DoomwatchTM vs. Timesizing®
Collapse trends - May 1-15, 2003
[Commentary] ©2003 Philip Hyde, The Timesizing Wire, Box 622, Cambridge MA 02140 USA (617) 623-8080 - HOMEPAGE
5/14/2003 headlines from hell -
5/13/2003 headlines from hell -
- Wisconsin: Welfare families down, costs up, AP via NYT, A21.
The state's welfare-to-work program and its related services are expected to cost $278.9m more this year than the [simple welfare] program they replaced, though the number of families on cash assistance has dropped by more than half, a legislative report has found.
One reason for the increase in the cost of the program, [called] Wisconsin Works, is that the state is spending nearly 5 times more on childcare than in the last year of the old welfare program.
[$280 MILLION extra for HALF the families. Clearly Wisconsin Works is NOT working! Time to implement Timesizing and make the private sector start using technology to create more free time instead of more lives messed up by downsizing.]
Former Gov. Tommy Thompson, who began Wisconsin Works and is now secretary of the federal Dept. of Health & Human Services secretary [sic], had warned that the new program would cost more.
[Is he really the Secretary's secretary, or is this another screw-up on the part of the NYT's rapidly deteriorating editorial staff? At any rate, here we have yet another well-intentioned Republican reform that went wrong, very wrong. For its first 75 years, the Republican Party led the charge on shorter-workweek legislation and it would be well-advised to return to that utterly central, strategic and all-encompassing policy. Instead of trying to force welfare people into an already overstuffed job market (and having the smart ones switch to disability and the others to homelessness or prison), the GOP should be using economywide workweek reduction to create such a need for employees in the private sector that welfare people are vacuumed into then plentiful and newly family-friendly jobs.]
- Getting a grip on survival skills in an unfair world, by Michael Winerip (email email@example.com), NYT, A22.
The classroom discussion turned to the way middle class people were different from them.
"They got good jobs," said Linda Yearwood.
[Not any more, Linda. There are no jobs, even for college grads - check out the article below.]
...The 10 teenagers had spent their lives in foster care after being abused or deserted by their parents, and now they were about to age out of the system....
[Hmm, these last two stories hint at a still-underground readiness to consider making reproduction a LOT more difficult, requiring training (and - dare we say prior to the Income Balancing Program which, 100-200 years from now, will supercede the Employment Balancing Program embodied in Timesizing - money).]
The course is given by the Youth Advocacy Center, a group of lawyers who have worked in NY's family courts and seen too many foster kids age out into jail, homelessness and welfare. It seeks to teach them how to fend for themselves better:
- how to handle a job interview,
- how to ask the boss for time off if they have a personal crisis,
- how to get an extra-credit assignment at school to compensate for a bad test grade....
- College graduates lower sights in today's stagnant job market - A dead end after commencement - With good-paying jobs scarce, more graduates apply to service programs, by David Leonhardt, NYT, front page & A20.
CHAPEL HILL, NC...- In years past, most seniors at the University of North Carolina ignored the recruiters from Newell Rubbermaid, the maker of dishwashing gloves and Caphalon cookware, dismissing the company as another unfashionable manufacturer. This year, the handful of students Newell hired as management trainees became minor campus celebrities, simply because they had secured jobs months before graduation.
When N.C. seniors receive their diplomas here on Sunday, only about 15% of them will have jobs awaiting them, half the percentage that did a few springs ago, according to a university estimate. Another 25% will enroll in graduate school, leaving about [60% of] seniors without a long-term plan come Monday morning....
But seniors on every campus - big and small, Ivy League and community college - are struggling to find entry-level jobs they want, college officials say. "It's pretty grim," said Jack Rayman, the director of career services at Penn State U.... Over all, the unemployment rate for people 20-24 rose to 10.1% last month, up from 9.9% a year earlier and less than 7% in 2000, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The jobless rate for the entire workforce was 6% last month..\..
[6% unemployment [UE] is the level the Federal Reserve Bank always tried to foster in the mid-90s "to control inflation," but now that the official UE rate is counting so much less of the problem even than then, it indicates a much worse economy.]
The nation's class of 2003 was the last one to enter college while the stock market was still rising, but it is graduating into the worst hiring slump in 20 years, one that is now into its second year on campuses and has afflicted young and well-educated workers to an unusual degree.
[Well-educated in everything but what counts; namely, Timesizing = a new technology of sharing the critical variable, the vanishing market-demanded human employment as the world automates and robotizes. Wake up, kids - it's your lives down the gutter if you don't get onto this all-points top priority.]
Corporations, after cutting their hiring of new graduates by 36% between 2001 and 2002, are [this year] hiring about the same number of graduates as they did last year, according to a survey by the National Assoc. of Colleges & Employers.
"We definitely picked the wrong time to be graduating from college, said Morgan Bushey, 21, who will make about $200 a week teaching English in France, after having been rejected by 7 law schools.
[They would have accepted her if they had seen her picture on A20, but she'll learn a lot more of importance in France than in an American law school.]
"We just have to hold on with our fingertips [that's "by our fingernails," Morgan] for a few years until we can do what we really want to do."
The lack of jobs is the main reason that...applications to law schools jumped 10%, after having risen almost 18% last year [thus pushing Morgan out] \and\ applications to
medical school increased this year for the first time in 7 years, according to the Assoc. of American Medical Colleges....
Meanwhile, applications to Teach for America, which recruits college graduates to teach for two years in public schools in poor neighborhoods, have more than tripled in the last 2 years.... Americorps, the national service program that pays $9,300/yr, and the Peace Corps have also become more popular and selective....
"There is a haunting sense of insecurity," said Michael Barlow, a senior here who hopes eventually to work in the Foreign Service and is still looking for a job. "It is terrifying to be out of school with no job lined up and ready to go."...
[Gee, the "sluggish recovery" touted daily in the WSJ and the NYT is beginning to look more like the Great Depression II - but of course, we're not supposed to say "depression" out loud or we'll be dismissed as lunatic fringe by cozy, insulated "mainstream" America.]
