my children felt without their mommy to see them. I want out of the car business soooo bad!

    • Stella says:

      Correction on the above…..Ooops! I meant to say I regret my decision of going into the car business more everyday…. and I feel so fortunate everyday I actually get to see them & spend time with them…..sorry! 🙁

  • Bryan says:

    Hello all. Talk about the biggest smoke and mirrors scheme of our time. Now that the economy is suffering, Corporate America, has an even bigger excuse to rape us of our lives. I believe in hard work for a decent wage, but when the expectation is that if your work isn’t done, stay until it is; or suffer the stigma of being a slacker, that’s where I draw the line. Or manage your time accordingly, when management knows there is no way to get it done in a 40 hour work week. The label of being a salaried employee is a curse for the ages. No overtime, working for free after 40 hours; your wages per hour nose dive as you crank out 50, 60, even 70 hours a week. There is also no comp time in the form of time off, or leaving early on a Friday, after working like a dog for weeks on end. I have seen this abuse at several companies I have worked for. My current manager comes in at 6:00 every morning, and leaves after 5:00. I have a co-worker who has taken up running. He is already in self defeat due to, after his first half marathon he will be working too much to keep up the training, and have enough family time. Now we are told just be glad you have a job. It’s insanity bordering on communism. They control our lives, and we allow it. The weird part is, that it is a great company, performing very well in this economy. I am burnt out, always having to try and plan, duck, and dodge, just to stay around 45 hours, as may coworkers give me weird looks when I leave on time. I am not lazy at all; as a matter of fact I work very hard, and skip lunch and breaks to get out on time. The money isn’t worth it, life is too short. I know millions of us are stuck due to the sky rocketing cost of living, and fears of not being able to provide for our families. The fat cats know this, and will exploit it to the hilt. I just can’t believe the apathetic mentality of management. I am just over it. Technology should ease the burden on the American worker, not complicate it, and force us into legalized slavery. I am thankful I have a good job with a great company, but balance is thrown out the window. Please America, let’s embrace true Capitalism, but without the greed and willingness to work our lives away sitting in a sterile cubicle. It’s toxic and is turning us all into unhappy, tired, unmotivated drowns.

  • Daedalus says:

    Some great comments here. It seems like people are finally waking up to the great hoax known as the Calvinist Work Ethic that’s been plaguing our high-tech civilization for far too long now. This is especially appalling in our current age where we have countless labor-saving devices that functionally SHOULD be relieving us from mass drudgery.

    A few of the more mean-spirited (perhaps overworked?) commenters (like JSP) are clearly indoctrinated by the Obsolete Work Ethic to a such degree where they each function as a sort of undying ideological mind slave of that ridiculous paradigm.

    It’s time we all embrace the abundance that mechanization and automation provides for us and realize that working ourselves to death is a futile endeavor considering the potential that can be unleashed if we are able to part with many of the old, now useless ways of running society. One we free our minds we realize how much of the “work” out there is really pretty useless in terms of actually important things like human life-support systems and scientific/technological advancement. Most of our “economy” simply goes into churning out more and more cheap crap and subsequent waste just for the sake of ringing up more transactions. That, my friends, is the contradictory nature of a debt-based monetary system and a commerce-obsessed culture that feeds such a beast.

    Please take some time to contemplate the greater things and life and become more self-aware. You’ll gain a broader perspective and feel a whole lot better in the end. I’m sticking with the red pill. See you all on the other side!

  • SoSuzySaid says:

    Does anyone remember the story of the Pied Piper??!!

    I just don’t understand why there has not been a single post about educating our youth!

    We EARN what we LEARN.

    We are not learning. Purposely.

    Members of the “Intelligencia” would not put up with this!

    America is dumbing down it’s very own future leaders. Our children can’t progress until the whole class is all on the same page. Learning curves, are you serious? 100% right is 100% right fer gawdssake!! My son’s teacher INSISTED that “cupid” started with a “Q”!!

    We don’t even make our own FOOD here anymore. Someone please explain the Fair Trade Agreement!

    I tire of the instant gratification youth. Are you kidding me?! There is no APP for Real Life. You want something, you have to earn it IRL. And don’t burn company time surfing the Web! If you wanna play, you have to pay. Do your job! You waste Company time and MINE AS WELL because I DO CARE and I have to make up for YOUR SLACK. Is there no pride in work anymore??

    Politics are all Hollywood now. Best looking, best speaker, and best media coverage. Occupy Wall Street? I do believe that movement originated in CANADA! What?? (And what do they even want?)

    God Bless Us All!

    I wish I could be the Pied Piper and teach the children how a life of unbiased, educated and harmonious living can be! Shame on the parents who rely on others to raise a child.

    We are raising our future, not just our brood.

  • Daniel Mull says:

    You mean the LEAST UNDERWORKED, a good thing.

  • Etherman50 says:

    A few thoughts:
    1) America is over-worked: We AVERAGE about 47 hours per week(for those who work full time). This is simply too much work. The stress,overeating,etc etc that too much work causes is getting too great for us to bear as a nation-we all need to step back awhile and simply relax(and enjoy our live).

    2) America is too uninformed: We spend half of our lives in school,only to learn how to become rock-headed,half ignorant pragmatists who deify money,who never question authority and who completely lack creative thought.

    3) America is too Greedy: We are simply too money obsessed. We work all day chasing after the “almighty greenback” and “slaving it up” for rich capitalists who use us to gain even more money for themselves-and sharing less each year with the individual worker.

    4) America is too Addicted/Dysfunctional: We(Americans)must be one of the most addicted countries in the world with probably 60-70 % of us addicted to substance or another(can it be because of our collective soullessness?) Further,10% of us are alcoholics,30% are obese,5% are drug addicts,15% have diabetes,and 15% are chronically depressed.

    5) Americans have too much debt: We(as a country and individually) have too much debt to be healthy. The nation owes 15 trillion dollars-and each American family has 10,000 usd in debt-far too much debt to be healthy.

    Finally,We must demand changes now,and get our collective act together-and as individuals,if we are to go forward in any viable way from here.


  • Travis says:

    It’s not so much a culture that values money and work over everything else that creates these problems. People have to work harder for less money just to stay afloat. America is capitalism at its extreme. We have a lot of myths in our society that capitalism is natural and the best possible economic model, but it obviously is not. We need to remove that idea from our minds and empower leaders that are in favor of more market regulations. We need to remove “socialism” from our national list of dirty words. And lastly, on a more individual level, we should buy local and buy small. It’s not that solutions are hard to accomplish, but that nobody wants to try them.

    • john says:


      • Sean says:

        And when you’re watching Zeitgeist be sure to have a free Kindle edition of Tacitus open So you can see them willfully lying. Zeitgeist is the biggest scam of a video on the Internet almost they say is wrong. What they say that is correct is only to basically give credibility to the slew of lies that follow.

  • sunnnnys says:

    I feel the author missed a big point: Americans aren’t working that much because they want to, many aren’t doing it because they’re greedy and want $$, but because the price of everything has gone up while wages have come down. That’s the real problem.

