Monday, May 29, 2006

A time for work, play and family

Life is moving very fast these days and I feel exhausted! The deadline for four of our textbooks is Wednesday and I'm hoping we meet it. I'm writing three of the books and the project manager is writing one, plus doing all the graphics. She's really got a huge responsibility with these kinds of projects and works way too many hours.

Of course, I'm also working way too many hours, but I don't work at this pace all the time the way she does. There's something about Japanese companies that chews people up and spits them out. It's really a shame that it has to work this way.

It seems that more and more companies try harder and harder to increase their profits at the expense of their employees. I read that in the U.S. employees are actually making less money--figuring in inflation--than they were making four or five years ago. Just doesn't seem fair, does it? And, especially at a time when companies (oil, pharmaceutical, etc.) are reporting record profits.

If I ran a company, I would treat my employees as my most valuable asset and wouldn't be so greedy about filling my own pockets at their expense. As an example, my company (Japanese) is part of a much larger mega-corporation. Last year they forced all the teachers to forego their annual raises because the company "wasn't doing well." Not surprisingly, all the executives of the large parent company received their usual enormous annual bonuses and raises. Teacher's salaries are a pittance compared to what the corporation pays to their top executives, yet we had to wait over a year to get our tiny raises. At the annual stockholders meeting, management declared that their biggest dilemma for the new year was figuring out what to do with all the money they had made! This didn't sit well with all the hundreds of teachers who had to forego their annual raise due to "financial difficulties."

It's that kind of behavior that makes people feel cynical about their jobs. It's also working the many, unpaid overtime hours, like my project manager does, that makes me wonder how people can care about their jobs.

I dream of a day when all the hardworking people of the world receive fair and just wages and benefits, where they're treated with dignity and respect, and where they have enough hours left at the end of the day to spend with their families, eating dinner together. Somewhere along the way, things got very, very screwed up, and there needs to come a time when it's set right. There's nothing wrong with working hard, but everyone needs balance in their lives. Time for work, time for play, and time for family. What's wrong with that?

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