Ruined in a Day

by Matthew Stollak on Friday, July 23, 2010


You remember this guy, don't you? Bueller? Bueller? Yes, it is Ben Stein...actor, former speechwriter for Nixon and Gerald Ford, true renaissance man. Well, when he is not pitching Clear Eyes or FreeScore.com, he is writing detailed economic screeds. This week, at the American Spectator, he gave his thoughts on the current economic maladies and the lessons we should learn from them (link here).

The money portion was his thoughts on the unemployed:

"2. The people who have been laid off and cannot find work are generally people with poor work habits and poor personalities. I say “generally” because there are exceptions. But in general, as I survey the ranks of those who are unemployed, I see people who have overbearing and unpleasant personalities and/or who do not know how to do a day’s work. They are people who create either little utility or negative utility on the job. Again, there are powerful exceptions and I know some, but when employers are looking to lay off, they lay off the least productive or the most negative. To assure that a worker is not one of them, he should learn how to work and how to get along -- not always easy.

(This brings to mind an idea I have long had: that high schools and colleges should have a course on "how to get along" and "how to do a day’s work." This would include showing up in clean clothes, smelling well, having had a good breakfast, dressed in a businesslike way, calling the other employees "sir" or "ma'am" and not talking back. This would include a teaching of the fact that the employee is not there for amusement, but to help the employer make money and to get a job done. It would include the idea that once you are at work, you are not at play. It is an idea whose time has come.)"


Taken to its logical conclusion, shouldn't Ben really be praising HR Departments around the country? Through their awesome skills of talent evaluation, the HR managers have culled those with "poor working habits" and "poor personalities" from the ranks of the employed in their organization. I'm sure those at work reading this from their computer are pleased that they no longer have to put up with those "overbearing and unpleasant personalities" who add "negative utility" to the job. Isn't the workplace now a better place? Isn't everyone happy, satisfied, and more productive now that those bad apples are no longer crowding our cubicles? Isn't GDP skyrocketing?

C'mon, Ben, show HR some love!

2 comments

Yeah, nice one Ben. It's just that simple: work and get along. Why didn't any of these people think of that?

by Lance on July 23, 2010 at 10:37 AM. #

Ben has some good points. But you can work and get a long and also not add any value. There are plenty.

by Benjamin McCall on July 23, 2010 at 1:32 PM. #

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