It watches like a parody, but at the end you're hit by the reality that yes, this guy is being completely serious. The message really is "sure, I traded away my quality of life, but look at all this stuff!"
That's actually the notion that Cadillac is trying to sell. Amazing that they're doing such a good job of it.
Fortunately, there's no real trick to getting back that quality of life. You just need to take more vacation time. You can negotiate this in to your package, but if you're in as hot a talent market as we are today, you might find more success with simply taking it. "Hey, as a heads up, I'll be taking 3 weeks off at the beginning of June" followed a few months later by "Hey, I'm off to Kalymnos for a couple weeks in October", followed by "I'll probably be out of contact between Xmas and New Years."
Note the lack of "asking" above. The correct attitude to take is that it's them who are acting irrationally by suggesting that you shouldn't take a healthy amount of time off to live your life.
Materialism and greed are literally everything that is wrong with the world.
Spoilied Douchebags like he and his generation are a legacy hangover from post-WW2 America, a time of middle class economic excess greater than any the HUMAN RACE has ever seen.
Americans aren't exceptional in any way.
We just got lucky by being the only 1st world country not in the middle of World War 2 so we reaped ton's of resources and opportunities from that and we have been coasting on it ever since and attributing it to our 'exceptionalism'. Americans love to believe that the individual is greater than his situation. Such bullshit.
You want hard workers look at China. I can't wait until Communist ass China is the next world power and assholes like the guy in the commercial don't understand why 'Mericans aren't exceptional any more.
I'm so grateful that the new American generation's self awareness, global consciousness, hacker ethic, lack of racism, community values, and so many more positive qualities are replacing douchebags like this.
I partially disagree, though. I do think Americans are exceptional, even if I haven't settled on exactly how, and I definitely don't think of it as a wholly positive trait. But this juxtaposition from your post is interesting:
Americans love to believe that the individual is greater than his situation.
1) Americans are, historically, exceptionally willing to let immigrants integrate. My family is from Bangladesh, my wife's from Oregon, both going back many generations. She could never integrate into Bengali society the way I have been allowed to integrate into American society. She could live there her whole life, and she'd always be "bideshi" (foreigner).
2) Americans are exceptionally optimistic. At its best, Silicon Valley is uniquely American: too naive to know that you can't do that. This is a double-edged sword, of course. Most of the time, "you can't/shouldn't do that" is true.
3) Americans have an exceptional commitment to the rule of law. We're not at a high point in our history in this regard, but we're still a society where the great struggles of our day play out in front of courts, not in riots and mobs.
Now, we're not as exceptional as we used to be. But in large part because Europe spent the last couple of decades becoming more like us. They instituted market reforms, opened up to immigration, rooted out corruption. It's easy to say that America isn't exceptional if you pretend European history didn't happen prior to 1995.
I just hate the worship of the vague abstract ideals that make us feel good over the complexity and hard truths of reality.
Or perhaps things were set up really good for the US after WWII? Then eventually a lot of Europe started to catch up to that initial advantage.
In the case of the old Soviet Block, given their past, basically anything that they could have done w.r.t. their markets and governments would have made them more like the US, if they aspired to some kind of democracy and some kind of free market. So I'm not so sure if 'More like the US' is very descriptive.
Then look at a wealthy kid born to a wealty family who works his ass off every day.
Even if they make the same on all of their standardized tests, make the same grades, and go to the same college, and get the same degree.....
Who's going to be more successful with the same amount of hard work?
And sure there's outliers but it's hard to argue that one's situation matters much more than the individual and this bizarre American sense of individual exceptional-ism is really naive.
I think stems from early Puritanical settlers who believed in pre-determinism and God rewarding people Materialistically the better person you are.
I'm pretty successful but I credit my family, being born in a 1st world country. My hard work was the tiniest of all parts of it.
Had I been born in Romania or Zimbabwe I would not be where I am no matter how hard I worked.
Conversely, I probably could have been way more successful if I had been born in a truly wealthy family.
That's what I'm getting at, maybe it's exactly that belief that sets us apart, and positing a distinctly American root seems to support the exceptionalist case.
It's like you're almost saying it's naive for the poor kid to believe he can be successful. If that belief is distinctly an American thing then I'm all in on exceptionalism.
>Who's going to be more successful with the same amount of hard work?
Success is tied more to education than anything. Good education just also happens to be tied to wealth as well. So by framing it with them getting the same education, you have actually eliminated most of the advantage the wealthy kid had. Unless you are just defining success as 'being rich', in which case the wealthy kid doesn't even have to be educated.
Passing down of beliefs and behaviors is almost more valuable than passing down money.
You're embedding positive or negative behaviors into someone's personality.
1>Passing down the belief that education is valuable
2>Passing down the belief that investing in the future is more valuable than short term spending.
Also having resources in general is a massive benefit.
1>having security allows wealthy kids to take more risks/reap more rewards.
2>More free time to learn and advance themselves
3>ability to take low paying jobs purely to make connections/build job skills
4>Status is a language that every one understands at a primitive level and so just getting more respect in general which means better promotions, better mates, etc.
Ford's parody spins it around by focusing on social consciousness, eco-friendliness, and diversity, a better message for their electric vehicle audience. You could look at the ad subject's "dirt from food" startup as a literal circle of life, an homage to organic farming and green living.
Interestingly, the car is a hybrid, which is barely mentioned in the ad.
Technically speaking, both the Ford C-Max Energi and the Cadillac ELR in these ads are extended range electrics. They have smaller batteries than battery electric vehicles, but the gas engine exists only as a generator of electricity.
As I've always said, humans care about narratives. Most people and market segments value the story a car says about its owner over the details of the technology. That's why they don't mention it explicitly.
Its on the Volt platform. Not quite sure why GM is pushing it to that market segment if they're not touting any of the serial hybrid features.
People for whom that premise is untrue will still have reason to believe that it is true. Because the alternative--that they spent a bunch of their lives doing things that weren't really that rewarding--would result in too much cognitive dissonance.
From the outside, looking at the US labor market and the way those young professionals often describe their situation in on-line forums, it feels like everyone has Stockholm syndrome. They actually believe that the US is successful because of the appalling working conditions and not in spite of them, and even then they frequently overestimate how successful US business actually is by objective measures.
But no-one wants to speak up from the rank and file, because the cannon fodder who lead the charge rarely survive to enjoy the rewards for their bravery. And given the transparent corruption that seems pervasive in high level politics in the US today, it doesn't seem like the federal government will be doing much to help any time soon. Again, looking from the outside, it seems that a lot of the most promising developments in US politics begin as state-level movements, so perhaps we'll see some leadership from the more progressive states driving incremental improvements for employee conditions over time.