But few of them express the frustration that is common among older unemployed workers who know that their long-term prospects have dimmed and who have dropped out of the labor force in large numbers during the last two years....
[The Boston Globe had a similar article on Friday related to teen employment this summer -]
Throwing cold water on summer jobs - State budget woes, economic malaise mean many teens won't have work, by Diane Lewis, 5/09/2003 Boston Globe, E1.
[There must have been a few of these articles around the country, cuz the WSJ tomorrow takes the trouble to rebut with a headline of happytalk -]
Help still wanted this summer - Despite tightest teen job market since the '60s, some sectors are hiring; Internships at H-P, by Ruth Simon, 5/15/2003 WSJ, D1.
...To broaden the list of potential jobs for their students, 27 universities, including UCal/Berkeley, UPenn and NYU, have banded together to create a private website [not identified] where employers can list internships and full-time jobs. Even a few big employers still have internships open. Hewlett-Packard Co., which will take 600-800 interns this summer, has some openings listed on its website (*jobs.hp.com).
[But then even the WSJ gets back to gloom -]
The job picture is particularly bleak for highschool students. Last summer, the employment rate for teenages was the lowest in 37 years, says Andrew Sum, director of the Ctr for Labor Mkt Studies at Northeastern University in Boston. "This year...I think it will be worse"..\.. A rite of passage - the summer job - is becoming yet another casualty of the weak economy....
[They do mention a few other websites -]
5/10-12/2003 headlines from hell -
- Currency traders position for continued descent [of US$], by Grainne McCarthy & Agnes Crane, Dow Jones via WSJ, C11.
- Another bad idea from '90s - It's easier to describe what a tracking stock was invented to achieve, by Steven Syre, Boston Globe, D1.
Ask me to produce a list of bad ideas hatched during the crazy stock market days of the late 1990s, and I'd still be typing on Friday.
[Let's see - derivatives, single-stock futures, 'new' economy where investments don't need returns, 'Glass-Steagall is outdated', 'our bankruptcy law needs reform'... - it does go on and on.]
Tracking stocks would certainly rate a prominent entry on that long list....
- [and speaking of financial industry excesses -]
Mizuho Financial Group Inc. - Retail side of futures business in Chicago is being closed, Dow Jones via WSJ, A12.
...The closure comes just weeks after Mizuho said it expects to announce a $20B loss for the year ended March 31 - the largest shortfall in Japan's corporate history....
- New study finds 60 million uninsured during a year, by Robert Pear, NYT, A20.
Nearly 60m people lack health insurance at some point in the year, the Congressional Budget Office [CBO] said [yester]day, adding that official estimates fail to distinguish between people who lack coverage for a few months and those who are uninsured for a full year or more. Members of Congress, administration officials, lobbyists and advocates often cite the Census Bureau when they declare that [only] 41m people have no health insurance.... The CBO report said 57-59m people, "about a quarter of the nonelderly population," lacked insurance at some point in 1998, the most recent year for which reliable comparative figures were available.
..\..The CBO said government surveys suggest that the number of people uninsured for the entire year was 21-31m, or 9-13% of nonelderly Americans....
[So the Census undercounts the partial-year people and overcounts the whole-year people. One way or the other, it's an insult to 'developed' nations and the supposed superiority of the American non-system is collapsing as we speak (case in point, "Weakening bottom lines worry hospitals - Many cite lower patient volume, rise in uninsured," by Liz Kowalczyk, 5/14/2003 Boston Globe, C1. Says colleague Kate, this is getting so bad, we may be treated to the spectacle of the hospitals leading the charge for universal single-payer health insurance in America - for their own survival! Check also this blast from the recent past -]
Collapse of our health care system - Rising costs, decreasing quality, missing doctors - How you're affected, what you can do, feature headline, AARP Bulletin 3/2003, cover.
[and featured story -]
Bruised and broken: U.S. health system - Older Americans increasingly face a system coming apart at the seams, by Trudy Lieberman, AARP Bulletin March 2003, p.3.
- The China syndrome - When media pander to power, op ed by Paul Krugman, NYT, A31.
A funny thing happened during the Iraq war: many Americans turned to the BBC for their TV news. They were looking for an alternative point of view - something they couln't find on domestic networks, which, in the words of the BBC's director general, "wrapped [or warped!] themselves in the American flag and substituted patriotism for impartiality." ...The paradox [is that] the BBC is owned by the British government [but] it tried hard - too hard, its critics say - to stay impartial. America's TV networks are privately owned, yet they behaved like state-run media.
What explains this paradox? ..The China syndrome...exhibited by Rupert Murdoch's News Corp. when...as a Fortune magazine article put it, "pandering to China's repressive regime to get his programming into that vast market." The pandering included dropping the BBC's World Service - which reports news China's government doesn't want disseminated - from his satellite programming, and having his publishing company cancel the publication of a book critical of the Chinese regime.
[Hey, Rupert, why don't we just have a big book burning?!]
Could something like that happen in this country? Of course it can.
[The weird and frighteningly naive thing about American neo-conservatives ("neo-cons" - they've been conned and they're gonna con YOU!) is that, as a function of their black and white thinking their answer would be "Of course it can't." They think Our Democracy and all its fixin's are set in concrete and there's no way that it could morph, little by little, into Soviet-style oligarchy bolstered by Pravda and Izvestia. Thus they push us closer and closer and closer to that nightmare, while they're jus' "California dreamin'," especially when -]
...a proposal by Michael Powell, chairman of the FCC...formally presented yesterday, may be summarized as a plan to let the bigger [media] fish eat more of the smaller fish.... Meanwhile, both the formal rules and the codes of ethics that formerly prevented blatant partisanship are gone or ignored. Neil Cavuto of Fox News is a [news] anchor, not a commentator. Yet after Baghdad's fall he told "those who opposed the liberation of Iraq" - a large minority - that "you were sickening then; you are sickening now." Fair and balanced[?]
