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US CEO Says French Workers Have Three-Hour Work Day 1313

Posted by samzenpus
from the taking-a-long-break dept.
First time accepted submitter M3.14 writes "In a letter addressed to French Industrial Renewal Minister, Maurice Taylor, chief executive of Titan, writes (French article with English letter) that it would be stupid to buy any factory in France since workers don't really work full time. He'd rather buy cheap factories in India and China instead and import tires back to France. He writes, 'They get one hour for breaks and lunch, talk for three and work for three. I told this to the French union workers to their faces. They told me that's the French way!'"
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US CEO Says French Workers Have Three-Hour Work Day

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  • by bit trollent (824666) on Thursday February 21, 2013 @01:32AM (#42963159) Homepage

    Thanks to the erosion of unions, as well as a proliferation of anti-worker laws Americans don't have to worry about personal time or their health. In fact, we can't really worry about either.

    It's pathetically easy to get American's to forsake their vacations, their personal time, their families in order to pad a sleazy company's bottom line.

    Well... they can get another job you say... Well the union busting plantation owners made sure that the vast majority of America's jobs abuse their employees, so you can only choose among bad options.

    There are exceptions to every rule, but Americans have been voting against our own interest for at least the last 30.

    Don't pat yourself on the back for opening your country up to near slave labor practices.

  • by ohnocitizen (1951674) on Thursday February 21, 2013 @01:37AM (#42963187)
    So we have demonstrably false stereotypes of the French being played up by a conservative who prefers labor practices which exploit workers. As a fellow American, may I just say not everyone here would mock a country for having respect for the well being and rights of its citizens, even those who have a job.
  • by Maxo-Texas (864189) on Thursday February 21, 2013 @01:38AM (#42963191)

    Productivity has risen so much since 1950 that we should be able to work 4 hour days.

    With automation and robotics, we have a time rapidly approaching when there won't be enough work to go around if we insist on full time. There isn't enough work to go around now with some people working 60 hours a week.

    Listen- capital thinks they create jobs. But Henry Ford knew... it is people with money to BUY things that creates jobs. If you don't hire anyone in France at 1st world wages, pretty soon you won't be able to sell your expensive tires there. You'll have to sell them at the prices you sell them in China.

    For comparison- movies that cost $20 in the US cost $2.50 in China. A visit to the doctor for $50 in the US runs $3 in China. Heart surgery that costs $100k in the US runs about $16k in China.

    So if you don't hire french workers, pretty soon you'll have to sell your $20 tires with $2 profit for $3 dollars with $.30 cents profit.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 21, 2013 @01:44AM (#42963235)

    Everyone votes as if they are the fabulously wealthy fat cat, that they dream about being. The reality is that they are a slave, and by accepting the "winner takes all" mindset, they are merely further enriching the tiny population of existing winners. Much better to accept that the typical American is a wage slave, and that the country should be run for the benefit of the wave slave majority (gasp, socialism!)

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 21, 2013 @01:48AM (#42963257)

    Talk about how much they get done.

    If I had a bunch of workers that worked for an hour, but got the same amount of work done as another bunch of workers would in ten hours (assume that the groups are the exact same size), I would happily pay that first bunch a full day's pay of $X rather than pay the second bunch a full day's pay of $X. Sure, they're working fewer hours ... but they're getting more done, so I'd be getting better value for money.

    You get what you measure; if you're measuring the hours worked, you might not be getting the productivity for those hours that you hope for.

    Compare programmers. You'll get better results if they work their 40 hours a week and relax out of hours than if you drive them to work 60 or 80 hours in crunch mode for months on end.

  • by Osgeld (1900440) on Thursday February 21, 2013 @01:52AM (#42963279)

    back in the late 90's and early 2000's I kinda wanted to see what union life was about, what extra money I made was sucked dry by dues and living expenses

    now I am glad to live in a right to fire er work state, neither of you have to put up with bullshit and slackers

    you dont like it leave, they dont like it, you are gone. cheap land, cheap taxes, lower wages, but one could live sparingly off of one 40 hr a week 9$ an hour job.

    vs a documentary I recently saw about a closing GM plant, where a widget placer ... that should have been replaced by a robot, with a high school diploma was complaining that she would have to take three 9$ an hour jobs to make ends meet while living in a spartan house and owning 2 10 year old cars.

    shit, if I was sucking in 27 bucks an hour where I live, I could have 4 acres of woodland,and a lower end a mc mansion, not a 1940 factory shack with peeling floors

  • by manu0601 (2221348) on Thursday February 21, 2013 @01:53AM (#42963285)

    France law sets full time workers at 35 hours per weeks. This is much more than 3 hours of work. One could argue that 35 hours is not the highest working time in the world, but french worker GDP per working hour [oecd.org] is quite high, which make France still relevant.

    The Grizz rant is just a point against globalization. It demonstrates very well that it can be used to lower worker conditions as much as wanted.

  • by dcollins (135727) on Thursday February 21, 2013 @01:54AM (#42963291) Homepage

    It's just bullshit some scumbag CEO made up. Don't pay it any heed.

  • by Chas (5144) on Thursday February 21, 2013 @01:54AM (#42963295) Homepage Journal

    The main problem is that most unions are about nepotism and self-perpetuation nowadays.

    They don't really provide all that much protection to workers anymore.
    And they don't provide all that much help in collective bargaining with owners anymore.
    They have their nice, rigid little idea of the way things "ought to be" with a bunch of leeches falling between the cracks while other, honest, hardworking members get shafted. Why?

    The three tier structure in most unions.

    The union leaders, "Old Boys' Club" (who are in good with the former), and "Those other peons" (who aren't in good with the former). Each tier being an order or two of magnitude larger than the one preceding it.

    So you get guys whose job it is to stuff their thumbs up their asses all day and do nothing, getting paid huge sums compared to the union average.
    Then you get the guys who know them who get the "supervisor" positions. Again, full time, much higher wages than the average.
    Then you get pretty much everyone else. The poor schlub who's just there to do his job as best he can. Who doesn't happen to fit in to the social group. The guys who're constantly off work because "there's no work". Or they're being replaced by someone with more clout.