    More families have both parents working because they can’t afford basic necessities–though this in itself is an argument. An Ipod is not a necessity, but you see them everywhere–even with those who are getting government aid. The system has become corrupt because those who can are exploiting it, both rich and ‘poor’ included.

    America and our ancestors worked very hard to raise the standard of living, but now its becoming harder to afford that standard of living. I think we need better price ceilings. And no credit cards. What you can’t afford now, you can’t have now. Simple. We wouldn’t be in this mess if that had been the case.

    Oh, and I’d like to point out, most of Europe is in economic turmoil (e.g Greece). Maybe so many paid vacations isn’t the best idea…

    • Sean says:

      The idle hands are the devils workshop is a bunch of BS It’s easy to pretend that if people had time off instead of spending it with their families they be drunks hanging out on the sidewalk are not paying the bills I don’t see any proof of that. Those that are responsible will continue to be responsible those that are losers now will continue to be losers. I know this isn’t realistic for a time but if you divide all the land tomorrow most of the working class would become the upper-class in the upper classes in the lower classes would be at the bottom. People are not having kids because they can’t afford to have a family or they don’t want to raise a family in those conditions that leads to lower populations which Is Detrimental to economy this will solve itself on its own or you can solve it.

  • Mark T. says:

    The obvious level of poverty between generations is pretty glaring, in the general NY/NJ area.

    By way of example,I know more than a few engineers I work for who make a “good” salary and are in fact in the lower 1%. But their parents, lived in larger homes, in better neighborhoods, with better schools and functioning facilities.

    As a rule, the generation coming up is largely in significant worse shape economically, with MASSIVE student debt at graduation, or subject to systemic disenfranchisement by not having a degree, what’s most obvious is that glaring difference, between college educated and non-college educated, which has nothing more to do that with society’s bias towards the former.

    In that previous generation – the “boomers”, most non-college graduates could afford to buy or build a house and do so without holding 2 jobs per household.

    These days, the more relevant question to my mind, is how do we break the cycle of wealth concentration before it breaks the capitalist system entirely.

  • Luke says:

    People in the uk are lazy. As well as the rest of Europe.
    They do NOT want to work at all.
    The more your government gives the more you’ll expect from them.
    The rest of the world needs to work more.
    When you are paid 13 months pay for 11 months of work. You are paid too much or work too little.

    Although i will bring up an important point.
    The amount we waste in America is much more than in the European countries.
    I suppose you don’t have to work as much to pay for food you don’t overeat or waste. Or gasoline. Etc.

    Like a home. The better you maintain and not cause a mess.
    The less time you have to work to cleanup after yourself (and others).

    • Frenchie says:

      @Luke: you are so right about us Europeans.
      We just want to live a more complex life than yours, filled with work, time off and family time.

      I guess we are lazy but hey, it is sunny outside today and I will go for a walk with my children, then help them with their homework and then have dinner with them. Good luck at the office.

      Ah, and I will not worry for not being cared after if I break my leg while having good time. If you like a life full of stress and uncertainty about what counts most (family and health) than you will be fine at the office.

      I forgot to mention that I love my work and since I spend 8 hours at the office I am very keen to get back the day after and work hard.

    • Sean says:

      Europe’s only economic problem is that they don’t procreate. Other than that their system works just fine not going bankrupt. Even paying 20 bucks an hour to work at a McDonald’s funny how that works only on their side of the Atlantic. It’s funny when you add up their tax bills and medical expenses and stuff they still make out over the US worker. And yeah we are a little bit more productive than them.

  • Mischon2 says:

    I would much rather live in Europe where they give a damn about their employees. I wish I had time to spend with my family where I could drive my son to school and get him off the bus…That is a DREAM here, unless you are a stay at home mother with a husband making more than 75,000 a year no matter the economy. Europeans arent lazy…Last I checked U.S. is the fattest country on the planet…now who’s lazy?

    • Gabe says:

      Yes because fat people are lazy. It has nothing to do with anything else than laziness. If fat people exercised as much as you do, they wouldn’t be fat anymore.

      You are a scientist ahead of your time. You should go work in Europe. That way you can spend less time working and more time telling fat people they’re lazy to feel good about yourself.

    • TheKnowerseeker says:

      Americans aren’t fat because we’re lazy (we’re not any more lazy than anyone else in the world), but rather because our lives suck — which at least 50% of that suck comes from being overworked — and we’ve got too much fast food and other comfort and junk food available for low prices. (The healthier stuff costs more.)

      So, since our lives suck, being fat is legal, and junk food costs less, we use junk food as our drug to deal with life. Also, because we’re worked so much, unless an American has a labor job, he has to sacrifice his precious little free time off the job to exercise. Most of us don’t have labor jobs anymore; we work in offices.

  • John says:

    why are there not any paid holidays for the UK? it is easy to make America look overworked when you don’t publish all the stats…

  • Jenny says:

    Maybe Americans are fat BECAUSE we work so much and get less sleep than our adult counterparts elsewhere. We are exhausted, so we use food to keep ourselves awake and focused and to bribe ourselves to do the next thing. Since we are tired, we have less executive functioning ability with our frontal lobes, and we are more likely to listen to the pleasure seeking amygdala in our brain instead of being wise with food and exercise. We have less time to prepare healthy meals and we are inundated with unhealthy but fast and fairly cheap food. The organic movement has also lead to healthy foods being priced increasingly out of reach of normal budgets. I work far from home with long, irregular hours, often far from a fridge, and very little control over my schedule. I would love to have access to appropriately sized, reasonably priced portions of delicious, healthy food. Instead, I see overpriced, oversized, and unhealthy foods, but I have to eat something. I carry some fresh fruit and granola bars with me, but I can get really tired of the monotony of what doesn’t spoil in my backpack.

  • slyt4439 says:

    most people cant afford to take even a couple days of in a pay period.with low income on full time jobs that use to have wages that allowed for saving but havnt been raised to meet current inflation people are adding hours.there also take on more than one job to come out makeing less than 1 job use to.

  • N/A says:

    You know, I don’t think it’s so bad that we’re like this. We set an example to other countries. Who has harder workers? We do. Who gets more done? We do. Who DOESN’T WHINE ABOUT VACATIONS? We don’t. Greece rioted because the government thought about lessening their vacation time. We don’t even have any. We should be proud to be so efficient

    • Emma W. says:

      “We should be proud to be so efficient.”

      That just sounds a bit…well, _you know_. Yikes.

    • EN says:

      What was the quote, something like no one ever says on their deathbed they wish they had spent more time at work? Life is not meant to be a slave to. Other things matter much, much more.

    • Sean says:

      Life’s not an efficiency contest. Let’s stop pretending this is some big game that’s what people in offices that don’t do real work do. We are efficient and we’ve got more and more efficient over the years so either pay for that efficiency or give time off. PS I don’t think most Americans give a shit what Europeans think of them. So if the Greeks want to riot and destroy their own infrastructure they can have at it.

  • Melanie says:

    With the competitive nature of many people here, I’m wondering if people aren’t actually afraid to take time off? Someone is always ready to step in and take over your job, or there is always someone willing to do it for less. Out of sight out of mind.

