Paul Ryan has said he’ll consider running for Speaker of the House, but he won’t give up time with his family. He’s speaking to the dying (but possibly resurging) idea that work-life balance is a good thing, and Fox News is jumping all over him for that. Fox host Neil Cavuto spoke with finance contributor Charles Payne, who blasted Ryan for his desire to be able to spend time with his young children.
No, here’s the thing. It’s not realistic. Particularly at this place and time in America, it’s sort of petering out. Our dominance in the world is not what it used to be. Think about how we got here, though. Listen, kids, the reason we have summer vacation kids get out of school and help harvest the crops. Are you kidding me? Work-life balance, how about we just eat balance?
Watch the video below, via Media Matters:
So, what, because we’re losing dominance, we have to work even harder, longer hours than we already do? That seems to be what he’s saying. He might also be alluding to a fringe idea that child labor laws are a bad thing, because they make it so we can’t have a cheap (or free) workforce here in the U.S. Why don’t we look at the situation from a different point of view and see if we can’t identify the problem that way?
It’s true that our productivity per capita has fallen off since 2007. It’s also true that the U.S. is not the most productive OECD country out there. It’s not surprising that everyone’s productivity fell off between 2007 and 2013, given the number of jobs lost across the world in the 2008 financial crash. However, there are signs that productivity across all OECD countries is picking up again.
Squeezing workers for all they’re worth is not a way to send us sailing to the top of the world in terms of productivity. Neither is child labor. Payne seems to think that it’s time everyone give their entire lives over to their jobs, like we did in the days before labor laws. Live to work, don’t work to live, and all that.
He’s a little inconsistent, though. A different story on Media Matters says that, last year, Payne said that low unemployment is bad for the stock market. That, in turn, was an insinuation that we should sacrifice employment levels for the sake of the stock market. In July 2014, he tweeted the following:
So, what, exactly, should we be doing? The answer seems clear, from his point of view. Pay people less, make them work more, but don’t employ too many people at once, because that, too, is bad for us. Work-life balance is a myth he’s only too happy to perpetuate, also. It’s actually time that leaders across all sectors start setting examples regarding work-life balance. What we’re doing isn’t working.
Featured image via screen capture from embedded video