Take a vacation: It's your right
The bureaucrats of the European Union, unfettered by such sovereign niceties as government and voters, are free to think Big Thoughts. And here’s the latest: Decreeing tourism and vacations basic human rights.
This is the brain child of Antonio Tajani, the EU’s commissioner for enterprise and industry, who plans to subsidize vacations for those too poor to afford one and lots of other people, as well.
The time off isn’t a problem. The EU already mandates a standard of a minimum four weeks’ vacation for member nations, and some countries require more. French workers are entitled to six weeks. U.S. employers are not statutorily required to give their workers any.
As a result, American workers generally work longer hours and get less time off than workers in other modern industrialized countries. The Tea Party people might want to lighten up on the whining about “socialism” lest American workers start asking questions and discover Commissioner Tajani. He says, “Traveling for tourism today is a right.”
Tajani’s program would subsidize vacation travel for retirees, those over 65, people between 18 and 25, and families facing “difficult social, financial or personal” circumstances. If the vacationer is elderly or disabled, the EU would pay for someone to accompany them.
The news accounts indicate that the subsidized vacations would be within Europe — no Tahiti or Las Vegas for the pensioners. The idea would be to build European unity by having northern Europeans visit southern Europe and vice versa.
Britain’s Sunday Times reported that Tajani’s planners envisage sending young Greeks, for example, to Manchester and Liverpool on industrial archaeology tours to explore abandoned factories and power plants.
To further experience the “cultural diversity” of Europe, retirees from the English rust belt, in turn, would be given cut-rate trips to Spain. Not meaning to diminish the undoubted attractiveness of an abandoned power plant in the rain, it does seem that the retirees are getting the better half of this deal.
There is a mild pecuniary motive here in that the subsidized travelers could fill up resorts that are underused or in the off-season doldrums. The pensioners might want to ask before the EU packs them off to an underused resort exactly why the resort is underused. The answer could make a staycation look mighty attractive.
The vacation plan is to take full effect in 2013. When it does, a great job is going to open up for someone: the EU’s high commissioner for vacations. Update your resume now.
The “tourism is a human right” scheme could cost the EU hundreds of millions of euros a year. But better not to dwell on the cost. Why spoil the vacation?
Scripps Howard News Service