The Cost of a National Holiday
Nusrat Bhutto, the wife/mother/mother-in-law/grandmother of our past/present/future rulers passed away in Dubai yesterday, and an unexpected national day of mourning with a national holiday was announced in Pakistan immediately by the ruling party. I am not really knowledgeable about her sacrifices for democracy in Pakistan but I am concerned about the impact that an unofficial holiday has on Pakistan, as thousands of lives were affected by this holiday, including mine. My son had an exam today and was up preparing for it till late night, while I had a meeting with the Abbottabad Commission in Islamabad in the morning, and had rescheduled my work routine around the trip to Islamabad. Both were postponed due to the holiday.
With all the free time on my hands today, I have been estimating the impact this holiday had on my country, and here is my guesstimate:
The official population of Pakistan is around 160,000,000 – assuming that ten percent of the population did not work today due to the holiday, that is 16,000,000 man-days of work.
If a person works for 250 days per year, that is 64000 man-years.
Assuming an average person’s professional career spans 80 years (though I think it is closer to 40), this translates to 800 life-times of lost work.
In other words, it would take 800 people their entire lifespans to make up for the work that was not done due to today’s holiday.
I hope my math is wrong, but I do believe that there are better ways to recognize a deceased person’s contributions to a country – ones that do not deprive the same country of 800 lifetimes of work.