Krauts with AttitudeYesterday, Brad Plumer over at WonkBlog wrote an article called Today in European Stereotypes, which contained some really interesting data from a couple of different sources. Plumer chose to provide the data in stages in order to present it as a mystery story. And he was very effective. I for one clicked below the fold.

But I would rather just come right out and show, I don't know, the hypocrisy of the Europeans—in particular the Germans, or as I like to call them, the Krauts. (In this time of racial sensitivity, it is nice to know you can still hate the Germans. I'll be all for easing up on them the moment they stop being assholes.) Most of the nations of Europe believe that Germans are the hardest working people. Most of the nations of Europe believe that the Greeks are the least hardworking people.

But here is a list of the countries and how many hours they work on average in parentheses:
  1. Greece (2109)
  2. Poland (1939)
  3. Italy (1778)
  4. Portugal (1714)
  5. Ireland (1664)
  6. Spain (1663)
  7. UK (1647)
  8. Germany (1419)
  9. Netherlands (1377)
There were no data for France. Also note how many hours Italians work, because they are generally considered almost as lazy as the Greeks.

Now, I know what many of you are thinking: just because they work a lot of hours doesn't mean they are productive. Certainly Plumer brings this up. And even he doesn't seem quite aware of what his data indicate. The issue isn't about productivity. Productivity is more an issue of management: if you mechanize a production line, productivity goes up. Relatively small increases are due to workers moving faster. This is the bottom line: Greek workers put in almost 50% more hours than Germans. Italians put in 25% more.

There are little doubt many reasons why people work more hours in southern Europe. But these numbers ought to put to rest this idea that Germany is not in crisis because they are virtuous and southern Europe is in crisis because they are not virtuous. No one is more aware of Greece's screwed up political system than the Greeks. But it is the Greek worker and not the Greek politician who is harmed by the austerity that Germany is imposing on Greece and much of the rest of Europe.

Everyone would be a whole lot happier if the Germans would pull their heads out of their asses.