The Timesizing® Wire
©1998-2013 Phil Hyde, The Timesizing Wire, Box 117, Harvard Sq PO, Cambridge MA 02238 USA 617-623-8080 - HOMEPAGE
Popping the Big Question
Straining to describe the elephant in the room (or is it the air in the room?)
(i.e., the marginal utility of concentrated wealth, alias maldistribution - funny how 'marginal utility' has been applied to every area except concentrated work & wealth)
that everyone is ignoring, - and trying to articulate the economic puzzle
despite economists’ occasional admission they're stumped by it
(see A Scientific Revolution in Economics?)

(God forbid they should embarrass their onepercenter funders by applying marginalism in the context of unlimited personal acquisition!
- for other approaches to this taboo, see the many names and faces of the economic puzzle and the overriding goal and some pointers.)

The biggest fanfare for the Big Question is a book called "The Unsolved Riddle of Social Justice," itself an introductory course in economic design.   It was written in 1920 by the head of the Economics Dept. at Montreal's McGill University, Stephen Leacock, who led two lives: as a disciple (like fellow Canuck John Kenneth Galbraith) of the great economic maverick, Thorstein Veblen, and as Canada's Mark Twain (merging Tom Sawyer and Life on the Mississippi into one hilarious short story, "The Sinking of the Mariposa Belle," in Sunshine Sketches of a Little Town).   Leacock posed the following paradox:

With all our wealth, we are still poor.  After a century and a half of labor-saving machinery, we work about as hard as ever.  With a power over nature multiplied a hundred fold...the machine age seems to leave the great bulk of civilized humanity, the working part of it, worse off instead of better.   (Unsolved Riddle of Social Justice, pp.22-23)
The Leacock Riddle, of course, is "Why?!" Our solution, of course, is because our business leaders have responded to all this technology with wage&market&growth-bashing downsizing instead of timesizing. Another version of The Big Question comes from the short piece "Footnote of the Future" in James Thurber's My World - And Welcome To It:
...The late Dr. *Frederick Tilney, the eminent brain specialist [1876-1938]..after many years of research..came to the conclusion that Man is using only one-fourth of his stock of fourteen billion brain cells... It was Dr. Tilney's belief that when Man begins to use all his brain cells - in a thousand years, say, or ten million - he will become wise enough to put an end to wars, depressions, recessions, and allied evils. (My World - And welcome to it, pp.114-115)
The Tilney Teaser, of course, is "How?!" Our solution, again, is timesizing. But a lot of other people have come up with answers too. G.K. Chesterton came up with one partial but classy answer - we call it the G.K. Chesterton Flaw:
The weakness of all Utopias is this, that they take the greatest difficulty of man and assume it to be overcome, and then give an elaborate account of the overcoming of the smaller ones. They first assume that no man will want more than his share, and then are very ingenious in explaining whether his share will be delivered by motorcar or balloon. (Heretics, p. 79)
Chesterton's answer, of course, is to stop people from wanting, or at least getting, more than their share" - but then we've got another "How?!" and our solution, again, is timesizing. Other names for the Chesterton Flaw are The Great Leak Upward, and The Black Hole of Wealth - in any case, it assumes infinite growth (in a finite environment) and constitutes the world's biggest pyramid scheme, inherently unsustainable, as pointed out by Michael Ruppert in his book *Confronting Collapse and his *Collapse Movie.

(Our own recent {3/01/10} answer: because business leaders have refused to submit to the discipline of the Market and adjust the workweek downward to maintain full employment and maximum consumption. Maintain the perception of a wartime-like labor shortage to centrifuge the national income and wealth to the millions who immediately spend it. Fear of hyperinflation? Block hyperinflation with job mobility - so many job options thanks to automatic overtime-to-jobs conversion that people gravitate into jobs they LOVE and don't resent so much that they're always pressing for more money and fueling the wage-price spiral.)
Compare the more recent Roach's Riddle: "When will businesses increase productivity and hiring simultaneously?" (12/20/2003).   And the earlier Pan-Utopian Flaw, with which the British mystery writer G. K. Chesterton answered Leacock's Riddle with characteristic panache.   Chesterton's Flaw is peerless in its power to focus utopians, reformers and progressives in the most productive solution-design directions.   Now let's fill in the backstory.

Standard economists and media people occasionally slip out of their omniscient pose and ask "what's the solution?" to the deep dark Economic Problem they dimly perceive through the rose-tinted windows of the bullet-proof metaphorical limo their professions have built for them.  Sometimes these self-referencing pundits also let slip an admission that they have a hard time articulating the problem in the first place, which would seem to be rather a prerequisite for solving it.  And the observant linguist then sees a second problem - how to articulate the problem in solvable form; for example, "concentration of income" is solvable, "income gap" is not.  Then there are the additional challenges of building agreement on the best solvable articulation of the problem, designing the best actual solution, and galvanizing the public will to implement the solution.

By comparison and contrast, the key problem in navigation in 1707 was defined to a high degree of solvability and agreement by the grounding and sinking of a victorious fleet of British warships on the Scilly Isles right near the British coast - the navigators knew their latitude but not their longitude. The embarrassment and expense created key prerequisites for the posing of the problem in solvable form - faith, determination, commitment, consensus and humility. See Dava Sobel's *Longitude: True Story of Lone Genius Who Solved Greatest Scientific Problem of His Time.

The problem in economics, of course, is that there's little humility, focus, commitment, determination, or consensus. This is compounded by what Galbraith indicated was the cardinal sin for economists - the sin of being right too soon. And additionally, instead of positive determination to find a solution, or faith among economists that there is one, we often get the opposite. Note the negative faith, for example, on the part of a "leading thinker on the economic crisis" (10/05/98 below), who simultaneously admits and excuses his own ignorance with the statement, "Nobody knows what the one true path is." This man is not a "leading thinker on the crisis" which would imply he's a leading contributor to its solution - on the contrary, he's a leading obstacle to its solution. "Woe to you, scribes, Pharisees - hypocrites! You neither enter the Kingdom nor allow anyone else to." (Matt. 23:13.)  "Unless you become as little children, you cannot enter the Kingdom." (Matt. 18:3.)  In other words, you can easily become too sophisticated (and cynical and self-referencing) for progress - a major reason why Phil Hyde maintains an internal age of 8, and like a good tech writer, cherishes his naivete so he can explain technology and its abuse to "naive users," including himself.


So first, a bandaid-level non-answer to illustrate the difficulty -

Warren Buffett moves to help group trying to reduce nuclear and biological threats, by Judith Miller, 10/04/02 NYT, A21.
In a small but significant philanthropic gesture, Warren E. Buffett is opening his huge wallet to help support a group founded by Ted Turner [the rich 'helping' the rich? = so noble...] and former Sen. Sam Nunn whose aim is to reduce the threat of nuclear, biological and chemical weapons.
Calling the threat posed by nuclear and other unconventional weapons "the ultimate problem" confronting mankind, Mr. Buffett said yesterday that he had decided to give the group, the Washington-based Nuclear Threat Initiative, $2.5m over five years and become an advisor to its board....
[Is the threat of nuclear war really the ultimate problem confronting mankind? War is only a symptom of the careful fostering of unemployment and job desperation by the wealthiest, who just don't have a problem with the status quo. The fundamental disease is our greater attention to weapons design (the only makework program that the wealthy will pony up for) instead of the design of technology for sharing and spreading value. Our failure to match weapons R&D with the R&D of sharing technologies is really the ultimate problem.]
And now, beyond bandaiding to recent articles actually articulating
The Economic Puzzle -
(Please email us with additions at timesizing@aol.com.)
    9/16/2013   In winner-take-all economy, education is not a cure-all, letter to editor by Avi Green of Cambridge MA, Boston Globe, A10.
    In her column “A link to the city’s future” (Metro, Sept. 12), Yvonne Abraham made a good point that is made far too infrequently in US media and politics — that improving education can’t solve everything.
    From joblessness to poverty to crime, politicians are always saying that we can solve any problem if we just get parents, kids, teachers, and school administrators to buckle down and work harder. While there are certainly pockets of very bad schools among the schools of Massachusetts — located unfailingly, it seems, within high-poverty zip codes — the general focus on education reform as a cure-all is harmful, distracting rhetoric.
    Generally, people work as hard as they did a generation ago, if not harder, and they have at least as much education, if not more. But, on average, they face worse life prospects in terms of income and benefits because of our winner-take-all economy.
    The US economy did not always function in this way. From 1933 to 1973, strong unions and government action through the New Deal, World War II, the GI Bill, and the Great Society transformed the wreckage of the Great Depression into the world’s largest middle class. But now the country is regressing, with a small rich elite and a massive group of working poor. The middle class is shrinking fast.
    Reforming public education may be helpful and necessary in some circumstances, but it’s a far cry from a comprehensive solution to the massive challenges we face.
    [Raising the Big Question: What would a comprehensive solution to the massive challenges we face look like?
    No non-military makework program is massive enough, nor is any military one without a world-war scale threat.
    But a timesizing program is the massive-enough comprehensive solution that education is not.]



