Friday, August 19, 2022

114 West Elm Street
Graham, NC 27253
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How many tax-paid holidays is enough?

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We’ve lamented before, but it’s time to do so again, that governments are forever trying to outdo one another in providing more salaries and more benefits, including more holidays, for their jurisdiction’s workers.

The latest example is the city of Mebane’s contemplation of adding Juneteenth as a tax-paid holiday for that city’s workers.

Now everyone who spoke on the issue during the Mebane’s city council meeting was lavish in their praise for the concept of a Juneteenth celebration.

Candidly, however, we feel compelled to add this observation: it has been a celebration largely ignored, or at least understated – in both the black and white communities – until 2020, when George Floyd’s death at the hands of Minneapolis police brought a newfound search for ways to demonstrate some sort of perceived “sensitivity” to so-called black issues.

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When Congress added the holiday last year, it did so largely without the input that councilman Tim Bradley is suggesting Mebane should solicit before implementing its own holiday.

But far broader than the issue of whether Juneteenth should become a paid city holiday is the question of how many paid holidays are appropriate for governments – federal, state, or local.

There are widespread differences that can exist without regard to the merits of a particular holiday.

The federal government has a holiday for Columbus Day, but neither North Carolina, Alamance County, nor Mebane observe it as a sanctioned, paid day off.

And where it is celebrated – with or without pay – there’s an increasing attempt to undermine the significance of Christopher Columbus and his discovery of the New World. Mebane has, for instance, adopted resolutions the past two years calling it Indigenous Peoples’ Day, instead.

Meanwhile, all three jurisdictions (state, county, and city) observe Good Friday in remembrance of Christ’s crucifixion, while the federal government does not. North Carolina, alone among states, used to have Easter Monday as a paid holiday, instead, to highlight Christ’s resurrection, but ultimately succumbed to the broader consensus to have its holiday on Friday before Easter rather than the following Monday.

And why can we not let weekends absorb some of the holidays when the dates actually fall on a weekend? Some holidays never do – Memorial Day is always the last Monday in May; Thanksgiving is always the fourth Thursday in November; Labor Day, the first Monday in September; and Columbus Day (as observed at the federal level), the second Monday of October.

But when other holidays fall on a weekend – such as July 4, Veterans Day (which is always November 11), Christmas, or New Year’s Day – why do taxpayers have to pay for another day off?

And, meanwhile, taxpayers’ trash collection and access to other city services are closed.

 

And how did days off proliferate into multiple days for existing holidays?
The federal government gives one day off for Thanksgiving and one for Christmas, while North Carolina’s state government and many local governments somehow feel compelled to expand the number of days to celebrate – typically to two at Thanksgiving and three at Christmas.

Are we the only ones who wonder why there are multiple paid days off for state and local workers?

Keep in mind, all of these paid holidays are in addition to paid vacation days – often at least two weeks, sometimes more, depending on longevity.

Private employers, particularly in the retail sector, certainly don’t take off the Friday after Thanksgiving. It has historically been the busiest shopping day of the year.

And, in particular, why should there be multiple days at Christmas, especially when that holiday sometimes falls on a weekend – as it did this past year; yet somehow, state and local government workers need extra days off beyond the weekend (when, presumably, they’re already off).

There has to be a limit somewhere.

Otherwise holiday-envy will continue to ratchet up the number of holidays taxpayers are expected to finance with their hard-earned tax dollars.

And we certainly have to note that nowhere in the private sector, as we’ve observed it over many years, are there anywhere near the number of paid holidays that government workers typically receive as part of their compensation and benefits package.

We think Mebane needs to draw the line at the number of days off (12) it has now – or cut back the number of multiple days it allows for certain other holidays.

Otherwise, we guess the only ultimate limit on the number of holidays workers will want and governments might grant will be the number of weekdays (about 260) in the course of a year.

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