    I think most people that dont take vacations probably dont feel they have a choice.

    • frenchie says:

      This is why a legal requirement to take vacation, whether you want it or not, helps.
      In France you have to take 10 consecutive days in summer (from June to September if I remember correctly), you have no choice (the company must impose them to you if you do not choose your slot).

      Then you have plenty of vacation you should take or they are lost (the culture is to take them)

  • Fitty Stim says:

    I think it’s funny that the author seems to think that 30 vacation days equals a month off from work. Vacation days apply only to actual working days, so 30 days off from work is actually six weeks, which is 1.5 months.

    In any case, the numbers given in the chart are not entirely correct. For example, in Sweden (where I live) there are 13 paid national holidays in 2012. This would bring the minimum number up to 38. In addition, all governmental employees (and many private) get a half-day off on the day prior to a public holiday. And if a public holiday falls on a Tuesday or Thursday, then the day in between the holiday and the weekend is also free from work.

    The vacation day system in Sweden pretty much follows this rule:

    younger than 30: 25 vacation days
    30 – 39: 31 days
    40 – 49: 35 days
    50 – 65: No one knows because these people only show up at work to collect their paychecks… 🙂

    • a frenchie says:

      In France the calculation goes the other way round: you have to work 217 + 1 days per year (the extra day is a bit special as the company may agree for you not to work and take the charge).
      Therefore the number of vacation days changes every year to accommodate this rule.

      There are zillions of exceptions but overall this is how it works.

      The average is 35 to 40-something working days off per year.

    • Daniel Freysinger says:

      I would scrub toilets with my own toothbrush to leave this country and move to yours. Unlike many of my countrymen, I have lived outside the United States and understand that “greatest country ever” is nothing but propaganda. From the age of 5 we are compelled to stand before our flag and recite a loyalty pledge.

      • Jeff Walden says:

        You aren’t compelled to recite the Pledge of Allegiance (unless you’re talking about a private school that actually decided to force the issue, but somehow I doubt you are). See West Virginia State Board of Education v. Barnette.

        • TheKnowerseeker says:

          It used to be the case that society would compel you (not the government). That’s still the case in the more conservative communities, if not elsewhere. Myself, as a Christian, I’ve always had a slight problem with saying the Pledge because I think that a Christian probably should not be pledging allegiance to anything but God. I can tell you that if this government ever orders me to do something sinful, I will refuse.

      • Raymond says:

        I am sure there are some accommodating countries that would love to have you scrubbing their shitters with your toothbrush. What are you waiting for? I am sure if your really wanted to live in some other country you are talented enough to make that happen/or not?

  • texas says:

    Silly Americans work, work, work till what, you retire and pay for your overly priced medicines, triple of the actual price of your home, then if you’re lucky you’ll get 5 years maybe (if not retired now) before you kick the bucket, lol what a wasted life, all to be number 1. When I was younger this statement would of pissed me off, as I’ve seen how short life can be I now question, why do we work so hard for what and for who, people who don’t have to work as much?

    Yes as a citizen of United States I see this too, actually when I was in the Army I worked less than any civilian job I had. Iraq was a bit different though however I enjoyed the no cell phone thing. When getting out, my platoon sergeant actually said this would be the easiest job ever had are you sure you wanna leave we’ll pin you sergeant today(my girlfriend wife now said please get out. I thought my platoon sergeant was crazy until my 24yr @ss at that time made that transition. Sure I worked before joining the service like at restaurants, construction etc but nothing really making a career out of.

    Now I enjoy a super commute since the cities are the only place for decent wages, if you call a take home of 500 bucks a week a decent wage, with two girls, a car, a mortgage, needed improvements etc.

    My wife is a teacher in this small town making around the same as me after taxes. I pay the 500 bucks a month on health care with a nice 500 dollar deductible on each person!

    I don’t go to the doctor that’s only for rich folks and poor folks, but I do make that 500 dollars monthly payment JUST IN CASE! However if I have to get life flighted my insurance doesn’t cover that. So I could easily enjoy a $20,000-10,000 bill while I’m in some rehab trying to walk again.

    When I’m sick its usually too expensive to go to the doctor so I just wait it out, and of course if I take off of work, I’ll just have too much work when coming back and my week is hectic. Not the case in the Army.

    The company I work for now fired 400 employees 2 years ago, froze salaries…still a bit frozen all claiming it needed to to survive. Then the investors sold us to a company in Japan making a 500 millions in profit. (Bought at around 500 million and in 4 years sold us for 1 billion.) Nice some got a fat check on the expense of others.

    Firing people should never be an excuse to gain profits and for whom, is this really helping our country? C’mon folks wake the hell up…what do the soldiers fight for! corporate corruption? Not everyone is an investor or has the extra money to live this life.

    Born in a red state I understand the corruption of unions, the freedom to work long hours, and how hard work will get you farther in life…well sometimes, it use to a lot more than it does now

    My grandfather born in Czechoslovakia came here with no education, worked hard bought land many of acres simply cause it was much much cheaper than now(actually now you cannot buy land and get your money out of it by farming, cattle etc-it must be family owned by past generations. He also started a business that is still here today on property that was and still is commercial but far far too expensive now for an average joe to buy and start up anything. And considering his education was at a 8th grade level wow… Yes opportunity WAS there and we use to get more out of our hard work.

    Hard work gets me far on my land- 20 acres a gift deed from my mother when her mother passed, but not with the company I work for. I’ve searched for other work and its all the same pay, I’ve busted my butt off with this company for 5 years just to get the same ‘ol times are hard speech, pockets aren’t as deep as they use to be.

    The oil companies around here are the only ones that really pay but I don’t want to be a life on the road roughneck. I actually like being with my wife and children…I know this must sound weird to some people, but I like life.

    I just think more and more personalities are turning severely fakish and this is becoming the norm. Overpopulation, selfish profits, and this bad attitude against anyone who isn’t rich being looked as someone who is lazy, its getting cray.

    I don’t mind working all the time, sometimes I feel guilty over the weekend if I don’t do any work on my land or house. I don’t watch TV I can’t stand how weird its gotten over the years. I’m always doing something outside.

    I just want work and sweat to PAY more if I’m selling that and my time to a company. For now it just robs my time and with my family, home improvements etc. for a few bucks…not worth it anymore. Companies have got to loosing up and pay more if we want our country back I don’t understand the need for such high profits and low wages, these folks are not true Americans in my book.

  • Linda says:

    This is a great article, but I have to disagree with one part…it currently is not “OK” to ask for less hours at work. Unfortunately, this could get you fired. The general consensus in the corporate arena is that they feel they own your physical person and are free to do with it as they chose even if there is no increase in productivity. A perfect example is during Hurricane Sandy when many places had no electricity, some employees were still made to come into work and sit in the dark doing nothing for 8 hours. Corporations routinely classify all salaried employees as exempt (not due overtime pay) and fire staff so one person is now doing the job of 3 with a 70 hour workweek. I would, however, love to see all this change. I fear though with unemployment at the rate it is now, we wage slaves currently have no pull to affect any change soon.