    9/11/2013   Embracing Wynne Godley, an Economist Who Modeled the Crisis, by Jonathan Schlefer, New York Times, B1 (NE Eng ed), B4 (NYC ed).
    Wynne Godley died 2010, too soon to enjoy the acclaim of having foreseen trouble. (photo caption)
    “Practical men, who believe themselves to be quite exempt from any intellectual influence, are usually the slaves of some defunct economist.” — John Maynard Keynes [blowout quote]
    [OK first we'll run through it whole and uncommented; then we'll drop the detours and pick up the comments.]
    BOSTON — With the 2008 financial crisis and Great Recession still a raw and painful memory, many economists are asking themselves whether they need the kind of fundamental shift in thinking that occurred during and after the Depression of the 1930s. “We have entered a brave new world,” Olivier Blanchard, the International Monetary Fund’s chief economist, said at a conference in 2011. “The economic crisis has put into question many of our beliefs. We have to accept the intellectual challenge.”
    If the economics profession takes on the challenge of reworking the mainstream models that famously failed to predict the crisis, it might well turn to one of the few economists who saw it coming, Wynne Godley of the Levy Economics Institute. Mr. Godley, unfortunately, died at 83 in 2010, perhaps too soon to bask in the credit many feel he deserves.
    But his influence has begun to spread. Martin Wolf, the eminent columnist for The Financial Times, and Jan Hatzius, chief economist of global investment research at Goldman Sachs, borrow from his approach. Several groups of economists in North America and Europe — some supported by the Institute for New Economic Thinking established by the financier and philanthropist George Soros after the crisis — are building on his models.
    In a 2011 study, Dirk J. Bezemer, of Groningen University in the Netherlands, found a dozen experts who warned publicly about a broad economic threat, explained how debt would drive it, and specified a time frame.
    Most, like Nouriel Roubini of New York University, issued warnings in informal notes. But Mr. Godley “was the most scientific in the sense of having a formal model,” Dr. Bezemer said.
    It was far from a first for Mr. Godley. In January 2000, the Council of Economic Advisers for President Bill Clinton hailed a still “youthful-looking and vigorous” expansion. That March, Mr. Godley and L. Randall Wray of the University of Missouri-Kansas City derided it, declaring, “Goldilocks is doomed.” Within days, the Nasdaq stock market peaked, heralding the end of the dot-com bubble.
    Why does a model matter? It explicitly details an economist’s thinking, Dr. Bezemer says. Other economists can use it. They cannot so easily clone intuition.
    Mr. Godley was relatively obscure in the United States. He was better known in his native Britain — The Times of London called him “the most insightful macroeconomic forecaster of his generation” — though often as a renegade.
    Mainstream models assume that, as individuals maximize their self-interest, markets move the economy to equilibrium. Booms and busts come from outside forces, like erratic government spending or technological dynamism or stagnation. Banks are at best an afterthought.
    The Godley models, by contrast, see banks as central, promoting growth but also posing threats. Households and firms take out loans to build homes or invest in production. But their expectations can go awry, they wind up with excessive debt, and they cut back. Markets themselves drive booms and busts.
    Why did Mr. Godley, who had barely any formal economics training, insist on developing a model to inform his judgment? His extraordinary efforts to overcome a troubled childhood may be part of the explanation. Tiago Mata of Cambridge University called his life “a search for his true voice” in the face of “nagging fear that he might disappoint [his] responsibilities.”
    Mr. Godley once described his early years as shackled by an “artificial self” that kept him from recognizing his own spontaneous reactions to people and events. His parents separated bitterly. His mother was often away on artistic adventures, and when at home, she spent long hours coddling what she called “my pain” in bed.
    Raised by nannies and “a fierce maiden aunt who shook me violently when I cried,” Mr. Godley was sent at age 7 to a prep school he called a “chamber of horrors.”
    Despite all that, Mr. Godley, with his extraordinary talent, still managed to achieve worldly success. He graduated from Oxford with a first in philosophy, politics and economics in 1947, studied at the Paris Conservatory, and became principal oboist of the BBC Welsh Orchestra.
    But “nightmarish fears of letting everyone down,” he recalled, drove him to take a job as an economist at the Metal Box Company. Moving to the British Treasury in 1956, he rose to become head of short-term forecasting. He was appointed director of the Department of Applied Economics at Cambridge in 1970.
    In the early 1980s, the British Tory government, allied with increasingly conventional economists at Cambridge, began “sharpening its knives to stab Wynne,” according to Kumaraswamy Velupillai, a close friend who now teaches at the New School in New York. They killed the policy group he headed and, ultimately, the Department of Applied Economics.
    But after warning of a crash of the British pound in 1992 that took official forecasters by surprise, Mr. Godley was appointed to a panel of “six wise men” advising the Treasury.
    In 1995 he moved to the Levy Institute outside New York, joining Hyman Minsky, whose “financial instability hypothesis” won recognition during the 2008 crisis.
    Marc Lavoie of the University of Ottawa collaborated with Mr. Godley to write “Monetary Economics: An Integrated Approach to Credit, Money, Income, Production and Wealth” in 2006, which turned out to be the most complete account he would publish of his modeling approach.
    In mainstream economic models, individuals are supposed to optimize the trade-off between consuming today versus saving for the future, among other things. To do so, they must live in a remarkably predictable world.
    Mr. Godley did not see how such optimization is conceivable. There are simply too many unknowns, he theorized.
    Instead, Mr. Godley built his economic model around the idea that sectors — households, production firms, banks, the government — largely follow rules of thumb.
    For example, firms add a standard profit markup to their costs for labor and other inputs. They try to maintain adequate inventories so they can satisfy demand without accumulating excessive overstock. If sales disappoint and inventories pile up, they correct by cutting back production and laying off workers.
    In mainstream models, the economy settles at an equilibrium where supply equals demand. To Mr. Godley, like some Keynesian economists, the economy is demand-driven and less stable than many traditional economists assume.
    Instead of supply and demand guiding the economy to equilibrium, adjustments can be abrupt. Borrowing “flows” build up as debt “stocks.”
    If rules of thumb suggest to households, firms, or the government that borrowing, debt or other things have gone out of whack, they may cut back. Or banks may cut lending. The high-flying economy falls down.
    Mr. Godley and his colleagues expressed just this concern in the mid-2000s. In April 2007, they plugged Congressional Budget Office projections of government spending and healthy growth into their model. For these to be borne out, the model said, household borrowing must reach 14 percent of G.D.P. by 2010.
    The authors declared this situation “wildly implausible.” More likely, borrowing would level off, bringing growth “almost to zero.” In repeated papers, they foresaw a looming recession but significantly underestimated its depth.
    For all Mr. Godley’s foresight, even economists who are doubtful about traditional economic thinking do not necessarily see the Godley-Lavoie models as providing all the answers. Charles Goodhart of the London School of Economics called them a “gallant failure” in a review. He applauded their realism, especially the way they allowed sectors to make mistakes and correct, rather than assuming that individuals foresee the future. But they are still, he wrote, “insufficient” in crises.
    Gennaro Zezza of the University of Cassino in Italy, who collaborated with Mr. Godley on a model of the American economy, concedes that he and his colleagues still need to develop better ways of describing how a financial crisis will spread. But he said the Godley-Lavoie approach already is useful to identify unsustainable processes that precede a crisis.
    “If everyone had remained optimistic in 2007, the process could have continued for another one or two or three years,” he said. “But eventually it would have broken down. And in a much more violent way, because debt would have piled up even more.”
    Dr. Lavoie says that one of the models he helped develop does make a start at tracing the course of a crisis. It allows for companies to default on loans, eroding banks’ profits and causing them to raise interest rates: “At the very least, we were looking in the right direction.”
    This is just the direction that economists building on Mr. Godley’s models are now exploring, incorporating “agents” — distinct types of households, firms and banks, not unlike creatures in a video game — that respond flexibly to economic circumstances. Stephen Kinsella of the University of Limerick, the Nobel laureate economist Joseph Stiglitz and Mauro Gallegati of Polytechnic University of Marche in Italy are collaborating on one such effort.
    In the meantime, Mr. Godley’s disciples say his record of forecasting still stands out. In 2007 Mr. Godley and Dr. Lavoie published a prescient model of euro zone finances, envisioning three outcomes: soaring interest rates in Southern Europe, huge European Central Bank loans to the region or brutal fiscal cuts. In effect, the euro zone has cycled among those outcomes.
    So what do the Godley models predict now? A recent Levy Institute analysis expresses concern not about serious financial imbalances, at least in the United States, but weak global demand. “The main difficulty,” they wrote, “has been in convincing economic leaders of the nature of the main problem: insufficient aggregate demand.” So far, they are not having much success.
    [OK now we'll drop the detours and pick up the comments.]
    Embracing Wynne Godley, a [British] Economist Who Modeled the Crisis, by Jonathan Schlefer, New York Times, B1 (NE Eng ed), B4 (NY ed).
    Wynne Godley died [May 13] 2010, too soon to enjoy the acclaim of having foreseen trouble. (photo caption)
    “Practical men, who believe themselves to be quite exempt from any intellectual influence, are usually the slaves of some defunct economist.” — John Maynard Keynes [blowout quote]
    [And the next sentence after that truncated quote -
    "Madmen in authority, who hear voices in the air, are distilling their frenzy from some academic scribbler of a few years back." [And fergawdsake, while we're thinking about it, let's get together the other 2-3 big Keyneskwotes! (and be sure to distinguish Queynes from Quesnay!)
    First, on inflation from Chapter VI, pg.235-236, The Economic Consequences of the Peace (1919) thanks to http://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/John_Maynard_Keynes:
    "There is no subtler, no surer means of overturning the existing basis of society than to debauch the currency. The process engages all the hidden forces of economic law on the side of destruction, and does it in a manner which not one man in a million is able to diagnose."
    Then there's the quickie - "In the long run we are all dead." from A Tract on Monetary Reform (1923) Ch. 3.
    And the one I can't immediately find about the difficulty being objective upstream of your own income/livelihood. Found it? Puhleez email me, Phil Hyde, at ecdesignr@yahoo.ca - meanwhile, next time I run across it, I'll just hafta do a website search on "scribbler" or something to find this spot to stash it in.
    We must mention in this spot the current Big Subquestion: at what point does the mounting concentration (& coagulation) of the money supply turn self-undermining? because it is certainly subject to the law of the marginal utility of supply. Compare Keynes' general quote: "The general theory of economic equilibrium was strengthened and made effective as an organon of thought by two powerful subsidiary conceptions — the Margin and Substitution. The notion of the Margin was extended beyond Utility to describe the equilibrium point in given conditions of any economic factor...." and again, "If I am right in supposing it to be comparatively easy to make capital-goods so abundant that the marginal efficiency of capital is zero, this may be the most sensible way of gradually getting rid of many of the objectionable features of capitalism." (this last from The General Theory, Book 4, Chapter 16, Section 4, p. 221. Aha, here is where Keynes' made the same fundamental mistake as today's financial wizards, "For the importance of money essentially flows from its being a link between the present and the future." Book 5, Chapter 21, Section 1, p. 293. No, the importance of money essentially flows from its being a link between the time I spend performing my service (including producing my product if I'm in ag or mfg) and the time everyone else spends performing their services - it is primarily an immediate and existential importance or utility; NOT, despite the self-insulation, -isolation, and -flattery of the financial sector (here including Keynes too, alas) a delayed utility and only-potential utility. How strange that Keynes, the profit of demand-side economics, should so undervalue the Primary Function of Money = medium of exchange, and the more, the stabler = the faster and more diverse the circulation, the stabler. Oops, getting carried away!... And "Thus public works even of doubtful utility may pay for themselves over and over again at a time of severe unemployment, if only from the diminished cost of relief expenditure" even to the extreme of paying half the people to bury "bottles with banknotes" for the other half to dig up & spend. What pity Keynes got stuck on makework and did not go on to develop sharework and timesizing! And "I am myself impressed by the great social advantages of increasing the stock of capital until it ceases to be scarce." Book 6, Chapter 22, Section 4, p. 325. - Capital is not at all scarce. It is merely extremely over-concentrated. How bizarre that Keynes should have missed this BGO/blinding glimpse of the obvious.]
    BOSTON [Mass., USA] — With the 2008 financial crisis and Great Recession still a raw and painful memory, many economists are asking themselves whether they need the kind of fundamental shift in thinking that occurred during and after the Depression of the 1930s. “We have entered a brave new world,” Olivier Blanchard, the International Monetary Fund’s chief economist, said at a conference in 2011. “The economic crisis has put into question many of our beliefs. We have to accept the intellectual challenge.”
    If the economics profession takes on the challenge of reworking the mainstream models that famously failed to predict the crisis, it might well turn to one of the few economists[' models, that/]who saw it coming, Wynne Godley of the Levy Economics Institute. Mr.Godley, unfortunately, died at 83 in 2010, perhaps too soon to bask in the credit many feel he deserves.
    But his influence has begun to spread [aftercomment: goodlord, "spreading influence" for so-little such-obvious insight! how slow we are as a self-styled "intelligent species"!]. Martin Wolf, the eminent columnist for The Financial Times, and Jan Hatzius, chief economist of global investment research at Goldman Sachs, borrow from his approach. Several groups of economists in North America and Europe — some supported by the Institute for New Economic Thinking established by the financier and philanthropist George Soros after the crisis — are building on his models.
    In a 2011 study, Dirk J. Bezemer, of Groningen University in the Netherlands, found a dozen experts who warned publicly about a broad economic threat, explained how debt would drive it, and specified a time frame.
    [Does predicting it mean you also have (designed) a robust cure, or only that you have a robust diagnosis?]
    Most, like Nouriel Roubini of New York University, issued warnings in informal notes. But Mr. Godley “was the most scientific in the sense of having a formal model,” Dr. Bezemer said....
    [Uh, is a (formal) model necessarily scientific??]
    Why does a model matter? It explicitly details an economist’s thinking, Dr. Bezemer says. Other economists can use it. They cannot so easily clone intuition....
    [Still doesn't made a model scientific. It could be e.g. an astrological model. Goodlord, here's a trenchant quote from Keynes on the matter: "Too large a proportion of recent 'mathematical' economics are mere concoctions, as imprecise as the initial assumptions they rest on, which allow the author to lose sight of the complexities and interdependencies of the real world in a maze of pretentious and unhelpful symbols." (from The General Theory, Book 5, Chapter 21,Section 3, p. 298).]
    Mainstream models assume that, as individuals maximize their self-interest, markets move the economy to equilibrium. [Quelle naivetè! & what wishful thinking!] Booms and busts come from outside forces, like erratic government spending or technological dynamism [def'n?] or stagnation. Banks are at best an afterthought. [And they WERE before the repeal of Glass-Steagall.]
    The Godley models, by contrast, see banks as central, promoting growth but also posing threats. Households and firms take out loans to build homes or invest in production. But their expectations can go awry, they wind up with excessive debt, and they cut back. Markets themselves drive booms and busts....
    [OK, so it looks like Godley also focused on the surface-structure, or rather the third- or fourth-level dependent relative to whether you start counting with the consumer base or the employment basement.]
    Marc Lavoie of the University of Ottawa collaborated with Mr. Godley to write “Monetary Economics: An Integrated Approach to Credit, Money, Income, Production and Wealth” in 2006, which turned out to be the most complete account he would publish of his modeling approach.
    [OK, if he's focused on monetarism, he's definitely lighting candles...in the surface structure only.]
    In mainstream economic models, individuals are supposed to optimize the trade-off between consuming today versus saving for the future, among other things. To do so, they must live in a remarkably predictable world.
    [This speaks to the question, in deep-structure worktime economics: At what point in the concentration of M1 (the money supply) does further concentration begin to decelerate monetary circulation instead of accelerate it? (Circulation is vital to recharging all the little money symbols with value and stabilizing that value on the fly.) And how can that point be identified and maintained on the fly? This is not a question for individuals but for an automatic adjustment of something that will incentivate individuals to shift their decision-making in more-sustainable directions (or "the generally more sustainable direction").]
    Mr. Godley did not see how such optimization is conceivable. There are simply too many unknowns, he theorized.
    [Well, back in the early 1990s, a Hawaiian financial newsletter stumbled(?) upon a deep-structure clue here. It noted that stocks' P/E ratios had been rapidly rising off the charts, departing from all historic norms, and suggested the reason that investors, the financial sector, the onepercenters, whatever, had recently been getting sooo much of the national income that they literally had Nowhere Else to put it, or nowhere else set up to receive so much so fast. So the stock market began it's subsequent wild inflation and sequence of bubble-blowing. The point is that the P/E ratio departure was a current observation, not a future prediction, and an immediate correct response would provide the desired optimization, no blizzard of unknowns or sniffy economic modeling required.]
    Instead, Mr. Godley built his economic model around the idea that sectors — households [= consumer base], production firms [= business sector], banks [= financial sector], the government [gov't, like the banks (above), should be "at best an afterthought"] — largely follow rules of thumb [OK].
    For example, firms add a standard profit markup to their costs for labor and other inputs. They try to maintain adequate inventories so they can satisfy demand without accumulating excessive overstock. If sales disappoint and inventories pile up, they correct by cutting back production and laying off workers.
    [Oops, a quick penetration to the deep-structure, a covert mention of JOBS, in terms of job LOSS dba downsizing.]
    In mainstream models, the economy settles at an equilibrium where supply equals demand [so what? if demand falls, supply falls to equal it and you've got trouble - so the mainstream models are contributing nothing]. To Mr. Godley, like some [all!] Keynesian economists, the economy is demand-driven and less stable than many traditional economists assume.
    [I guess we could say that demand is largely driven by wages and wages are largely driven by employment in the sense of an equilibrium between employment (job openings) and labor (job seekers) which (self-interested) employers are naturally going to tend to see as a shortage of labor, though this perception performs the vital function of maintaining wages, for equilibrium, or raising wages, for growth.]
    Instead of supply and demand guiding the economy to equilibrium, adjustments can be abrupt. Borrowing “flows” build up as debt “stocks.”
    [Who cares. This is only in the 2d-3d derivative/dependent sector of finance, which unfortunately wangles ownership of the media and so its moaning and groaning gets waaay too much attention.]
    If rules of thumb [=apparently Godley's magic buzzphrase] suggest to households, firms, or the government that borrowing, debt or other things have gone out of whack, they may cut back. Or banks may cut lending. The high-flying economy falls down.
    [So what?...it shouldn't have been flying/built higher than the strength of the employment basement would allow anyway.]
    Mr. Godley and his colleagues expressed just this concern in the mid-2000s. In April 2007, they plugged Congressional Budget Office projections of government spending and healthy growth into their model. For these to be borne out, the model said, household borrowing must reach 14 percent of G.D.P. by 2010.
    [Godley is looking ever blinder - eg: to people's nervousness about running the economy on unlimited borrowing, which leaves an unlimited skew of ownership/entitlement outa control, and 99% of the population at the mercy of 1% or less, a train begging for a trainwreck instead of the sustainable situation we're looking for.]
    The authors declared this situation “wildly implausible” [because non-suicidal borrowing is based on employment and wages and if it isn't, the borrowing is unsustbl/suicidal for all concerned = New Economy: "return on investment is sooo passé"]. More likely, borrowing would level off, bringing growth “almost to zero.” In repeated papers, they foresaw a looming recession but significantly underestimated its depth.
    For all Mr. Godley’s foresight, even economists who are doubtful about traditional economic thinking do not necessarily see the Godley-Lavoie models as providing all the answers [with only one penetration to the deep structure, how could they?]. Charles Goodhart of the London School of Economics called them a “gallant failure” in a review. He applauded their realism, especially the way they allowed sectors to make mistakes and correct, rather than assuming that individuals foresee the future. But they are still, he wrote, “insufficient” in crises.
    Gennaro Zezza of the University of Cassino in Italy, who collaborated with Mr. Godley on a model of the American economy, concedes that he and his colleagues still need to develop better ways of describing how a financial crisis will spread. But he said the Godley-Lavoie approach already is useful to identify unsustainable processes that precede a crisis.
    “If everyone had remained optimistic in 2007, the process could have continued for another one or two or three years,” he said. “But eventually it would have broken down. And in a much more violent way, because debt would have piled up even more.”
    Dr. Lavoie [UofO] says that one of the models he helped develop does make a start at tracing the course of a crisis. It allows for companies to default on loans, eroding banks’ profits and causing them to raise interest rates: “At the very least, we were looking in the right direction.”
    This is just the direction that economists building on Mr. Godley’s models are now exploring, incorporating “agents” — distinct types of households, firms and banks, not unlike creatures in a video game — that respond flexibly to economic circumstances. Stephen Kinsella of the University of Limerick, the Nobel laureate economist Joseph Stiglitz and Mauro Gallegati of Polytechnic University of Marche in Italy are collaborating on one such effort.
    In the meantime, Mr. Godley’s disciples say his record of forecasting still stands out. In 2007 Mr. Godley and Dr. Lavoie published a prescient model of euro zone finances, envisioning three outcomes: soaring interest rates in Southern Europe, huge European Central Bank loans to the region or brutal fiscal cuts. In effect, the euro zone has cycled among those outcomes.
    So what do the Godley models predict now? A recent Levy Institute analysis expresses concern not about serious financial imbalances, at least in the United States, but weak global demand [due to weak global wages relative to the concentration of money supplies in the financial sectors, due to weak demand for labor due to ongoing downsizing response to technological productivity - and productivity regardless of marketability]. “The main difficulty,” they wrote, “has been in convincing economic leaders of the nature of the main problem: insufficient aggregate demand.” [No wonder, this is back to Keynesianism and Keynesianism is still unfashionable and derided. And beyond Keynesian demand-sidedness is the "balance sidedness" of worktime economics, NOT back to supply-sidedness again, puhleez! "Say's 'Law': if you build it, they will come/buy - maybe, but at a uselessly low price.] So far, they are not having much success.
    [Lord what trouble we "intelligent beings" have thinking upstream of our own income! Keynes had a quote on that, and one on inflation, in addition to the defunct economist quote in the blowout quote.]



    2/12-13/2012   Can the working class be saved? op ed by Ross Douthat, NY Times, SundayReview11.
    [If they can't, no consumer base and no economy. See our full treatment under this headline in the ECONOMIC DECLINE section of the "doom du jour" part of our update on 2/12-13/2012.]


    11/07/2011   Crony capitalism - Who ordered the bailouts? Look again - A Republican president was "compelled" to do what he "didn't want to do" - A Democratic president was "compelled" to do "what he hated" [our quotes], op ed by Neil Reynolds reynolds.globe@gmail.com, Toronto Globe, A15.
    ...Mr. Obama could have sent a $10,000 cheque to every man, woman and child in the country instead.
    [Let's see. 300m people. $700B bailout. Let's say $600B so it'll come out even. $600B is 600,000m. $600,000/300= $2,000, not $10,000. But the point is made -]
    People would have spent some of this money and paid down debt with the rest - equally productive uses. The risk-adverse [sic] banks, in contrast, sat on the bailout money....
    Perhaps Mr. Bush and Mr. Obama simply lacked the courage, or the confidence, to say no - and instead, insure depositors (Main St.) rather than bankers (Wall St.). If so, an awesome transfer of [self-diminishing] power has taken place in the land of the "free" and the home of the "brave" [our quotes].
    [Yes it has, but since it is starving its own foundation, the consumer base, via the employee basement, it's Great Leak Upward amounts to "Suicide, Everyone Else First." And that, sportsfans, shore ain't sustainable.]



