I’m kind of surprised that no Presidential candidate has included more holidays in their platform. I take that back. I am surprised that President Obama has not done this. This is not something that Mr. Romney could consider since he would be keenly aware of the fact that when we have a holiday it is business owners that foot the cost. For holidays and vacations businesses pay their employees for not working, and sometimes have to pay those employees that must work extra money. Businesses pay employees for not showing up to work.
Canadian companies offer more holidays for their Canadian employees and much more vacation time. I know this because I work for a Canadian company even though my office is in Houston. In fact I used to work for a Houston based company until the Canadian company bought us out. This is further evidence that those darn foreigners are taking over. So my fellow employees and I left our U.S. company on a Friday and reported to work for a Canadian company the following Monday. It didn’t take long for us to figure out that our counterparts in Canada sure took an awful lot of time off. So at our first employee meeting, you can bet the first question was, “How come you guys get so many holidays and so much vacation and we don’t?”
The short answer was,” …because you are in the U.S. and we are in Canada.” In the U.S. our company must meet the norms of like U.S. companies. In Canada they must meet the norms of like Canadian companies in order to attract employees. The response was, “Yeah, but…” and “That doesn’t seem right.”
So we are in a self governing cycle. In the U.S. we meet the standards of other companies. No company has an incentive to offer more so other companies can follow suit, so everything stays the same.
But how is it that Canadian businesses can absorb the cost of doing business this way, and the U.S. can’t? Now it is easy to think of business as huge companies making billions of dollars. I like to think of a business as the independent Dry Cleaner that I take my clothing to. I figure they have ten employees and they are closed today – Labor Day. So those ten employees are being paid for no production. That must be quite a hit on their profit.
|Me Being Productive in Canada|
I have traveled to Canada quite a few times and businesses seem to be doing well. Their economy seems to be pretty robust and they didn’t suffer the turmoil that seems to have affected everyone else. They maintain a pretty tight regulatory rein on their banking and financial systems. By our standards Canada is pretty liberal. They seem to handle a lot of holidays and a whole lot of vacation time without batting an eyelid. It is perplexing.
I can only conclude that it is attitude.
For over a century it has been drilled into us the glory of hard work, earn your way, and no slacking. This, I think, is a Christian ethic. What ye sow so shall ye reap. Hard work has its just reward. In fact, a job well done is its own reward. It is probably not too bold to suggest that this attitude is what propelled us to what was once the greatest manufacturing and highest productive Mecca of the world. This is truly commendable.
But we have reached a point of pointless productivity, I think. With my computer I can now do in three hours what it would have taken me a week to do thirty years ago. Within two days I can accomplish a month of 1970 work. So I have progressed way beyond fruitful productivity and I now attack ‘what if’ scenarios and ‘it would be nice if’ tasks and then buttress that with meetings to address reorganizing everything. The stuff that must be done to keep the business profitable is taken care of in short order. Then I wonder about what can be done better or faster or different which too many times is self defeating. Maybe I exaggerate a little, but really not too much.
Automation, whether it is the dry cleaners that puts bar codes and scans everything to auto manufacturing with robotic welding to a house builder that cannot conceive of working without a nail gun, has created a productivity overflow. We long ago reached a productivity saturation point, and now we have overflow. And we won’t acknowledge it.
This is why I figure that Canadian businesses can afford to take a hit on productivity by offering more holidays and more vacation. They acknowledge the productivity overflow. This is why I figure the U.S. could too, but we won’t acknowledge it. Am I missing the boat somewhere?
So enjoy your Labor Day. It is a long way to Thanksgiving.