DoomwatchTM vs. Timesizing®

Collapse trends - Dec. 21-31, 2000
[Commentary] ©2000-2001 Philip Hyde, The Timesizing Wire, Box 622, Cambridge MA 02140 USA (617) 623-8080

12/31/2000-1/1/2001  weekend omens -
  1. 1/1  Job struggle for women in Japan, pointer digest (to A4), NYT, C1.
    As Japan contemplates a huge labor shortage in the very near future...
    [Huh? Japan's heading down for another dose of depression, characterized by grotesque labor surplus, not "shortage." Check out "Unemployment rises and spending falls in Japan" below on 12/27. Whose pipedream is this 'huge labor shortage' in Japan? It's about a real as our 'huge labor shortage' which is nothing but employers getting too spoiled to train, loosen up their job qualifications, raise their pay or lower their hours, or acknowledge our huge population of under-employed! Instead they'd rather bring in 100,000s of young low-wage 24/7 workers from India and prepare to really expand our "working poor."]
    ...the society has shown greater readiness to contemplate even large-scale immigration - long one of the country's biggest taboos - rather than moving quickly to provide equal opportunities for Japanese women, who are still being shunted off in large part onto the secretarial track or other deadend jobs.
    [As long as employers take the short-term 'drugs' of immigration and downsizing, instead of a worksharing approach like Timesizing, whether the demand for human workhours goes - or whether it goes down - they will continue to weaken their own consumer base and their own markets. The target article is by Howard French, "Diploma in hand, Japanese women find glass ceiling reinforced with iron."]

  2. 12/31  Modern life - The time crunch - About 50% would be will be willing to give up a day's pay for a day off - About 40% of workers say they come home from work exhausted ... that represents a 15% increase from 1989 - 30% of workers 'always' feel rushed - Another 53% 'sometimes' feel rushed, by Bella English, Boston Globe, D1.
    [This isn't 'modern life.' This is old, very old. And the percentage willing to give up pay for time off a couple of years ago was 66%.]
    ...Americans now spend more time workig than people in any other country on earth except Japan....
    [Nope, we now beat Japan in terms of working hours per year.]
    A generation ago President Nixon predicted that the United States would one day go to a four-day workweek because of increasing productivity and advancing technology.
    [VP candidate Nixon called for a four-day week on the stump in Colorado Springs in 1956 - Pres. candidate Eisenhower quickly muzzled him. The Technocrats in the 1920s predicted four 4-hour days, a 16-hour week. Arthur Dahlberg in 1932 predicted four 5-hour days, a 20-hour week. In 1933, the United States Senate passed a 30-hour workweek of five 6-hour days in the Black Bill but FDR, incomprehending, obstructed it in the House, much to his own regret as early as two years later. By then he had thrown up the whole hodgepodge jerrybuilt "New Deal" with one goal in mind - to block the 30-hour bill.]
    Ironically, those two factors [increasing productivity and advancing technology] have speeded life up instead of slowing it down.
    [No they haven't. Our assumption that the workweek will shorten magically all by itself has. It never shortened by itself. It always had to be fought for by employees, and then deliberately designed and legislated. The first known case in history is the Fourth Commandment of Moses, "Six days shalt thou labor and do all thy work, but the seventh is the sabbath of the Lord thy God. In it thou shalt not do any work." This is from chapter 20 in Exodus, the second book of the first five (Pentateuch/Torah) in the Old Testament/Hebrew Bible of The Holy Bible, and records a period estimated roughly at around 1500 BC, 3500 years ago. So if you think shortening the workweek is Socialist! or Communist!, then you must think the God of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob/Israel and Jesus Christ is a Socialist and a Communist. We don't think it's even socialism, which is a burgeoning maximum of stifling detailed controls. We think it's the capitalism of the future - a stable minimum of liberating generalized controls, theoretically just one.]
    "...We're not taking..\..all that terms of leisure activity," says Betsy Taylor...of the *Center for a New American Dream in Takoma Park, Md., a nonprofit organization that promotes responsible consumption..\.."We're taking [it] in the form of material goods...."
    [No, we're not. We're taking more and more of it in the form of higher and higher executive pay and astronomically concentrated income and wealth, and those people just don't have the time or the need to spend it. And therein lies the mechanism of economic depression. Betsy Taylor is taking the same line as Juliet Schor recently. But as income and wealth funnel to the top income brackets - the top ONE percent of Americans now own as much as the 'bottom' NINETY-FIVE percent - our problem becomes under-consumption, not over-consumption. We are simply working far too much with far too great efficiency for our still primitive mechanisms that centrifuge profit and spending power to allow us to buy or "consume." It doesn't help that in auto factories and other plants all across the country, jobs that used to be done by people earning spending power that they then turned around and used to purchase goods and services, are now being done by millions of machines and robots. And as Walter Reuther said to Henry Ford when Ford showed him his new plant and said, "Let's see you unionize these robots!" - "Let's see you sell them cars."]
    ...[Even our] homes are better equipped than ever, with "time-saving" devices such as multiple computers, reomte controls, faxes, and cell phones. We [now, however, even] take our laptops, cell[phone]s, and beepers on vacation so that we're never truly "away" [from home or work]. We pride ourselves on "multi-tasking," barely stopping to wonder where it all leads [or when's the payoff].
    "People are starved for time," says Taylor, "especially households where you have two working parents. There's such a pressure-cooker feeling to day-to-day life. You don't have permission to stop. In fact, you feel guilty if you do."
    Today, many Americans are feeling more time-deprived than money-deprived.... In a 1998 survey \by\ John Robinson, a sociology professor at the University of Maryland...about half the respondents said yes [to the question:] "Would you be willing to give up a day's pay for a day off?"...
    The Center for a New American Dream [held] an essay contest for kids to answer the question, "What I really want that money can't buy." The winner was 14-year-old Erika Conant of Johnson City, Tenn. Her answer: time. "My parents love me anda buy me many things," she wrote. "But what tells me they love me the most is when they listen to me. Things are great, but what I really want is their time. What my friends really want is their parents' time.... I do things with my mom a lot, but my dad works and sleeps. What I really want is for all parents to just spend time with their kids. America would be a happier country."...
    [And in fact, there's an article on that in the BostonWorks section, "AFL-CIO pushes for paid leave for parents - Several work issues before legislature," by Jerry Ackerman, 12/31 Boston Globe G1, but this wouldn't help Erika and other kids because its only "for parents who need time off from work to care for newborn or newly adopted children." It's like so many things in America - a subsidy for quantity, not quality. We have millions of dollars for new bridges and highways, but little for maintenance - millions for new sales, little for customer service - millions for new expeditions, little for digesting the information we have. The extreme example is the religious right, which tries to force all pregnant women everywhere regardless of anything to have their babies, but doesn't lift a finger to adopt or foster unwanted children. And right next to the time crunch article, we have an article that may be closely related -]
    'They seek to kill the company' - Workplace avengers don't just snap; they target their rage, by James Fox, Boston Globe, D1.
    It took only minutes for...Michael McDermott to [leave] seven employees...dead from gunfire....

