About the Blog:

Guelph Politico is locally sourced and dedicated to covering the political and cultural scene in the City of Guelph. Est. 2008.

Friday, April 6, 2012

The Three Estates

Leave it to the Toronto Sun to not let a holiday weekend go by without finding an occasion to sock it to civil servants.
The issue du jour: a column by Mike Strobel decrying how government offices get Monday off, while all the working stiffs of the world have to schlub back to their desks. Those technocrats and their "Easter Mondays" and cushy pensions, and decent wages... While I will concede that "Easter Monday," as a concept, is a flimsy handle to throw a day off on, but Strobel doesn't go far enough in his own "analysis." Yes, Easter Monday will be enjoyed as a day off purely by those in government jobs, but I doubt Mr. Strobel will jump to the defense of the real working masses when he goes to the mall on the August Civic Holiday or Boxing Day.

Long before Occupy Wall Street there was another type of equality gap in this country: the time-off gap. Some people get all the allotted days off they're supposed to get in a calendar year, some people get most, and a growing unlucky segment get a few, if any.
I've noticed that their are fewer and fewer holidays where retailers agree to take a time out on a stat holiday anymore. Mostly, its the religious ones, either because they're more clearly defined or there's still some taboo about doing business on a day of religious observance. Family Day also, bizarrely in my opinion, gets a pretty draconian defense as a day off, I've noticed (but there is some blowback). But not Boxing Day. And not the Civic Holiday. And gradually, Labour Day, Canada Day and Victoria Day have started to take their hits. Thanksgiving is still sacrosanct, but how long can that last considering many hold Thanksgiving dinner on the Sunday now out of familial convenience. What are people to do with their Monday's off?
But Adam, you say, it can't be all bad. Employees that volunteer to work those days get double time and a half pay and provide a valuable service to a clientele that clearly wants to have shopping options on a holiday. Ask any part time clerk at any store and ask them the last time they volunteered to work a stat holiday. Amongst certain businesses, there's a presumption that if you don't say you want the day off, then you're saying that you're available to work. When that happens in the movies, we feel for the worker, not the boss:
But to the title of the post, "The Three Estates." Strobel's "analysis" made me think that while Strobel decries the governments' day off on Monday, and how governments and banks get to observe Remembrance Day away from the office, I bet he enjoys all the other days he's supposed to get off, unlike, say, the part timers that work at the local movie theatre. 
Like the days before the French Revolution, you have the rulers (the government) in the first estate, the common peasants (workers) in the third estate, and in between, a chosen few - the Church in France's case, white collar workers in ours - that enjoy a degree of privilege greater than the majority. The 99 per cent, if you will. Having to work when once you never had to, or had the option to volunteer, should have been an early indication that something wasn't going the way of the average folk anymore. So Strobel better watch out, because the day may come where his precious holidays are taken from him. These things work backwards to one, you see. 
Happy Easter!

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