Last night I saw the Campbell Live article on TV3 asking the question should Anzac Day and Waitangi Day be Monday-ized? This year features the unfortunate coincidence that both of these holidays fall on a Saturday, thus NZ workers miss out on what would otherwise be a day off.
The most articulate person featured in Campbell Live’s article was the business leader (whose name I took no notice of) whose argument was against the proposition. His reason for not Mondayizing these holidays were (1) that the cost of doing so was enormous, and (2) that the cost would be borne by NZ businesses and business owners.
These arguments sounded very convincing, being backed by relevant statistics and placed next to interviews of peoples on the street of “the common man,” whose comments were obviously extemporaneous and not so well presented. Two of these unprepared opinions (from the men) articulated reasons for rejecting the second negative argument, and one (from the woman) for rejecting both negative augments by offering a positive reason. However, these came across as self-indulgent and somewhat petty in comparison.
The men’s argument was to the effect that productivity of the nation would not suffer. People work harder on four day weeks to make up for the fifth they take off. And people who are more relaxed from holidays are more content and better workers overall during the year.
The main problem with this business leaders argument was (peripherally) address by the woman, who said it was good to have a holiday and have extra time to spend with their kids. Her argument, at its essence, is that the business leader was only counting the economic cost. He was not taking into account the social cost of not properly commemorating these holidays.
(1) Who can measure the benefit of a holiday that allows Fathers and Mothers to spend an extra day of relaxation with their children. Young people who are the future leaders of the nation? (not to mention the future producers, consumers, citizens and parents of the future)
(2) What about the cost of forgetting those the holiday commemorates? The Grandparents and Great-grandparents of our nations children fought in the war to retain for us freedom from the oppression of foreign regimes. Will values such as; self-sacrifice, courage and bravery, freedom, rising to fight against the evil power structures of this world, sovereignty or self-governance, of learning from history, pass in this generation? It may if we do not officially recognize and subscribe more importance to such commemorative anniversaries.
(3) Holidays also fulfill a religious and ethical function by installing Christian values into society. Christmas, for instance, promotes and cultivates the values of peace and goodwill towards others. When governments recognize the significance of such holidays and “mondayize” them, it provides an opportunity for instilling into society the values the holiday represents. The benefit of which is immeasurable.
This business leader’s myopia was sadly typical today of those who are experts in their field (How often do we hear scientists pontificating in subject areas that are not their speciality?) We should remember that a nation is not primarily composed of business firms, but families. Businesses serve families, not visa versa. And governments serves God be serving the people, not by being a slave to Mammon. Accordingly, I think I’ll take the advise of a mother over a business leader when it comes to matters that concern the health and well-being of society – no matter how well spoken you appear.