In the Cadillac ad, the heavily painted individual said two weeks instead of the whole month. Just pointing that out.
For that segment of the population, it's true. Educated, rich, old men work more hours than everyone else: http://www.nber.org/digest/jul06/w11895.html
If only that were true. In many ways, we're further away from being able to reach the moon (or deeper parts of space) than we were 20-30 years ago
I love the US, and I've met a lot of crazy, driven, motivated and genuinly pleasant Americans. But work/life balance-wise, you're so far behind...
> Work hard all your life and when you're cynical, white-haired, old, fat and balding, you'll have a gaudy apartment and the ponciest car to ever ponce out of the poncing factory. And a barf-grey suit, a colour I didn't know existed until now.
Also, you guys would totally be going to the moon every weekend if any of all those money you're making year-round went to NASA and education.
For some reason, when it was airing, it resonated with me. Perhaps, I'm over worked and realize that these material things aren't really as important as one's health. Then again, I love owning a car and a home.
Its such a conflicting thought.
Watching that commercial filled me with rage and made me want to punch that rich asshole in the face.
But now, a lot of technology companies are saying, "No Set Vacation - you need to negotiate with your manager if you want some" - which, in my experience, has resulted in a lot of people over the last two years taking zero vacation. It's not good for them. It's not good for the company. About the only people who are happy about this are Finance who no longer have to carry that liability on their books.
I still agree that it causes ambiguity about how much time off is "too much".
If you're a startup, that can be painful to cough up.
Fast forward to 6 months into the job and I've taken days off for long wedding weekends and have some more extended travel planned in the future.
I agree that "unlimited vacation days" can be a red flag, but it really just means to be more curious and thoughtful about the culture during the interview process and find out what it really means.
Now, some of my coworkers are workaholics and won't take that much. But I have had success in just saying "I want to take these weeks off."
I work for a company with unlimited vacation, and in my first 10 months working there will have taken ~3-3.5 weeks of vacation days cumulatively that I probably wouldn't have if I had to conserve a limited set of days. Nobody has given me crap over it, nor have I felt pressured to not take those days. It's just a matter of having a company that actually wants reasonable work-life balance for their employees.
I think that our relationship with vacation has to change to one where we consider it a vital part of being a professional. When that attitude shifted for me, I became a pretty big fan of the unlimited vacation policy.
I figure that the worst case scenario, I'll get denied the vacation and I can choose if I want to move on or stay..no harm done.
So - if you are a high performing individual, you can make it work for you, but for a lot of people, unlimited days morphs into no days.
But - I think your kicker really captures the impact of this policy "t's just a matter of having a company that actually wants reasonable work-life balance for their employees."
I'm heavily paraphrasing Kahneman here, but numerous experiments have shown this effect in a variety of ways. Perhaps most counterintuitively, in an experiment where an arbitrary limit was set on the purchase of soup on sale, the amount of soup people bought was twice what was bought when no arbitrary limit was set. I'm not aware of any empirical studies examining this with vacation days, but anecdotal evidence like this seems to support the influence of this effect. I'd be extremely interested to see the data on the number of vacation days taken by employees at the no set vacation companies vs. others.
It really depends on who you're working for.
Even better, in a few places you don't have to be let go encash leaves.
My last company had a leave encashment policy. I remember, I hadn't taken a single leave in 5 years. I knew many of my senior colleagues hadn't taken one in 7+ years. When the mandatory leave encashment period arrived, we ended up with a quite a good chunk of cash.
After that the leave encashment policy was amended by the then CFO, realizing what had just happened. The new policy was designed to have a concept of 'leave expiry'(If you don't rest, may be you don't deserve rest in the future).
I guess the new CFO's now realize, 'leave expiry' policies force the other kind of culture- where every one wants to take leaves which now forces the people who other wise don't take leave to take it, because no one wants to 'waste' leaves.
So the most obvious solution is to put in a 'unlimited vacation'. So that the onus of leave is on you and your manager, if you there is ever a free time in your project you can have that vacation(Which will never come to pass anyway). This way you neither have to pay leave encashment nor have employees who enjoy full benefit of leaves. Instead the company as a whole now has lesser employees taking fewer leaves.
I'm certain the productivity and quality of live of many if not most people will decline over time without sufficient time to relax and focus on non work related things. Especially in high-tech/creative/innovative field I never understood how this is not understood by some people /companies.
No set vacation means no vacation quite often. Institutional ideology works on unwritten rules. So officially yeah leave any time that's cool, un-officially if you leave and Joe Smith here is working nights then well guess who'll get a talking to be about lack of motivation and performance.
I think the best policy is generous vacation time (4-5 weeks) and being forced to take it. The whole saving for a mini-retirement is problematic. Also I have noticed most people don't recognize burnout. So that forced time to rest and do something else is more beneficial than it appears on the surface.
EDIT: To add. I am becoming more convinced that vacation policy is one of the best proxies that show how much companies care about their employees' well being and happiness. Now, don't get me wrong, I am not saying companies should do that. It is up to them. They all will say the do though, but that is one metric that shows if they really do or not.
It depends on the nature of the employment. A few occupations (notably in banking) have MANDATORY days off. (Forcing bankers in certain categories of jobs to take vacations is a good way to detect long-term embezzlement schemes.) But there are definitely programming jobs in the United States in which the company says, "You can take time off whenever you like," which in practice means "You can take time off whenever the company isn't in crunch time," which ends up meaning never. Freedom of contract and flexibility in working arrangements is the hallmark of the United States economy and indeed is one of the reasons that the United States is as wealthy as it is--people choose the trade-offs they like among many possibilities.
Also, to save you a few years of surprises, here are some other factoids:
there's minimal healthcare, likely to be canceled by the next president
minimum wage is the equivalent of 5.33 euros and for waiters its only 1.57euros
Payday is not mid month but well after you do the work.
You can be fired at anytime without any waring for any reason from most jobs. Frequently a security guard will escort you out of the building.
But on the upside:
There's a death penalty in 3/5 of the country
The notion that the world is 6000 years old is sometimes taught in school.
You can buy a gun instantly in most states.
We have a per capita GDP almost as high as a northern European country.
We may not be socialist. Well, ok, some people say we are so never mind.
That's not vacation in my book. When I leave for vacation I don't touch anything related to work. With vacation time, I just request it and as long as there are no conflicts the time is mine to use. I have no responsibility other than not being at work. I worry I'll lose that disconnect with 'unlimited vacation.'
