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Paracelsus
2007-Jul-13, 10:27 AM
Via Yahoo! News: http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap_travel/20070712/ap_tr_ge/travel_brief_vacation_time.


Many Americans seem to eschew traditional vacations a trend that has some experts worried that workers are not getting away from their jobs to relax and recharge, both physically and mentally.

The reasons vary, from having too few vacation days available to lacking money for travel. But in some cases, it seems, many people just aren't getting into the habit of getting away.

A recent study by Orbitz, the online travel company, found a drop in the number of people taking three-week or two-week vacations and an increase in those taking a week or less. One-third of respondents said they took five or fewer days of vacation in the past year.

One in four of those surveyed said they felt their bosses did not encourage them to take vacations, and one in three said they stayed connected with their office via phone or computer while on holiday.

This is just a continuation of a trend in the American workplace that started a couple of decades ago. The problem with this cultural 'all work and no play' mentality is that you wind up with a stressed-out, burnt-out workforce. As the article states, productivity actually drops when people aren't given regular breaks from their jobs. Also, vacations are an opportunity for people to travel, have new experiences, and broaden their minds. Without any time for themselves or the opportunity to get away from the rut of ordinary life, people become mentally-stale and myopic. They lose touch with the world outside their everyday lives.

True, there are ways to keep in touch, to some degree, with the world outside work, as the existence of this forum demonstrates. However, belonging to an online forum cannot substitute for real-world experiences with other cultures, other places, and other activities.

The all-work and no play philosophy is just a treadmill, pure and simple.

Paracelsus
2007-Jul-13, 10:52 AM
I just wanted to add:
Yes, there are careers that are so absorbing that one can go for long periods without taking time away at no detriment to oneself. The majority of jobs are not like this, however; they are merely ways to pay the bills.

The 'edit' function is royally screwing up! :mad:

Maksutov
2007-Jul-13, 11:01 AM
[edit]Without any time for themselves or the opportunity to get away from the rut of ordinary life, people become mentally-stale and myopic. They lose touch with the world outside their everyday lives....This is exactly the kind of workforce most HR departments are trying to "build". This allows HR to consider workforce components (AKA "people") as interchangeable and allow for replacement per the current corporate trends without any consideration for the people being affected.

Remember the term "planned obsolescence"? That's the current corporate view toward the workforce below upper management (and sometimes middle management, if they've got enough closet skeletons identified).

Use it until it breaks, then throw it away and get a replacement.

Paracelsus
2007-Jul-13, 02:11 PM
This is exactly the kind of workforce most HR departments are trying to "build". This allows HR to consider workforce components (AKA "people") as interchangeable and allow for replacement per the current corporate trends without any consideration for the people being affected.

Remember the term "planned obsolescence"? That's the current corporate view toward the workforce below upper management (and sometimes middle management, if they've got enough closet skeletons identified).

Use it until it breaks, then throw it away and get a replacement.

:clap::clap::clap::clap::clap::clap:

I think this is the worst aspect of the American working environment these days. No wonder employees don't feel any loyalty towards their employers! Nobody wants to be thought of as 'replaceable'.

farmerjumperdon
2007-Jul-13, 02:40 PM
Well, the truth is everyone is replaceable in terms of their work effort. If they weren't, . . . well, every business would go down the toilet everytime someone left. To be honest and blunt, without meaning to be hurtful, I think the Charles de Gaulle quote says it well:

"Graveyards are full of indispensable people." People that perceive that as lessening their self-worth should consider where they get their sense of fulfillment. I'll stop just short of calling the need to be validated by others a weakness; but it certainly limits a person's possibilities.

The real point is to treat people with respect, and to be honest in relationships. Everybody is not going to get everything they want, but they deserve to be dealt with honestly.

Organizations that think the workplace should be the be-all and end-all should have learned from the shortsightedness of the Japanese model that looked so promising. Even in a culture with that level of self-flagelation the success of that approach was a flash in the pan.

Maksutov
2007-Jul-13, 03:39 PM
[edit]The real point is to treat people with respect, and to be honest in relationships. Everybody is not going to get everything they want, but they deserve to be dealt with honestly....That's what I was getting at.

I'm pretty sure I didn't write "indispensable", but instead alluded to the attitude of most corporations that results in treating their workforce as some kind of "resource" (hence "Human Resources": thank you, MRP II). Such an attitude eschews by definition any respect for the individual employee and also leads to their being dealt with less than honestly.

Case in point, a corporation that told its employees that there would be no RIF in the the next few years, and then went about the business of slashing the workforce by 50%.

Followed by (probably feigned) shock at the negative reaction of its employees.

Followed by the CEO using his golden parachute and winding up at yet another CEO position in a different corporation.

Swift
2007-Jul-13, 04:06 PM
I also think part of it is the way the employees are treated while they are there. I am completely sick of job listings that look for someone to "hit the ground running" or "give 110%". And sure enough, when you get there, they expect you to work 50 or 60 hours a week (or they only "expect" you to work 40, but give you enough work for 50 or 60). Oh sure, you'll get all the overtime, or if salaried, maybe you get a sweet bonus at the end of the year (or maybe you don't).

From the employers' perspective, it is cheaper to work people you got harder than to hire enough people to get the job done right. For example, if 5 people work an extra 20%, and even if their pay is increased 20% (overtime or bonus), it still is cheaper than hiring a sixth person, because you are saving on the the time and expense of hiring that person and getting them up to speed, and the expense of the 6th benefits package.

But personally, I am sick of that situation. I would much rather just work the 40 hours, get the extra sleep and the decreased stress, and they can keep the extra money. But, in most places I have worked or know of, that is no longer an option. :(

Moose
2007-Jul-13, 04:24 PM
I was at a place where they expected you to work 50 hours/week, but you were only allowed to log your allotted 40, and got paid accordingly.

And every time they put out hiring ads in the paper, and had press conferences promising to grow "Real Soon Now[tm]", it was a given that was a smokescreen to protect their "forgivable loans", which were offered under the condition that they grew the company. I say smokescreen, because it was a sure sign that within two months, there would be a round of layoffs reducing headcount in the double-digit percentages.

