30 July, 2007

PAID HOLIDAYS - why do I get so few?

When you see the part of SiCKO whre M. Moore talks with US-americans living in France you must wonder just how many paid holidays do people get in other countries and why.

"Why" is easily answered. Join a labour union. This is how it's done.
All the talk about unemployment, economic ruin and long waiting lists is just crap, as you can see, it works fine for places like Belgium, Portugal, Spain etc.

But as to HOW MANY HOLIDAYS, check this out:

  • The USA are the only country in OECD where workers have no lawful right to paid holidays.
  • In France and many other countries you get the same amount of paid leave EVEN IF YOU ARE WORKING PART TIME.... got that?

In Germany legislated paid holidays were first introduced in 1945.
12 Days. Saturdays were work-days then.
Germany 1963 = 18 days.
Germany today = 20 days. paid days off work.

USA today = on average 9 paid holidays and 6 paid public holidays BUT NO LEGAL ENTITLEMENT!!

Japan = 10 paid days off (public holidays without pay!)
Canada = 10 paid days off plus 8 public paid holidays

HOLIDAYS per year

leave public SUM Unionized
USA 0 0 0 11%
JAPAN 10 0 10
CANADA 10 8 18
GERMANY 20 10 30 about 35%
FRANCE 30 1 31
ITALY 20 13 33
SPAIN 22 12 34
FINLAND 25 9 34 50+%
AUSTRIA 22 13 35
PORTUGAL 22 13 35


EU-27 39.9

Did you see Michel Moore's SiCKO? The sad, sad story is that on talk-shows, where it's all about entertainment THERE the truth can be told. But the news or even Parliament (Congress, people's representation), nah.

Someone saw Jay Leno:

Moore & Leno were cool. I liked when Jay pointed out if even a fraction of what Moore said was true something needs to be done fast. The same point can be made for the truth of 9/11. I was sad to see no time was spent with the first responders.

Many US-americans believe CIA-planted crap. This disables them.


What a con-man.. Wow.. The spokesperson for the 6million-strong secret chinese-japanese mafia that has a lot of hitmen and wants to stop the Illuminati!!

Complete with REVERSE SPEECH... wow.. someone must have spent days and days to flesh out this load of crock.

I got news for you:

I AM THE SPOKESPERSON FOR THE TOP 13 HOBBITS OF THE MORMON WORLD DOMINATION PROGRAMME. Their plan is to control the world by video-games. They have left secret hypnotic messages and they can activate a million zombie XBOX gamers.

Jesus fucking Christ on a gibbet ...

Of course there are secret societies... the USA MILITARY is one of them. Of course there are plans to use race-specific diseases... there indeed are mad virologists. Of course the money system is controlled by the super-rich... but these super-rich are bound by a common interest, not by family-bonds.

The capitalist system is a self-fulfiling prophecy.. THE LOGIC OF THE SYSTEM is what drives the USA wars. It is a sound business to controll the media and make certain types of war. The business is good, because the capitalist system is designed for these kind of enterprises... AMMASS CAPITAL - SQUEEZE THE MARKET simple, huh?

If you really believe this NWO crap, here is a question for you to ponder:

The capitalist system needs changing, it is sooo obvious by now. I think DEUTSCHE BANK Alfred Herrhausen was onto it... but not the Rothschilds or the Rockefellers killed him (and Rohwedder) but which other elite assassination team masters???

Ask Tarpley... he studied this TYPE OF network (and even he didn't get very far).

Oh, OK, I answer it before you wander off into the woods to find illuminati.

These networks are the logical extension of the capitalist logic of squeezing the market. In every country there is a temptation to set up false flag teams.. undercover-false-flag stuff is just another BUSINESS SECRET... you profit from the other side not being able to emuloate your trick.

One big reason the EU is a total blessing is that it stops this state-sponsored terrorism. If you have the Swedes, Dutch, Belgians (who have seen it all) and the Germans, French and british ON THE SAME TABLE... they cannot PROFIT FROM THE FEAR BUSINESS because there is always someone who's moral compass is still pointing her/him in the right direction.

Got it?

Now.. you know why the USA is such a fucked up place...

The SYSTEM has no checks and balances.

But the SYSTEM needs to go anyway.

