September 14, 2016

"No one's allowed to be sick. Sickness is weakness. The attitude is 'I'm irreplaceable — if I don't show up my job won't get done.'"

"Some of it is also concern about how you are going to be viewed as an employee — whether you can be counted or not. Whether by having too many sick days, too many absences, you are not seen as reliable. At the very core of being American is the idea of being a hard worker."

From a BBC.com article titled "Why Americans don't take sick days" — apparently prompted by Hillary Clinton's soldiering on despite whatever it is that's ailing her.

Hillary aside, it is something we Americans do, no? Years ago, I had what was eventually diagnosed as pneumonia. I still taught my classes, including a big Evidence class, where I can remember getting into a coughing jag that just wouldn't end. The students all just sat there, impassive, waiting for me to come around and get back to what I was supposed to be doing. When I finally went to the doctor and got the diagnosis, I asked what to do, thinking I'd be told to stay home for some amount of time that I would need to deal with and prepared to picture myself at rest. But the doctor told me I should go to work. That is, if I thought I really should be staying home in this condition, I didn't have a doctor recommending that. I'd be malingering.

The American work ethic is crazily intense, to the point where otherwise competent people worry about not just doing their work but looking busy. And institutions of intelligent people devise ways to observe and take account of just how hard you are working, thus motivating people ever more to the idiotic enterprise of looking busy.

Meanwhile, to quote Colin Powell's email: "[Hillary] is working herself to death."

74 comments:

Darrell said...

It's not about sickness, it's the lies.

Daniel Richwine said...

Well, the president is kind of an important job, you know. If she's replaceable, why not just elect her replacement and skip the middle part?

Original Mike said...

"[I]f I don't show up my job won't get done."

There are a lot of people in exactly that position. And frequently, other people's livelihoods are dependent upon them. I ran my lab off soft money. Work doesn't get done, grants are lost, people in the lab are out of their jobs.

Curious George said...

Fuck you Colin Powell. Hillary has Parkinson's. That's killing her.

As far as the American work ethic...hope it lasts.

Unknown said...

Oh please. The US was the dominant world power for decades due primarily to our work ethic.

What separated us from the Mexico's and Brazils of the colonial powers? Why did we become the superpower when they did not?

Our values, one of which is a high work ethic. No siesta here. (another value that we at least tried to leave to the French was killing public corruption. Yeah, we've failed that one).

Hard but smart work has always been the American ethos, and it works. Germans, living in a country the size of Texas, are the dominant European power despite losing two world wars because of their legendary german efficiency and hard work.

Hard work and sacrifice, coupled with some Yankee ingenuity and our government staying out of the way, led to us becoming the greatest nation the world has ever known. Now, Democrats are ruining all of that. No coincidence, then, that America is faltering, failing, and destroying itself.

--Vance

Nonapod said...

Personally I'm more interested in the quality of work rather than how busy someone seems. If employee A can produce the same quality of work as employee B in less time, than obviously employee A is a more efficient worker.

MayBee said...

Also from Colin Powell's email: Sheldon Whitehouse said she couldn't walk up to a podium.

Anyway, Hillary is now taking her 3rd day off, after taking almost all of August off. That seems very European.

PBandJ_LeDouanier said...

It's cool to get leaked emails.

Anywho, did I read these correctly when I saw that Powell may be planning to endorse HRC?

CStanley said...

Quite often the people who spend lots of time trying to appear busy are the ones who create the condition where some other people feel that they are indispensable (because it is obvious that work really will not get done in the absence of the people who are actually productive.)

Unknown said...

When Colin Powell was Sec State he commented on this. He wasn't impressed with people looking busy.

Limited blogger said...

Do they still give kids awards for 'perfect attendance' at school? You know the kid was sick enough at some point he should have stayed home.

HoodlumDoodlum said...

Ann Althouse said...The American work ethic is crazily intense, to the point where otherwise competent people worry about not just doing their work but looking busy. And institutions of intelligent people devise ways to observe and take account of just how hard you are working, thus motivating people ever more to the idiotic enterprise of looking busy.

