Will: Europeans Take Too Much Vacation

Aug. 24, 2003 -- — It is high time Americans stopped saying rude things about Europeans.

I intend to stop next week. But this week, it's August, vacation time, and I must note that Europeans take too much vacation time.

They constantly complain about American economic power, and the political influence and military supremacy that economic power makes possible.

But maybe Europeans would better off — richer, more powerful, more able to flex their geopolitical muscles — if they took less time off.

The relatively hard-working British — hardworking by European standards — get 28 paid vacation days a year. Germans get 35, the French, 37, Italians, 42.

Americans Working Harder

The Los Angeles Times reports that Americans have an average of just sixteen vacation days a year, and they are vacationing less and less — 10 percent less this year than last.

A poll shows that one in five Americans feels guilty about taking a vacation. Twelve percent do not plan to take any vacation.

And modern technologies — computers, Blackberries, cell phones — allow many Americans to bring their work with them.

The Economist magazine reports that much of the per capita wealth difference between Europe and America can be explained by vacation habits.

So when Europeans are at the beach, brooding about American power, perhaps they should notice that they are … at the beach.

Joys of Paris in August

There is one thing to be said for the European way with vacations: Paris — lovely Paris — is one of those enchanting places where, as the poet said, every prospect pleases and only man is vile.

But in August, the people of Paris are away from Paris — on vacation, even more than usual.

Some say that Paris is at its best in August.

I would not say that, because it is high time Americans stopped saying rude things about Europeans.