I have been working remote for 17 years, and the teams I worked in, work asynchronously. It is fine to text, slack, discord and email after hours, people don't expect to get answers immediately, they will reply according to their schedule or contract.
One case is that employers have to compensate employees for electricity and utilities for working remote, in my case that is a cost of €10.58, I save much more for not commuting, financially and psychologically.
This suggests you are likely a member of the professional class. A lot of labor regulation in the US (my country) is intended to protect the working class, not the professional class. Perhaps that was the intention of your politicians?
(This legislation does sound like treating a symptom, and not unlikely to have unintended detrimental consequences. But we should still empathize with and consider the needs of those workers less privileged than ourselves)
It's also unclear that there's no scenario in which the non "professional class" would benefit from being able to be texted by their boss.
Why? Or else what? They might look for better jobs?
The majority of the population is working low-skilled, low-pay, low-satisfaction jobs. The people that do the shitty work (cleaning, cooking, serving, building, maintaining, etc.) are supporting the more privileged way of life.
Circumstances aren't bad enough yet for all of them to go full Roman and stab the professional ("laptop") class while they're walking in the street or working in a cafe; but that doesn't mean all that negative emotional tension brought upon the working class is simply isolated, and has no reverberating impact on the greater world.
However, were these circumstances left to deteriorate enough -- i.e. the negative emotions start overflowing and can no longer be subdued by drug use and other outlets, e.g. when one is starving -- then you're one internet meme away from getting your house molotov'ed and dragged out into the street.
I for one don't mind making life a little bit easier for the working class. In this case it would likely be preventing managers from texting un-scheduled workers: "I need you to come in tomorrow to fill someone's shift" (a request that usually entails one's job being on the line).
But there is another, countervailing aspect. People think they have no alternative if they live in a society that provides no upward mobility.
I happen to live in a country (the US) that provides the greatest degree of upward mobility in the world, which is why immigrants from every other country come here. But there are people here who, out of a form of sanctimony disguised as "empathy", want to insist to people in service jobs that they are permanently stuck there and should view themselves as members of a
oppressed class, rather than emphasizing (let alone providing) the opportunities for people to reach their highest potential.
We're not the UK, let alone Russia. I was a taxi driver. Numerous former bartenders I know own houses and work in tech. Friends who were barely employable ten years ago are now master carpenters, mechanics, or truck drivers with several trucks. And some are "professional", if you consider coding professional. I think it's more like plumbing without a license.
My point is that pity and putting people in a box with hoity-toity empathy and little handouts is degrading and belittling, and saying they have to have those jobs forever is essentially a backhanded way for people to seem empathetic but actually guarantee that the existing hierarchy remains.
A lot of the USA is setup to unfortunately keep a certain amount of folks in a perpetual system of being poor, while telling them it's way worse in other countries (we're the best!). It keeps them too busy to pay attention to anything but survival paycheck to paycheck, which is good for the ruling class.
It's also funny that you are literally degrading / belittling (while saying regulations meant to protect them are degrading) people who are in jobs that you view as below you (service), but would likely miss a great deal if folks didn't do them.
But hey, you seem big on anecdotes, here is some data:
Literally, the USA is ranked 27 in upward mobility in the world. Stop spouting propaganda and go talk to some real folks in service jobs. Ask them what their schedule is, what their home life is (are they taking care of their parents, others with chronic conditions, do _they_ have a chronic condition, etc.), and get to know them.
Go overseas if you can, and see how the rest of the world lives. You'd be surprised how good other countries have it, even the "service" class in those countries, as you would put it.
I'm not one of those. I've been to more than forty countries and lived a year or longer in a dozen of them. I've been enmeshed in societies that are strictly founded on familiar and tribal ties, as well as ones that are strictly postmodern and corporate, and some that are socialist-leaning. Some have been communist in policy but have incredible personal ambition embedded and passed on (e.g. Vietnam). Some are essentially capitalist but yearn for work-free socialism (e.g. Argentina). All have complaints according to their own drawbacks. I've also joined left-wing rallies and still made friends with people from all sides of the spectrum in places I've lived.
As a kid who turned 21 under 9/11 and the advent of the Patriot Act and the endless wars in the middle east, I've hated America for a lot of reasons, but one thing I can't hate it for is the "propaganda machine" that tells all comers that it is possible to succeed here. As far as I've observed, there are only a few other countries where people are as free to re-invent themselves, detach themselves from their birth circumstances, and become whoever they want to be. [edit: The new American obsession with attaching your identity to your birth circumstances is anathema to me and most other children of immigrants, and smacks of "privilege" - our families view our history as a challenge and struggle to get over it]. Western Europe, Aus/NZ, Canada. But there, you still don't have the benefit of an economy that rewards achievement. You might find that a matter of personal taste, but to me, the valuing of achievement is something I've only seen in eastern cultures (Thailand, Vietnam, China) outside the US. The other Western countries besides the US seem to have lost their taste for it.
That's why I say - from my own imperfect point of view - that the US does offer a combination of personal and economic opportunity that doesn't exist in any other country.
So I apologize if you took my statement as a rehash of some propaganda, but hopefully this clarifies that it's a precise opinion I came to after a great deal of hating much about America while also admiring it.
As far as my short search has lead me this appears not to be true. US doesn't seem to be in top 20 which is dominated by Europe.
* inter-generational upward mobility -- are you richer than your parents?
* intra-generational mobility - has the older you climbed to a higher position than the younger you?
For the above, it makes a difference whether you are talking about absolute gains or relative gains (e.g. bottom quintile to top quintile).
And also whether you are measuring income or wealth and if income, whether you are looking at after tax income or market income. With wealth, it depends very much on how you measure things like government benefits.
Finally, mobility measures need to be taken across the business cycle rather than just, this year versus 5 years ago.
It's not a simple issue, and I've seen studies that go either way on this, but I'm always interested in getting more data on this important topic.
Upward mobility, richness of life, and success, has absolutely nothing to do with how much better other people did in the same time period. I went from $20k debt and dropping out of college to $300k savings. Am I supposed to be angry that someone I know went from a $3M inheritance to $300M? Why should I care? My own upward movement hasn't been hampered by theirs. I don't need anything they have, or envy it. If anything, they envy me because I earned what I have.
