Lynn Parramore observes that exploitative practices do little to help US productivity, or even the position of firms engaging in them:
[America’s] cult of endless toil doesn’t really help the bottom line. Study after study shows that overworking reduces productivity. On the other hand, performance increases after a vacation, and workers come back with restored energy and focus. The longer the vacation, the more relaxed and energized people feel upon returning to the office. Economic crises give austerity-minded politicians excuses to talk of decreasing time off, increasing the retirement age and cutting into social insurance programs and safety nets that were supposed to allow us a fate better than working until we drop.
That doesn’t seem very economically rational: why not respect Brandeis’s basic insight that “I can get 12 months of work done in 11 months, but not in 12”? One clue lies in an observation from Polish economist Michal Kalecki: