35 hours are enough?

A few days ago, I chatted with Lesli about my holiday plans for next year, and how I’d love to spend a few weeks over in the US. Lesli was a bit flaggergasted: „A few weeks? How many vacation days do you have?!“

I reminded her, that I’m living in that socialist paradise called Germany where 30 paid vacation days per year aren’t that uncommon. Apparently, in the US, wanting that much vacation in one go means giving up your job for not only a few people. And these same people work much more than the 40 hours per week I officially do.

And now comes the killer: When I was a kid,buttons proudly showing this slogan here were a very common sight:

35 hours are enough“. Really, german unions were actually demanding that workers and employees shouldn’t work more than 35 hours per week. (Actually, in some german industries, this is the standard since 1995!)

Because this model frees up available work for others, who’d otherwise be unemployed, and also because it frees up people.

Literally. It liberates them from work, gives them time to spend with family and friends, time to live their life, instead of just working for it.

You know, these days, the work hours per week are slowly getting cranked up again. Some state employees have to work 42 hours already, and in the private sector, much more isn’t unheard of. At the same time, there has been a very moderate, nay, minimal rise of wages while basic foodstuffs got comparatively more expensive.

Still, compared to the US, I shouldn’t complain. And personally, I’m comparatively well off. Not rich, but as long as I’m employed, I don’t have to worry.

But I see a worrying tendency. Not twenty years ago, things appeared to move towards a society that was aimed to liberate us. Now we’re apparently moving into the opposite direction. Everyone is looking out for themselves, trying not to get their own situation worse, hoping to at least maintain the status quo.

But, you know, the status…

…it is not quo.

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