In real terms, I've already moved up far more than they have. This idea that an increasing divide makes upward mobility for the lower echelon less meaningful is just totally false. The difference between being able to buy a place versus the difference between how big a place you buy is only one of degree. The difference between $300k and $300M is aesthetics. But the difference between $3k and $30k is survival.
So when I'm talking about upward mobility in America, I mean getting out of debt and poverty... getting to a place where you can have a good life. Too many people think it means comparing yourself to or becoming Elon Musk. And that's
a credit to America too, because they've never lived in another country where even basic survival is difficult.
Please do post your source. In my own experience and research, that is very limited in Europe.
I would argue that there are actually more disincentives than incentives for class mobility in Europe (which is where I live).
Wow, that's a wonderful mechanism to construct a morality. /s
I'm a fellow Yank, and I've been tipping takeout orders ~18% every time because I want my local restaurants to remain open. Life sucked when everything was closed, and since I'm (currently) in the "laptop" class I figure I can afford to add $2 to my burrito order.
Maybe that's ugly self-interest, too, but at least I think I'm being consistent with my larger beliefs, which doesn't seem true in your case.
[edit: not what the workers at the bar will think of you. What the other diners at the table, or the people on the internet will think, when they ask themselves whether your motives are pristine. Trying to prove the righteousness of your self-negation is, uh, not exactly self-negating is it?]
I'd counter that your comment reveals disdain for people who you wrongly assume can't improve their skills or economic outlook.
I could make a long list of people I know who taught themselves new skills and leveled up to new jobs - code or otherwise - without the need for "empathy" from someone who was certain they were less "privileged" and therefore should be pitied.
As for my own opinion? I don't think there's a stone software engineers are cut from, but I don't think most people could be effective at working on technology without dramatic improvements in a few different key areas between analytical (data driven) thinking and layered abstractions.
It's not that these things can't be learned - I certainly didn't learn these from my blue collar parents. It's that it takes significant investment of time that many adults can't dedicate.
Anyone can learn a trade if they take the time to study and become proficient. I don't think it requires "privilege". Maybe twenty years ago you grew up too poor to have a computer in the house, but you certainly had a car or a toilet. And so some people learned to be proficient at fixing things, and other people ...? Not so much. But that's okay, because as you said, not everyone can be effective at working on technology.
However, that doesn't mean that the world needs to bend over backwards for people who can't get proficient at something.
I just choose not to be angry about it, so I hope the guy serving me a burger chooses not to be angry about my job placement too; I'm more than happy to tutor him.
I know some people can and will make it, but it’s definitely not for everyone or even the majority of them, especially here in southern Europe. Think mums with kids doing 9 to 6, men in their 50s doing shitty jobs in shitty companies, young professionals living with their parents because they can’t afford to pay rent. Yes, they could go abroad and reinvent themselves, making a substantial improvement to their quality of life, etc. But in the meantime I like that our governments take steps to regulate overworking and crazy demands for those who don’t give a shit about their work beyond getting their salary and moving on with their life. I empathise and understand their context, even if I’m in a quite different situation.
That’s empathy, not pitying others because they are less privileged than me. Maybe they are even happier than I am, who am I to judge?
It makes no sense, though. Who is going to clear tables and wash dishes? Who is going to pick fruit? I picked fruit as a teenager. It sucked. I hated every minute of it, but it has to happen. Your suggestion seems to be making it suck more than it has to in the name of what... motivation? Why not make it possible for every member of our society to live a decent life, even if they happen to not have the necessary faculties (not to mention money, support and time) to be an engineer?
I think everyone should have to pick fruit, wash cars, wait tables, drive taxis, stock shelves, work construction, answer phones, cook at a fast food restaurant, or join the military.
Not go to college and eat on their parents dime.
And they should do those things as a life lesson on their way to becoming a doctor, an engineer, an artist, a jurist, a philosopher or a writer.
This is how life is actually discovered. People who are born rich never do anything of value.
Bitching about picking fruit, while you're doing it, is fine. But then let's get on with it and stop viewing it as if it's a permanent form of oppression.
FWIW I'd definitely hire someone who picked fruit and could write decent code versus someone who had a CS degree.
And I dug holes by hand and loaded trucks with tractors.
I've started to realize that when I share that fact with people, they either look down on you as an animal, or they realize you can do more than close Jira stories.
I don't think the second group is common.
You think you'll keep your quality of life if literally no one wants to lay bricks and stack shelves?
Let people's lives be miserable enough and they'll stab you and eat you instead of working.
And that is perfectly fine as long as you pay employees for being on call.
So glad I don’t have to work for someone like you.
I have other channels where I do know everyone and also know there is literally no overlap in natural working hours of all the recipients. My leadership team channel (as an example) has members in India, Switzerland, and both coasts of the US.
The net effect for some is likely to be “to ensure compliance, make sure to never employ someone from Portugal.” To the extent that is the outcome, Portuguese workers are harmed.
It seems to me that I can’t, but perhaps you see a way that’s “not that complicated”?
One state is rich another one shows a deficit and there has
been no job creation. If the German model is so good why cant Germany reproduce it in every part of the country?
At the same time Volkswagen Autoeuropa an automotive assembly plant, located in the city of Palmela,
near Lisbon, showed higher productivity
than some sites in Germany.
The problem with "working culture" analysis is that
they miss the underlying processes, patterns
and local constrains most teams are forced to work it.
Capital and supply chains are not spread evenly across the country... and that's a major factor.
If culture was the only thing then you'd expect people at the top of a mountain to have the same level of life as someone living in a city. That's obviously not going to happen in any case.
EDIT: Also the Euro is a disaster for countries like Portugal. To be clear: joining the EU was excellent (Portugal is a totally different country now than it was before we joined), but joining the Euro was disastrous. It bound together countries like Portugal and Germany to the same monetary policy, even though they had/have completely opposite interests. Well guess who had it their way x) Despite this massive crippling of sovereignty, which reared its ugly head when the time came to handle the European crisis in 2011, Portugal reaped no benefit from the monetary union. Closer integration or common fiscal policy never happened, and Portugal was stuck in a monetary union without a political union (the EU is barely a democracy, but that's a whole nother can of worms). Germany meanwhile benefits fabulously from its position as the foremost surplus country in Europe, in monetary union with comparatively weak economies.
I've often wondered about this. The US Dollar binds together poor states Alabama and rich states like California, but I don't think I've heard people arguing that two states being on a common currency contributes to the impoverishment of Alabama.