[You know what we think? We think a lot of Americans are spoiled by the level of democracy their parents clawed out for them, completely bored with it now, tired of the discipline of impartiality and the belief in "loyal opposition" that it demands, and ready to push the envelope with tantrums and rule dismissals that would do proud the decline of the Roman Empire. They've wasted the American dream, American retirement and the American weekend. Now they're going to intone "God bless America" but they're damned if they're going to tolerate a diverse America any more - it's their way or the highway - and the increasingly delicate feedback that comes from increasing diversity is vanishing with the Dixie Chicks' bulldozered CDs - a media event that was staged by Clear Channel Communications who owns most of America's radio stations, btw.]
We don't have censorship in the country; it's still possible to find different points of view. But we do have a system in which the major media companies have strong incentives to present the news in a way that pleases the party in power, and no incentive not to.
5/08/2003 headlines from hell -
- 5/11 More 'can I help you?' jobs migrate from U.S. to India Companies say the economy is pushing them to find new ways to cut costs, by Amy Waldman, NYT, A4.
[What's new about the 'giant sucking sound'? And this 'new way' also cuts your best markets.]
The place is Bombay, but Manisha Martin...takes calls from welfare recipients who are in the U.S. [photo caption]
[Oh that's an efficient use of phone lines for you! And just think how it helps 'welfare reform' in America for American taxpayers to paying for welfare and food stampts for Americans who can't find jobs and also paying wages so people in a foreign country can be self-supporting while servicing those American dependents. This is the kind of 'double taxation' that true conservatives would be shouting about. Is your blood boiling at this stupidity yet?]
Mind Space, a corporate park in a Bombay suburb, houses only "knowledge intensive" companies and is home to 8 call centers. [photo caption]
...Some N.J. officials say they just about \dropped] off their seat...when they learned that a contractor had arranged for Bombay operators to handle calls from the state's welfare recipients. County welfare directors complained.
A state legislator, Shirley Turner, proposed a bill requiring that workers hired under state contracts be American citizens or legal aliens, or fill a specialty niche Americans could not, prompting at least 4 other states to consider similar bills.
[So automation and robotization are not the only things diminishing market-demanded employable hours. Human stupidity is making its usual big contribution.]
Much as the exodus [and automation!] of manufacturing jobs abroad did in decades past, sending service or knowledge-intensive jobs to countries like India is causing fears of displacement in the U.S. and elsewhere. A study by Forrester Research of Cambridge, Mass., estimated that this type of labor migration [oh c'mon! this is employment migration, not labor migration!], generally referred to as outsourcing if contracted to an [outside] company, or offshoring if run by a[n American] company itself, could send 3.3 million American jobs overseas by 2015. India, with its large pool of English-speakers and more than two million college graduates every year, is exected to get 70% of them....
- 5/12 Senate takes up $441B bill on tax cuts - Proposed repeal of break for U.S. citizens overseas could hurt small firms - Proposed tax change would cost jobs abroad, by John McKinnon, WSJ, A2, A8.
...Shrinking the number of U.S. workers abroad, in turn, would likely reduce orders for U.S. goods needed for overseas jobs, employers said....
- 5/10 Canada: Jobless rate rises, by Bernard Simon, NYT, B2.
Layoffs by hotels and restaurants in Toronto resulting from the outbreak of...SARS contributed to a rise in Canada's unemployment rate to 7.5% in April from 7.3% in March, Statistics Canada reported.
[The result of taxing the circulation of money in the notorious GST (goods & services tax) instead of the sluggish concentration of employment (overtime tax) and income (graduated income tax). The more we pass along the taxes to the dynamic centrifugation of spending power and lift them from the sluggish concentration of spending power, the higher our unemployment rate and the lower we sink in the "business cycle" - which has really no automatic upswing at all, and is therefore a secular downward spiral rather than a sine-waving "cycle," because of our response to waves of efficient technology in terms of downsizing rather than timesizing, job chops rather than hours trims.]
Almost 19,000 jobs were lost last month, including 18,400 in accommodation and food services. Manufacturing and construction also cut workers, reinforcing recent evidence of a weakening economy. The losses in these sectors were partly offset by higher employment in government (90% patronage and artificial job creation), financial services (90% high-end parasitism) and retailing (90% "McJobs").]
5/07/2003 headlines from hell -
- Virus may lead to lasting woes for plane makers [& airlines], by Scott Neuman & Lynn Lunsford, WSJ, A6.
...which had expected growth [in the] Asia-Pacific [region] to help offset sagging sales in the U.S. and Europe. So far this week, 4 major carriers in the...region announced they are seeking to delay accepting aircraft that were to be delivered later this year:...Qantas, ...China Air, ...Cathay Pacific, ...HongKong Dragon.... Although the dealy...represent only a small fraction of Boeing and Airbus orders, they emanate from a region that both plane makers had considered to be the most promising over the next couple of decades....
- It's really 'tax shifting' [not tax cuts], letter to editor by Deborah Franzblau of Blauvelt NY, NYT, A30.
Read between the lines of "Pataki or not, suburban schools decide taxes must go up" (news article, May 2), or "The faces of budget cuts," Bob Herbert's May 5 column about the effect of budget cuts on healthcare in Oregon. These articles, along with simple arithmetic, help illuminate the deception in the term "tax cut."
What's really going on? It's tax shifting - from federal to state, from state to town, from wealthy to middle class and from healthy to sick.
[In short, it's further weakening the money centrifuge and strengthening the money funnel - which further deactivates spending power, slows the circulation of money and weighs against economic recovery. The wealthy, when they should be spreading it around more to revive the economy, stabilize their investments and make themselves more secure, are instead consolidating it more. The easiest thing to spread around is work. If we did that (for example, by adjusting the workweek downward), we would make it easer for people to support themselves and safer to cut taxes, because taxpayers then wouldn't have to support them. Financially secure, self-supporting people make confident consumers, so the economy would pick up. The most gradual and market-oriented way to spread around the shrinking amount of market-demanded work not yet done by machines is Timesizing.]
