07 August 2006

Mandatory vacations

Americans are notorious for their inability to get paid vacations, if at all; no national law mandates vacations, and even companies that offer paid vacations are stingy about offering it. Businesses tend to see paid vacations as added costs, and unions are in no shape to speak up on this issue.

In my case, I've been working 7 days a week, totalling about 60 hours, much of it in hostile desert military bases, and I'm on the verge of a burnout. Whenever I am back in my office, I am so worn out that I find myself goofing off rather than actually getting work done. Yet the only time off I get, for me, is a long weekend; I was lucky to get to Seattle for the 4th of July. I don't think I'll be able to get time off to participate in Camp Democracy in DC next month.

The following TruthOut article argues for the need for mandatory paid vacations, and the eventual benefits of it to employees, employers, and America as a whole. I will add one more benefit to this. If Americans can actually have time to travel to different parts of the country (or the world), their world view will expand, they will be more enlightened, and they will behave and vote accordingly. I think that's precisely what the big businesses and the powered interests are afraid of.

It's sad that when I take a transatlantic flight, I end up seeing only European vacationers in economy class, and virtually no Americans - even on a US-flagged airline.