I work for a startup with unlimited vacation and know several others that do as well. Anyone who wants to take a vacation can take it at almost any time and for weeks at a time - no questions asked. The only time I've ever seen any conflict is when there was a major release planned at the same time as the beginning of one vacation, in which case the employee just pushed it back a few days.
No one is congratulated for taking time off in the middle of a project for your 'sanity' or 'to re-charge'.
Everyone is scared. There is no safety net. It's no way to live, but it's our reality.
That's a wonderfully succinct way of describing the US. It seems like in a lot of EU countries if you fail there is something to catch you (higher, longer, easier to get unemployment pay for one example), whereas there really is no lower limit on how low the US will let you fall (e.g. healthcare is a privilege not a right in the US).
They do say that the US has some of the highest anti-depressant medication usage in the whole world (or was it more than the rest of the world combined? I can never remember). That isn't a surprise when literally your health, shelter, food, etc is all riding on keeping a job.
Thank god for Obama care and the new ban on pre-existing condition limits (i.e. that you could not get insurance if you were sick before). It kept people enslaved into a single job if they ever got sick since they could never afford to lose that health insurance or they'd die.
While shrinking a bit, comparatively this very, very true.
On the other hand, there could never be a city in post Dickensian Europe where immensely well paid beautiful people laughingly step their way daily through homeless people on their way to a nightly evening of cigars and whiskey while discussing how aggregating the aggregators is going to change the world.
So there's that.
For the avoidance of doubt, that does not include England (these days). People with cancer in the final stages are declared fit to work
What I've read is that a lot of people on disability benefits (higher than jobseekers allowance) were in fact just fine and when properly re-examined magically stopped being disabled.
However, that assumes the review assessment was more reliable than the old one. I'd be interested in data showing whether it is or isn't.
now the government has outsourced the test to a third party who get paid on the "savings" the produce so you get things like terminally ill people so yes the tests are now being fiddled
The part about Atos wanting to pull out because of death threats against its staff is particularly nasty.
That is not true. Those protections were provided in 1996 by HIPAA Title 1 . If you had been covered for 18 months, you were no longer subject to pre-existing condition limits.
There is a safety net, it's just not as protective as European welfare.
There are jobs that like salt mines, filled with workaholics and sadistic bosses, or so I'm given to understand, but I've never been in one. The worst company I've worked for that had very little regard for their employees gave good vacation time.
I think a mistake we make when thinking about American policy is thinking there's an American policy. Each state has their own laws and every company is allowed to be different. This has its good parts and its bad parts. Startups seem to thrive in America but I've heard other people complain about the restrictive laws in their countries that make startups harder. Likewise, the American worker seems to work harder and longer than their developed peers.
The bugger is that people are too terrified of losing their jobs (read: lives) to demand change.
It is very difficult to take time off at my job. We have one set of "PTO" days that include vacation and sick days (as an employee of 2 years I get 15 days per year). Most people do not take long blocks of time off, usually it's a day off here and there, maybe two.
We also have a no work from home policy. I am a web developer. Literally, my entire job can be done from a couch, and it is even frowned upon to stay at home to work when I'm sick. We are allowed to do so, of course, but upper management treats you like Judas for the day.
That's just stupid and lazy management. If people do not work when they are working at home then get rid of them. Period. For all the talk of people getting fired in the US, it seems to happen so rarely.
As for coming in sick that is horrible. Both my current and last job wanted sick people to stay home so as to not get the rest of the office sick.
If you're afraid of taking vacation only because of what you've heard from the media, I suggest you try taking your vacation and see what happens. In all likelihood it will be a career non-event.
It's been my experience that one's freedom to take vacation -- not just technical freedom, but emotional freedom -- really depends on the company's culture in general, and on one's boss in specific. Sure, a lot of it is psychological. But if you've never worked for a boss or company who explicitly discourage vacation, legitimate sick days, etc., then at least know that those people and those companies exist. I can't tell you if they're the exception or if they're the rule. I sincerely hope it's the former. But I do know that they're out there, in great number. For every few employees who've been media-conditioned to fear vacation, there's a manager who's been media-conditioned to disrespect vacation.
I suggest you try taking your vacation and see what happens. In all likelihood it will be a career non-event
I think this will probably be the case. I know it is for me (I take every last hour of PTO I am given every year, and have been known to request time off without pay, too), but I suspect there are some employers that truly do what they can to discourage holidays (constant arbitrary deadlines, for example).
I believe there is an ego component to this. Not only does it "look good" to upper management, it makes the individual feel like they are indispensable to the company. Only the unimportant people can afford to take vacations.
If you're afraid of taking vacation because of first hand knowledge about the culture of your company wrt vacations, by all means, be afraid of taking time off.
Bullshit. I'm tired of seeing this same thing echoed. I think half of the reason this is even said is that someone reads this sentiment on something like HN and then becomes self-conscious about the vacations they are taking and starts to spout the same garbage.
Everyone I know working in the tech sector takes at least one multi-week vacation every year and doesn't think twice about it. Perhaps Silicon Valley is not part of the US anymore?
As to the studies cited in the article I would point to the OECD labor productivity statistics which, in the aggregate, seem to disagree. http://stats.oecd.org/Index.aspx?DatasetCode=LEVEL
The fact that Americans seem to only be able to find identity and meaning in their work, so much so as that it causes a psychic crisis to leave even temporarily, is the real problem, if it need be called such, rather than some imagined hurt to the economy. But that problem is so ingrained in our culture it is never going away.
This doesn't establish that longer hours lower GDP, of course. If I had to guess on a causal direction, it'd be some mixture of [more GDP] -> [shorter hours], as well as a good helping of [better-run country] -> both shorter hours and more GDP.
To your point, you may find this study interesting, entitled "Europeans Work To Live and Americans Live To Work (Who is Happy to Work More: Americans or Europeans?)" .
Here is another interesting piece on the topic, entitled "Reluctant Vacationers: Why Americans Work More, Relax Less, Than Europeans" .
As with anything, take these in stride; I offer them as additional data points. However, they do explore an interesting perspective, as both pieces attempt to investigate some of the cultural and historical differences between Americans and Europeans with regard to views toward cultural identity, taxes, unions, work, etc.
Should we compare the 'economic output' with other (in my opinion) equally important indices, like life expectancy, cost and access to healthcare, access to 'free' and universal primary/secondary/university education, income inequality, safety, etc, the concept of (social) productivity will definitely shift to other countries.
