Carol Platt Liebau: All By Myself?

Friday, June 23, 2006

All By Myself?

This piece in The Washington Post argues that Americans have become increasingly socially isolated.

"For most of the 20th century, Americans were becoming more connected with family and friends, and there was more giving of blood and money, and all of those trend lines turn sharply in the middle '60s and have gone in the other direction ever since," [Harvard public policy professor Robert Putnam] said.

One small observation: It would be interesting to see whether there's a correlation between this "social isolation" and the decline in church-going that's occurred over the last several decades, wouldn't it? (If you have stats, please end 'em to me).

Finally, there's this:

The current structure of workplace regulations assumes everyone works from 9 to 5, five days a week," Putnam said. "If we gave people much more flexibility in their work life, they would use that time to spend more time with their aging mom or best friend."

So where was Putnam when John Ashcroft's flextime proposal (which would allow workers themselves to decide whether they wanted to be compensated for overtime with time off or pay) was being savaged by his political opponents and the unions?

23 Comments:

Blogger Dittohead said...

People work long hours to make ends meet. Eliminating overtime pay would not lead them to church or make it easier for them to pay the bills.

Quite the opposite affect.

10:17 AM  
Blogger Greg said...

I may be wrong on this, but I believe the proposal was to allow the workers themselves to make a choice between "comp" time off and overtime pay - not to eliminate overtime pay.

10:30 AM  
Blogger Dittohead said...

I think the problem was that employers would no longer have to pay 1.5 times normal wages for overtime wages.

I don't tihink your right Greg. Comp time is just time off but would be 1.5 times hours worked (that's seems fair). The overtime pay would lose 1.5 times normal wage for overtime work (big problem here).

His bill seemed to hurt the poorest of familes and therefore does not refelect family values.

10:57 AM  
Blogger COPioneer said...

It's not just church, though that probably has a lot to do with it, but goes back to the whole idea of I, Me, Mine...and we are too BUSY, because of we aren't BUSY, then we aren't IMPORTANT...

It's so cool these days to be BUSY.

12:14 PM  
Blogger suek said...

"flexibility" doesn't necessarily have to do with overtime or comp time - it can also have to do with the hours people work within an 8/40 schedule. Flex time might be 4 days at 10 hrs a day, or 4 days one week, 5 the next, or coming to work at 6am and leaving at 2:30pm or coming at 10am and leaving at 9pm - any of that sort of thing. Obviously some jobs don't permit this sort of flexibility, but many do. Certainly being able to work from home could make stuff like this possible, but that too has drawbacks.
"Paying bills" ... when I grew up, we had one car. No teams for anything - we played in the open area outside our house - what would be a condo today - and everybody watched everybody's kids. No one worried about kids being snatched. We had no tv(period factor, not money factor). No moms worked, housing was smaller, and the rule of thumb was that you bought a house(if you owned your own) that was no more than 4x your annual income. Try that today!
Taxes today are higher - the columns have stayed the same although the wages earned are higher. Tax on the second income - if there is one - starts at the point where the other stops. I wonder how many additional dollars that second income actually brings in if there is child care involved. If no child care is involved, then at a cerain point, you have latch-key children. Children don't civilize themselves. They are frequently being raised by parents in absentia.
We really need to consider how to get back to family life!

1:42 PM  
Blogger Dittohead said...

Suek,

I appreciate you comments, they seem very true but with repect to Ashcroft's bill he doesn't say you can work whenever you want.

All Ashcroft's bill says is that - employers don't have to pay 1.5 times normal wages for overtime work.

3:50 PM  
Blogger suek said...

"Ashcroft's bill would allow employers the option of offering comp-time or flex-time. First, the difference between the two: comp-time would allow employees previously eligible for overtime pay to trade that pay for one and a half hours of paid time off. Flex-time, on the other hand, is a straight trade, hour for hour, of overtime for paid time off."

