ABC news reports that many Americans are declining to use their vacation time. Only 57 percent of Americans are taking their full vacation time. And what makes this story even more bizarre, Americans average only 13 days of vacation.
Want to see the numbers?
Italians 42 days
United States 13 days
How did we get here? Aren’t we supposed to be the richest country on earth? How did Americans wind up with an average of 13 days of vacation and far, far worse, almost half unwilling to use their full time apparently for fear of losing their jobs?
It takes a decoupling of morals from business. When a businessman, when an employer, looks at his workers and says to himself, “That one is using his vacation time. I can do without him,” we have arrived at a bad place.
And yet, where is the outrage (besides mine)? Foreigners in far less wealthy countries give their workers in many cases three times the vacation time of American workers and what’s more they take the time.
“Let’s get rid of the people who work here for fifty weeks a year and take a vacation.” How do you even think like that? What kind of thought process produces that kind of cruel immorality?
It is written: Thou shalt not muzzle the ox when he treadeth out the corn.
The King James Bible prescribes better treatment for an ox than that given American workers. The ox gets some share of its labor that could be denied. American workers have no benefits that cannot be denied if even the legal ones put you in danger of being fired.
And I don’t want to hear, “They have to do it to compete.” That’s a nasty age old excuse for any kind of immoral (and often incompetent) act. You could compete better with workers who have no where to go, who don’t get minimum wage or get pregnant or have bad days or get ill or don’t look like other people, etc. Where do you want to stop? You can’t. Talk about slippery slope. If any vile, virtually criminal, act can be justified by the need to compete, there is no bottom standard to stop at, no place of safety, no island of ethics.
You might ask me as a business ethics teacher, what it’s like to teach that subject in a country where taking your vacation days can cost you your job. No fun. It’s preaching against alcoholism in a saloon, safe sex in a Thai brothel, hypocrisy in mega church. In short, it’s hard and it’s not getting any easier. You always think that it’s just got to turn a corner that some limit has been reached and it hasn’t.