Gary's new website

Monday, September 04, 2006

Holiday Time USA

This letter is to the nearly 50% of my readers who are American, several of whom I correspond with. Some have come down to New Zealand for a break and a look around; but for most, they simply can't afford the time or the cost. Some now prefer to holiday within their borders due to safety concerns; but I argue this is one reason why NZ is so attractive nowadays as a destination. It means that work-life balance is getting out of kilter and it affects every one, such is the influence of the USA. Keep an eye out for articles about my favourite NZ adventure holidays, starting with the Wanganui River.

To my American Friends,

Despite all the wealth and power that you have accumulated, you work far too hard and far too long to enjoy it. If ever you get to take your brief annual leave entitlements, which you probably won't, those precious few days are not enough for a decent break. O.k, so you decide to take a holiday; but by the time you get to where you are going, it is time to turn around and head right on back to work. You must not be tardy or awol - You must keep your head down and tail up because, of all the rich countries, the USA is the easiest place on earth to get fired from your job.

Like the stroppy French people, whose favourite past-times are sipping wine and rioting, you might think we (New Zealanders) are getting far too lazy for our own good because we are getting more holiday time and not less. For example: My daughter, Mary-Ann, who is a soldier in the NZ Army now gets 21 days of paid annual leave in addition to our paid national holidays. Through her job and through her annual leave, she gets to meet the rest of the world. This is peace-keeping at its best.

History tells us that undemocratic leaders don't like their citizens having idle time on their hands. As we learned in the hit musical movie, the Music Man, idle time means "TROUBLE - TROUBLE with a T". Idle people talk to their neighbours, they travel to other lands and they realise that their nation's enemies are actually quite nice people just like them and those funny clothes they wear are really quite practical; they might question those in authority and even dare to demand a say in how their own lives are run. They will realise that they have been lied to; they might even get "French" and riot in the streets! [As an aside, New Zealand recently switched from a First Past the Post (FPP) electoral system to Mixed Member Proportional (MMP) which is more democratic; hence the generous annual leave]

What do undemocratic governments do to keep people oppressed, busy and apathetic? They progressively and ruthlessly dismantle public health and welfare services, they smash the labour unions and undermine labour protection laws including a livable minimum wage; they run down their country's public health and education systems (The rich and powerful have their own, so why should they care) and they introduce harsh laws that ensure the unemployed poor and the unruly are either executed or locked away where they can not cause any trouble. Its a variation on a massive scale of the oppressive husband who seeks spousal control by keeping her barefoot, isolated and pregnant. Fear, ignorance, apathy and obedience are the makings for control of the masses and the retention of power by the privliged elite who believe they are pre-destined to rule.

Another classic and cowardly ploy of undemocratic leadership is to attack its weaker neighbours as a means of distracting attention from itself, as well as justifying even worse oppression of its own people. this is fictional Big Brother all over; but most history is not fiction. History has a bad habit of repeating itself and the taste of history in the making right now has a disturbingly American in flavour about it.

So, my plea to you, my American friends, is this: Demand of your Government and your bosses that you have 21 days statutory paid annual leave, then take a long holiday when you get it. If there is one thing that would do more for world peace, this would surely be it.

Key words: work-life balance


Anonymous said...

Looks like you've been in on a few of GWB's planning sessions except that we have to go a bit further afield to attack people.

One of the things which I find very bothersome is that the 40 hour work week, which people two generations ago died, literally in some cases, trying to achieve, is being given away by a collection of career hopping yuppies who want to impress their bosses into promoting them by displaying a willingness to do nothing but work for nearly unlimited amounts of time each week and to make sure that holiday and leave time goes unused, at least to a degree. Take that, the absence of health care, and the cost of higher education and I see a future for my kids that looks less appealing than the life I've had. It actually does lead me to think that we should emigrate to a place where people have healthier view of where work fits into life. But that's a radical step.

Wayne said...

thats one Amen brothe !

Anonymous said...

Gary, What you forget to mention in NZ, the land of ever increasing holidays, is that some years ago we had a 40 hour week. Any work beyond 40hrs was paid a penal rates. Time and a half, double time etc. All that is long gone! Employers now pay what they want, demand employees work the hours they set, etc. The Employment Contracts Act took away collective bargaining with employers and guess who that gave the power to?

Cheers amte,


Anonymous said...

I should probably make it clear that I'm in the USA.