DoomwatchTM vs. Timesizing®

Collapse trends - Sept. 1-10, 2000
[Commentary] ©2000 Philip Hyde, The Timesizing Wire, Box 622, Cambridge MA 02140 USA (617) 623-8080

9/9/2000  omens -
  1. Ozone hole over Antarctic grows to record size, by Geir Moulson, AP via Boston Globe, A2. three times larger than the United States, the biggest it has ever been, scientists at NASA said yesterday....
    [In the accompanying satellite photo, the Earth looks like a bloodshot eyeball and the distorted pupil is the 11m-sq-mi ozone hole.]

  2. Canadian jobless increase, by Timothy Pritchard, NYT, B2.
    Canada's unemployment rate rose to 7.1% in August from 6.8 in July and 6.6 in June, a surprising trend that has raised concerns about the strength of the economy.
    [3 words: CUT THE GST! Moronic Mulroney, was it, who tied the "Rape Me" sign on Canada's back by forcing the nation into simple-minded freetrade with the U.S. and shifting taxes from the rich to the poor with one of the highest sales taxes in the world, the hated GST ("Goods&ServicesTax"). You want a strong economy? Tax concentration, not circulation.]
    An estimated 27,000 jobs were added in August, buy more than three times [that number] joined the work force.
    [A modern nation really must cut through the neo-liberal political correctness of solving the problems of all the rest of the world by immigrating any amount of their population to the "developed" nations. Ecologically, no national landmass can bear the overpopulation of the rest of the world, and when no nation today has solved the Great Leak Upward in terms of the utterly limitless concentration of income and wealth, and when officially denied labor surplus is the critical factor in depressing the majority's pay and further concentrating that income and wealth, dealing with a constant inpouring of unskilled and often unlanguaged immigrants is, once again, guaranteeing yourself of failure to solve eroding living standards by trying to take on too much at once.]
    The influx of job seekers was a sign of confidence, economists said.
    [But then, what do most of those brazen, data-twisting, mercenary, happytalking, cheerleading pollyannas EVER say? - "Don't worry be happy" click "Don't worry be happy" click "Don't worry..."]
    But they noted that the number of new jobs in August did not make up for the 31,000 lost in [each of?] June and July - and that last month's additions were mostly part-time jobs.
    [So Canada's now doing it too - counting part-time jobs one-to-one as full-time equivalents? Dumbdadumbdumb.]

  3. [2 Radcliffe researchers ask -]
    If technology makes our lives easier, why are we so stressed out?, op ed by Shannon Quinn & Leslie Cintron, Boston Globe, A15.
    ...83%..\..of workers polled in a recent study by the Radcliffe Public Policy Center...said they prefer distinct boundaries between work and nonwork time. "Life's Work: Generational Attitudes Toward Work and Life Integration," a national survey of 1,008 men and women aged 21 ro 65-plus, showed that Americans are working more, sleeping less, and having a difficult time balancing work and life. ...Nearly half of the workers surveyed said they worked more than 40 hours a week, and one in five work over 50.... These hours don't even include the time spent outside the office checking voicemail after dinner, responding to work e-mails before surfing the Web or fielding business calls on the cellphone on the way to soccer practice.
    ...On a typical work night, 72% of workers aren't getting the 8 hours of sleep experts recommend, and 44% admit sleeping 6 hours or less per night. Numerous studies show sleep deprivation leads to a variety of problems, including increased health problems and auto accidents - not to mention lower productivity at work.
    ...64% of workers said they would prefer more time to more money. In fact, 71% of young men 21-39 said they would give up pay for more time with their families. Employers who expect to attract and retain these young men and women need to be aware of their changing priorities.... [And] workers who are rested do better work.
    ..\..Technology allows us to feel...important.... Although we chafe at the endless workday, 62% of workers in the Radcliffe study said they viewed working hours as a sign of commitment. [See how far that gets you when the pink slips fly - ed.] ..\..To make technology more of a blessing than a curse for the overworked American, we [ourselves] need to develop a [respect for] the importance of life outside of work.... The technology revolution has happened; now we need another revolution in the strategies we use with it....
    [To get back to the original question, technology doesn't automatically make our lives easier unless we have an automatic system for lowering our workweek as we raise our technology levels, which we don't. We were on the right track when we passed a primitive shorter workweek through the U.S. Senate in early 1933, but we made the biggest mistake this past century when we sandbagged it in the House and went with maximum makework and minimum wage ("let government do it") instead of simply a maximum workweek ("let business do it right"). Now, 67 years later, with most of government at all levels turned into direct and indirect, subtle and blatant makework campaigns, from patronage and endless government agencies to enterprise zones and block grants, we can still change course and undistort our socio-economy. But now it will take Timesizing.]
9/08/2000  omens -
  1. U.N. speakers urge increase in charity to the poor, by Christopher Wren [wasn't he the great 17th century London architect who designed St. Paul's Cathedral?], NYT, A10.
    [Altogether now, kids - "any economic design that relies on charity for vital functions is fatally flawed." We don't need charity. We need to centrifuge, spread and share the market-demanded work and skills, however short a workweek that requires given constant infusions of work-saving technology. And we need an automatic system to do this, because if politicians have to mix into it every couple of years to adjust it, it will work as badly as the minimum wage. And yes, we're talking about the Timesizing approach here. With our miraculous technology today, we're in a position to make it one h*ll of a lot easier for everybody to earn a good living and support themselves, so us taxpayers don't have to. And we do that by making government the reinvestor (in overtime-targeted training and hiring) of last resort, not the charity of last resort. Charity is capricious and unreliable, and generates dependency. Market-demand overtime, automatically converted into training and hiring, preferably by the private sector, is steady and reliable, and generates self-supporting independence. Phase 2 and Phase 3 of Timesizing just does it. The poor countries don't need us. They need a 22nd-century economic design like Timesizing that optimizes their distribution of skills and employment, and begins the optimization of their way-skewed income and wealth distribution - which we are skewing for ourselves by the way. No matter how much money there is in a nation, if 1% of the population has 99% of it, you've got one miserable, dirt-poor, third-world nation, and we God's-gift Americans could still easily qualify, just by carrying on in the direction we're going with win-lose, downsizing capitalism, instead of course-adjusting with win-win, timesizing capitalism.]