I'm sure there are important differences between the Euro and the Dollar that account for this difference in perspective, but I don't know what they are.
For an even better example, see India where the poorer states get very large subsidies and investments and quite a few have had substantial quality of life improvements over the years. People argue that Europe can't have a union because of its diversity but India is far more diverse in terms of languages, culture, religion and politics and has still managed to forge a nation atate.
In Europe, the rich countries essentially keep their own taxes and don't transfer and invest taxes in the poorer ones, so being tied to a strong currency trips up the poorer states badly - all the disadvantages of being a weaker area tied to a strong currency without any mitigation factors beyond the right to move away.
EU structuran development funds are ~34 billion a year for all of EU. Unemployment and other benefits in UK alone are 200 billion.
the amount of fiscal transfer that happens withing any nation is huge: all the unemployment benefits, infrastructure spending, salaries of government employees working in poor areas, etc.
Conversely, I have seen successful implementation of multi-billion euro projects.
Why can Germany invest money so much better than half of Europe? Same for Nordic countries.
I've been thinking about it a lot. It has to be culture. Germans in the government actually care about their own country and countrymen. They still line up their own pockets, mind you, but not as bad as Eastern Europe, for example.
And mental healthcare in Germany is absolute garbage, by the way. Which is pretty weird considering how much they invest into it.
But again, culture. You're suicidal - you're weak. You don't have ADHD, you're just lazy. Homeopathy is real. Vaccines are dangerous. Etc.
It’s interesting because people don’t talk about this more. For example a lot of bitterness about the SALT deduction in the US essentially boiled down to living in a rich or poor state.
Likewise if you look at inflation, it’s hitting poorer states hardest (probably because they’re more dependent on energy due to auto-oriented urban planning decisions, seasonal climate changes and energy policy). So what do we do? Set fiscal policy so Alabama has less inflation or so New York reaches full employment?
Regarding monetary and economic policy, believe it or not it gets worse. Much power lies in the "Eurogroup", an informal body of finance ministers of member countries which meet behind closed doors, as does the council by the way. Why do we not require our servants (that's what politicians are, supposedly) to have their meetings livestreamed for the public again?
The surpluses generally are divided and Alabama etc. are subsidized directly, or with things like military bases.
Most US states are too small to have their own currency.
US Monetary Policy also not in the pocket of Cali or NY i.e. the important players, like Euro is in the pocket of Germans.
This is essentially because in order for a currency union to work with different countries, you need a 'hard currency' - not a lot of funny money being printed. Germans are 'extremely scared' of France/Italy/Spain pumping the printing press and filling their economies full of dollars. So the Euro is a fairly hard currency, and when they do more speculative things, Germany has to be ok with it. It just so happens that Germany's economy is more naturally suited to this, while the others are not. So they win big.
The US Fed has been printing a lot of stimulus, which ideally should help the places that need it more, a little more, but in practice that might not be true.
I would argue in the age of digitization, it might be possible for European countries to go back to sovereign currencies and facilitate efficient transfer through exchanges with 0 fees, that kind of stuff.
Sweden and Denmark (Finland/UK/Switzerland) have their own currencies and they do just fine. You could still have the Euro for business transactions.
Nations that have gone bankrupt generally do so because they have to issue debt in a currency they don't control. Portugal does not really control the Euro, which means if there's a crisis, they have to beg France/Germany to help or change Euro policies. Not good.
In the past 20 years the main job of the ECB has been to monetise Italian, Spanish, Portuguese and French debt.
It does, but it's compensated in large part by Alabama receiving massive transfer payments from the federal government. Without a net flow of funds into it, its economy would be in the pits.
Yes there are; heck there are even tax havens within states for localities to compete that way.
One could argue that this would create a significant incentive for Alabama to improve its structural deficits and be more attractive to investors rather than being one of the largest federal government recipients among the American states.
In fact I think if one looks at Europe overall this is largely what has happened. Being in one monetary union has driven a lot of countries, in particular in Eastern Europe and the Baltics, to clean up their structural deficits. A lot of EE countries have gone from being much poorer to be on par or already richer than SE. I have trouble with this Euro-critical narrative, when a country like Estonia, coming out of the Soviet Union impoverished, is now more prosperous than Portugal.
Some of the more well governed and prosperous Latin American countries have pegged their currency to the US dollar voluntarily in the past.
states actually do emit bonds, as do counties and even cities
> California and Alabama are in a monetary and customs union AND in a fiscal a political union!
Kind of. They are both subordinate states to the Federal government which taxes and spends far more than any state, so that third actor -- the Federal government - is the gorilla in the room, and needs to be included.
> Federal money flow is net positive into Alabama and net negative out of California
No, both California and Alabama are famously receiving states. California used to be a donor state in the past - Governor Schwarzenegger famously complained about getting back 70 cents for every dollar, but that number was rapidly increasing even in his tenure and about 5 years ago it exceeded 100 and it still continues to rapidly rise. So now both California and Alabama are firmly in the receiver bucket. In fact, all states can be in the receiver bucket with the Federal government running large deficits.
> There's no tax havens inside the US for states to steal tax revenue from one another.
This is exactly what the SALT deduction is about as well as tax-free state and local bonds. One of the reasons why states borrow so much is because you do not pay federal income taxes on the interest (in most cases).
But to understand that you need to know about state borrowing, which takes us to the next point:
> Can you imagine if each state had to emit it's own bonds, lol!
States and local governments emit quite a lot of bonds. California owes about 70 Billion in bonds outstanding, but that doesn't even count things like "capital appreciation bonds" and other types of instruments it sells. See here:
Even individual cities and counties sell bonds, as do port authorities, etc.
> Imagine each state being on its own, and Alabama trying to get finance by selling Alabama t-bills on Alabama credit?
Yes, we showed the bonds that California sells and Alabama also sells bonds. Each state has debt, it's various bonds are given a credit rating, etc. FYI Alabama's latest bonds have a credit rating (AA+) that is slightly higher than California's latest issuance (AA), because Alabama's finances are in better shape.
So I think you should revisit your argument because the situation is a lot more complex. It's better to think of the federal government as providing income insurance to the states, rather than just pretending that states do not independently borrow money, that they do not compete with each other, and that they do not have their own credit ratings. A better analogy is to look at individuals in a nation who each borrow, save, and spend, but they are protected with some federal programs like welfare and disability insurance. That's a much better way to view the situation.