Somehow, they never got called on it. Of course, the newsies would have had to fact-check.

[Edit: I've lost count of how many of my former co-workers got laid off during their vacation.]

Moose
2007-Jul-13, 04:25 PM
Just wanted to mention, two of my last three bosses had a really bad habit of referring to their staff as "resources". It drives me nuts.

I'm NOT a resource! I'm a human being!

DyerWolf
2007-Jul-13, 04:25 PM
Paracelsus, I feel your pain.

I recently took a week of "vacation" with my wife. I took along a laptop to check e-mails (STUPID, STUPID - DON'T DO IT!!!) The end result was rather than relax, I fretted about certain projects that I had no way to influence until I returned. May I recommend to everyone - leave your crackberry, cell phone and computers home.

Anyway - Maybe the Baut'ers can help me:

I'm looking for a job that will allow me to be physically active for at least half the day and mentally challenged the other half. I need every state and federal holiday off, 4 weeks of vacation and a 35 hour work week (but can't move to France). I'm willing to accept a salary between $100,000 and $125,000 - not including bonuses, health insurance and 401K matching, parking, travel reimbursement, etc. Any ideas?

Lurker
2007-Jul-13, 04:26 PM
I know it is easy for my job to take over my life. I was working for a startup for a while and spent about 12-14 hrs a day there 7 days a week for almost 14 months. It really was coming close to burnout...

However... this afternoon an friend of mine and I are headed down to LA for the spectular LoJ Fantasy Masquerade Ball (http://www.labyrinthmasquerade.com/). Two nights of revelry with NO software... NO computers... NO deadlines!!!

Time to throw of the shackles of the professional corporate world and run with Scissors!!!! :lol:

Paracelsus
2007-Jul-13, 05:07 PM
I was at a place where they expected you to work 50 hours/week, but you were only allowed to log your allotted 40, and got paid accordingly.

[Edit: I've lost count of how many of my former co-workers got laid off during their vacation.]


My husband's job does the same thing with cooking the official working hours, as hubby works ALOT longer than is officially stated on his timesheet. :mad:

That practice of laying people off while they are on vacation is obscene and should be illegal!

Most of my husband's friends are engineers also (hubby is a systems engineer) who work for these huge engineering firms; the kinds of abuse being talked about on this thread appear to be rampant in these places. Young engineers like my husband are being worked until they break or burn out, to be replaced by another wave of young engineers, fresh out of school. This is a monumental waste of talent, intellect, and human potential. It is also economically wasteful, as the employer has to pay to hire and train new people to replace the ones they have destroyed through overwork. This practice may be profitable in the short-term, but it is financial suicide for the company in the long-term. Meanwhile, society picks up the costs of treating the physical and mental injuries these practices inflict on previously healthy, productive human beings.

In the end, everybody loses, except for the rich CEO robber-barons who make a pile of money off of running the company into the ground and then leave with a golden parachute when it all goes to crap.

GRRRR!!

Ilya
2007-Jul-13, 05:12 PM
I'm looking for a job that will allow me to be physically active for at least half the day and mentally challenged the other half. I need every state and federal holiday off, 4 weeks of vacation and a 35 hour work week (but can't move to France). I'm willing to accept a salary between $100,000 and $125,000 - not including bonuses, health insurance and 401K matching, parking, travel reimbursement, etc. Any ideas?

Being a contractor in Iraq might fit most of your requirements. Not "35 hour work week" though.

Larry Jacks
2007-Jul-13, 05:44 PM
I must be the luckiest guy around. I love my job. The work is challeging and demanding but we have fun.

I've been with my company for 12 years now. Loyalty has been in both directions. There was a period for over a year where I didn't have a direct charge code but they kept me on the payroll to do odd jobs. In return, I was once offered a "blank check" (their exact words) to go to work for one of our competitors and turned it down. The company was loyal to me, so being loyal to it was the least I could do.

My salary and benefits are good for the area. Since I work with classified information so much, I can't take the work home or on the road (they have not approved my basement SCIF yet) and the work can't be outsourced out of the country. Being a defense contractor means we live and die by the contract and things are getting pretty tight. Still, our department is growing and our work is getting a lot of recognition.

Having been with the company for so long, I get 25 days of paid time off each year plus 10 holidays. I have so much time off that I have a hard time using it. I just came back from a week off and still have 6 1/2 weeks of PTO on the books.

Lurker
2007-Jul-13, 05:46 PM
I must be the luckiest guy around. I love my job. The work is challeging and demanding but we have fun.

I've been with my company for 12 years now. Loyalty has been in both directions. There was a period for over a year where I didn't have a direct charge code but they kept me on the payroll to do odd jobs. In return, I was once offered a "blank check" (their exact words) to go to work for one of our competitors and turned it down. The company was loyal to me, so being loyal to it was the least I could do.

My salary and benefits are good for the area. Since I work with classified information so much, I can't take the work home or on the road (they have not approved my basement SCIF yet) and the work can't be outsourced out of the country. Being a defense contractor means we live and die by the contract and things are getting pretty tight. Still, our department is growing and our work is getting a lot of recognition.

Having been with the company for so long, I get 25 days of paid time off each year plus 10 holidays. I have so much time off that I have a hard time using it. I just came back from a week off and still have 6 1/2 weeks of PTO on the books.
OK... spill your guts... who do work for and what do you do for them???

Paracelsus
2007-Jul-13, 06:02 PM
OK... spill your guts... who do work for and what do you do for them???

Yeah, and do they have any job openings for systems/electrical engineers and/or toxicologists?? :D

DyerWolf
2007-Jul-13, 06:03 PM
Being a contractor in Iraq might fit most of your requirements. Not "35 hour work week" though.

OOPS! I did just describe that line of work, almost to a "T" didn't I?

I've got some friends doing that right now, and they love it. Great job for a single person who likes to carry ordinance. Not so hot for a guy with a kid on the way...