  2. Fuel shortages grow as truckers' strike spreads in France, by Suzanne Daley, NYT, A4.
    [France is ahead in a lot of things but not ahead in others. For example, like us, it's government by wealthy mandarins. The system is a little smaller and more obvious over there. Our mandarins are more subtle and hidden in the more extensive "woodwork." And one gets the feeling that the ordinary French people are getting a little tired of this.]
    ...The cost of diesel fuel in France has risen about 40% in the last year. A gallon of diesel fuel costs about $2.84 here..\.. The cost of fuel has been rising even faster in Europe than in the United States because of the decline in the value of the Euro.
    [The Euro was a way premature innovation. As French Finance Minister Laurent Fabius says in tomorrow's NYT, "We are trying to give some rationality to something which is a bit irrational." See "A pitch is issued for a strong Euro," Reuters via 9/9/00 NYT, B2.]
    On top of that, fuel carries a government surcharge [does that mean tax?!] of more than 70% in France.
    [Well there's your problem right there. If fuel just cost 100% instead of 170%, the price per gallon would be just $1.67, same range as here.]
    Many of the truckers believed that they would get relief in a long awaited package of tax cuts that [P.M.] Mr. Jospin's government unveiled last week. But the government instead chose to use a budget surplus from a booming economy in other ways. The plan included only a cut in the taxes on home heating oil.
    [We suspect that the mandarins behind the government are trying to do too much at once. They're trying to achieve worthy environmental goals at the same time as they're involved in this premature unified-currency experiment. That's why they need binding public referendums on all these big issues instead of a small bunch of know-it-all's figuring out what's good for everybody - from their wealth-insulated aeries. There are so many things that need to be corrected and standardized BEFORE the loss of nation-specific control inherent in currency unification. France is also embarked on a huge experiment in workweek reduction that has the potential to alleviate a lot of these other stresses. But the form of workweek reduction that they've adopted is the most primitive one imaginable. They've simply jumped down from one rigid and absolute level of the workweek to another one, four hours lower. They went from 40 to 39 in 1982, and on Feb. 15 they went to 35. Now trucking in both France and America and a lot of other self-described "developed" nations is a gigantic makework campaign. We could do the same work with 1% of the personnel if we did it by railroad, but then how would all these guys earn their living? That's the real question for the French Greens who earlier made Jospin...]
    ...promise to push France toward using rail traffic over more polluting trucks.
    [Well, that's why we keep saying that Timesizing is the cutting edge of the Green agenda - it takes care of the killer job question, in this case, "How are all these truckers going to earn their living?" If your workweek ceiling is not rigid but flexible and fluctuating slowly against underemployment (= Timesizing Phase 4), and if it is not defined absolutely ("everybody stops work here regardless!") but defined to be permeable to people who have deflationary, non-monetary incentive (i.e., maybe they LOVE their job like the little toymaker "who never 'worked' a day in his life") and who are willing to work their old longer hours (or even longer) and reinvest their overtime/overwork earnings in training and hiring (= TImesizing Phase 3) - and if before that, you tax companies for overtime and give them a complete exemption for setting up overtime-targeted on-the-job training and hiring (= Timesizing Phase 2) - you have a LOT of options for the thousands of guys you are squeezing out of trucking with this exorbitant 70% government fuel "surcharge."
    [And at any rate, a tax on diesel fuel is a rather crude way of shifting back from trucks to trains. Better a start-low and very gradually increased tax directly on trucks (e.g., at the licensing or driving level), with an accompanying ear-marked use of the revenues for subsidizing trains. Note that trucking has always been government-subsidized with free "tracks" - because it can use the public roads and highways. Revenues from a tax on trucks could be used to balance the playing field for trains and give them free tracks too. Note that airlines are government-subsidized with free "driveways and garages" (runways and airports) as well as free "tracks" (the sky, neatly tunnelled by government airtraffic controllers). Or you can cut truck pollution with air pollution controls on trucks. But too many experiments at once can be mutually disruptive, as here, and these are big ones, - fight truck air pollution plus/minus switch back from trucking to railroads, support the unified European currency, spread the work with a 35-hour workweek (or flexible) ceiling, and democratize French government beyond the comfy and insulated mandarins. As Thoreau said, "Let your affairs be as two or three, and not as a hundred or a thousand." Each of these big experiments involves hundreds of smaller ones. France is taking on too much at once.]
9/06/2000  omens - 9/06/2000  omens -
  1. [Another case of forced overtime -]
    Earthgrains says more workers join sympathy strike, Bloomberg via NYT, C4.
    ...The maker of IronKids and Heiner's breads said workers walked off the job at 8 more plants...honoring a strike that began 10 days ago at its bakery in Ft. Payne, Ala.... About 680 members of the Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers union walked out at the Ala. plant on Aug. 26, in part to protest mandatory overtime and a lack of days off....
    [If once the labor movement smartens up and regains control of the time issue, they will regain their former strength, and real progress will resume in America. Timesizing or downsizing, pick one.]

