DoomwatchTM vs. Timesizing®
Collapse trends - August, 2003
[Commentary] ©2003 Philip Hyde, The Timesizing Wire, Box 622, Cambridge MA 02140 USA (617) 623-8080 - HOMEPAGE
8/30-9/01/2003 surfin' those headlines from hell -
8/29/2003 surfin' those headlines from hell -
- 9/01 Arlo and Janis, 4-frame cartoon by Jimmy Johnson, Boston Globe, A13, flagged by colleague Kate.
[Arlo, in various stages of cooking and dishing out burgers over his backyard grill, ruminates -]
- Once, labor was basic; now, it's regarded as ephemeral.
- Workers are supposed to feel guilty for inability to match third-world wages.
- Multinational corporations seem to be the only entitities worthy of official sympathy.
- It's hard to get in the Labor Day spirit.
- [and so intense is our atavistic Puritan work ethic that -]
9/01 Megabuck wage slaves - $108m lottery winners still on job a year later, by Jennifer Gould, New York Post, 5.
Just because they won the lottery doesn't mean they're quitting their jobs.
[Then why'd they buy the tickets? They're unnecessarily hogging the nation's, any robotizing nation's, most valuable vanishing resource = market-demanded employment.]
One year after 11 Housing Authority employees split a $108m jackpot, four of them are still working for the city agency's Community Operations Division.
[Double indemnity - they're civil servants, draining the taxpayer.]
Marcia Roberson of Brooklyn, Sunny Philip and Marie Maxwell of The Bronx and Avilla Cockrell of Staten Island are living proof that money doesn't change everything....
[But eventually, when we get high enough expectations and low enough tolerance for the Chesterton flaw and our obscene juxtaposition of riches and poverty, it will. First, we balance employment - with Timesizing. Then we apply the same 5 phases to income balancing. Then to wealth balancing. Then to credit balancing as our standards and options and expectations and self-respect as humans rise....]
- 8/30 Cars outnumber drivers in American households, pointer digest (to B2), NYT, B1.
The average American household has 1.75 drivers, but 1.9 "personal vehicles," according to...the Transportation Dept, [cf.] 0.86 adult-size bicycles....
[And if that isn't market saturation, it may still be well past sustainable ecosystem absorption levels. It's driven by our fixed-workweek economists' demand that we keep "full-time" workers looking busy for pre-technological periods at or above 40 hrs/wk, and it provides another incentive for a look at Anders Hayden's book "Sharing the Work, Sparing the Planet."]
The car population has been gaining on the driver population for years and vehicles have become as specialized as shoes with different designs for different uses.
[Fine and dandy IF they were only as unpolluting as shoes. Note neighboring story -]
Angry drivers fill it up, up, up - Get used to it, analysts say; Surging fuel prices may persist, by David Barboza, NYT, B1.
TOPEKA, Kan. -...W.C.Rich...owns and operates a trucking company and drives more than 100,000 miles a year. He quickly calculates the additional cost of filling his 100-gallon tank: about an extra $22 every time he fills up - or an extra $150 a week....
[(A) These rednecks were the guys who voted for the Bush gang, all part of the same crowd that gave us the S&L crisis in 1990, the Calif. energy crisis, and now the Iraq war&oilfield grab and now they expect not to pay dearly to further enrich this junta? Ha!
(B) Trucking is our most polluting and highway-battering private-sector makework campaign. Instead of Thousands of one-engine trains rolling around the country pulling hundreds of boxcar loads, we've got hundreds of thousands of one-engine, 1or2-boxcar trucks eroding our highways, endangering our passenger cars, stinking up the environment, and making a joke of our leaky workweek limits. Why? Because with waves of worksaving technology smashing against a rigid 1940-level workweek, there are so few jobs that people are desperate to support themselves anyway they can, and trucking looks like a pretty independent way to do so for a lot of people who haven't jumped through the bizarre and inefficient hoops of another of our big makework programs, higher "education."
(C) As for complaints from non-truckers, lose your gas-guzzling S.U.V.s! Colleague Kate points out that gas is nothing compared to the cost of many people's passenger vehicles today anyway - they pay $50,000 for a Hummer or some other monster and they're worried about a couple of bucks a gal. for gas? "It's your own damn fault, so stuff a sock in it!"]
- 8/30 Canadian economy posts 0.3% decline in quarter , by Bernard Simon, NYT, B3.
...weighed down by a sharp appreciation of the Canadian dollar, as well as by outbreaks of SARS in Toronto and mad cow disease in Alberta..\..after several years as the star performer in the industrial world [e.g.,] growth of 2.6% in 1Q03.
The US economy, which has lagged Canada's for most of the last 5 years, grew at an annual rate of 3.1% in the quarter [Q2]....
- 8/30 Hong Kong: Economy shrinks, by Alison Langley, NYT, B3.
Hong Kong's seasonally adjusted economic output was 3.7% lower in Q2 than in Q1, mainly because of the SARS outbreak last spring, which hurt tourism and related industries, like retailing....
8/27/2003 surfin' those headlines from hell -
- Why do polluters get a break? 5 letters to editor, NYT, A22.
[but soft, hope appeareth -]
States to fight relaxation of power-plant pollution standards - Eastern states and the energy industry square off over air quality, NYT, A17.
- Investors rush to stock funds; are their memories so short? - Some pros say they're aghast, since bonds could be better buy, by Christopher Oster, WSJ, C1.
So much for '[once bitten,] twice shy'....
[Are their memories so short? Yup, and they have sooo much money and sooo few alternatives. On the other hand -]
Economy shows unexpected strength, NYT, C1.
