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