Don't get me wrong, I value GDP as much as almost any economist and finance minister, but all these other 'soft' factors are, to me, equally important.
This is to be expected, if Americans are working longer hours than their European counterparts.
If you do a little back-of-the-envelope normalization (GDP/capita/average hours worked), the results are much closer. Norway, of course, absolutely dominates by this metric.
This is North Sea oil, right? Hard to generalize from.
Wasn't really generalizing, just stating fact.
Norway has far fewer proven oil reserves than Iran, Iraq, Venezuela, Algeria, Ecuador, Nigeria and on and on...
Oil is not a panacea. The combination of a progressive culture and resource endowment tends to win. But don't assume that the latter is most important.
Don't forget having a relatively culturally and ethnically homogenous population (when compared to countries like the US), something that is often forgotten when holding up Scandinavian countries (esp. Norway) as a model.
It's funny how people immediately just say because oil whenever it is brought up, and think that it magically explains everything. Yes, a ridiculous proportion of export is from that industry. But it's not like finding oil immediately makes people prosperous - you have to manage it. Do you want long-term prosperity? Or do you want boom towns with high local inflation, high crime etc.?
Going into how the Norwegian petroleum industry works would reveal a strategy that is very different from how countries like the US (or Canada in the prairie provinces) would have handled the same discovery. And it works.
But since you seem to be an expert, how about you enlighten me on this subject.
You seem to want to pick a fight, based on something I didn't even actually say or imply (which you carried over from another comment). That doesn't seem like very friendly behavior for HN. I never said a single thing implying Norway's financial well being was guaranteed or automatic or required no effort.
I said Norway is prosperous due to oil. That is true, and their prosperity began with the oil boom, and that is not a coincidence.
A five second comparison between how Venezuela has managed their resources and how Norway has, would tell you everything you need to know about the care Norway has taken to manage their good fortune, but that doesn't change in any way the fact that their good fortune is derived from the oil boom that saw their output peak at a massive 3.4 million bpd (particularly massive compared to their tiny population).
Pick a fight? You're refering to that whole 'care to enlighten me'? Would you have preferred a bit less sarcasm to go with that question? It seems to me that the aggression started with you, implying that I didn't understand the importance of the petroleum industry. Even though it was the only thing I was discussing in that post that you replied to.
All I said was that the combination of petroleum and the management of it has been important. Clearly, if you take petroleum out of the equation, management doesn't really help much, now does it? So I took it for granted that readers could see that petroleum was a crucial part of the equation.
You might appreciate that, after explaining how management of natural resources like this plays a significant part in how well it works to a nation's advantage, someone comes in and reduces it back to "oil, that's it", I might get a bit irritated? And if the point was not to reduce it to that, why would one even reply with a one-liner like that, as it doesn't really say anything novel on the topic?
This isn't surprising considering the water cooler based work culture in the US. This benefits no one, but since there are almost no laws protecting workers, most workers have no choice but to comply or be fired. Then, of course, you have the people that do it intentionally, especially in the software industry, as a badge of honor or because delusional thinking makes them seem productive when they're actually less productive. The ones who can take vacation and won't. Mixing the desperate former and insane latter is exactly what most US companies strive for as their ideal work culture.
What the article overlooks is the unemployment caused by overtime. Two people working at 60 hours are roughly equivalent to one 40 hour a week job taken out of the economy--though obviously, the quality is much less than having a dedicated third person working. This isn't true for all jobs, just most.
The US is the world's second or first largest manufacturing nation (it's a close race with China currently, but they likely pulled ahead this year).
The US has the world's largest IT industry.
The US has the world's largest software industry.
The US has the world's largest internet / cloud industry.
The US has the world's largest telecom industry.
The US has the world's largest airlines, and railroads.
The US has the world's largest auto industry.
The US has the world's largest defense industry.
The US has the world's largest agriculture industry.
The US has the world's largest space industry.
The US has the world's largest retail industry.
The US has the world's largest capital markets.
The US has the world's largest real estate market, both commercial and residential.
The US has the world's largest advertising, marketing and design industries.
All of these things are not true simply because the US has natural resources. If it were simply a matter of resources per person, Norway would be the world's largest automaker or similar.
Googling reveals: GDP includes military expenses, bloated health care expenses, bloated education costs, ... I guess that explains the relation.
Most of Europe is exceptionally poor by American standards.
I would rather the average person earn $45,000 per year, with wide inequality due to a lot of rich people, than have the average person earn $8,000 or $14,000 per year like a dozen poor European countries that may have a better gini number.
Yes, the point in this case is actually to have fewer poor people - specifically a strong middle class. As supposed to, say, a vast percentage of poor workers and an exceptionally rich upper class.
You'll have to be more specific, or else your post looks like a derailment from what was under discussion, namely US GDP per capita compared to other first world countries.
I don't see how people who are working >80 hours a week are living in the same economy as the 'investors' they work for.
Real spending power for most people has crashed since 2008; tech is a rare exception.
How can that happen if these people are valued, equal participants in the national economy?
Typically an American's sole sense of identity comes from his or her job, and while we give lip service to 'happiness' as our life's goal unless happiness means ambition and success in one's work, you are an oddball.
The problem isn't that Americans are hurting the economy with over work; the problem, if you want to call it one, is that because we have nothing else in our lives, we don't mind that we're overworked.
People say they like their work and they "live" for their work because it's all they have, yet they aren't happy with it. If they were, they wouldn't be so compelled to go out and drink weekends away.
Americans have no choice but to be overworked. I look at professional jobs where I could use my computer science degree, and I have no choice. I basically have to choose a job where I work more than 40 hours a week. And in the US, a lot of employers only pay you for when you work. So that hour lunch break doesn't count toward the time you're working. Neither does your commute.
So there's a large swath of people in the US who work 10 hours a day, have an hour of two of commute each way, and an hour of idle time at work. meaning worst case scenarios, you're looking at 13+ hours a day spent at doing work related things.
Something that people have to do that consumes their life will be perceived as something that that person likes, kind of like how Stockholm Syndrome works.
No one ever speaks of how these long hours affect Americans to the point where they don't have time for constructive hobbies, time to learn about the world, etc, and that is going to hurt Americans far more than anything else.
I realize that their is more distance for Americans to see the world than Europeans or Asians, however, you would think that if seeing the world was considered important, that Americans would have more time off and more paid vacation to make up for the fact that you need to travel so far to experience vastly different cultures.
You've got to think about the fact that we have a generation of people raising children who only know how to work while the rest of the developed world is taking long vacations and living in the assumption that a worker should have access to health care, education, etc.