[On the other other hand -]
NYSE pays chief $139m lump sum: Package exceeds income of Exchange over 3 years, Financial Times London Edition, front page, via LexisNexis.com, flag credit to colleague Terry Crystal.
A pay package that [even] fat cats call excessive, NYT, C1.
[and followup -]
Job losses dampen recovery, 9/01/2003 NYT, front page.
[translation: job losses guarantee 'recovery' is just another bubble.]
- Fistfuls of dollars - It's an expensive war after all, op ed by Paul Krugman, NYT, A23.
[No kidding?! - gee, Paul, it can't be that much if -]
General in Iraq says more G.I.'s are not needed - Arab feelings are cited - Muslim allies urged to send more forces to assist the move to civilian rule, by Eric Schmitt, NYT, front page.
[Of course, this contradicts numerous neo-con calls a few days ago for LOTS more troops and money. But hey, if we really have "Muslim allies," this does suggest a way out - hand over the whole big hot potato to them!]
- [Or ... the Bush administration could just declare it a non-problem, like this -]
The administration declared, pointer blurb (to A3), WSJ, front page.
...carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases aren't pollutants, rejecting environmentalists' calls for the EPA to cap emissions.
[Dubya (Krossa), dat is sooo comfohtin'! Jus' lak all yer deeklarayshuns dat dee war be obah! An' we-uns buh-LEEV, massa, we-uns buh-LEEV! -
"For 'e 'imself 'ath said hit,
And hit's greatly to 'is cred-hit...."
or Captain Picard -
"Let it be so."
or Nth Dynasty, Egyptian bureaucrats -
"The Pharaoh has spoken.
It shall be done."]
8/26/2003 surfin' those headlines from hell -
- [Planet Earth prior to global stable migration (one-out, one-in, or v.v.) -]
U.K. faces immigration conundrum, by Gonzalo Vina, Dow Jones via WSJ, B3A.
Migration Watch, an anti-immigration group,
[probably actually a pro-sustainable migration group]
believes asylum and immigration are already out of hand. "It is the taxpayer who has to pay for the infrastructure such as housing, schools and so on, whereas the employer just picks up the cheap employee," says the group's director, Andrew Green. "And then there is the question of social cohesion, which, at a certain point, in our view, comes under strain.
- The public sees the 10,000s of people like [an illegal, smuggled-in Kosovan who has applied for asylum (pressured legal-immigrant status) when already in Britain] as a drain on already strained public services. In a poll take earlier this year, 53% of Britons strongly disagreed with the notion that the government has immigration under control, and 74% either strongly disagreed or tended to disagree with the idea that the U.K. needs immigrants to fill jobs its citizens don't want [at the low wages free-ride-desiring employers want to offer].
- With U.K. unemployment levels at lows not seen for decades,
["low," that is, according to an extremely under-counting employer-biassed unemployment definition like the USA's]
the government [run by plutocrats, as here, ever ready to run the nation right down into the Third World] sees huge gaps in the nation's workforce and believes immigrants are ideally suited to fill them. For instance, nurses from the Philippines and doctors from India are helping prop up the publicly funded National Health Service....
[All any of us need to "prop up" a publicly funded National Health Service is the elimination of taxes on business, such as sales taxes, and the restoration and steepening of graduated income taxes to wartime levels = the levels they were during the wartime prosperity, in which the money centrifuge they provided was a major factor. And how can you "prop up" a National Health Service with people who weigh it down?]
Mr. Blair's government ["white male millionaires working for you"?] says bringing in foreign workers will be a boon to the economy [a short-term boon, that is, to their own bloated income and that of their big political donors]. In all, authorities estimate immigration benefits the country by about £2.5B ($3.9B) a year....
[Which, if true, means that uncontrolled immigration costs the country about four times that amount, namely, £10B ($15.6B) a year in drained public services and foregone economic growth due to the unabated funneling of the nation's spending power into unspendable concentrations in the top income brackets - the usual pre-depression 'black hole' economy.]
..\.. Sarah Spencer, an immigration specialist at the Institute for Public Policy Research, a left-leaning thinktank in London...disagrees with [sustainable migration] sentiment but she also thinks the government needs to acknowledge public qualms. "If it ignores them, then the danger is the public will go elsewhere to find people to articulate their grievances," she says.
[Why would that be a "danger" in a self-styled "democracy"?]
"The difficulty for government is finding a language which acknowledges concern without reinforcing it."...
[In short, the difficulty of government of the wealthy, by the wealthy and for the wealthy is, how to disguise the fact that it has absolutely no intention of carrying out the will of the public, however sustainable the public will may be and however unsustainable frustrating it may be.]
8/23/2003 surfin' those headlines from hell -
- Congressional deficit estimate may exceed a half-trillion, by Edmund Andrews, WSJ, A17.
[i.e., $500,000,000,000 or $500B. And they buried this on an inside page?? Oh, they had to make room for this kind of vital stuff - "Tricking the bitter-taste buds: researchers seek sweet disguise," and "Hardly in disgrace, Torricelli gathers power in New Jersey," and "Shiite clerics clashing over how to reshape Iraq." Clearly the NY Times is losin' it.]
- [Here's another that should have been on the front page -]
Study confirms that 'stakeholders' gave advice to energy panel - When Cheney kept the G.A.O. at bay, it looked elsewhere, by Katharine Seelye, NYT, A16.
[Are they going to mention blatant Conflict of Interest in this buried-inside article? And the diversion of the nation's military troops for private-business purposes? No, just -]
...The report said the energy task force met with "nonfederal energy stakeholders, principally petroleum, coal, nuclear, natural gas, and electricity industry representatives and lobbyists."...