    Fuck unions.

    At one point, they were a good and useful thing in this country.

    Nowadays, they're just an extra hand out looking for more money who provide no service.

  • by pasv (755179) on Thursday February 21, 2013 @01:55AM (#42963301) Homepage
    I wish I still had mod points left to mod parent up to 5, insightful. I would like to know how many REAL hours of work this particular CEO puts in on average per day. The average shouldn't include 1.) Meetings that could be done remotely but instead end up being at a venue several miles a way requiring 1st class travel expenses as well as lodging 2.) meetings that don't really get anything done/are not well planned (and never had the intention of being productive) 3.) time he spends making bullshit comments like the one mentioned in TFA
  • by HornWumpus (783565) on Thursday February 21, 2013 @01:56AM (#42963309)

    How many hours a day do you spend zoning out in meetings? That's the American Way.

    Three hours actual productive work per day? I wish. Air thieves doing negative work everywhere. 'We should put together a committee to study the problem, meet once a week.' I run when I hear that phrase. Actually I run when I see where the conversation is headed.

  • by shutdown -p now (807394) on Thursday February 21, 2013 @01:56AM (#42963311) Journal

    Yeah, but for the time being, they still have a market to sell goods produced by labor paid at third world rates for first world prices. Sure, it'll dry up eventually, and then they're back to the same profit margins that they'd have if they both made and sold it there - but they'll make a hefty profit until then. And what of it if the new market is China? It doesn't really matter if it's made for $2 and sold for $3, or made for $20 and sold for $30 - especially when the purchasing power of that $2 is that much higher (which it will be once the wages are depressed lower in first world countries due to outsourcing).

    Anyway, much as I don't trust the notion that free market solves all problems, this isn't a failure of the free market. The problem here is that while companies are free to shop for labor where it's cheaper, even across country lines, workers can't shop for higher-paid jobs across the same. So the workforce is artificially segregated into compartments, enabling price discrimination between them. Of course this situation will be abused in a capitalist economy, so long as it's legal and it makes money! The only two workarounds are to either let the labor flow freely as well (i.e. open immigration), or impose tariffs on foreign goods to counterbalance the cost of living differences. Both approaches come with strings attached, but the former is straight out nonviable for many reasons (the amount of migration that'll have to happen to even the market is far beyond what first world countries can manage to handle), while the latter would actually work. Ironically, it's being argued against on "free market" basis, even though all it'd do is make the market more free (or at least more balanced!).

  • by MrEricSir (398214) on Thursday February 21, 2013 @01:58AM (#42963327) Homepage

    Everyone votes as if they are the fabulously wealthy fat cat, that they dream about being.

    You'd think Americans would start to notice a pattern when -- at every election cycle -- the winner-take-all types have to come up with the next flavor of the week economic hypothesis to "prove" that everyone wins when we fire another round of teachers and police so that rich people can buy another mansion or two.

    But this shouldn't be a surprise, Americans have serious trouble with long-term thinking these days.

  • by Okian Warrior (537106) on Thursday February 21, 2013 @02:01AM (#42963353) Homepage Journal

    US Productivity [google.com] has been rising since the beginning.

    Since 1970 it's more than doubled.

    Productivity in the US is so high that if it were equally distributed, everyone could get $38,000 worth of stuff - every man, woman, and child in the country - and then do it again next year. And the year after that.

    Our productivity is so high we're beginning to run out productive job slots. To take an example, the number of people needed in agriculture is vanishingly small compared to the number needed a hundred years ago. Machines now do most of the work.

    We read about this all the time: Google's self-driving car will put professional drivers out of work, Watson will put many doctors out of work... the list goes on.

    Our culture requires people to work in order to be valid members. We look down upon people receiving welfare, government aid, social security, and so on. The talk around Washington is that people on medicare are moochers! Let's get rid of it and make them pay their own way!

    We've doubled productivity, yet we haven't reduced the time we're required to work - in our "race to the bottom" people are working longer hours for ever lowering wages. Sometimes people have to work 3 jobs just to get by.

    The solution is to reduce the weekly workload of all employees. If we went to a 30-hour work week with overlapping days, we could eliminate unemployment and pay everyone a living wage. As productivity rises, we could cut the working hours even more.

    If we were more like the French, people would have more leisure time to enjoy the fruits of a highly productive society.

    Don't knock the French - they've got this "working for a living" thing figured out.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 21, 2013 @02:03AM (#42963369)

    teachers need to be fired, the good ones leave for private and charter schools, the rest work just enough to make a long term contract then sit on their fat worthless asses.

    Just cause you choose a profession does not mean you should be entitled to it for life if you do no perform, this is the exact opposite of the current situation

  • Re:I don't get it. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by The Mighty Buzzard (878441) on Thursday February 21, 2013 @02:07AM (#42963399)
    I would have too. Anyone who thinks it's a good idea to charge ten times the cash and do a quarter of the work deserves to starve. Unions can protect you from a lot of bad things but your own greed, laziness, and stupidity are not among them.
  • by madprof (4723) on Thursday February 21, 2013 @02:12AM (#42963431)

    Somewhere in there you have a reasonable point i.e. no one should expect a job on a plate and everyone must work hard.
    The rest is just nonsense.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 21, 2013 @02:15AM (#42963457)

    And some people vote on the principle that everything that you accomplish today is based off of thousands of years of human civilization and investment, not to mention the security and infrastructure that your current government provides. Being part of a society means that you acknowledge the investments of the past and then you invest in the future as compensation. There is no such thing as a self-made man--if you can show me how a person who was raised by wolves and never had contact with civilization who independently invented technology worth billions of dollars to us today, then maybe I'll change my mind. Otherwise you need to acknowledge that our great capitalists are just people who put the final brick in a product that was developed and made possible by all of humanity. They deserve credit for the brick, but they don't get to treat other humans like slaves nor amass insane fortunes.

