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Why you deserve a vacation
Americans feel guilty about taking time off and equate workaholism with virtue. That's stupid.
 
Go ahead, take the vacation plunge.
Go ahead, take the vacation plunge. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

It's August, which means it's time for the presidential vacation on Martha's Vineyard. By now, everyone knows the drill: President Obama plays golf, hangs with friends, and eats ice cream cones with Sasha and Malia, while his critics fulminate over the leader of the free world chillaxing while the U.S. careens toward World War III, or even worse, toward no wars at all. But such carping is not new. Democrats heaped scorn on President Reagan for his extended horsey vacations at Rancho de Cielo and on George W. Bush for escaping with great regularity to his Texas ranch, where he blew off steam in his shiny pickup truck. Swilling white wine with the swells or playing cowboy in the sagebrush: To each his own.

No one should be shamed for taking a vacation. To get away is restorative, and essential to mental and physical health. Only in America do we equate workaholism with virtue and view time spent at the shore or in the mountains or in the desert as time wasted — as evidence of laziness. Americans work more hours and take less vacation than citizens of any prosperous country in the world; most workers in Europe (including the highly productive Germans) get six paid weeks off. Whole countries shut down in August. This is sensible and, indeed, civilized. As the saying goes, "No one on his deathbed ever wishes he'd spent more time at the office." Summer is passing quickly, my friends; may I suggest you take a hint from Barack, George, and the Gipper, and give yourself a well-deserved break from whatever you do to pay the bills. The world will be no worse when you return, but you'll be better.

 
William Falk is editor-in-chief of The Week, and has held that role since the magazine's first issue in 2001. He has previously been a reporter, columnist, and editor at the Gannett Westchester Newspapers and at Newsday, where he was part of two reporting teams that won Pulitzer Prizes. 

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