After nearly defaulting on its debt, struggling through a deep recession, grappling with high unemployment and being a general drain on the EU economy for years, Spaniards are finally waking up to the fact that those siestas are going the way of bullfights. Both are pure Spain…both are pure bull, too.
“We want to see a more efficient culture,” “Tiempo al Tiempo” (Time to Time) author Ignacio Buqueras told The New York Times. “Spain has to break the bad habits it has accumulated over the past 40 or 50 years.”
Spain, of course, isn’t the only country that is guilty of bad habits. Japan’s closed-mindedness about the give-and-take of a global economy—make stuff sure, but buy some stuff, too—helped push it into a stock market quagmire 25 years ago from which it has never recovered. Unless China does something to build its own middle class, it appears doomed to the same sort of fate. Back on The Continent, workers young and old get dozens of vacation days—so many in fact, that much of Europe shuts down in August.
Here in the States, we scoff at our European friends and their seemingly endless supply of days off. But the truth is, US workers have long blurred the line between work and pleasure. Between running errands from 9 to 5, shuttling kids to afterschool events, and posting a musing or three on social networks right after lunch, Americans have been taking their own forms of afternoon naps that have been a killer on productivity.
Buqueras was talking about Spain, but he could have been talking about the US and other countries as well. All of us have created a lot of bad habits during the past 40 years. If the US economy is to retain a leadership role in the future, it’s time to break some bad habits of our own.
Of course, reading is one habit that should always be encouraged. If you’re done with winter like I am, turn to page 71 to read about what’s ahead in the sun care market. It may be freezing now, but warmer days are right around the corner. We promise!