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Old 02-19-2016, 06:08 PM   #101
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We have 22 million government workers out of about 120 million US workers. So, that's 18%.

I guess there's room to grow. France's number is 44%, and I just read that Saudi Arabia's is 70%. Nice! Roughly one Frenchman to oversee and regulate the other French worker, and in Saudi Arabia's case, 2 regulators per worker. Supernice! The more the merrier?

Everybody is employed.
And yet according to OECD data, France's GDP / Hour Worked is just 5% lower than ours.

Again, not the big deal people think. Most of the difference between France GDP and US GDP is that in France they actually take vacations.

Given a choice, I'd choose the France lifestyle of working less and earning less. I know that idea may sound strange in an Early Retirement Forum, but it kind of suits me.
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Old 02-19-2016, 06:45 PM   #102
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Most European countries have Socialists Governments. Socialism is in between Capitalism and Communism. In Communist societies 100% of Labor force / management was Government controlled and without terror it cannot work (North Korea is a good example). Socialism is kind of Government controlled Capitalism with a lot of regulations, economic laws what Government enforces and it usually less productive than Capitalism. The problem with Capitalism is that uncontrolled or rather risky greed of a few banks/investment companies sometimes lead to financial failure chain reaction what affects entire financial system. So certain limitation to "unwise" financial institutions must be applied.
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Old 02-19-2016, 07:07 PM   #103
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I guess there's room to grow. France's number is 44%, and I just read that Saudi Arabia's is 70%. Nice! Roughly one Frenchman to oversee and regulate the other French worker, and in Saudi Arabia's case, 2 regulators per worker. Supernice! The more the merrier?

Everybody is employed.
As GfG point out, French GDP per hour worked is 5% lower than in the US. This is a country with a government-imposed cap on the number of hours a worker can put in. We'd expect that reducing the available labor hours (per employee and, effectively, overall) might >improve< productivity per hour (since the least productive hours would be pared away first), so French productivity (per hour) might be still worse if workers and employers were free to agree to more hours.
No major economy can touch the US either in productivity per workhour or productivity per worker.



There are plenty of reasons the French worker is less productive than the US worker: the high rate of public employment you pointed out, government policies that reduce workforce mobility/flexibility, etc. Its been like that a long time, its just a reflection of societal choices they have made.
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Old 02-19-2016, 07:31 PM   #104
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There are plenty of reasons the French worker is less productive than the US worker: the high rate of public employment you pointed out, government policies that reduce workforce mobility/flexibility, etc. Its been like that a long time, its just a reflection of societal choices they have made.
I lived and worked in France and supervised French workers.

They had it figured out down to the day. Between holidays, obscure holy days, vacation, personal time and regular labor strikes, coupled to a 35 hour work week, the usual work week was a three day week every other week. They did tend to work late however; 7PM was typical quitting time.

There is also a tangible antagonistic, passive aggressive attitude toward the employer, if not the direct management that I never saw in the US outside of extreme union shops.

OTOH, having wine in the company cafeteria and a heavily gov't subsidized lunch program ("If I was working at home in the fields I could eat lunch for free...it's your fault I can't go home for lunch, so you buy it for me"), is not the worse thing.

In general, it's a more relaxed lifestyle with a "work to live" attitude. Not a bad thing IMO.

Of course, their social programs are bankrupting them but....hey, smoke another Gitanes, have a glass of wine and chill...it'll all work out.
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Old 02-19-2016, 08:13 PM   #105
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Yes, it's their choice. Just because their system is different than the US does not mean that it's wrong.

What is curious is the high number of government workers. As I tried to point out, the role of the government is to regulate, not to produce. Only the Chinese local governments actually involves themselves with business and production, and their competition and conflict with their private businesses are not good things.

So, if 44% of French workers regulate the other 56%, how do they cope with such high overhead? There's plenty on the Web recently about Saudi Arabia's 70% overhead.