    11/04/2011   Occupy Wall Street - Protesters should get occupied with economic solutions, by Chrystia Freeland, Thomson Reuters Digital, Toronto Globe & Mail, B2.
    WATERLOO, Ont., Canada - ...Neither.\.Paul Martin [or] Ernesto Zedillo...had sympathy for the complaint that Occupy Wall Street lacks a clear agenda.... The truth, the two men agreed, was that the protesters are articulating an important global concern.... Mr. Zedillo thought..."They should have an Occupy G20."
    [They used to. It was called TOES = The Other Economic Summit.]
    ...Governments have spent billions bailing out banks, even as they cut pensions and social services, and...income inequality is soaring worldwide....
    [The problem started with the redistribution of a larger percentage of the money supply to a small population, and the deactivation of that percentage there, since that population had far more than they could spend. Bailing them out just redistributed and deactivated even more of the money supply, further diminishing consumer spending and dedynamizing the economy.]
    Economic growth is the most pressing problem today, and no matter how fierce your animosity toward the 1% [richest], it is had to see how reining in that group more effectively will goose the GDP.
    [It's not hard at all, assuming that "reining in" means centrifuging the black hole of money they're unintentionally hoarding because, due to the diminished consumer spending they've caused by their fostering of labor surplus and hyperconcentrated M1, they can't find enough marketable productivity to sustainably invest in.]
    In many countries, the rise of the 1% has coincided with strong economic growth.
    [These are countries where there was no 1% at all before, and the 1% today have still not concentrated enough of the money supply to diminish consumer spending and markets for productivity they need to invest in. The line of questioning here goes: is there a point in the concentration of a nation's money supply beyond which the implicit conversion of spending power to investing power starts to undermine itself because what's left in the spending portion of the money supply is not enough to provide adequate residence for the megamongo amount of investing power. (Answer: duh, yeah.) And ifso, how do we determine that point (A: recession) and reverse the process. (Answer: by creating a perceived labor shortage - capitalism only runs well with a labor "shortage" to raise wage levels and prevent the overconcentration of the money supply.) How do you create a labor "shortage" without our old standby's, war (now too robotized-conventional or catastrophic-nuclear) or plague (now checkmated by medical advances)? Answer: Resume discontinued workweek reduction until you have full employment and therefore maximum-possible consumer spending. Alternate articulation: unemployment-controlled overtime-to-jobs (&training) conversion. This ain't rocket science but it seems to be sooo obvious that few can grasp it from within the self-contradictory economic assumptions of today (eg's: we can get growth alias UPsizing by DOWNsizing - yeah, ri-i-ight - and, there is no connection between my layoffs and my weaker markets...).]
    ...The second complication is that...dividing the "bad" crony capitalists from the "good" innovative entrepreneurs is hard to do....
    [Not really. Very very few innovative entrepreneurs are among the super-rich, who generally have no incentive to innovate. The system seems to be working for them, and "If it works, don't fix it!" Another version of this came from George Bernard Shaw, who said reform doesn't come from the poor because they haven't the means, and it doesn't come from the rich because they haven't the motivation - it comes from dispossessed offspring of the rich.]



    9/25/2011   Class welfare: Economics brought to life, book review by Mickey Edwards of GRAND PURSUIT: The Story of Economic Genius by Sylvia Nasar, Boston Sunday Globe, K7.
    In 1931, in an article called “Economic Possibilities for our Grandchildren,’’ John Maynard Keynes described what he called “the political problem of mankind.’’ The task, he wrote, was to “combine three essential human goals - economic efficiency, social justice, and individual liberty.’’
    [We'd call this "the economic-design challenge of mankind." As we developed the Timesizing program design over the last 25-plus years, we were dimly aware of combining three difficult-to-include-all three values, especially when efficiency was being used by so many CEOs to rationalize system-suicidal downsizing. For social justice, we would perhaps substitute, or specify, equality, as in "All men are born equal" and "equality of opportunity." The key for our design project was realizing that we didn't need to... (in fact, it was stifling to try to...) equalize on a point; we could and should equalize instead on a RANGE, not a point. And the first range should be the range of safe and system-friendly workweeks = the size range of the individual person's share of limited or shrinking natural market-demanded human employment that is not yet turned over to work-saving technology.
    Then the conflict between governing or regulating or controlling to achieve a safe range is resolved by the contrast between per-person and per-job. Persons are roughly the same size and therefore per-person is the province of governance and government. Jobs vary hugely and are therefore the province of the free market.
    Then the danger of suffocation from too much governance or regulation is handled by "the three ways to go": no controls, any>many controls, few>one control. Thus the holy grail of economic designers is the quest for the single all-sufficient control (single ASC), so well designed and positioned within the body economic that it can safely supercede all other controls and deliver maximum lower- (more detailed) level freedom and variability and survivability. The closest we have got to the single ASC is a double ASC: (1) fluctuating adjustment of the workweek vs. un(der)employment and (2) smooth and automatic conversion of chronic overtime and overwork into OT-targeted training and hiring.
    Then we need to consider strategy and efficiency with such questions as, is there an optimum or even single-necessary series of variables to apply these ideas to? We go from the metaphor of the best path on the mountain range of human life down which to roll the snowball of "problem snow" so that the maximum of problems is cleared off with the minimum of effort and travel time, and achieve "the minimum necessary departure from status quo at each point," instead of continuing to "invest a maximum of time and energy at points of minimum return" - in other words, what are the inter-relations and dependencies between the problems on the list for solution - which help the solution of which others? which hinder? and which have no effect? what if we try demoting/delaying some of them, or promoting/preposing some of them, or swapping some of them? - in other words, what is the Gant Chart here - or is it the PERT Chart that we mean? This is project management, that we have NEVER applied to our biggest economic problems. We have never applied certain design principles either, principles that we apply in designing in EVERY AND ALL other fields, like, design the problem to solve itself. Anyway, our series of variables to be regulated in their necessary order=worktime per person, income per person, wealth per person, credit per person... and their flipside counterpart variables to be deregulated in corresponding necessary order=worktime per job, wage per job, wealth per corporation, credit per corporation...]
    Sylvia Nasar begins her new book, “Grand Pursuit: The Story of Economic Genius,’’ with that quote and with Keynes’ self-described aspiration: for economists to be “the trustees, not of civilization, but of the possibility of civilization.’’
    The book might have been better titled “Trustees of Possibility’’ because that is the theme Nasar etches through more than 500 pages, brilliantly bringing to life game-changing economists from Marx to Hayek and from Sidney Webb to Milton Friedman, tracing the evolution of modern economic thinking through the richly detailed stories of the men and woman who reshaped how we think of life’s possibilities. The book begins with Marx, agonizing over the poor while living in subsidized luxury (she’s descriptive, not judgmental).
    And Beatrix Potter, midwife of the nanny state, born to wealth, child of an unloving mother, a political traditionalist who chases shamelessly after Joseph Chamberlain (Neville’s father), an imperious, self-absorbed leftist, until she ends up married to Sidney Webb (she thinks him an ugly little man and tells him she’s marrying him only for his head) and sets out on a course that changes British political history.
    The Potter-Webb story is a good microcosm of the book itself: It is about economics, about waging war against “destitution,’’ but it’s filled with H.G. Wells and George Bernard Shaw and a lady with a crush and a man who is a cad and the transition of Winston Churchill from conservative to emulator of the German welfare state. If economics is so dull how does this book read like a who’s who, a dime-novel love story, and a clash of titans?
    There is a thread connecting many of Nasar’s characters (they’re not her “heroes’’; their economic perspectives vary greatly, and she’s a describer, not an advocate). Potter, for example, saw her class as distinguished not by wealth but by the fact that they were invididuals who “habitually gave orders, but who seldom, if ever, executed the orders of other people.’’ I once, in an upscale community I’m familiar with (though not a part of), observed that there seemed to be three classes of people: those who never washed their own dishes or mowed their own lawns; those who washed other peoples’ dishes and mowed other peoples’ lawns (the two subsets that dominate political discussion); and those who washed their own dishes but nobody else’s and those who mowed their own lawns but nobody else’s, and who form the bulk of the taxpaying public. These distinctions and the focus on economics as a tool not merely to explain and predict but to actually improve the lot of the laboring class - is what this book is all about. Before the rise of economics as a guiding political force, Nasar observes, society was largely static: If you were born into a family of poor laborers, that was the life you could expect for yourself and the one your children would follow. One’s situation in life was just what it was. Economics was the science that gave rise to possibility.Continued...
    One of the problems in politics is a tendency toward oversimplification. To some, Adam Smith, capitalism’s champion, is a believer in survival of the fittest, while Keynes has long been a goblin to those who believe he brought about the surrender of freedom and the rise of the super state. In truth, both men were far more nuanced in their analyses and their prescriptions, and it is a great strength of Nasar’s book that she walks us carefully through those nuances and complexities, the motivational triggers and the evolving thought, that led to the theories that have shaped the economic and political battles of the past two and a half centuries. It is thus no great surprise to learn that despite the substantial disagreements between Keynes and Friedrich Hayek over how much government was too much for a free society, it was Keynes who nominated Hayek for a prestigious membership in the British Academy and endorsed Hayek’s book, “The Road to Serfdom,’’ which still enjoys a place of prominence in every American conservative’s library.
    Near the end of World War I, Joseph Schumpeter argued that socialism was not inevitable and that a hybrid, a capitalist welfare state, would survive the conflict. The ensuing crisis, he said, would flow from what Nasar describes as “a gap between the voters’ expectations and their willingness to pay taxes.’’ Which sounds eerily familiar to those of us waiting to see how the United States manages to extricate itself from the chasm between what the public wants and what it is willing to pay.
    This is an utterly fascinating book on many levels - equally enjoyable for the serious thinker and the trivial pursuit buff (you’ll find a journalist named Charles Dickens in these pages). Nasar spotlights the pursuit of possibility, the simple clarity of the visions that motivate the effort, the complexity of the steps required to bring change about. “A Beautiful Mind,’’ Nasar’s previous book, was about an economist named John Nash, but Nasar’s mind is pretty good, too. No lesser mind could have written a book so rich, so compelling, so important, and so much fun.


    3/3/2010   When Good Deeds Turn Bad,
    by Jeffrey Zaslow, Wall St Journal, D1.
    Before you decide to save the world, BeyondGoodIntentions.org
    * Throw away your assumptions about what you think people need
    * Ask recipients what they think might work
    * Focus on ideas that may be more effective than the obvious project
    * Be willing to be anonymous

    When Kent M. Keith was a Cub Scout in the 1950s, he had a great urge to do good deeds and pile up merit badges. Was it altruism? Ambition? A chance to feel better about himself? Was he really making a difference?
    One day, his father set him straight. "Kent," he said, "don't help the old lady cross the street unless she wants to go."
    Kent Keith, now 61, is CEO of the Greenleaf Center for Servant Leadership, a nonprofit organization based in Westfield, Ind., that advises groups and individuals on practical and ethical ways of helping others.
    Most of us want to be effective, he says, "to make the world better. But before you help people, you have to ask them, 'What do you need? What do you want?' "
    Every day, we see reminders of the limitations, and even the dangers, of good intentions. In Haiti, U.S. missionaries who said they only wanted to save orphaned children ended up arrested on child-trafficking charges. In Asian countries hit by the 2004 tsunami, residents still shake their heads over the warehouses filled with unusable donations, including winter coats and stiletto shoes. And earthquake-ravaged Chile is sure to receive its share of "useless aid" in the days ahead.
    Closer to home, good intentions are often greeted cynically, or with indifference. In Hollywood, celebrities recently gathered to again sing "We Are the World," and much of the world yawned in response.
    In Chicago's City Hall, waterless urinals in a men's room were touted for saving 50,000 gallons of water a year per urinal. But without enough water per flush, the copper pipes corroded and urine collected in the restroom wall. The smell of urine spread through City Council chambers. Last month, amid snickering, the well-meaning conservation effort was abandoned, and regular urinals were reinstalled.
    The steady procession of such stories would have us believing the old axiom that "no good deed goes unpunished." How can we better calibrate good intentions in our own lives?
    The answer, from activists and academics who study the human impulse, is blunt. Throw out any ideas of winning praise for your work—be honest, most of us want to be stroked—and build up some armor to take hits. A growing field of organizations has sprung up to advise people looking to donate, time or money, to help potential donors achieve these steps.
    "Throw away your assumptions about what people need," advises Tori Hogan, a 27-year-old activist who has traveled the world studying the effectiveness of aid programs. Beyond Good Intentions, the Cambridge, Mass.-based charity-watchdog organization she founded, posts videos on its Web site that evaluate aid projects.
    Ms. Hogan tells of going to a village in Peru where an aid group brought in tourists to help build public toilets. The group ran out of money and time, the tourists ended their volunteering vacations, and the toilets were never completed. The aid group had thought access to restroom facilities was needed to boost living standards, Ms. Hogan says. "But when I asked people in the community what they wanted, they said, 'What we really needed was irrigation, and to have our bridge fixed, so we could take our goods to market.' "
    The never-completed toilets were gaping holes that had to be covered. Villagers feared their children would fall in.
    Such failed efforts are often repeated across the developing world, and some aid workers resent it when Ms. Hogan points them out. Too bad, she says. As she sees it, it's irresponsible to believe that as long as we mean well, the details will figure themselves out. It's no excuse to say: "Well, at least my heart was in the right place."
    It's not always true that any help is better than no help. "We see a lot of people coming to orphanages, attaching to kids, and they're gone in a week," says Ms. Hogan.
    In one of the Beyond Good Intentions videos, a woman who runs an orphanage in Argentina explains that when these short-term volunteers say goodbye, the orphans "are left feeling empty." Now, as soon as volunteers arrive, wary orphans often ask, "How long are you here for?" Says Ms. Hogan: "They're tired of having their hearts broken."
    Volunteer Tutors
    Youth and mentoring programs in the U.S. have the same issues. In Swarthmore, Pa., students at Swarthmore College are asked not to serve as volunteer tutors for disadvantaged kids unless they're willing to make a "long term" commitment of at least one semester.
    If you're a needy child, "it may be better to have no relationship with these [collegiate] role models than to have a relationship you can't count on," says Barry Schwartz, a professor of social theory and social action at the college.
    Of course, it's not just people in need who can fall victim to good intentions. Do-gooders face hazards of their own. "You're vulnerable to being exploited. But it's a risk worth taking," says Dr. Schwartz.
    Talk to those who have seen firsthand that "no good deed goes unpunished," and they often agree.
    In San Antonio, Jon Hansbrough received a parking ticket last year while briefly parked in a commercial loading zone. A church volunteer, he was delivering meals for a homeless shelter. He says the officer who issued the ticket told him he should have parked down the block and somehow carted the 500 pounds of food to the shelter.
    At first, Mr. Hansbrough, a 66-year-old disabled veteran, was upset, and called on fellow parishioners "to pray that public officials will develop compassion for the homeless and tolerance for those who feed them."
    Being 'Punished'
    But on reflection, he chose not to dwell on the fact that he was "punished" while doing good. Instead, he now stays with his sport-utility vehicle in case an officer shows up, while some of the homeless men quickly unload the food. "I'm answering to a higher calling," he says.
    Michael Grayson, who survived a more serious example of being "punished" for a good deed, feels the same way. Last December, the 51-year-old carpenter from Jacksonville, Fla., stopped along a roadway to help an 87-year-old woman whose car wouldn't start.
    Mr. Grayson slid underneath her car, got it running by jumping the starter, but didn't realize the woman had left the car in drive. The car began to move and both the front and back tires rolled across him, crushing multiple bones. He has no insurance, and his medical bills now stand at $148,000. Medicaid and the woman's auto insurance have covered only a fraction of that amount, and his doctors expect him to be in a wheelchair until June.
    Still, Mr. Grayson says he has no regrets about helping that woman, and no hard feelings toward her. The lesson for him isn't that no good deed goes unpunished. Rather, he says, the lesson is to be more careful. "I should have checked that the car was in park, and I should have blocked the tires before getting under the car," he says.
    He hopes his predicament won't dissuade anyone from following through on good intentions. "Do all you can for other people," he says. "That's what makes the world go round."
    —Email: jeffrey.zaslow@wsj.com

    [Or in a book -]
    Left-Handed Security by Richard Power
    for whom the answer, a common one, is spirituality.