Paracelsus
2007-Jul-13, 06:03 PM
Congrats, DyerWolf! :) When is he or she due?

korjik
2007-Jul-13, 06:32 PM
My husband's job does the same thing with cooking the official working hours, as hubby works ALOT longer than is officially stated on his timesheet. :mad:

That practice of laying people off while they are on vacation is obscene and should be illegal!

Most of my husband's friends are engineers also (hubby is a systems engineer) who work for these huge engineering firms; the kinds of abuse being talked about on this thread appear to be rampant in these places. Young engineers like my husband are being worked until they break or burn out, to be replaced by another wave of young engineers, fresh out of school. This is a monumental waste of talent, intellect, and human potential. It is also economically wasteful, as the employer has to pay to hire and train new people to replace the ones they have destroyed through overwork. This practice may be profitable in the short-term, but it is financial suicide for the company in the long-term. Meanwhile, society picks up the costs of treating the physical and mental injuries these practices inflict on previously healthy, productive human beings.

In the end, everybody loses, except for the rich CEO robber-barons who make a pile of money off of running the company into the ground and then leave with a golden parachute when it all goes to crap.

GRRRR!!

That also ignores the loss of experience that attitude causes also. What use is it and what money is saved when the new group of engineers makes the same mistake the last group did?

It seems to boil down to a very short sighted vision of the bottom line.

Lurker
2007-Jul-13, 06:42 PM
That also ignores the loss of experience that attitude causes also. What use is it and what money is saved when the new group of engineers makes the same mistake the last group did?

It seems to boil down to a very short sighted vision of the bottom line.

Don't you know that all engineers are now considered wetware IC and can be replaced with no real loss in production?? :mad:

Paracelsus
2007-Jul-13, 06:44 PM
Well, this is probably due to the fact that nobody, upper management included, seems to really give a damn about what happens to their co-workers or the company in the long-run.

It's all about making a quick buck for the shareholders and then selling the company to somebody else for a killing.

Lurker
2007-Jul-13, 06:52 PM
Well, this is probably due to the fact that nobody, upper management included, seems to really give a damn about what happens to their co-workers or the company in the long-run.

It's all about making a quick buck for the shareholders and then selling the company to somebody else for a killing.
Yeah... its about making money...


Far out in the uncharted backwater of the unfashionable end of the Western Spiral arm of the Galaxy lies a small unregarded yellow sun. Orbiting this at a distance of roughly ninety-eight million miles is an utterly insignificant little blue-green planet whose ape-descended life forms are so amazingly primitive that they still think digital watches are a pretty neat idea.

This planet has - or rather had - a problem, which was this: most of the people living on it were unhappy for pretty much of the time. Many solutions were suggested forthis problem, but most of these were largely concerned with the movements of small green pieces of paper, which is odd because on the whole it wasnt the green pieces of paper that were unhappy.

Argos
2007-Jul-13, 07:02 PM
As a matter of fact, sometimes your absence may show people that youre not really needed... So, beware of long vacations.

Paracelsus
2007-Jul-13, 07:07 PM
I understand your point, Argos, but a week or two should be acceptable. We aren't talking a month, or something like that.

Ban Me
2007-Jul-13, 07:12 PM
Well, this is probably due to the fact that nobody, upper management included, seems to really give a damn about what happens to their co-workers or the company in the long-run.

It's all about making a quick buck for the shareholders and then selling the company to somebody else for a killing.

Imagine that. Corporations are run for the benefit of the shareholders, not the employees. What do you think will happen when this discovery gets out?

Lurker
2007-Jul-13, 07:14 PM
Imagine that. Corporations are run for the benefit of the shareholders, not the employees. What do you think will happen when this discovery gets out?
This is the issue I have with the capitalist system... There is more to life that production. What happens to quality of life... what happens to meaning and happiness??

Stuart van Onselen
2007-Jul-13, 07:22 PM
I've heard complaints for a long time now that US managers are short-sighted in general, not just wrt the despicable "hiring-and-firing" treadmill described here. R&D, investment, long-range planning, all of this suffers because the only thing that matters is next quarter's results.

Foreigners like myself who know a little about what America is really like (as opposed to what we see on sitcoms and soaps) actually pity working-class Americans - You have no affordable health-care and no job-safety, things every other Western, developed nation takes for granted.

(If anything, South African job-security is excessive. Our labour law makes it almost impossible to fire anybody. This is an understandable over-reaction by the Black government to centuries of abuse of the workforce by Whites. The new laws apply to all races, though - They stem from genuine concern for all working-class people, not a racial tit-for-tat.)

Lurker
2007-Jul-13, 07:24 PM
I've heard complaints for a long time now that US managers are short-sighted in general, not just wrt the despicable "hiring-and-firing" treadmill described here. R&D, investment, long-range planning, all of this suffers because the only thing that matters is next quarter's results.

Foreigners like myself who know a little about what America is really like (as opposed to what we see on sitcoms and soaps) actually pity working-class Americans - You have no affordable health-care and no job-safety, things every other Western, developed nation takes for granted.

(If anything, South African job-security is excessive. Our labour law makes it almost impossible to fire anybody. This is an understandable over-reaction by the Black government to centuries of abuse of the workforce by Whites. The new laws apply to all races, though - They stem from genuine concern for all working-class people, not a racial tit-for-tat.)
The problem is that there must be some middle ground, but the debate tends to run to extremes. No one ends up being very satisfied...

Ban Me
2007-Jul-13, 07:25 PM
This is the issue I have with the capitalist system... There is more to life that production. What happens to quality of life... what happens to meaning and happiness??

I am sure in a non-capitalist system everyone will look after Paracelsus's interests instead of their own.

Lurker
2007-Jul-13, 07:27 PM
I am sure in a non-capitalist system everyone will look after Paracelsus's interests instead of their own.
Well... obviously the capitalist system is the best alternative... Lets everyone shut-up then and get back to work...

