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If we were analyzing federal holidays in a Six Sigma class, we'd cross off Columbus Day right away.

How can the federal government get more bang for its buck? Well, easy...let's work on Columbus Day.

Does this mean eliminating a national holiday? No. Just writing off Columbus Day as a federal holiday. Columbus Day would stick around, but we'd work.

The truth is we serve the public, and there's a popular perception that we are insulated from the Great Recession. As with most things, the truth is in the gray area.

Lots of us get it. I was out of work for a long time. It was painful, demeaning and life sucked. Some of us earn less money than we used to. Some of us support tuition increases for children or help our elderly parents.

But some of us don't get the pain.

Eliminating Columbus Day as a federal holiday is a small sacrifice. Sure, it doesn't save $5.5 billion by furloughing most federal workers for 2 weeks. However, it shows the public that we're making sacrifices too. I'm sure it's not the only sacrifice we'll be asked to make, but it's a good start.

Besides, it's Columbus Day. Who really celebrates Columbus Day?

I think Owen Wilson said it best in You, Me and Dupree: "Incidentally, what's your policy on Columbus Day?"


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Comment by Sterling Whitehead on October 5, 2010 at 2:22pm
I struck a nerve.

Still, I really do believe Columbus Day is a joke holiday. From this thread and the one at GovExec, I think very few people really celebrate Columbus Day.

I think most opposition simply comes from holding onto a holiday.

As for the history argument, I get it. I grew up in Colonial Williamsburg -- I'm probably more of a history fanatic than most people on GovLoop. But holidays belong to the living, not the dead. That means the living determine what the holidays mean.
Comment by Tara* on October 1, 2010 at 3:56pm
@Toni: I did not intend to imply that that was what Hannah was suggesting. I'm not trying to put words in anyone's mouth. :)

You're right. It would not be a popular step to take right now and, to be perfectly honest, I don't think such a thing would ever happen. However, I do think it would be a good idea, in general. Of course, I think a lot of things would be a good idea, even though I know they will never happen (i.e - mandatory driving tests every few years; 2 years of required gov't service for all citizens). However, I also don't think that govvies are going to stop being "Public Enemy #1 any time soon. I've been hearing people complain about the government and government employees since I was a kid. Recession or no - people like to complain about Feds.

I'm glad to hear that your agency is doing well. It doesn't seem quite that way at my agancy. We've got some great new employees, don't get me wrong, but I don't think we're getting enough to fill the positions of all the people getting ready to retire.

P.S. - I was wondering how long it would take for someone to respond to my outrageous suggestion! ;)
Comment by Michele Costanza on October 1, 2010 at 3:52pm
Maybe just as many people should work on St. Patrick's Day instead of calling in sick and drinking green beer. (Just kidding.)

I like the sentiment behind the idea of working instead of taking the day as a federal holiday. However, I'm not a fed but a contractor. This is the first time I've had Columbus Day to take the day as a holiday.

I plan on generating some money into Boston's economy by visiting the city for the day, my first visit to Boston.

Also, my family origins are from an area of Kansas City, Missouri known as Columbus Park (you will know you are in Columbus Park when you see the fire hydrants painted Green, White, and Red for the Italian flag, and smell the food from Garozzo’s Italian restaurant, and hear the church bells from Holy Rosary). I was the recipient of a scholarship in 8th grade from the Knights of Columbus for writing an essay titled, "Am I My Brother's Keeper?" I believe that the Knights of Columbus rallied for support recognizing Columbus Day as a federal holiday in the 1930s.

Columbus is a part of our American history.
Comment by Tony Camilli on October 1, 2010 at 3:42pm
@ Tara. Taxes waived for Feds? Really? I didn't interpret Hannah's post as suggesting as much, but I think your post should be addressed nonetheless. As both a Fed and military reservist I think this is a disastrous idea. Let's face it, Feds are currently Public Enemy #1 in the eyes of many anti-government groups, including the Republican party. Could you imagine that outrage over such an idea that Feds get decent pay, job security, and don't pay federal taxes?

And while I agree that sometimes the government has a hard time competing with the private sector for qualified people, now is not one of those times. We recently advertised for a position in my office and received 500 applications for 1 position. The applicants had ivy-league schools plastered all over their applications and great experience in both private and public sectors.

Your idea is laudable during a booming economic period, but in Great Depression, Part II, such an idea is political suicide ...
Comment by Tara* on October 1, 2010 at 11:32am
@ Hannah: Good point! My husband (who also works for the federal government and has deployed twice as a Marine Reservist) and I have discussed this several times. We both think that government and military employees should have their taxes waived (or at least significantly reduced). Especially with the difficulties the federal government has been having getting new employees. It would be a great incentive to help us attract the best and brightest! And it wouldn't be all taxes; federal employees would have federal taxes waived on their income as federal employees, but would still pay taxes on anything else you would normally pay taxes on, as well as state and local taxes. States, counties, and cities could do the same thing for their employees. It could really help build our workforce and I don't think it would actually take that much away from the government's tax income, as I'm pretty sure less than 5% of employed US citizens work for the government. (I had trouble finding an exact percentage, but that based on one I found for 2007 that included state and local, as well as federal and military.)
Comment by Hannah Zerphey on October 1, 2010 at 11:15am
I always find it interesting when Government workers talk about the "tax payer" as we all pay taxes ourselves...
Comment by Matthew DuFresne on October 1, 2010 at 9:18am
I would be willing to work that day, especially in light of current circumstances, as a way to show tax payers that I too am going through some of what the general public is experiencing. As a civill servant I believe it is important to set a good personal example so that the general public can see that most of us really do care in government.
Comment by David Foster on September 30, 2010 at 6:36pm
(Your Six Sigma hook aside, I really don't see it), as the work force evolves, tradition is forgotten. Your statement "Who really celebrates Columbus Day?", reflects apathy and a lost connection to our heritage and perhaps an influence of modern sentiment which favors a "perceived injustice" inflicted upon the native inhabitants who had migrated to the Americas long before norsemen or Columbus. Conquering forces throughout history inflicted huge "injustice" on current inhabitants. I could write an essay on this, but I'll end with "I celebrate Columbus Day and feel blessed to be born in this country that developed under western ideals, led by a certain explorer so long ago."
Comment by Shanika Whitehurst on September 30, 2010 at 6:24pm
I would argue that we are sacrificing because we do work for the public. I for one left private industry to become a public servant and took a hefty paycut and was out of work 9 months to do so. I don't feel as if we should be punished because there is a horrible recession that quite frankly, we as government employees did not cause. It saddens me people are out of work but they have opportunities just like I did to become a federal employee. When you look at Columbus Day just take it away as a holiday...it is a meaningless day anyways and most people work on it..but don't justify it as some gesture of giving back to the American public because we do that on a daily basis.
Comment by Marco Morales on September 30, 2010 at 4:12pm
A federal holiday is a public holiday recognized by the U.S. government. That means we "federal" employees are authorized to enjoy the day off. What I can't understand is why banks everywhere are also closed. Banks and their employees aren't "federal" employees, are they? There's something un-American about that ... Hmmmmm

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