Happy Memorial Day everyone! I’ve been looking for ways to ruin the holiday (it is the tradition of my people), but it is so hard to do it without offending people. For example, I hate the bumper sticker that reads, “If You Like Your Freedom Thank a Vet.” I agree with the basic sentiment: it really is necessary for a country to have an army to product the nation from marauding hordes. On the other hand, there has not been an existential threat to the United States in about 200 years. Certainly there has not been one in my lifetime. In general, the military is used by countries for immoral purposes, like accumulating resources and providing leaders with glory. Thus, it isn’t the military who we should despise but the country’s generally vile leaders. At the same time, I think it is a major mistake to pretend that we owe the military any greater acknowledgement than other public servants.
But this isn’t Veterans Day, it is Memorial Day. It is the day to honor those who died in our wars. Most of these people (one way or another) had no choice about serving. Regardless, they were all doing what our leaders said was the right thing to do. These people should be honored. My only wish is that we honored them by not thinking that every new war was a great idea. We should honor the dead by limited who we send to die in the future.
Here’s something to think about: did you get a paid holiday today? Did the company that you work for honor our fallen dead by taking a little less in profit by allowing you to get paid while not working? If you get a paid holiday, you are one of the lucky few. On Friday, Rebecca Ray, Milla Sanes, and John Schmitt of the Center for Economic and Policy Research released a new paper, No-Vacation Nation Revisited. In it, they show that of all the rich countries (16 European countries, Australia, Canada, Japan, New Zealand, and the United States), we are the only country that doesn’t mandate any paid holidays or vacations. It is true that France only gives 1 paid holiday a year, but that’s kind of made up for with the six weeks of paid vacation they provide. The third worst country is Canada with one day short of four weeks. The second worst country is Japan with only two weeks paid vacation. But again, we are the worst. Or as we say in American, “We’re number one!”
But that’s America, right? We honor veterans every day. See all the bumper stickers? But when it comes to actual veterans, not so much. They require us to spend our actual money on the VA and stuff like that. I guess we like the dead veterans more, because they don’t complain. Just the same, our war policies never change:
And when it comes to our people, we don’t provide them with time off—even out of respect for our war dead. If weekends hadn’t been a settled matter for many decades, I’m sure we would be hearing that giving workers two whole days off every week was destroying our business effectiveness. We—and by that I mean our leaders—don’t care about our veterans, our war dead, or even the workers of the nation. And that is something to remember on Memorial Day.