American here (although I own a swiss business and travel there frequently).
The reason that americans do not embrace these things is that, for the most part, the United States still has a very, very flat social hierarchy.
If you put Joe-6-Pack and Larry Ellison into a room together, J6P will still hold his head high and demand equal treatment and respect - from both Ellison and other third parties.
But J6P intuitively knows something else: asking for favors alters that relationship and establishes an explicit power balance (as opposed to the implicit one which was obviously there to some degree).
On the other hand, if you come from Europe, the idea of a "better class" isn't so foreign - even if you disagree with it. That power balance is quite a bit more explicit and there is a fairly well established (sometimes in blood) "contract" between the people who work for a living and the people who own things.
Personally, I like the American arrangement but I think it's days are numbered - eventually the sorting will complete itself and workers will have more days off ... but "gentlemen" will have certain privileges like english lords do in 2016.
 Exemption from jury service, immunity from arrest for civil cases, "access to the sovereign".
No, its because they bought the red scare and everything that was said about Socialism and then continued to parrot that bullshit since then, which then collided with the Protestant work ethic that poisoned peoples minds into equating work and pay with personal worth.
Worker protection laws are something evil that only dirty commies spout to bring good, hard working Americans down. If you were a good, hard working American you wouldn't need protection.
Yes, agreed - but that (the red scare) is just another symptom of the underlying still-evolving class system in the US.
I don't disagree with what you're saying at all - I'm saying you should consider why those ideas resonated in the US while they did not resonate everywhere else.
The standard conclusion among 21st century progressives "they do it because they're stupid" is inaccurate (and destructive).
The impression I get is that in some parts of the country there's a general distrust in government, alongside a trust in entrepreneurship. Neither of which seems stupid to me.
I'd also say that government spending is an easier sell in metropolitan areas as public investments in cities make a bigger impact on quality of life. Public transport is a good example of this, if I was in a rural setting I wouldn't expect much in the way of public transport spending, but I'd expect it in a city.
However, whilst it's healthy not to trust in government too much, the same is true of trusting big business to act in your interest. Government should act to keep companies in line with public interest. Whether that involves big government or not is debatable, but I don't think it'd be a good idea to have any one single company that had larger influence on the general population than the government does.
Then again, the US had one of the most progressive and vibrant worker rights and union movements in the world (fighting for child labor, the 8 hour week, women's work, immigrant rights, etc) -- until about the 2nd World War and the Red Scare.
And that -- the mere demand for equal treatment and respect -- is the only kind of "flat hierarchy" in the US. In every other way, that is, in any way that actually counts, Larry Ellison and Joe 6pack are so different in assets, life prospects for them and their kids, influence, power, etc, that Larry might as well be Louis XIV. Heck, there are European nobles that are more approachable than US businessmen or third rate Hollywood stars in pragmatic terms. So, this flat thing is mostly a founding myth of the US, than any kind of reality.
>But J6P intuitively knows something else: asking for favors alters that relationship and establishes an explicit power balance (as opposed to the implicit one which was obviously there to some degree).
Good wages, sane work culture, vacation days, etc are not "favors". Those are rights. Nobody handed them down to the Swiss people, much less the rich.
That people would think of them as favors to be asked from the rich, as if those are Kings, once again shows how little flat the US system is.
What would be actually flat(ter) would be to have the people enjoy more of the freedom, security, etc that the rich do.
I think your language, above, is very indicative of the inability to understand this set of choices. Why is the demand for equal treatment and respect "mere" ? Why is it not something that "actually counts" ?
Don't misunderstand me - I find myself confounded by a lot of these aspects of US culture and politics, but I think it's worth trying to see something deeper at work than simply "they're dummies".
I would also like to take issue with the comparison between Larry Ellison and Louis XIV. Yes, LE is very rich and probably has a lot of hidden political levers that are meaningful but there is absolutely no comparison whatsoever and I really am taken aback by the confusion that people in this thread have between wealth and social class.
On the other hand, my entire thesis here is that given enough time, that distinction will blur - so perhaps your confusion doesn't matter.
I'm sure you have, but if you have not you should read Alexis de Tocqueville's "Democracy in America". The ideas you're presenting here may as well have been quoted from it.
Because "demanding" equal treatment and actually getting equal treatment is not the same thing at all. From their doctors, to their "local congressman", to the law, to the restaurants they go to, they'll get entirely different treatment.
Of course the point is moot because those working class american wont be able to afford the same doctors, lawyers or restaurants in the first place, much less make an appointment with their congressman.
>but I think it's worth trying to see something deeper at work than simply "they're dummies".
There is something deeper at work. Several decades of actively making the American public less independent and vocal about their rights (except token rights, like the right to bear guns and ideological issues related to religion etc.), and convincing them either that they are inconvenienced millionaires or that food stamps are the pinnacle of progressive policy.