    2/27/2010   Is the dismal science really a science? - Some macroeconomists argue say if we just study the numbers long enough, we'll be able to design better policy - That's like the sign in the bar: Free Beer Tomorrow, op ed by Russ Roberts, Wall St Journal, A13.
    [If you have to ask, and ask, and ask, the answer is NO. As early as 1962, the leading female economist, Joan Robinson of Cambridge, published a book called *Economic Philosophy and she really meant Economic Theology. Here we have two versions of The Big Question: 1) Is the power dialect of our lifetimes (economese) really scientific as it claims? and 2) How do we design a better economic policy or cut to the chase, what would a better economic policy/design look like? (Our answer: the Timesizing Program, whose five phases are becoming a kind of playlist for the fastest progress currently evolving.)]
    For an economist, these are the best of times and the worst of times. We live in the best of times because everyone wants to understand what happened to the economy and what's going to happen next.
    Is the mess we're in a market failure or a government failure? Is the stimulus plan working? Would tax cuts for small business spur employment? When will the job market improve? Is inflation coming? Do deficits matter?
    So many questions and so little in the way of answers. And so it is the worst of times for economists. There is no consensus on the cause of the crisis or the best way forward.
    There were Nobel Laureates who thought the original stimulus package should have been twice as big. And there are those who blame it for keeping unemployment high. Some economists warn of hyperinflation while others tell us not to worry.
    It makes you wonder why people call it the Nobel Prize in Economic Science. After all, most sciences make progress. Nobody in medicine wants to bring back lead goblets. Sir Isaac Newton understood a lot about gravity. But Albert Einstein taught us more.
    But in economics, theories that were once discredited surge back into favor. John Maynard Keynes and the view that government spending can create prosperity seem immortal. I thought stagflation had put a stake in the heart of this idea back in the 1970s. Suddenly, he's a genius once again. F.A. Hayek, Keynes's more laissez-faire sparring partner, is drawing interest. There are various monetarists to choose from, too. Which paradigm is the "right" way to think about the boom and the bust? Or are they all wrong?
    I once thought econometrics—the application of statistics to economic questions—would settle these disputes and the truth would out. Econometrics is often used to measure the independent impact of one variable holding the rest of the relevant factors constant. But I've come to believe there are too many factors we don't have data on, too many connections between the variables we don't understand and can't model or identify.
    I've started asking economists if they can name a study that applied sophisticated econometrics to a controversial policy issue where the study was so well done that one side's proponents had to admit they were wrong. I don't know of any. One economist told me that in general my point was well taken, but that his own work (of course!) had been decisive in settling a particular dispute.
    Perhaps what we're really doing is confirming our biases. Ed Leamer, a professor of economics at UCLA, calls it "faith-based" econometrics. When the debate is over $2 trillion in additional government spending vs. zero, we've stopped being scientists and become philosophers. Do we want to be more like France with a bigger role for government, or less like France?
    Facts and evidence still matter.
    [Not if "But in economics, theories that were once discredited surge back into favor," as stated above.]
    And economists have learned some things that have stood the test of time and that we almost all agree on—the general connection between the money supply and inflation, for example. But the arsenal of the modern econometrician is vastly overrated as a diviner of truth. Nearly all economists accept the fundamental principles of microeconomics—that incentives matter, that trade creates prosperity—even if we disagree on the implications for public policy. But the business cycle and the ability to steer the economy out of recession may be beyond us.
    The defenders of modern macroeconomics argue that if we just study the economy long enough, we'll soon be able to model it accurately and design better policy. Soon. That reminds me of the permanent sign in the bar: Free Beer Tomorrow.
    [The problem is that economics has the potential of affecting the wealthy, but the wealthy are doin' fine with things as they are, however bad for everyone else, so they don't want economics to affect/change things for themselves, and they are the major donors to universities in general and economics departments (and political campaigns) in particular. Sooo - somehow economists just don't get around to asking the most important questions like, (A) Is there a point of diminishing returns in the unlimited concentration of a nation's income and wealth, and (B) ifso, how do we find it and how do we most easily set a limit there and (C) reverse the concentration if it has gone beyond that point?]
    We should face the evidence that we are no better today at predicting tomorrow than we were yesterday. Eighty years after the Great Depression we still argue about what caused it and why it ended.
    If economics is a science, it is more like biology than physics [don't flatter yourselves]. Biologists try to understand the relationships in a complex system. That's hard enough. But they can't tell you what will happen with any precision to the population of a particular species of frog if rainfall goes up this year in a particular rain forest. They might not even be able to count the number of frogs right now with any exactness.
    We have the same problems in economics. The economy is a complex system, our data are imperfect and our models inevitably fail to account for all the interactions.
    [And since it's taboo to discuss the dysfunctionally unlimited concentration of economic energy (money), your models even fail to account for the most important and influential interactions. You are engaged in a huge game of distraction.]
    The bottom line is that we should expect less of economists [no kidding!]. Economics is a powerful tool [for keeping things as they are, increasingly dysfunctional and unsustainable], a lens for organizing one's thinking about the complexity of the world around us. That should be enough [no it should not]. We should be honest [ha!] about what we know, what we don't know and what we may never know. Admitting that publicly is the first step toward respectability.
    [The tragic thing is that economists have the respectability in terms of having the ear of power, but it's based purely on their mostly premature jumps to quantification and most people's mathophobia (mine, anyway!).]
    Mr. Roberts is a research fellow at Stanford University's Hoover Institution, professor of economics at George Mason University and a distinguished scholar in the Mercatus Center.

    7/23/2009   Timesizing solves two puzzles, lifted from homepage.
    (1) When introducing technology, how can CEOs, without makework, maintain or increase employment and markets instead of downsizing jobs & the consumer markets & investments they support and dragging government (& taxpayers) into the role of employer and charity of last resort?  (Bonus question: Is there some way to check inflation under full employment - without checking growth by raising interest?)   (2)  How do we then shift from maximizing consumption to save our economy, to minimizing consumption to save our ecosystem? (Taboo question: How do we stop the unlimited consolidation of our national income & wealth among the top .01% of our population from proceeding beyond the point where it starts cannibalizing its own consumer base?)
              Two answers, two 'gears':  (1) Timesizing = switch from trimming the workforce and the consumer base to trimming the workweek as long as unemployment is too high or wages too low; make honest self-support easier, not taxpayer-support and charity and crime, and – crucial – automatically convert overtime into training and jobs.  (2) Once everyone is included in the worksharing system, GDP growth becomes optional instead of systemically necessary, because for the first time, growth can be limited without starving the now well-employed 'poor' or clobbering the consumer base (and the economy that's based on it). So then we can cut the workweek further to downshift production & consumption and save the planet without killing the economy. (And then, based on this work-balancing program, we design programs to balance money.)

    7/18/2009   What went wrong with economics - And how the discipline should change to avoid the mistakes of the past, Economist magazine of London, 11.
    Of all the economic bubbles that have been pricked, few have burst more spectacularly than the reputation of economics itself.... - see whole article under today's date.
    [This is The Big Question writ large but inarticulately, like the drawing of the empty chair surrounded by famous economists of history that showed up on the cover of Psychology Today magazine in Sept? 1974?]

    4/28/2009   The era of adapting quickly, review of book "The Age of the Unthinkable - Why the new world disorder constantly surprises us [speak for yourself, Ramo] and what we can do about it" by Joshua Ramo, NYT, C1.
    ...Mr. Ramo is adept at assessing the precarious state of today's post-cold-war world - in which nation states face assymetric [pedantic & irrelevant] threats from the likes of terrorists, drug cartels and computer hackers.\.but...he proves much less convincing in articulating practical means of grappling with such daunting problems....
    [So the question framed here is, What are the practical means of grappling with problems facing nations today from terrorists (back justice instead of Israeli government landgrabs, obstruction and callousness), drug cartels (decriminalize drugs), and computer hackers (cut workweeks and convert overtime into jobs until you get honest and full employment for everyone no matter how short a workweek it takes). Ramo's fuzzy solution? -Leaders, he says...]
    ...must learn to build resilient societies [core design??] with strong immune systems [protectionism?]:...they ought to focus on things like "national health care, construction of a better transport infrastructure and investment in education."
    [THESE are his "unthinkable" "provocative" "change embracing" "new assumption based" "creative new approaches"??? - Every advanced economy but the U.S. has national/universal healthcare, good transportation infrastructure and heavy investment in education. He's merely describing what is, not suggesting what should be. And he doesn't even mention the disaster of the repeated massive election theft of the neocons in the U.S. and the obvious solution of thorough election reform? And what do any of his suggestions have to do with "adapting quickly" a la title?? And indeed the book reviewer comments...]
    ...Mr. Ramo sounds annoyingly fuzzy and vaguely New Agey [or Old Agey?] when he tries to outline tactics for dealing with "the age of the unthinkable"...
    [But neither Ramo nor the reviewer sound seriously interested in articulating the problem(s) in actionable ways - just strutting and playing with problems like a cats tormenting small animals.]

    3/22/2009   As consumers cut back, what will take their place?, Boston Globe, G5.
    (This is the inside portion of "Are our shopping days over? - Consumer cutbacks could be a sign of profound shift in how the economy operates".)
    [The only answer is the same thing that the Gospel of Consumption was invented to avoid, the Gospel of Worksharing. Basically, the CEO-mandated rigid-workweek regulation necessitated over-production to fill a frozen pre-high-tech level of the workweek, flexed downward slightly 1938-40 (44 to 40 hours), rigidity restored during World War II, and that overproduction determined compulsory overconsumption = the Gospel of Consumption. This all had the advantage, for the increasingly detached, insulated, isolated power elite, of keeping the millions of ordinary people too busy to exercise effective oversight. People became and stayed overscheduled, buzzed up with trivia, short-sighted and narrowly interested like the power elite.]

    3/15/2007   The apathy-inducing Liberals need a big idea, and soon, by Lawrence Martin (lmartin@globeandmail.com), Toronto Globe&Mail, A15.
    [It ain't just the American old and the Canadian New Dems that lack a vision - check out the Canuck Grits aka Liberals -]
    The Liberal Party of Canada, still trying to enter this century, needs a big bracing idea, something to capture the public imagination, something to steal the agenda from the ascendant[?] Conservatives, something as broad as the changes (see new census) sweeping this country.
    The Grits lack a big arc.... Their leadership race, for all its good features, failed to redefine the party and shape a new vision. They need to find something in a hurry. The search is on....
    [Sounds like a definition of Timesizing. However, Martin thinks he has some answers but his answers are pretty low-level -]
    ...It's not exactly that there are no big new possibilities out there - things the Liberals could embarrass the Tories with.

    1. For example, they could take on "The Northern Dream"...dust off John Diefenbaker's old vision of the North and inspire Canadians with a new one.... The great warming North with all its mineral riches remains largely tenantless. Where's the great government incentive program that will begin to fill it and realize Canada's potential as a northern nation?
      [Do you really want more government makework? bigger government? higher taxes?]
    2. As a vision statement, the Liberals could do far worse than one titled "The New Democracy." The country needs to modernize its outdated and overly centralized democratic system, which has become tantamount to a prime ministerial dictatorship.... On the dictatorship of the Prime Minister's Office, why not propose a series of power-sharing reforms, putting Mr. Harper on the defensive..\.. On Senate reform, why not outdo the middling Harper effort with a grander reform?... If the Liberals had the courage to think big, they would explore the creation of a system of proportional representation. Its time is coming. It is a fairer, more democratic, more grassroots system.
      [Good. This whole type of reform is in Phase One of the Timesizing program.]
    3. On foreign policy, "The Union of Civilizations" might serve as an enlightened policy offset to the old-think clash of civilizations. ["Union of Civilizations"!? What does that mean? Most Canadians don't even want to unite with the deteriorating "civilization" to the south, which is currently clashing civilizations for all its worth with Islam in general and Iraq in particular, and "has a little list" of future clashes: Iran, Syria, Lebanon, Somalia, Libya.... And most North Americans don't even want to unite with the mongo third-world economy of China, but this is getting shoved down their throats by the globalizers, who are thereby killing their home employment and consumer bases.]
      ...In the past, it's been okay for the Official Opposition to lie low because the governing party has been in the process of defeating itself. But Mr. Harper's government isn't defeating itself....
      [If snuggling up to the corrupt and incompetent Bush administration which is in the process of defeating itself isn't "defeating itself" then what is?]

      [It ain't just the US Democrats that lack a vision - check out the New Democrats in Canada -]
      3/14/2007   Lament for the left, editorial, Ottawa Citizen, A16.
      New Democrat Member of Parliament Pat Martin has turned his rhetorical guns on a surprising yet deserving target: his own party. The NDP needs to be bolder and clearer in its vision for Canada, Mr. Martin said amid slipping poll numbers....

      9/21/2006   Goodbye to All That? - A review of Leszek Kolakowski's "Main Currents of Marxism: The Founders, the Golden Age, the Breakdown" and his "My Correct Views on Everything," by Tony Judt, in New York Review of Books, 88 (our excerpt, 92).
      ...Marxism...was the deep "structure" of much progressive politics.
      [Not very deep for a deep structure! How deep is Marx's 3-step prescription: (1) Workers of the world, unite. (2) Throw off your chains. (3) Nationalize everything." Like, uh, what then? This is slightly better than Henry George's single tax on land, but not nearly as meaty as Timesizing's 5 phases and its series of 5-phase successor programs to deconcentrate one black hole of advantage after another and keep up with everyone's rising expectations.]
      Marxist language, or a language parasitic upon Marxist categories, gave form and explicit coherence to many kinds of modern political protest: from social democracy to radical feminism. ...The loss of Marxism as a way of relating critically to the present really has left an empty space.
      [An empty space that timesizing and worktime economics and their successors can fill.]
      With Marxism have gone not just dysfunctional Communist regimes and their deluded foreign apologists, but also the whole schema of assumptions, categories and explanations created over the past 150 years that we had come to think of as "the left." Anyone who has observed the confusion of the political left in North America or Europe over the past 20 years and asked themselves "But what does it stand for? What does it want?" will appreciate the point.
      [Timesizing stands for an end to allowing the elite, any elite, to continue to have both general and specific power over everyone's livelihood. Their current power of hiring and firing against a background of deep and growing labor surplus is a double draft of hemlock for sustainability and real economic growth. We cannot take away their specific power of hiring and firing. But we must end the wage-depressing, consumerbase-weakening labor surplus and move beyond that. And that is exactly what Timesizing allows us to do.]

      11/05/2004   Why we lost - Democrats have [opposition and] ideas, but no vision, by Andrei Cherny, special policy adviser to John Kerry from Feb/2003 to Apr/2004; NYT, A27.
      ...Democrats have a collection of policy positions that are sensible and right.... What we don't have , and what we sorely need, is what Pres. George H.W. Bush so famously derided as "the vision thing" - a worldview that makes a thematic argument about where America is headed and where we want to take it.
      For most of the 20th century, Democrats had a bold vision: we would use government programs to make Americans' lives more stable and secure.
      [- most critically, via government job creation, alias makework - despite an effective but forgotten episode of whole-economy (ie: by far mostly non-governmental) work sharing, alias sharework, between 1938 (nationwide 44-hour workweek) and 1940 (40-hr wk) and a nearly enacted also forgotten episode (30-hr wk passed by US Senate) in 1933.]
      In 1996, Pres. Clinton told us this age had passed, that "the era of big government is over." He was right - the world had changed.
      [No, he was wrong. The Republican government, now taken over by corrupt energy, mostly oil, companies, is now far bigger and more intrusive in Americans' private lives, though more lax and permissive toward big business, than ever, but all is covered with a staged war and 'national security' needs.]
      But the [Democratic] party has not answered the basic question: What comes next?
      [Obviously, some version of small government. And that means some intelligent minimalist design that can deliver a Democrat-style social safety net with Republican-style small-government and low taxes = the minimum necessary departure from status quo instead of the maximum, a stable minimum of freeing generalized controls instead of a burgeoning maximum of stifling detailed controls; ideally, a single all-sufficient groundrule that renders the whole system sustainable, like the Hebrew jubilee, the Hopi redistributive dances, the Tlingit potlatch, the reset of all teams in sports leagues to zero-games-won at the beginning of each season, high estate taxes, instead of allowing the system to get top-heavy, cannibalize its own consumer base, undermine itself and crash.]
      It's not the sort of question that gets answered in the heat of a national election, [which] is not the place to devise a new thematic direction for the party. What you wind up offering are quips and quibbles, slogans and sound bites, and heaping portions of poll-tested pablum.
      The press also seems to overstate what staff changes can do within a campaign.... While new advisers can alter tactics and form new messages, efforts on their part to create a larger vision will fail. That has to happen long before the primaries - and it requires that the party knows where it is going.
      Throughout the campaign, voters told reporters that they wanted a change, but didn't "know what John Kerry stands for." Our response was to churn out more...details of policies.... It turned out that Americans weren't very interested.... They wanted to know instead how he saw the world. And we never told them.
      [So they assumed that the Democrat vision was still basically the New Deal of big government makework, warmed over and possibly again renamed as it was during the Great Society and the War on Poverty, etc., both smaller than Bush Jr. or Reagan government makework but unfunneled, and unrationalized, by funneling through the Pentagon.]
      Misguided as they may be, the Republicans have a clear vision of America's future.
      [Yeah, a vision even further in America's past = the 1920s, instead of the Democrats' 1930s.]
      Confronted with their agenda, we have not chosen to match it.
      [or "been able to match it."]
      Instead, we have adopted Nancy Reagan's old antidrug motto, "Just Say No." As in "Stop Bush's Assault on the Environment", "Repeal Bush's Taxcuts for the Rich", and "End Bush's Unilateralism". These are good stands. But they are not enough. And the Republicans ended up defining John Kerry because we did not.
      [And unlike Howard Dean and Dennis Kucinich, he himself did not.]
      I don't pretend to know exactly what the party should do now. But I do know that we better start answering some important questions.