  • by The Mighty Buzzard (878441) on Thursday February 21, 2013 @02:18AM (#42963475)

    You seem to be under the impression that executive positions are pay for x amount of work like wage positions. They're not. If a CEO hires VPs that can run their divisions well enough that he can sit at home playing video games all day, he's done his job and done it well. Only results matter, hours put in mean nothing.

    Now if you'd like to bitch that a lot of today's CEOs keep their jobs and make mad cash while their company flounders, that's another matter entirely.

  • Re:I don't get it. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Concerned Onlooker (473481) on Thursday February 21, 2013 @02:26AM (#42963535) Homepage Journal

    I don't know. Pretty much everything in life is negotiable. While I would personally rather work a little harder than that I can appreciate that there are people who push back. Is it laziness and greed or is it just bargaining for the best possible position you can get? After all, isn't that what business is all about?

  • by hedwards (940851) on Thursday February 21, 2013 @02:27AM (#42963541)

    And if teachers were paid a rate of pay commensurate with the level of education, continuing training and time spent working, it would probably be easier to retain them. Not to mention the lack of proper support staff.

    Anybody taking a teaching job in the US for an entitled life long career is making a serious mistake. Teacher burn out is such that nearly half the teachers leave the profession in the first 5 years.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 21, 2013 @02:29AM (#42963557)

    the CEO forgot one thing :
    workers work only 3 hours a day because they don't have work
    No investment in this factory since 10 years !

    don't forgot : Michelin manufactures tyres in France (and abroad) and wins a lot of money.

    http://www.washingtonmonthly.com/magazine/january_february_2012/features/the_myth_of_american_productiv034576.php

    i'm an IT guy
    in our company, we are 2 people to support 130 users, so the ratio is 1 for 65 users
    in the USA sister company, the ratio is 1 for 40 users

      we are less, we do more
    no productivity in France ?

  • by sqrt(2) (786011) on Thursday February 21, 2013 @02:29AM (#42963559) Journal

    In a society so interconnected and interdependent, no one's hard earned money is entirely their own. We all rely on each other in myriad ways. If you really think you're an island of rugged individualism, please go find an actual island to live on and prove it.

  • by csirac (574795) on Thursday February 21, 2013 @02:32AM (#42963581) Homepage
    Just how many teachers have tenure? Honest question, I thought it was quite rare. Here in Australia, we're spending more than ever on education (iPads, sporting stuff, school halls) and yet my cousin's school last year could not afford highschool maths text (poorly OCRd PDFs of painfully substandard material don't count). We have far worse education outcomes than 10 years ago. Our neighbours are kicking our arses in educating highschool kids, and one of the biggest differences is the totally opposite spending priorities - fewer computers and iPads, better paid (relative to median wage) teachers.
  • by Mitreya (579078) <mitreya&gmail,com> on Thursday February 21, 2013 @02:33AM (#42963587)

    You seem to be under the impression that executive positions are pay for x amount of work like wage positions. They're not. ... Only results matter, hours put in mean nothing.

    Or perhaps he is suggesting that the "3 hour" metric is meaningless for the regular workers too. If they get their job done, who cares how many hours they work, 3 or more? If they don't, then working 12 hours a day will not benefit anyone either.

  • by LordLimecat (1103839) on Thursday February 21, 2013 @02:39AM (#42963629)

    I havent done a day of union work in my adult life, and I would hardly call the work I do "slave labor". In fact we have by many measures one of the cushiest lifestyles in the world -- median pay, mean pay, average household purchasing power, etc.

    I mean, i know this is slashdot and all, but seeing ignorant, inflamatory posts getting modded +5 gets a little old, you know?

  • by zakkie (170306) on Thursday February 21, 2013 @02:41AM (#42963643) Homepage

    Sample size of one - must be true for all!

  • by whoever57 (658626) on Thursday February 21, 2013 @02:42AM (#42963649) Journal
    You post one anecdote. Let me give you my experience.

    I have worked in the UK, Italy, France and the USA. I have worked for British, European and American companies.

    I have not noticed a significant difference in how hard people work. Yes, those supposedly lazy Italians worked hard. They enjoyed their lunch, but got back to work promptly.

    Yes, the French and Italians do take long vacations, but so do the Germans, which makes me think that your story is BS.

    Let's look at specifics:

    they were always unavailable for through out the entire day except for early morning. .... I ended up going to their German competitors which we're quite happy to work with, they answer their phones, they don't disappear and they're eager to solve problems.

    Are you aware of time zones and that Europe is 7-9 hours ahead of the USA (and more for Alaska/Hawaii)? So when you wanted to talk to them, they had finished work for the day? I don't believe the Germans were any better at this because the Germans have a very strong ethos of separating work and home life.

    Perhaps the screw-up was on your part in not making sure that the contract included 24-hr support? If indeed your story has any basis in fact.

  • Re:I don't get it. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ganjadude (952775) on Thursday February 21, 2013 @02:42AM (#42963651) Homepage
    sadly some people try and bargain for more than their worth and get cut off from those who pay the bills. Is this the fault of the employee for asking for more than their worth? or the employer for being greedy???

    I think the issue is when you feel that you deserve to work a couple hours a day (or week) and get paid more than other people who work for 10s of hours a week (or day) and be paid the same amount. I am sure I will be down moded for this one but sadly the truth hurts. If I own a business, I am going to maximize my profits, and if that means opening a plant in china, or XX instead of YY, well thats not my fault, thats the market. If you dont like the rules, or the way things are running in your country, change the rules to make it more competitive, if that dont work change the rules to keep workers, or products from ZZ from entering your country.
  • by IICV (652597) on Thursday February 21, 2013 @02:46AM (#42963697)

    Thing is though that the at-will employment relationship is very much lopsided in favor of the employer.

