Friday, February 26, 2010

Why You Don't Make Enough Money

Despite being the Greatest Country in the World™, the United States usually lags far behind Japan and most European nations in measures of well being, things like health, income, security, etc. One of the biggest gaps is in labor -- most European nations average at least 4 weeks of paid vacation a year, with fewer hours worked for higher wages. Contrast that to the U.S., where even a week of paid vacation is seen as something that must be earned after years of work, and wages continually plummet, in both real dollars and compared to inflation.

There are many reasons for this, but the Christian Science Monitor has a good quick hit piece this morning that points to a big piece of the puzzle: union activity. As you can see form the chart below, major work stoppages in America have pretty much become a relic of the past as unions offer more and more concessions to employers and refuse to deploy their most valued asset. To be fair, much of this is due to shits in employment patterns and threats of outsourcing, but a good counter-example is Greece, where the entire country is on strike right now.

Sure is a far cry from the good ol' US of A...