Friday, 20 October 2017

“Karoshi” and hardest-working US cities

Although – despite their overall strong similarities in environment vis-à-vis the Tropical and/or Unenriched Worlds – I have long known that Europe and Japan have different cultures re work and employment.

However, these two studies done in recent days by Australia’s Business Insider suggest that cultural effects have caused Europe and Japan to deviate much more than mere environmental differences would suggest. Chris Weller has found that many Japanese workers, facing the problem of long-term employment security, have suffered “karoshi” (a Japanese term for death by overwork). In July 2013, a thirty-one-year-old journalist called Miwa Sado died of heart failure after reportedly lagging one hundred and fifty-nine hours of overtime. More than twenty percent of Japanese workers work over forty-nine hours a week, vis-à-vis only sixteen percent even in the US (and a much smaller proportion no doubt in Europe, New Zealand, Canada and Australia).

Weller says Japan has not been successful at ending karoshi via relatively conventional means involving improving leave for workers and encouraging women to work. This suggest something more radical is needed – or that a culture of fatalism means people feel they have a duty to work as hard as possible because they cannot improve their status by less other means. Unlike hierarchism or individuoegalitarianism, fatalism is not based on abstract ideals of equality before the law (hierarchism) or equality of result as in individuoegalitarianism.

In contrast, as I noted in a previous paragraph, people in Europe (according to WalletHub) work only four-fifths of the hours of American workers. WalletHub’s Nicholas Bode has listed the following as the hardest-working American cities:
  1. Anchorage, Alaska 
  2. Plano, Texas
  3. Cheyenne, Wyoming
  4. Virginia Beach, Virginia
  5. Irving, Texas
  6. Scottsdale, Arizona
  7. San Francisco, California
  8. Corpus Christi, Texas
  9. Washington, DC
  10. Sioux Falls, South Dakota
  11. Denver, Colorado
  12. Dallas, Texas
  13. Charlotte, North Carolina
  14. Gilbertt, Arizona
  15. Jersey City, New Jersey
This list is perhaps the first time I have seen a list without anything in common at all – and that includes (most if not all of) the major music lists I used to read fifteen years ago. The one thing lacking appears to be small, remote cities – a fact that reflects the cheapness of land and reduced requirement for hard work under such conditions. However, the list does not include only infamously expensive cities like those of coastal California or the Northeast – several of these cities are in hotter and cheaper southern regions, where one would expect hard work to be more difficult in high temperatures. It’s probable that low taxes and reduced welfare encourages hard work, but the list leaves almost everything unanswered.

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