- What deflation? - Why your bills are rising - Despite Fed's concern [about falling prices], consumers are paying more for many items, from cable bills to tuition, by Jeff Opdyke & Michelle Higgins, WSJ, D1.
Going up - Key consumer prices soared in the past 3 years. [chart]
...The Fed announced Tuesday that it may cut interest rates later this year in order to stave off even a hint of deflation, or falling prices. That marks the first time in decades that the Fed, typically preoccupied with the risk of higher prices, has publicly worried about deflation..\.. If the Federal Reserve is so concerned about deflation, why are so many of the everyday costs of life on the rise?
- Health care: The average worker now pays $2,088 a year for health-care premiums, up from $1,656 in 2000.
- College: Tuition and fees at private colleges averaged $18,273 this year, up from $15,518 in 1999-2000.
- Insurance: Car coverage now costs an average of $855 a year, versus $687 in 2000..\..
have been increasing in price in recent years at a faster pace than the official inflation rate.
- Postage stamps,
- sporting events,
- auto insurance,
- real-estate taxes
- and even haircuts
The government's consumer price index [CPI] has increased an average of just 2.5% annually over the past 3 years. In the same period, by some measures, cable-TV costs are up 9.1% annually, auto insurance is up 7.6% a year and even movie popcorn is up more than 3%. Healthcare costs, college tuition and the price of heating your home have been rising at far faster rates - in the case of natural gas, around 21.4% a year....
How to explain the disconnect?...
[We'd explain it in three wages. (1) As downsizing instead of timesizing proceeds, profits concentrate in the tiny top income brackets instead of staying in the vast middle and lower income brackets where they are much more active in passing from hand to hand and delivering a high "velocity of circulation" and a robust economy. For necessities, consumers get more energetic in finding bargains in necessities, driving higher-priced choices down. (2) As markets graaadually shrink, businesses with nothing like a monopoly, especially in non-necessity discretionary goods and services, lower prices (for example, car dealers, airlines, healthclubs, massage parlors). But unregulated businesses with a stronger hold on their customer base, like cable TV companies and banks, often inch up their prices and multiply their fees. So the only main areas where prices are falling, even in a recession, are in non-monopoly consumption and and non-necessity, "discretionary" consumption. (3) But then the wealthy get used receiving to much higher income and feeling much more special than ordinary people, so they over-reach and maintain or restore higher prices even where the markets won't warrant them. Downsizings and bankruptcies increase and the whole process intensifies. People on the edge of wealth sometimes get pulled down themselves (eg: Jeff Einstein, see 4/12-14/2003 #2) or have a close relative or friend who gets pulled down (eg: Stephen Roach of Morgan Stanley, because of his sister's traumatic job loss in the 1990s) - and "do the flip" = wake up and sense the self-destructiveness of the whole process, but they are very very few. And then there's the Journal's more superficial reasons -]
The discrepancy comes from the way the government calculates inflation [ie: the CPI].
[So the Journal is going to concentrate purely on the secondary question of why the contrast with the CPI, not the primary question of why the contrast with those prices that are actually going down.]
In compiling its CPI, the Bureau of Labor Statistics [BLS] relies on roughly 80,000 quotes that flow into its offices every month. The BLS smoothes and adjust[s] those numbers in varying ways to account for improvements in quality, among other things. For example...if [a] car now costs more but comes with a lot of extra features, the BLS may consider that just a minor price increase or even a price reduction.
[Hence the "consumer price index" is diverging from the "cost of living," which it is supposed to track.]
That's because the consumer got a higher-quality product [whether s/he wanted it or not] for roughly [emphasis on 'roughly'] the same cost. But the reality, of course, is that you're still paying more money for a car than you used to. "You had to pay more because you can't buy exactly what you did last time," says..\.. Pat Jackman, an economist at the BLS [who admits] the widely reported [CPI] understate[s] the rising cost of li[ving] from one year to the next [because] "more money is coming out of your pocket.... It's forced substitution."
["Forced substitution," just like the Chainey-Rummy-Bushy war and "reconstruction" is forced charity. And forced 'upgrades' for people who were satisfied with the previous version, is a huge factor in our current Makework Capitalism that only Worksharing Capitalism can correct. Coming up is the big forced conversion to digital TV. Current is the forced conversion from 3½" floppy disks to R/W CDs. Just completed are the forced conversions from 5¼" to 3½" floppy disks and from record albums to CDs. It goes on and on with huge environmental impact, only occasionally positive as in the forced conversion to higher and higher emission control standards.]
The disconnect becomes even bigger when you look at the Federal Reserve's preferred measure of inflation, the personal consumption expenditures index. It's running at just 1% a year on an annualized basis....
Wholesale prices plunge 1.9%, pointer digest (to C7), 5/16/2003 NYT, C1.
...in April, and output at mfg plants, mines and utilities slid 0.5%.
[Compare the inside header -]
Wholesale prices fall 1.9%, the biggest drop since 1947, Reuters via 5/16/2003 NYT, C7.
[So 8 days later we get a pretty clear answer to the Wall Street Journal's cheerleading question above, "What deflation?"]
- [the trouble with our current infinite accumulation, 'skimming and charity' system -]
$15m Yawkey gift to BC to be probed for possible conflict, by Frank Phillips, Boston Globe, front page.
The board of the Yawkey Foundation - led by trustees, [half of whom have] strong personal ties to Boston College [BC] - last month approved a $15 million grant to BC for...a new athletic center.... In particular, Yawkey board chairman and executive director John L. Harrington, who also sits on the Boston College board of trustees, played an instrumental role in arranging the grant. Harrington chaired a meeting of the 10-member board last month during which he presented the Boston College grant proposal and the board approved it, according to Yawkey board member Charles Clough Jr., also a Boston College trustee.
[These people must have the brains of a two-by-four.]