NEGATIVE INTEREST RATE MONEY (Freigeld, FreeMoney) PLUS a universal living allowance is the ticket...

My boyfriend tells me that in Germany they have done the theory ... and it looks promising:


“No-vacation nation USA.”

The report, written by Rebecca Ray and John Schmitt of the Center for Economic and Policy Research in Washington, D.C., takes a close look at 21 of the 30 countries in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development. They include 16 European countries, plus Australia, Canada, Japan, New Zealand, and the United States.

The bottom line: “The United States is the only advanced economy in the world that does not guarantee its workers paid leave.”

The only one.

And as a result, “U.S. workers are less likely to receive paid annual leave or paid public holidays, and those that do generally receive far less than their counterparts in comparable world economies.”

In the other 20 countries, the governments require by law that employers give workers paid holidays and vacations. And we're talking about serious vacation time: “Members of the European Union and other European countries analyzed here all establish a legal right to at least 20 days of paid leave (vacation) per year, with legal requirement of 25 and even 30 or more days in some countries. Australia and New Zealand both require employers to grant at least 20 paid-leave days per year.”

The laggards are Canada and Japan, which mandate “only” 10 paid days off.

On top of paid vacations, “most of the rest of the world's rich countries offer between five and 13 paid public holidays per year.” The United States “offers none.”

I don't blame you if you're feeling a little jealous at this point.

Of course, workers in the United States get paid vacations and holidays. The difference is that here the number of days off (and when) is completely up to the private employer. Some employers are generous; others are not - but if you really need the job (as Moore suggests you might, just for the health insurance), then you take what's offered and shut your mouth.

Some employers add insult to injury by insisting that an employee unhappy at having little or no time off is “lucky to have a job” or should remember that people in other countries “have it much worse.” Actually, they don't.

Ray and Schmitt take a detailed look at the situation in the United States and this is what they find:

€ 77 percent of all American workers get some paid vacation/holidays, including 90 percent of full-time workers, but only 36 percent of part-time workers.

€ For those who do get paid days off, the average is 12 vacation days and eight holidays (compared to 20 or more vacation days and up to 13 holidays in the other countries).

€ For all workers, including those who don't get paid days off, the average in the U.S. is nine vacation days and six holidays.

The hardest hit are those making less than $15 an hour. Only 69 percent of them get vacation days, whereas 88 percent of those making over $15 an hour get paid time off. That's a depressing double - bad pay and no time off.

Workers in companies with 99 employees or fewer do much worse than those in companies with 100 employees or more - only 70 percent of the first group gets paid days off, compared to 86 percent of the second group.

No wonder then that Ray and Schmitt conclude: “The United States is in a class of its own with respect to statutory guarantees of paid time off: It is the no-vacation nation.”

And here's the kicker: An April survey by the New York-based Hudson Highland Group, showed that more than half of U.S. workers fail to take all of their vacation days.

Americans not only get far less time off then people in other “advanced economies,” they are often afraid to take what's offered.


“A lot of people feel they can't take time off,” Peg Buchenroth, senior vice president of human resources at Hudson, told Reuters. “Either they have too much work to do or they're just concerned about their job security so they don't want to be absent. Or the work environment and the company they work for isn't really supportive of people taking extended vacations.”

That's the American way.

Or, as the headline on the Reuters story about the ETUI study put it: “Europe heads to beach, America heads to work.”


The most astonishing revelations in Michael Moore's Sicko have nothing to do with healthcare. They're about vacation time. French vacation time, to be precise.

Sitting at a restaurant table with a bunch of American ex-pats in Paris, Moore is treated to a jaw-dropping recitation of the perks of social democracy: 30 days of vacation time, unlimited sick days, full child care, social workers who come to help new parents adjust to the strains and challenges of child-rearing. Walking out of the theater, I heard more envious mutterings about this scene than any other.

"Why can't we have that?" my fellow moviegoers asked.

The first possibility is that we already do. Maybe that perfidious Michael Moore is just lying in service of his French paymasters. But sadly, no. A recent report by Rebecca Ray and John Schmitt of the Center for Economic and Policy Research suggests that Moore is, if anything, understating his case. "The United States," they write, "is the only advanced economy in the world that does not guarantee its workers paid vacation." Take notice of that word "only." Every other advanced economy offers a government guarantee of paid vacation to its workforce. Britain assures its workforce of 20 days of guaranteed, compensated leave. Germany gives 24. And France gives, yes, 30.