I see nothing wrong with "work less, earn less". Isn't every ER poster here practicing that? In fact, that freedom to do as one sees fit is implied in the "Pursuit of Happiness" declared in the US Declaration of Independence. As long as you allow people who want to work harder than you to earn more for their effort and do not get envious with them, it's all good.
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Old 02-19-2016, 08:58 PM   #106
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I see nothing wrong with "work less, earn less".
But you end up with discussions like in this thread where people seem to attribute low unemployment numbers to a poor economy.
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Old 02-19-2016, 08:59 PM   #107
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Government employees are not necessary regulators or enforcers of regulations bureaucrats only. In Socialist countries there are many Government owned enterprises including manufacturing plats (mostly defense), military, police, schools, customs, science etc.
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Old 02-19-2016, 09:04 PM   #108
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But you end up with discussions like in this thread where people seem to attribute low unemployment numbers to a poor economy.
High unemployment, you mean?

It is true that early retirees themselves do not want to work hard, or at least not long, but want the "other guys" to produce so that their stocks go off the roof. Do what I tell you, not what I do. Somebody has to pay into SS. After 35 years of work, the benefit does not increase so I am out.

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Government employees are not necessary regulators or enforcers of regulations bureaucrats only. In Socialist countries there are many Government owned enterprises including manufacturing plats (mostly defense), military, police, schools, customs, science etc.
But of course. And that's how they trail behind the US in productivity. Work hard just to earn the same as the goofer next to you? I would not be so dumb.

PS. Since you mention defense, it's not hard to see how weapon systems cost so much, even programs here in the US. Can the DoD go bankrupt for failing like private businesses? Of course it cannot. So money is no object, heh heh heh...
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Old 02-19-2016, 10:05 PM   #109
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High unemployment, you mean?
No, I meant low unemployment like the USA is currently experiencing in this robust economy.
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Old 02-20-2016, 07:41 AM   #110
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As GfG point out, French GDP per hour worked is 5% lower than in the US. . . .

No major economy can touch the US either in productivity per workhour or productivity per worker.


That's true, but there are two ways to get to the top of that chart. One is to have high productivity. The other is to work a **** load of hours. The U.S. does both.

Here's another way to look at the same information, but as measured in gdp / hours worked instead of by worker.



So, yeah, we're a bit more productive than other rich countries. But mostly we work a lot more.

And while some of this reflects cultural choices, sometimes in the U.S. it does't feel that way. I never got the impression that working anything less than 60 hours per week at my old job was optional. In fact, when I started working 7-5:30ish the last few weeks before I quit I had more than one person asking if I was going to work "a full day" that day.

Now it used to be that this kind of thing was confined to high-pressure, professional type, careers. But it seems as if it's seeping everywhere; long hours, working through lunch, uncompensated weekends, don't dare even take your allowed vacation days for fear of being seen as a slacker, etc.

I have to think at least some of this is driven by worker fear and job insecurity. And it doesn't really abate during periods of low unemployment. Wages may go up, but so do the demands.

This doesn't strike me as something to be proud of.

What I find strange, though, is that in a forum where the word w*rk is often spelled as a profanity why so many people reflexively cheerlead for this culture of overwork.
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Old 02-20-2016, 07:45 AM   #111
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What I find strange, though, is that in a forum where the word w*rk is often spelled as a profanity why so many people reflexively cheerlead for this culture of overwork.
That's because we're cheerleading OTHERS to w*rk and pay for our SS!

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Old 02-20-2016, 08:56 AM   #112
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No, I meant low unemployment like the USA is currently experiencing in this robust economy.
Current low unemployment rate has direct relation to lower than normal job participation, including in the prime work age group (25-54).
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Old 02-20-2016, 09:30 AM   #113
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......Now it used to be that this kind of thing was confined to high-pressure, professional type, careers. But it seems as if it's seeping everywhere; long hours, working through lunch, uncompensated weekends, don't dare even take your allowed vacation days for fear of being seen as a slacker, etc. .....This doesn't strike me as something to be proud of.
This has also struck me as very strange. I understand wanting to do some extra work to get ahead in your career or just finish things you are working on and like to do. But I don't really understand it when one lets work take over your life and severely impact your relationships with wife and family....seen that too many times. Had one fellow that worked long, long hours and didn't take his vacation for several years. Finally management told him he had to take vacation so he finally started doing it. Weird.
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Old 02-20-2016, 12:14 PM   #114
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This has also struck me as very strange. I understand wanting to do some extra work to get ahead in your career or just finish things you are working on and like to do. But I don't really understand it when one lets work take over your life and severely impact your relationships with wife and family.... .
In some cases, the employee feels (rightly or wrongly) that he/she needs to do the extra work just to keep from getting laid off. And it is often required to get a promotion. It can be a tough balancing act, but they may be doing it for their spouse and family. Not being home for them at dinner time sucks, but so does not being able to pay the mortgage, property tax, and put food on that dinner table.