...and our GPD and GPD/capita are both phenomenally good. American exceptionalism--how does it work?!

I'm pretty sure, by the way, that a few hundred million East Asian people might disagree that the American work ethic is "crazily intense" comparatively speaking. Maybe not, but my impression of many of their people is that they can work circles around most Americans. It's entirely possible that my sample is biased--that the ones I encounter here are extraordinarily driven/hard working and that the same is true of the young people you read about (studying/drilling for hours after school, etc)...but that's my impression anyway.

darrenoia said...

Call me a a lazy Canadian, but I was shocked when I moved from Canada to “laid back” California two decades ago and saw that the workday was so long for almost everyone. The song is “9 to 5,” but it should really be “5 to 9” for the American workday.

Sebastian said...

"The American work ethic is crazily intense, to the point where otherwise competent people worry about not just doing their work but looking busy." That's right, just look at O, he could barely squeeze in 300 rounds of golf so far.

MayBee said...

Americans have an amazing can-do attitude. We are go getters. We are solution seekers. We are innovators.
Criticize how we achieve it all you want, but you can't change the inputs without changing the outputs, and vice-versa.

Lawler Walken said...

Who likes laying around being sick? We get up and go because we figure we'll probably start to feel better or at least we'll be distracted from how bad we feel while we're busy doing something else. We don't want to be sick so we act like we're not.

I think the mind has the amazing ability to convince our bodies that it's not really all that bad and that being upright and mobile is healthier than laying in bed. Which probably it usually is except when our bodies truly are in need of rest.

Anyway, Obama told the Laotians that Americans are lazy. He didn't say except for Hillary Clinton who works like a demon, but he was probably thinking it at the time.

Terry said...

The general rule of the elites is that whatever is uniquely American is bad.
We work too much! We don't speak foreign languages! Velveeta and Big Gulps are poison! We have too many guns! We execute too many murderers!
I know a lot of lazy-ass Americans. I think that this is POV bias coming from people who feel pressured to work hard and can't say no.
I have, BTW, 960 hours of sick time accumulated at work. That's the limit. Since we get twelve sick days each year, I could take twelve sick days each year and my sick time balance would never get smaller than the max.

J Melcher said...

This is an interesting comment from our host, in light of her news coverage of the "sick days" taken by employees of her home state during the protests against her home state's governor -- sicknesses verified by doctors at the site of the protests, yet.

Are employees in a particular sector more prone to use the sick leave (or other forms of leave) than others? Are there employees -- working with immunologically fragile children, perhaps -- who SHOULD isolate themselves from the workplace more readily? Does a pattern established for a good reason tend to carry over into an abuse of that pattern?

And there was once a concept known as the "Puritan Work Ethic" -- as if religious affiliation were some kind of predictor of attitude towards career or task-focus. Is there any evidence that as membership in particular denominations has changed, work attendance -- in any sector -- has changed in a correlated manner?





Terry said...

So Americans work harder than the Chinese guys at FoxConn?

Annie said...

You forgot the part where Powell said that he had a secure server and everything Hillary touches, she screws up with hubris.

“I told her staff three times not to try that gambit. I had to throw a mini tantrum at a Hampton’s party to get their attention. She keeps tripping into these ‘character’ minefields,” he wrote.

In a separate email, Powell said he “warned her staff three times over the past two years not to try to connect it to me. I am not sure HRC even knew or understood what was going on in the basement.”

The Clinton campaign’s attempt to try to say Powell had encouraged the use of a private server left him deeply troubled.

“They are going to dick up the legitimate and necessary use of emails with friggin (sic) record rules. I saw email more like a telephone than a cable machine,” Powell wrote to business partner Jeffrey Leeds. “As long as the stuff is unclassified. I had a secure State.gov machine. Everything HRC touches she kind of screws up with hubris.”

rhhardin said...

STEM guys have play for pay jobs, so don't even take vacations or holidays, let alone sick days.

Terry said...

How did Hillary work so hard a secretary of state and accomplish so little?
So Hillary flew around in state department jets, working hard, went to conferences, working hard, stayed at 5 star hotels, working hard, gave speeches, working hard.
I don't think that she would have lasted five minutes as a cafeteria worker.

