DoomwatchTM vs. Timesizing®

Collapse trends - Jan. 1-15, 2003
[Commentary] ©2003 Philip Hyde, The Timesizing Wire, Box 622, Cambridge MA 02140 USA (617) 623-8080 - HOMEPAGE


1/15/2003  headlines from hell -
  1. Germany says it won't increase borrowing, Roundup via WSJ, A8.
    [Great. The US is borrowing wa-a-ay too much and the EU straitjacket has Germany borrowing too little to get itself out of the economic tank on conventional economic remedies - but maybe this will induce them to extend and systematize their still-haphazard work sharing.]

  2. Panel of economists advise shedding treasurys for equities, by Ralph Winter, WSJ, B4B.
    [Another blow to "scientific" economics. Colleague Kate asks, who's paying them?]

1/11-13/2003  headlines from hell -
  1. 1/11  Treaty pullouts - US shows the way, letter to editor by Stefan Ekernas of NYC, A32.
    Re "North Korea says it is withdrawing from arms treaty" (front page, Jan. 10):
    By removing itself from the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty and breaking the terms it agreed to in the 1994 agreement with the Clinton administration, North Korea is simply doing what the USA has been doing for the last 8 years. [Then there was that big meeting in Africa....]

  2. 1/13  Glaxo warns Canadian clients against drug sales to the U.S., by Lueck & Baglole, WSJ, B4.
    GlaxoSmithKline PLC said it would stop providing [by Jan. 21] pharmaceuticals to Canadian businesses that are shipping them to the U.S., revving up the debate over allowing U.S. consumers to fill thehir prescriptions in Canada, where many drugs are cheaper.... Six months ago, Merck & Co. sent letters to several Canadian internet pharmacies and wholesalers that are actively shipping prescription drugs to the U.S., warning them of U.S. and Canadian lawss against such activities. But it didn't threaten to cut off supplies....
    [Where now is NAFTA? Where now the big push for "free trade"? Evidently this sacred universal principle only applies when it's "advantage CEO."]

  3. 1/13  World watch - The Americas -...Briefly, WSJ, A9.
    57 Latin American companies rated by S&P's defaulted on about $9.3 billion of debt last year - nearly 4 times the sum in 2001 - amid domestic economic and political difficulties and mounting risk aversion among investors worldwide....

1/09/2003  headlines from hell -
  1. UK consumers start to stay away from stores - Retailing has lost sizzle, bad news for an economy reliant on strong demand, by Marc Champion, WSJ, A9.
    [...like our US economy isn't? And as for sizzle, UK doesn't know what sizzle is because they've kept so many people out of their job market with their rigid long workweek, totally out of sync with their technology. But then, who hasn't wasted a huge chunk of their potential domestic consumer base, and who hasn't retained the 40+ hour workweek long after its time had come and gone? - Same page...]
    Asian consumers may not be able to sustain region's growth, by Crispin & Segal, WSJ, A9.

