Tony Woodlief | Author


By now we’ve all heard that America’s productivity takes a dip because of the NCAA men’s basketball tournament. The most widely touted estimate comes from Chicago research firm Challenger, Gray, and Christmas, which estimates this year’s tourney will cost up to $1.7 billion in lost productivity.

I think we’re missing the silver lining. There’s a wide swath of Americans, after all, who exert a negative pull on total productivity. Meditate on this: what would be better than having every trial lawyer, Freudian therapist, self-help author, and Congressional staffer take a day off work? A quick look at the Bureau of Labor Statistics data on jobs in the U.S. suggests that far from being a drain on our nation, the NCAA tournament is a blessing in disguise.

Of the roughly 150 million jobs in the U.S. in 2006, for example, 761,000 were held by lawyers. Assuming that lawyers don’t procreate like regular human beings, but more like gremlins, that would mean that we have approximately 1 million lawyers today. Given that they all bill roughly $10,000 an hour, right there you’ve got about $1 billion in American wealth saved from the predatory buzz-saw.

Moving down the list, there are nearly 8 million construction employees in the U.S., and another 1.5 million architects and engineers. I don’t know if you’ve been reading the papers lately, but the last thing we need is for anybody else to slap up drywall. Likewise for the over 1.5 million real estate professionals who afflict this country like locusts. There’s a guy in town who drives a big SUV with a personalized license plate that says “REALTOR,” and every time I see him I have to resist the urge to run him into a ditch. We need for these people to take a vacation.

Further up the food chain, we have 1 million securities trading and financial analysis professionals. Here’s a big thanks for all you guys have done, but please, enjoy the tournament. Feel free to check out the NIT as well, and perhaps you might all consider a season subscription to the UFC. The same goes for the nearly 1 million consultants who make a living telling gutless upper managers what most of them already know needs to be done.

Outside the big cities, we’ve got nearly 1 million farmers, but at least half of them are growing corn to make ethanol, which we all know is a colossal fool’s errand, so having them sit on their hands is a boon. There are over 1.3 million printing and publishing professionals, but only about 10,000 of them work for The Atlantic Monthly, WORLD, or The Wall Street Journal, which means that the other 1,290,000 are wasting paper.

There are almost 100,000 flight attendants, which I think we’ve all discerned we can do without. There are nearly 650,000 car mechanics, but I’ve only ever found two who didn’t try to rip me off. I’ve only found one trustworthy plumber, meanwhile, out of the roughly 450,000 over-billing across the U.S.

We have 18,000 practicing political scientists, and I can affirm that these people are up to no good. I’ve spent enough time in the corporate world, meanwhile, to tell you that a day without our more than 250,000 public relations employees spinning and prevaricating their ways into purgatory would be glorious indeed.

Think how much educating might get done if the nearly 400,000 school administrators living on the public dime took a few days off to root for their favorite teams. Future teachers, meanwhile, might be better prepared if they read Maria Montessori while the nation’s 54,000 education teachers take a break.

Finally, having recently assembled a tricycle with directions like “Insert Bolt C in carrier joint A when to be taking care of ball joist,” I think we won’t miss the more than 45,000 technical writers single-handedly taking all the fun out of our rampant consumer culture.

By my back-of-the-envelope calculations, assuming all these leeches and incompetents spend 10 hours of work-time watching NCAA basketball, the rest of us can get enough uninterrupted, unlooted, uncorrupted work done to justify knocking off early this year, say, around August. March Madness? I don’t think so, my friends. March Brilliance is more like it.

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