No. Rights may not, by definition, require taking from someone else.
That's a limited and by no means universally accepted definition of rights, often employed by libertarians, which conveniently aligns with the objectives of the ruling class in the US.
Funny, also, how in your mind "good wages" implies taking from someone (the "job creator"?), while lower wages don't take anything from anyone?
Your wage (which you have a right to, as an employee) is already "taking from someone else".
The "right to work" (part of the universal declaration of human rights) includes taking a job that somebody else could take in your place.
And of course the whole idea that "sane work culture", "good wages" and "vacation days" are stolen from other people is inane. Who do you think the Swiss collectively stole them from?
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (which the US voted for, while the USSR, Saudi Arabia and others abstained) does contain the rights to work, leisure, education, among others.
And the European Court of Human Rights, and other legal institutions, make these rights enforceable, too.
So, just saying "there is no such right" falls short.
So I don't think a class system has anything to do with it.
Labour laws are for small companies, but even then they don't obey them. My first job out of university, at a small company, told me I was paid both a salary and a wage. A salary because then I didn't get paid for overtime (nor did it get recorded), and a wage because then they didn't need to pay me that much. Take it or be unemployed. True, I could have just turned it down, but by being registered with the Work and Income people, I had a contract requiring that I took the first "reasonable" job offered, without a definition of reasonable. That particular one owes me about $20k in unpaid wages.
The next one, a multimillionaire with the Prime Minister's office on speed dial, owes me about $10k. Complaints (multiple complaints, at that) about them to the ministry have a habit of just disappearing. Personal safety threats, basic rights violations, serious health and safety issues, public funding fraud, inaccurate time sheets, and less-than-minimum-wage pay, but not one visit from the ministry.
There's no doubt that a class system is in play there.
Hehe, still, I'm sure he was near the corner and was close to the window right ? :)
Look at the chart "Wealth shares of top percentiles of the net wealth distribution in selected OECD countries":
The elections in the USA are increasingly heated exactly because the USA is increasingly torn apart by divisions of class, and the divisions of class are growing exactly because wealth is concentrating into the hands of the 1%, and even within that 1%, wealth is concentrating into the top 1%, which is the top .0001 of the USA.
I agree with everything you wrote.
However, I wasn't talking about wealth - I was talking about social class.
The inability to recognize the difference between wealth and social class is probably a good indicator of a relatively flat social hierarchy. In times and places with deep social class division you wouldn't be prone to making that mistake.
You would know exactly which rich person to call "m'lord" and which not to.
Note: I'm an American by birth, and the Western European societies I've interacted with have, except Scandinavian, been enthusiastically classist.
Disagree somewhat. In northern Europe, public transport is used by pretty much everyone (broad sample of society from all strata). Most everyone goes to comparable public schools. University quality has much smaller variance than in the USA (there's not exactly MIT, but also not exactly Trump U.) In other words, there's a fairly broad common life. The CEO of a company certainly has a good life, but the janitor will have a decent life, too, with 4 weeks mandatory vacation and enough money to fly to Spain for vacation, and health insurance and unemployment insurance etc.
In the US, different strata of society interact far less. There are different schools, different super markets, gated communities - even the humiliating TSA experience is avoided by the rich using General Aviation terminals.
Inequality in the US is much larger than in northern Europe, notwithstanding Zuckerberg's wearing jeans.
TL;DR: In the US, you have superficial equality hiding tremendous inequality, while in Europe you have visible inequality on top of substantial equality.
Were you not watching this latest election cycle?
I think this is an important point. Switzerland, and most of Europe, is predominantly white. I feel like there is something to say about homogeneity.
In some cases, absolutely - which is why we're discussing it.
But like everything, there are costs and benefits involved in everything (yes, everything). The idea that longer vacations or 35 hour work weeks have no trade-offs is a mistaken one.
The related idea: that american workers make the decisions they make just because they are stupid is also a mistaken one.
In the EU or any European country the goal seems to be to assist everyone not just the poor. In the US it seems like people berate the poor for not working hard enough or call them communist for asking for social assistance (ACA/"Obama care" etc.).
As a Canadian I used to have a good bead on people in the US now I don't know what's going on there. These days it seems like freedom in the US means freedom to hate or punish others rather than freedom for a person to live a healthy safe life.