  2. Health insurance premiums are increasing 10-30%, pointer digest (to A1), NYT, C1., according to employers, insurers and regional business groups familiar with rates being paid by dozens of companies. Driven largely by escalating drug costs, the double-digit increase in the third in a row for many companies.... The increases revive a contentious issue that clouded the early years of the Clinton Administration.
    [Pointing to -]
    HMO costs spur employers to shift [or drop!] plans - Premiums are climbing by as much as 30%, by Milt Freudenheim, NYT, front page.
    ...In a survey released yesterday by the National Blue Cross and Blue Shield Assoc. and the Employee Benefits Institute, one in seven businesses with fewer than 100 employees [and "small business is the engine of growth" -ed.] said they would drop health insurance if their premiums increased by 10%....
    Health costs are "out of control," said Elyse Hanan, executive producer of Zap Edit, a film editing company with eight employees in Manhattan that absorbed double-digit premium increases in 1999 and this year.... If there is a third big increase next January, she added..., "the only doctor I'm going to be able to afford is my brother"..\..
    Managed care is no longer keeping medical costs down. The industry has also been consolidating recently, increasing profits, [and] weakening the ability of employers to bargain on rates....
    [Well, haughty Americans, what of your wonderful, "I can choose my own doctor" (as if Canadians can't too), private-sector health insurance system today? Canada also has an imperfect system, but while its system is imperfect, every Canadian is covered, and while your system is imperfect, millions of you aren't covered. The best system for America was the Hawaiian state system around 1991 before they tinkered and ruined it, trying to align it with a flawed federal system that they thought was coming but never did. See The State Health Insurance Program of Hawaii: From Legislative Priority to Reality, submitted to Dept. of Health, State of Hawaii, Dec. 10, 1991, 460 pp., by Center for Health Research, Kaiser Permanente, Portland, Oregon; School of Public Health, University of Hawaii at Manoa, Honolulu, Hawaii; and Hawaii Medical Service Association Foundation, Honolulu, Hawaii.
    [So much for competition now that our anti-trust agencies have slept through yet another big batch of mergers. And you have to ask about the "Great Leak Upward" - how much are drug company CEOs making these days? - which proposes to start plugging by setting up a system to share skills and employment. Try to start by sharing income or wealth and you just create dependency.]
9/05/2000  omens -
  1. [The latest unsettling evidence of global warming -]
    Through Northwest Passage in a month, ice-free - ...The St. Roche II's skipper, Ken Burton of the Mounties, said, "Concern should be registered with the fact we didn't see any [pack] ice", by James Brooke, NYT, A3.
    NUUK, Greenland...- During World War II, when Henry Larsen took a Royal Canadian Mounted Police ship, the St. Roch, into the fabled Northwest Passage, his boat was frozen in Arctic ice through two winters, only emerging at the eastern end after 27 months. On Sunday the St. Roch II completed...the same route in one month, including leisurely overnight stops.... After leaving Tuktoyaktuk [is that the one that means "place of the rutting caribou"? -ed.] near Canada's border with Alaska, the boat traversed all of Canada's Arctic without encountering pack ice.... Safely out of the passage [Sgt. Burton] said, "There were some bergs...some ribbons of multiyear ice floes, all small and fragmented, and [we] were able to steer around them"....

