This topic is about non-monetary things capitalism takes away from us.

Two questions for group; 10-15 minutes to discuss:

  1. What would you do if you had a month off? Two months? Three months?
  2. What was your favorite vacation? Have you ever had a time where you had a significant amount of time off that you were able to enjoy?


Our reading pointed out that the US is the only developed country without a law forcing employers to give employees paid vacation. The European Union requires 20 days, or 4 full weeks of vacation every year for every member state, but countries can require more. Many countries designate holidays, which workers are paid but do not work.


Austria requires:

  • 25 paid vacation days (five weeks) per year
  • 13 paid holidays each year
  • This is a total of 38 paid days off per year, or nearly 8 weeks
  • Workers who have worked at the same firm for 25 years get 30 vacation days, or 6 weeks, instead of 25


The US does not require paid sick days, let alone paid vacation days. Milwaukee had a paid sick leave ordinance that required less than 5 sick days per year (a referendum that passed by overwhelmingly), but while this being contested in court in 2011, it was made illegal by state law.


Some research has been done on the effects of vacation on worker productivity. The research does not support the idea that vacation improves worker productivity.


Progressives like to argue in favor of things that help workers based on the idea that they are good for people as well as good for business. Sometimes, this is actually true; for example, single payer would save most employers money as well as be far better for ordinary people. But generous vacation time does not seem to be an example of this.


We support paid vacation mandates not because it’s good for business–we support it because it’s nice for people to have paid vacation. Socialism is about happiness; we want people to be happy, so we want people to take vacations every once in a while.


Discussion questions:

  • Can you think of things other than paid vacation that we should support that are also not good for business?
  • Who gets to decide how much vacation time people get?
    • Key point is that this decision is not made democratically.
  • What would you do if you had more time to do what you like?