In 1937, Franklin Roosevelt, struggling mightily to get the nation out of the Great Depression, and having seen all of his prior attempts to bring down the unemployment rate fail miserably, decided that what the country needed was a brand spanking new Federal Holiday. “Columbus Day” was declared to be a paid vacation day for all Federal workers, to be celebrated on the 12th day of October. Back then, there was no such thing as political correctness, so there were no million-man marches on Washington decrying this shameful promotion of a man who came to our shores only to gouge our land for gold and introduce pestilence and disease to the virginal Indian population. That part would come much later when more enlightened governments like the Berkeley, California city council would rename the holiday, “Indigenous Peoples Day”.
In 1971, along came the most lionized legislation in government employee history. The Uniform Holiday Act came up with the brilliant innovation of moving all of the federal holidays from fixed days on the calendar to Mondays. This had the desirous effect of creating the much celebrated “long weekend”. Now, in the era of ballooning debt and impossible budget deficits, we are saddled with 11 of these babies. That’s right, there are 11 paid holidays for government workers. To be fair, its not just government workers anymore. Today, banks and all the evil Wall Street firms are in on it too, like those blood-suckers actually need a day off. Luckily for the rest of us, one of the 11 only comes around every 4 years. That’s right, Inauguration Day is a paid holiday too.
So, how are you celebrating Columbus Day? I'm sure you've set up your display of Nina, Pinta, and Santa Maria models on the mantle over the fireplace. I’m sure you’ve hung that Indigenous Peoples wreathe on the door. If you live near any college campus in America, you could always take in the sights at the sack-cloth and ashes sit-in over at the People of Color Studies building. Or, you could commemorate the day by jumping in the car with the intention of driving to the beach, but end up in Des Moines instead.
Lest you think I’ve got something against all of these paid federal holidays, au contraire mon frère. I actually think we should add one more. Only this one would be on, say, the first Friday of every June. On this new holiday, all government employees would have to work while everyone else would get the day off with pay. We could call it “Private Sector Appreciation Day”. But we better get a move on. In another thirty years, we will all be government workers and there won’t be anything left to appreciate.