Sunday, February 22, 2009

American Work Ethic

Strange name for a blog, eh? Well no, not if you live in Norway and know what I'm talking about. It's not that (in my humble opinion) Norwegians don't work, or work hard, it's just that they don't (have to) work as hard as we Americans. Not. Even. Close. A few examples:

Vacation time
Norway: 5 weeks per year
America: 2 weeks per year

Maternity leaveNorway: 9 months at 100% pay, or 12 months at 80% pay
America: 6 weeks if and only if your company has 50 or more employees

Note: The above is government mandated only, nowhere near set for everybody. These statistics might do nothing to illustrate my point (I'm so pompous, my point being: we work harder than you) but they do show that Americans have a more can-do, pull-yourself-up-by-the-boot-straps-and-figure-it-out-for-yourself attitude. The attitude of my mother, basically. I will call it The Poop in a Scoop Attitude (apologies; only graduates of Walhalla High will know what that means).

Norway as a whole has somehow figured out the Socialism thing without descending into a country of lazy, incompetent moochers. People get free healthcare! People can get their drugs paid for by the government (seriously, people)! Yet people still work! Personally I think this was all made possible by a little thing I like to call a shit load of cash windfall. Norway is a great rags-to-riches story and my hat is off to whoever managed the influx of bazillions of kroner when oil was discovered here in the 60's and 70's. They've truly turned it into a Utopian society for the average schmuck.

The Repubs (Republicans, you might as well commit that term to mind because they'll come up again) fear now that Obama is in office America will go Socialist, too. But they also fear everyone will go gay and go godless and whatever other nonsense I can't even wrap my brain around right now. My American friends, imagine actually having legal recourse if you are ill and you can't be fired from your job. Imagine a world where losing your job doesn't equal losing your health insurance (which can quickly and effortlessly lead to bankrupting you). Oh the horrors!
Bottom line: both countries make it work. If I lived in the U.S. would I have less vacation time? Yes, probably. But would I toil endlessly around the clock, with no breaks or vacations, as the Socialist world sees America? No. Here in Norway do I show up to work if and when I feel like it, do a half-assed job while swimming in pools of your money, the way America sees the Socialist world? Again, no. But could I? I most certainly could, but I won't because I have an American work ethic in Norway.

P.S. I didn't mean for this to turn into wild social commentary, and it won't always be. Expect a good mix of rants, raves, complaints, musings, bragging, worries, hopes, fears, in the many blogs to comes!


  1. interesting blog heidi. You are forgetting a HUGE flaw of the socialistic society though and that is: No one area really rich here, since we pay so much taxes, and healthcare is not really free either (and the waiting lines to get in aren´t much to brag about) BUT Norway is likely the best place to live if you are a person making less than average, someone will take care of you. There is so much to be discussed about this topic that cant be said in a few paragraphs. Last but not least, you can very much get fired from your job here as well (i know a couple of people who have been layed off lately) BUT it is a bit harder to get rid of slackers thanks to the "system". Norway is a great place to live, especially if you are sick , have kids, or wants to be a slacker...

    (I am sure many many norwegian will not agree with me, I am also guessing those same norwegians have never actually lived anywhere else either)


  2. Norway is full of productive hard workers, but unfortunately also full of people that know how to abuse the system. It sucks, but it's necessary. Kind of like free speech, which is annoying when Neonazis want to hold parades, but most of the time it's nice to have.