  2. New England loons facing new threat - Industrial waste threatens survival, research team says, by Robert Braile, Boston Globe, B4.
    ...Toxic methylmercury is...undercutting their ability to reproduce and survive.... Many loons are producing only half their normal number of part because their eggs have become more fragile. The contaminant in their turning up in high levels across New England, mostly because of air pollution, especially from incinerators and coal-burning plants....
    [And if it's doing that to birds, what's it doing to us at the top of the food chain? No wonder our cancer levels are rising.]

  3. The scourge of guns, editorial, NYT, A30.
    We live in a nation where more than 30,000 Americans die annually by gunfire, a toll that includes about 4,000 children and teenagers. Yet despite these horrible statistics, Americans are allowed, as in few other indutrialized countries, to buy and keep an unlimited arsenal of firearms with very few restrictions and little government regulation....

9/03/2000  3 weekend omens -
  1. Working harder, longer - Families struggle to enjoy the best of times, op ed by Bob Herbert, NYT, A19.
    [Bob's problem here is that he gives away the store in the subtitle and the first paragraph, then tries to take it back later. His real position, finally revealed in the third-last paragraph, is that it's not "the best of times." It's just that -]
    ...the public profile of the poor has diminished almost to the point of invisibility. But they are still there. ...The national poverty rate in 1988...was full percentage point higher than in 1979.
    [And there are plenty of people who feel that our current definition of poverty has not kept up with the times and severely undercounts it, just as our unemployment rate counts almost nothing. Even so -]
    Nearly one in five American children lives in poverty.
    [Bob Herbert suffers from a pandemic problem in America today - PBS = partitioned brain syndrome. And not coincidentally, it was pandemic throughout the 1920s also. The pressure to be fair and go along with large chunks of the happytalk that is blasted out at us by our "2-guy" media - Turner (cf. Pravda) and Murdoch (cf. Izvestia) - is indulged too far. When the average family can only hold its ground today by neglecting its kids and having both parents working, we've lost serious ground since the 1950s.]
    ..\..As a woman in New Jersey recently said: "We're a working family all right. That's all we do is work."
    [The all-important issue is workshare per person, in the form of worktime per person, in the form primarily of workweek per person (there's also workday, workmonth, workyear {vs. vacation} and worklife {vs. child labor bans and mandatory retirement age} per person). If we've got a diminishing supply of urgently demanded market-determined employment due to continuous technological innovation, and a growing supply of population, we MUST reduce the workshare per person or we foster a labor surplus, labor loses bargaining power, wages don't keep up with output or inflation, and income and wealth concentrates in fewer and fewer hands. "Trickle down, gush up." And eventually, "the more concentration, the less circulation" and then depression and our usual curative, war. And we do have waves of technological innovation constantly pouring efficiency into the economy, and we have not reduced the workshare per person (the 40-hour workweek) for 60 years, two full generations. Result? Unions are down from 35% to 14% of the workforce. Labor has lost serious ground. Just as it did during the 1920s when the technological innovations of the Great War were pouring into the civilian economy (radios were diminishing local newspapers and books, horseless carriages and wagons were diminishing local livery stables, blacksmiths and the feed industry,...). Technology may sometimes "create more jobs than it destroys," but these are always less urgently demanded, more casually or optionally demanded jobs. In short, they are less secure and lower paid. But what about high-tech jobs today? They're still very insecure - and the only reason some of them are highly paid is because of the speed of innovation and the scarcity of training. The speed of innovation is a major synergizer of insecurity. Competition pushes innovation and innovation pushes competition - and competition is an unstable, insecure situation. The scarcity of training is a consequence of the growing labor surplus - employers are too spoiled by floods of resumes to train, too irritated by floods of resumes and crippled by lack of training to leave job qualifications low, and too insecure to pay good, sustainable, limited-worktime wages - they'd rather pay in insecure stock options and pay a "salary" that constitutes a blank check on employees' worktime.
    [Our usual method for adjusting these vast and invisible cultural dislocations is war. They generate so much interpersonal irritation and societal partitioning that the thing escalates into massive slaughter. Already car wars and airpassenger rage are mounting. People are buying and training nasty dogs. People are fighting for totally free access to guns, however irrelevant to hunting. Kids are shooting other kids in schools. The only reason crime is stable is because we've got more of our crime-prone population in long-term lockup than ever before in our history and with over 2m Americans in prison, we've got the world record. Popular music is full of rage. Popular art is full of distortion. We over-react with hyperprotectionism. We fight reproductive rights. We fight the right to die. We throw open the floodgates to immigration, as if the solution is moving everyone from less advantaged lands to our country, but that just decrements our advantages and increments our stress levels.
    [We need to share more in the critical dimension, and the critical dimension is worktime. We need to cut the workweek and convert overtime into continuous overtime-targeted training in the workplace. We need Timesizing.]
    And then there's the matter of indebtedness..\.. The Economic Policy Institute \has just put out\ a book-length report...titled "The State of Working America 2000-01"...published by Cornell [that says] despite the rosy stock market stories of the past few years, the typical American family accumulated more debt in the 1990's than it made from the appreciation of stocks.
    [This is also a feature shared with the 1920s. It's time we learned from our own history so we stop repeating its nightmares. Our biggest lack is a smooth automatic way to pass along the worksavings of technology to the general public in the form of more leisure (financially secure and economy-sustaining) instead of downsizing and under-employment (financially insecure and economy-busting). Our second biggest lack is continuous training in the workplace. Timesizing has both.]