This is from the article referenced by Carol. I haven't gone to the original Ashcroft bill, but this _does_ seem to say what I thought it did. Have you another source?

5:11 PM  
Blogger suek said...

Flextime
Sometimes life gets in the way of working regular hours. Flextime is one of several alternative work options that can help you balance your life. Employees may have a schedule that involves working four ten hour days or may work a staggered schedule.

http://careerplanning.about.com/cs/flextime/a/flextime.htm

or: http://tinyurl.com/or6ny

Maybe the problem is that the article writer and I don't define flextime the same way. Above is how I define it, and a source for that definition.

5:17 PM  
Blogger wile e coyote said...

Dittohead,

You wrote that "[a]ll Ashcroft's bill says is that - employers don't have to pay 1.5 times normal wages for overtime work."

Have you actually read Ashcroft's bill? If not, then I assume what you are really talking about is your interpretation of the article Carol cited.

The article states that under current law, no one is getting either comp-time (1.5 hours off for every hour of overtime) or flex-time (one hour off for every hour of overtime).

The author's point is that 95.5% of women might prefer time off (even at a 1 to 1 ratio) to extra pay that they are ineligible for because their employers won't authorize overtime.

Now, I think your point is that if employers had the choice of offering flex-time, would they ever offer comp-time or 1.5x hourly pay? The author notes that currently, only 4.5 percent of women are eligible for this extra pay; so, the only people who are worse off under Ashcroft's plan are those in the 4.5% group who are either working overtime for 1.5x hourly pay, or who would want to get comp-time but would end up with flex-time.

We don't know how many of these 4.5% are currently unionized. It seems that the best result for everybody would be for everyone to have the option of comp-time/flex-time, with that portion of the 4.5% who want cash or comp-time to get unionized if they aren't already. The union can then protect their right to overtime pay/comp-time.

If we are not going to just blow hot air at each other, then the questions become, what percentage are or can become unionized, and what is the right trade off between that portion of the 4.5% who might end up worse off and the share of the remaining 95.5+% who would be better off.

5:27 PM  
Blogger Dittohead said...

I don't think anyone is blowing hot air.

Only 13% of Americans are in unions. Without a union, the employer pretty much establishes the work schedule and the relationship. They can fire the employee at will. All that Ashcroft does in a non-union situation is allow the employer not to pay overtime wages.

5:57 PM  
Blogger wile e coyote said...

Issue 1 is how many of the 4.5% of women who get ovetime are part of the 13% (your data) who are in unions.

Your characterization of Ashcroft's bill (which I doubt you have read) is inaccurate and simplistic, if the article Carol cites is correct.

I am not going to rehash what I previously wrote other than to reiterate that 95.5+ of the employers of women aren't receiving overtime under the current situation because their employers don't want to pay 1.5x wages.

Ashcroft was proposing an arrangement that might be better for both sides. To determine whether or not it is better, you have to actually THINK about the details of the plan.

6:16 PM  
Blogger Dittohead said...

But if people are not going to get paid overtime, why not just have 2nd job?

In a non-union setting, what prevents a manger requiring you to work 50, 60 or a 70 hr week at standard pay?

6:36 PM  
Blogger wile e coyote said...

US labor law creates a class of non-exempt employees entitled to overtime, and exempt (i.e., salaried) employees not entitled to overtime.

I do not believe non-exempt employees can be required to work ovetime; or, if they are, they must receive 1.5x normal rate (probably with a cap on totla hours). I am guessing here.

I don't read the article as giving employers the right to require non-exempt employees to work overtime in exchange for comp-time/flex-time. Rather, the employer can offer the opportunity for overtime in exchange for comp-time/flex-time.

As for a second job, there are pension, seniority and practical reasons that might make overtime better than a second job.

6:49 PM  
Blogger Dittohead said...

1. Under “flextime” workers would no longer get paid overtime if they worked 50 hours in one week and 30 the next, for example.