I am terrified of how the next generation of Americans will turn out. They're going to grow up seeing both their parents work 50 hour work weeks, have no hobbies, never travel to anything inspiring and only travelling for escapism, and thinking that they have it better in the USA than anywhere else.
I don't plan on having children in the USA. I don't think I could morally raise a child and fill their heads with delusions of grandeur and getting rich quick by working 65 hours a week, only to see them swallowed by student loans and debt, never escaping that mortgage until they die, while I look them in the eye and tell them the people in France work half as much yet make more money.
Please, look at these numbers: http://stats.oecd.org/Index.aspx?DatasetCode=LEVEL#
I realize they are a bit dated (the new dataset doesn't include the metric I want to look at), but USA already works harder than the Japanese. USA works almost 30% more hours than Netherlands. That's massive. To put that into perspective, that means an 8 hour workday in the USA translates into a 5.6 hour work day in the Netherlands.
I don't know about that.
Anecdotally, I've experienced this culture enforced by older (>50) people and don't see much of it at all with younger people (<30). Surely there are exceptions - startup culture seems more prone to it - but that's to be expected.
I expect the culture is simply going to die off not long after the baby boomers.
But for the past 20 years we've been fed the same fabricated FUD about socialized medicine that has no basis in reality. People still genuinely believe that America has the best healthcare, which is arguably true for the 1%, but not for the average person. We have major structural problems the media completely ignores.
Just one personal example, last December I needed to buy a 6-pill dose of medication while visiting family for the holidays in the US (I currently live in the UK). This cost me $600, $100 per pill. And it turns out that this medication is not as effective as the generic that would cost $2 per pill. But because there is no profitability this medication is not currently manufactured in the US. Had I been in the UK I could have walked into a pharmacy and bought this medication for £10.
Incidentally, while I was in line, the woman in front of me was purchasing a perscription of antibiotics, which cost $200, but she only had $100, so they only sold her half the dosage! I was shocked a trained pharmacist would be allowed to do this considering the perils of antibiotic resistance, but it's also pretty inhumane to withhold medication.
Frankly, the patriotic bullshit that Fox News and CNN feeds the populace about how much better we have it than Canada or the UK needs to stop. America needs to pull its head out of its ass and realize we are little better than a third-world country for anyone below median income who doesn't have a good group health insurance policy.
Now, if the generic was not available in the US that is a different story. Patents don't all end at the same time, so the drug may already be off patent in the UK, but not in the US.
Finally, to say "there is no profitability" in generics is laughable. The US has lower generic prices that most of the EU due to fierce competition for the US market.
And finally, although the US may not have a single payer system, we do have public health for the old (Medicare) and the poor (Medicaid). In addition, if you are sick and you go to a hospital, you must be treated regardless of your ability to pay.
The U.S. spends around 16% GDP on healthcare. This is by far the most of any industrialized nations. Americans have among the worst health care outcomes of the industrialized nations. Americans spend far more for procedures than citizens of other countries. Medicaid only kicks in for the extremely poor. Medicare kicks in for the old because it is unprofitable for insurance companies to insure elderly. Medicare is a subsidy for the health insurance industry. It allows that industry to dump unprofitable people and socialize their care.
That a person in the U.S. can go bankrupt and lose their home due to medical bills is obscene. The U.S. has an uncivilized health care system.
Hospitals are not required to treat, but most do. It is general knowledge in the industry that if you can't afford treatment for your cancer you go to a local hospital where you will be treated regardless of ability to pay.
Yes the US spends more than any other industrialized nation, but no, health outcomes are not the worst. If you use blunt tools like life expectancy to measure outcomes, the US ranks far behind, but that is only because of other extraneous factors that have nothing to do with quality of care. Check out cancer patient outcomes for colorectal cancer sometime, the US outcomes easily outstrip those of other countries.
Medicaid is not only for the extremely poor. The ACA just bumped up Medicaid income eligibility to 133% of poverty level. That's over $30K for a family, so I wouldn't say that's "extremely poor".
I have no idea where the "Medicare kicks in for the old because it is unprofitable" comes from. It was a social benefit put into place in the 1950's. The insurance industry has nothing to do with it.
No you can't lose your home over medical bills. Your primary residence is protected when you go bankrupt. Also, even in nations with single payer systems patients end up financial difficulties when sick because they can't work.
I suggest you do some more research and educate yourself on these issues rather than repeating what others tell you.
Do you have a source for this? I can only speak from personal experience, but when I was sick and didn't have insurance I had to come up with a pretty significant upfront payment to see a specialist.
You may get to see a doctor, but try seeing a true specialist with insurance. So yeah, I agree with yequalsx, you will be stabilized, and that's pretty much it.
People without healthcare insurance often find out they have cancer far too late. While they may find treatment for free often times it is too late. If the free healthcare that hospitals provide was anywhere near adequate then people with insurance would dump it and save money. The fact that people with health insurance aren't dumping it in droves proves that care without it is inadequate.
Old people are costly to care for. They are unprofitable from the insurance industry perspective. Medicare was enacted because the country at the time was civilized enough to not want millions of elderly to do without health insurance. It is not disputable that this benefits the insurance industry.
You can't directly lose your home due to medical bills. You can lose for not being able to afford payments because medical bills for needed healthcare cost too much. There are lots of examples of this. Medical bills are the number one reason for bankruptcy in the u.s.
It is not known why the U.S. has lower life expectancy but the lower rate is correlated to income and education. I did not say our health outcomes are the worst. I said they are among the worst. In terms of happiness, overall health, life expectancy, etc. we do badly. There are areas where we do well.
Another example: "Medical bills are the number one reason for bankruptcy in the u.s.", again, not true. The correct statistic is "Unpaid medical bills are the most common debt owed during bankruptcy filings", someone could have a medical debt of $10 and that doesn't mean it caused their bankruptcy.
"Interestingly, it turns out that research commissioned by the Canadian government shows that 15% of people over the age of 55 who declare bankruptcy cite a medical problem as the primary reason. Medical bankruptcies can, as I've been saying for a while, be driven by something other than the lack of free government provided medical care."
The fact remains that people in the US do go bankrupt as a result of medical bills. People in Germany, France, etc. don't. As a general matter of affairs. We spend far more per capita than anyone else on care. We don't live longer, aren't more happy, or in better health than people in other countries. Our health outcomes are worse than many industrialized nations. The free care that hospitals provide is not adequate care evidenced by the market.
This is not the case.
