Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Useful holidays

Thanks to the awesome "MLB At Bat" mobile app, I'm able to indulge my baseball fan-ness daily by listening to or watching any MLB game I want live on my phone. It's a pretty useful tool to have, and given that I'm an out-of-market fan, it's essential in order to follow every moment of my hometown team's epic collapse.

It's also a wildly entertaining exercise to listen to all of the radio broadcasts from around the country, with each station boasting its own unique set of awesome low-budget local commercials. It's great fun to listen to the old ads I remember from growing up in the Boston area (Cumberland Farms, Giant Glass, Bernie & Phyl's, all the usual suspects), but it's even more entertaining to laugh at some of the more tragic commercials from some of the relative backwaters that have MLB teams (I'm a huge fan of Tampa Bay and Kansas City in particular... great stuff down there).

Since it's September and a pennant race, I've been listening to these out-of-market broadcasts even more than usual lately. On one such occasion, I heard an ad on Seattle radio for a financial planning company that caught my interest. Jokingly, the voice-over guy rhetorically asked why we don't have a national "retirement planning" holiday, so that everyone could take a day to consider whether or not they were well-prepared for their retirement years. Since we don't have those holidays, of course, we need this guy's company, so that they can show you the way.

As radio commercials go, this one was pretty much standard fare, and yet it got me thinking. Why don't we have national holidays for useful purposes? We've got all manner of different federal holidays, many of which are seemingly arbitrary in nature (I'm a particular fan of Columbus Day for its arbitrariness, but that's a rant for a different day). And yet, when it comes to certain holidays that would actually be useful and serve a societal purpose besides a scheduled day off, we've basically got nothing.

There have been a lot of pleas in recent years to make Election Day an annual holiday, and I think there's definitely something to that argument (although lately the politics seem to be leaning in the opposite direction in that arena, which I think is a shame). On the other end of the spectrum, some people have begged for Post-Super Bowl Monday to be made a national holiday, using dramatically lower worker productivity as justification. (Of course, if we're just gonna reward people's laziness in advance by giving them holidays from work, we might as well just make every day a holiday, amirite??? See, it's funny because Americans are already lazy and... meh.)

Anyway, I think it's food for thought. Why are we so quick to declare national holidays to posthumously honor people's contributions, but so reluctant to declare national holidays that would actually benefit society or serve a broader purpose (or enable future contributions by current citizens)? Politics, probably. But for me, that's a hollow answer.

No comments:

Post a Comment