  • matt says:

    Maybe if the goverment didnt take all of our money and things were affordable we wouldnt have to work so much. Yea it would be great to stay home and raise the kids but whos gonna feed them? I would love to put in 40 or less hrs per week but I gotta work that overtime just to compensate the cost of getting back and fourth to work at 4.00 a gallon. I work an honest job and dont spent beyond my means but I also dont have much of anything. America is just to expensive to live in and the rich make damn sure the middle class keep working harder so they dont have to.

    • a Frenchie says:

      We pay twice that price for fuel, the average pay is $30k and you roughly get 60-70% of that money into your bank account (after the various taxes). On top of that almost everything in the US is cheaper (housing, food, home equipment).
      I am not an economist but I am still happy to live where I live.

  • MIKE says:

    If you look at how nasty life can be. We are the most overworked country in the world.

    Other workers in other countries enjoy more free time and more family time than American workers. Look what we

    have in this country and you tell me that this life is not straight from the pit of hell. We are told to go to school to get

    a good enducation and then enter the workforce at age 25 to get a great job with great benefits and work a minimum of

    40 hours per week until you turn age 65. So you are working 40 hours per week going through alot of pain at your job with

    stress, control, changnes, fear of getting layed off, lack of free time to enjoy other things, pain , suffering, feeling of you are

    being left out of what would make you really happy, feeling that the company owners hate your guts and can fire you anytime.

    And you are suppose to go through that type of life for 40 years with different companies. Oh and dont forget the IRS and all the deductions

    that are taken out. So you suffer the pain and humilation of that also. You are asked to go through all that pain for 40 years until you

    are 65 years of age. Think about how horrible that setup is. They are asking you to suffer at your job for 40 years and be exploited

    so that the CEO of the company can go and enjoy his free time, travel, raise his kids, fly in a private plan, and relly enjoy the American

    Dream. people do that for 40 years for 1 company or many companies and retire with 40% less income than what they were making

    and end up dead broke or dead from the stress. And if they are still alive they have to depend on the government for a small social security check

    that wont even cover a car payment, gas and insurance let alone a great lifestyle. This is the trap 95% of people are in in America. When you know

    dam well that there is a side of life outside of that gloom and doom that is so incredible and exciting. That is why the majority of people are depressed

    and feel that there is no hope. This system is set up to ring you out like a dish rag and spit you out…WHY IS LIFE IS HORRIBLE LIKE THIS WHEN WE


    • mike says:

      I want to apologize to everyone on this thread for getting out of hand and saying what I said about people going to hell. God please forgive in Jesus Christ name. Cross those comments out and those names out and I will let God be the judge ..Amen

    • john says:

      love your rant it is totally true and you are one of the few posters on here that really get it unlike everyone else saying “spend less” “work more!!” “get in debt going to college!!” i have spent 12 years so far having my soul sucked out and making shit for it. the most i ever made is 14.87 and i had to go through so much shit that i fucking walked out. im 30 years old now and cant even get a job at walmart. so i feel what youre saying. i feel like my life has never even begun. i busted my ass doing hard ass work and lifting shit for 10 hrs a day for years and now i feel like a fucking 80 year old. i hate this system but what i hate worse is this fucking society. americans are usually the most smartass and apathetic liars on planet earth. Animal Farm was written so long ago and yet still people let it happen. still people let the pigs control things and come up with more useless slogans for the other “animals” i hate this society so much

      • TheKnowerseeker says:

        I’m not going to disagree with you. However, why did you chose not to attend some kind of higher education, even if “just” technical school? You have to have some kind of work-education under you belt to climb the ladder. Is it too late to get some schooling now? How about financial aid?

    • john says:

      isnt it interesting how business owners and bosses talk against “socialism and how “they are having there money taken by government policies or too much government” and yet they are only rich because they fucking worked people for min wage and pocketed the excess and yet “they dont want to be robbed”???? fuck them. steal from them like they have stolen from us and see what they have to say next when they have nothing. fucking pigs

      • TheKnowerseeker says:

        Actually, since capitalism is a legalized form of stealing, meaning that the capitalists stole from the rest of us in the first place, then I do not see “redistribution of wealth” as thievery itself but rather as justice.

  • Ricardo says:

    The American work life has effected families, for sure. It’s not only mothers joining the work force but from both parents being over worked. The family structure of a homes have weakened because parents have dedicated their time to financially support their family. But easily do we forget that families require more than financial stability, families require emotional support as well. We should not attack those by saying the lack of Jesus in the household is the problem, an attack on non-religious people is not a valid state of argument. Comments calling people “ignorant” or saying “you bastards will burn in hell” fail to state reasons why this article has failed to persuade you. But there are concrete reasons why family life in America is not strong, this article points out key elements that support that argument. Mom and Dad spend too much time at work whether by choice or due to job circumstances, it is our responsibility to balance work and family in order to create a more proficient family structure.

    • TheKnowerseeker says:

      “…an attack on non-religious people is not a valid state of argument.” — Here is my argument, and it is not an “attack”: Without faith in something greater than the material existence that we see with our eyes, there is *no* reason to care about the family, and there is every reason to be purely selfish, just like corporations and capitalism. That is, Ayn Rand’s Objectivism truly is the only rational way to see things, and opposing, non-religious philosophies such as secular humanism are nothing but folly. If we’re all just carbon lifeforms — a higher evolution of animal but nothing more — then there is no reason to care about people above anything else.

      That said, can you imagine a greater faith to hold dear to your heart than that of a god (The God) who lowered himself down to our level, made himself into a man (Jesus), walked and talked among us as both God and man, and then sacrificed his own life as the pure and holy God to pay the cost for all men’s dirty sins for all time, to wash us pure so that we can be free from vices such as the greed that powers our corporations and our capitalism? (And then he raised himself from the dead after three days to prove that his is God.) That is Christianity.

      • a frenchie says:

        Wow… you talk like this in real life as well? This must be quite scary for the people you meet

        • TheKnowerseeker says:

          Boo. (Are you running away yet?)

          • a frenchie says:

            No, it is just that I am not used to people who get over excited with their religion and who need to show it off no matter the subject.

          • TheKnowerseeker says:

            Unfortunately, I *am* used to people who get over excited with their atheism or militant agnosticism, and who need to pipe up and spout off any time Jesus is mentioned in a conversation because they’re childish and angry and… and… just… gotta… let all the Christians know how angry they are!

          • TheKnowerseeker says:

            Unfortunately, I *am* used to people who get over excited with their atheism or militant agnosticism, and who need to pipe up and spout off any time Jesus is mentioned in a conversation because they’re childish and angry and… and… just… gotta… let all the Christians know how angry they are! WAAAAA!!!

          • a frenchie says:

            You should clearly cool down. The subject is about work/life balance and not religion.