2. President Bush’s proposal serves corporation’s needs—not those of working families—by allowing corporations to work their employees more than forty hours in a week, without any cost to the employer.

3. The fact is that current law already allows employers to build any kind of flexible schedule with their employees that they desire—the only restriction is that employers must pay workers for any time worked after 40 hours a week.

4. Many workers will feel pressure from their employers to work more than 40 hours a week without overtime pay, and then take time off in the coming weeks, in order to accommodate the employer’s schedule—not their own.

5. Americans will have less time with their families—not more. By making it cheaper for employers to demand overtime, “comp time” would lead to more mandatory overtime, longer hours, and more unpredictable work schedules for workers.

6. The truth is the President’s goal is nothing short of dismantling the wage and hour structure that has protected workers for decades. And it is corporations, not workers, who will benefit if the President gets his way.

7:20 PM  
Blogger Alan Kellogg said...

Dittohead,

What do you need to live?

8:37 PM  
Blogger Dittohead said...

Alan,

A good question for Lee Raymond retired CEO of Exxon.

8:59 PM  
Blogger Dittohead said...

It looks like Lee Raymond figured about $ 100,000 per day was needed for his comfortable retirement.

4:02 AM  
Blogger eLarson said...

Ditto is jealous.

5:58 AM  
Blogger Dittohead said...

eLarson,

Please explain why you claim I am jealous of Lee Raymond.

10:12 AM  
Blogger eLarson said...

Because otherwise you wouldn't have brought up his retirement package at all. What's it to you what he retires on?

3:28 PM  
Blogger Dittohead said...

Alan asked a stupid of topic question and got a stupid answer. Now stop projecting you thoughts onto me.

3:33 PM  
Blogger Alan Kellogg said...

Dittohead,

What do you need to live?

9:05 PM  
Blogger JillMartin said...

Alan Kellogg said...


At our current state of knowledge and technology it is impossible for a woman to get another woman pregnant through sexual activity. So your imaginary fetus cannot be Carol's get.

(Sometimes being vicious is worth the price. :) )

Alan Kellogg said...


At our current state of knowledge and technology it is impossible for a woman to get another woman pregnant through sexual activity. So your imaginary fetus cannot be Carol's get.

(Sometimes being vicious is worth the price. :) )


Alan Kellogg said...


At our current state of knowledge and technology it is impossible for a woman to get another woman pregnant through sexual activity. So your imaginary fetus cannot be Carol's get.

(Sometimes being vicious is worth the price. :) )


Alan Kellogg said...

At our current state of knowledge and technology it is impossible for a woman to get another woman pregnant through sexual activity. So your imaginary fetus cannot be Carol's get.

(Sometimes being vicious is worth the price. :) )


Alan Kellogg said...


At our current state of knowledge and technology it is impossible for a woman to get another woman pregnant through sexual activity. So your imaginary fetus cannot be Carol's get.

(Sometimes being vicious is worth the price. :) )


Alan Kellogg said...

At our current state of knowledge and technology it is impossible for a woman to get another woman pregnant through sexual activity. So your imaginary fetus cannot be Carol's get.

(Sometimes being vicious is worth the price. :) )
2:00 PM


Alan Kellogg said...

At our current state of knowledge and technology it is impossible for a woman to get another woman pregnant through sexual activity. So your imaginary fetus cannot be Carol's get.

(Sometimes being vicious is worth the price. :) )


Alan Kellogg said...


At our current state of knowledge and technology it is impossible for a woman to get another woman pregnant through sexual activity. So your imaginary fetus cannot be Carol's get.

(Sometimes being vicious is worth the price. :) )



Alan Kellogg said...


At our current state of knowledge and technology it is impossible for a woman to get another woman pregnant through sexual activity. So your imaginary fetus cannot be Carol's get.

(Sometimes being vicious is worth the price. :) )

6:56 AM  

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