We guarantee zero. Absolutely none. That's why one out of 10 full-time American employees, and more than six out of 10 part-time employees, get no vacation. And even among workers with paid vacation benefits, the average number of days enjoyed is a mere 12. In other words, even those of us who are lucky enough to get some vacation typically receive just over a third of what the French are guaranteed.

This is strange. Of all these countries, the United States is, by far, the richest. And you would think that, as our wealth grew and our productivity increased, a certain amount of our resources would go into, well, us. Into leisure. Into time off. You would think that we'd take advantage of the fact that we can create more wealth in less time to wrest back some of those hours for ourselves and our families.

But instead, the exact opposite has happened. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average American man today works 100 more hours a year than he did in the 1970s, according to Cornell University economist Robert Frank. That's 2 1/2 weeks of added labor. The average woman works 200 more hours -- that's five added weeks. And those hours are coming from somewhere: from time with our kids, our friends, our spouses, even our bed. The typical American sleeps one to two hours less a night than his or her parents did.

This would all be fine if it were what we wanted. But that doesn't seem to be the case. One famous 1996 study asked associates at major law firms which world they'd prefer: The one they resided in, or one in which they took a 10% pay cut in return for a 10% reduction in hours worked. They overwhelmingly preferred the latter. Elsewhere, economists have given individuals sets of choices pitting leisure against goods. Leisure doesn't always win out, but it is certainly competitive. Yet we're pumping ever more hours into work, seeking ever-higher incomes to fund ever-greater consumption. Why?

A possible answer can be found in Frank's work. He argues that the U.S. economy has set its incentives up so as to systematically underemphasize leisure and overemphasize consumption. Much of what we purchase are called "positional goods" -- goods whose value is measured in relation to the purchases of others. Take housing. Would you rather live in a land where you had a 4,000-square-foot house and everyone else had a 6,000-square-foot house, or one in which you had a 3,000-square-foot house and everyone else had a 2,000-square-foot house? Given this choice, studies show that most respondents pick the latter. They'd rather have less home in absolute terms if it means more home in relative terms. That makes housing a positional good.

Being concerned with one's relative position rather than one's absolute position is not irrational or merely motivated by envy. In order to retain your relative standard of living, you need to keep up with the purchases of others in your income bracket. Housing works as an example here, too: Part of the use of an expensive home is the nice neighborhood, which gets your child into good schools – what matters, again, is not your square footage, but your relative affluence. Good schools, of course, are also a positional good – your education largely matters in terms of how much better it is than everyone else's. Retaining your relative position also ensures that you don't send the wrong signals when a client comes over for dinner. Houses, cars, clothing -- they all help send those signals. And because the rich in this country keep getting richer, we're caught in what Frank calls "expenditure cascades" in an effort to keep up with them. Their purchases raise the bar for the group right below them, which in turn increases the needs of the next income set, and so on. To retain our position, we're constantly needing to increase our incomes and affluence.

This makes the purchase of positional goods more pressing and urgent than non-positional goods. And so they "crowd out" their less context-contingent cousins. People want to spend less time at work, but they also want to retain and improve their standard of living relative to their neighbors -- and the latter triumphs, time and again.

This isn't because people are stupid, or irrational, or don't know what they want. Rather, it's because the incentives are all fouled up. Frank calls it a "smart for one, dumb for all" problem, but it's really just a classic failure of collective action. [try joining a union, duh] An individual would be made worse off were he to unilaterally opt out of the positional competition. But we would all be better off if we decided collectively to ratchet down the economic one-upmanship and instead devote a bit more time and resources to the leisure goods we claim to desire.

Here in the sweltering D.C. summer, there's nothing worse than wearing a necktie when the thermometer reads 95 and the humidity is so thick you could swim laps. But on your own, there's not much you can do about this state of affairs. If you're the only one who shows up dressed down, you'll look bad for it. But if your office, or meeting, were to collectively decide to ease the dress code, all would be better off.