          • TheKnowerseeker says:

            99% of everything in this life begins and ends with what people do, and 99% of everything that a person does comes from what religion… or philosophy (for the atheists and agnostics)… that person ascribes to. Whether they realize it or not, business people, bankers, major investors, etc. (that is, all capitalists) follow the philosophies of Satanism and/or Objectivism. Satanism says “Do what thou wilt.” (do whatever you want), and Objectivism says that self interest is the only logical goal in life, and one should only do what is logical. Out of all the religions, the religion of Jesus: Christianity, stands for the exact opposite of Satanism and Objectivism: Jesus said to treat others as you would have them treat you, oppose evil coming from other people yet still love them as human beings, forgive those who hurt you instead of taking revenge, and love others just as much as you love yourself.

            So, you see, *everything* has to do with “religion”, and if you want true, long-lasting good that is “built on the rock instead of the sand”, you have to turn to Jesus. But… I’m tired of arguing, and I’ve said pretty much everything that there is to say on the subject, so I won’t argue with you about it anymore. You can have the last word; type away.

      • Mac guy says:

        You’re a hoot. Religion is the curse of mankind. Brainwash the young and ignorant for the Church Organism to survive with the nutrient the brainwashed supply: money.

    • mike says:

      This is in response to your comment about my comment. If the truth hurts – I dont apologize. All you have to do is look at the facts. America has declined and will continue to decline. Everything that made this country great is being taken away and it will continue to get worse unless people stand up and take it back. It is not being negative – it is the hard cold reality. There are 40 million americans on food stamps in this country. Did you know that? The majority of college graduates in the last 3 years who got degrees cannot even get decent paying job because the unemployment rate is so high and every US company is packing their bags and outsourcing their labor for a cheaper pay. That is just the tip of the iceberg. Things are going down down down for the middle class and poor because that is who is going to eat this not the rich..And as far as my religious views. I am a christian thank god I believe in God and have eternal hope and everyone will stand before god and be judged. No one gets away with anything..thats the great news. You should not be offended that I said the truth because if you read you bible it is already written what is going to happen and trust me — God is not happy with what he sees and he will be just in his judgement…what you think this is for nothing ? You think all the bloodshet, all the pain that people have gone through, all the deception and lies that are going on all around that people are ignoring because they are busy on their Ipads, I phones or watching the superbowl is just going to slide and we should just tolerate it..How do you explain 22% uemployment in AMERICA worse than the great depresion. Things are not good, they are not even ok – they are horrible — lets get real man – dont hide the truth ! and dont tell me its up to me to create a better life because I am not buying that excuse…

      • a frenchie says:

        The facts you are mentioning probably make sense (I do not know, I do not live in the US but in France).
        Your religious views are your private thing and it is up to you to believe or not in something.

        It is just that it is scary for me to see, in a thread about which fridge to buy or about the correct amount of work hours, someone jumping up and down with JESUS on a cardboard.

      • john says:


        • gus says:

          I agree. Back in the 1970s, you could make $5 an hour as a babysitter, so that’s basically your $8 bucks an hour now, before taxes.
          The wages now are appalling. I make a good rate…when I am working. But there is a huge revolving door, and if I get a boss who doesn’t think I am submissive enough, or decides they don’t like something about me, I am gone. Doesn’t matter how much work I do, or how productive I am.
          There are idiots running things.

          The French built the guillotine.

          • Walter says:

            Right on, Gus, that is the sad reality in North America 🙂

            As long as people remain subservient, and trade ( or as you folks call it labour) unions are wihout any clout, bosses will do as they please, too much power is concentrated in the wrong few hands.

  • john says:


  • john says:

    you have 10 bananas and 10 employees. 2 are bosses. the 2 bosses take 5 bananas and leave 8 people fighting for 5 bananas.5 of those people get 1 banana and 3 dont get anything. WELCOME TO FUCKING CAPITALISM!!!!! YOU WANT TO KNOW WHY PEOPLE ARE HOMELESS AND WHY REGULAR WORKERS ARE POOR? HERES WHY! BECAUSE A BIG COMPANY(my last job that i quit) will make 254 million but work you as a temp for $9 an hr!! they will hire you two years later starting at $10 and they will work you to death doing 3 jobs and talking about productivity and make it seem that the business if faltering and you may be canned at any time if you dont keep doing a fine job. then they make their profits from your hard work, pocket it in personal bonuses or raises for themselves, and then tell you that the company isnt doing well and you cant have a raise. but then a week later you are being told you will have to work on Christmas because demand for your product is so high. BUT THEY THINK YOU ARE TOO STUPID TO NOT HAVE A CLUE THAT IF THE DEMAND FOR YOUR PRODUCT IS HIGH THE BUSINESS IS DEFINETELY NOT FALTERING AND THERES NO REASON TO NOT BE GIVEN A RAISE!!!!! BUT THEY DONT CARE THEY ARE ALLOWED TO LEGALLY STEAL FROM YOU BECAUSE THIS CORRUPT GOVERNMENT ALLOWS IT!!! SO THEN ALL THE LIBERALS CRY ABOUT “REDISTRIBUTION OF WEALTH” AND SAY THAT POOR PEOPLE “WANT THEIR MONEY!” NO ASSHOLE!!!! POOR PEOPLE WANT THE MONEY YOU STOLE FROM THEM THROUGH CORPORATE THEIVERY YOU HEARTLESS SCUMBAGS!!!

    • gus says:

      Yes, we who work are being taxed more and more. No raises, no merit increases, no cost of living increases, no better job to move up to…
      This it it. The land of opportunity is for those who get all of the handouts. That’s why your utility bills are so high. You pay for those coming in here. Same with college tuitions. Same with your insurance. You are paying for them.

      We are slaves. We are paid, so we can put roofs over our heads, and food in our mouths, but we are just there to make the rich richer.

      We are told if we go to college, and learn a profession, we will have a good life. We are told if we “work hard”, we will have a good life. It is all just talk to get us to be part of the machine.

    • gus says:

      What we All Need to Remember

      What we all need to remind ourselves is that it doesn’t have to be this way.

      It’s OK to ask to move to fewer hours at work.
      It’s OK to take a week-long vacation if we need to.
      It’s OK to ask to work from home.
      It’s OK to take a month of unpaid leave while you raise a child.
      It’s OK… you get the idea.

      Wow, good advice on how to get fired!!!

    • seller says:

      Hey !
      Stop crying . I came to this country a few years ago . Im working as a carpenter earning 70k/year . 5 day a week paid extra for o/t only 10 day paid vacaction . Capitalism is great . When I was kid in comunism Pol#nd we have no toilet paper . Thats y I know that you have no idea what you talking abot .
      Remeber kids comunism always ends with lack of toilet paper and other GOODS!

    • Mac guy says:

      What you say doesn’t make sense. You whine because you got paid just above minimum wage. Then you claim the liberals stole money from poor people through corporate theft? How so? Maybe if you got a relevant education or learned a good skill you could get a good paying job, you get paid for what an employer thinks you’re worth, if you don’t like it then quit and work someplace else where they pay you what you think you’re worth. That’s how it works. You seem to be blaming others for your shortcomings, a sure sign of a loser.

