Tuesday, October 19, 2010

We sure are a bunch of wusses

One of the things the "left" has believed as an article of faith is that if conditions got bad enough for the average peon, why then, they would rise up and DEMAND change. Well, things should be bad enough now...
The U.S. is the Most Overworked Developed Nation in the World – When do we Draw the Line?
Submitted by G.E. Miller on Tuesday, 12 October 2010
We, as Americans, work too many hours. If you don’t believe so, check out the following data points that compare us to our peers around the world.
American Work-Life Balance
According to the Center for American Progress on the topic of work and family life balance, “in 1960, only 20 percent of mothers worked. Today, 70 percent of American children live in households where all adults are employed.” I don’t care who stays home and who works in terms of gender (work opportunity equality for all – it’s a family choice). Either way, when all adults are working (single or with a partner), that’s a huge hit to the American family and free-time in the American household.
The U.S. is the ONLY country in the Americas without a national paid parental leave benefit. The average is over 12 weeks of paid leave anywhere other than Europe and over 20 weeks in Europe.
Zero industrialized nations are without a mandatory option for new parents to take parental leave. That is, except for the United States.
American Average Work Hours:
At least 134 countries have laws setting the maximum length of the work week; the U.S. does not.
In the U.S., 85.8 percent of males and 66.5 percent of females work more than 40 hours per week.
According to the ILO, “Americans work 137 more hours per year than Japanese workers, 260 more hours per year than British workers, and 499 more hours per year than French workers.”
Using data by the U.S. BLS, the average productivity per American worker has increased 400% since 1950. One way to look at that is that it should only take one-quarter the work hours, or 11 hours per week, to afford the same standard of living as a worker in 1950 (or our standard of living should be 4 times higher). Is that the case? Obviously not. Someone is profiting, it’s just not the average American worker. more
Yet where are the protests?  Why is the "outrage" such as it is, not being manifest in anything more than some corporate-sponsored "teabagging?"  It's not like we are a bunch of Frenchified "surrender monkeys."  Are we?
Defiant millions take to the streets in battle over Nicolas Sarkozy's cuts
The return of students and workers in mass protests made the right shiver. But there was no battle of the barricades
Lizzy Davies
The Observer, Sunday 17 October 2010
As protesters marched on the historic Parisian site of proletarian revolt, 17-year-old Romane scowled at the rain-filled sky. "At least this is proof we're not just here for the good weather," she said. On her jacket was pinned a placard scrawled with marker pen. "Carla, we're like you," it read. "We've been screwed by Sarko too."
Nicolas Sarkozy had feared that the rentrée – the time after the holidays when France returns to normal – would be warm, encouraging protesting masses on to the wide, Haussmann-designed boulevards, and he was right to be worried.
Languishing in the polls and engaged in an almighty battle to push through his flagship pension reform – taking the retirement age from 60 to 62 – the man once cast by some as the Gallic Margaret Thatcher is facing his most testing showdown with the notoriously bellicose unions.
The demonstration that drew people out in their hundreds of thousands was the fifth since last month, and Tuesday will bring another. Last week the protest movement snowballed, with strikes that closed schools, led to flights being cancelled and stopped trains. Fuel refineries halted production and parts of the country are already suffering shortages. more
French Truckers Block Roads as State Pledges Fuel Supplies
By Gregory Viscusi - Oct 18, 2010 2:59 AM CT
French truckers blocked highways and officials said they’d use police to prevent strikers from cutting fuel supplies as the standoff hardened over President Nicolas Sarkozy’s plans to raise the retirement age to 62.
The government said it won’t give in to demands that it suspend parliamentary debate on the change and keep the minimum retirement age at 60. Sarkozy’s ministers sought to guarantee fuel, saying police would be deployed to ensure access to storage sites as refinery strikes entered a second week.
‘When there is a blockade, we will take the necessary measures,” Industry Minister Christian Estrosi said on RTL radio today. “We respect the right to strike, not the right to put up blockades.”
Unions have called for a day of protests tomorrow, to be accompanied by the fourth national strike in two months. The Senate is scheduled to complete passage of the pension bill the following day. France’s eight major unions will meet on Oct. 21 to decide how to continue their movement.
Le Parisien newspaper reported today that 800 of 13,200 service stations were having trouble being supplied. Television stations throughout the weekend showed long lines at service stations and carried interviews with exasperated motorists. more
Why even the freaking Brits seem likely to do something!
Half of public sector workers are 'prepared to strike' over pay cuts
State workers are prepared to strike in the event of a pay cut and changes to their pensions, a major report revealed.
By Louisa Peacock
Published: 8:08PM BST 17 Oct 2010
Public sector workers face a worsening of their pension arrangements under the Coalition's spending cuts
Some 49pc of state workers surveyed by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development agreed with the statement "workers have to do what's necessary to protect their jobs and if that disrupts public services, that's the price of living in a democratic society", compared with just 27pc of those in the business world.
Pay cuts were the main reason why staff would down tools, the survey found. Other austerity measures which would provoke a strike include a proposed reduction in pension benefits, pay freezes and job cuts. Public sector workers are facing a pay freeze and a worsening of their pension arrangements under the Coalition's spending cuts, to be unveiled this week.
The survey also found that unionised private sector workers would also consider industrial action. Of 2,000 unionised staff across the public and private sector, 49pc would walk out over a proposed reduction in their salary – nearly twice the number, 26pc, who said they would not take part in a strike. more
Then there is tiny Iceland--one of those few places where dictionary-definition democracy still flourishes.
Iceland to Present Bill to Wipe Out Personal Debt, Minister Jonasson Says
By Omar R. Valdimarsson - Oct 13, 2010 5:40 AM CT
More than 5,000 people protested outside the Reykjavik-based Althingi last night, according to a police estimate, as Prime Minister Johanna Sigurdardottir presented her key policy objectives to lawmakers. Photographer: Haraldur Jonasson/Nordicphotos/Getty Images
Iceland’s government will this week present a bill allowing debtors to walk away from obligations that exceed asset values and to nullify personal bankruptcies after four years, Internal Affairs Minister Ogmundur Jonasson said.
“All Icelanders can see that our society is currently in turmoil,” Jonasson said in an interview in Reykjavik. “We’re therefore required to sit down at the table and offer solutions; I don’t anticipate that the people running financial institutions will disagree.”
Prime Minister Johanna Sigurdardottir’s coalition is holding talks with the lenders today to thrash out housing market reforms after about 8,000 protestors gathered outside parliament last week to show their anger over rising homeowner insolvencies. The International Monetary Fund, which is leading Iceland’s $4.6 billion bailout, estimates that 63 percent of the island’s loans are non-performing.
Jonasson, who spoke in an Oct. 11 interview, says he favors a proposal put forward by the Interest Group of the Homes, which represents households demanding debt relief. The lobby group wants lenders to forgive about 200 billion kronur ($1.8 billion) in mortgage debt. more

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