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Declining productivity is a cause for concern

An opinion piece on a good work ethic, help wanted signs and hand-held electronic devices:
Help Wanted Sign Getty

Productivity and the desire to work is on a steady decline and I don’t really have a solution.

Growing up in the 1960s and ‘70s, man electronic devices hadn’t been invented yet. In my school years, my pastime was sports. I wasn’t a star but was a pretty good ping pong and badminton player. I walked three kilometres every morning to school and the winters were cold and snowy.   

I was a good student and pretty smart. I was strong in math and good in science, but my favourites were social studies and history. I was a voracious reader and easily read a novel a week. I could spend hours and hours thumbing through encyclopedias. My favourite television game shows were Jeopardy and Wheel of Fortune. Nowadays, I am a devoted player of Wordle.

But the one thing I did learn at an early age was that hard work made you money. And I fell in love with the stuff.

I had my first paper route when I turned 13. Every Wednesday, I home-delivered weekly papers for the Yorkton Enterprise.  I made about $30 a week and it was hard work. I remember having 103 customers on my route with no easy apartment buildings. Hauling and delivering the papers took over five hours.

At age 15, I became employed at the Coca-Cola bottling plant in Yorkton sorting bottles. I still have the stub of my first paycheque for $2.25 per hour. No doubt many of you can relate.

I graduated on June 30, 1975, at the age of 17 and started work for the bank in Fort Qu’Appelle two days later. Until I retired in 2018, I have never stopped working and had never been without a paycheque.

What bothers me is that there are so many jobs available out there and apparently no one can find anyone to work. Where did all the workers go? Or, more importantly, where did all the people who liked to earn a dollar go?  

Some parents are spoiling their kids. The kids can’t do anything wrong. They think their son or daughter doesn’t need to work, they can provide them with some spare cash instead of what they think is a meaningless job. He or she is better than that.

Certainly, the quality of education is as good or as better than it has ever been. Could it be our overuse of technology? Life is so much easier behind the screen of a computer or a cell phone. No face-to-face arguments, no pressure, and no hassles. Texting is a breeze with no repercussions. No personal confrontations.

Handwriting is a lost art. If one didn’t have spell check or autocorrect, many would be lost. Receiving change from a junior store clerk makes me chuckle. Anything slightly out of the ordinary sets off warning bells. Maybe it’s the everyday stresses of real life that cause people to stay away from a paying job.  

I don’t have any solutions to this predominantly North American problem. However, I do know we have to continue to welcome all immigrants with open arms. They work hard and are happy to be able to forge a life of freedom and prosperity in our great country of Canada.

Maybe we should take a break from our cell phones occasionally and do something productive. Hard work is a great habit to have and is sorely lacking in our lives. We need to bring it back.

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