February 12, 2005


Amritas pointed me towards John Ray's response to an article about how much better Europe is. Hud has an interesting post on Europe's stagnant economy. Both of them made me think about my friends' jobs.

Some jobs here on post are German contract jobs, and the only two Americans I know who have these jobs are my friends who work for the quartermaster here. When soldiers have TA-50 that needs to be laundered, they bring it to my friends. My friends sort it, tag it, and bag it for when the laundry trucks come. They don't actually launder anything; they are just the middle men for the operation. Some days they're quite busy, especially at the end of a deployment. Other days they see very few customers. If no one is coming in, they can do whatever they want: homework, quilting, knitting, watching DVDs, hanging out with Sarah.

Remember, they're employed by the Germans. For this job that a monkey could do, they get paid 10 Euros an hour (which is $13 right now). They work only 20 hours per week each but get six weeks of paid vacation plus Kindergeld (the child allowance the German government gives you just for having a child). They know that they have it good; if they did this same job in the States, no doubt it would be minimum wage ($5.15 per hour, not $13), and there would be no benefits since it's just a part-time job.

I'm glad that my friends have such a great job, but I simply can't understand it. How can the Germans afford to pay them so much for a sinecure? They make more than I did teaching English for the college! I think part of Europe's problem is that they pay way too much for jobs that require no skill. I don't know how they'll continue to give lavish benefits to the monkey jobs.

(No offense, girls: you know I'd love to get paid to knit.)

Posted by Sarah at February 12, 2005 09:19 AM

Hee hee. No offense taken. But I often wonder the same thing...How long will they be able to afford paying such high wages for jobs that anyone can do?

Posted by: Erin at February 12, 2005 09:53 AM

FWIW, I work in Texas in the computing industry. Nothing you described seems much different from what I see day to day at various companies I work with. In my experience, the more you are paid in Corporate America the less productive you become, and there are inevitably a ton of useless chair-warmers in most larger enterprises.

Posted by: VOT at February 12, 2005 11:56 PM


I often hear/see those kinds of comments and I always wonder why if that's true, the person saying it isn't busy doing nothing so they, too, can make a lot of money.

Certainly there are those who rise via political acumen rather than skill, but if what you say is true, most companies would collapse in on themselves.

Posted by: Bunny Slippers at February 15, 2005 10:00 PM

As an European living in America, what I don't understand is why some Americans can even think or suggest that people who perform low-level jobs should not get benefits like child allowance,paid vacations, high-quality health care, etc...Those are precisely the people who need the most help from the government! Are these low-level workers just suppose to starve their children, let their children loose without day care and exposed to drugs, never have a vacation or rest in their life?? I guess so according to some Americans who don't care that many of their inner cities are just like or worse than 3rd world cities. The view that if you are a high level worker in a good corporation then you and only you should have benefits like good health care insurance is not only ridiculous/greedy/selfish but also crimimal and unChristian. That is why America has a minority of the richest people in the world (forbes 400), but 45 million people without even health insurance or the most basic needs that every European takes for granted (free university education, surgery, etc). As for the European economy being stagnant, then how come the currency even in litte European countries like Portugal, Luxembourg, or Greece (the Euro) is 30% higher than the dollar? And how come my mother - a retired teacher in Europe - can have fun and travel the world based on her social security monthly alone, while here Social Security is barely enough to pay for basic medication?? America is a great country but has much to learn from Europe instead of insisting that it is the best at everything!

Posted by: PAC at February 16, 2005 05:19 PM