From direct person experience I can attest that:
Betaserc is 1/25 the price in Spain as the generic in the US
Nebivolol is 1/10
Lovastatin is 1/5
Enalapril is 1/2
Emphasis mine. Perhaps, if they were consistently "cheaper" than the US, fine. But your singular example doesn't quite contradict the person you're responding to. So it actually is the case, unless you prove your findings for other EU countries.
I have no idea if that's the case, just pointing out the obvious flaw in your logic. Perhaps a little too-quick to look for contradictions if you disagree with the general point?
I have, however bought a dozen or so different drugs and have done so in France, Italy, Croatia, Spain, Portugal and the Netherlands. All of which were tiny fraction of the price in the US.
So given two hypothesis: the US is cheaper vs the EU is cheaper, and a bunch of data points all pointing that same way, a little bit of Bayesian statistics shows us which hypothesis is over overwhelmingly more likely doesn't it? We can agree to use Bayesian statistics even though there's no entry in the conservapedia can't we?
Contrast, for example, with the parent poster's hypothesis which comes form no more data than a.m. radio infotainment, I think there's only one rational tentative conclusion don't you?
But of the few European countries compared, at least two have deregulated pricing for generics which is exactly the point we're talking about isn't it? The others may or may not (I don't know). But why were Norway, Sweden and Denmark omitted from that comparison when they are in every other comparison on the original page? It's a strange omission because generics in Scandinavia are lower than western Europe. Inside of Europe, countries that have deregulated their generics simply have higher prices.
"We also see that in countries that have free market pricing of medicines (where companies can decide for themselves the price of a new medicine), such as Germany, the price of generic medicines tend to be higher than in countries which regulate medicine prices."
This seems to contradict the claim as well.
The US payers more for brand name drugs, but less than nearly every other OECD country (with the exception of NZ).
If you'll pardon a second response, I must point out this is only true of emergencies like car accidents and the ever abundance of shootings.
In most states, if you get cancer without insurance you just die. Period. And not by euthanasia, by the way, because apparently that is mortal sin / slippery-slope to mass murder.
This is patently untrue. Do a google search for "disproportionate share hospitals" and "charity care". In my line of work I've spoken with numerous oncologists and I've asked them "what do you do if your patient can't afford cancer treatment?" and the answer was always "I send them to the local hospital that treats them regardless of ability to pay."
If you do not have the right kind of cancer then there are not.
Which is pretty strange in and of itself.
And if you are utterly indigent then yes there programs in many counties. County or city run hospitals which is of course the exact definition of socialist which I understand is completely objectionable on principle and so something to be zealously eradicated.
But if you are one of the working poor the options evaporate. Especially if you are in the wrong county/state.
If you glance through this pdf
I think you'll find there is an enormous difference in the fatality rate for uninsured vs insured patients exactly because of the lack of treatment.
But perhaps I'm wrong: what is the name of this hospital run entirely by donation that takes every cancer patient that shows up free of charge?
That is obviously how it works without universal medical care; sick people don't just magically get better with magic money like a sitcom. They die.
But there are large funds for breast and cervical cancer and that is obviously very good.
Unfortunately there are not for rectal or colon cancer. Maybe because no one is going to run 10k for rectal cancer, maybe because it's too dirty a word to say on tv.
Either way, if you're poor, be sure to get the right cancer.
Or just fix your medical system.
Now if you'll pardon me I must take a break and let the dittoheads and digg-patriots catch up with downvoting all my posts.
That's one argument. Here's another:
EDIT: not sure if downvotes are because people think I'm saying that cost is less important than the lack of a safety net or because people are butthurt over figures demonstrating that universal health care is also cheaper. Please clarify.
While one might argue that the name-brand version costs so much because of high R&D costs (dubious in my opinion), it's difficult to make that argument for the generic. It's expensive because the manufacturer can get away with it -- it's very much needed by the patients but the market is sufficiently limited in size that few potential competitors choose to target it.
Generics can be inexpensive if the drug in question has a very large market - statins for example. But if not, and you don't work for a company that provides health insurance with prescription drug coverage, a drug you need may well be a drug that you cannot get because of its cost.
The OP's anecdote seems to imply that there are situations where only inferior proprietary drugs are available. Which, in my opinion, would be impossible to defend, no matter how much of a fan of the free market one might be.
The one that costs $17.22 for 50 100mg tablets? Sounds like you might be getting ripped off wherever you bought your medicine.
I just called Costco for you, and the price of 30 generic 200mg extended-release tablets is $397 for members and $408 for non-members.
Funny that you raise FUD in your very next sentence, because that is itself FUD. Since the 1980s hospitals have been obliged to treat anyone who shows up.
> And it turns out that this medication is not as effective as the generic that would cost $2 per pill. But because there is no profitability this medication is not currently manufactured in the US.
That doesn't make sense. A generic is the same as the name-brand. You mean a different drug for the same disease, I presume.
And it doesn't make sense that there would be no profitability; by your numbers, a generic drug manufacturer could produce the $2 pill which works better than the $100 pill and sell it for $50, or $25, or whatever it wanted.
> America needs to pull its head out of its ass and realize we are little better than a third-world country for anyone below median income who doesn't have a good group health insurance policy.
Actually, one of the nice things about real third-world countries is that one can just go to the pharmacist and buy pills, instead of having to go through a professional gatekeepers' union (the AMA) to do so.
In practice, the active ingredient(s) are required to be the same, but there can be some variation in e.g. binders that can make differences. The characteristics of the generic (bioavailbility, onset time, etc) are only required to be within a certain range compared to the original, not be identical.
See this, for example: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Generic_drug#Efficacy
What medication was it, if you don't mind me asking? And why didn't you just ask for the generic?
Many pharmacy chains in the USA offer a large list of generics for the low costs like $10/90 day supply
Doesn't happen in the US unless the person intends to do so. But that's pretty good fear mongering on your behalf.
Or are you saying uninsured people don't get sick?
In fact roughly 45,000 die a year due to lack of medical care.
Why not embrace the society you're creating? Because I'm sure Miss Rand would not be happy with that level of self delusion.
Reread my message. A person will not be kicked out of the hospital to die on the street. Preventative Healthcare is a problem, but immediate is not.
But true, if you're shot in the street, an emergency room will accept you.
But no, there's no chemotherapy in the emergency room.
> You must be of such superior intellect that thinking of an original argument is beneath you.
Wow, an ad hominem attack, what a surprise.
Workaholism -> backfires and is bad for the economy
and in recent threads here on HN:
Workplace surveillance -> backfires, people feel controlled and performance suffers
Government espionage in USA -> backfires, people lose trust in US businesses
I don't feel that this is the strongest argument. "Please treat us better, it is in your own interest!"?
