Pick Up the Darned Phone

We had awful unemployment and jobs news on June 3. A week earlier, there was yet another mediocre economic growth report. Friday, May's Monthly Treasury Statement, but for $45 billion of almost indecipherable accounting gimmickry, would have shown yet another single-month federal deficit of over $100 billion. These are just the latest signs that the economy is not doing well, and that Washington's elites continue to avoid getting a grip on the nation's deteriorating fiscal situation.

As expected, President Obama is blaming everyone else for the country's economic problems. On the Monday after the employment news broke, The Daily Caller reported that the president went into woe-is-me mode, referring to "challenges that have been unaddressed over the course of the previous decade" (translation: George W. Bush), as well as, per the Caller, tagging "investors, consumers and even the media." In reality, it's the Obama administration's policies which have created what Daniel Henninger at the Wall Street Journal has called "The Cloud Economy," which "is flying without instruments because of the White House's policy choices." Given that the departure of Austan Goolsbee leaves the administration with "no economist in a prominent position," the situation doesn't look like it's going to change any time soon.

As wrong as Obama is about placing pervasive blame, he is accidentally right in the sense that many individuals and companies could be more productive -- which leads to the column's title.

I cannot tell you how many times people have told me that they or their bosses will only accept certain communications by email because they need a digital record "to protect themselves." From what, the bogeyman? As a result, it takes heaven knows how many email exchanges to slowly work through what could have been accomplished in a single phone call.

I cannot tell you how many stories I've heard from employees berated by their bosses for leaving someone a brief voice message instead of sending an email, which of course has to be ever so carefully worded, to "cover our butts."

I also can't tell you how many complaints I've heard about coworkers, bosses, and subordinates who won't answer the phone -- ever -- and suffer no consequences.

And I'll bet that more than a few people reading this have sent unnecessary emails to coworkers or associates whose locations were almost within whispering distance.