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The Stupidity Of Headlines

I get a kick out of headlines mostly because they rarely reflect the content of an article.

Case in point: Europeans suffering more hours on the job.

Considering that the author is writing for a Canadian audience you would expect to find out that the average European is working 45-50 hours a week and that they are beginning to have nervous breakdowns because of it. Well you'd be wrong. Very wrong. Welcome to European 'suffering':
Five years ago, France joined Europe's largest nations in a radical experiment: to try to create hundreds of thousands of new jobs and improve the quality of life by having existing employees work shorter hours.

This week, that bold project began to derail: France's legislature voted to crack open the 35-hour workweek and allow people in the private sector to work as many as 48 hours a week.
Now I don't want to jump to conclusions but if Doug Saunders is correct in stating that Europeans are 'suffering' through 35 hours of work a week then the only natural conclusion is that Europeans are the world's biggest bunch of pansies. But considering they started WWI, WWII, and numerous other calamities that probably isn't the case.

Anyways, this supposed 'news' article then proceeds to waste countless paragraphs telling us how the 35 hour work week hasn't affected European (French in this case) standards of living. Really...

The author quotes various numbers stating that European productivity is just as high as in North America. That's fine, I have no reason to doubt him. But still, how can working less not affect your standard of living?

Pretend for a moment that I'm a farmer and that this year I worked 100 acres. I then figure that I'm working too much and decide that next year I'm only going to work 50. You tell me: Should I expect too receive as many goods in trade for my 50 acres of produce as I received this year from my 100 acres?

Econ 101 jackass. Come on Saunders, read a textbook on your topic before flinging your crap everywhere!

And I love this quote near the end:
But she is quick to say that France is never going to adopt the largely unregulated working conditions of North America.
Largely unregulated? That's rich John. Very rich.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

As for the "better seed"... This equates to increasing your productivity. But, we'd then have to assume that you are actually paid based on your productivity (easy in theory, difficult in practice). Take a salesman who makes commission sales. Phil is suggesting that he can simply work less and still sell as much as before. This is generally known as a technological shift. We usually keep such factors "fixed" in these discussions becasue if you could just increase your productivity, you would have already done it. On a more personal (/political) note; I don't see much of role for the government in this. If a technology existed to increase my productivity I would freely use it. The government could have only been stopping me from using it...but I don't want to give them "credit" for getting out of the way :)