May 6, 2010 8:58AM

Want a Free Vacation? Move to Europe

I recently returned from a short vacation -- had to get it in before the Supreme Court begins announcing decisions in this year's big cases and the president nominates a replacement for Justice Stevens -- but it seems that I'm a chump for paying for it myself.  While I was gone, the EU's commissioner for enterprise and industry, one Antonio Tajani, declared that vacationing is a human right, one that ought to be paid for by the taxpayers:

Tajani, who unveiled his plan last week at a ministerial conference in Madrid, believes the days when holidays were a luxury have gone. “Travelling for tourism today is a right. The way we spend our holidays is a formidable indicator of our quality of life,” he said.

Tajani, who used to be transport commissioner, said he had been able to “affirm the rights of passengers” in his previous office and the next step was to ensure people’s “right to be tourists”.

As Dave Barry would say, I'm not making this up:

Tajani’s programme will be piloted until 2013 and then put into full operation. It will be open to pensioners and anyone over 65, young people between 18 and 25, families facing “difficult social, financial or personal” circumstances and disabled people. The disabled and the elderly can be accompanied by one person.

In the initial phase, northern Europeans will be encouraged to visit southern Europe and vice versa. Details of how participants are chosen have not yet been finalised, but it is expected the EU will subsidise about 30% of the cost.

Officials have envisaged sending south Europeans to Manchester and Liverpool on a tour of “archeological and industrial sites” such as closed factories and power plants.

With apologies to friends who are fans of the Man U and Liverpool soccer teams, I'm not sure those cities would be on my list of top 1000 places to visit.  But still this program illustrates the logical culmination -- one logical culmination -- of a view that government exists to provide all things to all people and that everyone has a "right" to whatever makes life good and pleasant and fulfilling.

Libertarians are often assailed for exaggerating the problems inherent in large, unlimited government, or of making ad abusurdum slippery slope arguments, or of having "outdated" views of political theory.  But really, when the "right" to a paid vacation is ensconced in so many countries' laws, when it gets its own article (24) in the UN Declaration of Human Rights, is it that far-fetched for someone to come up with an actual state-provided vacation? Apparently Spain has already been doing it.