France has the ultimate weapon for fighting the economic crisis: free time. Long live the 35-hour week, though it was once sentenced to the scaffold by President Nicolas Sarkozy. The law reducing work hours, known in French as R.T.T., today is like a shock absorber of the crisis. Businesses in trouble are using the R.T.T. regime to avoid layoffs. The proof? Last Christmas, none of my salaried friends in Paris were working. Several of them told me, “My company pushed us to take the R.T.T. between Christmas and New Year’s Day.” Translation: since there’s no work, mandatory days off. France’s law reducing work hours has been a shock absorber in this latest economic crisis. So what, then, of that favored slogan of President Sarkozy, “Work more to earn more”? Mr. Sarkozy himself still seems to believe in it, though perhaps he is the only person who does, and the 2007 changes to the R.T.T. law that reduced overtime costs for business remain in effect. But considering the current recession, it’s unlikely that many businesses will need to take advantage of them. Indeed, the Japanese employers’ organization is studying R.T.T. as a solution to the crisis in that country.
Here's my favorite part, where she wonders if the Americans are up to not working as hard on work and working on enjoying life:
I wonder, though, if the French model can work everywhere else: What would Americans do with close to two months of vacation a year? When you’re not used to it, it can seem like a LOT of free time. But perhaps that is indeed the future of capitalism. My American friends, make an effort to be lazy!