The investigators said the panel also received information "to a more limited degree" from academic experts, policy organizations, environmental advocacy groups and private citizens....
In releasing this final report..\..Comptroller General David Walker...said [yester]day in an interview, "This is the first time in the history of the agency [the GAO] that we were absolutely stonewalled....
[by Cheney, who clearly does not want to be accountable to the American people.]
- Campaign-spending regulation, pointer blurb (to A4), WSJ, front page.
...has pretty much broken down in presidential contests even as the Supreme Court gets ready to review the new law meant to tighten a system that is increasingly being skirted.
[So much for democracy in America.]
- A top U.S. diplomat quit, pointer blurb (to A10),WSJ, front page.
...as special envoy to North Korea [Charles "Jack" Pritchard] and Bush officials hastened to dispel talk that he was pushed out as too moderate to take part in nuclear-crisis negotiations in China tomorrow.
[and the indicated article headline -]
'Moderate' envoy resigns on eve of Korean talks, by Christopher Cooper, WSJ, A10.
[Well well, this lying, war-starting, highly impeachable Bush administration is having resignations all over the place. We noted an economic advisor (Hubbard) and another diplomat (Kiesling) on 2/27/2003 #2.]
- [here's another nightmare to add to identity theft and creditcard hijcking -]
Illegal product tying is defined, Dow Jones via WSJ, C11.
WASHINGTON - The Federal Reserve laid out its view of what constitutes illegal product tying for banks, noting that current law leaves ample room for legitimate cross-marketing and product selling.
The Fed says "careful review" often is needed to determine whether banks have violated antitying regulations, which prohibit banks from making loan decisions based on whether a customer buys a non-loan product, such as insurance.
[Antitying regulations for banks? What about for software companies, like Microsoft?]
Tying [bank] products is illegal only if the bank "requires the customer to purchase the tied product to obtain the customer's desired product," the Fed said. For example, required minimum balances aren't considered an illegal product tie.
[What about a required new bank account from which your monthly mortgage payment will be automatically withdrawn?]
Bank-industry critics worry that tying has become a widespread practice that slides through supervisory oversight, particularly with regard to investment-banking services....
[The desperation for jobs ripples on.]
[Followup - here's another manifestation -]
New battleground over web privacy: Ads that snoop - Software shadows users as they surf and targets them with pop-ups - How Gator slithers onto PCs, by Hagerty & Berman, WSJ, front page.
8/20/2003 surfin' those headlines from hell -
- An onslaught of computer viruses, editorial, NYT, A24.
[The power and complexity of our technological advance has created a need for levels of mutual trust and trustworthiness that just aren't there, because our grasping technologies have so far outstripped our sharing technologies. The worksharing imperative sharpens.]
Barbarians at the digital gates - Computer users can protect themselves - but at a cost, by Hiawatha Bray, 8/27/2003 Boston Globe, D1.
- U.N. chief says new farce in Iraq can be led by U.S., by Felicity Barringer, NYT, A2.
[Oops, guess that's "force," not "farce" - or is it?]
- Another Vietnam, letter to editor by Diane Vacca of Anacapri, Italy, NYT, A24.
...Iraq is a black hole, insatiable in its appetite for American lives (and any others noble or foolish enough to go there) and for American dollars. ...How will we persuade our allies to send more cannon fodder [and money] to save American lives and dollars when we insisted on creating this nightmare over their reasoned objections?
Iraq is too costly, letter to editor by Peter Gross of the Bronx NY, NYT, A24.
...[In] "No time to lose in Iraq" (column, Aug.20)...yet again, [Thomas] Friedman calls for more American troops and greater economic aid to be sent to Iraq so as to create a stable and ultimately democratic Iraq.... 'Idealism' [our quotes] in foreign policy is a wonderful thing when you are not the one bearing the costs.
[Such 'idealism' as demonstrated by Geo.W. Bush and Halliburton Corp's Dick Cheney, for instance, who, far from bearing costs, are profiting hugely from the American troops in Iraq.]
- Fouling the air, editorial, NYT, A24.
In defiance of Congress, the courts and the requirements of public health, the administration is on the verge of repealing a key section of the Clean Air Act. ...The EPA plans to issue a final rule next week that would allows 1000s of industrial sites, including 100s of old coal-fired power plants, to make major upgrades without installing new pollution controls, as currently required by law....
8/19/2003 surfin' those headlines from hell -
- How America created a terrorist haven - Al Qaeda and others are finding a way to Iraq, op ed by Jessica Stern, NYT, A25.
Yesterday's bombing of the UN headquarters in Baghdad is the latest evidence that America has taken a country that was not a terrorist threat and turned it into one....
[Never mind the UN HQ in Baghdad, how about -]
Explosives found at 2 Schwab sites, AP via NYT, A12.
CARMEL, Calif...- Two bomblike devices were found and destroyed on Monday near a house of Charles Schwab, [former] co-CEO of the discount brokerage he founded, and at an office of the firm....
[Oops, mustn't hilite threats to CEOs - tabooo, tabooo - so back again to page A25 -]
Magnet for evil - Three thousand Saudis slouching toward Baghdad, op ed by Maureen Dowd, NYT, A25.
The Bush team has now created the very monster that it conjured up to alarm Americans into backing a war on Iraq. Rushing to pummel Iraq after 9/11/01, Bush officials ginned up links between Saddam and Al Qaeda.... There was scant evidence of it then, but it's coming true now....