12/29/2000 omens -
  1. [Makework Dept.]
    Argentina plans to allot public works $20B, by Clifford Krauss, NYT, A5. jump-start an economy that has been slumping for two years. The 5-year program marks a shift in the government's austerity policies concentrating on deficit reduction. It comes at a time when the unemployment rate is about 15% and labor strife is rising. It is supposed to infuse $900m into the economy in the first few months of the new year. Government officials said they hope the program will create 400,000 jobs over three years and spur the construction industry to become an engine of growth....
    [Always Big Government as savior, instead of just as referee to spread the work and the spending power by sharing whatever employment there is. Don't like Big Government? OK, then, do some private-sector reinvesting and pump-priming = reinvest in your own markets via your own employees' wages at the appropriate colossal level. Don't know what level? Then for starters, cut the workweek a little every month until your starving job market absorbs ALL your under-employed and unemployed and "disabled" and homeless and incarcerated and pays them a bundle, a bundle that you would otherwise get and "ice" in the financial markets. You can help the process by automatically converting overtime into training and hiring. Reinvest that overtime advantage in OT-targeted on-the-job training, and watch your economy dynamize before your eyes. We call it Timesizing. Check out how France is doing it in today's Glimmers - kludgy but effective at reducing payroll taxes for the unemployed.]

  2. [More makework]
    Police say overtime cut crime, by William Rashbaum, NYT, A19.
    Crime in New York City has continued to decline over the last year [with] overall serious crime...likely to end the year 5-6% lower than last year..\..and city officials are crediting an overtime program that they say has led to more than 84,000 arrests.
    But few of the arrests made through the aggressive program, Operation Condor, were for serious crimes. Almost two-thirds were summonses issed for quality-of-life violations [such as ???], officials said. The program has put additional police officers and detectives on the streets since last January at the cost of more than $66m in overtime, more than a quarter of the police department's annual overtime budget....
    [Check out also our makework pages.]

12/27/2000 omens -
12/26/2000 omens -
12/24-25/2000 weekend omens -
12/22/2000 Kris Kringle's coal list of ill omens -
  1. US economic growth slows to weakest pace in four years, AP via Boston Globe, D2.
    The economy braked to a four-year-low of just 2.2% in the July-Sept. quarter, further evidence that America's booming economy is rapidly cooling off....
    [But didn't we agree that this was a bubble, not a boom? See today's (12/22/2000) 3rd glimmer.]

  2. Fed committee mulled policy shift, AP via Boston Globe, D2.
    ...Policy makers toyed last month with the idea of changing their view of risks to the economy to an equal balance between inflation and recession. In the end, members fo teh Federal Open Market Committee unanimously decided at the Nov. 15 meeting to keep their existing policy statement, viewing inflation as the greatest threat.
    [If not the only threat.]
    The November discussion is noteworthy because at the Fed's next meeting, which was Tuesday, members made a 180-degree turn in policy.
    [Or maybe it was just a 90-degree.]
    They moved from their anti-inflation stance to one in which the greatest threat to the economy was considered to be recession [dba unemployment or better, under-employment], leapfrogging the so-called neutral policy position discussed in November.
    [Then why didn't they lower rates instead of just leaving them the same?]
    The Fed's new stance signals that the central bank stands ready to cut interest rates if the economy shows signs of serious weakening....
    [Now, how "serious" does it take? So far we're at "weakest pace in four years" - wanna go for eight? 16? 32?...]

