Frank Pasquale has a post up complaining that Americans work too hard and that it's all the fault of evil capitalists (I assume law professors are an exception):
... stratified opportunities for leisure are more about marking out the prerogatives of "boss" and "non-boss" classes, with ever finer degrees of particularity and rigidity. Or, to apply Corey Robin's theory: the US is "the only developed country in the world without a single legally required paid vacation day or holiday," not because this gives us economic outcomes all that better than rivals, but because absolute deference to "business demands" is part of a well-funded, pervasive ideology.
Which naturally seques into one more round of comlaints about wealth inequality, which we'll ignore.
Let's start off with his point that "stratified opportunities for leisure are more about marking out the prerogatives of "boss" and "non-boss" classes." Actually, I'd be willing to bet that CEOs work a lot longer hours than most employees:
The Guardian spoke to some top CEOs, who revealed that the definition of work-life balance for CEOs is pretty far off from what most of us would consider reasonable.
The reward for making it to the top seems to be more, not less work.
If Pasquale meant to imply that CEOs have more leisure than ordinary workers, that seems pretty clearly wrong. If he means CEOs can spend more money on their fewer vacations, that's just another way of stating his complaint that we don't have enough government coerced wealth redistribution.
Next, let's look at the claim that working hours in the US are driven by business control of politics. But there's another way to look at it, which is that "Europeans today work much less than Americans because of the policies of the unions in the seventies, eighties and part of the nineties and because of labor market regulations. Marginal tax rates may have also played a role, especially for women's labor force participation ...." In other words, maybe what's going on is that in Europe absolute deference to "labor demands" is part of a well-funded, pervasive ideology.
The authors of the study just quoted conclude:
A very hard question to answer is whether labor unions and labor regulation introduce distortions that reduce welfare or whether they are a way of coordinating on a more desirable equilibrium with fewer hours worked.
I know which one I suspect is the right answer.