[The 'slouching' alludes to two lines from Yeats' poem, Second Coming, written in the 1920s -
And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
Slouches towards Bethelehem to be born?
[Again, same page -]
No time to lose in Iraq - Telling friends from enemies, op ed by [conservative!] Thomas Friedman, NYT, A25.
I was stopped the other day at the US Army checkpoint on the July 14 Bridge in the heart of Baghdad.... I asked the sergeant [to] tell the officer [on the phone] exactly where we were standing. "Sir," the sergeant said. "We're on the enemy side of the July 14 Bridge..."
"Hmm," I thought to myself, "...he's referring to Baghdad outside the walls of the U.S. compound."...
- [You thought we were exaggerating by blaming B-schools for the market-shrinking downsizing reflex of today's CEOs? -]
You forgot to mention 'Union-Busting 101', letter to editor by Prof. Michael Wesson of Mgmt Dept of Mays Business School at Texas A&M University, WSJ, A11.
...Although I would like to think that most of us try to present objective labor views, there is no doubt that most management professors take a decidedly "pro-employer" stance on labor issues....
['Lao Phil' once said (& frequently repeated), "There's no such thing as objectivity; there's only specifiably extended subjectivity."]
Although we don't officially teach "Union-Busting 101," many management programs probably come close. ...Generally, the influence and power of labor schools at universities has dwindled with the rise of the modern business school. So while "labor studies undeviatingly promote the interests of a tiny[?] constituency: the union" [quoted from "Picketing 101," editorial page, Aug.13], it's not like the other side isn't being presented somewhere....
[And if employee interests are those of a tiny constituency, then employer interests must be those of a microscopic constituency - that, in an age of global labor glut, by far and away has all the money and power.]
8/18/2003 surfin' those headlines from hell -
- Hong Kong: Unemployment rises [by 17,400 to 8.7% May-July], by Keith Bradsher, NYT, W1.
...The increase...would have been greater had 8,500 people not left the job market [ie: the workforce figure in the denominator] during the period, possibly after becoming discouraged by their bleak prospects....
- Hong Kong confirmed, pointer blurb (to A7), WSJ, front page.
...it is studying the introduction of a sales tax....
[Oh nooo. Funny how CEOs, who claim to hate taxes and love sales, turn around and discourage sales with sales taxes.]
- Hispanic immigrants, pointer blurb (to A2), WSJ, front page.
...are weighing down the wages of [US] workers in a range of blue-collar jobs....
[and the indicated article -]
Hispanic newcomers skew wages - Study calls for more rules in workplace and amnesty for illegal immigrants, by Eduardo Porter, WSJ, A2.
[In short, GREAT! Open the doors wider, forget enforcement - lets get lower US wages! Third World here we come!]
...There are more than 10 million Hispanic immigrants working in the US. About an additional 400,000, most of them poor and low-skilled [and illegal?], arrive each year, sucked in[?] by a labor market market hungry for their services [ie: for their desperate near-slavery]. These new immigrants have concentrated in..."brown collar" jobs, ranging from construction to gardening to washing dishes, in such metro areas as L.A., NYC and Chicago. The new immigrant males...those [who] have been in the US for less than 5 years, never make up more than 5% of the total laborforce in any metro area...but in some cities they represent as much as 29% in a specific employment category, like janitors and roofers.
Previous studies have found these newcomers make much less money than native workers. But these studies also have generally concluded the presence of immigrants have had little impact on the wage levels of the native born....
The new research..\..by Lisa Catanzarite, a sociologist at UCLA...comparing 1990 census data from 38 metro areas with high concentrations of recent immigrants - finds a big impact on nonimmigrant workers.
[Can't trust cheerleading economists to do this, or "everything's fine!" men. Takes a sociologist, a woman, to tell us the truth.]
When many new Latino immigrants work in a given occupation, the job will pay less than others that require similar skills but employ fewer recent arrivals, the study says. ...Ms. Catanarite says...immigrant workers are willing to work for less money and are less likely to defend their rights in the workplace, which drag down wages of all workers in the industry. What's more...the natives who suffer most from the wage penalty are other minorities. \Thus\ Hispanic immigrants piling into the labor market are weighing down the wages of all workers in a broad range of blue-collar occupations in big cities across the country, according to [her] study....
Occupations in which new Hispanic immigrants account for a quarter of the workforce pay as much as 11% less than those where there are no new Latino immigrant men. Toward the lower end of the wage ladder, where average annual earnings are about $21,600,
Ms. Catanzarite notes that some industries...such as textile production...might not even exist in the U.S. if it weren't for cheap immigrant labor....
- jobs in which new Hispanic immigrant men account for [only] 10% of the labor force pay [only] $950 less per year than similar jobs with no new Latino arrivals.
- Where new Latino male immigrants account for a quarter [25%] of the labor pool, the wage penalty is almost $2,400 [and] the penalty for white native workers is about $200 lower...but...almost $2900 less \for\ nonwhites. "It is earlier-immigrant Latinos who take the hardest hit," she said. ...In addition, the sociologist says the payoff from education is lower in the fields with big concentrations of new immigrants from Latin America....
[So we justify makework (despite inherent inefficiency = low productivity) by joblessness, then we turn around and justify deepening joblessness (via uncontrolled immigration) by makework - at the industry level? Brilliant.]
[Followup, showing how self-destructive our labor movement is -]
Labor urges amnesty for undocumented workers, by Diane Lewis, 9/11/2003 Boston Globe, E1.
Aware of the growing importance of immigrants to their dwindling ranks,
[how about the growing depression of their wages by inflooding immigrants?!]
labor unions are demanding amnesty for 10 million undocumented workers, and they're taking their message on the road.