Stuart van Onselen
2007-Jul-13, 07:47 PM
Argh! While I understand the need for the rules of this forum, they do frustrate me sometimes. Everything I want to say at this point is either heavily political, or insulting aka an ad hom.

So, Ban Me, I'm calling you horrible names in my head, even though I can't write them.

Lurker
2007-Jul-13, 07:51 PM
Argh! While I understand the need for the rules of this forum, they do frustrate me sometimes. Everything I want to say at this point is either heavily political, or insulting aka an ad hom.

So, Ban Me, I'm calling you horrible names in my head, even though I can't write them.
Yeah... he starts out with the insinuation that no alternatives are worth talking about. Sorta reduces the options open for discussion...

Stuart van Onselen
2007-Jul-13, 07:53 PM
Actually, now that I have exorcised my anger, I have come up with a rational rebuttal that steers clear of insults and politics.

Ban Me, what you are doing here is committing the fallacy of the false dichotomy. You're implying that we have to choose between full-on capitalism, or some evil and unworkable system like communism. No in-between.

Yet Europe has shown us that compromises can be achieved. The only question is, how much do you compromise? We don't have to go with all-or-nothing solutions.

Delvo
2007-Jul-13, 08:04 PM
Europe has shown us that compromises can be achieved. The only question is, how much do you compromise? We don't have to go with all-or-nothing solutions.That's not just something that "Europe has shown us". What we have is a compromise, too, not one of the extremes that European countries compromised between. We just didn't compromise the same things in the same ways. Everything isn't always peachy & perfect in Europe, despite how often it's presented as such during criticisms of the USA (or anything specific about it).

Stuart van Onselen
2007-Jul-13, 08:11 PM
All I meant was, there are several different systems in Europe, at different levels of compromise, that Americans could learn from, if they weren't so defensive, and didn't suffer so badly from NIHS*

*Not Invented Here Syndrome

Stuart van Onselen
2007-Jul-13, 08:14 PM
BTW, what sort of "compromise" does the USA have? From here it looks like no-holds-barred, out-and-out capitalism. Let the strong trample the weak, and let the poor die on the streets because they can't afford medical care.

Lurker
2007-Jul-13, 08:16 PM
That's not just something that "Europe has shown us". What we have is a compromise, too, not one of the extremes that European countries compromised between. We just didn't compromise the same things in the same ways. Everything isn't always peachy & perfect in Europe, despite how often it's presented as such during criticisms of the USA (or anything specific about it).
I think the point is that it is not working very well... there are a lot of people who are not very happy in this country with the syatem and want it changed. This country is far too committed to production and selling!! Not committed enough to the welfare and happiness of those of us who are working long hours and don't feel very secure about our future.

korjik
2007-Jul-13, 08:21 PM
I've heard complaints for a long time now that US managers are short-sighted in general, not just wrt the despicable "hiring-and-firing" treadmill described here. R&D, investment, long-range planning, all of this suffers because the only thing that matters is next quarter's results.

Foreigners like myself who know a little about what America is really like (as opposed to what we see on sitcoms and soaps) actually pity working-class Americans - You have no affordable health-care and no job-safety, things every other Western, developed nation takes for granted.

(If anything, South African job-security is excessive. Our labour law makes it almost impossible to fire anybody. This is an understandable over-reaction by the Black government to centuries of abuse of the workforce by Whites. The new laws apply to all races, though - They stem from genuine concern for all working-class people, not a racial tit-for-tat.)

This is where even the US media gets it wrong. Here in the US we do have job security. It is called 'get a new job.' It is actually very hard to stay unemployed here.

Health care is even more blown out of proportion. If you keel over here in the 'States, you are going to the hospital and they are going to find out what is wrong with you. Then they will worry about paying for it. It may be expensive, but there are still alot of americans who would rather not pay the cost in taxes, but rather pay themselves.

korjik
2007-Jul-13, 08:29 PM
All I meant was, there are several different systems in Europe, at different levels of compromise, that Americans could learn from, if they weren't so defensive, and didn't suffer so badly from NIHS*

*Not Invented Here Syndrome

Or it could be that most americans think that the same arguement could be used for europe.

There are several cultural differences that make the american norm different from the european norm. It doesnt mean that there is any not invented here syndrome, just that certain resources are allocated differently.

For someone who admitted little knowledge of america, you are making some very sweeping generalizations about defensive and NIHS. It is almost as irritating as Ban Me's dismissal.

Lurker
2007-Jul-13, 08:32 PM
This is where even the US media gets it wrong. Here in the US we do have job security. It is called 'get a new job.' It is actually very hard to stay unemployed here.

Health care is even more blown out of proportion. If you keel over here in the 'States, you are going to the hospital and they are going to find out what is wrong with you. Then they will worry about paying for it. It may be expensive, but there are still alot of americans who would rather not pay the cost in taxes, but rather pay themselves.
First of all, I take issue with your idea of job security. I have a I got laid off from my previous job. I have a good resume and the phone was ringing constantly, but it took me almost 4 months to get another job.

Healthcare is by no means "blown out of proportion". When I lost my job I could in no way affort the $966/month it would have cost to continue my medical coverage through cobra. I was at the mercy of a very harsh/uninterested system as I attempted to cope.

There are some really good things about our economic system, but changes are needed; this thread shows that. Rather than saying we should all be satisfied, we should take the "good" system we have and look to improve it!!

korjik
2007-Jul-13, 08:36 PM
BTW, what sort of "compromise" does the USA have? From here it looks like no-holds-barred, out-and-out capitalism. Let the strong trample the weak, and let the poor die on the streets because they can't afford medical care.

Show me the poor person that died in the street please. That is a downright insulting statement.

Your view is filtered through media reports. Prolly not the most accurate source. If you want to know america, come here.

You have definitely gotten more annoying that Ban Me

Lurker
2007-Jul-13, 08:40 PM
Show me the poor person that died in the street please. That is a downright insulting statement.

Your view is filtered through media reports. Prolly not the most accurate source. If you want to know america, come here.

