Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Take a break from work and politics

    Vacations are good. In Sun Valley, vacations are embedded in our DNA. Americans as a whole have a really hard time engaging in guilt-free relaxation and recreation, which makes even vacations fodder for po-litical attack machines.
    Americans don’t get very much vacation in the first place. U.S. companies are not legally required to give paid time off, though most do recognize the 10 national holidays. Other industrialized nations require any-where from 10 days in Canada and Japan to a month in France, with national holidays on top of that.
    Many U.S. companies discourage taking two weeks in a row or set expectations that their employees re-main in contact. A Harris Interactive survey, reported on ABC News, showed that 51 percent of American workers don’t take all the time made available, and 61 percent spend at least some of that off time working. CNN quoted a Washington, D.C., consultant’s running joke: “A vacation just means you work from some-where else.”
    The Wood River Valley is an object lesson in how vacations should be. Local employees, from hourly to owners, work like maniacs during the busy seasons but equally value down time. They use it to be physi-cally active, to get into the backcountry, to just stroll through town where they bump into friends and en-gage in a little local retail therapy. They don’t be-grudge anyone else doing the same.
    Vacations are good—unless you’re President Obama. Then taking a vacation is just another attack point in the never-ending babble of the political class.
    Obama and his family tried to take a two-week break in Martha’s Vineyard, a resort community able to handle the circus that is a presidential visit. As sometimes happens to any executive, the break turned out to be crazy time. The beheading of an American journalist held hostage by the brutal terrorist group ISIS was broadcast on the Internet. The police shooting of a black teen in Ferguson, Mo., resulted in a week of civil unrest. The Russians continued their intrusions on Ukraine.
    Obama interrupted his vacation for four press brief-ings and returned to Washington for two days during his family time. Everyone knows what it looks like to stay plugged in while on vacation, and the president must be the most plugged-in employee on the planet. Still, political opponents screamed about his playing golf, taking time with daughters in the throes of their teenage years, relaxing and recharging.
    Americans, it seems, have a really hard time disen-gaging. It’s high time we take all the breaks we can get, and give our leaders some, too.

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