Those of us enjoying our Easter Monday bank holiday will look with ire and scorn upon the recent report of the Centre for Economics & Business Research which, according to the BBC, says that if bank holidays were scrapped the gross domestic product of Great Britain would £19 billion higher every year. No mention of what manner of witch-doctery science they used to determine this figure — whether they employed an augur to tell the auspices or consulted the oracle at Delphi itself (hasn’t done the Greeks much good of late).
Also, it is improper to misuse the English language in such a way as to imply bank holidays entail a “loss” or a “cost”. If I fancy Springtime Surprise in the Grand National, forget to put a bet on her, and she wins, I haven’t “lost” any money at all, I just haven’t gained any. I suspect this study also fails to account for the increased cost of the general misery which would be caused by the lack of bank holidays. People might be tempted to go around burning or bombing things — y’know, just because. People do funny things when deprived the ordinary pleasures of freedom.
What’s more, who’s to say people being at work more means they actually do more work? I remember seeing a delightful Figaro headline: Les françaises: champions du monde en vacances. It’s true, the French do take their time off. But studies have also shown that when physically at work they tend to work harder and more efficiently than other countries, particularly Americans.
The BBC article also provides a table of public holidays per a selection of countries. I quite happily lived in South Africa, a country with 12 bank holidays to Great Britain’s measly 8. What about those hyperproductive Japanese and South Koreans? They must be slaves to their jobs, poor suckers! Apparently not: both countries have 15 public holidays per year.
We must beware those who would prioritise economic growth over life itself. The philosopher Roger Scruton put it best:
When people refuse to pull down a cathedral for the sake of the coal beneath it, or insist on retaining a Georgian city when it could be rebuilt as a business park, they create obstacles to economic growth. Most forms of love are obstacles to economic growth. Thank God for obstacles to economic growth.