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Old 02-20-2016, 12:29 PM   #115
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And while some of this reflects cultural choices, sometimes in the U.S. it does't feel that way. I never got the impression that working anything less than 60 hours per week at my old job was optional. In fact, when I started working 7-5:30ish the last few weeks before I quit I had more than one person asking if I was going to work "a full day" that day.
I have purposely stayed in the hourly wage sector of my profession for this reason. Each time a promotion came up I knew that the slight pay increase also involved a 30-50% work hour increase. I have a full and active life outside of work. It was never worth the trade-off, for me.
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Old 02-20-2016, 12:41 PM   #116
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In some cases, the employee feels (rightly or wrongly) that he/she needs to do the extra work just to keep from getting laid off. And it is often required to get a promotion. It can be a tough balancing act, but they may be doing it for their spouse and family. Not being home for them at dinner time sucks, but so does not being able to pay the mortgage, property tax, and put food on that dinner table.
At megacorp, I often saw workers talk of putting in long hours, but the fact was their output was pathetic. I may be biased here, but the real technical guys could turn out a bit more code or finish off a bit more design details, while the paper pushers, well, just pushed more paper. They all had to do this to convince their boss that they were working their tail off, not so much for getting fired (very few got fired), but to get promotion.

I used to put in long hours without pay when I was engrossed in my work, as I enjoyed it. Then, I thought if I worked hard, it might as well be for myself. But I have told how my efforts ended up. Oh well, one does not really know until he tries.
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Old 02-20-2016, 12:42 PM   #117
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Current low unemployment rate has direct relation to lower than normal job participation, including in the prime work age group (25-54).
This directly addresses your comment.
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Old 02-20-2016, 01:13 PM   #118
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At megacorp, I often saw workers talk of putting in long hours, but the fact was their output was pathetic. I may be biased here, but the real technical guys could turn out a bit more code or finish off a bit more design details, while the paper pushers, well, just pushed more paper. They all had to do this to convince their boss that they were working their tail off, not so much for getting fired (very few got fired), but to get promotion.
I've definitely seen some (a lot?) of that too. But there were a lot of workers who put in long hours and were doing good work. It was clear that if you didn't do both, you would be passed by on promotions, get the lower raise (or 0%), etc.

There were a few really hot-shot tech guys that could get away with shorter hours, because their output was respected enough to leave them alone, but that was a pretty rare exception (at least during our high growth, super-competitive years).

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I used to put in long hours without pay when I was engrossed in my work, as I enjoyed it.
It didn't happen often (OK, it was very rare), but there were a few projects that were so interesting to me, and I had such a free hand, that it was very enjoyable, and I'd be working on them by choice at home. It was fun, like people solve puzzles in their spare time for fun - this was great fun, and I was getting paid!

One one hand, it's a shame those times were so rare (and there were so many times I felt the exact opposite). OTOH, I imagine many people go through their whole career and never feel that way. So I'll count my 'blessings'.

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Old 02-20-2016, 02:30 PM   #119
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This directly addresses your comment.
I do not want to politicize the discussion, especially because I am an independent voter, deciding during debates, but all those articles heavily influencing public toward who the author is associated with. Here is an opposite article on unemployment rates.
Stockman: Why the Bulls Will Get Slaughtered
Also over 94 millions not participated in the labor market do not necessary need or can work. Like over 40-41 millions are retirees and early retirees(like ourselves), another 11 millions are disabled, there are about 10 - 11 millions not working moms or dads and college students who do not work may add 5 or more millions. Then there are: 94-68= close to 26 millions working age adults who is not counted as unemployed. Did I miss something(possible)?
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Old 02-20-2016, 03:23 PM   #120
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We had a president that wasted few Trillion dollars on wars instead of spending it on for example free college education....

It is water under bridge that cost us and our economy a lot. Too late to fix it now.
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