Germany's vacation was achieved through politics (labor laws) and unions (labor contracts).
The economic argument probably won't work, since economic considerations (real or imagined/short-term/local maximum...) have led to the current situation in the first place.
It sucks that things are this way, but the only way to justify anything or argue for anything is an appeal to higher profits.
Money is this country's highest value, and all other values such as decency or shared prosperity have been thrown into the garbage and decried as socialism or wishful thinking.
Our capitalism of today exploits all the resources of this planet (oil, water, air, environment, humans, ...) in an increasing fashion and because this planet has only limited resources, soon all will break down. The question only is, what entity will break down first: capitalism, this planet, the human race.
What use will you make of your five smartphones, three tablets and seven cars, when your children will have no future?
Instead, it might be easier to argue it socially or through a simple declaration like, "this is what we want".
However, having a solid economic rationale is a great counter-argument.
If you are working long hours, you aren't really working. On less sleep, your brain has to work harder. With chronic stress, you start to impair your core competencies. Sleep is the body's way of mitigating the effects of daily stress.
From personal experience, I get twitchy just from being sick/away from work for more than a day. I only take one day at a time of vacation (usually on Friday's to stretch out the weekend, and usually to get extra studying done or run some errands) only to feel like I wasted a day. It could be cultural, my family never took many family vacations (maybe 1 or 2). I'm lucky that my work encourages taking vacations, but the idea of doing so seems so weird for me.
It seems like it has become so ingrained in the culture that not taking vacation, working long hours and being "busy" has become a badge of honor. But with more and more articles like these I see a shift coming as the new generation seeks more balance and lifestyle.
I find the reasoning consistently maddening. What they should be saying is that there is no federal mandate for private employers to pay workers during vacation/convalescence/maternity leave.
In point of fact, for government workers there is paid annual/maternity/paternity leave which ends up being "use or lose" and in effect becomes a mandatory leave - something universally omitted in these articles.
I think this just comes back to the classic debate about how the American economy is organized. Our constitution and US Code is not organized such that the government can easily dictate laws to private employers, that is by design.
this is a good thing, as the rest of the evidence presented in the OP suggests. People should take all the leave they are entitled to.
"employer" != 1%
"policies good for employers" != "policies only good for 1%"
There's a lot of talk on HN about the natural evolved tribal size of human orgs being only XYZ people so when we inevitably have a larger than XYZ group its epic fail. Well... it goes the other way too, and its quite possible that natural evolved civilization etc requires more than 2 guys on a "tribe" long term. It doesn't have to be the end of the world or apocalyptic, merely suggesting encouraging microfirms might not be a wise policy decision.
I believe my point stands, though. Being an employer does not implicitly mean you are part of the 1%; supporting policies that are pro-employer does not implicitly mean you are a neo-capitalist, anti-socialist 1%er.
Having been in a number of 'microfirms' myself, I intuitively think supporting them is wise policy (as a rule of thumb; as with most things, it's wise until it isn't). I may be biased, but I have seen many firms in the US that start this way and grow; low barriers for starting a business is one of the US's greatest assets, from my perspective. It is a foundation for social mobility, stands in contrast to much of the developed world, and is one of the primary motivators for people to chose the US when they 'vote with their feet'.
- Develop mission critical systems.
- Make sure no one else understands them.
- When you're gone, break them so your employer suffers and realizes they can't be without you.
- Act like you don't care and want your time off.
Works for raises,too.
Of course, if you have a good employer, none of that is necessary.
LOL there's a classism component that a guy spending 60 hours in the office, 30 of them on facebook, twitter, amazon, or HN, is an office overtime hero, but a guy using a shovel 39 hours a week while being paid for 40 is a lazy slacker who should be fired.
Aside from the class problem, another big problem is in a euro country with low income inequality, it means something to divide the total pie by the number of roughly equal people eating it. But if you have a pie where almost all the pie will be going to a couple fat guys and half the "eaters" are going to starve then dividing the pie by the number of "eaters" is utterly meaningless, or at least it is not comparable to the more equal country. It is a meaningless math problem.
If I bring a pack of oreos to work and serve them at a meeting as a snack/bribe, then dividing the pack by the number of people means something. If I bring in a bag lunch and eat every single oreo by myself other than maybe giving one to my college buddy while everyone else in the dept looks on jealously, then the division result is meaningless, or at least not worth comparing.
In a "let them eat cake" scenario if 12 people eat 12 equal-ish sized slices, the average slice size means something. In winner takes all USA, one fat dude eats the whole cake and 11 get nothin and the numerical average means nothing, nothing at all.
Call me cynical but I'd imagine that drives a lot of these overworked schedules.
When orders spiked, we found the performance gain from working overtime was consistently short term. Much beyond 3-4 weeks wasn't worth the effort and expense, and a decision to add additional people or extend delivery dates had to be made.
That's not to say we couldn't get additional production out, it just did horrible things to the our cost structure.
I think what you're getting at is the belief that working longer is equal to harder.
Guild tripping works to a point. However this is a two way street. Many companies voluntarily offer paid maternity leave, some offer time off and paid time off. Yet who is there to hold the workers accountable? Just the cost of doing business? We all know people at work or have know that so abuse the system it makes your head spin.
In professional fields we have a choice who we work for, we can choose the good companies and if they continue to do well that will encourage their competitors to step up their game. However we should never assume we deserve something just because someone else has it or we convince ourselves its a good idea.
It's hard to quantify any of this, however, so it might be completely glossed over in the article on purpose. I'm sure that thinking like this will become more prevalent...
No, they spend 72 hours a week "interacting with work" in any way. Though the thought of an executive sitting and refreshing an inbox for 10+ hours a day is quite amusing.
Americans are working less hours than they ever have as a whole.
The BLS reports the average is down to 34.5 hours per week:
The hours per year are comparable to Japan, Italy, Canada, New Zealand, and only 1.4% greater than the OECD average:
Meanwhile, a smaller percentage of Americans are working than at any other time than in the past 35 years:
Cultural anecdote example from http://maebert.github.io/jrnl/installation.html#quickstart
2012-03-29 09:00 Called in sick.
Used the time to clean the house and spent 4h on writing my book.
> On January 5, 1914, the Ford Motor Company took the radical step of doubling pay to $5 a day and cut shifts from nine hours to eight, moves that were not popular with rival companies, although seeing the increase in Ford's productivity, and a significant increase in profit margin (from $30 million to $60 million in two years), most soon followed suit.
