Journalists like to write opinion pieces complaining about the stingy vacation and holiday policies of U.S. employers, but the policies don’t matter that much, at least for the managerial class, because people don’t take what their companies give them.See, it's not the business' fault that staff is kept to a minimum to increase profits and people don't think they can afford to take the time off or their work will suffer, or are afraid they'll be considered redundant if they do take time off. But that does not mean that vacations are a bad thing; McArdle is happily pro-vacation.
I don’t really need to extol the benefits to an employee of a few days off, but I will say that everyone needs to take a break. Over time I’ve noticed that if I go too long between holidays -- more than about three months -- I start to feel like I’m forcing it, plodding through the day’s stories rather than actually attacking something I’m interested in.McArdle's privilege has escaped and is oozing all over the floor, creating a nasty stain. Every three months? How stressful can it be to read The New York Times or some Chicago Boyz blogger or George Mason University professor and throw out one or two fact-free, logic-free, empathy-free posts?
Every so often she has to travel to New York for a tv appearance or China or Hawaii or San Francisco for an interview, or some smaller town to give a lecture. This week she is "teaching" a class at the Booth School, I think. But the demands of her job are too much for her? And if she doesn't vacate every three months she'll be unable to feel enthusiasm for being paid six figures to type and talk? Minds like McArdle's have to be interested in their work, or it all become much too fatiguing.
That’s a pretty common experience among the people I know. Periodically, you have to stop and give the well a chance to refill. I don’t think it’s an accident that creative people frequently report having breakthroughs after they’d stopped working for a bit and started thinking about something else.Ah, her creative friends, like Matt Yglesias, Peter Suderman, Nick Gillespie, Julian Sanchez, Will Wilkinson. Their creative breakthroughs have showered the world with benefits.
What I’m talking about isn’t the same as reducing stress levels; that’s an oft-supposed benefit of time off that doesn’t actually seem to be true. But while monomaniacal focus is a powerful tool, it’s one that, in my experience, carries sharply diminishing marginal returns. You get tunnel vision, and you miss things that might have occurred to you if you’d stepped outside your office once in a while.Really? You mean that Megan McArdle's keen mind and insight might miss something if she didn't recharge her creative batteries? Some business might get away with wrong-doing, some consumer might not get necessary information, some beneficial government program might waste away in anonymity? That would be a tragedy.
Of course, not every job is a creative tour de force.Unlike hers.
So here’s the other reason companies should make people take some leave: Employees who never leave the office are dangerous for the company.McArdle says companies need to get their employees out of the office to look for fraud; it's win-win!
We are not surprised that McArdle thinks it is a good thing to force corporations to pay her to do nothing; the McArdle rules still hold: anything that benefits her personally is fine, even if the government is doing it.