M Jordan said...

The American work ethic is intense only in certain demographics.

Michael K said...

"Americans have an amazing can-do attitude. We are go getters."

That has been a tradition and still is among the segment of Americans that still does challenging work. We also have some who work hard at menial tasks but that is increasingly an area dominated by illegal immigrants.

There is a growing segment of the population that either does not work or is engaged in busy work beloved only by bureaucrats.

The two Americas have very different political affiliations, for the most part. Some at the top of the income pyramid virtue signal but live their personal lives like the other segment.

"Do as I say, not as I do."

Gabriel said...

Depends on the job. In a healthy organization any work that can't be done by the sick person, and is mission-critical, needs to have others available who can do it.

Small organizations can get away with having people who can't get hit by a bus or everything shuts down, but big ones cannot. The more people, the more certain it is that someone is going to be out at any given time.

Beach Brutus said...

Better to be sick and at work if only 50% effective than sick and at home and 0% effective. Either place you are still sick.

David said...

Gabriel said...
Depends on the job. In a healthy organization any work that can't be done by the sick person, and is mission-critical, needs to have others available who can do it.


Which is exactly why some people are reluctant to take sick days. The Drew Bledsoe nightmare.

Supposedly women take a lot more sick days than men. I doubt it's because they are sick more. Given the accepted narrative about the workplace, one would think that women would feel even more vulnerable than men. The reasons for women taking more sick days are probably multiple and complex. But even the most complex phenomenon can be bent to fit a narrative.

tim in vermont said...

I think the quote is "Sickness is weakness and weakness is sickness." Hillary is going for an extremely important job entrusted to a very few in our history. She has no personal right to it, whatever she clearly seems to believe.

Mac McConnell said...

Colin Powell, "Everything HRC touches she kind of screws up with hubris.” Her default is to lie. Her campaign's default is to lie. Lying does more damage than just telling the truth. Just think of the progression of lies told since her collapse on 9/11 till we got to the final one, pneumonia. Hillary has been collapsing for over two years, does pneumonia explain this?



Gabriel said...

@David:Which is exactly why some people are reluctant to take sick days. The Drew Bledsoe nightmare.

I would say, that if your organization is running right, anyone who CAN'T take a sick day is someone who job is not mission-critical.

sean said...

Why is the American work ethic "crazy"? It seems quite rationally directed towards a goal. If your goal is to please God, laborare est orare. If your goal is to be remembered, only successful people are remembered. If your goal is to make America strong, our per capita GDP is most of what makes us strong. What defensible life goal could a person have that didn't involve working hard?

tim in vermont said...

America would be fine if Hillary dropped out right now. In fact it would greatly lower divisiveness. Who would not be fine? The Clinton machine and its oligarchical network of crony capitalists to wannabee Cardinal Richelieus.

If Tallyrand, who was a foreign minister who demanded personal payments before opening official negotiations was a a clump of "shit in silk stockings" Hillary is a clump of shit in nylons.

Gabriel said...

Should point out too that "not mission-critical" is not equivalent to "freeloader we are better off without". Maybe a lot of us can't tell the difference?

If the guy who empties the trash can takes a sick day, he is not mission-critical and the organization does not shut down its other work. That doesn't mean you don't need someone to empty the trash cans. It just means that emptying trash cans is the not primary purpose of the organization.

Hagar said...

In 1919-20 the United States survived a substantial period with Edith Galt (Mrs. Wilson) as "acting president."
What would happen today? Would they let Tim Kaine take over, or have Bubba speak for his wife?

My name goes here. said...

Yes, Americans work hard. Yes, it is (at times) crazy intense.

But, sometimes, sickness really is a weakness.

Let's say that you want to be president, I understand it is a pretty stressful job, and when you pass out and have to get hoisted into a van and that causes a medical bag to fall out of your right pant leg, then other leaders would view you as too weak for the stresses they can cause an American President.

readering said...

From the Marbury post I take it Althouse is retiring at 65/66. That's the difference for Clinton. The Medical authorities say pneumonia serious for children and over 65 set. Clinton about to turn 69.

readering said...