  • Brian says:

    Maybe you should focus more on the Average days of PTO (Paid Time Off) aka “Vacation Time” provided to American Workers without a law mandating it…20. So that to me says that Japanese and Canadian companies suck, and provided 10 days of PTO because it is REQUIRED BY LAW…Yet the big bad companies in the US AVERAGE 20 days of PTO for “exempt” employees (salaried not hourly) all without a federal law. Not to mention, the average number of holidays added in is 6. So a total of 26 days of “paid days off” between holidays and vacation time. Wow how the US sucks. They dont have a federal law requiring these big bad companies to do this…Yet it still happens!

    Way to spin things for a false case of Big Government…Only to spend more on taxes, and get nothing in return…

  • LittleMrs says:

    Ok, IF I had any Sick, Personal or Vacation time off, I still CAN NOT take off because that means less money and most likely like I would LOOSE my job! Employers don’t give a *rap about the employees and so everybody, even those married and with kids have to work 60+ hours a week! Sick, Personal and Vacation NEED to become mandatory!

  • Richard says:

    The title of this irks me. I agree with the fact that Americans work a lot, but I would disagree with whether they work the most. There are several third world countries in the world where people work long hours every day, and mostly do labor work. Some even work for 14-18 hours daily. Many children work, who are under the age of 18.

    I find this title very misleading.

  • CC anonymous says:

    I am 30 and I have been unemployed for the first time and it’s been about 2.5 months. However, unlike most people, I have enough saved to not have to work for 1 to 2 yrs. With that being said I’ve learned a lot and it’s been a great 2.5 months. I am applying for jobs and I’m not saying the reality of I SHOULD find a job and make income and it’s quite HARD finding a job does not make me depressed here and there, but I have enjoyed my life.
    I obviously don’t do much or spend a lot of my money, but what I have been doing is focusing on my family (spending more time with them), personal hobbies and above all my health (working out and cooking healthy). Something so simple has probably added 5 years to my life of not having to stress, go through traffic hell and work for an unfulfilling and empty job just to pay the bills.
    With all this being said, I realized even more so that saving is vital because I really don’t want to work in this rat race forever. Yet a part of me also wants to just find a closer job even if it pays less because there just aren’t enough hours in a day. I am trying to find a balance and yes, the reality does suck, but I guess it is how your outlook is on life. Be bright. Be happy. GOOD LUCK.

  • Meredith says:


    Imagine there’s no heaven
    It’s easy if you try
    No hell below us
    Above us only sky
    Imagine all the people
    Living for today…

    Imagine there’s no countries
    It isn’t hard to do
    Nothing to kill or die for
    And no religion too
    Imagine all the people
    Living life in peace…

    You may say I’m a dreamer
    But I’m not the only one
    I hope someday you’ll join us
    And the world will be as one

    Imagine no possessions
    I wonder if you can
    No need for greed or hunger
    A brotherhood of man
    Imagine all the people
    Sharing all the world…

    You may say I’m a dreamer
    But I’m not the only one
    I hope someday you’ll join us
    And the world will live as one

  • Jonathan says:

    I love how Americans are backing up the United States.

    It blows now, and has for some time. .You can’t say United States is best when you haven’t lived anywhere else in the world. That’s like arguing the Bible, with the sole fact of the Bible, is non-fiction; when it is “fiction”. .

    And everyone talking about kids….how about you “not have kids?”

  • Anna Mouse says:

    Every single one of these surveys has something similar to 59+ hours. The upper limit needs to be extended upward – at least in my experiences.

    Many of my co-workers and friends work from 60 to 100 hrs a week. When I was crunching numbers for a Big Four Accounting firm – we had employees who averaged 100 chargeable hours a week over a period of one year. These hours do not include Admin or Training time – usually around 10 to 30 hours a week. So overall these employees were working from 110 to 130 hours a week.

    From my experiences, the overall hours seem reported seem to be very low and I have noticed a tendency for many employees to under report the number of hours they actually work.

  • Walter says:

    As a Canadian after reading this I thought the US compared to many other developed countries has so much entreprenual spirit and innovative prowess , yet if you look closely you will see underneath a thin veneer that the overwhelming majority of Americans are barely getting by on hunger wages – having to moonlight like crazy and really being afraid of loosing their jobs ( regardless of how bad the working conditions and pay may be). Have enough friends in the US experiencing this.

    I strongly believe this loopsided approach of making ordinary people work more and harder for declining pay, so those who run the show, ” the corporations” or fat cats can grow fatter day by day, is non sensical, dehumanizing and doomed to fail eventually, and you don’t have to be a Socialist-Communist to see this ( so I do want to hear any ignorant person uttering non-sense i..e claiming Canada is a socialist haven, because we ARE NOT!!!, We are a half way house, something in between the United Kingdom and USA!!!)

    Look at the Scandinavians, they haven’t been bankrupted by their tax funded progressive social democratic systems with an emphasis on reconciling “work life balance” and the “common good” with economic prosperity, thus corporations haven’t packed up en masse and left for cheaper places in Asia. Why ?
    Because their governments don’t serve the rich. Actually they care about their people ( i know that is a bizarre notion in Politics, but Scandinavians are that way real outliers in this world), and understand that productivity is best achieved when people are not stessing out – in social misery- but enjoy the benefits of state intervention and good relations with companies.

    Both Canada ( to a lesser extent) and US base too much emphasis on “individualism” ” confrontation” and an uncritical admiration of the “god” like “corporation”, this and the fact that ordinary people got indoctrinated to be believe that their role is to remain subservient to the demands of influential fat cats is the main reason why people keep working themselves to death for less pay, without much respite and little or no recourse.

  • someone says:

    I’m a auto tech. I work 11 hour days, mandatory Saturdays, and usually every other sunday. My wife stays at home but she works from home as well. We have one child. We would’ve wanted more but because of the rising cost of so many things in this country (USA) we will never have another. My social life has suffered. I leave at 6:30 in the morning and come home around 7pm. I sometimes go the gym but my body aches with pains so much from the labor I do. Most nights I am too tired to even do anything else (I’m only 34). My wife gets depressed at times because she hardly sees me because of my hours-and when I come home I spend most of the time sleeping-which leaves her to be like a single mom at home while trying to work from home herself (cleaning the house, running errands, cooking, working). She wishes we can just do normal family things on weekends but because I work weekends it’s hard. I do get a few weeks paid vacation but I lose money because I work on flag rate hours so I lose a pay cut when I do take vacation. Either way our society is screwed. To make a decent living you have to work as a slave and have no social/family life. But if you don’t work as a slave, you risk living in poverty around high crime and fear your life (although many people who slave 2-3 jobs at minimum wage STILL suffer in poverty and high crime which is just as unfair). I’m sick and tired of seeing the Elite 1% make all the money while doing nothing compared to what the working class and working poor have to do just to stay afloat. (And no I am not a Democrat OR Republican-I do not take sides on either because they are both flawed and really just a way to distract everyone from the real problems going on in our evil world). There is nothing wrong with working for a living, but when it becomes where your life is living to work rather than working to live-then all quality of life is suffered.

