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The Real Vacation Outrage: The U.S. Is The Only Developed Country Where Citizens Aren’t Guaranteed Paid Vacation

By Zaid Jilani  

"The Real Vacation Outrage: The U.S. Is The Only Developed Country Where Citizens Aren’t Guaranteed Paid Vacation"

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For some Americans, vacations only happen in the movies.

Many political pundits and conservative politicians have seized the opportunity to criticize President Obama’s planned vacation in Martha’s Vineyard. Former Massachussetts Gov. Mitt Romney (R) said he wouldn’t be doing the same if he were president, and the political paper Politico even consulted a group of “political strategists” to compile a list of less politically sensitive locations Obama could vacation instead.

But the real outrage here isn’t the fact that Obama is taking paid vacation (at 1/3 the rate of his predecessor), but rather that working Americans aren’t guaranteed any paid vacation days at all.

In fact, the United States is alone among the developed world in not providing its citizens with guaranteed vacation days (paid or unpaid) as a right of employment, as the following chart of Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries compiled by the Center for Economic and Policy Research shows:

As you can see, the United States is virtually alone among rich nations in depriving citizens of these basic necessities. But unfortunately, it isn’t just the rest of the developed world that has the U.S. beat. If you live in Kazahkstan, for example, you are guaranteed 24 calendar days a year. The citizens of Uruguay get 20 working days off to start, and vacation days accrue with years worked.

Rather than focusing solely on the location or length of our presidents’ vacations, the political press should be asking our political leaders why average Americans are not guaranteed the same right to some time off.

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