Fascinating piece on 538 with tables showing candidates' ages on election day and life expectancy in years at that point since 1900. Points to significance of increasing life expectancies in 116 years. Clinton at 69 will have same LE as Nixon at 59 in '72. Reagan in '84 had shortest--only one in single digits.

Ignorance is Bliss said...

Meanwhile, to quote Colin Powell's email: "[Hillary] is working herself to death."

"From his keyboard to God's ear" would be a deplorable thing to say.

Bill Peschel said...

There's an aerospace company that's insane about working hours. They regularly tell their employees to work off the clock. When one of them died from a stroke, the order came down to take time off. The order also came down to keep up your deadlines. Guess what happened?

That said, this has nothing to do with HRC, who has not worked an honest day in her life. When did she ever experience what we do daily? She's been in her bubble of privilege for decades.

Besides, it's not our fault if she has a well-known reputation for lying and prevarication, then be felled by something that's not her fault. This is what a reputation is about, folks.

EMD said...

I took a sick day yesterday. No way I was in shape to be at work. I slept from about 9 am until 1 pm.

Yancey Ward said...

I have always been amused by all the hard workers posting on-line comments all hours of the day.

MadisonMan said...

If you have contracts to get work done, and the work doesn't get done per the contract stipulations, good luck getting the contract renewed.

Life on soft money.

Sydney said...

Personally, I have trouble finding employees with a good work ethic. You would not believe the number of people who can't work with a hangnail. I suspect those who grow up with a good work ethic do well enough in school to go on to college. The rest are left to fill the jobs that do not require a college education.

Michael said...

One day and night the Chicago area received 17 inches of snow. By 10 AM the next morning the main streets were basically plowed and my wife and I were getting ready to drive the 10 or so miles into town. Our French au pair could not understand what we were doing. We said "This is America. People go to work." She thought we were clinically insane.

Roger Sweeny said...

In my line of work, the culture is kind of opposite to that. I'm a high school teacher and we get three you-don't-need-a-reason "personal days" a year. If you don't use all your personal days by the end of the year, you're looked on as a little weird. If you haven't used any personal or sick days, you are definitely different.

damikesc said...

Meanwhile, to quote Colin Powell's email: "[Hillary] is working herself to death."

Translated: Access ain't gonna sell itself!

Anyway, Hillary is now taking her 3rd day off, after taking almost all of August off. That seems very European.

I can see how she can be dehydrated --- a month of doing nothing requires plenty of hydration. Mind you, athletes OVER hydrate pretty badly as is. I bet she has a more rigorous schedule of pretending to be human.

Anywho, did I read these correctly when I saw that Powell may be planning to endorse HRC?

Democrats endorsing Dems. Don't see the surprise there.

From the Marbury post I take it Althouse is retiring at 65/66. That's the difference for Clinton. The Medical authorities say pneumonia serious for children and over 65 set. Clinton about to turn 69.

Medical authorities also think Parkinson's is a big problem too. YMMV.

And Hillary has just spent 4 years doing nothing but selling access to her.

After spending 4 years fucking up our foreign policy beyond all rational measure.

traditionalguy said...

Brings back memories of opening the office on a Friday before Christmas for a demanding client while I had a sore throat and fever from a bout with flu. We were young and strong back then and wanted to please the clients.

Of course the elite demanding clients would never be pleased and only complained that my voice was weak.

Fred Drinkwater said...

I was a STEM guy, and enjoyed it more than half the time, including the extra hours. OTOH, my team once had a lashing from a partner company: "My company is losing a million dollars a day every day this project is late!", so there could be pressure, too. At least, that product was wildly successful.
Now I'm retired and enjoying that, too.

tim in vermont said...

I think it might have been Demming who said "Find the indispensable man and fire him. He is mucking up the whole organization.

Terry said...

Nostromo was an indispensable man. Come to think of it, many of Conrad's stories are about men who were indispensable in some particular situation. Nostromo was a macho revolutionary. Typhoon's Captain McWhirr was a solid, unimaginative, rather stupid Yankee, but he, and only he, could have seen his ship through the storm.

damikesc said...