  2. ["bad, but..." -]
    Today, employees who play hooky think they're entitled to, expert says - Some companies, such as First Union Corp., are finding ways to ease high stress levels and reduce unscheduled days off, by Diane Lewis, Boston Globe, F8.
    [Compare overuse of sicktime in Sweden, discussed in an article embedded in 9/02/2002 #2, "Sick leave is a hot issue - Candidates in Sweden debate increase in workers absences."]
    Call it the no-show factor. That's the term workplace analyst Nancy Kaylor uses to explain a growing...percentage of employees [who feel] entitled to the time off..., "People now feel, 'I deserve it. You owe me.'" Researchers at CCH, a consultancy that tracks human resource issues, call the trend part of an "entitlement mentality," or a backlash [from] the downsizings, mergers, and reorganizations that left millions of workers unemployed and shellshocked in the 1990s. ...Said Kaylor, a member of the CCH staff, "Now, because [people] are frazzled or stressed and, in some cases, working longer hours [our italics - ed.], people are calling in sick when they aren't sick...."
    [So, never mind "no-show factor" or "entitlement mentality" - it's comp time.]
    After surveying 850 human resource executives from midsize and large companies in the U.S., CCH found that while absenteeism has declined 7% since 1995, the percentage of unscheduled absences due to stress and the entitlement mentality has soared, rising to 19% from 6% five years ago [although] family issues and personal illnesses are still the two leading reasons...each accounting for 21%.... Still, said Kaylor,..."In this very, very tight [skills, not labor! -ed.] market, it falls to fewer workers in a lot of cases to get the job done.... At a certain point, having given 120% over days, weeks, or even months, people begin to feel that they now deserve a break, but they don't want to [use up] a vacation day." ...CCH researchers...found university, government, and health workers are more likely to take time off than those in any other sector. ...The rate of absenteeism among university employees increased 17% between 1998 and 1999. The health care industry, which experienced a 12% increase..., now has the highest number of absences among all industrial sectors....
    When First Union Corp. of Charlotte, NC, found that some of its 80,000 employees were routinely taking time off while others, also hard workers, never called in sick, it instituted a "PTO," or paid time off policy. ...Said Angela Mull, assistant VP of HR..\.."We moved from traditional sick pay and vacation day policy [mainly because] a lot of people felt they were entitled to sick days...." [PTO puts] all paid sick and vacation days into a "bank." "If you don't get sick, you get six additional vacation days.... Now all of a sudden, we don't have as many sick people anymore. Instead of unscheduled absences, we require that workers call in advance and schedule a day off...."
    [So does this lengthen the workyear, and if not, where are the "ways to ease high stress levels" for employees mentioned in this article's subtitle?]
    First Union also offers 10 paid days per year for people who need time for family matters to take that time without dipping into their paid time off. The company calls this benefit "family-care time."
    [So is this really just assuming more stress for everyone and therefore initiating a grant of 10 days of comp time to everyone? A number of unanswered questions -
    1. Is this 10 additional paid days off requiring advance warning but regardless of vacation/illness/stress, or did the company take the opportunity to reduce the previous total of vacation days plus sick days plus holidays?
    2. Are these really "personal days" regardless of family circumstances - that is, what about people with no families? Do people get these 10 additional days off regardless of personal circumstances, or is this a subsidy only for families, as is spousal and offspring health insurance?