  2. [And with that kind of cluelessness all over the world, we get this kind of job desperation -]
    Rare turtles die in fishing nets, by Andrew Revkin, NYT, A5.
    More than 3,000 rare olive Ridley sea turtles became entangled and died in fishing nets on their way to lay eggs along India's Bay of Bengal coast.... The deaths resulted from poor enforcement of wildlife laws requiring trawlers to stay several miles offshore during the turtle nesting season....
    [Private sector desperation abetted by public sector neglect. Here's one closer to home -]
    2 scientists contend U.S. suppressed dolphin studies, by Christopher Marquis, NYT, A20.
    Two former government scientists who spent years investigating stress in dolphin populations charged this week that superiors at their federally financed laboratory shut down their research because it clashed with policy goals of the Clinton and Bush administration. The scientists...Dr. Albert Myrick...and Dr. Sarka Southern..\..who worked at different times over the past decade at the Southwest Fisheries Science Center in San Diego, said their research indicated that the practice of chasing and encircling dolphins to catch tuna exposed the dolphins to dangerous amounts of stress....
    [Compare tomorrow's story -]
    Rule weakening definition of 'dolphin safe' [tuna label] is delayed, by Christopher Marquis, 1/10/2003 NYT, A10.
    [Now granted there's some good news today about the federal government and the environment (qualified by some bad news about Woods Hole) -]
    California: Sonar decision avoids whales, AP via NYT, A20.
    ...A federal judge in San Francisco blocked the testing of new sonar on migrating gray whales. Tests by the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution [shame! shame!] and Scientific Solutions Inc...had been set to begin yesterday.... [Woods Hole] said the sonar could help keep vessels from ramming the animals.
    [And how often does that happen? Seems like Woods Hole has "gone corporate." Cut your $contributions.]
    Environmental groups said it could disorient whales and separate calves from mothers.
    [But speaking of stress, government research suppression is related to public-sector job desperation and insecurity, all ludicrously unnecessary with fluctuating adjustment of the workweek against unemployment aka timesizing. But you have to redefine unemployment to include the whole problem, instead of the current situation where not only is the definition diluted for window dressing, but it's also doctored, as indicated by this article that a reader recently sent in -]
    (11/06) Odd farm-sector surge distorts jobs data, by Wayne Cole, Reuters November 5, 2:48 pm ET via Philiadelphia Inquirer, Philly.com, flagged by Jerry Leslie of Rice University.
    NEW YORK - An inexplicable surge in farm jobs has played a major part in keeping the U.S. unemployment rate down in recent months, despite persistent weakness in other labor market indicators. Without the jump in farm-based employment since June, the jobless rate would have climbed steadily to reach 6.0% in October. Instead the jobless rate fell in September and then inched back to 5.7% last month. If it had topped 6.0%, consumer confidence might have suffered far more, bond yields tumbled and the case for an interest rate cut - now expected on Wednesday from the Federal Reserve - might be that much clearer.
    The strength baffles analysts and statisticians alike and could reinforce financial market skepticism of the unemployment figures as a reliable indicator of the economy. "The massive surge in farm jobs has been an important factor depressing the published unemployment rate at a time of little or no growth in nonfarm payroll employment," said Rory Robertson, an interest rate strategist who covers the U.S. economy for Australian house Macquarie Equities. "Of course, the rapid growth in farm jobs - the fastest in more than 50 years of data - seems implausible, to say the least," he added.
    The Department of Labor uses a monthly survey of 60,000 households to compile the unemployment series, in contrast with the monthly payrolls figures, which come from an established survey of around 350,000 businesses. The dichotomy has stirred a major debate among economists - some of whom claim that the unemployment survey is flawed, while others argue that it is actually more representative of the economy as a whole and the payrolls survey is at fault for overlooking hundreds of thousands of small firms....
    ["Small firms" in agriculture??? Have these spindoctors ever heard of agribusiness?]
    Since June some 415,000 jobs have been created in agriculture, excluding forestry and fishing - a rise of 13% and easily the fastest growth in decades.... While the farm sector makes up only 2.6% of total employment, its surge has accounted for almost fully half of the 861,000 new civilian jobs generated since June.
    "It's certainly an unusual occurrence, but we haven't looked into it as such," said a spokesperson at the Department of Labor. She noted that much of the jump came in October and that the figures were volatile from month to month, suggesting farm employment could easily fall sharply in November. Farm jobs climbed 227,000, seasonally adjusted, in October to 3.525 million, having risen 110,000 the month before. In June total farm sector employment was reported at 3.110 million....
    The strength of farm jobs also came as a surprise to the Department of Agriculture, where an economist said there had been no developments in the industry to account for such an astounding pickup. "Is anything real going on here?" asked Robertson at Macquarie. "Or is it best just to walk away with the conclusion that the household survey data - including the published unemployment rate - are too erratic to be taken seriously?"
    [And "erratic" may be putting a nice face on it.]
    ..\..The odd behavior of the farm sector would seem to support critics of the unemployment survey and suggests that the true jobless rate is higher than the figures suggest....

  3. Talk on telemarketing bar but no action, by Adam Clymer, NYT, A20.
    WASHINGTON...- While members of the House Energy & Commerce Committee praised the FTC for seeking to curb telemarketing with a national "do not call" registry, the chairman of the committee [Rep. Billy Tauzin, R-La.] suggested today that it was unlikely to make that happen soon....