...The Yawkey Foundation...established by...longtime owners of the Red Sox, became one of Boston's largest philanthropies after the sale of the team in Jan/2002..\..
The actions of the Yawkey board appear to violate its [own] conflict-of-interest rules, and [Massachusetts] Atty. Gen. Thomas Reilly plans to review...the grant. Reilly, whose office has oversight of public charities, criticized the charity last year for favoring well-endowed institutions over grassroots groups when it chose to give $25 million to Mass. General Hospital. Boston College...has an endowment of $964 million....
[Not as much as world-record Harvard's $19 billion, but still nearly a billion.]
5/06/2003 headlines from hell -
- Hunting 'Buffalo' - Elusive spammer sends web service on a long chase - EarthLink uses lawyers, private eyes to track sender of online junk - A million e-mails every day, by Julia Angwin, WSJ, front page.
[An incredible and detailed story on how EarthLink's lead investigator Mary Youngblood and their outside attorney, Paul Wellborn III, tracked a guy down after multiple accounts and identities and billions of spam emails and tons of wasted time on the part of victims in terms of deleting the crap.]
...Spam is the top complaint of most Internet users. EarthLink estimates that more than 40% of the email that comes into its system is spam [sounds conservative], up six-fold in the past 18 months. ...AOL, the nation's largest Internet provider, says spam accounts for 70-80% of the incoming mail to its network, a four-fold increase in the past four months. Both companies...try to block much of the spam before it hits users' in-boxes.
Experts believe most spam is sent by a hard-core group, who send millions of messages each day. But catching spammers isn't easy. Because email wasn't designed to be traced, most systems allow users to disguise almost every line of an email, including the "from" line and the "reply to" line - a practice known as "spoofing." Spam sent from overseas is almost impossible to trace.... Even when spammers do get caught, they rarely go to jail. Sending unsolicited commercial email is...illegal in most states, but enforcement generally isn't a high priority....
That leaves enforcers such as Ms. Youngblood with two tools: shutting down accounts and filing civil lawsuits against spammers..\.. For more than a year, Mary Youngblood has been chasing the "Buffalo Spammer." [She] works at the HQ of EarthLink Inc, a big ISP [and] leads a team of more than a dozen investigators whose job it is to find spammers, hackers and other "bad guys" who haunt the company's network. ...Last March, she was reviewing spam...that customers had complained about. She noticed that a few key phrases were popping up among the get-rich-quick pitches: "The Cadillac," ..."$150,000" by "Day 15" and phone numbers with 716 area codes. Investigating further, she saw the emails were all originating from an EarthLink account connecting from Buffalo NY. With a single click of a button, she disabled the account....
[But he kept popping back under different guises.]
The pursuit of the Buffalo spammer became Ms. Youngblood's top priority.... She spent about 10 hours a week on the case, and her employees spent another 10-20 hours a week, in total, hunting to see where he was hiding on the network. They tracked [him] by following telltale passwords, phone numbers and pitches.... By May of last year, Ms. Youngblood was frustrated that her repeated attempts to shut him down weren't scaring the spammer away. He was still at the top of the weekly "bad guy" list that she sends to her staff.... So she...recommend[ed] that EarthLink sue him. [Enter] Mr. Wellborn, EarthLink's outside attorney....
The best way to catch a spammer, he says, is by following the money trail. [He] filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court in the Northern District of Georgia in June against defendants only identified as "John Does" [which] allowed [him] to ask the phone company and Mail Boxes Etc. for the names of the owners of the phone numbers and PO boxes listed as contact information in the Buffalo spammer's emails. The responses produced...a half-dozen people, including some Buffalo residents and a man in Florida.
By October, the Buffalo spammer's activity increased.... Mr. Wellborn decided to try calling [him], thinking that direct contact from a lawyer would scare him off....
[So he phones all the numbers in the spam and eventually gets a human being, who admits spamming but taunts that he'd never be caught because "nothing's in my name." Wellborn eventually tracks down a retired mail carrier who says his nephew "is self-employed and does something with computers."]
The nephew's name: Howard Carmack. Even while lawyers were trying to serve papers on him, [he] continued to spam.... On Feb. 25 alone, Ms. Youngblood...caught him trying to log onto the EarthLink network six times using six different accounts.... Three days later, private investigators - waiting in a van with [one-way] windows...handed him the lawsuit documents while he was walking back into his house from his car. The spam stopped that day.
...None of the phone numbers listed in the spams [is] listed in his name. Once was in his mother's name. Another in the name of his mentally handicapped brother.... In addition, each of the 343 EarthLink accounts created by Mr. Carmack used false identities and stolen credit card or bank-account information, the company's lawsuit contends.... Mr. Carmack is a body-builder and was a high-school football star....
His grandmother...lives across the street. A diabetic who says she is too disabled to leave the house on her own, [she] said her grandson brings her breakfast from McDonald's when she asks. "He would do anything for me," she says. ...She doesn't know what [he] does for work. She didn't know anything about the lawsuit, she said, but it sounded "real sad." She added, "Maybe if they got jobs for the fellows, they wouldn't have to do this."
[It all comes back to jobs. And rather than "getting jobs for the fellows" by makework, it would be better if we shared the vanishing work, then they wouldn't have to do this. Think of the crap in our society that we would remove overnight by setting up a flexible worksharing system that adjusted the workweek downward to spread the market-demanded employment around as long as there was high or rising unemployment. And of course, we'd need to redefine unemployment to really cover the problem, including welfare, disability, homelessness, prison, forced part-time, premature retirement, political pork and patronage... and now also ... spammers.]
Technology can't stop the spam tide - Unsolicited e-mails may deluge systems, by Chris Gaither, 5/08/2003 Boston Globe, front page.
...Analysts cite several reasons for the spike [in spam volume]. The marketers who send these messages are getting better at their craft, as they collect more e-mail addresses and find ways to bypass software designed to filter spam e-mail. The struggling economy, meanwhile, has driven more people into the much-maligned practice of hawking herbal remedies or get-rich-quick schemes online, where start-up costs are low....
