We could follow other advanced societies and legislate minimum vacations. This is a debate worth having — sometime in the future but not now. We need to remember the obvious: Paid leaves mean compensating people for doing nothing. There are consequences. The most likely are less hiring (because higher labor costs deter employers from adding workers) or eroding wages (because employers offset the extra costs by squeezing wages). It's doubtful that mandated vacations would create many, if any, extra jobs. Europe has longer vacations — and higher unemployment. One is not the solution for the other.
Generous vacations might seem a cure for an overstressed America. But with stubbornly high joblessness and stagnant wages, the U.S. economy cannot afford policies that might worsen either or both. That would be a vacation from reality.
Robert J. Samuelson is a Washington Post columnist.
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