thought some of you might want to see this.
Here’s What You Can Really Expect as an American
- by Lizabeth Paulat
- October 6, 2014
- 7:00 am
A new report shows America is one of the most overworked nations in the world with the fewest social benefits.
While most developed nations enjoy things like caps on the hours they have to work, paid vacation leave, paid sick leave and paid maternity leave, the United States does not mandate one, not one, of these benefits for American workers. We are literally the only country in North and South America combined that does not demand that companies pay when workers take parental leave.
On average, Americans work 134 more hours per year than Japan. When compared to Europe, that figure shoots up, ranging at 300-500 more hours per year.
In terms of schooling, more than 70% of students in America will go into debt while attending college. That debt average is $33,000 dollars.
Let’s compare: In Mexico, education costs around $5,077 per year. England hits around the $5,000 mark. New Zealand is around $3,000, Finland is around $1,000, Germany is about $930 and Norway is a measly $500. Watching American’s abroad compare their student loan debt with their new European friends is a sight to behold. Their mouths drop open in anger when they hear, “My debt? What debt?”
It’s a good thing we have all that employment to help us pay off all our loans. Except for those incredibly poor job prospects that have been facing graduates for years.
But hey, if you’re so lucky as to get a job, you better prepare yourself to devote the vast majority of your life to that job. After all, studies show that more than 85% of men and 65% of women work more than 40 hours a week. In return for this, you may or may not get a measly 2-3 weeks paid vacation (rarely allowed consecutively).
Other basics in life, such as healthcare, fail to benefit the average working American. America has some of the most expensive healthcare in the world. However, we rationalize this by praising the amazing quality of our healthcare. Well, this is not actually the case. In fact, when compared to Australia, Germany, France, Canada, The Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland and the UK, the United States ranked last in areas such as efficacy, access, efficiency and overall healthy lives.
Of course, healthcare isn’t just “free” in other countries. That money is taken out in taxes and Americans tend to have higher median incomes than Europeans, so there is some trade off, right? Well I guess so, providing a 33% wage hike is more important to you than overall quality of life.
Because when counties are ranked by quality of life (which uses around 10 factors to determine quality such as life expectancy, political freedoms, job security and gender equality), we see that in 2013, the United States ranked at #17. For comparison, The United States was actually #1 in 1988.
Then there is that pressing concern about the ever-growing wage gap. As much as we lament it, studies actually show most of us have no clue how bad it actually is. A new study funded by Harvard Business School asked thousands of people around the globe what they thought CEOs made yearly in comparison to the average worker.
Most in the USA guessed CEOs out earned average workers by 30-1. The real number? 354-1. This means that the average CEO income is $12 million/year compared to the median American worker salary of $34,000.
Yet how can American workers and citizens combat these disparities? Well one answer starts with government. Electing and supporting officials who are in favor of workers rights and paid leave is one answer. Creating independent workers unions, so employees have far more power, is another. Yet this is a complex problem that has taken decades to create, and will likely take decades to iron out.
This will also take an overhaul in American socialization. The idea that we’re all going to make it rich because hard work will lead to prosperity is a commonly held belief. This, by the way, has almost no factual basis in reality because the vast majority of wealth in America is inherited.
It’s called the American Dream because you have to be asleep to believe it — George Carlin
Chances are, you will simply lead an average life with little to no significant wealth. Most people around the globe are pretty okay with this. Which is why instead of focusing on 80 hour work weeks to achieve a million dollar pipe dream, they focus on ensuring their government mandates vacation hours, fair employment, healthcare support and family leave for its people. You know, stuff that will actually benefit the vast majority of citizens in their average, daily lives. Something Americans should be far more concerned about than, say, the death tax taking 8% from our imaginary 5 million dollar estates.