But my points regarding bonds is that the states and municipalities do emit bonds, yes, but not only their bonds. As you state, the majority of cash is raised at a federal level with treasury bonds. In fact, one of the Eurobonds proposals was that states use European bonds up to some threshold (60% debt-to-gdp ratio level was proposed), and have to rely on national bonds to cover the rest. This is at once a mechanism of consolidation, allowing weaker states to piggy-back off the bloc's interest rates, BUT at the same an incentive for fiscal discipline, as after 60% your debt has to be financed through more expensive national bonds.
Yes, these are valid points. My impression though, is that a better thing to focus on is not financing but who pays for what. In the U.S. the Federal government pays for social insurance, federal defense and big infrastructure projects. The states pay for education, police, and local infrastructure.
It is because the U.S. states do not pay for social insurance that allows them to weather unequal income distributions and that is why poorer states consistently get more spending. The whole point of social insurance is that poorer people get more and richer get less, so it's the opposite of per GDP spending.
For example, when states like California start trying to take on social insurance roles, that's when they get into a lot of fiscal trouble.
So now the problem with Europe is that the states do need to pay for social insurance, and that's a killer. There is just no amount of Euro bonds that will be able to help because the poorer states have a lower GDP per capita but the bonds will be capped at a share of GDP, which is the exact opposite of how social insurance works.
Therefore you can clean up Europe's finances if there is a central government that pays for social insurance. Defense spending is relatively minor in comparison to social spending, so you can keep that per state if you want. But once you federalize social insurance, then you can still do some GDP ratio debt limits and be OK, and it doesn't matter too much what happens with per-state financing once this burden is taken off states' books.
Of course this requires real solidarity. And it seems that Western Democracies have been doing everything they can to destroy real solidarity. But that's a whole other discussion.
At least that's my take.
They are just not strongly.
All you have to do is send your higher earning potential workers to Germany - which as you hint at, kind of the way the EU was designed, and which is happening to a great degree.
'Joining the EU' was never a benefit for Portugual - really just the free money or subsidized/reasonably structured loans and investment were. But as you indicate, the price is a lot more.
Germany is where people work, Spain/Portugual is where they retire, like the Florida of Europe.
Sadly, I don't see an end as there will never be enough momentum to disrupt things, given that young people think that 'travelling without a passport' is somehow a giant strategic benefit, and they've been told how to think about the EU.
You could have a referendum and leaders could ignore it, as they have in France, Netherlands, Ireland etc..
There's no change possible on the Horizon, but if there were serious economic upheaval in major states like Italy/Spain, integration problems wit E. Europe in a major way, it might be possible to cut a new deal which would include terms that limit ECJ Supremacy and affirmed local constitutions, and gave local nations control over settlement, and hopefully 'more democracy' at the Legislative and Executive (this will never happen though) ... and you have a situation where UK, Norway and Switzerland could feasibly join.
To be able to live and work anywhere across a whole continent is certainly very attractive to many young people - this has been the American dream, and it is the European dream now too.
Really Europe is just waiting for the old people to go (or at least their ways), then we might be able to build something great.
Finally, I (from the UK, with a couple of years in CA) didn't realize how much poverty I'd been living in until I came to Portugal, supposedly one of the poorer EU countries!
Pragmatically the opposite: the UK is doing just fine - and 'Brexit' has demonstrated how immaterial so many of the supposed advantages are in the EU, and how hyperbolic the scary claims were.
UK, Norway, Switzerland are all way ahead of all EU averages.
That said, I agree that it's probably off the table for a few years.
"To be able to live and work anywhere across a whole continent is certainly very attractive to many young people"
Yes, because they are myopic and don't recognize the relative cost.
There's also no reason to not have an 'Easy Pass' work scheme so that Europeans can freely travel anywhere, and, fairly easily obtain work visas.
"Really Europe is just waiting for the old people to go ("
Unbelievably naive and arrogant, more than likely, this will turn Europe into a cesspool.
FYI 'Labour Mobility' is fundamentally a neoliberal idea - it's proposed by 'Big Business' because they believe there is a degree of efficiency in it. There is some rationality there, but it's ridiculous that so many young people think this is really about some spirit of 'community'. It's about labour costs and supposed efficiencies, and that's that.
It's 'the dream' of the shareholder class, not 'the people'.
European leaders want to smash nations and destroy all concept of regional character, in this way, they can put a Starbucks on every corner, and IKEA in every suburb.
Right now Starbucks can't open a store in Italy, because Italians know better, and have other, better things to drink, in their view. But once there is no such thing as 'Italian' then Toyota, McDonald's, IKEA, Apple and Netflix will dictate the terms of society as much as they do in the US, and Italy will become an irrelevant suburb, like everywhere.
In terms of economic efficiency: UK citizens are ahead of Portuguese, mostly, your views o 'poverty' are likely brought up by anger and resentment, and would be different if you had to endure the true inefficiency of Portugal over a lifetime. Of course, this would disregard the amazing Portuguese culture, which is subjective, but that's exactly what the EU Federalists want to wipe out, as they view it as 'getting in the way of efficiency'.
In reality, there's no reason for the EU to exist. The fundamental lack of democracy, the fundamental overreach by the ECJ, the fundamental misattribution of migration policy by ECJ rulings that contravene the treaties, the fundamental lack of respect for popular will (Jean Claude Junker basically saying 'we will move forward with integration no matter what the referendum results are, France, Ireland, Netherlands ignoring referendum results, killing referendums in the rest of Europe because they know they would lose etc.)
Europeans need an 1) EEC with coordinated and efficient worker visa system and international trade treaties done at the EEC level, 2) Integrated Monetary Coordination so that national currencies and work alongside the Euro and ECB can be reduced to just the 'Euro' not used for most commerce, i.e. a way for nations to fund their own debt, but also have some of the resiliency from being part of EU 3) Coordinated but not integrated military (the later will never work), 4) An ECJ that does not have sovereignty over national constitutions, 5) The EIF is a good idea actually it should be kept, 6) Parliament can be disbanded. There is something in there that would work for Switzerland, Norway, UK, and everyone else.
Then you can just call it 'Europe'.
Starbucks existential difficulty expanding into Italy is not 'disproven' by the fact there are very few stores there, just the opposite, it is evidence for my position.
2) The UK is doing quite fine 
Almost all UK numbers remained consistent through the lead up to Brexit hysteria (pre-COVID), nothing really changed even as Brexit was imminent and businesses adjusted.
