There is a saying that goes “I work to live, not live to work” and what that implies is that there are more important things in that person’s life than work. It is a reasonable statement. It also hints that the person isn’t completely fulfilled, in a professional sense, with the work being performed.
In the ultra competitive environment of today’s world there is great focus on math and science programs, with engineering being an output. The US is often criticized for falling behind the rest of the world in those areas. Tests prove that out. However, I rarely read about the significant progress the US has made in the arts. For instance, several renowed contempory writers are US based. Historically, the US has lacked in the area of art. Also impressive is the use of the internet to express oneself. The US is falling behind in a math and science regard, but leaping ahead in social connectedness. It is almost as if the generation of teen agers and early twenties is developing a new form of digital awareness.
I bring this up because as the international community becomes greater at specific process oriented work, the US is becoming more specialized in the arts. Work that is the most rewardng and satisfying (and more likely to get the workers discretionary effort) is heuristic in nature. It requires autonomous creativity that results in improving the relevant community. Work that is algorithmic tends to have a step by step associated process. These jobs tend to have low satisfaction levels over the long run. They tend to be mundane. If the educational system is succeeding it might be because of the stubborness that I’ve riducled in a past post. The media and big business tend to harp on the lack of engineers being produced in the US, but to the credit of the unchanging educational system, art programs haven’t disappeared. To really develop a work force, you need an art baseline to do the heuristic work required to innovate and create unique change. Otherwise, you only get incremental adjustments. Finally, every so often a report comes out that says that the US workforce is working longer hours. I don’t think this is necessarily a bad thing, especially if the work performed is challenging and interesting. It is a bad thing if it is “I work to live, not live to work.”