I agree with the people of France in their rejection of globalized capitalism. While you are working 40+ hours a week for someone else in a job you probably don’t even like, the French are enjoying their vacations, 35 hour work-weeks, and job security. When Americans were presented with a contract for outsourced labor, war, and massive budget deficits, they happily signed. It doesn’t make sense.

The French people are standing up for their way of life, even if it sacrifices their world power. I say fuck the GDP indicators; you create a country of materialistic zombies when you only focus on wealth, something that a very small percentage of people control.

“You’re an idiot. I make so much more money than the average French person. I can afford Coach bags, appletini’s, and this BMW car lease.”

You are a slave to material possessions, voting away your human desire to happiness with each dollar you spend on things you don’t need.

Many [French] voters said they were eager to snub members of the country’s political, business and media elites, which were largely in favor of the measure.

Wow look at that, people voting for their own needs instead of doing what big companies and politicians tell them to do. :thumbup:

Shakeup after French reject EU constitution.


  1. Marc

    I agree. Most of Europe is like that.

    Our counterparts in Ireland for the SAME COMPANY get 6 weeks of vacation a year.

    I get 2 weeks per year. 2 weeks is garbage. I got more in the military.

    I also find that I get swept up in capitalism as well. Always wanting the next best thing and blowing my money on it.

    I should sue society and my transition to complete stupid American will be complete.

    I never thought I would agree with the french.

  2. J.P.

    I have long agreed with this, especially since starting law school and seeing the culture of 7 days a week 12-18 hour days that continues from school on to retirement for some people.

    I won’t detail every aspect of why this work all the time behavior is bad, but I will point out at least one. At least in the legal profession since the switch to hourly billing and the push for associates to have at least 2200 billable hours a year, the ABA has seen huge increases in the divorce rates for attorneys, incidents of clinical depression, alcoholism, and suicide. At a certain point you have to ask what the point of all this is. People say they are hard working and ambitious, but there is a line that they cross when that means they are sabotaging their relationships, interests, and mental health- just to name a few things.

  3. JC

    Sure they only work 35 hours a week…and have tons of vacation.

    But then again they also have 25% unemployment if you’re under 25…and an overall 10% unemployment.

    So sure, while having a 35 hour work week may be great, it doesn’t help much when companies are deciding wether to invest in your country, which might ultimately lead to you not living on the dole like 1 out of every 4 of your friends.

  4. DCB Post author

    “But then again they also have 25% unemployment if you?re under 25?and an overall 10% unemployment.”

    The official unemployment figures put out by the U.S. government is a fucking joke.

  5. Hugh

    I’m sympathetic to the argument you’re making (it’s one I’ve made myself) but I’ll pose the question to you that I often get from other people.

    If living in a consumeristic, hyper-capitalist society turns everyone into “materialistic zombies who are slaves to material possessions” – how come it didn’t happen to you?

    In other words, since YOU can see through the false promises and lies inherent in advertising and modern society in general, why can’t anybody else? Don’t people, on some level anyway, want the lifestyle that’s currently in vogue?

    After all, if they didn’t want to live a life based on commodities and the pursuit of the Almight Dollar, wouldn’t they be making the same arguments you are and living and voting accordingly?

    Thanks for the food for thought.

  6. Marc

    That’s a generalization Hugh.

    On the whole, the majority of Americans choose to be capitalistic and such.

    Just like a majority voted for Bush.

    It’s the leading effect and not the entire public opinion.

  7. Natty G

    I’m sympathetic to what you’re saying, Bach, but disagree overall. Don’t get me wrong, I think it’s insane that so many people are willing to spend more time at work than they are with their family/friends.

    However, just because the French system seems more humane on the surface doesn’t tell the whole story. As JC pointed out, France consistently has much higher unemployment rates. So while some people may be better off under their pseudo-socialism, there are definitely losers as well. Under the American system, you (generally) get to decide just how much you want to work. If you don’t like the pace in DC, go to rural Appalachia or something. There, you might want to work, but be unable to get a job. I’m not sure that’s a more humane way to structure a society, on the whole.

  8. mass

    OK – here’s a partial answer to Hugh. First, you have to reject the false premise that it’s all or none, found in the statements:
    1. If living in a consumeristic, hyper-capitalist society turns everyone into ?materialistic zombies who are slaves to material possessions? – how come it didn?t happen to you?
    2. In other words, since YOU can see through the false promises and lies inherent in advertising and modern society in general, why can?t anybody else?

    Many people do see through the shit, but many more do not. And some who see through one part of it are completely blinded by another part. We are not monolithic, as a culture or as individuals.