In 1971 a child from the poorest fifth had an 8.4% chance of making it to the top quintile. For a child born in 1986 the odds were 9%. The study confirms previous findings that America’s social mobility is low compared with many European countries. (In Denmark, a poor child has twice as much chance of making it to the top quintile as in America.) But it challenges several smaller recent studies that concluded that America had become less socially mobile.
for reference see:
That means wealthy people reap the benefits.
but you make a good point. i think the american aristocracy is currently in the end stages of forming and will be completely established within a few more years. once it gets bad enough, there will be a new relationship model between workers and owners, but until then, it's a free for all.
i say this as a business owner who does fine for himself and the other stakeholders but the level of wealth that the top echelons have is mind boggling.
like, i don't actually see a path to amassing that much wealth no matter how hard i work. to achieve that seems to be some voodoo mix of circumstances like birth, connections, and straight up luck.
"Socialism never took root in America because the poor see themselves not as an exploited proletariat but as temporarily embarrassed millionaires."
So you are saying that instead of a fair competition, you would prefer that people's lives are defined by the conditions they were born into and educated in? Wut?
> Not everyone can be upwardly mobile and become a millionaire with no one left to fill the void of low level poorly paid jobs needed to support them.
You realize that those jobs are going away in somewhat near future right? Just like e.g. truck drivers?
I think some of the reasons for this is due to the immigrant history of the U.S. When my grandparents immigrated to America their only desire was to be free from government persecution and harassment. They left Europe with a wary eye for government, and rightly so.
I think many in the U.S share a similar experience whether or not they are 1st or 10th generation Americans. Unfortunately, that attitude has manifested itself in some negative values and policies.
Wtf lol. America isn't necessarily like this. You just had a shit job.
Blue-collar workers are screwed, though.
In my youth I worked for a place that advertised 15 days very proudly as meaning two weeks salaried vacation plus a personal day (usually Friday after thanksgiving). After all if you're salaries at a 24x7 operational company, if you want a Saturday off with guaranteed no phone calls, you need to take vacation.
And people put up with this?
That depends on how it's counted, it may be counted the way you are but it also might not be. For instance, the standard holidays that you list do not come out of my PTO pool, which is the number of days that I was told it was when I was hired. The result being I have those days plus those five, plus the day after Thanksgiving, as time off, I just don't get to pick when those last six days are used.
also, why should good living standards only apply to those with "elite jobs?" it's a rich country.
San Francisco is not like Indianapolis, which is not like Fargo.
Funny that the waiting list to immigrate to the US can be decades long. I guess those people are just too stupid to know how bad it is in the US?
Also, I immigrated to the US from one of those other rich countries and I think quality of life is better in the US (but it's all a personal preference).
I made the claim that the U.S. is not as nice a place to live as many other rich countries. Objectively speaking this is a true statement. The U.S. ranks lower on many measurements of living standards. Of course there are counterexamples in that some people have a better standard of living in the U.S. than they did in another country but we need to be mindful that the plural of anecdote is not data.
However I also experienced more freedom and diversity and was able to find a much more heterogenous community, as well as do things that were simply not allowed in my home country.
My life is much richer here and so the US is much nicer for me to live in.
US marketing is the best in the world, no doubt; maybe "mistaken" or "deceived" is more accurate than "stupid".
A few observations:
- people trying to immigrate to the USA come predominantly from desperately poor countries that are, indeed, not as nice a place to live. (People from those countries are also frequently denied tourist visa to the USA, btw.)
- among my fellow students at a good university in California that came from first world countries, only about a quarter decided to stay for longer than a few years.
- among Chinese that go to study in the USA, increasing numbers apparently choose to return to China.
> it's all a personal preference
To a large part it is.
Among expats that have options and have seen different continents, the US is more of middling choice, I'd think, but for some people it just clicks and they love it. (And NY is in a different category, anyway.)
If you think about companies as "us versus them", where "us" is workers and "them" is giant faceless monolithic corporations, then your idea that enforcing worker protections is a high priority might make sense.
But most companies are small. I run a software company ... I am just a guy trying to get by, who now in addition to the normal-person's burden of making my life go, has to also make a company go, and that company provides jobs for 10-12 people.
If you make my situation much harder than it is, the company would cease to exist or would downscale to 2-4 people, shedding the majority of the jobs. I am not a faceless corporation, I am just a guy who wants to get interesting things built. My little company is certainly not set up to "exploit workers", especially not on an industrial scale.
Now, paraxoically, if you add a lot more friction to what needs to happen to run a business (regulation around hiring, firing, invoicing, etc), then people like me drop out, and then what you mostly have left is the larger companies who do want to exploit workers because that is just kind of how larger companies work. Plus then you lose all the innovation / energy / economic activity that comes from smaller companies. It maybe seems like not the best idea. (If it is, how come Silicon Valley is not in France?)
As an investor, I fund a small French company and I have seen some of the crap they have to deal with just because they have a handful of employees. It makes me very glad I don't live in France.
