Wednesday, July 11, 2007

I've got the vacation time blues...

How much vacation time do you get each year? I'm self-employed, so I can usually schedule time off, but there's a downside to doing that since I'm a one person operation and the work doesn't get done if I'm not here - it just backs up and I have double the workload when I get home. I also risk losing my contracts if I take too much time off.

Gee, I wish I were a Michigan legislator. They get generous amounts of time off (some of them even enjoy
free Lake Michigan charter fishing excursions).

Michigan Liberal:
During the first six months of 2007, the Michigan Senate under the "leadership" of Mike Bishop worked a total of 66 session days and about 120 total hours, averaging barely more than 90 minutes of work per session day.

At Mike Bishop's $105,650 annual salary, that means that he was paid more than $440.50 per hour for the Senate's work in the first six months of this year. [emphasis added]
That's a sweet deal, eh? In fact, it's a better deal than most Americans get according to Marie Cocco at TruthDig:
Americans and vacations just don’t mix. [...] a quarter of American workers get no paid vacation or paid holidays. And on average, those private-sector workers who do get paid time off are granted only nine vacation days and six paid holidays each year, according to government statistics analyzed by the Center for Economic and Policy Research.
It's even a better deal than workers in many other industrialized countries get.
In the rest of the industrialized world, a month or more of paid vacation is typical, and often required. Many Americans know that. And there are can-you-top-this supplements to this surfeit of paid time off. Such as: In Austria, workers who labor at “heavy night work” get two or three extra days off. Also in Austria—as well as in Sweden and New Zealand—workers are actually paid at a higher rate when they’re on vacation than when they’re at work.

In France, workers get extra paid time off if they take some of their vacation days outside of the summer season. In Norway, those 60 and older get extra time off. And of course, your vacation could be ruined if you get sick while you’re away. So Sweden guarantees that if a worker becomes sick while on leave, the days of the illness don’t count against vacation time.
Unbelievable! Why don't Americans get the same perks? I'm sure Republican talking heads would claim it all boils down to money. If a person wants to get ahead and obtain that American Dream, then he has to work hard and work long. Right? Umm...not really.

Back to
In theory, all this hard work is supposed to spark a more robust economy that is, in turn, an engine of greater upward mobility than what is found in the supposedly coddled precincts of, say, the European Union. But lately, it hasn’t. An ongoing, bipartisan study of intergenerational economic mobility conducted jointly by conservative and liberal-leaning researchers for the Pew Charitable Trusts has found the myth of superior American mobility to be — a myth.

Researchers for the Economic Mobility Project studied the relationship of adult children’s incomes to those of their parents and found that the United States now lags behind France, Germany, Sweden, Canada, Finland, Norway and Denmark in this measure of upward mobility. “There is little available evidence that the United States has more relative mobility than other advanced nations,” the group reported in May. “If anything, the data seem to suggest the opposite.”

Comparing the incomes of American men who were in their 30s in 2004 with males who were in their 30s in 1974, the researchers found that today’s men actually earn about 12 percent less, after inflation, than their fathers’ generation did. “There has been no progress at all for the youngest generation,” the group reported. The American family stays afloat because its total income has been swelled by women’s paychecks.
There's a family value for you. It takes two paychecks to keep American families afloat.

That brings me back to "Mr. $440.50 per hour Bishop" and friends. It's time to shake up the status quo in Lansing and model their benefits and perks to align closer with those of the constituents they represent, maybe then they'd understand what it feels like to get by with two weeks vacation or - horror - no vacation at all.


Larry said...

All this money for so little work or time spent pretending to work.

Maybe they could vacation at Bush's ranch.

He tends to be there alot as well.

Anonymous said...

Since I work for a lot of startups and all of 'em try to set my vacation back to two weeks, I've taken to using the following:

"I take 4 weeks (5 weeks, whatever) off per year. You may subsidize any of those weeks that you feel like."

I blogged about it here.

Kathy said...

Larry, you're right about Bush being at his ranch quite a bit. What's so funny is that it isn't really a ranch, it's nothing but a bunch of stage props. The man's entire persona is fiction.

Kvatch, that was a good post, but like you summarized, "assume you won't get compensated." That's me. I can take off all the time I want, but I won't get paid. Unfortunately, in my line of work, I don't have much room for negotiating my salary either. If I'm not happy with my pay, someone in India will do it for a lot less.