The most astonishing revelations in Michael Moore’s Sicko have nothing to do with healthcare. They’re about vacation time. French vacation time, to be precise.
Sitting at a restaurant table with a bunch of American ex-pats in Paris, Moore is treated to a jaw-dropping recitation of the perks of social democracy: 30 days of vacation time, unlimited sick days, full child care, social workers who come to help new parents adjust to the strains and challenges of child-rearing. Walking out of the theater, I heard more envious mutterings about this scene than any other.
“Why can’t we have that?” my fellow moviegoers asked.
The first possibility is that we already do. Maybe that perfidious Michael Moore is just lying in service of his French paymasters. But sadly, no. A recent report by Rebecca Ray and John Schmitt of the Center for Economic and Policy Research suggests that Moore is, if anything, understating his case. “The United States,” they write, “is the only advanced economy in the world that does not guarantee its workers paid vacation.” Take notice of that word “only.” Every other advanced economy offers a government guarantee of paid vacation to its workforce. Britain assures its workforce of 20 days of guaranteed, compensated leave. Germany gives 24. And France gives, yes, 30.
Ezra Klein | July 19, 2007 | The American Prospect
I am not sure what I can add to this– the ongoing astonishment of Americans at just how much better things could be is, well, astonishing. The oddest thing about globalization is that Americans know so little about the globe.
Or, rather, our attention is rarely focused on the standards of the developed world, or how we might be measured against it’s standards. After two Bush presidencies how are we doing? We don’t get paid enough, we have no health insurance, and our vacations are too short. Mission accomplished.