Daniel Lemire's blog

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Being ever more productive… is a duty

As we work at something, we usually get better and better. Then you hit a plateau. For most of human history, people have been hitting this plateau, and they just kept working until death or retirement, whichever came first.

Today, if you ever reach the upper bound, chances are good that you should be moving to new work.

I do think, for example, that we should be investing more every year in health, education and research. And not just a bit more. However, these people have to do their part and grow their productivity.

If you have been teaching kids for ten years, on the same budget, and getting the same results… you have been short-changing all of us.

If you are treating medical conditions for the same cost and getting the same results for the last few years, you are stealing from all of us.

You have an obligation to improve your productivity with each passing year. And only if all of us keep on improving our productivity can we afford to grow everyone’s budget year after year.

If your students’ scores don’t improve year after year, if the survival rates of your patients don’t improve year after year, you should be troubled. And, ultimately, you should feel shame.