1/08/2003  headlines from hell -
  1. Bush wants $670B cut in taxes over 10 years..., end to dividend taxes, by Kornblut & Blanton, Boston Globe, front page, flagged by colleague Kate.
    [Right above "Word of slash in US housing funds stuns city [Boston]," by Scott Greenberger, Boston Globe, front page.]
    ...Nearly half of the plan's cost, $364B, would come from elimination of the dividend tax... [So why?]
    Ending the tax on dividends is a longtime dream of "conservatives" [our quotes - ed.], who argue that it amounts to double taxation: once when the company is taxed for its profits and again when the shareholder receives a dividend check.
    [Then why don't we get rid of sales taxes, which amount to double taxation: once when employees are taxed on their income and again when they go to buy something? - and that is real double taxation of the same person, not "double" taxation paid on one thing (inflowing profits) by an artificial person (dba a corporation) and on another thing (designated profit distributions outflowing) by a natural person (dba shareholder). Also excise taxes on cars. Gas taxes, cigarette taxes, liquor taxes.... Also, VATs = value-added taxes. In fact, by "conservatives'" loose definition, almost all taxes are double or triple or multiple. See the NY Times' agreement with this view on 1/21/2003 #1.]
    [So why really?]
    ..\..There are clearly benefits for the wealthy: A NYT editorial today [A26] calls Bush's dividend taxcut "the wrong stimulant" and the whole program "a cynical grab bag."
    [Some positive followup -]
    Key GOP senators object to Bush tax cut proposal, by Dana Milbank, 1/11/2003 Boston Globe, A2.

  2. [meanwhile, in puppydog UK -]
    Britain calls up 1,500 reservists for possible action against Iraq, by Warren Hoge, NYT, front page.