Go to reddit/r/personalfinance and you'll read lots of stories of people in shit jobs being taken advantage of by their employer. A society that allows people without money/education to be exploited is not a good one. In the U.S., from my perspective, we have a "I've got mine, fuck you" society. I'm not exploited at my job and I have a very comfortable existence. However, many of my fellow countrymen are not so fortunate.
Also, those restrictions on firing may be giving you a lot more potential employees. Changing jobs is a risk and if you were able to fire them after a week then that would be a major financial setback for them.
But this doesn't seem to be nearly enough to tip the balance in terms of operating a business overall ... I consistently hear from people how much it sucks to operate a small business in Europe. I don't see what's wrong in principle with having worker protections kick in at a certain company size, but that doesn't seem to be popular.
Of course, if your business is in maple syrup or something else with heavy government intervention, then your experience will likely be quite different. :)
Anything that helps the average American is Communism, and we can't have that, can we?
As a non-American, what I see is that many Americans, especially those commenting here, suffer from a particularly virulent form of "the grass is greener over there" syndrome. Europe is a beautiful place, but behind the beauty lies ugliness of a different kind. The US has many problems, but there's also a reason why Silicon Valley and people like Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos are in the States.
If you value knowing your place in the social hierarchy and having less and paying more for it, then by all means, adopt the European model. However, as jblow said above, there are so many bright spots in the US, too, so maybe it's better to just work on the rough spots instead of always looking over the fence.
Why? Because I thought his policies were a combination of marginally impactful, dumb, and/or unrealistic. Eliminating free trade agreements isn't going to bring secure jobs back to the Rust Belt. Massive expenditures to get everyone to college is a terrible plan --- and one the people hit hardest by the decline of manufacturing do not want. Single-payer health care is unrealistic and nationalizes something close to 20% of our entire economy.
The problem with these policies isn't "socialism". It's that they won't work.
Switzerland isn't a socialist country (look how the Swiss health care system works). The issue here isn't a crazy problem Americans have with "Socialism" (although using that term to describe a policy isn't a great way to win support for it).
It means you can group public healthcare with the forced redistribution of wealth and call them communism and equally bad.
The war of drugs is the same, it means you can group (relatively) harmless drugs like Marijuana with harmful drugs like Heroin and dismiss both as equally nasty when they are anything but.
The world is seldom binary, but categorising things makes it such.
Unfortunately the word "green" is the new "communism".
I remember Switzerland's "nothing changes so do your duty" attitude. That is caustic when the powerful feel they can reputationally and thus permanently destroy the less powerful. The churn and disruption of American culture is healthier. And, for what it's worth, I prefer New York's mix of old and new architecture to Zürich's centuries-old skyline.
My takeaway from growing up multiculturally is that while there are some cultures that are better at most modern tasks than others, there are multiple cultures differently enabled--each competently, in its own right--for the modern world. These multiple optima perform certain facets, e.g. teamwork or nonlinear social disruption, differently and differently ably. Humanity benefits from this diversity of approaches.
I feel the same.
To me it seems like this:
- If you want to mainly enjoy things outside of work and just see it as a way to finance those other things, the US might not be the best place.
- If you enjoy the work you're doing and want to work with other motivated people that are great at what they do: the US makes it a LOT easier.
Especially as an Engineer, the recognition and possibilities are vastly higher. I haven't seen a company in Germany that does a successful dual ladder system. I also haven't seen one that isn't riddled with MBA grads that mainly push Jira tickets around. Even smaller companies seems to think that's a necessity. I'm sure there are some examples that make it work, but it's seemingly a lot harder to find them.
That being said since the -70's and -80's Nixon's and Reagan's administration saw the collapse of the american dream, stagnating minimum salaries, the explosion of crime, war on drugs (that has cost billions), unprecedented bias in income distribution. The Soviet Union and communism was the new evil, US liberated it's economy. Capitalism and freedom was the answer. What could possibly go wrong when industries (such as banking) self regulate...
Now US has regressed to a country where the owning class is super rich, meanwhile there's a 3rd world country juxtaposed onto itself. Enormous poverty, crime, drug abuse, social problems, racial problems and a new president whose road to power is paved with dreams like cutting back on the minimum wage etc. stupidity.
On top of that you have a goverment that spies on its citizens.
Event in the poorest countries the elite are always doing well. You don't judge a country based on how well the elite are doing but on how well the poor are doing.
Labor rights are a bad consolation prize for a system that should be encouraging self determination.
In other western countries employees can't be fired without being given multiple written warnings and given opportunities to improve their performance. They get a higher minimum wage (with no distinction on what industry they work in, so no need to rely on tips if you're in hospitality), and they get at minimum 30 days holiday when you include public holidays.
On the other hand the wages in the US are higher than most western countries, and the cost of living lower (interestingly the taxes aren't despite the central government providing fewer services).