UK 2020 numbers were a bit worse than average, of course, it was a disastrous year for everyone due to COVID - more importantly, the UK was actually much more accurate in economic reporting for public sectors services as the Home Office reports decline in activity (for example students not being taught) as a decline in GDP, whereas Continental nations declared simply gov. expenditures (i.e. 'teachers being paid', irrespective of classes being taught). Because teachers and other public servants were still paid in Germany, they didn't reduce the effective GDP declaration, even if they were not doing anything. So the 2020 numbers are not hugely comparable anyhow.
But by 2021, the numbers are already looking pretty good, and you can see by the charts (and others) that there is no hugely deviation from historical performance due to Brexit, although it's too early to tell for sure.
The OECD is not a 'pro Brexit' organization and their projections for 2021 and 2022 are fairly consistently positive and better than almost all of Europe.
The UK does 'a bit better than most' of the EU (some areas worse than others) in much the same way that it did before.
In particular, the UK still has an unemployment rate 1/2 that of France, and slightly lower than Germany.
Political antagonists (in and out of government) still lament their fears, and make bold claims about '30 year projections' etc. but much of this is misrepresented, exaggerated, and difficult to fathom given the multi-decade durations necessary in order for them to demonstrate the 'cumulative loss' from Brexit. And of course, they don't account for other opportunities.
There will be more COVID and post-Brexit adjustments, but the numbers have been coming in, and the evidence is that:
A) 'Brexit Hysteria' was completely overstated,
B) Basic economic participation (i.e. trade) with the EU is 95% of the story and everything else is mostly hot air.
After a couple more years of this, the results will be even more clear: the EU doesn't matter, only the 'EEC' (i.e. trade) part of it is relevant.
Nations can exit the union, trade with it, issue debt in their own currencies, regain monetary policy and competitiveness and get along just fine, possibly better than they did before.
Nothing stops the Portuguese government from making better laws for small business/entrepreneurs or investing in education for them.
But I guess borders could work. Why would anyone open a 3D printing shop for example, in Portugal when they can just do it in Germany?
It used to be, most countries were telling other nationals to fuck off. Now they welcome everyone and keep the best.
Hard for countries to compete when they let their best people just leave.
Portugal is in the middle of a work culture change. For the last maybe 5 or so years, many tech companies have opened offices here, and with that they brought a better work/life balance, better salaries, better everything, for people working in those companies.
On the other hand a typical "old school" Portuguese boss expects you to work more than the standard 8 hours and not be paid for it. In many many places you're shamed by co-workers if you leave on time (leaving earlier isn't even an option), or if you need to take days off for personal reasons. It's also not unusual to make it hard for people to take vacation days (we have 21 days of vacations per year), and even when you do take vacations you are expected to be available if needed. All this for a minimum wage of 665€.
Regarding the Portuguese economy, we are somewhere in the middle of Europe. We have many industries where we are probably the best in the world, but they are smaller less flashy industries. Namely things like wine, cork, shoes, ceramics (as in toilets), glass, etc. But we have many financial issues, manly due to huge amount of corruption in government and financial institutions. If you're interested in those search for Operation Marquis and Face Oculta scandal.
Regarding this law in particular, it was made so that people that are working from home due to COVID can log off an not have people calling for extra work after hours. It has been a real issue. For me personally I've been working average 10 hours a day the last two years.
You were describing US work culture perfectly until the 21 days of vacation part. In the US you are legally entitled to 0 vacation days (also, 0 days for maternity leave), though 10 is more standard. Our minimum wage is about the same ($7.25), and has not changed since 2009 ($7.25 today is equivalent to ~$5.50 in 2009).
"McDonalds" in cities starts at $15-25/hr because those cities set a higher minimum wage.
I don't think there is an easy recipe to change systemic problems and I don't have any quirks with the current government. They're doing a fine job. Portugal used to be a rural society and have textile industry. I doubt it's going to turn into a high tech innovation hub anytime soon, but everyone is trying. The currently biggest problem are the increasing rents and stagnating salaries, as well as the brain drain mentioned above. But perhaps the biggest problem is favoritism and very pronounced social hierarchies, I've heard horror stories about psychopathic bosses. I've even met such people at university so I believe they have a grain of truth in them.
I wouldn't be so sure:
Remote raises $150m and becomes Portugal’s fifth unicorn - https://sifted.eu/articles/remote-unicorn/
If you don't want to live a lavish lifestyle, I think 2000/2500 after taxes should be more than enough. Average Household income is around 1600 Euros (which is quite low tbh) but livable.
- 2 bedroom apartment in Matosinhos Sul (near the beach): 900/1000 euros (non 'fancy' places this will be around 500/600)
- Utilities (gas, electricity, water + internet/mobile/cable tv): 200
- Decent food for a family of four: 500
- Going out for dinner once a week with family: 150 euros
- Car: 600 (nice car lease, insurance + gas)
- Public transport for family: 100
Note all the prices are in the upper range. You can easily feed a family of 4 with much less or shopping around (we average 100 per person per month, but we still buy nice cuts of meat and the likes), just showing that it is well within the budget. Spreading out to non beach/not as close to porto places would reduce your rent almost by 50%. You can get a lease with insurance and maintenance included in the price for new a new Mazda 3 for 300 euros for example, leaving you with 100 on gas.
I bought my car upfront and I also own my apartment, so not the best example, but I still pay 300 euros of child support + private school for my kid (250) + other extras, and me and my gf (my kid stays with me 1/3 of the month only) don't spend over 1250 per month including those expenses.
But in general, no, housing market is out of reach even for the middle class and sometimes middle-upper class here (and other places in Europe). But that is what happens when money making machine goes brrrrrr, inflation goes to 5% and the likes, and the central banks still keep interest rates close to zero. Rich will get richer, and the poor, well, fuck them right? /s
Also, we have some national rankings of schools (both private and public) but don't get too hang up on that. My kid used to go to a very 'fancy', top ranked and expensive school before. Top of the ranks. Cost per month was over 700 euros. He was bullied there. Robbed of toys and things. His teacher couldn't get him to participate at all (he was identified as 'gifted' with an IQ of more than 130) or do anything in class. Talking with other parents, their kids had similar things happening (other kids stealing things). School tried to hide it until I threaten them with having the police involved (not exaggerating, I had 3 meetings with teacher and director person, and nothing was really done except vague promisses, on 4th time, I had meeting with my lawyer, I went to the meeting and said due to this and that, and the fact that what happening was crime A and B, and if it ever happened again, I would press charges both against the kid and the school (there is law where School is legally responsible if they are aware of this happening and do nothing). 10 minutes after leaving that meeting I had the school director/principal calling me to schedule an emergency meeting. After that meeting, it took me 2 weeks to move my son to another school.