5/03-5/2003 headlines from hell -
- M.B.A.s of '03 face an array of closed doors, by Kemba Dunham, WSJ, B1.
[From the pointer blurb on p.A1, "Masters of business arrears" -]
Many MBAs are graduating with a lot of debt but no job. Especially frustrated: those who saw business school as a midcareer boost.
- [then 2 gems from the Boston Globe (BG) -]
The pay's the thing, by Steven Syre, BG, C1.
...I plowed through the proxies of the 25 largest public companies in Massachusetts over the past few days and discovered a few sadly predictable facts: Most shareholders who own those companies suffered, but the top executives running them were barely touched. On average, CEOs received salary and cash bonus of $1,645,617. That's lower by [only] a sliver, 0.54%, than 2001 compensation for the same group. I'd call that a pay freeze, not a cut. Restricted stock and stock option awards also were roughly equal, with one extraordinary exception....
There are other cases of Massachusetts executives who earned a little less, didn't take a bonus, or received fewer stock options last year. But as a group, the people in the executive suites never felt the economic chill of 2002.
- Timothy Barberich, Sepracor Inc. [represents a] disconnect between performance and rewards. Sepracor was one of the sickliest stocks in Massachusetts in 2002, losing 83% of its value. [But] Barberich...'earned' [our quotes] a salary and cash bonus of $567,453, up about 4% from 2001.... He also received 425,000 Sepracor options, about four times the size of his average award over the previous two years..\..
- David D'Alessandro, John Hancock Financial Services Inc. [at] $21.7 million [got] the biggest compensation package reported by any executive among the top 25 for 2002, including salary, bonus, restricted stock, long-term 'incentive' payouts [like you need more incentive at that level or like more of the same is any incentive], and a grab bag of other income....
[And sportsfans, that ain't a feedback system.]
[Followup, extending this beyond Massachusetts -]
Lucent Technologies Inc. - Former CEO, in adviser role, is receiving $55,000 a month, Dow Jones via 5/16/2003 WSJ, B5.
[Don't ask what happened to Lucent stock the last coupla years. Especially don't mention it to Joe Medeiros of Somerville MA, who saw his retirement nestegg evaporate after a lifetime working for the phone company.]
- To Canada, US diplomacy is high comedy, by Alex Beam, Boston Globe, D1.
Those darned Canadian hopheads! That's been the White House's reaction to the news that Premier Jean Chretien of Canada wants to decriminalize marijuana possession north of the 49th parallel.... On Friday, a Canadian Broadcasting Corp. reporter asked David Murray, asst. to White House drug czar John Walters, what he thought of all this. Murray fired off the rhetorical shot heard [across Canada]: "We would have to respond. We would be forced to respond," Murray said. Why?
Because pot legalization is dangerously anti-American. Just look at the longhair maniacs who support decriminalization, wild men like financier George Soros, Nobelist Milton Friedman, and former Secy of State George Schultz.
...The Bush administration has blown a hole a mile wide in US-Canadian relations. A few weeks ago, ambassador Paul Cellucci upbraided Canada for not joining the "coalition of the willing," which apparently doesn't mean exactly what its name implies.... The reaction north of the border was swift and sure. "Yours is the only country that has ever invaded ours, and it would do so again in a wink if it thought its interests here were seriously threatened," thundered Halifax Chronicle-Herald columnist Silver Donald Cameron. "We need no lectures from Americans about the defence of liberty and democracy."
[And then the pettiness began -]
Shortly after Cellucci's tirade, pResident George Bush canceled a state visit to Ottawa. The next day Bush invited PM John Howard of [suck-up] Australia for a sleepover at the Crawford TX Ponderosa, a diplomatic mesesage "delivered with all the subtlety of a sleldgehammer," quoth the Baltimore Sun. [Did Howard emerge with an intact colon/bowel?] ...The White House [also] slapped a punitive tariff on [Canada's] wheat exports over the weekend....
[So much for Bush's commitment to Free Trade. Maybe now Canada will smarten up, dump NAFTA, restart the transCanada trains, and realign its primary trade routes back to east-west instead of north-south.]
The real problem with Canada is that it has become yet another troublesome democracy, like Germany, France, and Turkey, with each nation's elected officials answering to their constituents rather than to the voice of America.
[Yeah, the Bush attitude = if you can't manipulate your populace into jingoism as effectively as we can, or keep them uneducated enough to buy our, oops, your lies, then your not really "democracies," because a real democracy is any nation that does whatever WE want, regardless of human rights abuses or dictatorship.]
Worse yet, the prospects for regime changes in these recalcitrant countries seem bleak. The Third Infantry Division can do only so much, and securing Paris, Ankara, Ottawa and Berlin is a tall order, even for the legendary heroes of the Marne.
[What the hell happened to this country? Our last burst of idealism and optimism was on its bicentenary in 1976 when Jimmy Carter was elected. But he didn't "have the beef" - no vision, nothing new, same ol' same ol' makework, minimum wage and taxation. But Hunnicutt didn't write his book of clues (Work Without End) for another 12 years. Leontief didn't even come out with his revealing chapter "The distribution of work and income - If an economy is to function, work not done by machines must be shared and so must income" in Scientific American's "Mechanization of Work" for another 6 years. And Staffan Linder's contribution 6 years earlier, "The Harried Leisure Class" was pretty confused, John Kenneth Galbraith never really nailed it in the 50s, and Arthur Dahlberg had lost focus after his prophetic "Utopia Through Capitalism" in 1927 and "Jobs, Machines and Capitalism" in 1932. So starting in 1980, we got "the Me decade" and 12 years of 'Christian'-coalition-coated Reagan-Poppy, then 8 years of GOP sore losers and slippery, right-drifting Clinton, then the Supreme Court's rightwing putsch. Now hope is nearly dead as this unbelievable administration sidelines the nation from the mainstream of human progress, and the majority of Americans still eat it up. Cry, cry the beloved country. And catch up the articulation of the Third Way.]