People don't realise the trade off that exists for the American dream and there is a trade off for all but the luckiest few. I know I didn't when I worked in the Bay Area for a bit.
It's a system that seems to prioritise business over employees and you can't argue with the success of American companies, so depending on your mindset it works.
The trade off is worth it for some, not for others.
58% support universal health care: http://www.gallup.com/poll/191504/majority-support-idea-fed-...
62% support debt-free college: https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2016-08-01/majority-...
92% would prefer wealth distribution to look like Sweden: http://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2012/08/american...
What some believe Americans want or will accept is still odds with the reality. The actual problem in this country is that our representatives do not represent most Americans; they represent the interests of the wealthy. We live in a plutocratic oligarchy with only the trappings of representative democracy:
The American reaction seems to be summed up as different variations of denial. Either one accept that America is like that but one denies the possibility of America changing. Or one simply denies that things really are that bad.
What a multitude of European countries are doing isn't magic, nor is it humongously expensive. America is much richer than Europe as a whole, yet Americans are completely convinced it is impossible for America to afford any sort of work-life balance.
Or the retort is that, if this is so great then why don't everybody do it? Well lots of European countries do for that reason. It isn't impossible in America either, but Americans keep voting against their own interests. They keep voting in favor of people who will hand their money over to the 1%. Since the 70s America has grown its wealth tremendously but regular people's income has changed rather little since all the wealth has gone to the 1%.
People are sold the myth that all this wealth is going to innovative founders like Jeff Bezos, Elon Musk or whatever. Not it isn't. Most money in the US is not made from creating new products. It is made in finance. The US economy has been financialized. People who push papers around are taking most of the money not the innovators. The very same people who brought the American economy to its knees in 2008 is taking most of the money.
You don't have to believe me, you can just research the finacialization of the American economy yourself. You can read about the rising inequality and the 1% yourself. You can read about how policies in the US tend to favor the will of the rich minority rather than the average majority.
And these people can keep screwing over Americans because they keep making Americans believe that their real problem is poor Mexican illegals stealing all the benefits, jobs and money. They can laugh while the poor fight among themselves for the crumbs, while they eat their fat steaks.
If I were an employer of de-skilled labor, I'd also like mass immigration. I'd want the immigrants to exert downward pressure on worker demands. I'd want to make sure that worker strikes are meaningless, and that union demands don't have teeth.
I don't believe there is a system of government or economics that will tolerate that level of self-delusion for long. Our fundamental problem is that the postwar period was so provident for us that we have lost all touch with reality.
Disclosure: grew up in Germany and over the past 20 years, i have lived in NYC, Boston, Munich, Geneva, Bucharest.
I make a normal software dev salary, after 13 years in Stockholm I make around $90k, and pay around $30k in (income) taxes. For that I get healthcare, 480 days paid leave per child (to share between parents), free education for the kids (including daycare from age 1). I don't worry about retiring.
I could probably make more money in (parts of) the US, even after paying for healthcare, daycare, college, pensions, parental leave, 6 weeks a year off etc. But still I wouldn't say that would make me better off - mostly because of culture - it would be career suicide to take a year off with each child in the US, even if I could afford it. It would also seem weird that I had to drop the kids off at 8 and leave to pick them up at 4pm, for 7 years...
In more left leaning countries you are guaranteed a high quality education and to be healthy, you can't make that guaranty in parts of the US unfortunately.
But, you shouldn't make the mistake of viewing Europe as one whole, just like others shouldn't make the same mistake about the US. As in the US there are some states which are more socialist and others which are less, in Europe there are some countries which are more right wing than others. People in Europe are free to move if their ideology doesn't reflect their home, or they can vote for change as their governments tend to be proportional.
If you want low taxes, the US really isn't the place to be either. The caricature of Western European countries as socialist dystopia is usually only based in ignorance or disinformation.
I know where you're coming from, the US has by far the highest wage to cost of living ratio, and it seems to have the cheapest consumer and luxury goods by far. An aspirational materialistic lifestyle is far more accessible to the middle class in America than anywhere else.
That said, does this equate to happiness? For instance when I lived in London, I was paid less and my money didn't go as far, but I was able to live without a car, enjoy tons of free museums and a lot more accessible culture in general, and as a family man had a lot less stress about health care with the NHS.
I realize that if you have no economic opportunity that easily trumps lifestyle considerations, and Europe, especially southern Europe is facing some major challenges, but I still think Europe has a lot of qualities that the US could learn from.
This is were the big problem is in the US. Lawyers, doctors, dentists, university, medical care, medication, child care etc all those things are typically a lot more expensive in the US.
