America's biggest time wasters

I'm not a guy prone to violent thoughts. Really. But, you know, for the last few hours, I haven't been able to get my email to work.

Fortunately, just as I was about to take a hammer to my computer, I realized that it wasn't really a problem with my PC, but a problem with the email server software program thing-a-ma-jig that I use (OK, I'm not a computer expert either). Once I realized that, I went to a back up email server program thing-a-ma-jig that I have, and now I have email, and all is well.

But in between all of this, I fantasized about throwing my computer into the trunk of my car, and in an ode to The Sopranos, I figured I'd shoot the monitor and dump my hard drive into a lake.

So that got me to thinking. How many hours do we lose a year due to stupid computer problems? I decided to make lemonade out of lemons and write a quick little post about all of the money we waste because our computers don't work properly. Problem? I couldn't find the numbers I was looking for. Of course, maybe the problem was that I was having trouble concentrating on doing any research. Still angry over my lost work time, I had set my computer on fire.

Instead, I'm doing a round-up of how much money America says bye-bye to every year due to lost productivity for reasons other than computer problems. Then, in case anyone wants to quibble, I have the source, with a link to the article where I found the information.

Lost work productivity due to obesity:
$165 billion, and binge eating is a $33 billion piece of that pie.
Source:a February 2008 webinar by HealthMedia Inc.

Violence against women by their domestic partners: $1.8 billion
Source: March 4, 2008 Reuters article

Smoking: $82 billion
Source:Journal of Adolescent Health

Dropping out of high school: $260 billion (which includes lost wages and tax revenue)
Source:American Youth Policy Forum

Traffic jams:
$78 billion (at least as of 2005)
Source:a recent academy study according to Atlantic Magazine

Chronic pain: $100 billion (includes healthcare expenses)
Source: Voices of Chronic Pain survey

Stupid, unexplained computer problems: $999 trillion
Source: Call it a hunch. Trust me.

Geoff Williams is a business journalist, primarily for Entrepreneur magazine, and the author of C.C. Pyle's Amazing Foot Race: The True Story of the 1928 Coast-to-Coast Run Across America (Rodale).
Read Full Story