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I don’t how much more bad news we can take. The decline in whistling was disturbing enough. Now, I’ve found even more evidence that our quality of life in America is dropping like a rock.

A recent Sun-Times article reports that many of us don’t have time for vacations anymore. This is pathetic. Almost half of us lack the means to spend a week in the Wisconsin Dells. That’s right, 43 percent of Americans didn’t even take a solid week off last year.

Here’s another way of looking at it: if you got out of Forest Park for the Memorial Day weekend, you enjoyed what has become the average American vacation. What kind of crazy work-obsessed culture do we live in?

Vacation time is so important in other countries that more than 100 industrialized nations have laws requiring it. We don’t. In fact, only a quarter of our workers get paid vacations.

What’s the point of struggling through winter if we don’t enjoy summer? Lack of downtime isn’t just disheartening it’s counterproductive. It’s been proven that giving workers three-week vacations boosts their productivity.

What has happened to our priorities? In other cultures, time with family and friends is cherished and free time is demanded. Relaxation time restores relationships – it can also save your life. An annual getaway cuts the risk of death by heart disease in half.

This makes adequate vacation time a national health issue. That’s why there’s a growing movement in this country to pass a national vacation law. It may sound like fantasy: a law requiring employers to give workers three weeks paid vacation. Look at how long it took just to raise the minimum wage. But we happen to have a president who has taken more time off than any of his predecessors. He would understand more than most that we all need a week off at the ranch now and then.

The president signing a vacation law would finally put us in step with other wealthy nations. But we can’t expect the government to rescue us from this paycheck prison. We have a personal obligation to our families and ourselves to turn off the computer, park the truck and turn the “Open” sign to “Closed.”

Getting away might be difficult, particularly if you’re an independent business owner. I once lost a major account because I insisted on leaving town with my family. It’s tempting to remain chained to the desk, even as you feel your motivation draining away.

So, let’s buck the national trend by giving ourselves a break. As if we needed any more motivation to get out of Dodge. I’ll do my part by vacating this spot for three weeks this summer.