What does it matter if you can afford twice as many iPhones or flat screens in the US, if you are economically ruined once you get a serious disease like cancer or you can't afford to send your kids to a decent university?
I've contemplated the wealth difference between the US and my home country Norway many times, and I've always found it very hard to compare because you don't live the same way.
I could afford a bigger house and car in the US, given the price level of those things there. Yet concluding that I am richer is hard. American houses tend to be more cheaply built, with poorer insulation. So it is always an apple and pear comparison. I can buy more stuff in the US, but my money would not go as far when abroad. Stuff is more expensive in Norway, but salaries are also higher so you have more purchase power when you travel. And Norwegian spend more time enjoying vacations than Americans. So it depends on what you want. Do you want stuff or leisure?
Also how do you put a price on the feeling of safety and and stress free environment. You got an extensive welfare system that will be there for you if anything should happen to you or your family. In the US you never know. You don't have to worry about crime. I noticed an American policeman visiting Scandinavia to learn about various Scandinavian policing methods. The first odd statement I noticed him say was "people don't look over their shoulders here. It looks like they don't worry anything bad is going to happen."
If this is the way people live in the US, I got to say, thanks but no thanks.
It starts to look like a control mechanism, by simply not allowing people the time to relax and think about what's going on.
I also disagree that the poor parts of Europe are better off than the poor parts of the US, although I haven't been to the poor parts of the US. The poorest parts of the Baltic countries are very poor, with some older neighborhoods lacking facilities like running water and sewerage, very high unemployment and very low wages.
1. Yes, the average Swiss makes more than the average American, but the cost of living there is also much higher. So much higher that on a purchasing power parity computation, the average Swiss makes $58,600 compared to $56,000 for the average American (source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_GDP_%28PP...). That's a long way from the stated $91,000.
4. Wealth-based taxes. Yes, the Swiss Federal taxes are very low. That is entirely offset by cantonal taxes. This isn't a good thing or a bad thing depending on your perspective. The Swiss cantons are very independent compared to U.S. states and provide most services locally. But, as a tax-payer, you'll be paying an equivalent amount to both levels of government as you would in the U.S. Only the ratio is going to be different.
While I can vouch for the amazing unemployment benefits, I will also point out that for the many HN readers who are software developers, you would find that your profession doesn't have nearly the status in Switzerland as it does in the U.S. Anecdotally, when I lost my job, my unemployment benefits were great, but the jobs I could find were pathetic compared to what I could find back in the U.S. which is where I ended up despite my regret in missing many of the benefits of Swiss life the article discusses.
America probably was exceptional at some time in the past. Now, among modern western countries, we are merely an exception.
That is of course no longer the case.
"It usually adds up to five weeks of vacation plus around nine public holidays (plus other possible company paid holidays or additional vacation time)."
I'm not trying to hate on Switzerland by saying this....my grandfather emigrated from there, I have many cousins still there, it's an amazing place, virtually everyone is super healthy and multilingual, they have forward-thinking socially liberal laws, etc.....but let's call a spade a spade when it comes to how they are able to afford everything.
The top 10 companies by revenue are all in pharmaceuticals or commodity trading: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Swiss_companies_by_rev....
Chocolate, cheese and mountains is just there to entertain tourists but even if you would kill tourism and banking, Switzerland still would be superstrong due to the megacorps (e.g., Glencore is located here and trades with 80% of all coal in the world) who decided to pay taxes in Switzerland.
(You can read more about Switzerland in my blogpost "8 reasons why I moved to Switzerland to work in tech": https://medium.com/@iwaninzurich/eight-reasons-why-i-moved-t... -
I am well-connected tech-recruiter in Zurich and if you're thinking of moving here and getting a coding job, feel free to contact me - you find my email address in my HN profile.)
Meanwhile, their top line salary is a starting point for calculating the bottom line, which is how quickly they can build up their own financial safety net for contingencies such as getting laid off, old, sick, raising kids, etc. Or, for starting their own business.
Granted, I'm probably guilty as charged. I keep tabs on my total wealth, as I inch towards retirement and my kids race towards college. Also, I haven't gone to the extreme of working 80 hours per week, as I've managed to maintain my career progress while guarding my work hours and living in a fairly pleasant -- dare I say more European-like -- city. I also have a second job and a side business.
Perhaps in Europe, having a mandatory safety net (health care, etc.) means that workers don't have to be as aggressive about building their own safety net, and tend to negotiate differently.
She replied that the young tech talent that they recruit
doesn't demand it they only look at the top line salary and
don't calculate the amount that they are earning per hour.
1. At the "large tech employers," the young talent couldn't demand it as they have limited power. There's plenty of substitutes at the margins. Both parties know this.
2. Employees surely calculate $/hour. It's cute to derive a minimum wage salary when you spread wages across more hours, but earnings/career comparison stops there.