This is what the European Union just did, imposing new regulations on its bureaucrats barring ties in the summer. Cutting down on air-conditioning costs was the rationale, but centralized action was the only way to end the practice. Otherwise, every individual would still have had the incentive to show his commitment by dressing in a tie. Only the collective could remove that spur.

So too with vacations. Very few individual workers in the United States can ask for four weeks of vacation. It is not only outside the benefits of their job but far outside the culture of our workplace. The incentives for most every individual, particularly if they want to keep their position and amass a reputation as a good employee, is to abide by those norms.

But if the crowd outside Sicko was any indication, most people would love a substantial increase in vacation time. This is what other advanced nations have pursued, using the government's role as an enforcer of collective sentiment to legislate the preferences that individuals could not, on their own, enact.

In this country, we've left it to the individuals, and thus the average American worker only takes 12 days of vacation a year, and many get none. We could do better, but that would require sidestepping American individualism for a moment and engaging in some American collectivism.

A version of this article originally appeared in the Los Angeles Times on July 15


Reviewed by Lamar Kukuk

**POLITICAL OPINION WARNING: if you're one of those people inclined to write letters to editors demanding that their critic “Just review the movie” rather than offer political opinions, read no further. Michael Moore's documentaries are political Rorschach Tests, and barely even exist outside the personal biases of those viewing them.**

I haven't written a word yet, but since this review already includes the words “Michael Moore” twice, you've probably got a pretty good idea of where you stand on Sicko. I've never met anyone who says “Michael Moore? Ah, I can take him or leave him.” Granted, I know some (even myself to a certain degree) who love his films but would never want to be seated next to America's #1 Self-Promoter on a bus. Either way, just about everybody who knows his work falls into one of two camps. Michael Moore is either: 1)A fat-assed traitor, or 2)A modern day Thomas Payne with the guts to say what nobody else in the media will. Count me in the later camp. I know his methods are pure Propaganda 101, but in a time when our media has boiled almost everything down to tossing out an issue and letting two bought-and-paid-for talking heads call each other names over it, it's excited to see someone really advocate their position on an issue. Say what you will about Sicko, but you won't find too many of the elites in either political party calling for socialized medicine these days. And if even 1/3 of what Moore's got to say is true, they damn well should.

First, Moore (as always, our tour guide) introduces us to a few people with no insurance (the guy doing his own stitches made me want to faint), but assures us that the movie is not about them. Instead, he moves on to interview people with insurance who've been royally screwed. There's the guy whose daughter was approved for a Cochlear Implant in one ear, but told a second would be “experimental”. And the woman whose insurance was retroactively canceled after her surgery had been paid for because she never mentioned on her application that she'd once had a yeast infection. We meet people involved in the process, who tell us that Insurance companies (Moore hits HMOs hard and never really draws a distinction between the different kinds of insurance) have employees specially trained to sort through your history and find unrelated reasons to cancel your coverage rather than pay. Some states even have laws allowing them to cancel coverage if you had symptoms “a reasonable person” would have gone to the doctor for before applying for insurance. He takes us on a few trips back in time, to listen to an old AMA record with actor Ronald Reagan “speaking out” against Socialized Medicine and Nixon tapes that reveal the very origins of the HMO (damning, damning stuff, especially when he contrasts it with Nixon's very different public comments on the same subject the following day). Then, he hops on a few planes and takes us to other countries to look at their health care systems. Nobody pays (well, aside from the taxes that finance these systems), everybody gets treated, and the long lines we're told about don't exist. Canadian and English systems seem pretty cool (and I LOVED the stories about the post-WWII origins of Britain's system). The French are a little over-the-top with their tons of paid vacation, government-provided nannies and public protests to keep “The First Day of the Pentecost” as a paid holiday (more on them later). But why don't we have systems like this? To illustrate the power of insurance lobbyists over our government, Moore tells us two stories. First, there's the Clinton-era attempt at universal health insurance, which died under a mountain of spin and money, money which now makes its' architect Hilary Clinton the #1 Democrat in Insurance campaign contributions. And then there's the Federal Prescription Drug Plan, which he depicts as a direct hand-off of our tax dollars to pharmaceutical companies by way of the insurance industry. But there is one place on US soil, he tells us, with socialized medicine: the terrorist detention center at Guantanamo Bay. So, he loads up a boat full of people we've already met, including some 9-11 First-Responders denied benefits because they weren't US employees when exposed to toxic chemicals at Ground Zero, and heads there to try and get them help. When that doesn't work out, he tries the next best thing, sneaking them into Cuba to be treated by their government health care system.