He is now in a 'shittier' school, even has more 'problematic' kids, and there isn't a single issue, he loves it. He may not have fancy digital dry boards, and music lessons with some famous musician, but he is much happier kid. Just did his 'exams' and except for Portuguese (he hates it) scored almost max points in everything. Just because a school charges a lot and has all the 'fancy' things, doesn't mean it is the best for the kids
edit: P.S. I agree with you on expensive schools not being automatically better. A friend of mine had a similar experience to yours, and it was a very expensive school.
There has been a big change in the last 20 years because of a big bet on higher education, science and technology. The new generations can compete with and match the productivity levels of any European citizen of the same age cohort.
I hope this helps you better understand Portuguese economics because its impact on Portugal’s general wealth will become evident to anyone in the following decades.
Inflation adjusted Portugal's GDP per capita has hardly moved in three decades.
In nominal terms it hasn't increased in 13 years, since the peak before the great recession (23% inflation adjusted decline over that time).
By comparison Czechia was far worse off than Portugal 30 years ago and now has a higher per capita figure. Slovakia is likely to similarly overtake Portugal soon as well. The same is true of the Baltic states, all of which will overtake Portugal (Estonia already has). That doesn't seem like something that should be happening if Portugal were seeing a big positive change for decades.
"The main reason Portugal does not have a competitive per capita GDP in the euro area .."
The huge investment that has been made in higher education, science and technology took a whole generation for this effort to start displaying its results.
The number of STEM PHDs for example, is today orders of magnitude higher than it was 20 years ago - things like this do take time and do not reflect on GDP data immediately.
And yes we're starting to see its effects, though not at the level that I expect will be obvious to everyone who still thinks of Portuguese people through the prejudice resulting for many years of low productivity caused by high levels of illiteracy.
Things are changing, see the example below:
Actually, I have a friend from Slovakia, and what he tells me is exactly the opposite you have commented above - that the education system in Slovakia is today much worth than it was 10 years ago.
Anyways, I'm seeing a lot of IT companies (local and foreign) being created and investing in Portugal and I invite you to come here to see for yourself how a big bet in education can have huge payoffs on the economical development of a country.
On the other hand they have a lazy and unproductive workforce.
The lazy thing is a tired, prejudiced, stereotype. Unless you also consider countries like Japan who work similar (but less) annual hours to be 'lazy'.
 Obviously, this policy is not targeted at staff in different time zones, which makes their remedy meaningless.
However, please recognize that even with a well-meaning boss like you, there are still mechanisms that incentivize individuals to at least read these messages, and once their free time has been "tainted" with work stuff, much of the damage is already done. Psychological pressures (which may be entirely internal but often are the result of other peers' attitudes as well) will still take a toll.
IMHO, as grown-ups, it is the most reasonable thing to avoid such leakage altogether; when my phone rings after hours I need to be certain that this is not something that can wait.
Luckily, since you're already using slack, you can just use the "send later" feature which is super simple to use and will work around this effectively. :)
Because, as they also say, sometimes it might be appropriate to respond right away (“Or it could mean ASAP”).
If that’s the case, then the clear expectation is that people read all messages at all times, they just might not always have to respond right away (but in order to make that judgement call they have to actually read all messages).
This might actually be worse than just sending messages after hours where you actually have to respond right away – because you actually have to do sifting and filtering (after hours!) through messages, the vast majority of which might not require an immediate answer. If you are only contacted at those times where you actually do need to respond right away then at least you know what to expect …
This sounds like a pretty awful boss with awful communication who somehow convinced themself that they are oh so gracious and nice.
In case of something that is urgent the sender can override the "do not disturb" and send a notification anyway. This in my opinion is the right way to do.
You should own the fact that your free time is yours and that you shouldn't open Slack to read those late messages. People work at different times (especially true for globally distributed team) and expecting people to "know" that they are outside of YOUR business hours simply does not scale to multiple employees.
It sounds like that works for you at your company. Congrats!
But if you're lucky enough never to have had an overbearing boss, you're not familiar with all the nifty ways they will try to control or coerce labor while not paying you.
In US low-wage jobs, they know they can get away with violating labor law with impunity until it gets bad enough to attract media attention. Even if workers had the money to sue, it wouldn't be worth it.
I got to see texts from a younger relative's boss at a national chain restaurant leading up to quitting. She had been working 6-7 days a week for over a month, but wage theft was keeping her under 40 hours a week paid. Multiple demands she come in on her day off with less than a couple hours notice to "support the team" or "do her part", with escalating threats in response to anything less deferential than "yes boss".
She finally responded by quitting. That solicited a remarkable fit of rage, calling her a loser who can't hold down a real job and so on.
The thing that kills me is I know most people don't want to be abusive shitheads. It is absolutely learned behavior from an abusive top-down system. The only way to win is not to play.
And I think that's driving a lot of the job churn our sanctified "job creators" are bitching about. Fuck 'em. If you can't build a company without abusing people, you don't deserve a company. Go get a real job, whiners.
There are already laws against wage theft, if her current employer is already ignoring the existing laws, what exactly will improve with an additional one? Bad work environment won't be improved by a ham-fisted legislation around when your employer is allowed to talk with you.
This kind of good intention laws can only be used by employees that already have some leverage and are in a decent work environment. Say the no-text-after-5 law is implemented in the US, what exactly do you think will happen when your relative quotes it to her employer? In an at-will state she'll get fired, in a not-at-will state she will get fired for a bogus reason.
Powerless people don't magically gain power with shitty edge-case laws like this. Create a social net that allows her to quit without dying of starvation one month later or going bankrupt from lack of insurance. That will give the poorest among us some actual leverage.
That's a very good point! And true. But it's not a xor situation, you can have both as they handle different things. Regardless of any social security net, you can still be bullied or manipulated into yielding your free time. It's good to have it written into law that it's against the law to contact a worker outside their contracted hours.