    An anecdote: you date this person for a year let’s say and you’re miserable but also happy at times and then after a year you break up and your friends eventually tell you how miserable you were and how you were being manipulated, etc. They were able to see what you couldn’t; in fact, they were able to see what you would have denied had they said it while you were dating that person.

    On a more complex level, the pace of our lives leaves little room for reflection, and without reflection we continue spinning around in our lives: wake up, go to work, come home, eat dinner, watch tv, go to bed. It becomes a cycle of repetitive behavior, and all habits, both good and bad, are hard to break.

    Even when we know it’s bad for us.

  9. Aja

    Else relocate to Europe?

    “General secretary Brendan Barber said, “Employer lobbyists claim that long-hours working is essential to business success, but most experts agree that one of the biggest brakes on UK productivity is the poor skills of too many of the workforce.

    “But this poll shows that long-hours working is one of the main obstacles to improving skills.

    “We run the risk of getting caught in a vicious circle of long-hours working, low skills and low productivity.

    “Long hours is not a sign of economic success but badly organised workplaces with tired inefficient staff.

    “If Europe’s ministers agree to phase out the opt-out on the 48-hour working week at their meeting which starts today, they will be giving British productivity a boost.”

    Thirty-five per cent of full-time workers said their current job had such long hours or so stressful a workload that they had neither the time nor energy to take up a base.”–obstruct-training-name_page.html

  10. M

    Hope it’s ok if I link to this discussion on my website. I agree with DCB – it’s an ass-backwards way to live. I think we all fall prey to it at times. I know I do – I’ve been mulling over an iPod for months. Why do I need an iPod? I’ve got a CD player in my truck, a stereo at home, a job that doesn’t lend itself to tuning out co-workers, and I enjoy the ambient sounds of the real world around me. (I understand that, for others, tuning out these sounds is preferable. I’m talking about personal preference here.) I consider myself a pretty savvy consumer, and don’t watch television enough to be sucked in by hip ads. I think materialistic people are suckers who think they are happy but are living empty shells of lives. But there’s still an allure, isn’t there?

  11. Natty G

    So, mass, you feel that you are better positioned to tell people how to live their lives than the people themselves? While your hypothesis is possible, it’s also possible that people are reflective, and simply have different priorities. Just because someone chooses a different path than you do doesn’t make them wrong or stupid. It just makes them different.

  12. mass

    Actually Natty G I don’t think I said anywhere that I was better positioned to tell anyone anything. However, it’s pretty clear that we rely on people to tell us how to do things all the time: we visit doctors, we hire architects, personal trainers, consultants and others whom we believe will lead us to some better way. Much of psychology and psychiatry are built on the assumption that we are somewhat strangers to ourselves.

    Another anecdote: even major league baseball players work with batting coaches, because those coaches are able to see things the players, who are swinging the bats themselves, can’t see.

    On the other hand, if some moron keeps sticking his hand in a fan and then complains about wrist pain, I might have to point out that he’s being an idiot.

  13. Natty G

    Mass: Your post seems to be based on the assumption that your view of a meaningful life is the correct one, and that everyone else is blind too it. That’s a little too big brother-ish for me.

    Instead, I’d suggest that different people find personal satisfaction in different areas. The fact that some people find satisfaction in providing the best materialistic life they can for their families doesn’t make them wrong, or blinded. They just have chosen differently than you, I, or DC Bachelor would.

    In other words, most people don’t think their lives require fixing. That’s why your doctor, trainer, and batting coach analogies don’t work. It’s not that there is a definitive flaw to adjust, it’s that the flaw doesn’t exist in the first place.

  14. greg

    Aja: If long working hours were associated with low productivity, then explain the productivity of America and especially Japan.

    DCB: Do you have a basis for your critique of American labor statistics? Can you provide me with evidence of government reporting fraud or show me how America’s way of reporting unemployment is different from, say, France?

    I think it’s silly to look to Europe as an example of how our economy should be. Double-digit unemployment, low productivity and infighting among states is not something we want.

  15. Spaniard

    But what really is important in life? Your IPod? Your BMW, 5-bedroom house, high productivity? Perhaps to some people these things are important, but only because society has told them it’s important. And it’s basic knowledge that material possessions only go so far, and provide temporary and unsubstantial satisfaction.

    Americans are RAISED to be productive machines… they’re taught at an early age how important television is, the car you drive, being successful (at work), all the gadgets, the diamond ring, your collection of shoes, etc.