      1. What is our economic vision in a globalized world?
        [For starters, "we" must stop accepting the Republican framing of the issue and that means questioning the here-taken-for-granted backdrop of "a globalized world." Accept that unquestioningly as Cherny has here and you've already lost, as George Lakoff has been trying to point out to Democrats. Instead, Dems should be redefining it based on the principle, "Companies only get to access our consumer base indefinitely insofar as they maintain it with employment and wages, and otherwise they only get to access it temporarily until we replace their products or skills domestically." Then we get in line with the UN and the World Court and the Test-Ban Treaty and all the other global stuff that WE set up FOR EVERYONE and then pulled out of. We need a lot more world leadership by example and a lot less leadership by "Do as I say and not as I do." As Grannie used to say, "What's sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander." Then quit playing around with people's livelihoods and drive right for full employment, as Timesizing's Phases Two, Three and Four do - control inflation not by fostering unemployment and hobbling growth as we do now but by balancing inflationary and deflationary incentive throughout the economy, as described in Timesizing Phase 3 but begun in Phase 2.]
      2. How do we respond to the desire of many Americans to have choices and decision-making power of their own?
        [Copy and extend the advanced Swiss system of direct democracy via issue-oriented referendums. Buckminster Fuller's vision was for issue-oriented 24-hour telephone referendums that turned congressional "representatives" into mere housekeepers of the public will. This is the thrust of Phase One of the Timesizing Full Employment Program. But for God's sake, stop George Soros from wasting his billions on get-out-the-vote efforts and get him to buy the Republicans' corrupt voting-machine companies (Diebold etc.) out from under him or start Democrat-owned companies of his own, insisting that they be bought and installed everywhere a Republican machine is installed - until the cheating spirit of Karl Rove is washed out of the American spirit. And get constitutional amendments to move beyond the Electoral College, require paper trails and bar the judicial branch (Supreme Court) from interfering in legislative-branch recounts. There can be no checks and balances without separation of powers and there can be no separation of powers between the three branches of government when one branch (eg: Supreme Court) can arrogate decision-making power that constitutionally belongs to another branch (eg: Congress), regardless of hullaballooed national delay, inconvenience or embarrassment.]
      3. How can we speak to Americans' moral and spiritual yearnings?
        [(A) By taking a very long-term ecological view of our future with supreme emphasis on sustainability, and (B) by otherwise KEEPING GOVERNMENT AND POLITICIANS OUT OF RELIGION and religion out of government and politics - and by moving on to build on this separation between religion and politics ("church and state") to separate politics and economics ("state and market"). The whole purpose of the vote was to outflank the all-encompassing but severely flawed decision-making power of self-insulating and -isolating wealthy people and get some real feedback and flexibility into the system, and when the Supreme Court in 1976 confused freedom of speech with unlimited political donations, that fundamental purpose was destroyed, and it was just a matter of time before America reverted to a plutocratic hegemony or dictatorship, and thence, a kleptocracy, ruled by thieves legitimated by their own self-serving laws. With the rigged "election" of 2004, that has now essentially happened but the oil-corporatists (aka 'fascists') in the Bush cabal have not yet consolidated their stranglehold enough to block protest meetings and purge the Internet - ie: the thousands of sites like this one (Timesizing.com).]
      4. How can our national security vision be broader than just a critique of the Republicans' foreign policy?
        [For starters, you don't go after 19 guys with box cutters with $415 billion in huge weaponry and a strained and probably staged attempt to reframe/translate the whole problem into one of old-fashioned conventional warfare (though with costly new weapons). You fight fire with fire, low-cost strategy, creativity and intelligence with low-cost strategy, creativity and intelligence. And most of all, you "let justice roll down like waters" (Amos 5:24) in line with the best of the Hebrew Bible, not resorting to war in line with the worst of the Hebrew Bible. This means you listen to the valuable feedback in the motivation behind the desperate suicide attackers (suicide is the most desperate, unlistened-to project there is) and you solve the problem at its root - our plutocrats' wildly partial, unreferendumized support for the racist and creedist state of Israel, regardless of what they do to their neighbors. "Who can, by stirring, clear muddy waters - but leave them alone, and they will come clear of themselves." - Lao Tzu.]
      If we sweep this debate under the rug, four years from now another set of people around another conference table will be struggling with the same issues we did....
      [And you do NOT "wait till the election," as we heard sooo often during the last four years when the Democrats should have been screaming for impeachment, but lacking courageous leadership, chickened out. The Republicans would certainly have been screaming for impeachment within the first six months of 2001, because the Republicans were screaming for impeachment throughout Clinton's presidency over much less serious matters. The Democrats have consistently failed to understand what kind of politics America has descended to and what they're up against. For them, it's still the '70s. Wakey, wakey, chillun.]

      11/04/2004   Beaten again, Democrats ponder shift in philosophy, by Jeanne Cummings, WSJ, A1.
      [and Times version -]
      A stunned party looks to the internal debate ahead - Democrats are left wondering just how to proceed, by James Bennet, NYT, P8.
      [i.e., Dems have ideas, but no vision.]

      10/16/2004   Debate, declaim, debacle - How would you save the world, sir? You have 90 seconds, op ed by David Brooks, NYT, A31.
      [Answer:

      1. getting real about how bad things really are by redefining unemployment to include our whole problem of non-self-support,
      2. implementing automatic overtime-to-training&hiring (for corporations
      3. and individuals - this switches inflation control from fostering growth-damping unemployment to balancing the inflationary money motive with deflationary job satisfaction),
      4. maximize home-based economic dynamism and growth by maximizing our domestic consumer base and sustainable citizen self-support through a policy of automatically guaranteed full employment - by letting the new comprehensive unemployment rate automatically determine the workweek,
      5. offering the option of pausing and shifting pressure to one or more of the population variables
      6. and being ready to move on to the next balancing and sharing technology once this program has allowed sensitivities and expectations to exceed what it's capable of delivering.
      This involves dropping pie-in-the-sky myths like "technology creates more jobs than it destroys" - always somewhere else at some other time - which we're defeating here and now by downsizing instead of timesizing, and like the sneering rhetoric of the "lump of labor fallacy" - which insults the reponsible view of here&now limitations on job openings by quietly omitting to define a time period.]

      9/18/2004   Lexington column - Yesterday's men, and tomorrow's - Is the neo-conservative's moment over?, The Economist Magazine (of London), 43.
      [No, because...]
      ...The lesson of the past four years is not just that ideas have consequences. It is that even the Republican Party, once ridiculed as the stupid party, needs intellectual fuel to keep it going.
      So far, for all their mistakes, the neo-cons still have no real rivals when it comes to supplying that.\.need[ed] intellectual
      fuel....
      [It was back under the last days of Pres. Jimmy Carter that we realized the Democrats were bankrupt of ideas. They had no vision for the future. They were running on the fumes of the New Deal, makework warmed over, again and again. But so were the Republicans - but in their case the makework was funneled through the Pentagon and married to a vision of the past, specifically the 1920s - in a colossal denial of the failures of that period (eg: 1929). Neither party is noticing the Third Way -
      not (1) No Work with small government,
      and not (2) Makework or Job Creation whether civilian (Democrat) or military (Republican) focused in the public sector, with resulting Big Government, as has now become obvious,
      but (3) Sharework or Worksharing focused in the private sector, with small government. At the cost of getting things out of chronological order, let's look at a more recent assessment that answers the question, what happened to the political left and their vision?]

      8/16/2004   A central banker's nightmare: Inflation and slow growth together, by Patrick Barta, WSJ, A2.
      [i.e., stagflation, a standard condition in the Third World as Jane Jacobs points out, is a central banker's nightmare because nothing in his superficial toolbox can fix it. However, the Timesizing program can fix it because Timesizing stops the silly attempt to control inflation by raising interest rates and slowing growth, and simply balances inflationary and deflationary incentive throughout the economy.]

      8/12/2004   Painting the economy into a corner, editorial, NYT, A26.
      pResident Bush 'reacted decisively' [our quotes & casing] to this month's [actually, July's] shockingly bad employment report [only 32,000 new jobs] - by quickly changing the topic to terror. The Federal Reserve chairman, Alan Greenspan, also focused elsewhere, namely on rising oil prices. Mr. Greenspan used inflationary energy costs as the rationale for raising interest rates a quarter point, despite the drastic slump in hiring and a recent slowdown in productivity growth.
      What neither man seems ready to acknowledge outright is that policy makers have run out of tools for stewarding the economy that - nearly 3 years into a recovery - has yet to flourish and may even be downshifting to neutral....
      [We're "painting ourselves into a corner" from which Timesizing is only way out.]

      8/09/2004   Admit we have a problem - The economic devastation is spreading, op ed by Bob Herbert, NYT, A19.
      ...The true believers \in\ the tattered pages of [Bush's] economic hymnbook...were jolted Friday [8/06/2004] by the news from the Bureau of Labor Statistics that employers added a meager 32,000 jobs in July [instead of the forecasted 228,000 - see 8/06/2004 #6]. In an economy the size of America's, that's roughly equivalent to no jobs at all.
      July's poor job-creation performance was widely described as unexpected. But it's important to keep in mind that it didn't occur in a vacuum and that there is no quick fix coming.
      [Yes there is, but you have to think outside the box. The most efficient fix is worktime economics as in Timesizing. It kept the industrializing economies in rough trim from 1776 to 1929. It would have solved the Great Depression in less than two years if the Black Thirty Hour Work Week Bill had been pushed through the US House as well as the US Senate (53-30) in 1933. It corelated to a 1% cut in unemployment (19% to 14.6%) for every 1-hour cut in the workweek between 1938 and 1940 when finally pushed through starting at the 44-hour level. And it corelated to a 1% cut in unemployment for every 1-hour cut in the workweek between 1997 and 2001 when France pushed through a 35-hour workweek starting at the 39-hour level. And STILL, it is spun as a failure by trapped-in-the-box economists without examining the corelation to relevant unemployment behavior, or, they strain to attribute that behavior, causally and not just corelationally, to something, ANYthing, else; for example, "Change on the way? - The notorious 35-hour week is coming under increasing attack," The Economist 7/17/2004, 52. Why all the mainstream defensiveness, quick dismissal and gang-banging of shorter hours? It's clear that the largely nearsighted power elite, the economists they support with massive donations to their alma mater's and the analysts they support with their massive investment portfolios sense that worksharing via shorter working hours is a powerful and central strategy for bringing economies into a whole new level of balance (which they fear), because they would rather try anything, however inefficient and wasteful (like the New Deal) or destructive (like World Wars I and II and the many less effective brushfires since then, including Iraq) before seriously implementing flexible worksharing on a nationwide, or even economywide, basis with a can-do attitude. And this despite the phenomenal and well-known success of two entities that have been implementing worksharing for decades on the micro-economic level; namely, Nucor Steel and Lincoln Electric. And despite the resort to worksharing of a wide variety of designs by thousands of small and mid sized corporations during each and every recession. And despite the resort to worksharing, usually of the week-at-a-time design, by the Big Three auto companies every time they have a mismatch of production and sales on the overproduction side. But there's much more going on here:

      • First, we're talking about manipulating the time dimension, and this makes a lot of people uncomfortable - they want the time dimension to be a constant and takable-for-granted part of the woodwork, not a variable let alone a control variable. Eyes rapidly glaze when you delve too deeply into time.
      • Second, there is a lethal alliance against reducing worktime, despite the fact that practically all big technological innovations are sold on the basis of worktime savings -
        1. there's the deeply DEEPLY entrenched Puritan work ethic - let's even substitute the phrase, work morality - meaning work is Good and Moral and Industrious and free time is Bad and Immoral and the devil's opportunity and lazy and good-for-nothing and slacking and sponging and freeloading and dangerous and unhealthy
        2. there's the democratic self-importance of busyness - if I'm busier than you, even if I'm a garbageman and you're an executive, I'm entitled to feel more important than you, more in demand, more needed by The Market and/or society - there's no way TPTB (the powers that be) are going to lightly relinquish their stranglehold on their own illusion of self-importance when they've invested their lives in certain repetitive activities that they don't want to hear can be, or already have been, automated or robotized
        3. there's the pecking order to maintain - if I'm near the top, I'm damned if I'm going to share with the hoi polloi, whether wealth, income or employment, even if I'm strangling growth and spreading insecurity by not doing so - this is the famed Chesterton trap, the subtlest and strongest brake on economic growth that you can get, as suggested by Fred Hirsch in his "Social Limits to Growth"
        4. and there's the urge for control, however socio- or psycho-pathic - some employers want a maximum of face time from employees, however dysfunctional or wasteful that may be in particular instances - it's a phenomenon like rape, which many say is primarily a control or power issue - face time has become for some a kind of feudal tribute, an affirmation of their carefully constructed illusion of superiority
        There's no way the powers that be are going to realize that the most revolutionary idea in mainstream economics is marginalism = the law (they continue to spin it as a theory) of the marginal utility of the over-concentration of value, where "too much" is defined by the accumulation of wasted resources at the bottom; for example, the accumulation of 1,000,000s of poor while we're getting 10,000s of new millionaires, or the accumulation of 1,000,000s of unemployed safely disguised in different categories (welfare, disability, homelessness, prison, suicide...) while we're getting 100,000s of new workaholics. Back to Bob Herbert -]
      American workers are hurting.
      "The weak job market [ie: high official plus hidden unemployment; ie: labor surplus] continues to put downward pressure on wage growth," said Jared Bernstein, a senior economist at the Economic Policy Institute in Washington. He noted that nominal wage growth on a year-over-year basis has been decelerating even as 'inflation' [our quotes] is increasing, which is bad news for an economy so dependent upon consumer spending [for 2/3 of GDP].
      [Again, the critical pressure surfaces - the pressure that is going to force timesizing instead of downsizing upon a kicking and screaming power elite = the need to quit weakening consumer spending by fostering labor surplus and weakening employment and wages.]
      In a report released by the Institute on Friday (8/06/2004), Mr. Bernstein wrote, "These job and wage dynamics [quelle langue prétentieux! - Herman Daly slings such purposely intimidating lingo for the ecological economics movement - now the worktime economics movement urgently needs its own "Herman Daly"!] erode workers' buying power, and this has negative implications for the strength of the recovery."
      [Note the Economic Policy Institute, though about as close to the edge of the box as you can get and still be quoted, must still take on the prevailing self-deception of "recovery," thus guaranteeing that the dissonance between prevailing one-person-one-vote economics and next-level one-person-one-workweek-range economics will have to reach much more painful levels before the mainstream gets the guts to start dipping its toes outside the box into economic (re)design in general and worktime economics in particular.]
      Retail sales in July were disappointing, hampered by high gasoline prices as well as anemic wage growth. And the stock market is in a prolonged swoon.
      Despite the rosy rhetoric ...from the administration, millions of American families, including many that consider themselves solidly in the middle class, are in deep economic trouble.... It's getting harder and harder to close our eyes to the growing economic devastation....
      There is no plan from the administration that I've heard of to brighten this bleak picture of the American economic landscape. John Kerry and John Edwards have an opportunity in the presidential campaign to offer their prescriptions [which are mainly lame revivals of New Deal makework ideas]. The first essential step for anyone serious about a search for solutions would be to recognize and acknowledge the sheer enormity of the problem.
      [We track it every day in our 'doom du jour' and 'headlines from hell' sections.]

      8/03/2004   They say they want a revolution, book review of Michael Hardt & Antonio Negri's "Multitude" (Penguin) by Gary Rosen, WSJ, D8.
      Three years ago, Michael Hardt & Antonio Negri became the toast of the international left with the publication of "Empire," a ramshackle, theory-stuffed disquisition on globalization and its discontents. As the New York Times gushed, their theme was being talked about as the Next Big Idea, sending "frissons of excitement through campuses from Sao Paulo to Tokyo." Yet for all the supposed brilliance of their analysis, the book lacked what many of its readers most wanted: a guide to the future. "Yes, it's true," Mr. Hardt conceded to a critic. "We don't don't know what the revolution should be."
      [And here is a warning that Timesizing or any answer to The Big Question may well take to heart -]
      "Multitude" is too turgid and repetitious, too filled with the authors' idiosyncratic digressions, to be a true manifesto. Its prescriptions are so nonsensical that even fools would have difficulty following them....
      [One possible reason for Timesizing's success in identifying and solving the Big Question is that it started from linguistics, not economics, and it started from 1 chapter of diagnosis (eg: need for growth-independent economics) and developed 9 chapters of cure, whereas most leftists and traditional reformers start from 9 chapters of diagnosis and wind up with only 1 of cure.]

