Friday, March 27, 2015

Is the US really an advanced country?

"US businesses do not need to give workers any days off whatsoever – for vacation or sick days – under federal law." does liberal democracy = no holidays
As a naturalized citizen, it is sometimes difficult to keep the faith of my citizenship when stories like this emerge. Not having holidays for a native-born Australian like me seems an impossibility. 
Australia, "Land of the long weekend," has, like most countries in Western Europe, been defined by social democracy. The national political economy is historically different, defined by wonderful successes, where the language of business is not the default... although that, sadly, is changing. The default has been a series of compromises between labor and management, where the Labor parties have insisted that the workforce deserves a break.
Not surprisingly, this Guardian article caught my eye.
The US is also the only developed country that doesn’t guarantee paid maternity or parental leave to its citizens. Three states have local policies.
In 2014, 77% of Americans working for privately owned companies got paid vacation days, typically between 10 to 14 days a year. And 74% of full-time workers and 24% of part-time workers in the private sector were offered paid sick leave, according to the US Department of Labor.
 “Today, we are the only advanced country on Earth that doesn’t guarantee paid sick leave or paid maternity leave to our workers. Forty-three million workers have no paid sick leave – 43 million,” Barack Obama said during his State of the Union address in January.

Within the political economy of social versus liberal democracy comes the role of the corporation in US society. 

The Guardian report stated that Microsoft is insisting that its US suppliers give their employees holidays. The privatization of labor operates in this way, where private interests set their own rules, exploit labor however it likes and refuse to engage in humane treatment of workers, until government or a major corporation makes a determination for humane treatment. 

It is tempting to congratulate Microsoft. But the shift here, as in much of the discussion in the technology sector, is of a domain that has been seeking emancipation from public policy. In many contexts the IT sector has actively sought to operate outside of, even refuse a role for government. This is the anti-statist, de-regulationist, all-regulation-is-bad school of political economy, run by people who misread Adam Smith and never intend to get to Marx. This recent article from Der Spiegal lays out the situation: the Germans don't buy it.  Der Spiegal - IT trends 

The operationalization of the libertarian perspective works well within the dominant liberal democratic paradigm. Not being awarded holidays, sick days, humane working conditions, takes society back beyond liberalism to a state barely above feudalism, as workers are considered chattels, owned and used, then thrown out as the emperors of technology decide their fate. 

  • Australians, stand up for the dignity of labor - more long weekends! 
  • Alternatively, is it time to say? "Put away that computer and the feudal values it represents."    
  • Other critics will surely ask, Is the US really an advanced society?