You have definitely gotten more annoying that Ban Me
There are examples of people denied treatment by their HMO's because the the treatment was not deemed necessary.

Personally I think this thread shows discontent with the current system... your attitude seems to be that no improvements are possibe. If thats not the case lets talk about some please... rather than looking for dead bodies in the street!!!

DyerWolf
2007-Jul-13, 08:50 PM
This is where even the US media gets it wrong. Here in the US we do have job security. It is called 'get a new job.' It is actually very hard to stay unemployed here.

Health care is even more blown out of proportion. If you keel over here in the 'States, you are going to the hospital and they are going to find out what is wrong with you. Then they will worry about paying for it. It may be expensive, but there are still alot of americans who would rather not pay the cost in taxes, but rather pay themselves.

There is a lot of merit to korjik's response. The benefit and frustration of the US system is its individual flexibility. A motivated individual can "better job" his employer almost at will and increase his income constantly - but it takes work, flexibility and the willingness to move. That also causes some a lot of stress - especially to folks who are unwilling to move and don't deal well with change.

On the Medical issue: US Hospitals cannot turn away an injured or sick person just because they don't have insurance. The difference, however, is that a person with insurance can get a lot more in the way of preventative care - but the point is that basic services are available to everyone here - even illegal immigrants, the indigent, etc.

Anyway - I know that the economists will tell you that some unemployment is healthy for a nation's economy. Absolute job security (can't fire someone) and absolute insecurity (workers have no rights) are both bad for the economy. Absolute job security is great for the worker - but devistating for a company that has to carry a non-productive slob. Job insecurity (wetware can be replaced at will / worked to death) may seem good for the company, but is clearly bad for the worker - and ultimately the corp (and its shareholders). The trick is what level of insecurity / flexibility each society is willing to accept.

The problem in the US is that our work-ethic has been so successful for so long that it's hard not to keep pushing. Thankfully many employers are starting to realize that it costs money to train good people, and its easier to keep the ones you've got if you keep them healthy and happy. Employers are now starting to encourage gym memberships, and almost forcing some employees to take vacations.


As a matter of fact, sometimes your absence may show people that youre not really needed... So, beware of long vacations.
However, in many ways not taking vacations shows insecurity. Since I've started taking regular vacations, my job satisfaction has increased and my bosses' opinion of my work have improved (sort of a "he can work hard and play hard" appreciation of apparent efficiency...).


I understand your point, Argos, but a week or two should be acceptable. We aren't talking a month, or something like that. I actually think the Europeans (at least the Germans) got this one right. They take at least a month off each year, with little loss of productivity.



Congrats, DyerWolf! When is he or she due?

Thanks! September 18. First kid, and I can't wait to meet him.

Paracelsus
2007-Jul-13, 09:10 PM
I am sure in a non-capitalist system everyone will look after Paracelsus's interests instead of their own.

I complain on behalf of my husband and others in the same boat, Ban Me, not for myself. I work for the US govt, so I get plenty of vacation. I also happen to have an awesome boss.

Paracelsus
2007-Jul-13, 09:15 PM
Show me the poor person that died in the street please. That is a downright insulting statement.

Your view is filtered through media reports. Prolly not the most accurate source. If you want to know america, come here.

You have definitely gotten more annoying that Ban Me

Actually, Stuart Van Onselen has a point. I have known a few people who have been homeless, or close to it, even though they were hard workers and desperate for a job.

Korjik, we don't have completely unregulated capitalism as China does, but we aren't far from it.

SeanF
2007-Jul-13, 09:24 PM
Absolute job security is great for the worker - but devistating for a company that has to carry a non-productive slob.
Absolute job security is great for the worker who has a job, but it's bad for those looking for work. Companies are going to be less willing to hire on new employees during "up" times when they know they won't be able to get rid of people if they experience "down" times later on.

SeanF
2007-Jul-13, 09:25 PM
First of all, I take issue with your idea of job security. I have a I got laid off from my previous job. I have a good resume and the phone was ringing constantly, but it took me almost 4 months to get another job.
What does "the phone was ringing constantly" mean?

Delvo
2007-Jul-13, 10:42 PM
BTW, what sort of "compromise" does the USA have? From here it looks like no-holds-barred, out-and-out capitalism. Let the strong trample the weak, and let the poor die on the streets because they can't afford medical care.That's because news & information sources outside the USA are pretty much universally just anti-American, so much so that what they're really describing is not the real USA at all but some other made-up country on some other planet.

I'll skip the insults and accusations of the second sentence and answer the question in the first, about what people get for working different amounts of time per week or per year. Generally, more time spent working gets more work done by the same number of people, which means more wealth is produced for the same number of people. More wealth being produced not only makes the people wealthier (which you'd probably recognize in the stereotype of Americans being rich), but also leads to more economic activity, which leads to more availability of jobs and higher employment. Lower unemployment minimizes the number of the very poorest people.

As an individual who is employed contemplating what it would be like if I were employed in a country where workers do less work, I can see and agree with the value of having more leisure time, even at the expense of some individual material wealth. But that only helps people who are employed, and there'd be fewer of them, because it comes with a higher unemployment rate: a classic case of the wealthy getting the most benefit from something that makes the poor poorer.

Gillianren
2007-Jul-13, 11:23 PM
Tonight, Larry King will be discussing the question, "Is there a health care crisis in America?" My best friend/roommate and I nearly laughed ourselves into injury. Of course there is! Do you know how hard it is to get non-emergency care if you're poor in the US? I'm sick enough to get into the system; she probably is, too, but is fighting against it. She has no health insurance, which means essentially no one will treat her major mental health problems. She's not bad enough for hospitalization, you see.

I saw an orthopedist two days ago who, when told about the chronic pain in my joints--all of them, essentially--poked at one knee for two minutes and diagnosed a problem in it, ignoring the rest of my problems. I have a psychiatrist who treats me worse than most of the employers here described treat their employees, and it's his job to care about the state of my mental health. He's also the fourth person to be in charge of my medication in under three years, because no one wants to treat low income patients.