Microsoft, Google, Amazon, Facebook (and probably others) are competing for that same pool, and if they could increase their acceptance rate of offers by 10% by offering better work-life balance they would do it in a heartbeat.
In my experience, the two main things that 22 year old tech graduates are looking for are money and future career potential. I doubt more than a few percent of the young interviewees at those companies even ask about vacation time. I have a fairly small data-set, but not one of several dozen right-out-of-college interviewees have asked me about how many hours they would be expected to work.
If you actually read the most up voted comment the last time this was discussed, it says the same thing.
"Driving Bentleys ruined me for BMWs and their poor make quality"
Switzerland is one of... three maybe (Luxemburg, Norway) countries with higher standard of living than the US. Not even Switzerland's neighbours (Italy, France, Germany) with people coming from the same populations can reproduce it.
All these great states are tiny (8M people) outliers. There are more people enjoying work-life balance in America than alive in Switzerland. You could carve out multiple Switzerlands of the US if you broke it up and tightened immigration (as the Swiss are doing right now).
""" Source: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=9988048
If you were to carve out Silicon Valley to LA into a new country and with similar xenophobic immigration policies you will have a nation far far superior than any other on earth. Such comparisons are meaningless.
The SVP were furious, but hey that's how a coalition government works and that's a good thing. Compare that to a republican presidency, Senate, House? Hoho, good luck with that one.
Why don't you talk about lack of birthright citizenship even to children of permanent residents or that each individual has to be voted on by reidents of that canton to determine eligibility to become citizen.
Switzerland is essentially a white wonderland (World War II implicit support of Nazi and looking the other way while Jews were being persecuted) it gets away from moral scrutiny by pretending about false neutrality and marketing its beautiful mountains.
You can read more about Switzerland in my blogpost "8 reasons why I moved to Switzerland to work in tech": https://medium.com/@iwaninzurich/eight-reasons-why-i-moved-t...
Full disclosure: I am well-connected tech-recruiter in Zurich and if you're thinking of moving here and getting a coding job, feel free to contact me - you find my email address in my HN profile.
Would you say the salary levels are still accurate? Just making a back-of-the-envelope calculation using your numbers for food, immoscout24 for rent (used a 2.5 room in Oerlikon) and lohncomputer.ch (http://imgur.com/iWXaJSC) makes (junior) dev salaries in Germany look ridiculous low.
(For the record I'm Swiss, but I think most Germans would agree with me on this.)
BTW coming here with children isn't too much of a problem. You don't necessarily have to put them in Swiss schools, there are also international schools where the curriculum is oriented towards expats (SATs etc) and the language is English.
The French and Italian speaking Swiss yet are another story.
Source: I am half Swiss and half German and have family in both countries. I live in Switzerland.
* Always afraid of innovation
* Contactless credit cards are regarded as very dangerous
* Even debit card payments are bad because they cost the seller money and the government might see where you bought stuff
* McDonalds EasyOrder kiosks are mostly empty and people prefer to queue for ages to order "the normal way"
* "Only my lifestyle is the right one and others are just wrong"-mindset
* Restricting opening hours because you could just shop earlier or on a Saturday just like they do
This is surprisingly common. A few years ago, I was working "night" shift (mid-afternoon through to 11pm), and I had a number of people get quite crappy with me because I wasn't getting up at 6am. I had a job, I should be up at the same time as everybody else who works a (day) job.
Things I didn't like about Germany:
* they seem to like dogs more than they like children e.g.: random old man screamed at my wife on the street because my 2yo son was crying; the neighbours below us harassed us for a year until we moved, because of the noise my old son made walking around the house (never outside 8am-7pm, mind you); at most 10% of the people will smile at a baby on the street or interact with kids
* closed-mindedness; I can't describe very well what I mean by this, sorry, but it seems like there is this weird underlying mentality, that I haven't seen before yet I could consistently identify; in old people it's somewhat evident, but I was surprised to find this even in younger friends after I got to know them better
* generally, mean people – this is subjective, but I've never seen as many random acts of passive or outright aggression as I did in Germany; my short trip to (German) Switzerland sort of confirmed the rumours I heard, that Swiss people can be even meaner; looking back I realise this can be correlated to social status – most of my bad experiences happened in posh neighbourhoods
* companies will fuck you over at any chance they get – in Germany nobody seems to realise that 2 year contracts that you can't get out of are not normal; also I've been overcharged or plainly scammed by reputable utility companies; as an expat you have to be extremely careful not to get into a bad contract, and not to be taken advantage of; even my first landlord scammed me out of my deposit money
Things I did like in Germany:
* social system – each year we got a couple of thousand euros in tax refunds; I received a substantial amount of assistance when my startup failed; we had a baby in Germany, everything was covered by my insurance, and there was plenty of financial support for the new mum; setting up as a freelancer was extremely easy, and the taxes much lower – additionally it's easy to deduct a lot of the costs; public kindergartens are very good and very cheap; TL;DR "socialism" is awesome
* roads – hands down best road system, highways, and drivers I've seen
* parks, many of them with animals, farms where kids can interact with the animals, indoor playgrounds etc. – overall endless options for children, and either free or very accessible; additionally, the two areas I've been mainly in, NRW and Bavaria, were insanely beautiful with perhaps hundreds of places to visit and explore
* people follow the rules religiously a majority of the time – huge relief for someone who hates chaos
* there is a genuine care about social issues like privacy, refugees, ecology, etc. – I find this funny in contrast to the pettiness I've observed; in Munich people were welcoming refugees at the airport (as opposed to weird-ass stuff like this https://goo.gl/OEAkDW )
* good public transport, good infrastructure, hospitals, etc.