  3. [and in the root and source **apart from oil** of all this mishigas -]
    Israeli Arab candidates, letter to editor...by Shumaisa Khan, NYT, A26.
    David Newman ["A decision that hurts Israeli democracy," op ed, Jan.6] points out that even before the recent ban of two Arabs from the Israeli elections, Arabs were precluded from attaining positions of power within the Israeli government.
    As Palestinians in the occupied territories have been judged not able to be trusted with a state of their own just yet, so it seems that Palestinians in Israel cannot be trusted to participate in that purported democracy.
    And people wonder why peace in the Middle East is so elusive.
    As Mr. Newman asserts, regardless of whether or not the Israeli Supreme Court allows the two men to run, the ban has tarnished the distinction of Israel as a democracy.
    [A letter to the WSJ last Friday tries to make the anti-Semitic label stick on any critics of Israel with yet a new rationalization -]
    When Israel-bashing becomes anti-Semitic, letter to editor by Martin Goetz of Baltimore, 1/03/2003 WSJ, A11.
    ...When college professors or students single out one country, Israel, for censure or disinvestment, and keep reticent about the myriad atrocities instigated by the Muslim world, then the anti-Semitic label is justified....
    [except for a couple of details - we're not being forced to support the Muslim world to the tune of $3½ billion a year of our tax money the way we're being forced to support Israel, and we're not being treated to constant publicity about the historical, compassion-teaching suffering of the Muslim world the way we are about the suffering of adherents to the established religion in Israel (the holocaust and holocaust memorials...). The holocaust was the reason for the founding of Israel, but the holocaust has given other religions, particularly Christianity, very high expectations for the behavior of Jewish people. And in a word, we did not cooperate in the establishment of Israel so it could become the 800-pound gorilla of the Mideast and kick everyone else around. Rather, Israel is more in the nature of a guest in the region, and was established in Palestine by the British at the cost of considerable suffering on the part of the people who were already there. So today's criticism of the way Sharon and his government have been treating their neighbors is hardly anti-Semitism in the sense of anti-Judaism. Rather, we have a much higher concept of Judaism than Sharon and his ilk have manifested ever since he first dissed Islam by striding into that mosque a few years back and reopening the whole delicately healing wound. And for Americans, criticism of Sharon is simply those who are "paying the piper" trying to "call the tune." If some American Jews want our reticence about Israel's atrocities, let them lobby to free us from the role of "accessory" to those atrocities by ending the yoke of that $3½ billion a year subsidy. The USA clearly had a huge focused problem of the unseparation of religion and politics before the recent Bush-boost in involving religious groups in tax-supported social services, and that was its disproportionate "foreign aid" for client state with an fully established religion. Israel is no longer making us proud. Rather, we feel like making up bumper stickers for them, as they fall further and further from their own "let justice roll down like waters, and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream" and deeper and deeper into unlimited, undemocratic, uncriticizable, violence, "Have you killed a Palestinian today?" When Sharon or whoever it was ignited this recent prolonged blowup a few years ago by provocatively marching into that Muslim sacred site in Jerusalem, which more sensitive and peace-loving Israelis had never done before, the good people of many and no religions all around the world covered their faces with their hands and said "O-o-oh no-o-o." Ever since, Israel has been committing suicide slowly with this Muslim-baiting, ungenerous and paranoid attitude, which it's perfectly entitled to do - but not on our tax money. Even a NYT editorial today (A26) calls the latest moves against Arab candidates within Israel "Israel's misaimed anger." And some American Jews will say, "But Israel did A, B, C & D," just as Peter said to Jesus, "Must I forgive my brother seven times?" The answer was seventy times seven - indefinitely (in this case, until you give him justice and unoccupy the occupied territories). All Israel critics anti-Jewish? Alas, to many observers, Israel itself has departed from its roots in Judaism, or surgically mutilated it into a barely recognizable political shibboleth. Israel itself has become anti-Judaism. One thing many of us learned from the Hebrew Bible was that if someone is generous with you, pass it on. God for His own unfathomable reasons LOVED Israel - pass it on! Well, Americans are lavishing $3½ BILLION a year on Israelis. It's time Israelis lightened up and passed it on, to voiceless impoverished unemployed landless Palestinians, or returned the donations. Israel doesn't like suicide bombers? OK, give them another way of getting justice instead of binding them tighter and tighter and tighter.]
    [Followup - looks like there are still some sane people in Israel -]
    Israel's high court reinstates candidacy of 2 Israeli Arabs - A dispute that touched off a debate about the country's identity, by Dexter Filkins [we are not making this up!], 1/10/2003 NYT, A8.
    [On the other hand, on the same page Sharon is still playing the jackass -]
    Sharon snubs Blair's request to let Palestinians go to London [for peace talks], by Warren Hoge, 1/20/2003 NYT, A8.
    [Like a peace conference is meaningful with only one side allowed to attend? Blair should tell Sharon, "Both sides or it's cancelled." With any luck, Israelis will get rid of Sharon and start acting like Jews again, people who have learned compassion - and empathy - and justice, and generosity, and never depart from these qualities because of what they've been through -]
    Going on TV over loan scandal, Sharon is quickly yanked off air, by John Kifner, 1/10/2003 NYT, front page.
    [More followup -]
    Scandal darkens Sharon's ballot prospects, by John Kifner, 1/11/2033 NYT, A6.
    [and]
    Blair to hold talks with Palestinians via a TV hookup, NYT, A5.

  4. [and now, for something completely different -]
    Uruguay: Jobless rate rises, by Tony Smith, NYT, W1.
    [Evidently, the Argentine contagion has spread to little Uruguay -]
    The jobless rate in Uruguay hit a 30-year high of 19.8% in the Sept-to-Nov quarter. The government...blam[ed] fallout from the economic troubles in neighboring Argentina.... Uruguay's economy, largely based on farming, tourism and banking, is in its fifth year of recession.
    [One word - timesizing. Share the vanishing work and all will be well. We only have one another. And we only have problems when we aren't available to one another, when things become more important to us than one another. The curse of unemployment transforms into the blessing of financially secure leisure time when we spread around what little work we have, as widely as it's needed to let people support themselves instead of taxes and charity having to support them, or just charity. Because charity is sooo serendipitous = unreliable.]