    Sure, you can just quit and walk away whenever you want to - but why would you do that? Your boss sucks? The environment is terrible? You've got a better offer somewhere else? In pretty much every case, the professional thing is to tough it out for two weeks and give notice at your current employer.

    There's almost nothing, short of illegal activities or conditions, that makes it okay to just walk away without warning - while in theory you have the power to do so, in practice actually doing so without a really really good reason will get you blackballed in the industry as an untrustworthy flake.

    And even if you do decide to just walk out, it's still not something you can do on a whim - you really need to make sure you've got something to keep you afloat while looking for a new job, if you're going to just abandon ship like that. Since you'll have to plan it anyway, there's really no reason to give your current employer the middle finger and just walk out on them.

    On the other hand, in an at-will environment, the company can fire you for no reason whenever they want to. And they will. The company has pretty much zero incentive to give warning, and garners zero negative publicity for doing so. They're not going to worry about your mortgage payments, or how you're going to find money for food or gas - they'll just do it, preferably out of the blue.

    So yeah, while "at will" sounds like a great system, in practice it hands all the power over to the employer while retaining nothing for the employees.

  • by Penguinshit (591885) on Thursday February 21, 2013 @02:48AM (#42963711) Homepage Journal
    I propose that YOU go to Somalia where you will find that it is a once-prosperous country held in economic slavery by a very few who hoarded all the wealth.

    Nobody is denying the right of a capitalist to earn wealth. The denial is for them to harm the rest of society in the process.
  • by ganjadude (952775) on Thursday February 21, 2013 @02:51AM (#42963727) Homepage
    watching FOX news does not count as an "endless stream of evidence" on this issue, any more than it does for watching CNN or MSNBC

    FTFY
  • by nametaken (610866) on Thursday February 21, 2013 @02:51AM (#42963731)

    I lived in France for a little while, and I really enjoyed it, but everything about this seems perfectly obvious (and old) to me. The thing is, I'm not sure why anyone is bent out of shape over his having said it... it's exactly what you'd expect an american ceo to say on the subject.

    In other news, asian cultures can be more group-oriented than individualistic, don't count on that 3pm call from eastern europe actually coming in at 3pm, and don't set your schedule so tight that you have to fly in to Italy on Tuesday, since there's a good chance they'll be on strike.

    Shit in different places is different.

  • Re:Vive La France (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Austerity Empowers (669817) on Thursday February 21, 2013 @03:01AM (#42963795)

    It's only capitalist for the top 1%. For the rest of us, it's communism, or feudalism, and only the 1% for whom it's capitalist can describe which of the other two it is for the rest of us.

     

  • by barc0001 (173002) on Thursday February 21, 2013 @03:08AM (#42963827)

    A quote by John Steinbeck sums this problem up perfectly:

    “Socialism never took root in America because the poor see themselves not as an exploited proletariat but as temporarily embarrassed millionaires.”

    And that's really the issue. You'll have Americans who are poor as dirt voting repeatedly against their own self interest because they have been conditioned to think if they work hard enough their ship will come in one day, and when that ship comes in they don't want parts of it chopped off to help OTHER people out, Never mind the staggering odds against that ship ever arriving.

  • Re:Titan (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Austerity Empowers (669817) on Thursday February 21, 2013 @03:11AM (#42963853)

    Also misinformed about China. They get 1 hr lunch and 1 hour nap (for reals).

    Then if he's paying attention to his peon...I mean subordinates, he'd realise that the typical Chinese day consists of:
    - 3 hours of work
    - 1 hour of lunch
    - 1 hour of nap
    - 3 hours of ineptly expressing why something can't be done as specified and must be redesigned with all chinese parts and chinese sources or made so cheap that it really can only ever possibly barely work
    - 2 hours of fighting to get an american engineer sent overseas for 3 weeks to "expedite completion" (read: do the hard work for them)
    - 1 hour of making cheesy power points that end with bad clip art of disembodied hands shaking
    - a combined total of 1 hour of misunderstandings due to language/cultural/time zone issues
    - 2 hours of business dinners that seriously involve getting each other as piss drunk as possible
    - 1 hour of helping the american you suckered in to visiting the asshole of China (it's never shanghai or beijing, it's always some shithole like guangdong or shenzhen) get laid by a prostitute
    - the rest is lost in blackouts

    At the end of the day, people are people and work as much as they're going to work based on how motivated they are. Given that capitalism does not actually exist for the vast majority of the world (including Americans), that means not so much.

  • by julesh (229690) on Thursday February 21, 2013 @03:20AM (#42963901)

    When the average teachers in Chicago are making ~75k / yr with incredible benefits

    Citation to a credible source needed. The only place I see figures of $75K are news articles quoting a biased source. Unbiased sources (e.g. the various salary surveys) are reporting $55K or thereabouts.

    Let's face it --- this wouldn't be the first time an employer has inflated claims about how much he's paying in an attempt to discredit unions negotiating for a better deal.

  • Re:And yet... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by AdamHaun (43173) on Thursday February 21, 2013 @03:23AM (#42963919) Journal

    94,750,000 jobs / (102,665,043 + 103,129,321) = 94,750,000 / 205,794,364 = 0.46 = 46%, which means 54% of the total US working age population is either unemployed or employed by government

    depressing huh

    Not really.

    First off, you're leaving out part-time workers (many millions of them), which gets you up over 50%.

    Secondly, you're making the assumption that a person without a full-time job is just leeching off of the rest of society. This ignores stay-at-home parents and full-time students, for examples.

    Thirdly, the assumption that a government job is equivalent to unemployment is silly. Government employees perform a service and we pay them for it. That the money flows through the IRS instead of some corporation's accounts receivable is irrelevant.

  • by micheas (231635) on Thursday February 21, 2013 @03:26AM (#42963937) Homepage Journal

    The problem with your theory is that it takes on average seven years to be a good teacher and most teachers quit in the first five years.