The AFL-CIO, a federation of 60 unions, has joined with clergy and immigration rights groups in launching a cross-country push to build support for undocumented immigrants. Labor specialists said the effort, called the Immigrant Workers' Freedom Ride, is meant to evoke the Freedom Ride buses of the civil rights movement.
Sponsors hope to raise $2m for buses, food, and lodging for several thousand immigrant workers and supporters from nine cities, including Boston. The riders will stop in 90 cities during their trips starting Sept. 28, before converging in New York next month for a rally expected to draw about 150,000 people. Some participants will stop in...DC to lobby Congress for more flexible immigration laws.
[The only more flexible immigration laws we could have than we already have would be NO immigration laws, or possibly paying the travel costs for anybody and everybody to get here, as Australia used to do when they felt underpopulated. Aside from the shortsighted desire of unions for more members, reminiscent of the Democrats' shortsighted escalation of our immigration rates in the 1990s to get more, grateful Democratic voters, what is the theory or motive behind this kind of thing? Roy Beck in his 1998 video, *Immigration by the numbers, articulates two well-intentioned motives: (1) to rescue poor people and (2) to provide a population safety valve to prevent poor countries from having a population explosion. He then goes on to demonstrate that our escalation from avg. 170,000 immigrants a year during our "golden age of immigration," 1925-65, and even from our avg. 500,000 a year during 1965-90, to avg. 800,000 a year during 1990-98 (God knows what it's up to now) has had no perceptible effect on deepening Third World poverty and onrushing population explosion. We can keep jeopardizing our ecology and social fabric by taking in a million a year, and the birthrate in the Third World will still drown that dent with millions more, especially now that these morons who call themselves 'conservatives' occupy the White House and squelch birth control help for the Third World, despite the Third World's clamoring need for it. Their problems of poverty and population have to be solved where they originate - in the Third World.
(We can help them better by modeling the minimum-necessary-regulation type of population policy and homeostatic full employment based on the Timesizing-style worksharing that they need so badly.)
Meanwhile, the warning to us is, for example, how India drowned its decent 5% growthrate of the 1920s with uncontrolled and exponentially increasing population growth - and then sank back into permanent poverty. Now we're doing the same thing.]
8/15/2003 surfin' those headlines from hell -
- Corporate insiders send ominous signal, pointer blurb (to C1), WSJ, front page.
Stock sales by executives have picked up to a level last seen 3 years ago, before a sharp market decline.
[And the indicated exposé -]
Insiders' moves in face of rally spark concern - Company executives are selling and buying has fallen sharply; Tech-sector options play a role - Insiders aren't buying into rally, by Peter McKay, WSJ, C1 & C3.
- If current recovery loses steam, economy may face real trouble - Economy is at do-or-die point, by Greg Ip, WSJ, front page & A2.
["IF it loses steam"? What steam?]
...The real challenge stretches into the next year: When the adrenaline rush of lower interest rates and big tax cuts ebbs, will the expansion have gained enough momentum to continue? Or will it fade, as earlier, stimulus-stoked expansions did in 2002 and again earlier this year?
...If growth does fade, watch out: Economic policy makers already have used up much of their monetary and fiscal ammunition.
[Which is superficial anyway. So they've used up all their bandaids. Well, well. So now, when the cooked-rosy figures they've been passing off as 'growth' do fade, policymakers will be finally forced to quit squirming around in the surface structure of the economy and look into the deep structure for a change. There they'll see they've been acting like utopians, assuming no one would want more than his share, and obsessing over whether it should be delivered by limousine or zeppelin. They'll be cornered into quitting the growth excuse for greed, forced to quit snapping at the poor, "You got a pittance more this year than last year so SHADDAP!" and start snapping at the poor little rich boys, "Ah, excuse me, you guys are vacuuming the markets away from your own investments!" And the easiest dimension to balance and dare we say, redistribute, is work. Vanishing human work. The most precious vanishing resource of any modern nation - at least until we implement automatic worksharing systems like Timesizing.]
- [and a final billet-doux from the 'conservative' Journal -]
Ahead of the tape...- Keeping cool, by Jesse Eisinger, WSJ, C1.
Controlling panic is one investor instinct that has had no chance to atrophy over the past several years....
8/14/2003 surfin' those headlines from hell -
- Experts agree: Failure reveals creaky system ('a third-world electrical grid'), NYT, A18.
[Looks like one key part of the USA has already sunk to third-world levels.]
- Twilight zone economics 101 - ['Recovery' =] Things getting worse more slowly, op ed by Paul Krugman, NYT, A29.
[And as the old management warning goes, if the frog jumps in boiling water, it immediately jumps out and saves itself. But if it jumps into warm water that slowly comes to a boil, it never notices the danger till it's dead.]
...About those unemployment claims: somehow that 400,000-per-week benchmark has acquired a lot more signficance...than it deserves. ...Claims came in at 398,000 yesterday and this was treated as good news because it was (barely) below the magic number. Well, here's some perspective.... In 2000, a year of good but not great employment growth, weekly claims averaged [only] 305,000. [In contrast,] since Nov/2001..\..which the National Bureau of Economic Research, in a controversial decision, has declared the end of the recession...new claims have averaged 414,000 per week.
..\..Nonfarm payrolls have fallen by, on average, 50,000 [jobs] per month since the "recovery" began [in Nov/2001]. Just to keep up with population growth, the U.S. needs to add about 110,000 jobs per month....