Hurting the economy, sure people get burned out, but it is hard to come to that conclusion based on the data given and the authors points.
Understanding why the US's GDP is as positive as it is is a much bigger topic that takes us into areas like natural resources (e.g. oil, metals, etc) but also history (e.g. World War 1, world War 2, even the cold war).
It is a pretty weak argument to dismiss all of the article's points just by repeating "but GDP!!!" over and over which is more or less what your post is.
The reason why GDP is still used prominently as an economic indicator, while economists have been looking for better metrics, all those other metrics involve a fair amount of subjectivity. And GDP is still a pretty decent predictor of economic performance, despite its known weaknesses.
But in the end, higher GDP does not necessarily translate into higher quality of life (of course, once the gap is large enough, it almost certainly does, at least for the average person, but we aren't talking orders of magnitude here). I don't think you'll see overall higher QoL in the US compared to Germany, the Netherlands, Norway, or France (the four OECD countries with the fewest hours worked per capita), regardless of where the GDP per capita is.
In Germany, it appeared that ordinary people could both afford to, and were inclined to, partake often in small pleasures such as having a Bier and a bite at outdoor cafes in the summer. The streets were lined with these cafes and restaurants, most doing a brisk business. I never saw so many cut-flower shops in my life. The small pleasure of flowers was both affordable AND something that was on the minds of ordinary people, something that one would never encounter in the US.
Here, such things are looked upon as frivolous luxuries, and financially they are that for the 99%. If you can afford such things as cut flowers, then, we're told by our betters, you can also work for less money or work more for what you're earning currently. Why do you deserve luxuries, peon?
Despite what the pro-workaholic, GDP-flaunting people in the US would say, Germans on the whole seem to be quite materially prosperous. But with that, they are culturally prosperous in a quality-of-life sense too. They seem to expect it, whereas in the US a high QoL is reserved for the wealthy.
Obviously I'm not saying that every German lives this way, necessarily. But I think that this cultural observation is accurate. I think if average people in the US would be brought to understand that they too could have a modest life containing a big helping of everyday pleasures and without life-sucking, excessive work expectations, there'd be a revolution.
We must be living in very different countries, because the things you describe, I know very few people who can't afford simple things like cut flowers whenever they want them, or to go eat out at a cafe.
Average / middle class people I knew while living in LA did these things constantly.
Average people I've known in the places I've lived most definitely did not frequent flower shops or cafes. And by "average", I include Target employees and Walmart employees and the clerical employees of most companies large and small. That is to say, most people in the US.
Apart from the financial issue, my point was that there's a cultural phenomenon going on. In Germany my feeling was that the residents had a joie de vivre that is largely missing in the US, something which is probably both a cause and effect of the cult of overwork.
i had a consultant complain that they hate working with europeans. the people always go on vacation and projects get held up, and they come back and have to get oriented with everything again. by the time they catch up they are on vacation again
He commented that the USA workers didn't produce more even though they only had 2 weeks vs the 5+ the civil service T&C derived uk workers did.
spent far more time goofing off and gossiping and taking sneaky long weekends to go skiing was his comment.
if you'd like further evidence, the EU area has an unemployment rate close to 12%. companies are not anxious to hire europeans for one reason or another.
The European countries with major economic problems are in the south and east, where they tend not to have as generous vacation and hour policies in the first place. If you work with a Greek or Spanish consulting company, they will be there any time you want, bringing everyone into the office at 3am on a Saturday their time, if you ask for it. Good luck getting a Danish company to do that! Yet the Danish companies are not having trouble getting work.
The countries with a high unemployment rate are also poorer and lack other benefits, most notably the mentioned vacations. We're talking about developed EU countries, and that's what we're comparing against the US.
And you cant just cherry pick a few european countries and compare against the whole of the US. If we are going to play that game, why not pit them against silicon valley, manhatan, etc.
What's happening in Greece is basically the huge pain of reality reasserting itself. Greece is more like a poor Asian or African country; enormous corruption, largely unskilled workforce, rampant tax evasion, no real industries to speak of outside shipping, huge imbalance of payments and so on.
Portugal is in much the same boat. It's "developed" in a sense, but like Greece up until very recently was actually a military dictatorship of the like you'd expect to see in the developing world. It's not developed in the same way Germany is.
With respect to the others, Ireland and Spain are indeed first world nations, suffering very badly thanks to the financial crisis. Ireland took on its banks debts and became poor in the process. Spain had a huge construction bubble.
France, well, OK .... ;)
Greece, Portugal, Ireland, Spain and Cyprus have seen huge leaps in unemployment, underage prostitution, suicide, child and adult mortality, and drug use as a result.
They used to be solid economies, with EU-wide unemployment running at around 7%. Now they're hollowed out shells.
'Employers' have nothing to do with this. It was purely a political decision, based on bad economic science (at best) and north-south racism at worst.
As the economics editor of the Guardian said of the Euro is a bad idea who's time has come.
The PIGS politicians also fiddled the figures to there own ends which lead to a property boom and crash in their country's - so those country are not totally innocent.
It's almost as if work is something they do to support a life outside the office.
> it also tries to state that working hard leads to less productivity
The problem is, many of the discarded people are ending up on disability, and are thus out of the workforce. I'd like to compare the productivity of various societies based on population.
Great time to be an employer in the US.
If you want to heavily incentivize a cultural shift towards more vacation time for US employees, I don't think a federal mandate is as attractive as just an economic incentive. (Tax break to companies where X% of employees take more than Y days per year etc)
Our mentality of "Americans love to work hard" is misleading. I'd say Americans are just optimistic. We are sort of 'forced' to work hard so we're optimistic and try to make the best of it.
Is there a founder anywhere that didn't put in months of 100+ hour weeks? Or, to clarify, a successful founder?
Everything mentioned above has been researched and proven to be a dismal failure at actual financial productivity.
Therefore in a disruptive startup-py manner there are, on average, enormous fat stacks of cash to be earned by going against the idealized platonic form.
WRT successful, I think it unlikely there are many holders of BS degrees who didn't experimentally binge drink in college. I certainly did, till I outgrew that phase. That correlation does not imply successful earning of a degree, in fact the cause/effect relationship probably implies getting alcohol poisoning is anti-productive at the goal of successfully obtaining a credential.
So the battle is between the cargo cult crew, who think success is the result of better following the platonic form of the ideal startup even if its a dumb idea, vs the rebels who know based on research they'll on average make more money if they disruptively toss the idealized platonic form.