I did not argue that it was, I meant that the counter argument of the person I was replying to was moot. Vulnerable people stay vulnerable and those laws are just basically just cosmetic.
> Regardless of any social security net, you can still be bullied or manipulated into yielding your free time.
Yes, but I am old fashioned and that's where I break from some of the takes in thread. If you can say no, then it's your responsibility to say no. If you are bullied at work or manipulated while having a social net and you choose to endure then I think the responsibility lies with you as you make no effort to improve your situation.
Now my last point is entirely an opinion based on my values, I can recognize that, but I hope it clears up why I believe in a social net that prevents abuse while also opposing laws like the one discussed.
I, like others, sometimes use work laptop for pleasure. actually, I know a lot of people who do this exclusively. sure, you can blame it on them... but also I use slack for more than just work, and when I see unread notifications, even if I didn't get a push, i'm compelled to read them.
This is actually not true. Slack will still red-badge the app or workspace and show that you have an unread message waiting for you. All do-not-disturb does is prevent OS-level push notifications I believe.
I use Slack also for some social groups (though, I'm trying to less and less), so just "quitting slack" means also removing myself from groups im in outside of work.
I wish Slack had a way to "soft log out" of a workspace - right click -> deactivate and it greys out the workspace and doesnt show any unread messages indicators until you reactivate.
On the other side of this argument, which other society-scale problems do we know of where an appeal to individual discipline has worked well?
Reading this as written, you're requiring your staff to read every message immediately but they only need to respond if you think they need to.
That's no different than 24/7 on call when it comes to making some people's lives miserable.
This basically means they must “read” the message ASAP to decide whether to reply ASAP or not.
That OUGHT NOT TO BE the expectation ever!
Let alone the expectation of an immediate answer, the root problem is expectation of that message “being read right then” or soon.
It's likely the end result of this is using communications tool features to queue or hold messages until a worker's work day starts. I believe Slack, Teams, and Office 365 already support "quiet hours" at org level.
Tangentially, when thinking about labor regulation, I think it's important to frame the conversations as "what monsters lurk in the private sector?  " vs "I am a great boss, why would this be necessary?"
I believe my comments make it clear where I stand on support of regulation to prohibit this activity.
GP was correct—that means you've gotta read every message in case it's one of the "ASAP" ones. That's just exactly what the post under discussion explicitly stated. No adversarial reading required.
Assuming positive intent, in this case, would be to assume that they've at least made it clear what counts as "ASAP" so workers don't have to guess, after checking the message. If not, it's even worse.
Why not just close slack when you leave for the day? I don't get it.
Because there are bosses out there who, if you don't meet their expectation of round the clock access to you, will fire you or PIP you out. Regulation will always have some edge cases where said regulation is suboptimal, but optimal over the aggregate. Your life might be worse, but more people's lives are improved.
Having children myself, I understand and can relate to your situation, but also understand the value of setting employment boundaries using regulation. Constant off hours contact is legitimately harmful to worker wellbeing .
"The insidious impact of 'always on' organizational culture is often unaccounted for or disguised as a benefit – increased convenience, for example, or higher autonomy and control over work-life boundaries," says Becker. "Our research exposes the reality: 'flexible work boundaries' often turn into 'work without boundaries,' compromising an employee's and their family's health and well-being.
Becker's research  is part of a growing body of work that is affirming the negative effects of an "always on" work culture. Around the world, several governments have begun to go as far as legislate laws allowing employees the freedom to not have to engage with work outside of official work hours."
 https://newatlas.com/right-to-disconnect-after-hours-work-em... (The right to disconnect: The new laws banning after-hours work emails)
 https://journals.aom.org/doi/10.5465/AMBPP.2018.121 (Killing me softly: Electronic communications monitoring and employee and spouse well-being)
You end up with millions of individual struggles with boundaries set by need/urgency, ability to say no, how much of a dick the boss is etc etc
In NL we have some law for a sector where people need to sleep on their shift while still on call. They get some small hourly compensation for those hours. When called their normal shift starts which has a minimum duration. After working for the maximum number of hours per day/week someone else will have to take over. Perhaps an exception like that could work.
Something like 25% of the normal hourly rate for being available. (for example 4 hours after each shift (20h) and 12 hours in the weekend (24h) for 12 hours extra pay) When called it is considered a minimum duration shift of 3 hours, hours beyond 8 or after 18:00 at overtime rate. The 3 hours are removed starting with the last work day of the week and the first of the next.
Replace responding slower with say being a different skin color. If a white and a black employee are equal on meaningful metrics but one gets to go on all the fun trips while the other is consistently given the shit tasks, that's obviously a problem, but you can't simply avoid the situation where the problem might present itself. You need structures in place so that employees can identify that they're being mistreated, notify someone with the power to fix the situation, confirm that the problem has actually been solved, and escalate if not; all without fear of retaliation. That is tough to do, but it doesn't make it any less necessary. Once you have that system in place, it is the logical way to deal with all forms of mistreatment. Then there is no need for special exceptions which substitute one rigid restriction for another.
Option A is a well chosen proxy, option B is the poorly chosen proxy I am arguing against.
It's much more difficult to prove that a worker is being fired for not being available 24/7 when they company says they have other reasons, than to prove that your boss sent a message out of hours. Your proposal would be practically unenforceable.
The difficulty of enforcing wrongful termination laws in a "right to work" environment is a separate issue, solved by better standards of evidence with clear guidelines.
On the other hand, if you ban out-of-hours messages, it's pretty easy to prove you received that message, so it's much easier to enforce.
This happens with a lot of similar issues. For example, in my country it's illegal to ask in interviews about family situation, pregnancy, religion... The point is to stop hiring discrimination, but it's much easier to prove that the employer asked me about whether I wanted to have kids than to prove that the employer rejected me because I want to have kids.
If your goal was simply to make the most easily enforceable law, why go through all the trouble of getting records of after hours messages? Why not just ban the use of instant messaging altogether. Or work email. Or employment. You will instantly stop 100% of employee abuse. Of course this is a facetious statement, we don't want to stop employment, or communication, these things are useful and desirable. We want to do minimal harm while preventing egregious abuse.
I think the restriction on interview questions is also an example of a poorly chosen proxy, but at least in that case there is no legitimate reason to ask those questions - you shouldn't be making hiring decisions off those criteria, there should be no need for that information during the hiring process. But if you come into the interview and are visibly pregnant, that protection doesn't do shit for you, because the issue isn't them asking questions. If you have a system in place good enough to prevent a visibly pregnant woman from being discriminated against, you don't need to prevent questions about pregnancy.
