Zimran, thanks for linking to Michael Lewis’s piece on Sarkozy’s attempt to make the French more productive. It is funny, but given my circumstances at the moment, I would pull out this quote.
Nicolas Sarkozy, the new French president, has decided that the French need to become more productive. He eliminated the law forbidding work weeks longer than 35 hours, and he’s making noises about changing the rule that allows unemployed Frenchmen to turn down job offers that they feel are beneath them and remain on the dole instead.
No French person is likely to be required to work more than 35 hours a week — that appears to be too much to ask for just yet — but any French person who wishes to earn more money may, shockingly, work for it.
“Work more to earn more” is Sarkozy’s dully hopeful slogan.
The thing is, the French don’t want to work more.
Shockingly, I agree with the French. I don’t want to work more either. But then, my problem is not that the law says I may work more than 35 hours per week, but that the company I work for sets rather inflexible deadlines — either because of an inefficiency bred of monopolistic isolation, or sheer stupidity. It’s hard to tell sometimes. After several months of 12 – 16 hour days, it starts to wear on you, and your brain pretty much stops working. Good thing I was a super-genius before this started, otherwise I’d be a blithering idiot now.
M. Sarkozy may be right to eliminate the law restricting the work week to 35 hours, and right to kick the indolent off the dole when they could work. But, working more does not necessarily earn you more. That’s a problem, and one I’m not sure how to solve without the leverage of the State.