  • by Duhavid (677874) on Thursday February 21, 2013 @03:28AM (#42963951)

    It's about them offsetting the costs of participating in the society that enabled them to become wealthy.
    I have a hard time seeing that as wrong.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 21, 2013 @03:31AM (#42963957)

    I did, but it [saying that nearly half of teachers leave teaching within 5 years] seemed like a complaint. I look at it as an opening for better teachers

    Then how come it hasn't resulted in better teachers?

  • by servognome (738846) on Thursday February 21, 2013 @03:34AM (#42963983)

    Should the poor have to give a portion of their income to the rich because now even poor people have a car, a TV, climate control in their home, clean water, refrigerated food, and cold beer?

    Like corporate subsidies?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 21, 2013 @03:44AM (#42964015)

    Earned? How did our modern robber-barons earn their fortunes? If you are a smart person and apply yourself, an average person might be able to save half a million dollars in their lifetime. If you are a genius scientist, you might win a Nobel Prize and get another million. But if you are a capitalist you can somehow accumulate billions. Did they 'earn' it or are they so smart and work so hard that even Nobel laureates pale in comparison? No, they took part in a system that is designed to allow the rich to disproportionately accumulate wealth. Bill Gates has a net worth of $61 billion. The GDP per capita of the United States is $49,601. This means that Bill Gates has 1.2 million average man-years of wealth (before taxes). Assuming the average worker works for 35 years, he has the entire lifetime earnings of 35,000 people. Is he that brilliant? Is he that great? Or did he get lucky and happen to participate in a system that allows 10 million people to have more wealth than the other 300 million [wikipedia.org]?

  • by servognome (738846) on Thursday February 21, 2013 @03:44AM (#42964021)

    “Socialism never took root in America because the poor see themselves not as an exploited proletariat but as temporarily embarrassed millionaires.”

    Compared to most of the world they are.
    The US participated in social reforms for the worker, but the strong individualist culture prevented it from full socialism. Adopting a mixed economy at the beginning of the 20th century is one of the reasons it became so successful.

  • by I'm New Around Here (1154723) on Thursday February 21, 2013 @03:51AM (#42964051)

    Thing is though that the at-will employment relationship is very much lopsided in favor of the employer.

    If you think that is true, for you it always will be.

    I quit a job three days before Christmas one year, because the manager was an asshole. It wasn't worth my health or happiness to work there, so I quit.

    If you are so focused on being someone's slave, that you can't conceive doing that, there is no hope for you. Go be someone's bitch, and leave the rest of us alone.

  • by eric_herm (1231134) on Thursday February 21, 2013 @03:54AM (#42964067)

    Working in a US company, I can ensure that US people tend to forget that there is a timezone issue, that people have different taxes in Europe, different keyboards per country, differents laws, etc. US residents are pretty unaware of the difference this make, because when your country is a federation taking half of the continent, you are not really thinking of case where this is different.

    So yeah, maybe they got screwed up by their lawyers. Maybe they tought that 24h support was a given, maybe they gave contradictory requests ( like take the cheapest option, and the best one too ). maybe indeed the german company was happy to do it during the night, because they were more expensive. Without any data, we cannot do much ( and seriously, even studies on productivity are bullshit, when I am doing nothing in a meeting, i am not producting anything, but when my manager is, he is doing his job and paid more, search the error ). Heck, if I do a car, and no one buy it, is this productive ? If I produce luxury goods, am I more productive because that's sold at a much more expensive price ?

  • Re: Vive La France (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 21, 2013 @03:59AM (#42964091)

    It already is feudalism. The difference is that we call our "lords" a CEO.

    Otherwise, it all applies pretty well.

  • by I'm New Around Here (1154723) on Thursday February 21, 2013 @04:01AM (#42964095)

    I think it is all the college students that mainly repeat the propaganda their professors funnel into their brains. There is certainly little indication their positions are derived from years of actual experience making a living on their own. And certainly no chance they have had the gumption to actually start their own business.

    Note: For those who think putting up fliers for cheap computer/webpage work counts as starting a business, it doesn't.

  • Re:I don't get it. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by MadKeithV (102058) on Thursday February 21, 2013 @04:02AM (#42964099)

    I would have too. Anyone who thinks it's a good idea to charge ten times the cash and do a quarter of the work deserves to starve. Unions can protect you from a lot of bad things but your own greed, laziness, and stupidity are not among them.

    Careful what you wish for: someone somewhere can do your job cheaper too.

  • by theVarangian (1948970) on Thursday February 21, 2013 @04:07AM (#42964125)

    ...And it didn't really work, apparantly. France is only two placed behind the US in GDP per hour worked. [wikipedia.org]

    And the really funny part is that the USA ranks behind those "librul" pot smoking socialist hippies in the Netherlands.

  • by mumblestheclown (569987) on Thursday February 21, 2013 @04:11AM (#42964153)

    Folks, this story obviously never happened. People who have the power to both order and return 30m in equipment don't write like 14 year olds and there are plenty of other hints / discrepancies in this story as well.

  • Re:Vive La France (Score:3, Insightful)

    by TheRaven64 (641858) on Thursday February 21, 2013 @04:18AM (#42964203) Journal
    The USA is no more communist than the USSR was.
  • Re:I don't get it. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by drsmithy (35869) <drsmithy@gmaiELIOTl.com minus poet> on Thursday February 21, 2013 @04:18AM (#42964205)

    Indeed. Damn those people who think we should be trying to make our lives easier rather than a handful of obscenely rich individuals even wealthier !

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 21, 2013 @04:29AM (#42964271)

    When my ship comes in, it is because I am here at 2 in the morning [...]

    "Your ship" is likely to be a heart attack at age 37 which will leave you barely afloat (no pun intended) after everything you've amassed so far goes to paying the hospital bills and mortgage/groceries while you recuperate, another bitter roadkill in the rat race. Well, maybe not that bad, but the odds are not in your favor.

    And you prove the GP's point nicely.

