Friday, February 20, 2015

Cancel Most US Federal Holidays To Save Money

I mentioned in one of my recent Financial Sarcasm Roundups that canceling Presidents' Day would be great.  I totally need to take this concept all the way.  The US federal government can save a ton of money and get more work done by canceling several official holidays.

Uncle Sam is nice enough to list the official holiday lineup.  The government also lists a bunch of stupid days like Groundhog Day, Valentine's Day, and Halloween, but those don't grant days off.  My focus is on some other stupid days that do cause people to skip work for no good reason.  The US Senate published an official Congressional Research Service paper from 1999 describing the origin of the eleven official holidays.  Note one very important point from the paper's abstract:  The holidays only legally apply to federal employees and the District of Columbia.  Your local laundromat or shoe repair shop that claims one of these holidays as an excuse to close is therefore just being lazy.

The eleven holidays in Uncle Sam's list are free days off for government workers, but alas nothing in this world is free.  The taxpayer pays through the nose for all of those cubicle dwellers to do nothing for almost one "working" day each month.  The Washington Times noted that one paid holiday in 2008 cost an estimated $450M.  Paying this out ten times a year, plus part of it once every fourth year for Inauguration Day, adds up to some serious cheddar cheese.  The opportunity cost of lost economic activity spills over into the private sector when service-oriented businesses decide they need to voluntarily shut down for a federal holiday.

Here's my modest proposal to restore sanity to America's out-of-control holiday calendar.  Let's eliminate every holiday that does not specifically relate to the nation's founding or its defense.  Conflict shapes our national character more than any other phenomenon.  Reducing the holiday count to this bare minimum leaves us with Memorial Day, Veterans Day, and Independence Day.  That should be enough for federal workers who also get accrued vacation days.  I question the rationale for giving federal workers Inauguration Day off because common sense should require the federal government be somewhat fully staffed while its head of state changes heads.  The other holidays are totally superfluous.

New Year's Day and Christmas Day are private functions for most people.  How we celebrate them should not be the government's concern.  The secularization of America is progress.  Elevating one religious holiday to a federal day off means granting other religions' special days the same status.  We either celebrate them all out of fairness, or celebrate none of them officially.  Take an accrued vacation day off if you must go visit your grandparents.

Thanksgiving Day can remain a semi-official holiday with no paid leave for federal employees.  Every civilization has some kind of harvest celebration and Thanksgiving fits the bill for America.  It also maintains the spirit of unity and magnanimity Abraham Lincoln had in mind when he first proclaimed it during the Civil War.  It therefore has something to do with building the nation's character and reminds us of our agrarian roots.

Labor Day makes no sense.  It is a vestigial reminder that the capitalist class once feared socialism enough to throw a bone to working stiffs with a special day.  We can declare victory in the class war by getting rid of Labor Day.

Celebrating Dr. King, our late but great Presidents, and Christopher Columbus likewise makes little sense.  Most Americans only paid minimal attention in school during history lessons.  Your average Joe or Jane Six-Pack probably wouldn't be able to pick those figures out of a lineup of cartoon characters or breakfast cereal mascots.  When those days occur, hardly any Americans stop and reflect on those holidays' notable namesakes.  Instead they go bowling or skiing, or whatever.

Federal holidays should serve a unifying purpose and remind us that we have a nation worth defending.  They should also take cost effectiveness into account.  Our modern federal holidays are too numerous and cost too much.  The private sector's imitation of government holidays costs the nation in lost productivity.  The nation got along just fine through the 1880s with barely half a dozen federal holidays.  Returning to the Republic's hard-working, thrifty roots is an excellent example for the government to set.

Nota bene:  Alfidi Capital is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week.  I have published blog articles during all major holidays.  This firm never takes a break, unlike the rest of this lazy, shiftless, good-for-nothing planet.