    [Simply put, it seems the company is giving more paid time off in a new category similar to "personal days," while grouping sick and vacation days in the same category, the intent being to reduce unexpected call-ins with both a carrot - an alternative category of paid time off to draw on - and a stick - a reduction in vacation days if you call in unexpectedly. So what is really the difference here? Employees who really do have to call in at the last moment unexpectedly can call it a "sick day" and reduce their vacation days, but they still have 10 "call in advance for any reason" days from which to replenish their vacation days. (Can we assume that the 10 additional paid days off are transparently convertible into vacation days?) All this fooling around and micromanagement should by now have been obviated by a much shorter workweek. Our Timesizing program delivers the shorter workweek we should all have had by now in the year 2000, and that our predecessors assumed we would have by now. After all, they passed a 30-hour workweek through the U.S. Senate SIXTY-SEVEN years ago! The fact that we don't have much reduced worktime by now - not even comparable to Europe - is due to our own stupidity and our jaw-tensing ("TMJ"), obsessive compulsive, anal-retentive over-control - and masochism.]
    Paid leave banks are good for the worker and the boss," Kaylor said. "There is no longer a situation where an employee is calling in at the last minute. It's the last-minute no-show that throws a wrench into things for the employer and for coworkers."
    [Yet the unexpected does happen, so there is still a situation where an employee is calling in at the last minute, but maybe not as much. At any rate, if our whole culture woke up to the whole purpose of technology - to make life easier by providing more time off - we would all have more reserves to deal with the unexpected without painstakingly designing more categories and bloating our paperwork.]

  3. [Gambling with our security -]
    Survey links personal security, Wall Street behavior, AP via Boston Globe, F5.
    Fluctuations on Wall Street seem to have caused greater insecurity in people's personal lives. Although nonscientific in nature, a survey of 319 adults conducted by the financial services company MoneyUnion Inc. found 53% of respondents feel less secure in their jobs as a results of recent stock market gyrations, and 41% said they have less confidence in their financial security as of late.
    Respondents said their greatest financial insecurity results from the need to pay off credit-card debt, followed by potential stock market losses and the need to pay off a mortgage....
9/02/2000  omens -
  1. August job growth slowed as higher interest rates took hold - Manufacturing jobs fall [by 79,000], with electronics the only bright production sector, by Louis Uchitelle, NYT, B1.
    (Parallel story subhead - Trio of economic reports offers evidence that much desired slowdown taking hold, by Scott Nelson, Boston Globe, B2.)
    [Back to NYT -]
    ...Private employers created only 17,000 jobs in August...and the unemployment rate rose to 4.1% from 4.0.... The Census Bureau continued to shed workers...from a peak of 618,000 in 41,000 in August..\.. The Fed's six interest rate increases since June 1999 have created enough drag to slow the economy to a growth rate that the Fed considers non-inflationary....
    [Don't get us started again on the stupidity of clobbering growth and fostering unemployment and fear of joblessness in the workplace as an inflation control "strategy." See our rant yesterday under the fourth item on 9/01 below ("Reports suggest slowdown in US mfg"). This is indeed the economic dark ages, and this disgraceful, pathetic and intelligence-insulting "strategy" is the second-biggest reason why. (The biggest is the rigidifying of the workweek for the last 60 years, after 150 years of gradual reductions.)]

