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Inspiring Success on the Road to Recovery

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

What’s the Under-Employment Index?

LIFE 101 - Coach Cary Bayer

“If you’re not doing God’s work find another employer.”
—Phil Laut, author, “Money is my Friend”

The Bureau of Labor Statistics keeps a monthly tab on the unemployment rate. This number, 4.1 percent in March 2018 — gives a thumbnail look at how many people aren’t working in America.

This index, treating people as statistics, measures their financial cost for not having regular paychecks. What this quantitative measurement fails to measure, however, is the qualitative statistic I call under-employment. There’s no way to measure how 96 percent of the working population suffer for being under-employed.

If a musical composer in Woodstock, New York— and I know plenty of them — works as a handyman or contractor instead of as a composer, he’s under-employed. He’s using circular saws instead of pianos. He’s giving society a wooden bookcase that he makes with his hands instead of the song or the musical he’s writing in his head in the limited spare time that contracting affords him.

The loss is to him and to us. He suffers emotionally, and we suffer for getting less than what he’s here to offer.

Actresses in Hollywood who wait tables aren’t giving the world their best. There may be a Meryl Streep among them. Instead of giving possible Academy Award-winning performances in movies, she’s bringing customers today’s blue plate special in diners or mustard-crusted branzino in bistros.
Writers in New York working as proofreaders in law firms may lack the time or energy to write the next Death of a Salesman or Catcher in the Rye after long days or nights catching typos on lawsuits. I’ve known many of these people in my time.

This isn’t New

Paul Gaugain was a stockbroker. Walt Whitman toiled in the Patent office. Dracula creator Bram Stoker managed a theater. T.S. Eliot worked at Lloyds Bank in London while writing The Wasteland. Wallace Stevens was an insurance attorney for the Hartford.  William Carlos Williams was a medical doctor. Kurt Vonnegut managed a Saab dealership. Philip Glass drove a cab and did plumbing.  Composer Charles Ives co-founded Ives & Myrick Insurance. Jeff Koons was a Wall Street commodities broker. It’s a phenomenon that would be great to retire.

Colleges and universities train people for jobs, often in a terrific manner — at least many do. We need steady streams of new engineers, computer scientists, and medical doctors. The MITs, Stanfords, and Yale Medical Schools of the world are there to train such people for such employment.

What we really need, in addition, are entrepreneurial schools that train composers to make a living as composers, actors to provide for themselves as actors, writers who write successfully for a living so they can also write checks for their mortgages that won’t bounce.

There are institutions like the Juilliard School in New York to train creative people for the arts. There’s the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, and the American Conservatory Theater in San Francisco to train actors, among such reputable centers. But because actors, writers, singers, and dancers are filled with creative ideas they often aren’t very good at marketing these ideas, and so these training centers need to simultaneously train their charges in basic business and marketing skills, as well, so they can work professionally in the arts and not be hyphenates like the actresses-waitresses and composer-carpenters discussed above.

Woodstock, NY, where I have lived for nearly 30 years, is a town filled with hyphenates. It has long attracted artists of all stripes, but because artists—and healers and spiritual folk, as well—are right-brained oriented, they’re not usually strong in the left-brained talents of doing business. What we really need are Entrepreneurial Institutions that focus on creative people. This would enable millions of gifted people to be sharing the talents they’ve been given and be fully supporting themselves in the process. This would lower the Under-Employment Index significantly, make them so much happier, give the society we live in the very best they have to offer, and put a smile on the face of the Great Spirit that has gifted all of these people so lovingly.