BECAUSE WE WOULDN'T WANT TO BE LIKE FRANCE

Posted in Rants on December 24th, 2009 by Ed

You're not working right now. Perhaps you're bodily at your place of business or otherwise on the clock, but you're probably not doing anything that could reasonably be interpreted as work. I suppose that's always true if you're reading this site (which, to the best of my knowledge, is neither required nor condoned by your boss) but today it applies more broadly. If you're like most Americans your end-of-year break consists of a day off for Christmas and that's pretty much it, forcing us all to go through the motions of pretending to work on the 24th.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not arguing that creating a buffer zone around Christian religious holidays is desirable. Here's the thing – like all sane people, I don't like working. We work too goddamn much in this country, and whether it's for Christmas or Zoroastrian New Year it would be nice if our ruling class would grant us a few days to see our families or, you know, enjoy our lives.

As most of us are painfully aware, employers are not required to provide paid vacation in this country. And contrary to popular belief, they are not required to give you time off, either paid or unpaid, for Federal holidays. There are only 10 such days, and only about half of them regularly result in days off for most of us – Christmas, MLK, Independence Day, Memorial Day, Labor Day, and Thanksgiving. Unless one works for the government, Washington's Birthday is unlikely to result in an opportunity to sleep in.

This situation is, to the amazement of some Americans, uncommon in comparison to other Western democracies.

It truly is depressing to see how we stack up to our cousins across the Atlantic or to the south. We're a nation of people working harder and harder for less and less, and the merest suggestion that we should do anything other than work 9 hour days without pause until we drop dead is met with cries of socialism and accusations of malingering.

So that's why you're sitting bored at your desk thinking frantically of ways to kill time on this most pointless of "work" days. Rather than simply giving people a few days off around this time of year we respond to deep-seated protestant guilt and conditioning by making everyone show up and go through the motions. A waste of everybody's f-ing time, that's what it is. This charade makes some Americans feel more industrious and more productive; the reality of a workforce standing around water coolers, taking two-hour lunches, and dicking around on the internet for eight hours calls into question the basis of our disdain for the "lazy" nations around the world who don't follow our shining example and live joyless, pointless lives.