It’s hard to be surprised by anything our dysfunctional Congress gets up to these days, but this one’s pretty bizarre. As the USPS runs out of cash thanks to Congress’s last attempt at “reform”, you’d think that the committee charged with overseeing the postal service would be, well, doing something about it. But you’d be wrong. Congressman Dennis Ross’s panel will instead devote the day to investigating whether Americans are spending too much time enjoying the three day Washington’s Birthday holiday, and not enough time meditating on the legacy of our first President. I’m not making this up.
Committee member Frank Wolf (R-VA), who is leading the investigation is of the opinion that America’s young people are ignorant of their nation’s history. He’s probably right about that. But does Wolf blame shoddy textbooks or outdated teaching techniques? No- he believes the “glaring problem” is that we have a Monday holiday in February, rather than one in the middle of the week. Fix that, and we’re all set!
Wolf says that he wants to “to change the focus from celebrating sales at the mall to celebrating the significance of President Washington’s birth to the birth of our nation”. How eliminating a long weekend would do that he doesn’t exactly say.
Congressman Wolf, like many of his colleagues is probably unfamiliar with the way holidays and vacations work for ordinary Americans. After all, Congressmen pretty much work when they choose, and take off weeks at a time for their “recesses”. So we thought we’d offer a few tips to Mr. Wolf:
- When you have a long weekend, the tendency is to consider “going away”- skiing, maybe. When you have a holiday in the middle of the week, you’re more likely to perhaps “go to the mall”, than to sit home watching a CSPAN seminar on Mount Vernon. Especially if you’re a schoolchild.
- Schools have this thing called “February Vacation”, which usually is the week that contains the Washington’s Birthday Holiday. That means that in many places, moving the holiday to the middle of the week will have no affect at all on your target population! None!
- Saddest of all, even if you pass your legislation, the holiday will still result in a three day weekend more often that not. When February 22 falls on Friday, Saturday, Sunday, or Monday, four out of the seven days of the week, it’s long weekend time!
Wolf brings to mind H. L. Mencken’s definition of Puritanism: “The haunting fear that someone, somewhere, may be happy.” And in Wolf’s particular sect of Puritans, the idea that federal workers (the only people his law would directly impact) are happy is anathema.
On second thought, maybe it’s better that Ross and his cronies are spending the day monkeying around with our holidays than our livelihoods!