But adults who's source of income is their job that you hold the power over.
Even if everybody has a great relationship, that power differential is real and present and can't be changed.
I have one team member in Quebec and the way they handle this seems to make more sense than Portugal's. Basically, the employees have the right to refuse 'overtime'. So, the boss can message them, but they cannot be penalized for not responding.
When a project manager asked me on my private WhatsApp if me being at home meant I couldn't attend this very important number, I looked into a separate phone for work.
I got a separate SIM for 2,50 euro per month and put it into my previous smart-phone (I don't need performance for WhatsApp and the like).
This was one of the best decisions I have ever made. Being able to physically shut down your work phone gave me heaps of peace.
Would you dm your boss's boss after hours? I would only if important.
The entire point of this law is that you don't get to message employees who aren't working.
They aren't obligated to read your message and determine whether it is appropriate to reply immediately or tomorrow.
You can message them during work hours.
That said, I'm sure some bosses have abused this policy despite its well-meaning origins.
The employee can just turn off their phone today, or put it on do not disturb, or simply ignore the texts when not working. The boss could say "you need to reply to these texts or you will be fired", just like they could say "You need to take me off your $9.95 delivery list or you will be fired".
Also, is the point here that the employee will be happy to work outside of working hours if they are paid $9.95? If they get overtime they should be paid it based on the hourly overtime rate & policies for their role, not some strange one-time fee that their cellular provider collects for them.
The only problem I see, is that your boss is likely to use WhatsApp or else to find you, where such rules can't be enforced.
I could make an specific app go offline thanks to the NetGuard app (I'm not affiliated with it), it partially solves that problem. It must be manually turned on or off.
I personally think that's too much overreach as well. These groups tend to rot into culture echo chambers where you feel peer pressured to participate in a forced cheery way.
And EU and American companies open their offices here expecting “full cooperation” from these offshore employees while not at all from their local employees.
I'm not saying working 12 hour shifts is good or healthy (although in some cases it's also not too bad, especially if it means more flexibility for the employee, or if they want the extra pay). Just pointing out that plenty of US companies do in fact expect 12 hour shifts from their local employees.
Another reason why it won't mean much is that the employee is the one that needs to make a complain with the work authority, and then work authority has to evaluate the case and decide it they will issue a fine or not.
So what this really means is that if my boss contacts me after work hours I can (and should) ignore him without any repercussions.
It's easy to say this when you don't have any obligations and are young. But later in life this gets much, much harder.
Why do we need a law against bosses demanding sex and blowjobs when you can simply say no?
So working after hours is similar to sexual harassment. What a shortcut your did there. Next time try a better analogy.
How does this situation work for “flexible hours” though?
Or it this kind of expecting something like you only work 9-5pm and can’t be contacted outside those times.
What will the politicians do when lots of businesses that could have done business in Portugal instead go to another country that is more reasonable in their laws?
If the politicians removed regulations and made Portugal much more attractive place for business, I think that would better accomplish their goal of improving workers lives. Businesses would be competing aggressively for Portuguese employees.
Isn't this what we should not be doing? If government wants people to start working from home, then don't create disincentives for companies to make the switch. Temporarily, at least, absorb the cost.
There are at least 2 market failures I see. One is perfect information. The average worker will not know enough about how after hours access request system is implemented before starting. The other is perfect competition. In an ideal market there would be more competition that would give the worker enough choice to work without this after hours request demand. But in the real world the employee often does not have this choice.
Also, I take issue generally with the idea that in order to only work reasonable hours without being bothered by your boss you need to get paid less for the work you already do.
It isn’t obvious from the linked article.
For fairness, post a link to your linkedin, just to know whom not to hire.
Not that I need it either, I'm not looking for a new job...
It seems that more than half of all jobs cannot be done remote under any circumstance so how are you going to make that a government guaranteed right?
No government is trying to guarantee the right for janitors or nurses to work remotely - only those jobs for which it's feasible.
And a big proportion of those people are already going to have that ability forever at this point.
So this is a legal guarantee of a privilege for some people but mostly just those who don't need it.
The people being obtuse are the people arguing for this like it's some kind of grass roots labor issue and they are freedom fighters.
Tell that to the abortion rights campaigners. Or the father's rights activists. Or the people who advocate for the rights of gay/trans people, indigenous peoples and immigrants.
There are so many rights out there that only apply to a small subset of the population. It doesn't mean they're invalid.
That makes sense, women can have rights that don't make sense for men.
The right to WFH is a right that only applies to a socially defined group, specifically the group that have the best jobs. Not at all in the same category IMO.
It would be a much better world if our neighbours 9 year old was sent down to the local pencil factory every night for six hours and ay weekends to pick up the pencils that ocassionally fly out of the machine into those hard to reach areas between the conveyor belts and sharpening machines. He could make a few dollars a day and pay for his own food and clothes!
Why don't you go to Bangladesh and ask them to set minimum wage laws and maximum working hours? It would help Portugal more than this law, but not so sure about Bangladesh...
I'm Portuguese btw and know very well what I'm talking about. Just crossing the border to Spain makes big difference in a young guy's prospects in life.
The problem is that bosses can sneakily introduce things that weren't agreed on, and this is usually bad for the worker because the worker has less power in the relationship, there are frictions to switching jobs, they have leverage over your reputation, and resolving the dispute via government or the courts is impractical and expensive.
This can be thought of as a type of mild fraud, where two parties came to a contractual agreement that one party then violated (or perhaps it's a grey area that wasn't explicitly covered contractually).
This is why everyone should be in favor of some basic level of worker protection. Even if you're a hard libertarian - as they are purportedly against fraud, too.
The topic of receiving boss messages out of work hours was no hot topic at all in Portugal. Only on the minds of politicians who are more attuned to the concerns of managerial classes in Brussels than in Portugal.
Elections are coming in 2022, one more reason for them to fire more populist laws like one.
One more measure to keep Portugal the eternal cheap beach destination serving wealthy foreigners (read average working class from Germany or Holland) in holiday resorts and restaurants in our lovely sunny cities.
The problem that I have seen with people trying to take advantage of lower taxes for expats is that you can't easily find jobs that pay well. So even with lower taxes your net salary is not as high if are coming from an northern European coutry or US.