[Note that Floyd Norris is still singing the job-growth song on page C1 today. The swamping of job growth by population growth is typical 3rd-world M.O. For instance, India had decent 5% growth throughout the 1920s but its even higher population growth drowned its economic growth and consigned it to the Third World. Now the US is doing it, instead of worksharing and sane population policies. Such policies today, even those of conservatives, are spun as anti-immigrant, even in the 'conservative' Journal -]
Anti-immigrant baggage follows [former Gov. Pete] Wilson to Schwarzenegger camp, by Jeanne Cummings, WSJ, A4.
[And what "anti-immigrant" baggage is that, may we ask?]
...pursuing get-tough policies ranging from cutting off state benefits to illegal immigrants to ending bilingual education....
[Never mind that Schwarzenegger himself is an immigrant - but not the right kind -]
While popular with angry [how about just realistic] white [and black and non-Hispanic-legal-immigrant?!] voters, the effort drove Hispanic voters into the arms of the Democrats.... No Republican has won a statewide office in California since Mr. Wilson's 1994 re-election....
[What a Hobson's choice - another Republican state governor to support Bush's endless $4B/wk federal military spending on bogus hysteria, or a Democratic state governor who gives Latin America a blank check on state taxpayers. Oh well, eventually Hispanic voters themselves will wake up to the need for drawing a line - or will they, considering their failure to do so in so many LatAm countries - else why would they be moving here?]
- [and in better-than-us/US-but-still-time-blind Europe -]
Data show recessions in Germany and Italy (econs #3 & 6 by GDP), by Eric Pfanner, NYT, W1.
8/09-11/2003 surfin' those headlines from hell -
- Not selling, not earning, column by Jesse Eisinger, WSJ, C1.
A battery of Wall Street reports have come out in the past several days debunking the notion that sales and earnings were notably strong in the second quarter, [which] were, in fact, weak. They were inflated by the falling dollar, a boost that has nothing to do with management skill or increased demand.
[Compare the way recent unemployment figures looked rosier merely because so many depressed people gave up jobseeking - which would cause no reduction in the figures if unemployment was properly defined.]
Companies continue to cost-cut their way to profits.... Wall Street is still playing the game of lowering the bar so that companies may glide over it easily....
[In fact, as labor surplus enters its third decade ever deepening, management skills get worse and worse (when employees are insecure and layoffees desperate, what employer needs good management skills?), demand decreases more and more, and Wall Street's standards get lower and lower - ergo, the historically unprecedented P/E ratios.]
- [another pretext exploded -]
Democracy might be impossible, US [ie: Cheney/Bush] was told, by Bryan Bender, Boston Globe, front page.
WASHINGTON - US intelligence officials cautioned the National Security Council before the Iraq war that the American plan to build democracy on the ashes of Saddam Hussein's regime...was so audacious that, in the words of one CIA report in March, it could ultimately prove "impossible."... The intelligence community's doubts were fully aired to top Bush administration officials in the months before the war in multiple classified reports....
[But "fools rush in."]
The CIA's March report concluded that Iraqi society and history showed little evidence to support the creation of democratic institutions, going so far as to say its prospects for democracy could be "impossible," according to intelligence officials who have seen it. The assessment was based on Iraq's history of repression and war; clan, tribal and religious conflict; and its lack of experience as a viable country prior to its arbitrary creation as a monarchy by British colonialists after World War I.
[Iraq is centuries behind Europe and North America in social evolution. It's not just a different geography, it's a different, earlier evolutionary stage. See our Football of Time.]
The State Dept. came to the same conclusion. "Liberal democracy would be difficult to achieve in Iraq," said a March State Dept. report, first reported by the L.A.Times. "Electoral democracy, were it to emerge, could well be subject to exploitation by anti-American elements."...
[Sort of the way electoral democracy in the U.S.A. itself was subject to exploitation by un-American elements in Y2000? And democracy or no democracy for Iraq, Cheney and Bush had made up their minds to invade Iraq long March, as this letter realizes -]
Making war plans, letter to editor by Charles S. Clark of Arlington VA, NYT, A22.
Re "U.S. moved to undermine Iraqi military before war" (front page, Aug.10):
It is now obvious that pResident Bush wasn't telling the truth when he said repeatedly between September and March that he had not yet made a decision to go to war.
[So the decision must have rested on something else, and bogus dreams of democracy, bogus WMDs, bogus links to Al Qaeda, crocodile tears for Saddam victims - all that must just have been cover. And yet, certain spineless wonders among the Dems continue to attack other Dems instead of Bush - could they have received certain promises from certain people? -]
Kerry, Dean and Iraq, letter to editor by Brian David Clark of White Hall MD, NYT, A22.
I found it kind of odd that..."As campaign tightens, Kerry sharpens message" (front page, Aug.10) \in terms of describing\ Howard Dean's position on the war as "all over the place."...
Dr. Dean consistently opposed the war because he felt that the pResident had not proved that Iraq was an imminent threat to us, and he now feels that we need to bring in international troops to stabilize the occupation and bring some American troops home. To me, that seems fairly simple...in contrast to Mr. Kerry's position: he supported the war last year but now claims that he was "misled" by the pResident.
[Pretty easily "misled," it seems. "Misled" by certain promises from certain people? Certainly, too easily "misled" to vote for, in either case.]
8/8/2003 surfin' those headlines from hell -
- 8/09 Deficit projected at $401 billion [not $455B], by Edmund Andrews, NYT, A7.
["Phew, what a relief!" says colleague Kate. "Well, I'm glad that's off my mind!"]
...Still, the agency's estimate would be more than twice as much red ink as in 2002, and a large reversal from the government's $127 billion surplus in 2001....
