“Is It Wrong To Go On Vacation When You’re Unemployed?”

Job hunting…

This is the question asked by unemployed author Fran Hopkins, who, her bio says, ” has been searching for full-time work since losing her job in a January 2010 layoff. While “between jobs,” she’s earned an MS degree in Health Communication, does freelance writing and public relations.” In her article on AOL, Hopkins argues that it isn’t wrong, because “I need to get away, just for a few days, close to the soothing sound and motion of the sea, inhaling salt air and unwinding. I have to restore my mental, emotional and spiritual inner resources. I’m running low.” But she feels guilty, and to read the comments, a lot of people thinks she should. On Fark, where I found the post, the wags there simply answered her query “Yes” and filed it under “Dumbass.”

Nonsense. To begin with, the question is unanswerable, since it depends on so many variables. Is it unethical to spend your kids’ college funds or the mortgage money on a vacation? Yes. Is it wrong to spend public assistance on a vacation? Yes. But these are all irresponsible acts, and taking a vacation to recharge your batteries, relieve stress and clear your mind when there are no negative consequences to anyone else from doing so is not irresponsible, and might be the smartest thing you can do.

Poor Fran has been looking for a job for more than two and a half years, and that is, or should be, hard work. Anyone who says, as some commenters do, that there is nothing for her to take a vacation from either has never looked for a work or has no idea how to do it right. Job hunting is a hard job, and a soul-killing one. After a while you tend to become negative and cynical, or pathetic and desperate, and these attitudes can be fatal to your employment prospects. If a week on Cape Cod or the Jersey Shore can restore your vigor and perspective, it is well worth the time and money.

The most annoying  criticism of Fran are the people who write that it is inconsiderate of her to take a break from job-hunting when so many of her desperate fellow-citizens can’t afford to do likewise. If there is a mutated sub-category of liberals that make me want to get a package deal on an NRA/ Ayn Rand/ Donald Trump/ Rush Limbaugh fan club, this is it: the “you have no right to be happy as long as other people are miserable” crowd. Really, however, all the criticism of Fran is annoying, because it isn’t based on concepts of right and wrong at all. There’s nothing wrong with Fran taking a vacation while unemployed; there’s nothing wrong with her giving up on employment entirely and becoming a retiree, a beach bum, a street corner philosopher, a mime or an ethics blogger, either, as long as she isn’t defaulting on her obligations to others, or sponging off people who are working.

Have a great time on your vacation, Fran. You’ve earned it.


Pointer: Fark

Source: AOL

Graphic: Sidney Morning Herald

Ethics Alarms attempts to give proper attribution and credit to all sources of facts, analysis and other assistance that go into its blog posts. If you are aware of one I missed, or believe your own work was used in any way without proper attribution, please contact me, Jack Marshall, at  jamproethics@verizon.net.

16 thoughts on ““Is It Wrong To Go On Vacation When You’re Unemployed?”

  1. I’ve been (currently am) unemployed, though the longest was for 8 months. I work hard and save hard for a rainy day. Presumably Fran also has. It’s raining! As long as I can meet all my obligations, I feel no guilt about dipping into the savings – cautiously, because you never know, but dipping nonetheless.

  2. Wow. Why would people even care? So, for instance, if my neighbor and I are both unemployed then I shouldn’t go on vacation since he may feel slighted? Unless she stood on a corner begging or started a website dedicated to begging for vacation funding, why should anyone feel entitled to an opinion about it? It doesn’t sound as though she has been loafing around during her unemployment, so I hope she has a great time and comes back rejuvenated.

  3. You’re right, Jack, job-hunting is hard work and can be soul-destroying. How many times a day can one hear the equivalent of, “Don’t call us, we’ll call you”, without wanting to shriek with frustration?

    You’re wrong, Jack, to equate being a mime with being a beach-bum. The former is very hard work also, as any theatre-person (like Jack) should know.

      • Charlie Chaplin? Marcel Marceau? Shields & Yarnell? I never found them annoying, but that’s just me. “Chacun a son gout.”