5/02/2003 headlines from hell -
- 5/5 April's employment data show third straight month of job cuts, by Patrick Barta, WSJ, A2.
- 5/03 Jobless rate inches up to 6% - Payrolls shrink by 48,000 in April, by Stephen Glain, Boston Globe, C1.
WASHINGTON - Unemployment nationally rose 2/10% to 6% in April, matching an 8-year high reached in December....
- 5/04 Profits recover. Jobs vanish. Stocks rise. by Jeff Sommer, NYT, 3:17.
[Ah, the wonders of feedback lags. Profits and investors are responding to an uptick in sales even as job&consumer loss is guaranteeing it was just an uptick. In a word, we have a SNAFU ("situation normal, all f*cked up"). Moreover -]
- 5/5 Manufacturing confounds economists, by Clare Ansberry, WSJ, A2.
...economists, policy makers and manufacturers themselves. Recent reports suggest orders for factory goods are starting to pick up, yet manufacturers are continuing to shed jobs at a furious pace.
[Here we are 3-4 years into the Third Millennium and these 'leaders' still don't understand the impact of technology (eg: automation and robotization) when you follow it up with downsizing instead of timesizing. And this process is not restricted to manufacturing. It started nearly a century and a half ago in agriculture, and it's now deep into the service sector.]
In April, manufacturers cut 95,000 positions. That was the 33rd consecutive monthly decline and the longest string of layoffs in that [sector] in post-World War II history. If factory orders are rising, why did producers continue to cut employees, a sizable chunk of whom would presumably be working in those plants?
[This is the classic question asked by people who still believe implicitly in Say's Law of Markets = "if you build it, they will buy" - never mind they may not have the money because it's become so tightly concentrated in the top income brackets. The scary thing is, that even though Say's Law was roundly disproven by the lead-in and early years of the Great Depression, it has again become Sacred Economic Dogma, and so people are still asking naive questions along the whole, should-be smooth path: if we build it, why no buyers; or, if a wave of buyers right now, why still a tide of layoffs?]
...The severe job loss can be blamed largely on 2 factors, one positive and one negative....
[The rest of the article is spent grasping for straws of hope, like supposedly resilient R&D development, supposedly resuming exports and the supposedly silvery lining in the weakening dollar. We'll give them a miss. The overwhelming response to technology in terms of downsizing instead of timesizing will guarantee the need for more and more imaginative backbends to maintain the fiction of even sluggish "recovery."]
- The [positive] reason for the job loss is productivity. Manufacturers have automated operations, steamlined production and assembly, and basically figured out how to make as much or more with less.
[A process that preserves its own markets only by substituting worktime loss for job loss - cutting worktime per person with no loss of working persons, instead of cutting workforce per company and losing working persons - and confident consumers. And this is without even talking about the jobs that manufacturers are moving overseas or the do-the-job-for-less immigrants who are moving here, or the travel jobs that are gone thanks to Cheney's War and SARS.]
That exercise isn't over and, in fact, is becoming a continuing process, rather than a one-time event, which also explains why job losses are continuing.
[Commentator Clare Ansberry doesn't seem to realize that this "exercise" became a continuing process in agriculture at least as early as the 1870s with Massey-Ferguson, and in manufacturing at least as early as the 1920s once Henry Ford's assembly-lines had spread to the other automakers, and in servces at least as early as 1982 when Adam Osborne bundled together keyboard, motherboard, screen & diskdrives to introduce the personal computer with Word Star and SuperCalc on it, and Mitch Kapor bundled together supercalc, database & graphics into 1-2-3, then added command language, communications and word processing into 1-2-3-4-5-6 and renamed it Symphony (or Jazz on the Apple).]
Since manufacturing involves so many steps in making a product, companies are finding new places and ways to trim.
[And while they should be trimming worktime and keeping their consumer base, they're trimming workforce and losing their consumer base.]
...Those who have been most successful at cutting costs are figuring out even more ways to do so.
[Why does Ansberry think the transformation of this automation process in manufacturing into a continuing process was only recent?]
Timken Co., for example, began a program in 1999 that was designed to create a network of focused factories, shifting production to those plants that were the most efficient and low cost, and closing the others. Now they are creating the "synergies," which often involves closing or selling off redundant operations....
[Again, Ansberry doesn't seem to realize that this process has been in full swing at least since the early 1990s with GM's downsizing of 74,000 and VW's timesizing to a 28.8-hour workweek, or the early 1980s with Lincoln Electric's timesizing from a 55 to a 32 hour workweek, and even the mid-1970s with American Optical/St. Louis' timesizing from a 40 to a 36-hour workweek. The only problem is that there were thousands more downsizings than timesizings. The mystery here is, why would Ansberry regard this downsizing-drowned process as positive?]
Aside from productivity gains, there are other factors that should help manufacturing. Rising consumer confidence is benefiting Thor Industries Inc., which makes recreation vehicles and midsize buses, and is in turn benefiting its large base of suppliers - from tires to glass to metal makers..\..
[Consumer confidence may have had a recent uptick, but it is in secular decline. Otherwise, our current situation, which Ansberry optimistically describes as a "sluggish recovery," would not be so "sluggish." Let's go back to what he admits is a negative factor -]
- On the negative side is capacity. In spite of all the closings and streamlining, many industries, such as airlines, aluminum and telecomms, have too much capacity.[It never ceases to amaze how contemporary pundits take capacity as some kind of absolute starting point for explanations, as if the expansion to that level of capacity was somehow not motivated by demand at the time and - something happened to demand. Of course, if they pushed back to demand, they wouldn't be able to be cheerily hailing the latest tiny uptick in demand (see above optimism about "consumer confidence") as any kind of substantial basis for hope.]
