There are some statistics that our productivity is down. I have to agree my productivity is down but I would add that it is because I am worn out.
Most of the folks who worked for me during the years I was at Apple will testify that I worked very hard and expected the people working around me to work at the same intensity. The one rule was never ask someone to do something that I was not willing to do myself.
When my nearly twenty years at Apple were over, I continued working but some other things started creeping into my life that had been absent for a long time. I got asked to be an unpaid volunteer. I was a member of the board of directors for Webmail.us, a start-up where I eventually took a job as vice president of sales and marketing.
After Webmail.us, I spent a few years being a real estate agent which often was just another name for an unpaid local travel guide. My least favorite part of the job was "phone duty." You were expected to sit at the phone for four hour shifts in the hopes that someone would phone and talk to you and maybe after several tours of the county, buy a home from you. My hat is off to people who survive in real estate because there is a tremendous amount of unpaid legwork there.
Since those days I have gone back to work and try to work a mostly full time job though I work it on a contract basis so like many Americans I get no benefits.
Beyond the job I have enjoyed a few years as church elder and a member of our neighborhood homeowners association. Churches and homeowners associations until they reach a certain size run with minimal paid employees. They depend on unpaid volunteers.
When the candidates talk about Americans needing to work harder, I suspect they have never met any of the volunteers that I have worked with over the last few years. You actually cannot pay people to work as hard as they do.
I often wonder how we could measure our volunteer economy. A few months ago the full management of our HOA got dropped in the laps of a few of us. There is not even a way to measure how many hours have been put it to get our HOA back on a relatively steady course but it is to the point that a few of us who would like our lives back are dreaming of hiring a professional management team.
The best that I can tell is that it would cost around $6,000 for someone to do what a few of us are doing plus we would still have to continue doing what we are doing but not work quite as hard. The other day I put up a new website for our association and did it between conference calls with clients. The last time I did one for pay, I charged $250 which is less than the going rate of $300.
I know what I and my wife who just spent hours editing minutes have done is repeated over and over again by thousands of people every day across our country. They put the hours in when others are relaxing on the beach or sitting on that sailboat in the harbor.
While productivity looks like it has dropped, I know for a fact that there is a hidden army of volunteers churning out millions of dollars of unmeasured work everyday. Some if not many of those volunteers could benefit from some extra money not so much from their volunteer work but where they have their day job.
The reality is that if you are well paid in your job, you might have the extra enthusiasm, energy and time to contribute to the volunteer economy that keeps a lot of very important things going in our country. It you have to work two or three jobs to make ends meet, the only volunteer thing in your life is likely sleep.
I would invite any politician to walk in my crocs and tell me that I need to work harder. I, like many others, have no more to give without giving up the very little time left for my own life. It has been a long time since I have been kayaking any day but Saturday.
The better real jobs that people have, the more likely we will find a few more who feel like helping others and maybe take a little pressure off the current army of volunteers.
So do not try to sell me on the idea that Americans need to work harder. Maybe politicians should work harder at creating a fair economy for those of us who are giving all we can give and those who have no more to give.