  2. Europeans decry US tax-break plan - US plans to help exporters could lead to a trade war, some say, by Marcy Gordon, Boston Globe, C1.
    [The bad thing is the US plans for corporate welfare for exporters, not the Europeans' decrying thereof.] WASHINGTON - Over European objections, the Clinton administration will continue to push for enactment of legislation creating new tax breaks for US companies that export goods or make them abroad, a senior administration official said yesterday [our italics - ed.]....
    [You could almost see the subsidization of US exports with our $30B record trade deficit, but these morons also want to subsidize the moving of American jobs overseas by American companies??! The two halves of this dumbdumbdumb legislation are contradictory.]

9/01/2000  6 omens -
  1. [ signs its own death warrant -]
    How uses information, by Saul Hansell, NYT, C2.
    ...The No. 1 Internet retailer has revised its privacy policy and...disclosed that it has started sending e-mail marketing messages on behalf of other companies.
    [That should clobber its business with anybody who already gets too much spam.]
    It also added a long list of data it collects about users, including financial information, Social Security numbers, product searches and the telephone number from which a user calls Amazon's customer service line.
    [Remind us never, NEVER to visit again.]
    And for the first time, Amazon disclosed it can buy information about customers from outside databases.
    [We're more concerned about the info Amazon sells, not buys, and sure enough -]
    ...If the new initiatives do not help stem Amazon's huge losses and the company is put up for sale, the new policy says, anyone who buys Amazon will get its customer data.
    [Well, these "new initiatives" should hasten Amazon's demise - by its own privacy-invading hand. And almost worse than privacy invasion, the daily and increasing time tax of deleting spam is outrageous. We always sensed Amazon was run by idiots missing some basic chip on their motherboard.]

  2. California bill on Web sales tax, by Lawrence Fisher, NYT, C2.
    The Calif. State Assembly has passed a bill that would require businesses with stores in Calif. to collect state [7.2%!] sales tax on purchases made over the Internet.
    [Great, if this prevails and spreads, it should deliver the coup de grace to Internet retail - not that many of them, like Amazon in the story above, don't richly deserve it.]
    The bill, approved earlier by the State Senate, passed by a vote of 42-to-31 and was sent to the governor.... Gov. Gray Davis...has indicated that he opposes Internet taxes....
    [He should oppose all sales taxes as we do, and indeed, all taxes on circulation. If governments want money, let them get it from people who already have too much, instead of slowing and dampening economic dynamism. Let's tax concentration, not circulation.]

  3. Religion on the hustings - Signs of shift in attitudes suggest blurring of the line between faith and politics, by Gustav Niebuhr, NYT, front page.
    [If so, how many times do we have to repeat the hard lessons of history. "Been there, done that," - had the bloodshed.]

