Tag Archives: world

Oh, you got sick during your vacation leave? Have another.

by Willem van de Kerkhof

The Court of Justice of the European Union made a decision this week that if you get sick during your guaranteed, annual, four to six weeks of paid vacation leave, you should get to have another. After all,

…the purpose of entitlement to paid annual leave is to enable the worker to rest and enjoy a period of relaxation and leisure. The purpose of entitlement to
sick leave is different, since it enables a worker to recover from an illness that has caused him to be unfit for work.

I thought this was a great ruling on the side of the European Union, particularly during a time when Europe is ” mired in recession, governments struggling to reduce budget deficits and officials trying to combat high unemployment.” In light of the economy, I’m sure this was a difficult decision to make. People are still people, and they deserve to live their lives well without working themselves to the bone. After reading about this ruling in the NY Times, I decided to research other countries’ vacation policies.

In doing so, I have learned that Canadian workers are entitled to two weeks of vacation leave per year, paid a minimum of 4% their regular wage.

In China, the number of days granted for paid leave increases with the time length of consecutive employment (this is not uncommon among countries). That is to say if you have worked under an employer for one to ten years, you are entitled 5 days of vacation leave with full pay; 10 to 20 grants you ten days; 20 and above grants you 15 days.

On the other hand,  Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) of the USA “does not require payment for time not worked, such as vacations, sick leave or holidays (federal or otherwise).” Although there is no legislated minimum, it has been estimated that average employers grant their employees 15 days of vacation. The USA is the only advanced country without a national vacation policy.

This information really made me think about the extent to which full-time employees (in the most generic sense) spend working. I can’t help but be reminded of the feelings I had when I wrote my previous blog post: What can I do with my life such that I will feel satisfied spending 8 hours a day doing my work? Will I really be able to find a career for which I will happily wake up at 7am every weekday? I’m not sure about my future, but for now I will concentrate on gaining experience and information about careers I can potentially pursue as I finish up my undergraduate degree.

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Breaking Down the TIME 100 Poll 2012

Annually, USA’s TIME magazine hosts an online poll of 100+ names to be voted as the most influential nominees. These nominees range from individuals such as Rihanna and Aung San Suu Kyi to icons like Anonymous and the Kony 2012 movement. The list is meant to reflect the “leaders, artists, innovators, icons and heroes you think are the most influential people in the world,” but based on the names I went through (it’s a fairly long list) I estimate the majority are from the States.

I  feel like since the TIME 100 Poll was first introduced, the poll has consisted of a list in which half the nominees are actually “influential” icons and the other half were chosen because TIME staff thought “Hey, if we put [inset pop icon name here] on the poll, we’ll get thousands of their followers to visit our site! It’s the ultimate marketing strategy that doesn’t cost us a dime! I mean, it’s not like any of these obscure foreign icons will win…”

…but then “foreigners” did win. Of particular interest, Korean pop star Rain won the poll last year with “406,252 ‘influential’ votes and 33,813 ‘not influential’ votes.” He also won in 2006 and 2007, and came in second during 2008. I remember reading the comments for last year’s publication, and there was quite a bit of hate on both sides. Regardless, you’d think TIME would give Rain some credit for his worldwide following but when it came to the description of his accomplishments, one can’t help but feel a bit of animosity,

The South Korean pop star turned actor Rain, 28, took the top spot in the TIME 100 reader poll for the third year, trouncing competitors from Barack Obama to Lady Gaga. That’s pretty impressive online power for a guy whose main claim to Western fame is a role in the 2009 film Ninja Assassin.

(emphasis is mine)

This year, Rain didn’t make it to the list of nominees. Which brings to my biggest question regarding the TIME 100 Poll: how do these nominees get chosen? Who chooses them? (If you happen to find out, let me know! I scavenged TIME’s site but came up empty.)

One thing that is severely overlooked with regards to this poll is the nature of the voting process: the descriptions of each nominee are the contributing factor to their success during the polling. I believe this for a number of reasons:

1. No registration is required to vote. You can vote as many times as you like per day. This means that pop star fans will be flocking to vote for their idols, the main reason I believe they are included on the list—to generate traffic. This leads me to my second point…

2. There are so many people on the list that the majority of voters that actually stick around to see who else is on the list are voting purely based on the content of each nominee’s description.

To conclude my rant, the descriptions are what make the nominee in the TIME 100 Poll. Since TIME writes the descriptions, which vary in persuasive tone, and seemingly chooses nominees arbitrarily, I think the poll is more or less a hit and miss competition. There are definitely nominees whose influence is indisputable, but I find a lot of them on grey ground. This is usually the case when I read the descriptions for actors/actresses and some CEO’s. Of course, influence is arguable in all cases.

Despite my apprehensiveness, I believe the poll is a great opportunity for people to receive well-deserved recognition for their work during the year and for readers to learn about what people are doing all over the world.  It makes me think about what “influence” actually means to me and what it could mean to other people around the world. What do you think of the TIME 100 Poll?

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The Japanese Don’t Loot?

Many people suffer from a severe case of individualism, a condition defined by a lack of concern and/or empathy towards other people in situations where one cannot be benefitted. Symptoms include putting one’s own needs before all other considerations, denying aid to others in the name of personal inconvenience, and begrudging the less fortunate. Causes range from individualistic upbringing to media influence. Though there are treatments available, such treatment is only effective with people who desire change.

I bring up this overgeneralized diagnostic of individualism because I recently read an month old article about the (general) lack of chaos and crime that followed the earthquakes in Japan last month. People have brought up a number of arguments to explain the witnessed behaviour.

Some argue it’s a patriotic aspect,

The Japanese are resourceful, innovative and disciplined people with a great sense of national pride. While they also have criminals and felons, it is not quite in comparison to the sleaze balls we have in [American] streets.

Others argue differently,

Sociologists will tell you that the lack of looting is just the result of large numbers of people developing a more orderly society to cope with living in a smaller land mass. Personally, I’ve always thought it’s because they’re a more highly evolved race.

..and others yet have said it’s simply because looting is a youth act. The aging Japanese population is simply too old to have an abundance of looting.

A shot of a Japanese street

Personally, I believe it’s the cultural aspect that comes out first as the best explanation. The (mostly) homogenous population has probably resulted in very similar cultural values and morals among a lot of Japanese, which has lead to social organization. I think that they refrain from looting in the name of dignity, and benevolence. But who knows. In any case, the low crime rate after such a large disaster is inspiring. Whatever reason is behind it, I do hope the Japanese share their secret to morality in event he toughest times with the world.

Image: Dino De Luca / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image: prozac1 / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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