Thursday, May 05, 2005

The Paperwork of Compassion

Still smoking crack, the EU tries to pretend that it’s about making people’s lives better and easier, when all it does is make if more complicated. All it manages to do is make it more laughable.

Imagine the paperwork it would take to comply with this:

«The EU's Directive on Working Time, which is currently undergoing a review with a first reading in the European Parliament due on 10 May, is perhaps one of the Union's most controversial measures in the social field. Originally agreed in 1993, the Directive sets limits on the amount of hours people can work per day (11) and per week (48, calculated as an average over 4 months, extendable to 12 months by collective agreement).

Under this provision, individual workers can exempt themselves from the 48-hour ceiling on weekly working time by signing an agreement with their employers. Seen by some as an expression of pragmatism ("Enterprises need flexibility") and by others as a self-evident individual freedom ("Every person should have the right to work as much as he likes"), a third group considers the opt-out as the denial of a fundamental principle ("Every person should enjoy a limited working week") and calls for its suppression.»
Free will, you see, can’t be permitted because people are too stupid to eat their own young if nanny doesn’t tell them what to do.

The documentation burden and the regulation burden are so old, familiar, and heavy that even the author is displaying a kind of “Stockholm Syndrome” with the command-economy as well:

«These conditions will, for sure, add paperwork and somewhat reduce flexibility for enterprises, but, in truth, isn't this a fair price to pay for maintaining the opt-out? As for its opponents, if they do not deem the safeguards just mentioned sufficient, they should think about two further conditions the Commission has proposed. First, setting an absolute working time limit of 65 hours per week for those on the opt-out undermines their argument that the opt-out precludes every worker's right to a statutory limitation of working time. Second, the proposal that the opt-out can only be used if expressly foreseen in a collective agreement should do away with their remaining concerns that the opt-out cannot be applied in a fair manner to the workers involved.»

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