Maybe it takes being poor and having a non-emergency health crisis to help you understand how broken the system really is.

Paracelsus
2007-Jul-13, 11:49 PM
Tonight, Larry King will be discussing the question, "Is there a health care crisis in America?" My best friend/roommate and I nearly laughed ourselves into injury. Of course there is! Do you know how hard it is to get non-emergency care if you're poor in the US? I'm sick enough to get into the system; she probably is, too, but is fighting against it. She has no health insurance, which means essentially no one will treat her major mental health problems. She's not bad enough for hospitalization, you see.

I saw an orthopedist two days ago who, when told about the chronic pain in my joints--all of them, essentially--poked at one knee for two minutes and diagnosed a problem in it, ignoring the rest of my problems. I have a psychiatrist who treats me worse than most of the employers here described treat their employees, and it's his job to care about the state of my mental health. He's also the fourth person to be in charge of my medication in under three years, because no one wants to treat low income patients.

Maybe it takes being poor and having a non-emergency health crisis to help you understand how broken the system really is.

:clap::clap::clap::clap::clap::clap:

Thank you!

Even if you DO have an emergency health crisis and aren't poor, you'll find yourself up crap-creek if you wind up having to go to a hospital which 'serves' (and I use the term loosely) poor people. One time, I was left to die in a hospital waiting room of anaphylactic shock because they 'couldn't find a bed for me in the ER'.

:mad:

Treat me in the freakin' STREET if you have to, just TREAT ME!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

AGRRRRRRGH!

Paracelsus
2007-Jul-14, 12:05 AM
Isn't this whole discussion getting a little close to politics, guys? Just thought of that.

Don't know what the mods think of health care in re to politics, etc.

mr obvious
2007-Jul-14, 02:35 AM
If you keel over here in the 'States, you are going to the hospital and they are going to find out what is wrong with you.

Show me the poor person that died in the street please.

A bit dated, not exactly what you wanted, and by no means am I saying this is representative of all of US health care, but here you go: http://www.cnn.com/US/9805/18/unhelpful.hospital/

The use of 'policies' as cover can be quite disturbing.

I'd also add to your statement:

It is actually very hard to stay unemployed here.


It matters significantly what sort of job you hold, and what the possible new employment options are should you lose your current job [generic 'you' being used]. Are there current data on people's job "levels" as they move through life, based on job requirements, salary, benefits, hours worked and satisfaction? I would be very interested in reading those, not only for the US but for everywhere.

Stuart van Onselen
2007-Jul-14, 10:23 AM
I want to apologise. My statements were far more sarcastic than they should have been, and several people here took an almost personal offense to them, which they might not have had I been more tactful. This bull promises to try and tread more carefully in the china shop next time, as his clumsiness is now apparent to him.

Nevertheless, I do wish to defend myself on some of the charges levelled against me.

I hear a lot of comments, here and elsewhere, where Americans claim that non-Americans don't know what "the real America" is like, because all we get is anti-American propaganda.

But just as we may not know what your country is like without having gone there, how do you know what our coverage of you is like? How much of it have you watched?

Do you honestly consider the BBC to be anti-American? Have you ever watched al-Jazeera? If not, how can you be so sure that they're as biased as they're claimed to be? AFAIK, Ozzie and Canadian news coverage is quite pro-American. I'll admit I know nothing of the biases of continental Europe, but I bet most Americans don't, either.

As one example: South African television is awash with American shows, which naturally tend to portray America in a positive light. And generally, our news coverage is relatively pro-American. Or at very least neutral, which may strike you as anti-American if all you're used to is Fox News.

It is a fact that the majority of Americans are very insular and don't know of or care about the rest of the world. Now that certainly doesn't apply to the average BAUT reader. That's not just idle flattery to get me in your good graces - Anyone who seeks out a science-based board is going to have a higher intelligence and curiosity than the average person, and that curiosity will lead them to understand more about the world around him. But try asking things of some of the people you bump into on a daily basis, and see what they know of Europe, Asia or Africa. And for the record, no, there aren't any $%^#! lions and tigers roaming the streets of South Africa! :) (Quick question: What is the wild tiger population of Africa, to the nearest 1,000?)

Finally, I know more about your country than you assume. My knowledge comes largely from left-wing political blogs. Now obviously they are biased and one-sided, and obviously the writers and commentators there do not represent the majority of the US. But the more intelligent ones do support their assertions with evidence. And their coverage does imply that there is a significant proportion of the US public that is quite unhappy with the status quo.

If you'll forgive for sounding like a starry-eyed hippy for a second, let me say this: It seems obvious to me that the whole world (not least of all America) would be a better place if we observed and learned from as many sources as we could. Liberals and Conservatives could learn a lot from each other, and achieve more working together than at odds with each other. Same thing for different countries, different faiths, and different races. Stating categorically that your own faith/country/econo-political system is the best that it can be, and that it cannot possibly be improved by investigating how any other group operates, is supremely arrogant.

And having written that, I realised just how arrogant and offensive my earlier posts were. Again, I apologise.

Paracelsus
2007-Jul-14, 11:00 AM
Stuart Van Onselen, I did not find your earlier posts offensive OR arrogant, and I'm as American as they come! :)

Our health care system is a touchy subject in the States, as you might have guessed from some of the posts. It riles up a lot of emotions, pro and con.


Generally, more time spent working gets more work done by the same number of people, which means more wealth is produced for the same number of people. More wealth being produced not only makes the people wealthier (which you'd probably recognize in the stereotype of Americans being rich), but also leads to more economic activity, which leads to more availability of jobs and higher employment. Lower unemployment minimizes the number of the very poorest people.

I both agree and disagree with that one, Delvo. Yes, higher employment levels lead to fewer of the poorest people, but this does not equate to decreasing the total number of poor in the country. True, they may not be starving and out on the street, but do they have adequate housing, health care, etc? Also, the first sentence assumes that the wealth being produced via a given amount of work performed by a given number of people gets distributed equitably to those people as reward for their hard work. In many cases this may be true; for example, my husband has a very nice profit-sharing plan that rewards all employees with a share of the profit the company makes. In other situations, however, the workers see NO part of the wealth they create; the plight of the itinerent farm workers comes to mind.