1/07/2003  headlines from hell -
  1. Argentina consumer prices soared 41% in 2002, Dow Jones via WSJ, A10.
    [Whoops, looks like Argentina is now flushing down the toilet of hyper-inflation like Germany in the early 1920s (see Max Shapiro's "The Penniless Billionaires"). And if it's happening to them, it can happen to any of us with the collection of corrupt idiots we have in power.]

  2. [and how's this for a comforting headline -]
    The majority starts a step behind - As Congress opens, the Republicans scramble for an agenda, by Firestone & Stolberg, NYT, A14.
    [Real professional, guys. You 'elephants' are jackasses. And what's your leader doin'?]
    The politics of portfolios - Bush is placing a bet on the investor class, by Richard Stevenson, NYT, front page.
    WASHINGTON...- In calling for the elimination of taxes on stock dividends, pResident Bush is embracing the idea that the financial health of investors, particularly the millions of people who got into the stock market for the first time over the last decade and are now suffering the consequences [and have largely gotten out of the stock market over the last two years - ed.], will be vital both to renewed prosperity and to his own electoral success.
    It is a gamble on both counts.
    [No, it will intensify the recession on the first count and urge his electoral doom on the second.]
    For all that is said of Wall Street as an important barometer of economic activity and national psychology, it is not clear that putting more cash in the hands of investors [with unearned income] and trying to give the market a lift will provide much help to the economy in the short run, economists said....
    [Unearned income and the stock market are derivative from, not contributive to, the economy in the short - and long - run anyway. It is earned income and the job market upon which any economy is based, and the stock market is based on the job market, not vice versa. The only investor class of any consequence to Bush is top executives and what little they spend of their astronomical income usually takes a shortcut back to them via other wealthy people, like Bill Gates giving "charity" to the wealthiest universities such as Harvard and MIT. What is need is a stronger centrifugal force on income so it takes a "longcut" through the economy before gravitating back to the rich. And such a centrifugal force is provided by creating a perceived labor shortage by cutting the workweek according to a comprehensively defined unemployment rate and flexibly raising ordinary wages by resulting market forces.]
    ...Some of Mr. Bush's Democratic critics even question the existence of a so-called investor class as anything other than an excuse for Republicans to cut taxes again for the wealth [ie: their wealthy campaign contributors]....
    [And speaking of "investor class" -]
    "Spare change?"
    [asks a panhandler in a Wasserman cartoon in tomorrow's (1/08) Boston Globe, A18, to which one of two well-dressed businessmen passing by says -]
    "I'm sick of all this class warfare rhetoric!!"

