Open for Debate: More Vacation?

I wrote an article a few weeks ago about the sad state of the American vacation, and brought attention to a group calling itself the Take Back Your Time Day Movement. Among the numerous goals of the movement is to legislate a mandatory three weeks of vacation for American workers. This seemed reasonable to me. And it still does. Especially when we look at the vacation time given to workers in France, Germany and throughout most of Europe, our paltry two weeks (which is neither legislated, nor mandatory) seems almost obscenely limited. After all, (and this is a point Rick Steves made to me when I interviewed him), if we are expected to be good global citizens as the world’s sole remaining superpower, it sure seems like we should make an effort to know the world better. To have more time off and to travel more. In other words, it’s awfully hard to understand the world better when you don’t get out of the country much.

But I have to say that during the research I did, I discovered how new the idea of leisure really is. The notion of a company providing two weeks off is amazingly new. Even the weekend is a relatively recent phenomenon. So there is an argument to be made that we should be happy with what we have because our recent forbears got next to nothing (and they liked it! Didn�t you Spalding?) Of course, we aren�t. This is now, and ours is a modern tech-industrial society, and most of us believe that the workers in it are entitled to enjoy their lives more. I, for one, believe we are. But there are those who disagree and say that more vacation will hurt the economy. Perhaps. But I believe that whatever drop in GDP we suffer from an additional week of vacation is likely to be offset by a rise in the national happiness quotient (the NHQ, which, of course, doesn�t really exist, though it should). Yes, China and India are already suctioning off our jobs, and an intensively competitive global market makes it increasingly hard for companies to stay alive, and therefore keep people employed. Tough arguments to take on. But it is doubtful that making vacation mandatory and adding an additional week will do irreparable harm to the economy. As I say, it could help. This is, perhaps, a lame and simple argument, but I believe it is worth a try.

I�m eager to hear what others think. More vacation, or, as Little Red Riding Hood might have said, things are things juuust right?