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Paul Butler | Americans at Work

Paul Butler: Going the Extra Mile
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I always wanted to live in the United States, mainly inspired by the good-quality television shows growing up in the 1970s such as: “Mork and Mindy,” “Charlie’s Angels,” “Little House on the Prairie” and “Happy Days,” to name a few. 

Joking aside, on the eve of my family and I becoming citizens, I’ve been reflecting on what attracts me so much to this land, and have come to the conclusion it’s the people. Their work ethic. Their generosity. Their innovation.  

Let’s look at our work ethic. According to the Business Insider publication, the U.S. has the largest economy at just under $21 trillion and 28% of the world’s gross domestic product, with the closest being China at 20%. Even though we hear so much about China’s productivity, let us remember there are just 0.3 billion people here compared to China’s 1.4 billion.  

Let’s remind ourselves about our efficiency, too — on average, we work 34 hours per week (source: statista.com). Sticking with our comparison to the second largest economy in the world, the Chinese work an average of 48 hours per week (source: ceicdata.com) and most certainly, not all people there enjoy the work environment and benefit from the labor laws we do here. 

Let’s look at our generosity. According to the U.S. News publication, we are the most generous country in the world. Interestingly, this survey personalizes the giving by asking about donating money to charity, volunteering one’s own time and helping a stranger in need. I still believe this is a country whose government is of the people, by the people and for the people, and so, I wasn’t surprised to read in the World Population Review that the United States is the most generous government in the world in helping other nations. 

If the economic history of the world has taught us anything, it’s that free people, who are at liberty to chart their own course and enjoy the fruits of their labors, who tend to innovate and create incredible products and services. Here’s a sampling of just 10 innovations that sprung forth from sea to shining sea through our places of work: 

  1. Lockstitch Sewing Machine, 1833 
  1. Vacuum Cleaner, 1860 
  1. Jeans, 1873 
  1. Telephone, 1876 
  1. Electric Light Bulb, 1879 
  1. Skyscraper, 1884 
  1. Assembly Line, 1901 
  1. Air conditioning, 1902 
  1. Airplane, 1903 
  1. Supermarket, 1916 

What I find so fascinating and inspiring about the ingenuity and innovative advancements of the United States is that they were achieved by men and women who were either native-born or were naturalized citizens. It does seem that e pluribus unum (out of many, one) is alive and well. 

Some cynics say our best days are behind us, but just look what we’ve contributed since my wife and I were married in 1994:  

  1. Java script 
  1. Camera phone 
  1. iPod, iPad and the iPhone 
  1. YouTube 
  1. Amazon Kindle 
  1. 3-D camera 
  1. Google Assistant 
  1. Self-Driving Cars 
  1. Ring Doorbell 
  1. Nest Thermostat 

May we never forget the first COVID vaccines were also created here.  

Bringing this all closer to home, I’ve noticed the people who are critical of California usually don’t live in California. I love living and working here. Would I prefer not to have state income tax? Of course. Would I prefer a more conservative state government? Yes, but that’s a personal preference. But California — look what you’ve blessed your 49 brothers and sisters with. We produce almost all of the country’s almonds, apricots, dates, figs, kiwi fruit, nectarines, olives, pistachios, prunes and walnuts. In-N-Burger was even started here — I guess because California is the second-ranked producer of livestock products behind Texas.  

Here’s a sampling of what California workplaces have given the people of the world: the hula hoop, the Egg McMuffin, Barbie, WD-40, California rolls, Cobb salad, French dip sandwich, The Shirley Temple, nicotine patch, the laser, the Walt Disney Co., skateboards, Hollywood and even the wetsuits. 

All this to say, I am excited about what we can each contribute to the wonderful country I call “home” as we head into this new year. Let’s do this! 

Paul Butler is a Santa Clarita resident and a client partner with Newleaf Training and Development of Valencia (newleaftd.com). For questions or comments, email Butler at [email protected]. 

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