City Journal: The British economy continues to grow slowly, but output per hour worked remains stubbornly flat. This means that economic growth can occur only by the employment of ever more people (usually immigrants) or by extending working hours. Neither makes for a happy outcome.
Why is British productivity so stagnant? Economic journalists puzzle their brains over it. I do not have the definitive answer, but an anecdote recently told me by a man with a small catering business may shed some light on at least one factor.
The caterer urgently needed some carrots and went to a nearby small supermarket to buy them. The supermarket was about to close, and only one bag of carrots was left, selling for £1.20. He took it to the checkout, where the checkout girl noticed that the bag was torn. She said that she could not sell it to him, as some carrots might have fallen out. He said that he did not mind—he needed the carrots and was prepared to pay the full price for them.
Nevertheless, she insisted on calling her supervisor, who said that she should sell the carrots but deduct 10 percent from their price.
“How do I do that?” she asked. MORE