Home / Robert Farley / Foreign Entanglements: The Entangling Euro

Foreign Entanglements: The Entangling Euro

Comments
/
/
/
428 Views

On this week’s Foreign Entanglements, Yglesias and I chat a bit about the EU:

See also this, on restrictions in the German labor market. When I made the same case here a couple of years ago, commenters reacted aggressively, but to my mind unconvincingly. To be fair, what’s the best case for labor rules that prohibit businesses from opening in evenings, on Sundays, etc.? Seems to me that they’re built around outmoded conceptions of the family, of gender relations, and “what workers want,” but I’m curious to see if there’s a more compelling argument.

FacebookTwitterGoogle+Share
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Google+
  • Linkedin
  • Pinterest
  • rea

    what’s the best case for labor rules that prohibit businesses from opening in evenings, on Sundays, etc.?

    It’s the Krusty Krab problem. When Mr. Krabs went to being open 24hours per day, he just made Sponge Bob and Squidward work 24 hours per day.

    If we could count on business to hire more workers in order to be open evenings and Sundays, that would be great.

    In the real world, Mr. Krabs-like bosses handle extended hours by making workers work more hours for the same pay.

    • steelpenny

      Yes. And even if the boss hires some extra people, the workers are stuck working when the boss says. You don’t want the graveyard shift? You’re fired. And good luck finding something else with double digit unemployment.

      As hard as it may be for Americans to understand, people in other countries actually value their non-work time. When I was in Australia, I was shocked to find that everything closed really early. Virtually everything was closed on holidays and most businesses were closed on Sunday. Because people value their time and everybody deserves a day off. Somebody figured out that if everything is open all the time, a lot of people aren’t going to get their day off. The upper and middle classes will always get their day off, workers not so much. You’ll notice it’s never the workers clamoring to change these kind of rules.

      I think Farley might get it if his provost told him he was going to teach an intensive class from 11pm to 6 am (with an hour break!) for a month.

      • Robert Farley

        German unemployment is actually 7% right now…

        “Because people value their time and everybody deserves a day off. Somebody figured out that if everything is open all the time, a lot of people aren’t going to get their day off.”

        This still seems to be an enforcement issue. It’s not hard to design regulations that ensure that everyone will get a day off, and that don’t mandate that everyone will get the same day off. Just harder to enforce those regulations.

        • steelpenny

          Yes German unemployment is 7%, but my comments are applicable to any country with these kind of restrictive rules. Also, EU unemployment rate is just over 10%.

          Maybe some other regulation would work as well, but why is it needed? Calls for these kinds of changes are always an attempt to weaken the regulatory framework. Why make a lot of people’s lives worse to improve the bottom line of a few?

          You are never going to be the one affected by the kind of changes you think are a good idea.

      • Hogan

        We’re not necessarily talking about factories putting on overnight shifts; we’re talking about, e.g., grocery stores being open until 8 pm or on Saturday afternoons. Unless every household has at least one person who can go shopping during normal business hours, that seems unreasonable, and there ought to be fairly easy ways to make sure it doesn’t cause hardships to the employees.

        • steelpenny

          Remarkably, people in Germany don’t starve outside of closed grocery stores. I understand that as Americans it seems inconceivable that people could survive in a world without 24/7 everything, but they do. I was pissed off when I tried to go grocery shopping on a Sunday in Australia and the store was closed, but I figured it out just like everybody else there.

          • Hogan

            Remarkably, people in Germany don’t starve outside of closed grocery stores.

            No, fuck *you.*

            • Marek

              Well, I’m convinced!

              Seriously, though, one of the reasons that this works well for the Germans is their sane mixed-use zoning and planning. If the baker is on your corner, it is easier to get the day’s bread than driving to the shopping center. Not to mention that many train stations, or at least hubs, have grocery shopping built right in.

    • Robert Farley

      I get that; other kinds of regulations that would be more appropriate (overtime, etc.) are harder to monitor. On the other hand, Germany has a pretty robust regulatory state, so you would probably expect German enforcement of more appropriate regulations to be better than American enforcement.

      • Alan Tomlinson

        I’m unclear as to what “pretty robust regulatory state” has to do with enforcement. In Germany, the Ordnungsamt is responsible for such things as businesses staying closed when they are supposed to be. They are not omniscient and there are relatively few of them. It’s not like the citizenry calls them up and reveals whose been staying open too late.

        It’s much, much easier, cheaper, less-invasive, etc. to enforce closing times if they are the same.

        I’m not in any way making a statement about whether these closing times are good or bad. Ignoring the sexism, religious implications and the cultural conservatism inherent in such laws, I’m on the fence about them. OTOH, it makes for quieter Sundays and holidays, and I like that. OTOH, it does make shopping more difficult.

        Cheers,

        Alan Tomlinson

  • shah8

    If that picture is any indication, Argentina and lots of sex has done Yglesias good…

    • firefall

      What, that wouldnt do anyone lots of good?

  • I’m not sure “what workers want” should be in quotation marks. What workers want is a legitimate question. That may or may not be the same as what labor union leaders want. But it does need to be taken seriously and explored.

    • StevenAttewell

      But it can’t be examined outside of a context of relative bargaining power either. Discourse on labor market regulations has a dangerous tendency to be done in a very abstracted, individualized fashion: workers want more flexible careers, so why not eliminate restrictive eight-hour day or overtime regulations, given that we’re all living the dream of multiple highflying careers and retraining is easy, etc.

      This is why my back goes up when the same language that the New York Times uses to insinuate that just cause should be replaced by at will in France and Germany gets used by folks like Yglesias.

      • Having been through a couple of recessions in Germany, and followed startups there with some intensity, I can say that protection of jobs is a lot more Schein than Sein.

  • Germany does not have a national minimum wage. Discuss.

  • For bonus points in gender roles: Many elementary schools in Germany end their regular hours of instruction at noon.

It is main inner container footer text