I'm hardly irreplaceable. Thus, I take every minute of sick time I'm capable of taking every year.

Being a cog rules!

Robert Fulton said...

Don't miss Scott Adam's take on this issue:

http://blog.dilbert.com/post/150328786191/deplorable-pneumonia

An excerpt: "...- we really, really don’t want a commander-in-chief who is so frail that she might sneeze-fart herself to death in the Situation Room."

My mind's eye created a mental image when I read that comment that I am sure will stick with me for some time. Good article.

tim in vermont said...

Hillary Clinton allowed her staff to mistakenly think that she had a pulled muscle rather than tell them she had a blood clot in 1998. The Democratic Presidential candidate, who was First Lady at the time, did not correct White House staffers when they assumed the problem with her right leg was due to over exercising. According to Clinton´s doctor at the time, Connie Mariano, ´very few´ people knew the truth and her boss refused to take time of the campaign trail for her husband´s re-election. Instead a nurse came with her to check on her condition and administer drugs if needed

As I said, conspiracy theories continue to sprout despite the cloak of secrecy Hillary has constructed around the issue! It's unfathomable where this stuff comes from!

tim in vermont said...

One of the biggest bombshells in the leaked Colin Powell emails is the news that Democratic senator Sheldon Whitehouse informed a Democratic donor that Hillary’s health is so bad that she “could barely climb the podium steps” during an event they both attended. “Sheldon Whitehouse, who is a huge Clinton supporter, said they were both giving speeches at the same event a few months back and she could barely climb the podium steps,” Democratic financier Jeffery Leeds said in an email discussion with George W. Bush’s former secretary of state. (E-Mail) The emails were dated March 14, 2015

Gotta love this Guccifer guy!

tim in vermont said...

Meanwhile, the DNC is ready to parachute Joe "Brain Aneurysm" Biden into her slot. As neurosurgeons say "Once air touches your brain, you are never the same." But not to worry! It's about machine politics, which comes first!

Kyzernick said...

The benefit of telecommuting is never needing to take a sick day. If I'm really sick, I might take an extra hour over lunch to see my doctor or take a nap, but that's about it. I'd rather work than binge-watch garbage on Netflix, or sit around eating comfort food and getting fat, or play video games that'll give me carpal tunnel in ten years.

As for our work ethic here in America, it's already been said, but it really is what separates us from the others. We work hard because we see the reward for it - money, and hopefully advancement up the ladder. These reward may not be substantial at first, but thru dedication and the steady application of effort and ingenuity, they will become substantial for most everyone. If someone retires poor after working hard for 40 years, either they never sought advancement, were too pussy to find a better job, or too stupid to imagine living any other way.

Achilles said...

Seizures are one of the new symptoms of pneumonia. It is right there under shortness of breath.

It is interesting watching the media find this new fascination with hard work and how hard working we are. Especially women and especially Hillary. Has there ever been a presidential candidate that has done less campaigning than Hillary?

And there is a massive disconnect between people who actually work hard and people who think they work hard. 40 hours of work in a week is unimaginable. Sometimes I feel like just getting a job and taking it easy. For Yancey I have my sandwich I am eating off a window sill while the paint roller is soaking in a bucket.

Rusty said...

damikesc said...
"I'm hardly irreplaceable. Thus, I take every minute of sick time I'm capable of taking every year.

Being a cog rules!"

I can't carry over vacation time, but I can sick time so I create a series of long weekends during the year.

Joe said...

But, Hillary isn't "powering through". She takes more time off than Obama golfs.

Doug said...

If Colin Powell said it ("she's working herself to death"), it goes right into the bullshit pile.

Doug said...

Roger Sweeny said: In my line of work, the culture is kind of opposite to that. I'm a high school teacher and we get three you-don't-need-a-reason "personal days" a year. If you don't use all your personal days by the end of the year, you're looked on as a little weird. If you haven't used any personal or sick days, you are definitely different.
Many employers are now doing away with "sick days" in favor of "paid time off" or PTO. Five days a year, do as you please, whether that is going to the hospital, having a root canal, or playing golf. After five days - sick, well, or anywhere in between - it's on your own dime. Or you go on short term disability.

