Doctors for Universal Coverage and Kindness
by Lawrence Huntoon, M.D., Ph.D.
Overtired, overworked, stressed out? No energy, no time for friends, family, or self?
Well, you're not alone. America has become a nation of workaholics, who are working an average of 142 hours more per year than in 1973. And, we are at the bottom of the list of industrialized nations with respect to days of vacation time - Italy (42), France (37), Germany (35), Brazil (34), Britain (28), Canada (26), South Korea (25), and Japan (25). U.S. citizens get on the average only 13 vacation days per year.
It just doesn't seem right that in an industrialized country as wealthy as ours that our people are so vacation deprived. America is in the throes of a health crisis known as "Vacation Deficit Disorder."
In a study presented at the last annual American Psychosomatic Society Meeting, the grim health statistics associated with "Vacation Deficit Disorder" were presented by Dr. B.B. Gump et al. In the five-year study conducted on 1,200 middle-aged men, Dr. Gump found that "regular annual vacations benefit middle-aged men at high risk for coronary heart disease by reducing their overall risk of death by about 20 percent, as well as specifically reducing their risk of death from heart disease by about 30 percent." And, "the people at highest risk for coronary heart disease and mortality were those that skipped vacation all five times (during the study)." The results were clear - all work and no play simply isn't healthy.
And, despite the fact that we are one of the wealthiest nations in the world, our citizens sadly do not enjoy Equal Access to Vacations. Small business owners, the self-employed, and those who work in professions or occupations that require nearly constant availability are often most affected by the unhealthy affliction of Vacation Deficit Disorder. Moreover, our citizens also suffer from discrimination based on unequal distribution of wealth that results in unequal Quality of Vacations. It just doesn't seem fair that some should enjoy a luxury Caribbean cruise while others are forced to endure the indignities of a domestic vacation. The gap between the haves and the have nots is widening and becoming a disgrace to our national Kindness Quotient.
In order to raise the awareness of this domestic health care crisis, the concerned and compassionate physicians of this country have come together to form DUCK - Doctors for Universal Coverage and Kindness. DUCK believes that the best way to achieve universally good health and increase Gross Domestic Happiness is to establish federally mandated vacation time. If the European Commission can pass a law mandating a minimum paid vacation period of 4 weeks per year and implement it among the 15 nations of the European Union, there is no reason why we cannot achieve this universal kindness in our country.
How to pay for all this universal vacation coverage and kindness? Well, the editor of the adventure travel magazine Escape has organized a "Work to Live" program that would establish federally mandated vacation time (which would benefit the travel industry) and DUCK believes that this could be combined with a "Live to Work" program implemented by the IRS. By phasing in a progressive tax increase up to 100% over the next five years, DUCK believes that we can achieve universal access to vacations and Equal Quality of Vacations for all. And, best of all, you won't have to worry about all that messy vacation planning.
Big Mama DUCK will do all of the necessary planning. Big Mama DUCK will assign all citizens to a travel agent who will function under the strict guidelines of a Managed Vacation Organization. By following the federally mandated Vacation Pathways Program, all citizens will have access to equal happiness via a cost- effective vacation.
The key to universal coverage for vacations, equal quality vacations, better health, and increased national happiness, is dependent upon reeducation and reprogramming our citizens so that all can be integrated into a society that will achieve DUCK's goals. We at DUCK believe that enlightened citizens can be taught to waddle, quack, and march in a straight line behind Big Mama DUCK. Big Mama DUCK knows what kind of vacation will make you happy, and how best to redistribute the nation's wealth to achieve a happier and healthier society. Again, in the words of the editor of Escape magazine: "People need to be reminded that on this very planet, there are people who go to work up to four weeks less a year than we do - who live in countries with sound economies and a lot more charter flights to exotic lands. Once it sinks in that there is another way, and that ours, logically, is insane, opinions change."
Although DUCK is pure quackery, the national campaign for federally mandated vacation time and the "Work to Live" program are real. "Vacation Deprivation" and "Vacation Deficit Disorder" and supporting health statistics are also real. The statistics and quotations are taken from an article entitled "Vacation Deprivation," published in The Buffalo News, September 3, 2000. The author of the article, Ms. Deborah Williams, reportedly "wrote this article on her laptop while on vacation."
Pamphlet No. 1080, January, 2001