    But what is lacking in the U.S. is the core values of family, bonds of friendship, respect, etc. That’s why the American nuclear family is in serious decay. Families don’t eat dinner together, the dad watches TV or reads the paper, the mom picks at food here and there, the son goes to his room with his friends with his spaghetti, etc. It’s an EVENT when the family gets together… in many parts of Europe, it’s an everyday thing.

    Most of Europe still maintains, or at least tries to maintain, a solid nuclear family bond and a clear view of what is meaningful in life. But slowly as different aspects of life Americanize in Europe, those strong ties and views sadly diminish. Sure, perhaps a month long vacation each year may not provide enough cash to install that DVD screen in the headrest of your car, but it will provide time for more important things. Sure productivity suffers with a 35 hour work week, but that might just be the ideal balance this country doesn’t have.

    In the end, lasting satisfaction comes from other people and your relationships with them. Not from your car or from how successful your consulting firm is.

  16. Natty G

    Again, you assume that anyone who makes a different valuation calculation is, in effect, brainwashed by “society.” Maybe they have simply made a different, conscious choice? I mean, in the end, what is society? It’s the collective wisdom of a nation of individual decision-makers.

    Productivity vs. family is not an either/or decision. You can spend significant quality time with your family, and still be a productive member of the economy. I know plenty of attorneys who have made partner, and rarely if ever missed a ball game, dance recital, or school play. It is possible.

    Besides, I don’t think I’d look to the French (the culture that laughed at us during the Clinton-era because the mistress is commonplace over there) as the paragon of the nuclear family.

  17. Anonymous

    Greg & Natty G…don’t try arguing with them. You aren’t dealing with Rhodes Scholars here. Just look at their pictures…the haters are clearly life’s losers who are trying to make themselves feel better by justifying their midling existence. Can’t get a better job? That’s a “conscious decision.” No fashion sense? Oh, that’s just because they “refuse to buy into the capitalistic BS.”

  18. Spaniard

    I appreciate your viewpoint Natty, I see where you are coming from. I’m saying that in America, there is a problem with prioritizing. America is a global economic juggernaut, but why do kids go to school carrying guns? Columbine for example. I don’t want to get off track, but it’s all tied together, I believe. Tell me why that doesn’t happen in Europe. I know gun laws are more lax here, but there is an underlying reason. Why do Americans seem to depend on “society” to raise their children? I’ll elaborate if needed.

    Europeans could be brainwashed regarding their ideas of keeping a tight-knit family group, who knows. I agree, Europe could be a lot more productive. Employees work shorter hours, have more vacation days, and mentally “productivity” isn’t as high on the list as it is in the U.S.
    The outcome is clear of course, a weaker economy, lower standard of living, etc. The mindset is completely different.

    I was born and raised in Spain and I find myself comparing both mentalities frequently. The mistress isn’t exactly “commonplace” anywhere in Europe, but sex and sexuality is, at least much more than in the U.S. That might be a reason why Clinton’s blowjob was received differently in France.

    I’m not a Rhodes scholar, but I have experienced enough to pick out differences I see. Better job? Fashion sense? Way to point out the important things, not much of a challenge to predict where you’re from.

    Because of course, if you have a sucky job and no fashion sense, why are you still alive?

  19. DCB Post author

    fashion sense?? FASHION SENSE!! i’m talking about what matters in life and you’re worried about clothing. wow thank god i dont have to live through other people’s eyes like you do. that must suck. any sales at french connection this week? :rolleyes:

  20. mass

    I’m still trying to figure out where you get the idea that I see the truth that others don’t. I think I made clear in my first post that people have multiple blind spots — for instance I may see through the whole “Is that a Hemi?” marketing scheme of linking cars to one’s masculinity, but that doesn’t mean I don’t fall prey to the latest recreational fad (yoga, stripping).

    I would argue however that we as a culture are by and large dupes of marketing and/or herd mentality, and I include myself in that. That doesn’t mean we are all mindless drones living fake existences a la The Matrix, but I think it makes sense that we are conditioned — or acculturated if you don’t like the term conditioned — to consume, and consumption is rarely based solely on needs. It’s based on desire and image — I drink Mt Dew because I’m edgy and extreme; I smoke Dunhills because I’m cosmopolitan; I drive a Nissan because it’s not an ordinary sedan. Ad campaigns work by associating the product with a lifestyle and they make companies big profits. We are all of us — or at least almost all of us — susceptible at one time or another to this industry.

    But you’re right. Some people do drink Mt Dew because they like the taste — or need the caffeine, etc. I’d like to emphasize again that I’m not suggesting that we’re in a monolithic matrix that exerts complete or even control.