      [Here's a rather bizarre slanted example that shows the potential for the corruption of the 'Big Question' process -]
      6/05/2004   $50B question: to solve the world's problems, where to begin? by Gary Andrew Poole, NYT, A15.
      COPENHAGEN - What would you do with $50 billion assuming that the goal was the benefit of humankind?...
      To answer that question, Bjorn Lomborg, a statistician and environmental iconoclast, brought eight economists, including 3 Nobellists, to this harbor city to [identify and] rank the world's 10 worst problems. Forget politics, they were told, just look at how to get the most bang for the buck.
      [As you will see, telling them to forget politics is easier than making them forget the politics that is more or less hardwired into their braincases alongside their income sources.]
      ...A global wishlist
      Economists at the [nearly weeklong] Copenhagen Consensus discussed 38 solutions to the world's problems and ranked 17 of them. (They decided there was insufficient information to rank the others.)..\..
      After studying all the contenders and running the numbers, the economic "dream team" decided that the best of the worst was

      1. controlling the spread of AIDS (worth $27B), followed by...
      2. $13B to combat malaria \and\
      3. $12B for malnutrition...[answer:] providing micronutrients [huh?]
      [What a trio of bandaids! Well, AIDS could decimate workforces, raise wages and make for a loss of power by global plutocrats, never mind they never connect the dots from there to war-level prosperity - or more relevantly, plague-level prosperity, since the Black Death that carried off 25% of Europe in 1348 resulted in a labor shortage that centrifuged wealth and created a huge economic boom.
      But note also they never connected the dots from malnutrition and disease to poverty, let alone from poverty to unemployment, and from unemployment to ridiculously high levels of employment concentration due to obsoletely high workweeks for economies so advanced in automation and robotics. Overlong worktime per person was not even on the list of rankable problems published in the NY Times, despite its position as a masterproblem in the sense that its solution would provide more free time and money for everyone to go after every other problem.]
      Spending money on other scourges, like global warming or government corruption, by contrast, would be a bad investment. The conference, or what some would label a stunt, is characteristic of Mr. Lomborg, who has infuriated environmentalists and captivated the media with his claims that environmental threats are overblown.
      [So clearly there's a political agenda. And the economists would have been carefully picked to guarantee an anti-environmentalist majority.]
      ...Bruno Frey, a Swiss economist who attended the conference, [said] he was insulted that the new media kept implying that Mr. Lomborg had manipulated the panel toward an anti-environmental agenda.
      [Why should he manipulate them once he's carefully selected them?]
      ...Mr. Lomborg, [who] likes to dash around Copenhagen on his bike [sounds environmental enough!] wearing a bright yellow coat, smiling and waving to passers-by...is the director of the government-supported Environmental Assessment Institute. [He] was actually a Greenpeace activist at one time. He said he set out to refute the claims of skeptics, but ended up being convinced of their arguments. The result was a screed against the Chicken Little-view of environmental dangers, "The Skeptical Environmentalist," which was published in 1998 [2001 in English] and continues to provoke fierce controversy.... The Observer of London reported that a "secret White House memo" cited Mr. Lomborg's book to help Republicans deflect criticism about their environmental policies.... Last year a scientific ethics panel accused Mr. Lomborg of "scientific dishonesty," though [it] withdrew its charge after the Danish Ministry of Science rebuked the panel for failing to present sufficient evidence.
      ...All the attendees [were] paid $30,000 to attend the conference, which was sponsored by Institute and The Economist magazine.
      [Hooboy. The 'usual suspects' emerge deep within the article.]
      ..\..A "counter-conference" was held in a room in the Parliament building.... Christian Ege, chairman of the Danish Ecological Council and leader of the counter conference, said: "Lomborg presents himself as an impartial scholar, drawing conclusions on a well-founded basis. But it is a basis rejected by most of those with knowledge of environmental studies."...
      Mr. Lomborg defended the underlying premise of the conference:
      [Oh so buried in paragraph 15 we finally find out that there was an "underlying premise of the conference" despite being told in paragraph 2 that participants were supposed to "forget politics," i.e., bias.]
      "Abrupt change is needed to help the developing world...."
      [The developed world is the source of the world's most serious problems, not the developing world. Interesting how so many first-world 'geniuses' can only see the mote in the Third World's eye, despite the beam in their own.]

      [Here's an interesting form of the Big Question -]
      5/08/2004   If affirmative action fails...what then? - Special treatment for blacks is unpopular and not too effective - got any better ideas? by David Chappell, NYT, A17.
      [Sure, Timesizing. A shorter workweek creates a labor shortage and multiplies jobs and pay regardless of race, gender and age. However, NAACP leader Julian Bond thinks affirmative action is being attacked not because it has failed but because it has succeeded. It's popular with blacks but presumably unpopular with rightwingers, as indeed anything progressive is, even when it's in their own self interest.]

      4/02/2004   Democracy, charity, and the market, op ed by George H. Rosen, Boston Globe, A23.
      ...A free market has no strategy for the absence of generosity and no answer for the lack of love.
      [Let's juxtapose this first with a recent letter to the editor in the Wall Street Journal, and then turn it into a question -]
      Generosity has a place in capitalism's roughhouse, letter to editor by Mark M. Nakagawa of L.A., 4/08/2004 WSJ, A17.
      As both a customer and stockholder, I applaud Costco's generous treatment of its employees. Costco is a rare find for investors who desire corporate responsibility and a fair return on equity in one package. To those analysts and investors who aren't happy with Costco's stock performance, my response is simple: Vote with your dollars and invest elsewhere, perhaps in the next Tyco or Enron [both enmired in scandal].
      [Now back to George Rosen's implied question - What strategy can a free market have for the absence of generosity and the lack of love?
      Answer - "Unlike most critics of Capitalism, I believe that as a system of economy it has not had a fair trial. The trial has been long enough, true indeed, but never - with the exception of a few years during the World War[s] - has Capitalism been permitted to function under a chronic 'scarcity of labor.' It has always been forced to operate under a scarcity of job and business opportunity; and, under such conditions, I maintain that Capitalism is under unstable equilibrium. I contend, however, that under a chronic and genuine scarcity of labor, Capitalism is potentially almost an ideal system of economy - that it can secure all and more than Communism has to offer, at the same time that it avoids Communism's major difficulties and evils.... For I believe that our balking, backfiring profits economy can - by injecting one planned adjustment - be made to work in socially desirable ways, and even be made to satisfy high-grade engineering standards of efficiency, with even less involved governmental interference and industrial control than we already have [or than Communism has]." Arthur Dahlberg's Jobs, Machines, and Capitalism (1932, reprinted 1969), pages xii, 23.
      [And what is that "one planned adjustment"?]
      "I hope to show...

      1. that it was the retention of long working hours while labor-saving machinery was introduced which necessitated the introduction of..\..newer classes of goods differ[ent] from the old in the spontaneity with which the people with purchasing power demand them,...
      2. that the failure to shorten the length of the working day is the cause of low wages [and the minimal number of people with plentiful purchasing power, and]
      3. that this failure is the primary cause of
        • our wasteful production,
        • our rationing of opportunity,
        • our excess industrial plant,
        • our enormous wastes of competition,
        • our high pressure advertising,
        • our economic imperialism,
        • and of our commercialistic and pecuniary standards [i.e., the materialism of which we always accused the Communists but of which we are much more guilty than they ever were]" Ibid., pages 27-28.
      [In brief, the answer to "What strategy can a free market have for the absence of generosity and the lack of love?" is a strategy of shortening working hours, preferably what Walter Reuther called in 1964, "flexible adjustment of the workweek against unemployment," which is exactly what the Timesizing Program has designed into its Fourth Phase. So we invite George H. Rosen and all others disturbed by the current low standards of free-market capitalism to move from vague and lofty complainings to powerful and specific advocacy of shorter worktime, especially in its most gradual, efficient and market-oriented form, Timesizing. "But won't that cut wages?" No, despite the prevailing spin, wages vary not with productivity but with the supply and demand of labor relative to employment, and worktime reduction reduces the supply of labor relative to demand (ie: employment). "But isn't the unemployment rate fairly low?" Yes, we would need to redefine unemployment to include the whole problem of unsustainability or non-self-support (including welfare, disability, homelessness, prison, forced retirement, forced interrupted retirement, forced part-time, forced self-employment....) which we do in Timesizing Phase One. Any other questions? Email us.]

      12/20/2003   How to save the world? - Treat it like a business - Social entrepreneurs are part of a new wave that mixes capitalism with conscience, by Emily Eakin, NYT, A19.

      6/23/2003   Downward spiral - Already stumbling, Germany now faces threat of deflation - As prices slide, consumers just wait for a better deal; The Fed watches closely, by Thomas Sims, WSJ, front page, A7.
      [More from this article on our downsizing page, 6/21-23/2003 #4-6.]
      PFULLENDORF - ...Germany's historic fear of inflation [due to the disastrous hyperinflation of the early 1920s that facilitated Hitler's rise] led it to insist that theEU adopt strict budget rules for countries that join the euro. With Germany [itself] already violating those limits, it has no room to cut taxes [thank God, since US-style taxcuts for the rich try to shortcut directly to boosting financial markets without boosting the job and consumer markets they depent on!] or boost spending. That has helped push the country into a second recession in two years and driven up unemployment to 11%, further weakening consumer confidence.
      ...The vast safety net than makes workers feel secure is also helping to pull Germany down..\..in the eyes of people such as Mr. Gebert [chairman] of cabinetmaker Alno...: Companies shy away from hiring because regulations make firing difficult even if the economy slumps.
      [This articulation is inadequate. We must distinguish between -

      • individual firing for cause (necesssary and good) and
      • mass layoffs "if the economy slumps" (unnecessary, consumer-base-damaging, and economy-undermining) which must now be handled by trimming the workweek for every employee and conserving employee morale and consumer confidence by maintaining unity and togetherness, instead of chopping jobs (and consumers and markets).]
      The federal government in Berlin recently approved a spate of "reforms" [our quotes]...such as cutting the nation's generous unemployment benefits
      [which, without nationwide worksharing via fluctuating adjustment of the workweek, mostly downward, will do nothing but worsen the situation by cutting further into the consumption and the consumer base]
      and liberalizing restrictions of store-opening hours.
      [which will help a little, but if people have no jobs and/or less money, increasing shopping hours won't increase shopping - this is just another impotent attempt at a shortcut, as if the government said, "Let's make all the peripheral and secondary adjustments we can except in the primary problem = the workweek is much too long for our level of efficient, productivity-multiplying technology.]
      But it has also flipflopped on taxbreaks.
      [Taxbreaks and exports are secondary and even trivial compared to the maintenance of a robust domestic consumer base, meaning consumer (b2c) markets. Even at only 56% of the economy, as in Germany, it is the biggest market sector and the foundation of two of the other markets - the b2b (business-to-business) and financial markets. Without it, they are lost. But the consumer markets today depend critically on the job market, because it is the only source of sustainable consumers and consumption, as opposed to unsustainable makework and cloaked parasitism. And the job market, deprived of its usual "cheats" of makework and labor culling (war, plague, starvation) is entirely dependent on currently implemented worksharing technologies, which in our day are utterly primitive and rudimentary all around the world. The most advanced, gradual and market-oriented is Timesizing.]
      So far, he says, the "reforms" [our quotes] have stirred caution, rather than optimism, both among companies and consumers. "In the U.S., there are ups and downs in the economy but there's always light at the end of the tunnel," Mr. Gebert says.
      [Except 1929-1940, and the so-called "light" at the end of the tunnel in 1941 was looming world war, to discipline management and centrifuge national income in the worst possible way - by 'culling' (killing and maiming) the labor surplus. And we are heading into the same tunnel again now, thanks to our kneejerk downsizing response to technology = chopping jobs (and consumers) instead of trimming working hours for all.]
      "But in Germany, let's face it, we've been in a downturn four, five, six years.
      [So much for the irresponsible spin of the professional economists, visible above in the "helped push the country into a second recession in two years." Compare their attempts to cover up the 12-13 year recession-depression in Japan and the 2-3 year recession-depression in the USA.]
      "I don't see any perspective where we can say the structural problems will be solved."
      [Bingo, a version of The Big Question. And this from an otherwise intelligent top executive in a country to which Japan sent its Labor Minister a couple of years ago to study worksharing systems? There definitely seems to be a 'Gardol shield' between these people's brains and the simple and obvious solution = Walter Reuther's "fluctuating adjustment of the workweek" vs. un- and under-employment. It ain't rocket science.]

      12/07/2002   "Paying a price for a shaky economy - Bush's economic policy will get a 'better face' rather than a new face," by Richard Stevenson, NYT, A14.
      [So the obvious question:  What would a new face for Bush's economic policy look like?   Or nevermind just a superficial new 'face,' what would a completely adequate new policy look like?   It would look very much like the Timesizing overtime-to-training&hiring conversion and technology-(via-comprehensive-unemployment-) adjusted workweek program. And here's another version of The Big Question today -]
      "Lilita [Elisa Carrio] isn't the new Evita, but she admires her," by Larry Rohter, NYT, A4.
      "Argentina needs new political and economic institutions, because the ruling class is spent." Elisa Carrio (photo caption)
      [Ditto the USA and the world. So the 'only' question is, what would those new political and economic institutions look like? How would they be designed?]

      11/30/2002   Does Schroeder have political capital to reform economy? - Another German recession could infect the rest of the continent, by Mark Landler, NYT, A3.
      ...Unemployment [in November] stands at a 4-year high of about 4m people [9.7%]..\.. "I haven't seen a situation this bad in my 25 years in political life," said Oswald Metzger, an expert on budget issues for the Greens.... "The government is offering no long-term vision of how we are going to emerge from this period."...
      [Sounds like a version of The Big Question. However, what the NYT-WSJ-IMF-mainstream means by "reform" - "make it easier for companies to hire and fire workers" - means "easier to fire" and "easier to hire at lower pay," a formula for weaker consumer markets and deeper recession. Despite the strength of the union-based 35-hr workweek movement in Germany, they still don't have a clue about the worksharing/timesizing imperative.]

      11/06/2002   Unsettling scenario - Inside the Fed, deflation draws a closer look - Stumped for a cure, officials study how to keep prices from falling in first place, by Greg Ip, WSJ, front page.
      [Whoah, the Fed is verging on posing The Big Question. Their version: How to keep prices from falling in the first place? Maintain consumer demand. How maintain consumer demand? Prevent the centripetal forces on national income from overwhelming the centrifugal forces, because we've allowed spending power to concentrate in unspendably massive "black holes" in the top income brackets. How to maintain the strength of the centrifugal forces? Either ban corporate mergers and downsizings except in pre-liquidation extremis, or flex up the 62-year-frozen workweek and let it vary inversely with unemployment, comprehensively defined (ie: to include welfare, disability, homelessness, prison, premature retirement....) - AND implement automatic overtime- and overwork-conversion to training&hiring. Simple. And the only alternative is war or plague to withdraw the wage-depressing general surplus of manhours from the job market. It's Malthus' legendary "general glut" - it's real after all. Its solution is to share the vanishing work and quit straining for makework and quit chanting that "technology creates more work than it destroys." Chanting doesn't make it true.]

      9/20/2002   The vision thing - Like father, like son, by Paul Krugman, NYT, A29.
      This is the way the recovery ends - not with a bang but...a whimper.
      ...Right now it looks as if the economy is stalling and also as if the people in charge have no idea what to do.
      [This could be a version of The Big Question right here - and Krugman has no idea what to do either. His economics, uninformed by worktime economics, is as shallow as the rest.]
      In short, it's feeling a lot like the early 1990's.
      [Or for that matter, like 1929.]
      It doesn't really matter whether you call what's going on right now a slow recovery or a recession. Most people don't care whether GDP growth is slightly above or below zero; what matters to them is whether they can find jobs and keep them.
      And the job situation is increasingly dismal. A 5.7% unemployment rate doesn't sound that bad, but -

      • an unusually large number of workers have given up searching for jobs.
      • The overall unemployment rate doesn't reflect the rapidly growing number of people who are truly desperate, because they have been out of work for six months or more.
      • And the employment situation has lately taken a significant turn for the worse: the number of people filing new claims for unemployment insurance, a leading indicator of future unemployment, has increased sharply over the past month....
      Should we be worried about the administration's lack of the vision thing when it comes to economics?
      [Again the Big Question.]
      Yes, we should. The excesses of the 1990s dwarfed those of the 1980s....
      [And Krugman is blissfully unaware of the cumulative buildup of surplus manhours in - or "beside" - the job market over the last 30 years as waves of efficient technology were injected into the economy. This is the real, deep-structure problem, solvable only by a major MAJOR war (the stupid way), or by designing and implementing a system such as timesizing to share the vanishing human employment and spread the concentrating income of the nation (the intelligent way).]