  • Lou says:

    As a U.S. citizen, I must say that people need to leave their personal choices and circumstances out of this. These statistics are way more comprehensive than your minute focus groups of family, friends, and “people you know”. To yield any results from this knowledge requires not just a global mindset but, most of all, humility… not these petty stories from nimbies. It’s all this bitterness and inability to work together that keeps us in denial of our own mass suffering in exchange for the success of the few. The rest of the modern world realizes this and demonstrates adoption of fairer and more equal laws, but the U.S. continues to brainwash workers to belittle or fear change. I imagine all the passive-aggression and pessimism stems from people’s dissatisfaction with their own overworked lives that amounted to nothing… but that shouldn’t deter the betterment of humanity, YOUR children’s future. The pursuit of happiness doesn’t stop at you or your generation. If you’re not content with your life, seek guaranteed content in improving the lives of your fellow man. Great nations are built on this premise; only then will we move forward.

  • DemiGod says:

    We live in a culture of materialism! You all contribute to it. Your jobs don’t mean shit it doesn’t matter if u have an MBA or GED you all work to make some Corporation rich and in one way or another pollute and destroy the planet its all Greed! 90% of the things we buy or manufacture or sell are unnecessary.Walmart,Christmas tree shops,Target,Costco, Dunk in donuts,Burgerking….. The list is endless all unnecessary waste! The minute your boss asks you to (work late) or work on a holiday and You say yes you are contributing to the problem! Wake up! Fools “Lambs to the slaughter” That is what we All have become…. So tragic is the state of humanity.

  • In the Know says:

    I am 45 and live in Southwestern Pennsylvania. I remember the days of making a decent (livable) wage working 40 hours per week and having a CHOICE to work more hours for overtime/time and a half. Thanks to the gas and oil industry laws have been changed to suit them because all the politicians and ‘upper crust’ are making billions off of all the wells around here all the while the workers are making (typically) low wages and working 80 – 100 hour work weeks. Let that sink in. I’ve worked 100 hour weeks and after all the taxes Pennsylvania has…which includes county taxes, city taxes, ambulance tax…yes if you work in Pennsylvania you pay ‘privilege’ taxes. They (Pennsylvania law makers) say “you have the privilege to work in these towns/citys/counties so you are going to pay for that privilege”….but back to the point, after working 100 hours per week and all the taxes you’re lucky to net/bring home/actually get paid a little better than half of what your gross pay was. To top that off, these gas and oil companies now have a law working in their favor….they do NOT have to pay overtime/time and a half! It’s a FEDERAL law made to suit them, certainly NOT the worker. These young people working all these hours think they are making “great money”. There are more twist and turns to what these gas and oil companies are allowed to do concerning workers is unbelievable! There USED to be a federal law saying how many hours a person could work per day….gone thanks to the gas and oil industry. As I already said, time and a half for hours worked over 40 hours…gone thanks to the gas and oil industry. Even the people making money off wells being on their property are being ripped off. The government (local and federal) have made ‘laws’ to where these gas and oil companies do NOT have to tell these people why they are now losing more and more money from the wells. The companies have FEDERAL and STATE non-disclosure laws, in other words when the people receive money from the well on their property their checks show deductions in large amounts YET when they ask why that money was taken, these ‘fee’s’ have certain names and new ones keep coming, these companies do NOT have to tell them! How crazy is that?!?!?! These fee’s are just a way for the oil companies to keep more money, why wouldn’t they abuse that FEDERAL and STATE “law”, they know they don’t have to explain anything, they can make up a new name for some new ‘fee’ and don’t have to explain or prove that it’s a real fee. The people around here…and keep in mind, these wells are coming to your state too, give it time, Iowa is next…are stupid to the point of 100 hour work weeks and low wages are normal, because as the media propaganda says “It brings jobs to the area”….yea, low paying jobs that you HAVE to work 80 – 100 hours a week to make a decent living.

  • matt says:

    …Yada Yada Yada! …..hey everyone lifes a beeetch! get over it already …… I’m a widowed 58 yr. old wage slave too..I raised my son alone for 12 yrs until he got on his own …gave up my shoe repair business in rural Ca. due to failing economy .. got back to work working for next to nothing (11$ per hour) for Maselli brothers Shoe Service in S.F bay area….but I enjoy my craft and thats the sacrafice I make for doing what I love….. I wake up at 6 A.M… commute to work one hour each way in a 1997 Saturn… I think of myself as a kind of worker monk who pours his heart and soul into repairing footwear and leather goods which intern betters the quality of life for my fellow man …. call me delusional but at least it gets me through the day ……;)….

  • Ronaldo says:

    It’s disgusting how hypocritical this Nation is!
    We TALK about how free we are yet we are a nation of wage slaves.
    The American People don’t even get time to raise their own children when the time comes for it! This is an outrageous notion; Yet, we want to liberate 3rd world countries when we don’t even have decent worker’s rights for ourselves.

    This week I came back from a 2 week Christmas and New Years company closure (AWESOME). This Monday after work however, I started vomiting in the parking lot and developed a fever. I still came in to work on Monday and Tuesday even though I was running a fever and sweating/vomiting. I Still didn’t improve much at all on Wednesday and I opted to take a sick day, I decided I wouldn’t be very useful in my state of health and my boss asked me if I was coming in today on Thursday and I told him. I’m still running a fever I don’t think I would be of very much use. He proceeds to tell me he needs me to fix an issue at work and would prefer that I come in. I told him I would bring a doctor’s note. It’s upsetting that even though I’m legitimately ill right now, I still have to “prove that it’s happening” and that in my attempts to use my sick days are met with resistance or pretty much any elongated and legal absence from work is looked down upon.
    When did we become slaves to our jobs?

    My Work week looks like this:

    8 Hour Days + 1 Hour Lunch MANDATORY +1.5 Hour Commute Time = 52.5 Hour Work Week. There is no work life balance for the American worker. It’s mythical like Good Politicians. If I’m going to work 60 hours a week you better be damn sure it will be for my OWN business and encourage other people to do the same.

    Don’t be a wage slave.

  • Afiq says:

    Trust me when I said that Americans are considered very2 lazy compared to the Japanese, Korean, Singaporean, Chinese, etc. Against European they might be more hardworking. Against the yellow skin race not at all. There’s something about the yellow skin race there are so feisty and diligent. The Americans works more then Japanese based on the report because it doesn’t include all those unpaid ‘overtime’ that the Japanese work. Do note in mind that in America a lot of the worker are paid for overtime wherelse the Japanese majority workforce are not paid for overtime eventhough its against the law. So, if u don’t pay for overtime how can the OECD concluded that Americans work more hours then the Japanese. Where do they get the data? Don’t even bother looking at the office hours in Japan. Because no employer even follow the working hours regulations. The same case also applies to other developed Asian countries. The government are strict in implementing rules but when in comes to Labour rights they are not so strict all, in fact lenient. So, this report is a total full of crap. Try working in Japan for a month and you’ll know the difference between haven and hell.

