With all the brouhaha about Rupert Murdoch’s attempt/plans to buy the Wall Street Journal, it’s worth noting that despite the fact that they do excellent reporting, it seems every time I read it, they blithely omit to mention that the world they’re describing is completely screwed.
A few weeks ago they reported about how couples are turning to professional naming consultants—to name their kids.
Then today there’s a blog post, “I Now Pronounce You Legit at Work,” which notes,
It does feel more legitimate to be discussing dinner plans at work with a spouse instead of a “partner” or a “girlfriend.” The same seems to hold true in other situations: It’s one thing to tell your boss you need a personal day because your boyfriend’s family is coming in from out-of-town. It’s quite another to explain that your in-laws are visiting.
This is all wrong. If you need a personal day, you need a personal day. End of story. Work isn’t a form of freakin’ slavery, where you apologize for having a life. Work is work. You do it because you have to earn a living. And sometimes that comes second. In fact, it should always comes second. Period. Full stop.
Second story is from today’s paper: “Vacation Deflation: Breaks Get Shorter.” It’s not enough that the US has one of the crappiest arrangements for paid vacation time, and according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average employee works 100 more hours a year than he or she did in the 1970s. (For a good discussion of this, check out Ezra Klein’s story in The American Prospect.) Now even vacations are getting compressed.
But back to the WSJ. To its credit (sort of), the accompanying sidebar does paint a fairly objective picture of what a mess it is to work in the US:
But back to the story. We hear about the people who can’t afford to be away from work for a whole week (“Two years ago … she took a week off to go to London — but her schedule doesn’t allow for such luxuries anymore”), the difficulty in two-income couples scheduling away time, how 35% of people don’t take their vacation time, how the work force has “grown leaner,” and “employers don’t hire temporary help to replace salaried workers while they are gone,” and then — of course — how business are stepping up to the serve the emerging market in long weekend travel.
We even hear about two large companies that are attempting to give its employees extra time off!
But nowhere is anyone quoted on the human toll this is taking. There’s no such thing as work-life balance. There’s just work. Way too much of it.
It’s the elephant in the room, and no one will talk about it — especially in the organ of capitalism known as the Wall Street Journal.