  21. Johnny5

    I love this part.

    State Department spokesman Richard A. Boucher said Tuesday in Washington. “It’s up to the French government to decide who they want in their government.”

  22. J.P.

    Natty G, you’ve made some good and well reasoned arguments- let me say I respect the way you’ve been commenting. However, I have to take issue with one aspect of your comments: that productivity v. family are not opposed. In the U.S. I think it seems that more and more that IS the case. Your example of the partner who makes it to every base ball game is extremely rare and I would be tempted to ask if the partner allows his associates to go to THEIR children’s baseball games (probably not). In my experience the problem is that companies and firms in the U.S. have come to expect many managers to stay until 10 o’clock every night instead of once and a while. When this is the situation, you have to be kidding yourself to think manager-dad has any significant contact with his wife/kids/family. It’s distressing (at least to me), because the whole attitude is seeping into the rest of our culture. Americans increasingly live and are expected to live very insular lives if they wish to support themselves.

  23. Marc

    Some people can get more work done in less time than others.

    Some jobs (Like a lawyer) sometimes requires keeping off hours, or long hours of research etc;

    One thing to note about gregs comment regarding higher productivity in America and Japan based on longer working hours, and this delves into my opinion on the matter.

    The suicide and depression rates in Japan and America are higher than anywhere else in the modern world.

    HAve you been to Japan? Shit is fucking expensive there. I paid 8 dollars for PANCAKES. Want to live in Tokyo? Your alternative is to buy a small island.

    Here we work long hours (well, those of us who are contributing members of society).

    Why do we do it? Is your job that important?

    I spent the last 3 weeks working 60 hours to complete a project. I dislike my job because I feel like I’m just a cog in the machine of corporate America.

    I’ll blow off hanging out with friends and family because I’m too tired from work.

    I have all the things I need, and a lot of what I want.

    In europe, from what I’ve seen being there, is that people in general gravitate around friends and family and enjoying themselves, work merely fuels their ability to sustain that.

    There is something inherently wrong to me, thinking about working your ass off and not enjoying life until you retire.

    Isn’t life supposed to be a journey, not a destination?

    We have to work our asses off to keep up with the next guy in regards to possessions and social status.

    Cheers to those who can work a 30 – 40 hour work week and still make ends meet while enjoying the people around them.

    And Natty, Partners make all their family commitments and personal enjoyments because they have some lesser person working towards partner doing the leg work.

    Shit rolls down hill in corporate America. If your boss has a lot of free time and you don’t, maybe you need to learn the word no. (not you specifically, but everyone in general).

    I for one hate leaving the office knowing I have pressing issues to attend to, and I really hate coming in on the weekends, and trust me, my salary isn’t worth it. Here it’s about not letting my team down. Especially so close to the end zone.

    There is something to be admired about complacency in general. People who can work 35 hours a week, ge ttheir job done well enough, and still be able to go enjoy the things they like to do. Not being a slave to their job, but using the job to fuel their real life.

    That’s a goal right there.

  24. Marc

    I love the

    “x internet nerds are currently appreciating my writing”

    As I am always on the net at work, it’s apt.

  25. greg

    I think many of you are making unfounded value judgements. You seem to loathe the American dedication to productive work, hiding your lazy attitude in your arguments about how productivity isn’t as important as relaxing. Here in America, we value hard work, determination and a drive to better oneself. Our values or those of Europe are not necessarily better or worse, just different.

    Basically, I think most of you have an unfounded “grass is greener” mentality. I think given the choice, most of you would prefer to stay in America, where our unemployment is less than half that of Europe’s. Sure a 35-hour work week can be nice, as well as a month of vacation, but it means little when you’re out of a job like 10-20 percent of your peers.

  26. DCB Post author

    Greg I don’t think you understand what Marc is saying (which I 100% agree with by the way). Just because we don’t want to play the capitalism game doesn’t mean we are “lazy” and aren’t “determined”. Focusing your life on “hard work” isn’t what humans are meant to do, just because your political party says so. Have you ever thought about focusing on happiness and personal fulfillment instead? Did you simply adopt your hard work values from someone else or do you come across them through life’s experience?

    You’re still in college under parental support.. I hate to say “wait until you get older”, but wait until you get older. You will be in your mid 20’s with a decent job questioning if working harder for more money will bring anything extra in your life. Except for goods made in China or Japan, it won’t. If you aren’t questioning it then you will live a comfortable life answering to the man, retiring at 65 and playing golf, wondering where all the years went.

    A life of keeping up with the Jones doesn’t seem like a good way to spend the only life I got.