  3. [and same page -]
    American Indians say documents show government has cheated them out of billions, by Joel Brinkley, NYT, A10.[Well, we can believe it, considering all the other stuff we did to the Indians and considering the level of government professionalism displayed in the article above.]
    WASHINGTON -...For generations, Indians have complained that the federal government has lost or stolen millions of dollars earned on tribal lands. And for decade after decade, the government has ignored or disputed those contentions while failing to offer detailed accounts of how much money has been raised from oil and mineral, timber and grazing leases, proceeds of which go into a trust fund for the Indians' benefit.
    The conflict - dating from 1887 - escalated into a lawsuit that the Indians filed against the Dept. of Interior in June 1996. In the six years since, the standoff has become ever more bitter, documents have been destroyed and Secretaries of Interior and Treasury have been held in contempt of court....
    [How about that. We're still shafting Native Americans. What a disgrace!]
    But until now, the Indians' evidence of loss was largely anecdotal.
    [Lordy, looks like the Times didn't even proofread this. We're having to insert apostrophes now in addition to all the commas after otherwise confusing initial phrases! Whazzamatter, Times editors? "It's only about Indians"?]
    "We just knew there was a lot of money missing," said Tex Hall, president of the National Congress of American Indians and the leader of his tribe, the Mandan, Hidatsa & Arikara Nation in North Dakota.
    [Thank God the casinos, problematic as they are, have brought some $$ to Native Americans so they can fight back with Euro Americans' own weapon - litigation.]
    "Elders would come to me and say, 'Tex, I got money last year but didn't get any this year.'" [Yester]day, however..\..more than 300,000 American Indians gave a federal judge a detailed court filing...based on private historical records asserting that the government had cheated them out of as much as $137.2B over the last 115 years.... In a voluminous filing that included detailed private records of oil extraction and mineral mining going back to the late 19th century, lawyers for the Indians said the government had stolen, lost or misallocated tens of billions since it was given responsibility for managing assets on Indian lands in 1887. The lawyers said that [when] all the figures were added up they [reached] $137.2 billion.
    [Let's get this out of the conditional!]
    ..\..The court action marked a significant turn in the largest class-action suit ever filed by Indians against the federal government and showed just what kind of sums are at stake....
    [And what was the reaction of our government "professionals"?]
    Government officials...ridiculed the figure, which is more than 10 times the size of the Interior Dept's budget....
    [As if that has any relevance.]
    J. Steven Griles, the deputy interior secretary [plus the NYT can't seem to systematize capitalization] who manages the trust fund issue, said, "Nobody has shown me that there has been a loss. They haven't provided one shred of evidence."
    [Then open your bloodshot eyes, moron, and go get the Interior Secretary himself!]
    ...Over the last several years, Judge Royce C. Lamberth has come down hard on the side of the Indians, saying he has never seen greater government incompetence than the Dept. [of Interior] has displayed in administering the Indians' money and in representing itself in court. When the government appealed his 1999 order for a full accounting, [even] the Court of Appeals resoundingly upheld Judge Lamberth and accused the Dept. of "malfeasance."
    The Interior Department's performance has served as "the gold standard for mismanagement by the federal government for more than a century," Judge Lamberth wrote last September....
    [There follows "a dismal history of inaction and incompetence," not to mention crookedness, too depressing to recap here. The Times should have had this on the front page above the fold instead of buried on page 14. They got THREE stories about that idiot Bush on the frontpage, FOUR if you count the GOP convention site. Who needs it! Move that crap off the front page and put something important there for a change. This is supposed to be the liberal newspaper offering an alternative to the tripe in the Journal? Ha!]

1/06/2003  headlines from hell - 1/03/2003  headlines from hell -
  1. Media seek end to ownership rules, by Yochi Dreazen, WSJ, A8.
    WASHINGTON - Three of the nation's biggest media companies [News Corp's Fox, Viacom's CBS & UPN, GE's NBC] asked federal regulators to scrap all of the government's media-ownership rules, a move that would make it far easier for TV, radio and newspaper companies to combine with or acquire one another....
    [More pressure toward the great One-Guy Media Empire that would complete this country's transformation into the Evil Empire successor of the USSR.]

  2. [And why should we expect media openness when our government behaves like this -]
    Government openness at issue as Bush holds on to records, by Adam Clymer, NYT, front page.
    WASHINGTON - The Bush administration has put a much tighter lid than recent presidents on government proceedings and the public release of information, exhibiting a penchant for secrecy that has been striking to historians, legal experts and lawmakers of both parties....
    [Read our lips - COVERUP]
    [Followup -]
    Secrecy vs. democracy, letter to editor by Larry Maxcy of Yucca Valley CA, NYT, A26.
    ...This pResident seems ignorant not only of the Constitution but also of American history. Harry Truman said, "Secrecy and a free, democratic government don't mix."

1/02/2003  headlines from hell -
  1. Company blowups abound, rebounds rare - Scandals, weak economy crush every market sector..., by Ken Brown, WSJ, R2.

  2. Biggest economies threaten world growth in '03

  3. History says gray days will end, but maybe not right away - Market endures 1st 3-year slump since Pearl Harbor, and recovery will take time, too, and patience, by Jeff Opdyke, WSJ, R7.
    [Recent history -]
    A year of scandals and sorrow, by Egodigive & Long & Warfield, WSJ, R10.
    [Further -]
    A year for most overseas investors to forget

