In sickness and in health


Ah, the pursuit of the American Dream. Are any of us immune to this disease? The BBC doesn’t seem to think so.

In light of Hillary Clinton’s appearance at a 9/11 commemoration despite her pneumonia diagnosis, the BBC decided to pick apart the tendency of Americans to forego sick days and even paid vacation days in order to impress bosses who could potentially further their careers and to avoid missing a day’s salary.

In the U.S., we see this dedication to achieving our goals as normal, admirable even. However, BBC News reporter Brian Wheeler points out that, from a European perspective, this tendency is foolish and, at times, dangerous.

Wheeler reported that EU nations “guarantee 20 days’ paid leave a year, plus public holidays,” and, perhaps more importantly, European employees are not afraid to use them.

Of course, there is nothing wrong with loving and being dedicated to a job or career path, but when do the costs of this sacrifice overwhelm the benefits?

Wheeler mentioned how the outbreak of the norovirus vomiting bug at Chipotle was the result of employees coming into work sick rather than missing a day of pay. Were American policies concerning sick leave more lenient or generous, employees would not be forced to put themselves and others at risk in order to eke out a living.

Wheeler made a clever and strategic move in this article. By starting out with mention of Clinton, with election news being all the rage at the moment, Wheeler was able to spark a conversation about American paid-leave policies.

But is that what media must resort to today? It is disappointing to say the least that it takes a public official having a medical emergency at a well-covered event to start a conversation about an issue that has been placed on the back burner for years.

Perhaps, instead of focusing all our attention on the people fighting for a leadership position in which they can solve the nation’s problems, we must invest more time in discussing what those issues are and why they are important.