When it comes to work, less is more

| 18th August 2009
Gaian Economics
Why don't we follow the French model and take the whole month of August as holiday? It may help strengthen our economy

How embarrassing that yesterday's data from the European Statistics Office show that France and Germany are surviving the recession better than the UK and the US. The two-pronged approach of disciplining labour and liberating capital that was pursued with such conviction for the past 20 years in the Anglo-Saxon world suddenly doesn't look so clever.

I am depressed beyond measure by the thought that this is a result of France and Germany having got in first with their car scrappage schemes. First, I hate to believe that the automotive sector can provide such a significant contribution to any national economy. But more importantly, the thought that continuing to engage in the perverse alchemy of turning fossil fuels into money can possibly be a solution to the mess we are in is simply untenable.

One real difference between the Anglo-Saxons and the continental Europeans is in the extent to which their 'captains of industry' have abandoned the noble task of production for the fool's gold of money itself. If your most significant exports are all invisible they have a tendency, like the emperor's clothes, to disappear. The almost wilful destruction of our manufacturing industries during the 1980s and the refusal, until recently, to take seriously the need for food security, have left the UK in a precarious state.

Interestingly, the French have achieved a stronger economic position with considerably less effort. Far from continuing to haunt their offices throughout the summer for fear of the email tsunami that will be lurking there if they dare to stray, French workers disappear en masse for a whole month in the summer to toast themselves in the sun or eat cheese or whatever else they enjoy doing.

Please join me in my campaign for a real summer holiday. No work for the whole month of August sounds good to me. Anybody else up for that? Together we can defeat the relentless capitalist treadmill and save those Californian internet servers some work.

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