  4. [big discussion #1]
    Wealth effect - Behind tax debate, issues of ethics and economics - Bush plan pushes pendulum toward greater efficiency, gets hear for helping rich - Robin Hood in retreat, by David Wessel, WSJ, front page.
    [CEOs' braindead drive for neutron-bomb "efficiency" is a drive for the absolute minimum number of employees - and therefore the unintended consequence of...no markets. Bush's simplistic drive to further enrich the rich, to give more spending power to those who already have far more than they can spend, is in direct contravention to the marginalist revolution of the 1870s in economics (the "new-classical revolution") associated with the triumvirate of Jevons, Menger and Walras, plus Marshall in the 1880s - specifically, the diminishing marginal utility (or efficiency) of concentrated capital or wealth. The only peacetime resolution of the puzzle, "How do you gain efficiency without losing markets?" is to cut worktime per person per time period, most conveniently to flexibly and automatically adjust the workweek to employ ALL potential consumers dba market participants (and as a prerequisite, implement automatic overtime&overwork-to-training&hiring conversion) - in a word, timesizing.]

  5. [big discussion #2]
    Progress and its enemies - "The Gifts of Athena" by Joel Mokyr (Princeton...), book review by Nick Schulz, WSJ, D8.
    [The above article assumed that progress was minimal-workforce "efficiency" dependent on someone else's maximum-workforce "ineffficiency" somewhere else to provide markets. This book reviewer and the author he's reviewing assume that progress is "growth," presumably in the very controversially defined GDP (gross domestic product) or in the concept of "productivity" (output per manhour) regardless of marketability. Though the review mentions monopolies, it views them in a narrow corporate sense that precludes the possibility that the spending power in an economy can become so concentrated (or monopolized) that it can strangle the markets for its own investment targets. And though the review also mentions feedback, it never entertains the possibility that when the spending power in an economy does become concentrated past a certain threshold, which economists should be researching, the insulation and isolation of the wealthy severely damages the feedback function in the economy. Again, both these weaknesses are simply applications of the marginal efficiency of concentrated capital and wealth, a neglected commonplace among economists since the 1870s, and both are "solved" by war or plague to kill off the excess manhours in the job markets and force the centrifugation and activation of spending power, and both are solved by timesizing = cutting the workweek instead of the workforce dba flexibly and non-arbitrarily sharing the vanishing human employment as automation and robotization is introduced.]
1/1/2003  headlines from hell -
  1. Wall St. down a 3rd year, leaving fewer optimists - A three-year slide, by Alex Berenson, NYT, C1.

  2. Preaching to save shoppers from 'evil' of consumerism, by Constance Hays, NYT, C1.
    Bill Talen, as Reverend Billy, at a protest in front of the Plaza Hotel in Manhattan on 'Buy Nothing Day.' [= photo caption]
    [Talk about bad timing!   The recession-depression that we're in is a crisis of under-consumption, not over-consumption. That makes this a period when those in the simplicity movement need to bide their time and remember Lao Tzu's wise words, "What you would tear down, you must first build up." In particular, it is not going to help the shorter worktime movement to be co-opted by the advocates of frugality, any more than the advocates of living wages or any other indirectly relatable issue. Shorter worktime can and must stand on its own, and it can even be strengthened by generalization into simple unemployment-determined workweek - if comprehensively defined unemployment is too high or rising, the workweek is automatically, gradually reduced, OR VICE VERSA. That 'vice versa' can function as a moneyback guarantee for skeptics and cheerleaders who think we may 'need' longer hours in some cases. (And can indicate our confidence that the long-term trend ain't going to be towards lengthening.) In fact, we could even let the workweek be adjusted by whatever the top brackets fear most, be it stock volatility, flagging GDP, excess productivity, whatever.... If they turn out to be most worried about excess consumption despite the recession, we could even let that control the workweek (too much consumption? gradually shorten the workweek). That would take care of Lao Tzu's paradox automatically, initially spurring consumption but then cutting it as we no longer need to strain to create work/production enough to fill 40 hours or more per week for everyone. Yes, 'Virginia,' we are saying that a lot of our ecological damage is caused directly and indirectly by job desperation and insecurity, which is more or less the point of Toronto colleague Anders Hayden's recent book, "Sharing the Work, Sparing the Planet."]


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  • Dec/98.
        Earlier months accessible via links at bottom of Dec/98 page.


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