        • Let’s see…I find curmudgeons annoying, but I’ll read Ambrose Bierce any time, with pleasure. I found Arthur Miller insufferable, but Death Of A Salesman may be the Great American Play. I find drunks annoying,but I’d pay anything to see Peter O’Toole live on stage again.

          The New York Yankees are annoying, but Derek Jeter’s the epitome of class. French singers are annoying, but Charles Trenet was a genius. Scat singers are annoying, but not Ella Fitzgerald and Danny Kaye. Jerry Lewis movies are annoying, but “The Nutty Professor” is superb. And, of course, politicians are annoying, unless they are named Lincoln, Roosevelt, Moynihan, Eisenhower or Eugene McCarthy.

          Naming outliers who are the cream of the crop does nothing to disprove a generally valid verdict about the majority of a group.

  4. Just as long as your moving forward to get a job I would say no, but how much job searching did she do while getting her MS? Would she have quite the program if she was offered a job? Sure it could be an enhancer but providing for yourself/family should always come first.

  5. Here’s an even simpler (arguably over-simplified) path to the same conclusion:

    Fran, what you do with your time and your money is none of my damn business.


    • No more calls, please, we have a winner. Congratulations, Dwayne!

      (The marketability of an MS in Health Communications must wait for another day.)

    • Dwayne,

      I would normally agree but when you ask the blogosphere for advice then you open yourself up to having other people make your business theirs.

  6. I had a renter years ago who was out of work for many months, maybe a year, but always paid his rent. He got to the point where Fran is, made his plans to go fishing (literally, for fish), and on finalization of his plans, along came an opportunity and offer (with relocation paid too, I believe). I didn’t know of his plans until after he notified that he was having to move. I didn’t care as long as he paid his rent; I didn’t give him any break, and he never asked for one. If he had asked for a break on paying rent, then gone fishing after I gave him the break, I probably would have evicted him.

    I wonder if Fran knows the famous Bachman-Turner Overdrive song and gets its lyrics – they’re a good lift for someone in her place (I’ve been there and will very likely be there again soon, despite anything I do):
    “If you ever get annoyed
    Look at me I’m self-employed
    I love to work at nothing all day
    And I’ll be takin’ care of business…it’s all mine…and workin’ overtime”

    I almost refuse to believe that Fran is begrudged her vacation by anyone.
    I could use a vacation. I hope Fran enjoys hers.

  7. After a while you tend to become negative and cynical, or pathetic and desperate, and these attitudes can be fatal to your employment prospects.

    I have always wondered how a negative or cynical attitude serves an evolutionary purpose. There literally is no upside to such attitudes. Thus, such feelings and attitudes are illnesses, like cancer, diabetes, and anorexia, that should be treated.

    Sometimes, I wish there was a way to make sure people have a positive attitude all the time, regardless of external circumstances, such as surgery, drugs, or \genetically engineered microbes that affect the brain. What a better place this world would be if every human in the world had a permanent positive attitude regardless of external circumstances.

  8. I think it depends on if your on unemployment or not. If your on unemployment then you are essentially using other peoples money to take a vacation and that’s wrong. If however you have spent so much time trying to get a job and failing to do so, then by all means, you are free to do as you wish.

    It’s only a problem if you say you deserve the vacation on taxpayer money due to stress of being let go, or not having had a chance to take a vacation before you were let go. If you want vacations, there are many opportunities out there for those looking for income, and many of them offer the chance to take off all the time you want.

  9. Traveling or not on vacation while unemployed is a very personal decision. In my opition, if you feel guilty doing that better stay home studying and looking for a job, or else you´ll propably be thinking about that during your trip and that will not be nice. On the other hand, if you think that will relax you or even make you feel better – giving you more energy to go on looking for a nice job when back home – than go on and travel!

  10. Free Market, means making your own decisions and accepting the consequences.

    A) Her money? Sounds fine by me to go on vacation…sounds fine by me for her to spend herself to oblivion. As long as her external obligations are met — as long as the use of her time is not willfully harming others.

    B) The public’s money? nope. Debt to the public is like slavery. Your life better be devoted to having that debt forgiven.

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