Freeman Hunt said...

If you work for yourself, paid time off does not exist.

AllenS said...

I did factory work. I had 8 paid sick days a year, but if you took more than 5 they got on your ass. I never called in sick when I was sick, I went to work. Since I had a farm thing going on on the side, when I needed to bail hay, plant corn, or harvest corn, any work that needed to be done, and I was feeling great, I called in sick.

Hillary is sick, and needs to be fired.

narciso said...

interesting don't you think:

https://twitter.com/MiltonWolfMD?ref_src=twsrc%5Egoogle%7Ctwcamp%5Eserp%7Ctwgr%5Eauthor

Mary E. Glynn said...

Freeman Hunt said...
If you work for yourself, paid time off does not exist.

9/14/16, 4:40 PM



Blogger AllenS said...
I did factory work. I had 8 paid sick days a year, but if you took more than 5 they got on your ass. I never called in sick when I was sick, I went to work.
---------------------------


Props go to the people who take care of their health BEFORE they become sick...
If you know your body, and you plan your lifestyle accordingly, then you will NEVER need to go to work sick, at risk of infecting others.

Be smart: eat smart, get rest every day, and most of all: stay away from the dumb bunnies who go to work sick, because they don't know how to plan/use their time off work accordingly!

(Run yourselves down, sure, but recognize that you are doing others a disservice by your stupid decision to go to work, or bring your kids to school, sick! Stay home dummies, you can afford it!)

Mary E. Glynn said...

Brings back memories of opening the office on a Friday before Christmas for a demanding client while I had a sore throat and fever from a bout with flu. We were young and strong back then and wanted to please the clients.
-----------------

What a Christmas gift your unexpectedly delivered to many households that year!

(You folks who think working while sick makes you a martyr just don't realize how dumb you are. I plan my days so that I can leave work early, and come in early, when sick folks are hacking away in the office. Daycare season is upon us... stay away from the overworked, overtired, lower immune systems who want to include you in the party. No thank you! My health is my wealth, and I can pay the bills just fine without having my coworkers infect me with their bad habits.)

Higher education really does pay off, and being a professional indeed has its perks! (Never had to wait out of professor coughing and sneezing at me either, although I would have got up and moved my seat, or even left the lecture, if it was clear someone was good with the books smart, but lacking in the common sense department like that...)

Mary E. Glynn said...

Lawler Walken said...
Who likes laying around being sick? We get up and go because we figure we'll probably start to feel better or at least we'll be distracted from how bad we feel while we're busy doing something else. We don't want to be sick so we act like we're not.
---------------------------

Tell the truth?
A lot of you wage slaves have no idea what to do with your time if there is nobody standing over you, telling you when to punch in and where to go when.

It's like retirement, or long weekends: some of you have been in the rat race so long, you can't think of living independently without someone paying you to be someplace at a routine time.

mockturtle said...

The Democratic Presidential candidate, who was First Lady at the time, did not correct White House staffers when they assumed the problem with her right leg was due to over exercising.

LOL! That's a good one.

BN said...

Kyzernic @ 2:53: "I'd rather work than binge-watch garbage on Netflix, or sit around eating comfort food and getting fat, or play video games that'll give me carpal tunnel in ten years."

Yes, there those like you. And there are those where that is heaven.

Heaven's a funny place.

BN said...

The definition of a privileged perspective: Having the option of CHOOSING work over having the leisure to sit around, be entertained, play games, and eat yourself silly.

What would all the starving kids in Korea in the 50s have said?

BN said...

(BTW, this last comment sort of contradicts the comment i made on the other thread (was it women stuff?) that implied we're all responsible for our own success/failure.)

For the record. Nuance.

BN said...

Parenthetically speaking.

AllenS said...

When I say that I went to work sick, I usually had bottle flu, which isn't contagious. Probably what Hillary has.

The Gold Digger said...

What are these "sick days" of which you speak?