Wednesday, October 22, 2008

"I Work Hard... I Work 10-12 Hours a Day"

by the Sandwichman

"Well, the reason why I ask you about the American Dream I mean, I work hard. I'm a plumber, I work 10-12 hours a day..."
"Two things have always marked out the financial masters of the universe from the rest of us. First, their souped-up salaries, and then their souped-up working hours. We mortals understood that these were connected. The rewards were so high because the hours were so long."

Nothing seems to dramatize "The American Dream" quite as insistently as the hard-work-and-long-hours parable. There's just one problem with the parable: long hours of work result in reduced output -- not just reduced productivity per hour but reduced total output. Those who brag about working "10, 12 hours a day" spend the last two to four hours sacrificing their leisure time (and yours) to a false idol. The fact that they get paid -- and sometimes handsomely -- for this conspicuous waste of time is due solely to cultural norms known as "the wage" and "the overtime premium" neither of which is calibrated to actual measures of output or productivity.

It is "un-American" to point out the baselessness of this myth. That's because the "regular Joe" who works overtime to support his family, buy a house, go into business and put his kid through college is a genuine "American Hero." No, he is not. He's a SCAB. At one time, even conservative American unionists understood, as Samuel Gompers declared: "The answer to all opponents to the reduction of the hours of labor could well be given in these words: 'That so long as there is one man who seeks employment and cannot obtain it, the hours of labor are too long.'"


Anonymous said...

No, the reason working longer days doesn't mean greater pay is due to BS tax laws. If you had ever worked a real job, you would understand that.


Sandwichman said...

Dear Jackass,

I must say, your pseudonym suits your opinion. Or is it the other way around?

Anonymous said...

I had a business with a partner who thought pulling all-nighters was a good thing when we were somewhere near the end of a project. I objected that we'd just be working at much reduced effectiveness. We'd typically go until 3 in the morning with little to show for it, then, after a good sleep come back in the afternoon and do more work in the next 3 hours than we'd done in 8 before.

He never did get it.

Mark said...

Try working in the entertainment industry, where 12-16 hour days are the norm and everyone is doing coke or other stimulants to cope with it.

Unknown said...

Your a jackass. I'm 25... I work 12 hours a day, as a custodian. I clean TWO 9 story Buildings by myself. I work for minimum wage and still I can't afford a house. I have no kids but support my brother whos disabled and a husband with ptsd. I don't receive stamps or government money. I pay $800 rent, bills, have no money left to eat really... I WORK TO NOT BE HOMELESS. You got some nerve......