Also, Stuart Van Onselen, I appreciate you coming to my defense RE Ban Me's post. :)

You know, Ban Me, it is possible to express an opposing view without resorting to personal attacks. Delvo and korjik both expressed opposing views, but they did so in an intelligent, non-confrontational manner. I may not agree with what they posted, but I can respect their POVs.

Argos
2007-Jul-14, 01:27 PM
And for the record, no, there aren't any $%^#! lions and tigers roaming the streets of South Africa! :)

The stereotype here revolves about snakes and alligators roaming the Brazilian streets [though the only alligator attack in an urban area Im aware of has happened in...Florida!] :)

Whirlpool
2007-Jul-14, 01:29 PM
I am working for 2 years now in a manufacturing company as an engineer and in the span of two years I have experienced the hiring and firing / the lay-offs almost every quarter of the year . <sigh>

Umm.. I hope this is not offending...Pls correct me if i'm wrong on this :shifty:..
but this is my first time to work in American company and I haven't experience it in my previous ones and I dont want to have that impression that hiring and firing is their style.

I have always hated the word "indispensable", "resources" , bec just like what Moose said , I'm a human being , my staffs and co-workers are human beings too. And it always affects me whenever our management fires and laying-off these people. Sure they have their reasons why they're doing those things , usually they say "its a business/management decision":neutral: But do they think what will happen to these people when they are out of work?

Here in my country , unlike other countries , we have the poorest of the poor, our country is not rich and we are still struggling to survive. We have high percentage of unemployment. And I know that our government is doing something to help us reduced the umployment rate , and provide us jobs.
But my point is , it's hard to look for another job again here, even if you are competitive and have great work experience and background in your previous employment.

Sorry, I'm beng emotional.

Just sharing my side.

:(

Argos
2007-Jul-14, 01:37 PM
I understand your point, Argos, but a week or two should be acceptable. We aren't talking a month, or something like that.

Yeah, no doubt. As others pointed out, the Germans have got it right.

Im very fond of the views of the Italian Domenico De Masi regarding 'creative idleness'. I bet that most jobs in the service sector of the economy could be done without an actual presence in a workplace.

Paracelsus
2007-Jul-14, 01:55 PM
Yeah, no doubt. As others pointed out, the Germans have got it right.

Im very fond of the views of the Italian Domenico De Masi regarding 'creative idleness'. I bet that most jobs in the service sector of the economy could be done without an actual presence in a workplace.

:clap::clap::clap::clap:

Absolutely! Most desk jobs, other than jobs that require a lot of face-to-face interactions, can be done from home via a modem link.

Telecommuting is the wave of the future, IMHO, and would significantly cut down on the day-to-day stress of working, as it would eliminate the need ti commute to an office.

Delvo
2007-Jul-14, 02:38 PM
(Quick question: What is the wild tiger population of Africa, to the nearest 1,000?)I must admit my ignorance about how many zoos there are in Africa and how many large Asian felines they would keep per zoo.


My knowledge comes largely from left-wing political blogs... their coverage does imply that there is a significant proportion of the US public that is quite unhappy with the status quo.Yes. There are even people who negatively compare the entire industrialized Occident including Europe and Canada, to peoples that still live in the Stone Ages and have more leizure time and less work hours than ANY of us. The usual problem with them is that they talk about the benefits of doint things differently but never consider potential drawbacks (or even acknowledge when they're pointed out to them). I wonder how many Americans would still want this kind of change if they pondered that it might mean giving up the material wealth that so many of them have prioritized so highly that they've gone into mismanaged debt for it... or if they pondered what public and institutional activities would have to shut down due to loss of funding in their collective accounts as a side-effect of a less productive economy... or if they pondered the social value of improving the psychological health and happiness of one group of people while creating more members of the other group that won't benefit from it. I might still be persuaded to go for it myself, but its natural results tend to go against the desires of many of the very same people who are suggesting it.


Telecommuting is the wave of the future, IMHO, and would significantly cut down on the day-to-day stress of working, as it would eliminate the need to commute to an office.Like working long hours for more money, this would be trading in psychological health for work efficiency, by isolating people where they'll have a lot less human contact. And I don't think communication with co-workers necessarily gets more efficeint when not face to face anyway.

Argos
2007-Jul-14, 02:47 PM
Like working long hours for more money, this would be trading in psychological health for work efficiency, by isolating people where they'll have a lot less human contact.

No, they can still have all human contact that they choose.


And I don't think communication with co-workers necessarily gets more efficeint when not face to face anyway.

I think with the proper technology you can have a seamless integration with co-workers, despite the lack of presential contact.

Moose
2007-Jul-14, 02:56 PM
I wonder how many Americans would still want this kind of change if they pondered that it might mean giving up the material wealth that so many of them have prioritized so highly that they gone into mismanaged debt for it...

*shrug* I pay far less in taxes and health coverage combined (as a monthly payment) than my similarly salaried American friends do.

My monthly income tax (which covers my medicare) and drug plan combined is less than my aunt's basic health insurance alone (and she's a lab tech at a hospital, of all places.)

Who says you have to give up your material wealth to get quality universal health coverage? That's a total myth and a rather vicious one at that. (A descriptor aimed at the person who came up with it, not the folks repeating it.)

Stuart van Onselen
2007-Jul-14, 04:05 PM
I must admit my ignorance about how many zoos there are in Africa and how many large Asian felines they would keep per zoo.
That's why I specified "wild". ;) I've been laughing for years now about the "Survivor - Africa" contestant who said "This is Africa, man! Lions and tigers and bears!"


Yes. There are even people who negatively compare the entire industrialized Occident including Europe and Canada, to peoples that still live in the Stone Ages
But I wasn't talking about those people, was I? I said "left-wing", not "loony nature-worshipping kooks" or "latter-day communists coming to take away all your wealth." Maybe you "heard" me wrong...