For instance, with airplanes idle as fewer people fly, there's little reason to keep as many workers building more planes,
[unless you'd care to maintain your workers because they're your customers' customers if not your own, and just not keep as many working hours per week per worker]
which affects not just the big plane makers like Boeing Co. but also all the engine and valve-parts makers. Too much capacity [which was a basic hallmark of the Great Depression, by the way] means factories aren't running at their most efficient levels.
[Not necessarily a bad thing, considering CEO's downsizing response to efficiency, as outlined above in the so-called positive factor.]
For all of manufacturing, the capacity utilization rate [CAR] stands at a relatively low 73.4% and is a bit less than 70% for durable manufacturing. As a benchmark, the CAR for durable industrial production averages 78.8% from 1972 to 2001.
[First time we've seen this quantified. Who puts out the figures??]
Until the excess capacity is worked off,
[You don't "work off" excess capacity, you "idle" it off while you're hopefully "selling" it off.]
positions will be trimmed. The steel industry is just embarking on the process, which will result in more job losses,
[not at our most profitable (only profitable?) steel company, Nucor, where it will result only in the loss of more working hours per week per employee and no job losses - but Ansberry is completely oblivious to this most flexible of all companies, and intent on getting on with his little cheerleading act here -]
but ultimately a stronger [industry], better able to compete.
[Why does he keep mixing up "industry" and "sector," or using them interchangeably?! His economic dogma, based on an absolute starting point with, presto, "too much capacity," requires him now to exercise some blindingly unscientific "20/20 hindsight" -]
The fragmented industry desperately needed to consolidate to avoid additional bankruptcies and that is under way.
[This is like the little epicycles in the perfect orbits of the planets round the Earth that were required to permit the delusion of a geocentric universe to go on and on and on.]
U.S. Steel Corp. is buying National Steel Corp. and...expects to eliminate 20% of its combined workforce....
[Keep those eyes carefully averted from the only profitable American steel company, Clare - you might have to notice its heretical replacement of workforce elimination with worktime elimination.]
- 5/5 Like to land a job paying $38 an hour? Get in line - To get a foot in the door, job seekers camp out on New York streets, by Corey Kilgannon, NYT, A24.
At Third Avenue and 76th Street, a line of people waited over the weekend to apply for one of about 200 high-paying union jobs laying steel bars that reinforce concrete. The line snaked around most of the block. [photo caption] ....
- 5/04 The iceman cometh - Aggression: better than greed, by Maureen Dowd, NYT, 4:13.
...ICEMAN: ...The California economy's bleeding, even worse than other states'. When you took office, the unemployment rate in San Jose was 1.7%; by February of this year, it had risen to 8.5%.... Every time you cut taxes and raise deficits while you're roaring ahead with a pre-emptive military policy, you're unsafe. National unemployment goes up to 6% and you just hammer Congress to pass your tax cut. The only guys sure about their jobs these days are defense contractors connected to Republicans and the Carlyle Group, which owns half of the defense plant you visited here. ...You, Cheney and Rummy are strutting around on a victory tour when you haven't found Osama or Saddam or WMD; you haven't figured out how you're going to stop tribal warfare and religious fanaticism and dangerous skirmishes with our soldiers; you don't yet know how to put Afghanistan back together so that a lot of people over there don't hate us. And why can't you stop saying that getting rid of Saddam removed "an ally" of Al Qaeda and was payback for 9/11? You know we just needed to jump somebody in that part of the world....
- 5/5 In name of innovation some let technology get away with murder, by Lee Gomes, WSJ, B1.
Hey, kids: Wanna get rich helping people on the Internet break the law? It's easy! Just say the magic phrase, "But it's technology." The police will be powerless to stop you!
Ten days ago, US District Judge Stephen Wilson ruled in favor of Grokster, a downloading service for pirated music and movies - euphemistically called a "file-sharing system" - that's a successor to Napster. In rejecting a complaint from the entertainment industry, the judge focused on a somewhat narrow aspect of copyright law, saying Grokster doesn't know about specific violations when they are occurring....
[Compare the story yesterday, where someone basically bemoaned law-breaking in the sacred name of Immigration and Miss Liberty. Or compare the justifying of any amount of job loss and associated socioeconomy carnage in the holy name of Free Trade.]
- A threat not discussed, letter to editor by Caroline MacWherter of Wayzata MN, NYT, A34.
Re "Unsettled in America" (letter, Apr.29):
I am also an American, born and raised by American citizens, and I, too, like a majority of Americans, am "fearful, angry and confused."
[And many legal immigrants are fearful, angry and confused about these things too. There seem to be a lot of people who think the way to save the Third World is to move the entire Third World here. The extreme of this well-intentioned but short-sighted thinking appeared in Cambridge MA where some residents brought in immigrants and immediately put them on public welfare and got them into public housing, ignoring personal commitments to sponsor them financially. Some Cambridge residents have even argued that our laws should become scrambled enough to allow illegal immigrants to vote. No economy on our finite 'Spaceship Earth' in the Ecological Age can long survive unregulated population pressures, whether from "proxy immigrants" (ie: imports), immigrants, or "delayed immigrants" (ie: births). As we move deeper into the Ecological Age, the policies of free trade, open immigration and unregulated reproduction will appear more and more like a land drained only by straight deep wide - fast-flowing and heavily eroding rivers - with no ponds or lakes except for the very wealthy. The Timesizing Program handles population variables in Phase Five.]
- Fearful that illegal immigrants are flooding into the country every year.
- Angry that the media ignore the effect that this has on education, housing, health care, wages, the environment and potential terrorism.
- So many have overstayed their visas, so I am confused as to why any immigrant lucky enough to be here would find it difficult or unpleasant to register....
For earlier collapse stories, click on the desired date -Apr/2003.
July 1-15/2002 + Jun 30.
Earlier Y2000 months accessible via links at bottom of Dec.1-10/2000 page.
Earlier 1999 months accessible via links at bottom of Dec.1-15/99 page.
Earlier months accessible via links at bottom of Dec/98 page.
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