  • by Penguinshit (591885) on Thursday February 21, 2013 @04:33AM (#42964297) Homepage Journal
    Actually we are asking people who benefit disproportionately to pay a [very] little extra for that privilege, such that the services of government can be applied for everyone. In the post-war era the economy exploded because more people had more money to spend. Nominal highest tax rate was 90%, which ended up being around 45% in actual. You can say "horse shit" all you want, but the economy was damaged in the 80s by the drastic drops in top tax rates and beginning of capital deregulation which encouraged the taking and hoarding of wealth from the economy. Reagan built his entire economy on massive deficit spending. Unlike W who tried the same thing in the last decade, Reagan also re-raised taxes to buffer the impact.

    Look at any banana republic where a dictator takes power. A very few hoard the wealth, the middle-class disappears, and the economy tanks. You are arguing a hollow and false ideology against an empirical history of fact.
  • Thinking as hard as they can't won't magically mean someone living paycheque to paycheque can still afford food if they quit their job.

    It's great you have the resources to afford voluntary unemployment. Many, many people do not.

  • Re:I don't get it. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by allcoolnameswheretak (1102727) on Thursday February 21, 2013 @04:34AM (#42964305)

    > "and if that means opening a plant in china, or XX instead of YY, well thats not my fault, thats the market"

    Yeeeeah, and severe work conditions and exploitation of human and natural resources in China and other developing countries has nothing to do with it. That's just the market.

    Said like a true CEO!

  • Re:I don't get it. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by shaitand (626655) on Thursday February 21, 2013 @04:52AM (#42964409) Journal
    "I think the issue is when you feel that you deserve to work a couple hours a day (or week) and get paid more than other people who work for 10s of hours a week (or day) and be paid the same amount."

    I suppose that depends on what you do in those hours. It is quite likely you pay your attorney and your doctor as much or more for working a few hours as you pay your grunts for working a full time week.

    There is truth in this though. An hour of one man's life is not worth more than another. You can make up lost dollars but not lost hours. The doctor and the lawyer just invested dollars and hours up front. There is no reason their total lifetime earnings should exceed that of the grunt plus the cost of their education unless they are working more hours overall and then the increase should be relative to the number of extra hours.

    An important thing for an employer to remember is that the worth of an employee isn't defined by the going market rate for labor. The worth of an employee is the total gross profit of the organization divided by the total number of employees. You then average education hours and hours worked and adjust up or down at the individual level based on their relative education hours and hours worked. There is a rampant fallacy that overseeing 30 employees makes you more valuable than those employees. If it takes you 40 hours to oversee a staff of 40 you aren't more valuable than an employee under you working 40 hours. A related fallacy is that the stress of white collar work is somehow worse than that of physical labor. This is nothing but an attempt to shed guilt from accepting disproportionate pay and a lack of desire to perform physical labor. Another myth is that people are somehow magically more valuable because they are close to the source of revenue. It isn't uncommon to see 5-20% of revenue pissed away at the sales staff. In reality long term sales performance is dictated not by fast talking sales staff and their relationships with clients but by the output of the low paid grunts actually making the goods and performing the services. The "relationship" is based on the sales staff "shooting the client straight" which amounts to having sold them quality goods and services over time. Not only are sales staff not worth 5-20% they don't actually work anywhere near the number of hours they would report.

    A similar fallacy is that living your job somehow amounts to actually working more hours. You might work at random times, you might be thinking about work during off hours, but typically staff that "live their job" are deluding themselves with regard to their significance in the overall machine. Usually this is seen in executives and for the most part everyone past middle management is either doing what middle management has told them needs done or getting in the way. They have far more ability to screw things up than to fix it. They'll spend 60hrs a week in useless meetings to produce a couple hours worth of output. Working at a higher level doesn't make the problems more difficult or require more time than working at the bottom. To make it worse these individuals often would count countless hours socializing with their peers as work because their peers are similar executives. Shareholders are only worth something at the point of investment, after investment they aren't worth anything at all!

    All of this staff is needed but their contribution is not really more than that of the grunts. If your organization has grunts that are professionals the grunts are probably each worth more than any manager or executive in your organization. The market dictates what you pay staff but that has very little relation to what they are actually worth. Investors aren't worth anything at all!
  • by hattig (47930) on Thursday February 21, 2013 @04:55AM (#42964429) Journal

    Your ship isn't going to come in building and fixing PCs. Just saying. You'll be lucky to get a dingy. That's what the reality is. You are conditioned to believe that hard work leads to loads of money, guaranteed, but if it did, tens of millions of people in the US would be rich. If you don't make your main money fixing PCs, then stop fixing PCs and get some rest, or hire someone to do the menial tasks.

    Otherwise all you are doing is burning yourself out. The only plus side is that you are doing it for yourself.

    Seriously, I do hope that your ship comes in because you work hard and do a good job (excepting the lack of sleep). It's just that the odds are so stacked against you...

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 21, 2013 @05:08AM (#42964509)

    "Take your holidays. Take them all. You need to be rested."

    I have 36 days of fully paid vacation and I'm required by law to take them all. Also I have to take 12 continuous days in a row at least once a year, otherwise the law doesn't consider me rested enough to work another year. Companies take great care not to violate that because they would be liable if an 'unrested' worker caused an accident.

    "If you get fewer than 25 days holiday, strike. "

    That's how we got ours. But Americans are all millionaires-to-be with a temporary setback forcing them to work for somebody else, that's how they are brainwashed by the 1%.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 21, 2013 @05:12AM (#42964531)

    What better job?

    If you get to choose between a crap job, or another crap job, then you are merely a slave with a tiny bit more privilege.

    The option to run away and starve to death does not make a slave free either.

  • by sa1lnr (669048) on Thursday February 21, 2013 @05:30AM (#42964635)

    Having three separate $9 an hour jobs is not the same as $27 an hour, it's still only $9 an hour.

    After all, she can hardly work in three different places at the exact same time.

