Day: January 21, 2013

Monday, 21 January 2013

08:43 – Barbara is off work today for MLK day, but will be spending most of the day running around doing errands. I’ll continue working on kit stuff. Kit sales have slowed down a lot in the last few days, which is fine with me. I was so busy building and shipping kits that I didn’t have time to do much else.

One of the comments yesterday said that MLK day isn’t treated as a real holiday, in his opinion because of “holdover race issues”. That may be part of it, but if so I think it’s a small part. The resentment is certainly widespread among whites, but I think the race of MLK has very little to do with that. I think it has more to do with timing and the insignificance of MLK.

Most businesses that give employees MLK day as paid time-off do so at the expense of Washington’s Birthday in late February or Good Friday/Easter Monday in late March or early April. Most employees now have two days off in January: New Year’s Day followed only two or three weeks later by MLK day. Their next paid day off is then Memorial Day, more than a third of a year later. That’s a long time without a holiday.

But most people would tolerate that if that second January holiday commemorated something or someone really worth commemorating. MLK isn’t. An individual has to be pretty damned special to deserve a national holiday. MLK doesn’t make the top 10,000 of people who deserve their own day. Probably not the top 100,000. I mean, Thomas Jefferson doesn’t have his own day, for heaven’s sake. National holidays should not be devoted to individuals. They should be reserved for things of enduring national importance or to commemorate things that are important to most citizens. Independence Day. Memorial Day. New Year’s Day. Veterans’ Day. Even Thanksgiving and Christmas and Easter, despite their religious basis. Devoting a national holiday to an individual, particularly one so insignificant as MLK, predictably generates a lot of resentment and needlessly contributes to racial polarization.

The truth is, I don’t think we should have any national holidays. If I had employees, I’d tell them to take whatever days off they wanted to take off. Just give me some warning so that I could schedule around their absence those days. If MLK’s birthday is significant to them, fine. Take it off. Otherwise, show up for work. If they’d prefer having Good Friday off, that’s their business. If they’d rather take time off for Hanukkah or the Winter Solstice than Christmas, or vice versa, fine. Why force people to commemorate things and people that aren’t important to them?

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