  27. J.P.

    Greg, I respect your position, but I totally echo what DCB said, mostly because I can identify with what Marc said. Get a couple years of job experience or find yourself in grad school and you start to see why people call it “the rat race”.

    There is absolutely nothing wrong with hard work, and none of us is advocating being lazy, but once you have found yourself in a certain environment your perception of corporate culture often changes. As Marc said- you’re not being “lazy” if you are not feeling amped about coming in for the 75th hour of the week on Sunday and you miss the family picknic, morning with your girlfriend, brother’s football game, etc.

    The reason the French system is preferable to some of us is coming in for that 50th hour is not an option for ANYONE and thus there is no pressure from employers that prevents you from enjoying the things in life which truly ARE more valuable.

  28. Anonymous

    “Here in America, we value hard work, determination and a drive to better oneself.”

    If they did a poll-

    “Here in EUROPE, we value hard work, determination and a drive to better oneself. Agree or Disagree?”

    I bet most Europeans would agree with that statement.

    Also, I think on a personal leave americans do value those things, but on a corporate level, I’m not so sure. Does my boss appreciate all of my hard work, and everything I’ve learned that makes things smoother for us on a daily basis? Definitely! Do I get raises, or lower medical co-pays, from the corporation that show me that they value my work? No. They can find someone to replace me at anytime. They pay me what they think is fair, and any gifts at christmas come directly from my managers wallet.

    Corporate america doesn’t look at the individual, they look at the bottom line. Even if you are the most productive, if you make more money than everyone else, it might be time to get rid of you, because there is someone to replace you who will work for half your salary. All of your coworkers will cry because their workload has increased, and the company is telling them their raise will be less this year because the economy is on the rocks and we all have to support the company.

    Does your company really value YOUR hard work? And, if so, how do they show you that they value you?

  29. Natty G

    I’m not really sure what the disagreement is at this point. Some people want to enjoy themselves more. Great. That’s your right, and your decision. Others want to make more money, and enjoy the fruits of a capitalistic society. Great, that’s their choice.

    As Greg said, neither is right or wrong. This is a post-modern world. I think Greg & I are merely stating, “to each his own.” I personally agree with DCB, Spaniard, etc., regarding how I want to live my life. However, I don’t judge others who choose differently. Some here, seem to want to assert that their choice is the only correct one to make. First of all, that’s arrogant. Second, why do you care if someone else is slaving away 75 hours a week? If might make you look bad in comparison (if you are both working the same job), but tough shit. That’s their choice and your choice. Everyone has the ability to find their own niche.

  30. greg

    DCB and Marc: Perhaps I didn’t come across clearly. My impression of the discussion so far is that many in the thread lament American work ethic in favor of France’s. Many seem to favor having a 35-hour work week and a month of paid vacation.

    My argument isn’t that we should sacrifice happiness for squeezing out that extra bit of production. Rather, it is that through productivity that we can make more time and have more resources to be happy, which I completely agree is the ultimate goal. I’m not saying work yourself into the ground, but longing for lazy business practices only hurts our ability to acheive happiness. Simply put, happiness comes through hard work and dedication.

    Also, I’m no longer in college, I have a career and am more happy than ever in my adult life. I and my company are determined to grow our business and increase our effectiveness. I recognize that pushing our employees to their limits is counterproductive, but so too is being laxadaisical about productivity.

    Anon: Maybe the reason why I’m not joining the choir in bitching and complaining about business is because my company is not at all like what you describe. Also, I’m not saying Europeans don’t agree with that statement, but that the values of hard work and individual effort are much more dear to Americans than Europeans.

    Natty: Damn straight. My goal in life isn’t to make the most money or get the most power or attention, it’s to be happy. Actually, I think *everyone* is pursuing the same goal of being happy. It’s just that happiness means different things to different people.

    If someone feels that slaving away 60 hours a week is the way to happiness, more power to them. If you think your work is not the way to happiness, then what the fuck are you still doing there?

  31. greg

    PPS to DCB: What the fuck does my party affiliation have naything to do with this discussion. Stop treating me like some kind of sheep; it’s really condescending.

  32. Muffin

    Whatever moron. Clearly you’ve never lived in Europe.

    Instead of enumerating the downsides to the French / general Euro style of life and evoking the tired old “grass is always greener” saw, I’ll just say this:

    Grow up, recognize that different is not necessarily better. Oh, and travel.

  33. johnny

    The french people are famous for whacking their political leaders.

    I mean they dont just sit around like us USA folk, they invent the guillotine!

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