* the public healthcare is much better than the NHS and very cheap – contributions scale with your income and top out at about €700 (your employer pays half)
* great police – several instances where they were tremendously helpful, and overall very nice and trustworthy
* living costs – my conclusion is that Germany is one of the cheapest countries to have a decent standard of living; for reference I'm now back in Romania and overall things are much more expensive (example – huge markups on electronics, baby diapers, etc.)
I understand that I can't have an accurate picture of the whole 80+ million nation in my 2.5 years in Germany, and I might've been particularly unlucky. But overall my conclusion is that Germany is a great country, but it's not for me – and that's what I meant by my original comment.
when you say money, do you mean investing? what if I don't want to invest or start a company or employ local people?
I know nothing about you, so I really can't recommend anything.
ELI5: are employees sometimes (often?) expected to work on their vacation? Or take those days out as extra pay instead? Or is it just that it's never "a good time" to take that holiday?
That said, I used my full two weeks to get out of the office from mid-December through the end of the year, and ended up working through part of it anyway due to more tight deadlines I was committed to without any significant input from me.
Had I not taken the days, they would have disappeared on January first without anything in exchange. In my case, it seems to just be a lose-lose.
- You respond normally to emails and Slack, but don't show up to meetings or other work in the office. This counts as a legitimate vacation.
- You simply don't schedule the time off, and nobody says anything. Some companies will pay this out in cash equivalent (giving you an extra week or 2 of pay), but usually it just "expires" at the end of the year.
I do 8-10 weeks off every year (the proper no-email kind) now that we have the 480 parent days. Together with the 6w holiday you can just slowly take those parent days and make longer paid holidays.
I'm not sure how many more percent pay I'd want to accept 0 to 3 of weeks of not-quite-off, and no parental leave. 50%? In any case, it puts my measly european software salary in a different perspective.
That is not at all normal.
When we are talking about "guilt" for time off, it depends largely on the company. At the very highest levels, usually they don't like having everyone store up a lot of vacation, because that's a liability on the books (if you lay someone off with vacation time stored up, you usually have to pay them for it).
Therefore most of the guilt comes from lower level management or peers. When you are in a team of 6 and everyone is overworked, you feel guilty if you leave for two weeks, knowing that everyone remaining will be working 20% harder. For the same reason you will see people checking their work e-mail hourly while on vacation.
It's a cultural problem. This is why you may have seen some US tech companies advertising "minimum required vacation days:" if you are required to take the vacation, then you can't feel guilty for it.
We had times they said we weren't allowed to take vacation - mostly around Christmas, but sometimes different. I had trouble getting 2 weeks off in a chunk when my soon-to-be spouse visited, and had to find someone to work my scheduled weekend to do so. Usually they only let you take a week at a time.Some stores would do a payout for vacation time at the end of the year. It was a pharmacy, and we worked holidays and weekends.
Some places are much more strict than this, however. And some places don't offer vacation time at all, though a few offer more.
As someone who is also in a position like the OP, it's always "life or death".
Wouldn't the rational thing be to turn off your phone when you take a vacation or even leave it at the office?
Switzerland sounds awesome; make tons more money there and work fewer hours...why isn't that the norm everywhere if it's so great and works out so well?
Their population is 8 million vs 318 million here in the U.S......
You imagine anything that doesn't sound brutal and exploitative must be a socialist dream?
Seriously? The only common thing between Switzerland and Venezuela is that they are on the same planet. If you ask for examples for difference you just prove that you are rather uneducated.
Besides, the Swiss secret has been kinda taken care of by the IRS a few years ago.
One thing tho, is that while wages are extremely high there, the cost of living is extreme too!
Even those that are much worse than Switzerland, still treat their workers better than in US.