["The agency" being the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office.]
- [there goes our financial security - thanks a bill', Dubya - how about our job security? -]
8/10 Declaring war on corporate greed, letter to editor by...Gary Voudrie of NYC, NYT, A10.
As I was reading Bob Herbert's Aug. 7 column, "Despair of the jobless," I was reminded how far I have fallen from the ranks of the Americans who are getting ahead. Three years ago (when Bill Clinton was president) my life was great. I was makikng $100,000-plus a year in a job with great benefits, and my financial - and personal - future looked rosy.
Then along came pResident Bush and his voodoo economics. I was laid off in a companywide cut, and I was unemployed for almost 18 months. I had to sell my condo and use all my savings and 401k money just to survive. I am now working in the same type of position making $40,000 a year [40% of previous] with no benefits, including no health insurance. Please count me in among the millions of Americans who are living in middle-class poverty and despair - and I am angry. I am looking forward to Election Day in 2004!
- [so much for our financial & job security with Bush Jr. - how about our nuclear security? -]
8/10 Bush and nuclear arms, letter to editor by Boston cofounder Dr. Eric Chivian of Physicians for Prevention of Nuclear War, NYT, A10.
Re "Facing a second nuclear age" (Week in Review, Aug.31):
pResident Bush and his advisers send a dangerous message to "rogue states" and terrorists everywhere - that the road to world power [or even just to no-U.S.-invasion!] lies in possessing these weapons.
- By invading Iraq, which they knew did not have nuclear weapons,
- and treating North Korea with kid gloves, because they knew it did,
- and now by planning to develop a new class of battlefield nuclear weapons,
A generation of physicians has warned that nuclear weapons result in such enormous and long-lasting devastation for human populations that they cannot be used in warfare. By ignoring their warnings, much as it continues to ignore the warnings of the...scientific community about global warming, the Bush administration is leading us all down paths of greater and greater peril.
- [here's a rather elegant summary -]
8/09 Security paradox, letter to editor by Amy Richards of Pasadena, NYT, A22.
Re "Shortchanging security" (editorial, Aug. 6):
Tell me again why George W. Bush and the Republican Party have the trust of the American people in the war on terrorism?
- The Taliban are resurgent in Afghanistan,
- Osama bin Laden is still at large,
- Al Qaeda is still planning and carrying out attacks,
- and yet Congress is underfinancing the Dept. of Homeland Security [and cutting Iraq veterans' benefits].
- Meanwhile the Bush administration is spending almost $1 billion a week [of taxpayers' money] in Iraq, whose weapons of mass destruction have yet to be found [5 months after the unprovoked invasion they 'necessitated'] and whose link to 9/11/01 and terrorism appears to be nonexistent.
[Oops, here a racier one from the Globe -]
8/09 Bush's great American farce, letter to ed by James Harrington of Nantucket MA, Boston Globe, A10.
Once upon a time in America two presidents in succession were caught with their fig leaf at half-mast. One suffered from an over-active libido, the other from irritating vowel syndrome. The first lied under oath, and the second broke the pledge he took at this inauguration. The second [also] -
Do we need George W. Bush for anything else after 2004?
- covered up a government meltdown coupled to the 9/11 attacks [huh? - he engineered the government meltdown - or at least fronted it for Cheney]
- and deceived Congress, America, and Iraq. [no argument]
- He created the great American farce, divided our nation into patriots and those who disagree with [himself],
- and alienated half the world.
- He started a war,
- broke the bank, [or at least the budget and the national credit]
- and drove a stake through the heart of the American economy [see preceding story]
- [Oh absolutely! We 'need' him for further wobbling our Constitutional balance of powers, another 'triumph' of the Bush administration -]
8/10 Blacklisting judges, editorial, NYT, A10.
The founding fathers, whose brilliant design for the federal government was based on three coequal branches, would be horrified to learn of Attorney General John Ashcroft's latest idea for improving the American justice system. Mr. Ashcroft has ordered federal prosecutors to start collecting information on federal judges who give sentences that are lighter than those suggested by federal guidelines. Critics are right when they say this has the potential to create a "blacklist" of judges who could then be subject to intimidation....
- [And Cheney & Halliburton still 'need' Dubya now his invasion of Iraq has bailed them out of the red - cuz now they 'need' to pile up some serious profits -]
8/09 Companies battle for remaining Iraqi contracts, by Susan Warren, WSJ, A5.
Big engineering and construction companies are still scrambling to compete for a shrinking piece of Iraqi oil-reconstruction work, though they are increasingly frustrated that little will be left for them to handle.... When the Army Corps published a new reconstruction work plan recently, some corporations interpreted it to mean that there would be much less work than hoped..\..
[And zooming in on Halliburton -]
- Fluor Corp. of Aliso Viejo CA
- and Parsons Corp. of Pasadena CA are pressing on for what they see as a chance to establish a foothold for future work inside Iraq.
- Bechtel Group Inc., which already won a $680m contract to rebuild Iraq's nonoil infrastructure [there is one?], is opting not to pursue US sponsored oil work right now, saying it will work with the new Iraqi government.
- Halliburton's unit has been on the ground in Iraq for more than 4 months.... Halliburton initially stood to reap more than $1.14 billion in revenue within the first year, but after its selection drew criticism of political cronyism, the government reopened the work to competition. [Did that make any difference?] VP Dick Cheney led the Houston concern before resigning to run for election....
8/11 For Halliburton, Iraq is a cash cow, letter to ed by Paul Rocklin of Watertown MA, NYT, A16.
