Wednesday, November 20, 2013


  There it was in front of me on the bathroom wall as I was washing my hands at the end of a 12 hour shift-----the productivity chart. There was the blue upper limit line and the red lower limit line and the dashed black line snaking up and down and then---up! Congratulations, you have met your productivity goals this month!  My employer had hired a consulting firm to help them figure out how to save money. My suggestion would be to start with not hiring consulting firms, but that's just me.

   Productivity sounds like a good thing, like doing something worthwhile, not wasting your time. But what it really means is getting more product from your employees per unit of time. What it sometimes  means for me is heart-pounding stress, hunger pangs and being too busy to go to the bathroom. If my employer had  to pay me based on my stress level, I'd be making a fortune and I'm one of the less stressed out ones. But I digress. This isn't about me or my job, which actually, I really like.

   This about people I know who don't have jobs. They're on public assistance, and it's barely keeping them going. Some of these folks smoke, or drink, but not more than better off people I know. Most are really nice, as honest as the next fellow. Some are quite smart and some are very creative. They can't work because, in a competitive profit driven system where the only thing that most employers care about is productivity, they have lost the productivity race. Some are physically unable to walk, or are just a little slow. They are or disorganized in their thinking, or unable to focus or process information  fast enough, or don't think logically, or don't get other people's emotions, maybe some of them just don't want to get chest pain while their working, or don't work well in structured situations. Or find suffering unpleasant. The job will always go to the other guy.

   They say about kids with hyperactivity that the problem isn't the kids, it's the system. They'd be fine running around the woods in a pre-industrial society, but put them in chairs behind a desk all day and, oh my gosh!, they can't sit still.  In this world there is much work to be done. But when the only goal of employment is profit for the employer, only those who win the productivity race will be employed. The problem isn't the less competitive worker, the problem is the system. It needs to be changed.


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