      12/17/2001   Understanding globalism - One world, after all, by Michael Elliott, Time Magazine, 68-69.
      [In the midst of an article that tries unsuccessfully to explain the hullaballoo over Hardt & Negri's book, Empire, we find this articulation of The Big Question -]
      ...Hardt and Negri...show...that both [the pro and anti globalization] sides are right, yet both...miss the point. Globalization is a phenomenon with revolutionary, liberating potential - but in the process, it can crush the spirit of those for whom changes in social and economic structures are deeply disturbing. The trick is to find structures that preserve the economic gains of globalization without becoming just other forms of colonialism....
      [This "trick" or challenge has two requirements. (1) It must prevent globalization from being just another powerful mechanism for concentrating income and wealth, thus making the world's problems worse, and (2) it must be at once defined and enforceable, yet at such a general level that non-mutually-interfering political and historical and geographic and social and cultural diversity is not only preserved but stimulated. Timesizing.com's program to set and enforce an upper limit on unaccountably remunerable employment (overtime) and adjust it downward if unemployment moves upward (or v.v.) provide one set of structures that satisfy the requirements of this challenge.]

      7/24/99   How real is the new economy? Cover headline, The Economist, 2 stories:

      1. How real is the new economy? - Careful of that shifting paradigm, The Economist, 17.
        [The chief flaw of both these stories is the easy assumption that there's no employment problem because the standard superficial official unemployment rate is only twice as much as would have been regarded as alarming in 1945 (anything over 2%). Conventional economists and the politicians and CEO's they serve don't see a problem because they don't want to see a problem. But disability, homelessness, prisons are all up and the only reason welfare isn't up is because of the recent fad of reducing it by fiat.]
        ...With luck the IT revolution will be everything its most zealous prophets claim, and mankind is on the verge of a leap forward as great as the one it made between the late 1800s and the middle of this century.
        ["With luck"?! All information technology can do for us is monitor our deterioriation better - IF we choose to let it, which so far we haven't. "Luck" is not going to accomplish a leap forward. That takes will, which we don't have, and design, which Timesizing has, but it's no good without will. The irony here is that we still have not implemented the most basic design that would enable us to make positive use of the 1880s-1950s "leap forward" and it is that failure that is allowing its expanding negative outcome. In short, expanding work-saving technology implies less work for all, and we passed up the primitive version of that positive outcome, the 30-hour workweek of 1933, so we are left with its opposite, no work for some, and some more, and some more. Thus the 1880s-1950s "leap forward" was superficial - so far.]
        Short of that [great leap forward] is a more plausible wish: that today's far-reaching changes in the way business is done will soon lift the trend of growth in productivity across the economy as a whole [from just computer manufacturing]. Even this [more plausible wish], a bit less than a miracle, would be a wonderful prize.
        [This may be more plausible but it's no "wonderful prize" because it's no less superficial than the previous wish. The lesson of the Great Depression is still unlearned: What good is productivity without demand, and how can you get demand when so much spending power is concentrated among so few that they wouldn't have time to spend it in hundreds of lifetimes? And we've now gone from speaking of luck to speaking of a miracle. When are we going to get to DESIGN and cut the uncertainty factor?]
        But the puzzling fact is, it does not appear to have happened yet.
        [What's so puzzling about a miracle not having happened yet? And these Economist editors are supposedly intelligent lifeforms??]
        As John Maynard Keynes might have said: "When the facts are unclear, I keep an open mind. What do you do, sir?"
        [Well, we don't think the Economist keeps an open mind. They still trot out the faith-based Lump of Labour Fallacy to condemn without trial the correct general direction for any possible "great leap forward." They have anything but an open mind in practice. But at least here we have the big open question from their lips in theory and in print, even if they had to imagine it on the lips of their great theorist Keynes in order to spit it out. Too bad Keynes and his mentor Marshall were so exclusively theorists. If they'd listened to the historians, like Cunningham, they might have stumbled on using worktime as a control variable instead of totally ignoring it on the working assumptions (false) that it's trivial and/or a constant.]

      2. The new economy - Work in progress: On the surface, America's economy is changing dramatically - that much is plain. But just how deep the changes go, and what they imply for the country's growth in the long term, remains an open question, The Economist, 21.
        ...Perhaps it is still a question of waiting for the statistics to catch up with reality....
        [And then waiting for the will dba willingness to share the gravy and do something about the statistics.]
        ...The question, however, is whether [the 0.5% improvement in the US GDP growthrate due solely to computer manufacturing] can be sustained.
        [How can it, when most of it goes unused now anyway? As usual, the cartoon on the page (24) has a lot more sense than the text. It shows computers, undoubtedly with vast "quality-adjusted output," being used for downloading games, emailing friends, browsing fall fashions and porn. In short, for trivia.]
        This [sustained high productivity in PC making] seems likely only if big productivity improvements begin to migrate from the centre of the high-tech industry to the rest of the economy.
        [Well, this has begun but as we said, productivity without purchasers is pointless.]
        The fact remains, the issue is not yet settled.
        [More important, at least for the Economist, the issue is not yet well articulated. And who are we kidding with all this obsession about productivity? All CEOs today care about is short-term stock price, and they'll do anything to the longer term prospects of their company to get it, including clobber productivity, e.g., by repeated "last rounds" of demoralizing downsizing.]

      4/10/99   Desperately seeking a perfect model - America is widely held to be a clear winner in the world's economic beauty contest. But have the judges really studied the figures? The Economist, p.67.
      ...The single best measure of economic performance is growth in GDP per head....
      [We disagree (especially when they start equating GDP per capita to living standards despite all the bad stuff that the GDP measure counts as positive). It's the comprehensive under-employment rate consisting of the unemployed, those on welfare, disabled, homeless, prisons, forced part time, forced self employment.... Anyhow, you Economist editors "are entitled to your own wrong opinion." Let's see what you do with it.]
      ..\..growth in GDP per head...has averaged 1.6% in America over the past decade, exactly the same as Japan, and less than in Germany....
      [In other words, America's model is not so hot, despite the chest-thumping.]

      10/5/98   ... The International Monetary Fund said yesterday the global economic outlook has "worsened considerably" since April, but it ended a day of discussions on the subject by papering over disagreements on how to halt the crisis. (AP via Boston Globe, p. D4.)

      10/5/98   "The truth is, nobody knows what the one true path is...," Paul Krugman, an economist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology who has become a leading thinker on the crisis, said in a speech Saturday. (From article "World financial leaders meet, swap far-reaching ideas" by Aaron Zitner in Boston Globe, D4.)
      [Question - how can this guy be a "leading thinker" on the crisis if he doesn't even know one workable solution? It's standard for "experts" to assume, that because they don't have an answer, nobody does.
      Phil Hyde challenges Krugman and his crowd to set up a prize similar to the Longitude Prize in Britain in the 18th Century, for solving this crisis. Let's see, 20,000 pounds sterling in 1714 is equivalent to at least $2,000,000 today. Then Phil will demonstrate that Timesizing constitutes a short- and mid-term solution as the first in a series of modules of a very long-term solution. He will demonstrate it in theory, and also in practice at any level of any willing national economy in the world (international will take longer). France is already demonstrating a primitive form of Phil's solution which, even so, has made it the most recession-resistant economy in the world (with the possible exception of self-sufficient and depreciated-dollar Australia in early 2002 - see 3/06/2002 #1).
      Other potential contestants for this prize:

      • *Thomas "Cool" Colignatus, Netherlands
      • Guy Dauncey's *Earth Future website
      • *Global Scenario Group (alias Stockholm Environment Institute of Boston?)
      • Russell Doane spoke at the Ethical Society at Longy School in Cambridge, Mass., USA on Feb. 16, 1997 on "Social Engineering: Why it has a bad name, and how to do it right," and here's a more recent *essay by Russell Doane on the Ethical Society's website. The Ethical Society's blurb for Doane states, "Doane has been an engineer since 1958. He has led over 60 groups in making wall-size displays. Eyes see the whole. Disparate people co-create. But in public life, we still limit ourselves to words, as if we were ancient Greeks. Try to design some social systems that way, and we sink to frustrated name calling. It's time to learn democratic diagrammery."
        [Ohoh, sounds like a lot of overhead, like Arthur Dahlberg's elaborate pipe diagrams of the economy in his "Jobs, Machines and Capitalism" (1932), or Philippe Crabbé's course-long tour of systems theory in his Economic System Design course at the University of Ottawa (2005-07), where he never gets around to defining the minimum core of the economy that needs redesign, let alone the minimum necessary redesign.]
      • *International Forum on Globalization of San Francisco has good sustainable- and economic-design talk but is currently focused mainly on plugging leaks in free trade rather than redesigning the leaky core of the global economy itself – see their full-page ad in the New York Times, 11/20/98, p.C7.
      • Bill McKibben, *Deep Economy: The Wealth of Communities and the Durable Future (2007)
      • David Callahan, *The Moral Center - How We Can Reclaim Our Country from Die-Hard Extremists, Rogue Corporations, Hollywood Hacks, and Pretend Patriots (2006)
      • Martin Carnoy and Derek Shearer, Economic Democracy - The Challenge of the 1980s (1980) - or the challenge of the next century? - or the next three centuries?! And wasn't this "economic democracy" phrase frequently on the lips of Jane Fonda's first spouse Tom Hayden? Irving Bluestone's squib on the back cover says, "Economic Democracy is a timely challenge to the tired economic theories and concepts of our capitalistic system." Setting up direct democracy to serve the economy in ways that market forces can't handle (like defining the market) is the function of Phase One of the Timesizing program.
        There is actually a huge number of books with this title (Amazon.com search 3/30/2007 from only first 2.1 pages of search returns):
        Economic Democracy: A Blueprint/Grand Strategy for World Peace and Prosperity, by J.W. Smith (2006)
        Economic Democracy: The Political Struggle of the 21st Century, by J.W. Smith (2005)
        Economic Democracy: Ending the Corporate Domination of Our Lives, by Scott J. Raskiewicz (2001)
        Economic Democracy: The Politics of Feasible Socialism, by Robin Archer (1999)
        Economic Democracy and Financial Participation: A Comparative Study, by Daryl D'Art (1992)
        Economic Democracy: The Political Economy of Self-management and Participation, by Donald George (1992)
        Economic Democracy: Workers' Participation in Chilean Industry - Studies in Social Discontinuity, by Juan G. Espinosa and Andrew Zimbalist (1978)
        Economic Democracy & Private Enterprise, by Michael Oshaughnessy (1945)
        Economic Democracy, by Lega Democratica Nazionale (1943)
        Economic Democracy, America's Answer to Socialism & Communism: A Collection of Articles, Addresses and Papers, by Robert S. Brookings (1929)
        Whoa, this looks like a groundswell, a real cri de coeur! Our instinct to put this in Timesizing's Phase One looks well supported! Here are a few variations on the theme:
        Socio-Economic Democracy and the World Government: Collective Capitalism, Depovertization, Human Rights, Template for Sustainable Peace, by Dhanjoo N. Ghista (2004)
        The Origins of Economic Democracy: Profit Sharing and Employee Shareholding Schemes, by Michael Poole (1989)
        A Preface to Economic Democracy by Robert H. Dahl (1986)
        Towards economic democracy in the Netherlands Indies, by George Henry Charles Hart (1943)
        The Struggle for Economic Democracy in Sweden, by Gregg M. Olsen (1992)
        An Analysis of the Economic Democracy Reforms in Sweden (Mellen Studies in Economics, V. 22), by Philip Whyman
        And here's a sample with "economic democracy" in the subtitle:
        Own your own job: Economic democracy for working Americans, by Jeremy Rifkin (1977)
        Effort and Energy in Temprian: Economic Democracy, by App Applegate (2001)
        The neighborhood cooperative: Economic democracy in low-income communities, by Rodney S Wead (1983)
        The Education-Jobs Gap: Underemployment or Economic Democracy, by D. W. Livingstone (1999)
        Our Postwar Society - A Long-term View - IPR Education Economics Democracy, by Arnold J Zurcher (1944)
        Economic Policy in Postwar Japan: Growth Versus Economic Democracy, by Kozo Yamamura (1967)

      10/2/98   Russian Premier's Calming Words: He Has No Economic Plan - Russians are worried that the Kremlin's cure might be worse than the disease, by Michael Gordon, New York Times, 3.

      8/23/97   The puzzling failure of economics, The Economist magazine, cover article (p.11).
      ...Bad policies based on bad economics...remain too numerous to mention.... Why has economics not done better?... (1) Economists...remain silent about the underlying ideas that unite them ../.. the role of prices and markets, the basic principles of microeconomics ../.. [and] talk loudest about the things they understand least well.
      [And some of their most basic principles they fail to apply to some of the most basic areas; for example, the principle of marginalism they apply only to prices and never, no never, to the marginal utility of concentrated employment, income and wealth.]
      (2) They are...quick to point out...market failure; they are...slower to ask whether the supposed remedy of government intervention might not...be worse. [The Economist is sooo simplistic, so black&white in its trapped-in-the-box thinking on this: no government intervention GOOD, any and all government intervention BAD. The real failure is that neither economists nor The Economist magazine asks whether there might in fact be TWO kinds of government intervention, one good and one bad. Good - a stable minimum of liberating generalized centrally-positioned controls, i.e., a few basic groundrules, ideally just one - looking at markets from the perspective of game theory, there are no games that completely lack rules. Bad - a burgeoning maximum of stifling detailed off-center controls, i.e., hobbling bureaucracy and wrap-around red tape. See the neglected key to small government.]

      1993 - As Walter Kerr once wrote, 'Isn't it odd that a century which should, by all rights, be the most leisurely in all history is...the fastest [ie: busiest]?' ...Not very much effort has been devoted to formally thinking through the problems of mixing consumption and time to maximize happiness, what Schlomo Maital calls 'the King Kong of social science questions.' ...John Maynard Keynes...foresaw the possibility of a world in which...the problem would be 'to spread the bread thin on the butter - to make what work there is still to be done...as widely shared as possible.'  (From David Warsh's Economic Principals, 1993, p. 389.)

      1992 - Problem diagnosed but solution eludes writers, a review of Robert Monks & Nell Minow's book, Power and Accountability - "A provocative answer to anyone alarmed by Barbarians at the Gate" (HarperBusiness, 1992), on p.36, Boston Globe, 5/31/92.
      This book offers a long indictment of large US corporations that have misused power and have made a mockery of accountability. Trouble is, [the] authors...writing as shareholder surrogates..\..provide only a short list of possible corrective measures, all of which can be labeled, "items for further discussion and study." In short, they have successfully diagnosed what's wrong with the patient...but [despite the quote on the cover] are unsure about what to prescribe. [They contend] that institutional shareholders, by virture of their sheer numbers, have the power [but not, perhaps, the long-term ownership incentive, ed.] to make public companies more responsible and accountable.... But the unanswered question is: What will make institutional investors fully use their clout by challenging companies' actions?
      [As perhaps a long minimum-term stock-holding requirement would do to discourage bailout, churn and speculation? As long as investors dba speculators have the impression they can instantly bail and run for safety into some other momentarily rising or slower-slipping stock, the overall effect of their ongoing accumulation will be an ongoing conversion of much-needed spending power into more and more wasted investing power, and an overall weakening of the entire system affected by their dumb parasitism. A black hole in astronomy may or may not be powerful, but a black-hole economy gets weaker and weaker.]
      The authors...propose that "a presidential corporate task force" be convened, and that the SEC "reform proxy rules" so that more collective action can be taken by shareholder groups. Yet, early on, [they] observe that federal and state governments have, for the most part, rallied around big business, to the detriment of shareholders....
      [Once again, the problem is the hyperconcentration of power at the expense of feedback - ergo, no system sustainability. The second, longer quote on the cover is -]
      "Corporations determine far more than any other institution the air we breathe, the quality of the water we drink, even where we live. Yet they are not accountable to anyone."
      [This is the lethal flaw in the unlimited concentration of value and power over the long term - the power elite insulate and isolate themselves; they direct more and more of the money flows to themselves and beggar their consumer base, which shrinks the markets for the productivity in which they need to invest. Thus they beggar their own investments - and diminish themselves and their own survivability. Systems they parasitize begin losing competitions with other systems that have more feedback, flexibility, and adaptibility.]

      1988 - Breakthrough: Emerging New Thinking - Soviet and Western Scholars Issue a Challenge to Build a World Beyond War (Walker & Co.: New York, 1988).
      [All it takes is a slight labor shortage engineered by workweek reduction, so market forces can automatically centrifuge the national income and get it out of "storage" in the top brackets and into the hands of middle- and lower-income people who spend it immediately, thus obviating the need to create said labor shortage by actually killing portions of the workforce. In other words, solve unemployment by other than military means (eg: Timesizing) and you've disincentivized war.]