  • Realist says:

    A reason why I would NEVER want to move to the USA! Before all you people say “Good, then stay out!” let me tell you I am not that desperate – after all I live in Asia, where the future of the world’s opportunities actually lie! And there are many other rich countries around the world that I would rather move to than the USA if I decided to give leaving Asia a try!

    • Weldon says:

      If it doesn’t apply what are you commenting on it for Realist? Nobody wants you to move here anyway. Why must we always think we know better than everyone else? Live your life at your speed, if you decide to quit your job then quit. There isn’t really a reason to think that you have the solution for everybody else. If you did you wouldn’t have even read this blog.

  • Mike says:

    Ahhh yes, all the “opinions” about what it should be and what it ain’t. The bottom line here ladies and gents is that we have ALL become debt slaves to the American Dream machine. Opinions now a days are like assholes, and everyone has one. It’s only going to get worse, not better. I mean think about it where the hell does it end….40 hours a week, 50 hours a week, 60 hours a week….set up a cot and sleep in the office to only come home on the weekends….cost of living just keeps sky rocketing, all the while your stagnant wages either stay the same or keep dropping. And I love how the government just keeps taxing my checks( legalized stealing) and takes whatever the hell they want out of it…ever ask yourself where in the hell is all that money going exactly??? The fight to survive is just ridiculous to say the least! College education right?! Yes, 500 dollars a credit hour so you can get yourself into thousands of dollars of debt, to finally get a job that you work 60 hours a week to pay for that college debt and then compound that debt with a mortgage, marriage, and kids. Wow! What a life…sign me up! Don’t sound like such a dream anymore does it…

  • Aimee Jones says:

    I’m from France and have been working here for almost 3 years now. Yes i am horrified when I see how many hours people spend at work here, there is no paid maternity leave, no paid vacation ( just a week, wow.),…yes it sucks. In France we all get 5 weeks paid vacation a year no matter who we work for, and paid sick days, and paid maternity leave etc.

  • Blair says:

    We worship work and careers in the USA. It’s a sickness really. Oh and we love to answer “busy” when someone asks us how we’re doing. It’s like a badge of honor. Dumb! Maybe one of the reasons we work so hard is because pay is so low and our social safety net is lacking. I try not to fall into the overworked lifestyle even if that means having less money.

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  • afiq says:

    are you kidding me. Americans should live in Japan and you’ll know what hardworking really2 means. In Japan the term karoushi, death related to overworked is really2 common. In fact it is one of the highest cause of death in Japan. In America, sure, there are people who work to death but definitely not one of the most common cause of death. Plus, any research regarding working hours, are so not accurate because most of them doesnt take into account unpaid overtime. In Japan, the practice of not paying your employee for overtime is prevalent. So there’s no way you could detect how many hours they usually works. In most western countries, overtime are paid and if you are not paid, the workers would definitely report it to the labour union. In Japan they just dont do so, I dont know why, but I believe its a culture thing. Which is a shame.

  • Gabrielle says:

    Well, boys and girls, I guess we’re at an impasse. Work long hours and stay afloat – like the US, China, and Japan – or don’t work long hours and sink through the pothole (like Greece and Argentina).

    The society is currently structured to have slaves so someone else can stay sane. Two centuries ago it was the coloured people. Now it’s an average college graduate.

    But don’t go looking at the next door and whining “they have it better!”, because they don’t. France is in such financial trouble to the point they make dummy companies so that people won’t “feel” useless. It’s sham company, no profit no payment, but somehow people see the need of it. England’s social welfare’s going down the drain (10 quid for 5 medications on co-pay?! No, it wasn’t some fancy med, it was a migraine med from Glaxo).

    You can’t have life quality and consumer quantity. When I came back from England I was astounded at the sheer wealth US has to offer. The supermarkets were spilling with food, brand-name handbags were offered at a fraction of the original price, and if my PC broke down I could just go out and buy a new one without a pause, and if I had a headache at 2 AM I could run to the nearest chemist and get aspirin. These are all conveniences that the Americans take for granted, but that means someone’s staffing the chemist at 2 AM, the farmers are working that much harder to keep food cheap. In England, shops close at 10 PM, good luck getting any bargain for any name brand, if your PC broke down you probably have to wait until the month after, and it’s 3.20 dollars (GBP = 1.60 USD) for about half a pound of the worst kind of ground pork. My friend’s mother was working three jobs to keep herself afloat. Forget about leisure and hobbies, they didn’t have the money to spend on hobbies.

    Slave labour’s still around. It’s just that instead of Frederick Douglass, it’s now you and me.

  • Wild Blue says:

    Yet another reason why we out produce every country on this list. I should be surprised that China was left off (I am not)as I guess the world’s fastest growing and 2nd largest economy is not developed. Or, it dilutes the authors argument on just how terrible the U.S. is. Couldn’t help but notice that Greece and Spain are both on this list as “Developed Nations”. Now that is actually Funny!

  • dm says:

    The system of GREED in USA is failing at an alarming rate…(capitalism is not the problem–but greed with it is) — no system, capitalism, socialism, communism, or dictatorship can survive large economic greed. No system! It’s become all about working too much for too little in return. Great if you are making a lot of money for the hours put in, but most can’t pay the bills and are being worked to death (literally as in getting sick and unable to perform their jobs.)

  • Rebecca says:

    I read through a few comments and truly cant believe how far off topic the discussion posts go. The article is simply stating that Americans compared to other cultures are living less family centered lives and working far more hours than other countries. No one could deny that Americans regardless of why you are working, are probably working too many hours. No one can deny that our children do feel the affects of the lack of time we spend with them. No one can say that more time as a family would be bad. The article simply points out that perhaps we need to refocus our time to our families and less time to our work that will reap less long term benefits.

  • Sara K. says:

    there are some very brainwashed sheeple on this board–the edward bernays USA propaganda master and horatio alger myth of hard hard work…all BS. wake up. You’re screwed, this modern day slavery. USA is a cesspool mainly.

  • Jaled says:

    What scares me is the dull life I see at work. My boss (female) rather work all Saturday than be at home with her 7 & 5 year old kids and husband. The VP’s in my company do not travel to interesting places, do not possess any other quality or show any other interest besides work. I feel sorry for them, and starting to feel sorry for myself as they force me to stay. I am a person full of curiosity, I want to travel, learn other languages, dance, be more flexible, have pets, etc.

    I thought that what separated professionals from people who didn’t have a degree was that less hours needed to be worked since you got paid more. HUGE misunderstanding.

    I hate this about the US. I also feel is our fault by rendering our souls freely to the company we work for.

    How do we start making a change?

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    Please keep us up to date like this. Thanks for sharing.

  • Joey says:

    This is truly a good piece but I am surprised to see that USA does not have paid maternity. What kind of country does that? A female employee after having a child, when costs goes up by leaps and bound, is not getting paid not even for the recovery period. That’s the time when she should be least bothered about finances and take care of the new born. I understand the concept of unpaid 12 weeks leave for attending to ailing family members but unpaid for maternity? Even countries like India has 3 months fully paid maternity. And the graph on leave was truly depressing. No vacation and sick leave. Are these the signs of a developed country? Hopeful of future amendments.


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