Arbeit* Macht Bored


Our very busy man at the Olympia Press and Blackmask takes a rare break from republishing old books and pulps to direct us, via the workaholic Asymetrical Information blog, to this Wash Post story about how nobody's really putting in a full day anywhere.

Who's Patient Zero in underemployed wage slaves? Bruce Bartlett, former deputy assistant secretary for economic policy at the U.S. Treasury under George H.W. Bush:

Bartlett's problem was that he was deputy assistant secretary for economic policy when the president "just didn't care about economic policy, only foreign policy. . . . Because the White House didn't want to do anything, there wasn't anything we could do," he said.

That problem—a lack of autonomy and a job that has very specific instructions—hits workers from the highest to lowest echelons of the working world. Many spend their days surfing the Internet, writing e-mails or taking care of personal business.

Bartlett spent his days writing for academic journals. Boredom has a permanent seat in many workplaces, no matter the level of employee. And people are miserable.

The article goes on to quote various sources who insist that busy workers are happy workers (somehow, The Simpsons' Mr. Burns is not quoted). And that the TSA really is a sack-of-shit outfit.

And whatever happened to Bruce B? Bruce–a sometime contributor to Reason–finally roused himself from his employment-induced stupor and landed in the dog-eat-dog nonprofit world, where he insists, "I'm constantly working," he tells the Post (while working his boss at the National Center for Policy Analysis). "The day goes by so rapidly, it's absolutely amazing to me."

Whole delightful tale here.

IMO, the ultimate commentary on workplace boredom ran on SCTV, which promoed a great show called Turk Gruman, Police Dispatcher: "He came from the cushy world of limousine dispatching to join forces with the NYPD, and now all hell's gonna break loose."

A close second is this Brink Lindsey story in Reason about what went wrong with work. And a distant third is a piece I squeeezed out for Suck during a coffee break that dared to tell The Terrible Truth About Telecommuting. Check them out tomorrow when you're back on the clock.

*: Spelling corrected. Color me Alquilar.