Monday, November 7, 2011

Does the American Work Schedule Harm Children? Part 1 of 3

Among my daily activities, which includes hours of exercise, are numerous hobbies such as gardening, woodworking, cooking and learning in general. This week I have been studying from an LSAT prep book although I have no plans to take the test, but I do enjoy taking the practice quizzes and preparing myself to teach my son who plans to be a lawyer.

There is also daily examinations of world financial markets and the study of personal finance. My overarching life pursuit is the implementation of statute and policy for the best interest of children along with coaching parents on how to ensure the same. It's the juxtaposition of these two that provided the impetus for this posting which will be presented in three parts.

To start let's look at American employment. As for work hours, Americans put in an average of almost 1,800 per year. Average earnings are $26.39 per hour. Average annual earnings are around $46,500.

Using data by the U.S. Bureau of Labour Statistics, 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 60 years ago, a bit over two generations.

The latest employment report from the US Department of Labour again indicates that hours and wages are increasing while unemployment remains stubbornly high at 9% or more. New applications for unemployment compensation are still exceeding 400,000 per week on average while economic growth lags that necessary to boost employment.

If productivity per worker has been increasing, propelled by automation and cyber-technology, and the economy is not growing then shouldn't the workweek be decreasing?

Although not widely accepted by society it is clearly true that one adult member of the household working 40 hours per week or two working 25 hours per week is more than sufficient to meet the financial needs of a typical family. This is true even for minimum wage employment.

But this week, as I added 6 hours to my 600 hour work-year, I can assure you that those numbers far exceed what is necessary, are damaging to our economy and are harming our children.

It is no coincidence that I have had about a 12 hour workweek on average for years nor that I found that 11 hour workweek statistic yesterday. The reality is there is no need for a longer average workweek. If an employer was to demand more from me, then that employer would cease to be such. My son is too important to me as is my leisure time, health and learning. I am in a very small minority though.

Workers in other countries have shorter workweeks and much longer paid vacation time than in the United States.

It is then necessary to examine why Americans work more than people in other countries. Ask most workers and they will regurgitate the reasons created by our political, business and cultural leaders. That is, it is necessary to survive in today's competitive economy and survive. Whether deliberate, through brainwashing or to deny their true motivations that answer is simply wrong.

American socialists and capitalists are rooted strictly in a financial dichotomy. Our O'Bama type socialists and unions want to take whatever they can from the producers of wealth while the producers of wealth want to give as little as possible to those who act as siphons to productivity.

Contrary to expectations both factions of our ruling party reject any efforts to mandate relief for employees in the form of a reduced workweek, paid vacation time or increased personal days. Republicans and Democrats have both ensured that the US maintain its number one rank as the developed nation with the least time off for employees.

There is one common factor among our political, business and cultural leaders. They all use it to exploit workers and maintain control while professing to show concern for their interest. Quite simply it is the greed compulsion.

I previously mentioned our stubbornly high official unemployment rate. That is a direct result of this need for greed. Those who are employed, especially collectively, have inhibited those seeking employment. Minimum wage laws have been enacted to keep new, cost competitive workers from entering the workforce. Unions have demanded benefit packages that make it more expensive to spread the cost of labour over more workers. Recent efforts to increase unemployment compensation costs for employers will keep them from hiring more employees.

It has now, by design, become more expensive to hire additional employees rather than pay overtime to current employees. In essence current employees increase their wealth at the expense of their neighbor who they seek to put in the doghouse.

This is in stark contrast to the Depression era workforce who embraced the 30 hour workweek that increased employment for their unemployed neighbors and helped to bring the country out of financial despair.

European and Asian socialists unselfishly seek to assist their brethren and base their success on the success of their neighbors. Americans on-the-other-hand find success in trampling over their neighbor; bigger house, better car, more luxuries and overall higher measurable status.

In part two I will examine what Americans' increased productivity and longer work-hours has gained for or cost them.

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©2008, 2011 Stuart Showalter, LLC. Permission is granted to all non-commercial entities to reproduce this article in it's entirety with credit given.

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