October 1, 2006

"So we might increase the workweek by 50 percent, say, to three days."

So said Arlen Specter to the National Press Club last Monday. He speech was on C-Span yesterday, and -- I'm such a nerd -- I listened to it -- in its entirety -- on the satellite radio as I was making my way home in the dark toward the end of that ridiculously long drive. Specter spoke for 18 minutes -- he was scheduled to go 20 -- and "yielded back" the rest of his time. Then, there was a great question and answer session. The quote above came after he was asked what Senate rules he would change. At the end, he was asked what he learned from cancer. He said he learned that you can still do almost everything you did before, and he kept playing squash and working long, hard hours. You should just keep working and work really hard and then you won't have time to think about it. That's exactly not what you expect from a question like that. You expect a statement about how family is really the most important thing and how every moment is precious and you need to stop and smell the roses. There's that classic line "No one ever said on his deathbed, I wish I'd spent more time at the office." But the people repeating that cliché are never themselves on their deathbed. They're fully functional and trying, perhaps, to justify a two day workweek.

CORRECTION: Arithmetic corrected. Specter is claiming the senators work two days a week, not one and a half.

14 comments:

Dave said...

I've done the 40-hour workweek in two days before.

Once I caught up on sleep I was faced with the prospect of what the hell to do with the rest of my time for the week.

So I ended up working another 30 hours over the remaining 5 days.

Lesson: Just work 50 - 60 hours a week, and you'll never be left wondering "what do I do with all this free time." Idle hand being the devil's workshop or something like that.

I'd go nuts in France with those 35 hr work weeks and 8 month vacations.

David said...

Exactly right, Dave! I routinely work a 60 hour week and that doesn't include drive time and being on-call on your day(s) off.

Specter and his ilk don't have a clue what is going on in the trenches!

AJ Lynch said...

This is like a 20-year veteran of a sports team with a poor record finally speaking up and saying " geez we should have been practicing more and studying our playbooks". But it was not news cause the fans already knew they were slackers!

Why didn't Specter try to change this from the inside by being a leader? Because he ain't a leader- he is all about Arlen hence he ain't retiring no matter how many health warnings he gets.

Hell, I have worked 40 years in the last 30 Ann and am ready to be re-potted. I will find plenty of stuff to do.

theshoe said...

Shouldn't we be grateful that they have a short workweek?

Alan said...

I'm no expert with mathematics but I think increasing the current work week by 50% to three days would mean the current work week is two days. :)

Bruce Hayden said...

Actually, I think that the theory in a lot of states is exactly that, if a legislature were in session more, it would have more time to get into trouble. Maybe we should go baack to a system where they only meet for, maybe, six months of the year.

Then, the rich could go back to playing and the rest of them could get a real job

The reason that I don't see this working though is that Wash., D.C. is run by the bureaucrats, and agencies ultimately fall prey to agency capture. What you need to make it work is a good sunset law.

Noumenon said...

Man, what I hear about cancer is that it saps your energy so you just can't do anything you used to do. I guess Specter got bipolar cancer.

Christy said...

Something in the air. Murtha was on This Week with... today calling for a five day work week.

Jim Hu said...

This is somewhat similar to critics of academia who think we only work during actual class time. I'm sure that Senators could be spending at least 60 hours/week on their jobs if they actually read everything they should be reading, and spent more time thinking and less grandstanding and fundraising.

But it's certainly possible for both academics and members of Congress to work very little...as it is possible in the "real" world, only perhaps more so.

I recall reading in Robert Caro's biography of LBJ how Johnson started building his DC power base by taking over the workload of the Congressman for whom he was an aide. The Rep. spent all his time on the golf course, while LBJ used the time to build power and influence.

Whether this is a good thing...

DRJ said...

For those who have a chronic illness, I think the secret is to stay involved and busy. Job, family, charitable activities, and even hobbies suffice if they help us stay engaged. In my experience, people who feel regret on their deathbeds often (understandably) succumb to despair and pre-emptively give up on life. Good for Sen. Specter that he didn't do that.

Revenant said...

Specter and his ilk don't have a clue what is going on in the trenches!

Actually, the typical member of Congress puts in ridiculously long hours on his job. Just because Congress isn't in session doesn't mean all the Congresscritters take a break to catch up on "Lost" reruns. The actual voting and in-House debating is only a small part of what being in Congress is about.

Troy said...

They need more time in their respective Districts and less time in Washington. I am thankful they only work as "little" as they do. God help us (dave -- help yourself) if they ever work a 5-day week in session.

MMF said...

I listened to the same XM broadcast, and all I could think was about how he had said that the Torture/Tribunal bill habeas corpus provisions would set the country back 900 years. So for the life of me I could not figure out how he could justify voting for it anyway.

Tristram said...

I don't suppose they could do us all a favor and work 2 days less per week?

The wosrt curse I can think of for an Amreican: "I hope you get all the government you pay for!"