Between the Great Depression and the 1970s, private business was viewed with suspicion even in most capitalist economies.Businesses were, so the story goes, seen as anti-social agents whose profit-seeking needed to be restrained for other, supposedly loftier, goals, such as justice, social harmony, protection of the weak and even national glory.
If the world were full of the self-seeking individuals found in economics textbooks, it would grind to a halt because we would be spending most of our time cheating, trying to catch the cheaters, and punishing the caught. The world works as it does only because people are not the totally self seeking agents that free-market economics believes them to be. We need to design an economic system that, while acknowledging that people are often selfish, exploits other human motives to the full and gets the best out of people. The likelihood is that, if we assume the worst about people, we will get the worst out of them.
Equality of opportunity is not enough. Unless we create an environment where everyone is guaranteed some minimum capabilities through some guarantee of minimum income, education, and healthcare, we cannot say that we have fair competition. When some people have to run a 100 metre race with sandbags on their legs, the fact that no one is allowed to have a head start does not make the race fair. Equality of opportunity is absolutely necessary but not sufficient in building a genuinely fair and efficient society.
Above a certain level of income, the relative value of material consumption vis-a-vis leisure time is diminished, so earning a higher income at the cost of working longer hours may reduce the quality of your life. More importantly, the fact that the citizens of a country work longer than others in comparable countries does not necessarily mean that they like working longer hours. They may be compelled to work long hours, even if they actually want to take longer holidays.