A country is strong or weak based on the strength of its middle-class. Any "underclass", be it racially or wealth-defined, is relatively powerless, by definition. And many in the "noble", "moneyed" class succumb to the temptation to rest on their laurels, and also contribute relatively little to the economy.

It's the middle-class, then, that are the real drivers of the economy. They're the ones with drive and ideas. They're the ones most likely to start new businesses. And if some middle-class guy starts a new business, turns it into a success, and then retires to the upper-class, that's just fine and dandy! He's left behind him an enterprise that employs others and supplies new goods or services to the community. And his example might inspire other to emulate him, as no born-in-to-wealth wastrel (I'm looking at you, Paris Hilton!) ever could.

But if your middle-class is being squeezed out by high medical costs, stressed out by lack of job security, or made jobless by "off-shoring", you're setting your country up for failure. Then you're losing your economic dynamism, and in a generation or two, you'll pay for it.

Paracelsus
2007-Jul-14, 05:45 PM
Like working long hours for more money, this would be trading in psychological health for work efficiency, by isolating people where they'll have a lot less human contact. And I don't think communication with co-workers necessarily gets more efficeint when not face to face anyway.

It depends on the person. Some people thrive in an office environment and hate telecommuting. I actually find telecommuting very relaxing; I don't feel like work is intruding on my home life, and I'm spared the monstrous commute to the office. I do like my co-workers, but I don't find that telecommuting hampers my ability to communicate with people, as long as people are willing to pick up the phone or email. Even when I am in the office, most people communicate by phone or email anyway, so what difference does my actual physical location make?

That said, I don't think that a worker should be forced to telecommute any more than a worker should be deprived of the opportunity to telecommute. The entire question should be between the worker and his or her supervisor. Should the supervisor find that he or she can't get in touch with the worker when the worker is telecommuting or that telecommuting decreases productivity, then obviously having everyone in an actual office might improve things.

I wouldn't bet on that, though, as there are plenty of ways to goof off at work. The fact that someone's butt is occupying a chair in an office does not necessarily imply that actual work is getting done. The bottom line is: one should measure a worker's performance by the quality and timeliness of his or her product, not how much face-time you get with him or her.

The Backroad Astronomer
2007-Jul-15, 12:31 AM
And every time they put out hiring ads in the paper, and had press conferences promising to grow "Real Soon Now[tm]", it was a given that was a smokescreen to protect their "forgivable loans", which were offered under the condition that they grew the company. I say smokescreen, because it was a sure sign that within two months, there would be a round of layoffs reducing headcount in the double-digit percentages.

Somehow, they never got called on it. Of course, the newsies would have had to fact-check.


The joys of working in call center in NB.

Ilya
2007-Jul-15, 12:35 AM
Even if you DO have an emergency health crisis and aren't poor, you'll find yourself up crap-creek if you wind up having to go to a hospital which 'serves' (and I use the term loosely) poor people. One time, I was left to die in a hospital waiting room of anaphylactic shock because they 'couldn't find a bed for me in the ER'.

:mad:

Treat me in the freakin' STREET if you have to, just TREAT ME!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

AGRRRRRRGH!

This has very little to do with managed care, and a lot to do with liability. Very few, if any, hospitals would treat you "in the freaking street" or give you any other substandard care -- out of (entirely justified) fear that should anything go wrong you will sue the hospital for millions. Better let you die by doing nothing than possibly injure you through "not by the book" treatment.

Sickening? Yes. But it is the fault of excessive litigation -- something the advocates of health care reform rarely oppose.

Incidentally, fear of litigation is what prevents insurance companies from offering limited-coverage, cut-rate health insurance:



When I lost my job I could in no way affort the $966/month it would have cost to continue my medical coverage through cobra.

Would you be able and willing to pay $250/month if it covered basic preventive health care but NOT treatment for catastrophic problems? A lot of Americans would be willing to do so, but no insurance company will offer such thing, for lawyers would have a field day the first time a customer were denied high-value treatment. No wonder we have 40+ million uninsured -- we'd have 40+ million naked people too, if clothing stores were sued for selling anything other than Gucci.

Lurker
2007-Jul-16, 05:06 PM
What does "the phone was ringing constantly" mean?
It means that I got atleast one company a day calling me wanting to interview me.

Lurker
2007-Jul-16, 05:10 PM
Well... it seems that those of us who would like to tinker with the current system should understand that there is no room for improvement. It's obvious that we need to be flexible and find the alternatives that this great country provides.

Personally I think it's time to lock this thread and for us to quit complaining!!!

Moose
2007-Jul-16, 05:10 PM
The joys of working in call center in NB.

Actually, this was a development house that started pulling this well before the call centers came and started in on that trick.

Larry Jacks
2007-Jul-16, 05:36 PM
How much would car insurance cost if we expected it to cover every possible automotive expense such as paint jobs, oil changes, and gasoline? Quite a bit, I would imagine. Some people seem to believe that health insurance (or a government ran health care system) should cover every imaginable health care expense. It's possible to create such a system but the cost will be outrageous.

Some people have gone to Health Savings Accounts (HSA) and the idea is interesting. HSAs feature a high deductable policy that covers hospitalization and other major medical expenses. At the same time, people have to pay their own way for things like routine office visits up to the deductable amount (typically around $2000 a year). If they use less than the deductable, it rolls over in the HSA for use in subsequent years. I've read that some small companies have gone to HSAs and pay the full deductable, too. They save so much money that the switch is worthwhile.

One thing that HSAs seem to do is make people aware of what their medical expenses really are. The sad fact is that if you're spending someone else's money, you don't care nearly so much about wastefulness as when you're spending your own.

If you go to a typical American doctor's office, you'll see several employees working to support the doctor. In most offices, at least one of these people has the full time job of fighting with the government (Medicare and Medicaid) and insurance companies to get paid for services rendered. Where not prohibited by law, there are doctors who are willing to accept a lower fee for an office visit if they'll get immediate payment instead of having to fight to get paid.