  4. Reports suggest slowdown in US manufacturing, Bloomberg via Boston Globe, F2.
    Orders placed with US manufacturers fell 7.5% [to $377.6B] in July, the largest drop on record.... That followed a 5.2% gain in June.... July's decline in factory orders surpassed the previous record drop of 6.6% in Dec/1974. The Commerce Dept. has been keeping records on manufacturing orders since 1958.
    [Thus preventing us from effectively learning lessons from the lead-in to the Great Depression of 1929-41.]
    Factory production accounts for about one-fifth of US economic output, and 18 months of industrial growth helped the expansion set a record for longevity earlier this year and propel it into its 10th year.
    ...Consumer spending, still the main driver of the economy, may be cooling. [It] already slowed in the second quarter to the slowest pace in three years. That's what should be expected after six interest-rate increases by Federal Reserve policy-makers since July 1999.... Data yesterday from the Labor Dept. indicate cooling in job growth. While initial claims for state unemployment benefits fell by 3,000 to 318,000, last week was the third in a row with claims higher than 300,000.
    [What a primitive state of economic theory, when we still fight inflation by attacking employment and overall economic growth by injecting fear into the workplace - fear of job loss - by discouraging business loans and expansion with higher interest rates and fostering higher unemployment! Timesizing attacks the real problem - the "Great Leak Upward" - the over-concentration of income and wealth into so few hands that they couldn't possibly spend it in hundreds of lifetimes - thus "cooling" the "main driver of the economy" = consumer spending. How do we attack over-concentration of income and wealth? Initially, not directly in the money dimensions (income and wealth) at all - giving away money just creates dependency. We should have learned that from 67 years of misguided New Deal and Great Society growth of an underclass generally known as "welfare mothers." No, we start by redistributing employment (and skills), not income or wealth. We start in the time dimension, not the money dimensions. Or perhaps we should say, we start by redistributing wealth via the time dimension, via an employment redistribution. And perhaps we should point out that we're not really redistributing, we're simply reinvesting at the relatively colossal levels required to reverse the increasing amplitude of the business cycle (particularly the downside) and make economic growth all along the path more solid, less bubble-prone. We do this by setting an upper limit, not on income or wealth per person (which is premature and would be dependency generating) and not on working hours per job (which is a market call, not a government call), but on working hours per person. We enforce our current workweek maximum (= 40 hrs/wk, whose enforcement has deteriorated for the last 60, and especially the last 30, years). But we don't do it the naive and clumsy way - "everybody stop work here - absolutely!" We don't need to stop absolutely everyone, just the people who are doing it for inflationary reasons, like money. They're the ones who can never get enough, because they're not living in the present, they're making money for some fantasy time in the future, the weekend, the coming vacation, the early retirement. They're sacrificing the best hours of their lives, here and now, for a fantasy of the future - which may or may not come true - so of course they can never get enough, and their payraise demands are the dangerous component of the wage-price spiral that contributes to inflation. Those who work over the standard workweek deflationary reasons, like job satisfaction or enjoyment or great colleagues or enhanced resume or what have you - this side is much more diverse than the other money side - are currently wasted in our economy. These are people like the storied "little toymaker," who "never worked a day in his life" - because he enjoyed it so much. Currently, we don't harness voluntary and charitable instincts in a way that can counterbalance inflation. Under Timesizing, we change that.
    [Under Timesizing, we "tax concentration and untax circulation" by taxing concentration of employment and skills, untaxing reinvestment of employment and skills in others. We do this by taxing overtime and exempting, or even subsidizing, reinvestment of overtime profits and earnings in T&H (training and hiring), T&H in overtime-pressured skills. This means that the incidence of overtime itself is harnessed as the targeter of training, and not inefficient ivorytower training in community colleges or universities but right-in-the-workplace on-the-job training. Timesizing's top-of-the-workweek design presents a decision to every employee, including top management, as they approach their 40th hour of every week - "Why am I doing this? Am I enjoying it enough to keep going this week without gaining unaccountable spending power from further hours of work?" If not, they must stop and leave the extra work, if it's really market-demanded, to others. They might just use the time for their families or for leisure activities, or if they really want more money, they might use it to train or apply for a higher paid job where they can make what they want (at the moment) within the standard workweek = the standard share of employment per person. At any rate, the concentration of work and skills upon few people will not continue unchecked. And neither will its component of the concentration of income and wealth. People with inflationary incentive will be checked and possibly transformed, either in wage-potential skills or from work to leisure, at a certain point each week, while people with deflationary incentive will be allowed to continue without interference. Result? Inflation control without fostering unemployment and fear in the workplace, and without dampening economic growth, but with economic optimization as the people tend to gravitate toward jobs where they have a better balance of inflationary and deflationary incentive, instead of our current situation of travelling with a gross overbalance of dependence on the money motive, the inflationary incentive.]

  5. On Lexington Green... - Raytheon strike highlights firm's growing need for more high-tech engineers, fewer plant employees, by Diane Lewis, Boston Globe, F1.
    [One word - T-R-A-I-N-I-N-G. Human beings are the most flexible and versatile species on the planet. Forget the seniority (an increasingly mixed blessing as older employees get priced out of the market and downsized just before pensionability) and USE THE VERSATILITY.]

  6. A three-basket model for health care - Each person would have access to some level, though not the same level, of service, by Leonard Marcus & Barry Dorn, Boston Globe, A19.
    [Isn't that like "a three-class model for health care"? Like 1st class, 2nd class, and 3rd class? Hey, it's getting harder and harder to observe the prime American taboo - pretend America achieved Marx's classless society without Marxism and don't mention class - you'll just be creating, you, your fault - class warfare! George W. has already been flinging the phrase at Gore.]

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