Thursday, December 16, 2010

How much time do YOU and your family get off for the holidays?

Here's a wild and crazy idea: The elected representatives of the people should be working at least as hard as the people who voted them into office. Being a senator or congressional representative is sort of like having a well paid salaried position with a lot of professional responsibility and discretion.

Call me crazy, but in my experience, people in those kinds of roles in private companies don't tend to be the first ones out the door night after night. They don't get to fall off the grid for weeks at a time.

Besides teachers, professors and students, until yesterday I couldn't think of a single soul who gets a week or more of paid vacation in December and January just because it's Christmas. And I suspect many professors spend a chunk of their time off reading term papers, doing research and catching up on professional reading. The United States is the only western democracy that mandates no vacation time for workers, under the laughable argument that to do so would interfere with free enterprise.

Fine. But shouldn't our elected leaders then tow the line? If it's bad for business for rank and file employees to have time off, isn't it then bad for the country for Congress to take as much vacation as the average French factory worker?

I find Senator Kyl's sobbing over a "war on Christmas" both intriguing and disgusting. Intriguing because, even if we knew he and many of his colleagues were out of touch with reality, this latest piece of absurdity leads me to suspect they're operating in some parallel universe. Disgusting, because, as Brigadier General John Adams said yesterday:

"We have one-hundred-and-fifty-thousand US warriors doing their job over Christmas and the New Year, the U.S. Senate should do its job."

Never mind that we haven't seen Mr. Kyl sob about the thousands of lives (soldier and civilian) lost in armed conflict. Shouldn't the fact that we're at war (and it's not going all that swimmingly) shame Congress into acting like reasonable adult professionals?

Put aside for a moment, the fact that we're at war. What about regular, average citizens? Mr. Kyl, along with Mr. DeMint and Mr. McConnell, got all teary eyed about the prospect of working this coming weekend. You know, the one that starts on December 17th.

Anyone want to go crying to their supervisor that you must have from tomorrow through the New Year off? With pay? Because to work as we ramp up to the commemoration of the birth of Jesus of Nazareth would be sacrilege?

No takers?


Yet doesn't the thought of two to three weeks off at year end seem deliciously, nostalgically appealing? Think about all the time you'd have to roast chestnuts by the open fire, sing carols off key, bond by the tree over cookies and cocoa, assemble toys that come in roughly 478 pieces. You would even have over a week to recuperate from the o-dark-thirty Santa Claus wake up.

Wouldn't it be nice to have more than one measly day off to do up the biggest holiday on most Americans' calendars? Hell, yeah, as Speaker-elect Boehner (who has, to his credit so far remained silent on the war on Christmas circus) would say.

So here's a handy phone directory for the U.S. Senate:

Why not call your Senator and tell him or her that you're willing to support them in skipping town this weekend, so long as they promise to introduce legislation allowing ALL Americans to do the same.

After all, as Senator DeMint brayed yesterday, working so close to the Christmas holiday would constitute "sacrilege."

Tell that to the folks working in retail. Or catering. Or emergency services. Or the war.

Or wait. Isn't the real sacrilege that we have out-of-touch twits like Mr. Kyl and Mr. DeMint running the country?

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