  • No kidding. Don't take your vacation days, otherwise you can say goodbye to any chance of a promotion and hello to the front of the line for a layoff.

    Here in Germany, whenever I DON'T take all of my annual leave owing, I get emails from our HR begging me to take it as soon as possible. Annual leave owing to employees is written up as a debt owing (from the company to the employee) here, so looks bad in the books.

    Same thing with overtime - if I accrue too much, I pretty much get forced to take time off to knock it down a bit.

  • by philip.paradis (2580427) on Thursday February 21, 2013 @05:50AM (#42964737)

    No, it's not ridiculous. Using the current commonly accepted (and very generalized, with the caveat of different quadrant/spectrum placement on various issues) definitions of the terms, I'm a blend of the U.S. versions of a Republican and a Libertarian in many respects. Perhaps you'll be surprised by what follows here.

    Fox is largely full of crap. So is CNN. So is MSNBC. So is ABC. So is NPR and virtually any other radio "network" in existence here. Hell, even BBC pieces broadcast stateside are showing serious signs of tarnish nowadays. We simply do not have major media outlets which are interested in doing due diligence to properly research facts from multiple sources and convey that information in a neutral fashion. The networks all consistently lie about, distort, taint, gloss over, minimize or inflate as deemed necessary, or otherwise willfully manipulate information in different manners and for different ends. Our entire media ecosystem has been reduced to the same awful state as our political system, namely the state of pitting the ideological equivalents of "favorite sports teams" against one another and bolstering popular views with nothing more substantial than emotion-driven opinion pieces masquerading as informative news articles. Ignoring this sad states of affairs is synonymous with willfully existing in a state of ignorance, a condition I simply term stupidity.

  • by silentcoder (1241496) on Thursday February 21, 2013 @06:13AM (#42964825) Homepage

    What you say about the Non-FOX networks is true, and yes, bad. But FOX really IS worse.
    The other networks at least don't just blatantly make stuff up and then call that news !

    Fox actually went to the supreme court, fought and somehow WON a case that you can air something which is a completely made-up story with NO basis whatsoever in any facts or sources at all (in other words: pure, unadulterated fiction) and still get to call it "News".
    That's called OPINION.
    Calling opinion pieces NEWS is outright consumer fraud and it says everything you need to know about the American justice system that it managed to not only fail to prosecute that fraud, but actually RUBBER STAMP it in a precedent !

    "You hereby have the permission of the United States supreme court to use the term 'news' widely understood to mean 'a story based on credible sources or actual events and facts' to describe a purely fictional account of a made up event with no basis in anything but the editor's imagination and NOT be accused of fraud".

    You know, preventing fraudulent claims is actually a LEGITIMATE restriction on free speech, but apparently the supreme court doesn't think this is true if a big enough company is doing the speaking.

    No other company in the history of the world have ever even TRIED to do that. Yes sometimes they lied as news, but only FOX would actually fight to get doing so LEGALIZED !
    No, don't even TRY to tell me any other news organisation is that terrible.

    PS. I'm going to guess you're not a Bill Maher style left libertarian.

    PPS. The best news channels around these days are Al Jazeera and France24

  • Re:I don't get it. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by liamevo (1358257) on Thursday February 21, 2013 @06:33AM (#42964913)

    So what? The french are the most productive people in the world while working less hours, and morons call them lazy.

    http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/europe/the-grizz-mauls-lazy-french-workers-over-threehour-day-8503804.html [independent.co.uk] - stupid traditional business thinking more hours = more productivity

    http://articles.businessinsider.com/2009-08-20/markets/30087051_1_capita-france-s-gdp-work [businessinsider.com] - some facts and figures

  • by silentcoder (1241496) on Thursday February 21, 2013 @06:36AM (#42964923) Homepage

    >Slaves are not paid. If you are paid and free to leave for a better job, you are not a slave. Possibly an idiot but not in any way a slave.

    False: definition of slavery: "One who does not have sole autonomy over how he spends his time" - as per Plato.
    By that definition - nearly all wage-earners ARE in fact slaves. The definition says nothing about income (slaves DID get paid - even in the modern age - they just did not get paid in MONEY but instead in board and food). Neither does it say anything about being able to leave: ancient laws actually GUARANTEED a slave's right to freedom. The specifics varied by nation but NOBODY in the ancient world was a slave for life - and their definition of a slave was exactly the same as our definition of an employee. The only difference is that employees get cash and (usually) don't get free housing and food.

    The concept of working hours didn't even exist until the Industrial revolution, when it was instituted as a substitute for the recently abolished slavery. Part of why slavery got abolished by people whose religion actively endorsed it is because they had to acknowledge that nobody was actually following the RULES their religion had about how to do it. Rules that included: guaranteed rights to LEAVE a position of slavery and become free.
    In the Hebrew system for example slavery ended automatically after 7 years, at which time a slave could CHOOSE to serve for another 7 but such a choice had to be privately repeated to the high-priest (to give an impartial third-party a chance to ensure it wasn't coerced). Greek slaves were required to be freed after less time than that, and could be freed earlier by mutual agreement with their masters.
    Wait the dissolution of a slaves state of slavery was simply an agreed dissolution of a contract ? Just like "I wish to resign my job".

    No my friend, I think you'll find we're ALL slaves, in a world that has very, very few free men left. They live like kings, because they no longer have a slave or three, they have thousands.

  • by pedestrian crossing (802349) on Thursday February 21, 2013 @06:53AM (#42964995) Homepage Journal

    You find a high-value bit of work, distribute the product of that work as widely as you can, and you can have billions too. But are you capable? Most aren't. THAT is why there is such a disparity of income.

    Not everyone can be the entrepreneur/investor, there -have- to be workers to make the goods. There -has- to be a middle-class to buy the goods. Otherwise, your capitalist utopia is just another utopian ideal.

    I doubt anyone here begrudges the entrepreneur their due. However, if you look at recent trends in worker productivity vs. worker wages vs. CEO compensation, it's clear that the system is moving horribly out of balance.