      1984 - Now, few people in power dare to believe that economic recovery will come easily or be sustained. And many of them are taking measures, not to lighten the economic prospect, but to adjust their eyes to the dark [ie: to lower their expectations and keep going by shouting or manufacturing smaller good news and whispering or ignoring bigger bad news].
      We must, it seems, accept as inevitable [with today's overwhelmed $centrifuge mechanisms] the violent polarization of wealth and poverty, power and vulnerability, between a minority and majority of states in the world, and between a minority and majority of states in the world [or at least in the US and the UK]....
      ...There has been a conspicuous withdrawal from the essentially optimistic political and personal liberalism that flourished in the 1960s and early 1970s, to the bunkers of moral and social disciplinarianism; along with an undeniable spread and intensification of cynicism and apathy.
      These manifestations of despair are neither superficial nor capricious. They take sustenance from 3 mounting threats to the well-being and even survival of humanity: ...nuclear war by accident or design, ...environmental damage, ...the pressure of rapidly increasing human redundancy [ie: layoffs], which is denying to so many 100m's any participation in productive material or cultural activity and turning them into mere [over-]population statistics.
      ...What this atlas ultimately identifies is the clear and consistent irrelevance of conventional solutions to the problems gathering in the world of sovereign states. For increasing numbers of people, such problems...point to a crisis not only within the system, but of the system itself.
      It is a crisis that can be creatively resolved, in our view, only by a different organization for humanity.  (From Michael Kidron's & Ronald Segal's New State of the World Atlas, Simon & Schuster's Pluto Press, 1984, pp. v-vi.)

      1977 - We reflect that, two hundred years after Adam Smith, economists have achieved not the control of inflation, not the prevention of unemployment, but the ability to have both at the same time.  (From John Kenneth Galbraith's The Age of Uncertainty, Houghton Mifflin, Boston, 1977, p. 324.)

      1974 - Adam Smith, Maynard Keynes, Karl Marx, and other great economists in history gather round an empty chair for the economic theorist who can explain simultaneously rising inflation and unemployment, which were supposed to be on a seesaw rather than in the same rocket ship. (Cover illustration in Psychology Today, fall (Sept?) 1974 issue.)
      [Maverick Jane Jacobs gives a gigantic clue at the beginning of one of her books in the 1980s when she observes that "stagflation" (simultaneously rising inflation and unemployment) is absolutely standard in third-world countries with no middle class.]

      1967 - Speaking out - Our students have no Utopia, by Pres. Buell Gallagher of City College (CCNY) of NY, 5/06/1967 Saturday Evening Post, page 8.
      [You mean a rehash of the New Deal and a relapse into warring on smaller nations doesn't suffice??]
      Today's college rebels are a new breed.... This college generation has grown up under circumstances that make it far too difficult to hold high hopes and dream great dreams. They have no Utopia. And without a Utopia, they can can do little more than withdraw from life or else lash out in frustration against what they consider the follies of the people who seem to run the world.
      Thus, when the rebels accuse and attack and become suffused in what they call alienation, they are expressing thoughts and attitudes which many of their classmates share, whether consciously or not. A couple of years ago, at the height of the Free Speech Movement, the rebels were saying, "Don't trust anybody over thirty."
      The rebels of 1967 regard this as a trap whereby the "older" group, the ones who are now 25-30, recruited undergraduates for their rebellion. So now [the "younger" group] says, "Don't trust anybody but ourselves." And who are we? Just ourselves, against the world, especially against The Establishment.
      Led by its alienated minority, the under-25 generation speaks like this: "If there is to be an authority, let it be the vote of myself and my peers on this issue at this moment.
      [Ah, such existentialism! Hence the importance of direct democracy within Timesizing in areas outside the capability of market forces (such as defining the market itself, including gating and pacing the whole solution process.) ]
      Do not tell us [that] the patterns of history have prescribed for us...your rules and regulations. We have seen what you have done with your chance to make a viable world - and it stinks."
      Rejecting all authority, the rebel at CCNY, at Berkeley, at the other schools, is quite ready to change the rules of the game at the drop of an issue, and if the rules don't change quickly enough, he is prepared to disobey them....

      1. One alarming aspect of current rebellion is its disregard of the consequences of illegality.
        [Disregard of consequences is existentialism, combined with illegality it here receives a more dramatic name -]
        In essence, this is anarchy.
      2. A second disquieting feature is the assumed power of arrogance [huh??]. I say "assumed," because experience [shows] that when a struggle for rights is defeated, rites are substituted.
        [Very neat, and often true, in many areas. Back to colleges -] The principal ritual is the demonstration: picketing, mass meeting, sit-in, lie-in, walk-out, teach-in. It brings no tangible results, but it "tells them."
        [Hey, it's better than terrorism!]
        The press proves compliant: Confrontation is news, dialogue is not, and when a call for a demonstration goes unheeded, it also goes unreported.
        [In summer 2004, the largest demonstrations go unreported, and the press is compliant only to The Establishment. What option does that leave?]
      I come now to the most difficult part of this story. ...The real tragedy of today's college rebels...is that they have no bona fide tragedy of their own and no willingness to learn about the subject from older generations.
      [Wrong. '60s rebel Phil Hyde of Timesizing.com had the suicides of his father and grandfather in 1955 and his willingness to learn from older generations is demonstrated by this page, the item on Reuther immediately below for instance, and the bibliography.... One of Phil's great older-generation heroes during the 1960s was Buckminster Fuller.]
      This all has a drastic side effect, for without tragedy [of their own?!] there can be no compelling hope - no Utopia.
      [Ah, we don't know if we agree with this, but we know where he's comin' from - someplace close to Kahlil Gibran's "your joy is the filling of the space carved out by your sorrow" (paraphrase).]
      Having nothing to die for, they have nothing to live for.
      [A well-designed worksharing system like Timesizing is something to live for (top priority of a survivor of parental suicides), and to live for.]
      ...In contrast, this college generation is by and large the most fortunate offspring of the richest nation on earth,
      [sounds like Buell, exhausted, wants to rest on his generation's laurels, instead of designing a nation that automatically adjusts to, and keeps up with, rising expectations, like Timesizing and its successors - but then, that would require welcoming suggestions and criticisms, and Buell is into pontificating against them -]
      many of them spared too long from adult burdens.
      But there is another factor. All their lives they have been told that they face dire threats - nuclear bombs, for instance - about which they can do nothing except tremble or yell.
      [So they're yelling - good point!]
      They were alienated by their advantages and their impotence long before they came to realize it....
      [Sort of like the Eloi of H.G.Wells' Time Machine.]
      Against this background, in a world as messy as ours in 1967, the rebels' idealism soon sours into cynicism and then frustration - and then negativism.
      [- for example, into a highly active crap detector?]
      ...It is one thing to condemn the world one's fathers [and mothers] have made, and something else to seek a superior alternative.... It is one thing to tell a college president [like myself] that they rules are too restrictive, and another to tell him which rules should be imposed so that the school [or world?] can improve its work and provide students a better education [or citizens a better life?!]... [Well, lurking behind the scrim of this website, like the Wizard behind the screen in the palace of Oz, is a radical of the 60s who got fed up with both capitalism and socialism, developed such an active crap detector that he finally decided if he wanted it done right, he'd have to do it himself. So he set forth on an economic design project, with Bucky Fuller (eg: Operating Manual for Spaceship Earth and Utopia or Oblivion) as background support and MIT's Limits to Growth as immediate goad, and redesigned the core of the body economic to automatically provide full employment with no runaway inflation, and then a series of similarly structured programs riding off into the future to accommodate constantly rising expectations.]

      1965 - Walter Reuther "thinks labor must do more for civil rights....
      His second campaign is to improve working working conditions in the plants....
      Reuther's third concern is to cut unemployment and the threat of automation.
      In 1963, UAW members had 162,700 fewer jobs than a decade earlier, even though production had increased by 1.8m vehicles.
      [Here we have a compelling counter-example to the common myth that "technology creates more jobs than it destroys" - which - we're always asked to accept on faith - is happening somewhere else, someplace where the mass downsizing right in front of us is not happening.]
      Reuther opposes make-work. "I don't think you can morally defend featherbedding, but it's not enough to condemn it," he says. "Featherbedding is a defense mechanism, just like the 35-hour-workweek demand. As long as there is not full employment, you will have workers trying to protect their jobs. We have got to meet this problem, and we haven't. This is the basic unresolved problem."
      [Interesting that Reuther seems to put the make-work bandaid on the same level as the share-work solution of shorter workweeks, especially when he hurdled one of the major design obstacles of share-work a year earlier at the UAW Convention in Atlantic City with his concept of "fluctuating adjustment of the workweek" against unemployment.]
      The only solution, he believes, is to create more jobs.
      [Ohoh, this sounds like the make-work bandaid he claimed to oppose.]
      "Every five weeks, for the next decade, we have to create a new General Motors Corp. - 400,000 jobs every five weeks just to stand still."
      [An interesting figure in 1965, when Reuther was considering only the inroads of efficient technology and the modest immigration rates of the time (c. 200,000 annually) when its near counterpart today has been spinmeistered down to 250,000 a month; then 200,000; and now 150,000 a month just to keep up with population growth, at a time when we have not only the continuing inroads of efficient technology, but also over a million immigrants a year, plus thousands of offshore outsourcings.]
      Men not needed on the factory lines, he argues, should be put to work filling the nation's needs for more schools and teachers, better roads, more hospitals. Reuther adds, "The time to have a shorter workweek is when we've met all these needs." (P.92 in 8/10/1965 Look Magazine, from article, "How tough is Walter Reuther?" by J. Robert Moskin, p.83ff.)
      [Reuther's examples here sound mostly like government projects, which in turn sound like echoes of the CCC, the WPA, or any of the other makework programs of the New Deal thirty years earlier. The problems with the approach he's advocating here - worksharing as a last resort - is first, how do we define the limits of these needs for schools, teachers, roads and hospitals in a such way that we will ever agree that these needs have been met, and secondly, how do we get the money and power to make our political "representatives" even begin to consider developing makework creation on this scale when the continuing inroads of efficient technology have devalued us as part of a huge and growing, though possibly much disguised, labor surplus? This "makework before sharework" or "makework first" approach is basically the same position as Rexford Tugwell took in "The Industrial Discipline" of 1933 to rebut Arthur Dahlberg's recommended 20-hour workweek in "Jobs, Machines and Capitalism" of 1932. How ironic that the inventor (as far as we know) of one of the key design components of practical worksharing (fluctuating adjustment of the workweek against unemployment) should cave in to Tugwell's position three decades later! Well, with the failure of Reuther's "makework first" advocacy of the 1960s to add to the failure of Tugwell's implemented "makework first" policy in the 1930s, it's time we learned the lesson and switched to share-work first by working to implement a system that guarantees full employment via automatically fluctuating adjustment of the workweek.]

      c.1939 (or 1946?) - Henry Ford, "Let's see you unionize these robots!"  Walter Reuther, "Let's see you sell them cars."
      (Semi-apocryphal anecdote reported to Phil Hyde by friend of Reuther's daughter in north Cambridge, Mass. antique shop, c.1996.)

      1938 - Walter Lippmann, "Men are asked to choose between security and liberty. To improve their fortunes they are told that they must renounce their rights. To escape from want they must enter a prison. To regularize their work they must be regimented. [Compare Ben Hunnicutt: To get a full-time job, they must set no limits on "full time."] To obtain greater equality they must have less freedom. To have national solidarity they must oppress the dissenters. To enhance their dignity they must lick the boots of tyrants. To realize the promise of science they must destroy free inquiry. To promote the truth they must not let it be examined.... However difficult it may be to find the true doctrine by which mankind can advance, surely the true doctrine is not to be found in either of these alternatives."
      From Walter Lippmann's The Good Society (Little Brown: Boston, 1938), pp. x-xi.

      1934 - FDR, "Ninety percent of our people live on salary or wages, ten percent on profits alone....People in this country whose income is less than two thousand a year, buy more than two-thirds of all goods sold....If these people are not assured of an income, the goods produced cannot be sold.
      [Arthur Dahlberg had said in 1932 (Jobs, Machines & Capitalism) that the way to assure them of an income was to stop placing them in the position of a low-price surplus commodity and to start placing them in the position of a high-price scarce commodity, as they were during the (First) World War (and the Second!), reinforcing the phrase "wartime prosperity"]
      "Nor can the jobs involved in producing the goods be maintained."
      From Donald Day's Will Rogers - A Biography (David McKay: New York, 1962), p. 316.

      1933 - Harold Loeb, "Nearly all utopias and social panaceas assume, for their proper working, that the nature of man, subjected to a gentler environment, would at once change for the better." (p. 70.)
      [Alternative versions of this are Marxism's requirement "that all men be angels" and G.K.Chesterton's Pan-Utopian Flaw.]
      "In the capitalist system, no method exists for distributing goods to the large [disadvantaged] class which possesses no capital except by making other goods and thereby receiving [bare-subsistence] wages.... To save capitalism, it is [currently] necessary to find some territory to which America can again donate a share of its goods [via foreign "trade," i.e., trade deficit], not superfluous goods, but the goods it does not know how to distribute [to its own disadvantaged citizens]." (pp. 88-90.)
      From Harold Loeb's Life in a Technocracy: What It Might Be Like (Syracuse University Press, 1996, first published 1933).

      1920 - But the strange mystery, the secret that lies concealed within [the] organization of..\..the age of machinery...is realized by but a few. It offers, to those who see it aright, the most perplexing industrial paradox ever presented in the history of mankind. With all our wealth, we are still poor. After a century and a half of labor-saving machinery, we work about as hard as ever. With a power [to work] multiplied a hundred fold, [work] still conquers us. And more than this. There are many senses in which the machine age seems to leave the great bulk of civilized humanity, the working part of it, worse off instead of better.
      (From Stephen Leacock's The Unsolved Riddle of Social Justice, John Lane Company, 1920, p. 22-23. Leacock is Canada's Mark Twain - even looked like Twain. His masterpiece was "Sunshine Sketches of a Little Town," especially the sketch entitled "The Sinking of the Mariposa Belle." Leacock, was, "incidentally," on the faculty of the economics dept. at McGill. He died in the 1940s.)
      [The answer is obviously that we misuse technology to replace employees instead of making their jobs easier - we cut jobs instead of cutting working hours. In groping for an answer, Leacock stumbles on the critical time dimension on p. 147 -]
      Ten hours a day of mechanical task is too long: nine hours is too long: eight hours is too long. I am not raising here the question as to how and to what extent the eight hours can be shortened, but only urging the primary need of recognizing that a working day of eight hours is too long for the full and proper development of human capacity and for the rational enjoyment of life.
      [When he does "raise the question as to how and to what extent the eight hours can be shortened," he makes an immediate breakthrough by realizing the superiority of continuously adjusting reductions rather than one or more rigid ones (p. 149f) -]
      But the process can be continuous. The short hours achieved with acclamation to-day will later be denounced as the long hours of to-morrow.
      [He even answers the objections of nervous employers who fear some kind of loss from the process (p. 150) -]
      The essential point to grasp, however, is that society at large has nothing to lose by the process. The shortened hours become a part of the framework of production. It adapts itself to it. Hitherto we have been caught in the running of our own machine: it is time that we altered the gearing of it.
      [He errs only in failing to see the centrality and comprehensiveness of the time dimension and the shorter hours solution, placing it on an equal footing with other ideas such as the minimum wage. In our ignorance and inexperience, our cruel fate in the 1930s lay in selecting the wrong idea, the minimum wage, and spending the rest of the century losing ground with it. If we had selected shorter hours (a per-person market-framework balancer rather than a per-job market-activity rigidifier), we would by now have had both leisure and higher wages, and a stable stock market due to a solid consumer base on the same scale as our concentrated capital base for investment. As it is, our consumer base is now a tiny fraction of what it should be to take up all our technology-amplified output, and our capital base is bloated beyond imagination with unbalanced wealth concentration, just as in 1928. Here we go again. We failed to get it right last time. Let's not blow it this time. Nuclear weapons make it too suicidal to use our previous total war solution.]

    Lastly, a chaser that adds an important criterion for an adequate to answer to The Big Question, however we phrase it, and that reflects the Holy Grail of economic designers, the single all-sufficient regulation -

    • "A progressive vision must cut across the usual program and interest-group categories. What we need are strategic initiatives that change [ie: improve] many things at once." Quote from George Lakoff, Phil Hyde's long-ago linguistics teacher (Champaign-Urbana summer/68, Harvard '68-69), in "Framing the Dems - How 'conservatives' control political debate and how progressives can take it back," p.32ff in American Prospect (Sept/2003).


    For more details, see our "social software" manual dba campaign piece, Timesizing, Not Downsizing, which is available online from *Amazon.com and at the Harvard Square Coop (3d flr., mgmt & economics sections) in Cambridge, Mass., USA.
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