Much has been made of the notion that Sicko presents a kinder, gentler Michael Moore, and it does. Gone are the ambushes and the stunts (the “visit” to Guantanamo is clearly staged for the cameras, and I'd be shocked if anyone there was ever even aware that he was outside their waters filming): no attempt to get Congressmen to send their sons to Iraq this time. Instead, we get a steady stream of persuasive interviews with likable, sympathetic people and historical background that together build a very strong, very emotional case that the US Health Care system has little concern about whether its' customers live or die just as long as it makes money (And Richard Nixon apparently had none at all). Does it tell a complete, balanced story? Of course not. I'm no expert beyond the fact that I read the newspaper, and even I know that his vision of France as a Worker's Paradise never gets around to mentioning that those perks only apply if you can find a job, which has proven particularly difficult for young and minority job-seekers in recent years precisely because their system pretty much requires dynamite to get someone out of a job they've already got. And it's more than a little disingenuous to suggest that the only problem with Fidel Castro is that he's a dictator we don't like as opposed to one we do. He'd crucify that kind of “The enemy of Bush is my friend” logic if it was coming the opposite way. And it's a good thing he finally gets around to pointing out Hilary Clinton's place in Big Pharm's pocket, because an earlier sequence where he gushes on and on about how she exploded onto the scene upon her husband's election plays like a Clinton 08 campaign commercial (and the part where he calls her “sexy” made me a little ill). But Sicko's devil is NOT in the details, and to focus too closely on them misses a fairly obvious Big Picture.

In fact, I'm not sure the movie's really even all that much about Health Care in the end. Moore goes back again and again to the notion that American workers are increasingly prisoners of debt for things other countries get out of their tax dollars, from their student loans forward. Think about it: when you daydream about quitting your job, what is more likely to stop you, worrying about finding the same salary somewhere else or the same health insurance? And if you “need this job” to stay healthy... what employer could ask for more? Americans spend a lot of their political time obsessing over things that will never touch them personally. How many will ever want an abortion, lose a job based on the presence or absence of affirmative action or participate in a gay marriage compared to the number who will at some time need health insurance? But the things that could unite us, the improvements that would make ALL our lives better, have a way of staying off the radar while we look at the guy across the street, mutter “he wants my stuff!” and look to some oily loser to get elected to Congress and save us from him. Sicko, at the end of the day, is really a call for people to join together, the way people in other countries either do or have in the past, and demand the things from our government that we all need. An American expatriate in France characterizes a difference between the countries: the French government is afraid of its' people, while the American people are afraid of our government.

Content aside, Moore really knows how to present his information in a fast and entertaining manner. He himself is a jocular, easy on-camera presence, with good comic timing and the ability to turn from jokester to sympathetic ear on a dime. And he's really good at using archival footage to underscore his points, particularly when he uses it to mock his subjects. When Reagan's old speech about how socialized medicine will be but the first step in a plan where “soon a whole lot of other things will be socialized” until we're all living under Soviet dictatorship is matched with 50's-era Red Scare images, the result is hilarious. And while it doesn't take much to make politicians look like idiots, he's just as good as Jon Stewart's Daily Show crew at editing together their public statements to show how empty and scripted they really are.

I liked Sicko a lot, it made me laugh, care and think, and for all the horror stories it contains, it made me feel optimistic. And not just because of its' As Good As it Gets-like climax where all the sick people finally get diagnoses and cheap medication, but because of its' overriding sense that it would be so simple to knock our country back on the right track. It's certainly not the end of its' discussion, but a good place to start. And for that reason alone, I'm glad we have Michael Moore. Just as long as he doesn't sit next to me on a bus and start telling me how the government tried to stop the movie from being released because he went to Cuba. Save that story for Hilary, if she's still returning your calls.

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posted by u2r2h at Monday, July 30, 2007


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