  • by DNS-and-BIND (461968) on Thursday February 21, 2013 @06:56AM (#42965007) Homepage
    Funny, the story I got from that was an ordinary American having the nerve to question his betters, and being soundly put back in his place by authority. They went after him, bigtime. All for the crime of daring to ask an inconvenient question. They'll do it to you, too.
  • by fredrik70 (161208) on Thursday February 21, 2013 @07:02AM (#42965029) Homepage

    yes, like threatening to cancel a 30m project due to parking lot stand-off

  • by prefec2 (875483) on Thursday February 21, 2013 @07:56AM (#42965249)

    GDP US: M$ 14,991,300
    Inhabitants US: 315,544,000
    Gini: 47.7
    HDI: 0.910
    GDP France: M$ 2,775,518
    Inhabitants France: 65,350,000
    Gini: 28.9
    HDI: 0.884

    US GDP per person: $ 47509.38
    France GDP per person: $ 42471.58

    If the assumption is correct, that the French work only half the time, they are still similar effective than their US pendants. The French are super efficient people. And on top of it they have a much higher rate of equality (see Gini values). So if I have to choose, I would rather life in France then in the US (when I look at these figures). However, I do not think that a French human being is almost twice as efficient than an US citizen.
    So the point the US dork made is wrong. The only thing he does not like are unions. Well if you do not like organized people, stay where you are. Don't come to Europe. We all have unions (even the British). Maybe he could go to Asia, they do not have worker unions in China.

  • by Brian_Ellenberger (308720) on Thursday February 21, 2013 @08:31AM (#42965473)

    please, fox just lies, saying other news networks are somehow as bad is ridiculous.

    Saying "I hate Fox News, they are biased" doesn't scream out "I just want honest, balanced coverage". It screams out "I am a biased left-winger". Take one obvious example, NBC/MSNBC have had a rash of "selectively editing" videos recently. There was the 911 call in the Trayvon Martin case, the bogus sandy hook "heckling", and taking a Romney speech completely out of context.

    The news gathering in the US is atrocious. Anyone who is not completely biased can see Fox is right-wing, MSNBC is left-wing, and the rest are center-left (although CNN seems to push more to the MSNBC side these days). They are all a bad combination of sensationalist ratings driven garbage combined with a huge agenda that rarely has the viewers' best interests in mind. If you don't view the news with a filter that considers the source, you are being deceived."

    http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/news/trayvon-martin-nbc-news-editing-911-call-306359 [hollywoodreporter.com]
    http://www.theblaze.com/stories/2013/01/29/msnbc-caught-selectively-editing-another-clip-this-time-of-sandy-hook-victims-father/ [theblaze.com]
    http://blog.sfgate.com/nov05election/2012/06/19/msnbc-busted-for-editing-romney-comments-out-of-context-backtracks-sorta-video/ [sfgate.com]

  • by Phrogman (80473) on Thursday February 21, 2013 @09:23AM (#42965805) Homepage

    From a Canadian perspective: CNN is fairly right-wing to me (and 90% of the people who post on a CNN.com article are extreme rightwing fanatics).
    Fox is batshit crazy rightwing, and MSNBC I can't comment on as I don't watch at all.
    If I want good news reporting I watch the BBC or Al Jazeera, they seem mostly to get what the journalism thing is supposed to be. The US Media - at least television media - doesn't seem to remember that whole journalistic integrity and actually doing research bit at all - they are just Media Entertainment. They seem far more interested in providing entertainment than in relating factual information. As it is, opinion pieces seem to meld into regular reporting a lot of the time as well.

  • by rsilvergun (571051) on Thursday February 21, 2013 @09:45AM (#42965979)
    is an idiot. Most factories that aren't run with slave labor are 90-99% machines. Look up how applesauce gets made, or sleeping bags, sometime. Hell, even with slaves Foxconn is switching to robots. We're running out work to do. My buddy drives truck for a living. 10, 15 years from now that job won't exist. Again, robots.

    So, when there's not enough work to go around, what do we do? Do we let 98% starve (lazy bastards), 1% work as slaves and then 1% live like God-Kings? Do you know an alternative? I'm anxious to hear a solution that doesn't boil down to socialism.
  • by Hatta (162192) on Thursday February 21, 2013 @10:17AM (#42966377) Journal

    Journalism in the US is atrocious, but Fox news is in a league of its own. The amount of time someone spends watching Fox news is *inversely* correlated with factual answers to questions about current events. Sensationalism is a problem everywhere, but Fox news is pure propaganda.

  • Re:I don't get it. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Squiddie (1942230) on Thursday February 21, 2013 @10:35AM (#42966607)
    Sure, because it's not like the Gilded age ever happened or anything.
  • Re:I don't get it. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by toiletsalmon (309546) on Thursday February 21, 2013 @11:27AM (#42967235) Journal

    I think the issue is when you feel that you deserve to work a couple hours a day (or week) and get paid more than other people who work for 10s of hours a week (or day) and be paid the same amount.

    I own a business. I'm in the business of selling my labor. Therefore, I'm going to maximize MY profits. That means getting paid as much as I can for as little work as possible. If business owners shouldn't be stigmatized for being greedy assholes, then workers shouldn't be stigmatized for being lazy assholes.

    This double standard has to go.

  • by BVis (267028) on Thursday February 21, 2013 @12:44PM (#42968431)

    Why not? Let someone else share the burden of the huge tax breaks they've extorted out of local government under the threat of looking 'anti-business.' It's great to talk a good game about 'bringing in jobs", but when the deal with the Devil you have to sign hurts you more than it helps, there's not much point, is there.

  • Re:I don't get it. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by godefroi (52421) on Thursday February 21, 2013 @12:48PM (#42968483)

    On the other hand, a Doctor is worth 10x of a good engineer and easily should be able to make 10x the money.

    Unless you're healthy and need a bridge built...

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