12/21/2000 Kris's coal list -
  1. Stock gambling on the cheap - A last-minute bill from Congress is risky business, op ed by Frank Partnoy, NYT, A31.
    [Congress carefully reconstructs another Depression trigger.]
    ...The Commodity Futures Modernization Act of 1928 [oops, sorry, that's] 2000...passed [last Fri. night] after an intense push by Wall St. lobbyists...
    1. lifts a long-standing ban on futures trading in individual stocks, thus allowing "investors" [our quotes - ed.] to buy shares...with very little money down
    2. protects...swaps [countervailing bets] from being regulated
    [See our previous comments on 6/30/2000.]

  2. $160m salary simply insane, letter to editor by Jack Lanoman of Bellingham MA, Boston Globe, A18.
    Paying someone $160m over 8 years [$20m/yr] to play baseball is absurd.... Somewhere out there there are 500 people who do something useful and important in society every day of the week making $40,000 a year. All of them combined about equal the value placed on [Manny] Ramirez to play a game that involves swinging a bat four times a day....
    [Compare, on the next page (A19) in "Senator Moynihan's place in history," op ed by Martin Nolan, "The incoming senator from New York [Hillary Clinton] has a book advance of about $8m. The outgoing senator from New York [Daniel Patrick Moynihan] has an advance of about $5,000." Then right beside that, there's "Is Hillary selling out?", op ed by Ellen Goodman, "To break even, they'll have to sell 1.5m books. I don't think the entire Hillary industry - 65 books and tapes listed on has sold that many collectively."]

  3. Obits - John Lindsay, 79; former NYC mayor - He symbolized urban liberalism, by Fred Kaplan, Boston Globe, B13.
    ...Mr. Lindsay's deepest troubles stemmed from his noblest intentions.
    ["The way to hell is paved with good intentions."]
    In an attempt to make New York more civilized, he doubled welfare rolls, quadrupled welfare benefits, and boosted social programs of all sorts.
    To finance these programs, he created new taxes [and] raised existing ones...
    [On the wealthy? in this city with the greatest income&wealth gap in the nation...]
    ...and engaged in various acts of "creative bookkeeping," which, together, accelerated the corporate and middle-class exodus, which in turn reduced the tax base, which meant higher taxes still, and so the spiral continued.
    [Well, that's one way to reduce an income gap, but we think Timesizing is better.]
    ...Along with Gov. Nelson A. Rockefeller, Mr. Lindsay also borrowed billions of dollars in short-term loans to subsidize long-term mortgages for public housing. When recession hit in 1974, the year after Mr. Lindsay left office, the developers could not pay off the loans and the city plunged into bankruptcy....
    [Another "après moi le déluge"?]

  4. Dreams of college scholarships dashed, by Justin Blum, Boston Globe, A2.
    Five years ago...George Abel said his foundation would pay for the 6th-graders at Bruce-Monroe Elementary School to attend college. All they had to do was stay in school and graduate from a public high school in the city - a challenge for many who lived in the low-income communities surrounding Bruce-Monroe.
    Five years later, many of the nearly 60 students kept their end of the deal.... But there is no scholarship money. Abel says that despite his best intentions, his fund-raising efforts failed and his Bethesda, Md.-based Phoenix Foundation folded several years ago. He never delivered that news to the children and their families....
    [More good intentions paving the way to hell. And another dramatic case of the unreliability of the charity "solution."]

  5. It's a free market, but who's fit to manage? - Russia is lacking executive skills, by John Varoli, NYT, W1.
    [But then, after decades of overflooding resumes, so is the rest of the world. Spoiled executives want to pluck exactly the employee-packed skills they want right off the shelves of the job market, they want to puff their stock price by mass layoffs, and when by some strange coincidence, shrunken markets seem to follow a shrunken workforce, they want to "grow" by acquiring somebody else's hardwon market share, or selling out and washing their hands of the whole thing, even if it was a 100-year-old family business.]

  6. Canada: Chinese sue over old tax, by James Brooke, NYT, A10.
    Three Chinese Canadians have filed a class action suit seeking $15m in damages for a head tax that was levied on 80,000 Chinese entering Canada between 1885 and 1923. Levied solely on Chinese immigrants, the tax reached $500 in 1923, when it was replaced by the Exclusion Act....
    [The lawyers must love this. All that business! And all the Native Canadian lawsuits against the Canadian churches for events prior to the 1970s. Just think of the scope here. We could comb through the whole panoply of history and launch millions of lawsuits to "make it all right." Statute of Limitations R.I.P. Truly the concentration of income and wealth has destroyed any commonality of feeling not only in the U.S. but also apparently in Canada, because people are dwelling on the past, even the distant past, and busting their brains to figure out how they can "get their share" - meaning the kind of limitless unspendable "share" the super-rich now have, with the top 1% in the U.S. owning as much as the bottom, yeah "bottom," 95%.]

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