Re "Bechtel ends move for work in Iraq, seeing a done deal" (Business Day, Aug. 8):
Yet Halliburton, the company recently headed by VP Dick Cheney, has converted a half-billion-dollar quarterly loss a year ago into a tidy quarterly profit for the same period this year, bolstered by a [Bush-mediated] monopoly on hundreds of millions of dollars in Iraqi rebuilding and oil contracts awarded by the Bush administration.
- American troops in Iraq face almost daily attacks from guerilla insurgents,
- our soldiers continue to die,
- the Iraqi infrastructure deteriorates,
- anti-American hostility among Iraqis is on the rise,
- and the length of the war and its astronomical costs steadily escalate.
The war may be taking a toll on Americans, but at least it's sparking a turnaround at Halliburton.
- [and overthrowing foreign governments is not new to us - and they don't have to be despotisms -]
8/10 Regime change, circa [August] 1953 - How the C.I.A. overthrew Iran's [democratic] government, book review by Warren Bass, NYT, bk revu 13.
[book=] All the Shah's men - An American coup and the roots of Middle East terror, by Stephen Kinzer (John Wiley & Sons: Hoboken NJ, 2003).
...The book's hero is..\..Iran's nationalist prime minister, Mohammed Mossadegh..\.. Operation Ajax [was] the American plot to oust [him] and place the country firmly in the authoritarian hands of Mohammed Reza Shah.... The president who approved the coup [astonishingly enough, was] Dwight Eisenhower....
The NY Times compared [Mossadegh] to Jefferson and Paine..\.. British newspapers likened [him] to Robespierre and Frankenstein's monster [but then] in 1951, to London's fury, Mossadegh [had] led a successful campaign to nationalize..\..the Anglo-Iranian Oil Co. [and driven] the British to close their vital oil refinery at Abadan....
Kinzer shrewdly points out that 1953 helps explain the Islamist revolutionaries' baffling [at the time] decision to take American hostages in 1979 \when\ the despotic Shah fell to Islamist revolutionaries bristling with anti-American sentiment.... Kinzer also notes that the 1953 conspiracy plunged the CIA into the regime-change business, leading to coups in Guatemala, Chile and South Vietnam, as well as to the Bay of Pigs....
Eisenhower...in a March 1953 National Security Council meeting, wondered why we can't "get some of the people in these downtrodden countries to like us instead of hating us."...
- 8/10 An investor whose great-great-grandfather [Ferdinand] supervised con[s]truction of the Suez Canal has his own grand project: ending poverty and terrorism via investment or loans, pointer summary (to 3:4), NYT, 3:1.
A path to helping the poor, and his investors, by Harry Hurt III, NYT, 3:4.
'The typical NY billionaire is always asking me the same question," Alexandre de Lesseps says. " 'Why do you want to lend money to poor people?' " Mr. de Lesseps...an international businessman whose great-great-grandfather developed the idea for the Suez Canal, has a ready answer. "The only way to solve the problems of poverty and terrorism in the world today," he said, "is through investment."...
[But de Lesseps falls into Chesterton's pan-utopian trap, because investment maintains, and does not change, the astronomical imbalance in sharing. So it is a no op. Sports leagues, to stay sustainable, reset 'games won' to zero for every team at the start of every season. There is as yet no such reset in economics, not even a dynamic, democratic and market-oriented one as designed into the Timesizing program, in Phase 4 for example. Investors want to think it's all about them. Nope. Last we checked it's still about smoothly functioning market, a balance of supply and demand, a matching of producers and consumers. An economy is based upon its consumer base (2/3 of the U.S. GDP), whose effective demand is supplied by its producer- or production-base.]
8/07/2003 surfin' those headlines from hell -
- Italy slips into 1st recession in 11 years, AP via Boston Globe, D2.
[But then, they must define them even more narrowly than we do.]
Italy slipped into recession in Q2 for the first time in more than a decade, a survey of economists showed, as the euro's gain hurt exporters and consumer confidence plunged. The first report on Q2 GDP among the 12 euro nations will show Europe's 4th-biggest economy [after Germany, UK, France] shrank 0.1%, the same rate of contraction as the previous 3 months, according to the median estimate of 11 economists....
8/06/2003 surfin' those headlines from hell -
- Economic scene - Regardless of the progress of a few, many nations still face economic despair, by Jeff Madrick, NYT, C2.
...Even if the optimists are right, a little less inequality and modest poverty reduction hardly matter in a world where 1.2B people live on less than what $1 a day will buy in America. And 2.8B live on less than $2.
...The recently released Human Development Report 2003 of the UN Development Program...takes a broader perspective than do other international groups, like the World Bank and the IMF. Its finest achievement has been the Human Development Index, which has steered analysis of a nation's standard of living away from sole reliance on per capita GDP
[good, this is going in the direction of the John Cobb's ISEW]
to include measures of education and health.
The agency has added other formal indexes to measure gender equality, gender empowerment and poverty....
[huh huh duh - the first two are not a Human Development Index, they're American cultural imperialism with PC (politically correct), advanced-economy buzzwords. Not even classical Greece got them "correct." According to the PBS special on Sparta Wed. eve, HC (historically correct) Athens kept women down while the only place in Greece that granted them "gender equality" and "gender empowerment" was Sparta, with its mandatory homosexuality and teenage death squads. What should the UN be worrying about? Well John Cobb had a couple of good suggestions in his Index of Sustainable Economic Welfare (ISEW) at the end of Herman Daly's 1989 opus, For the Common Good, little things like income distribution and deductions for pollution and resource depletion. But the problem with all these first drafts of replacements for the GDP is their failure to recognize that the world is not just different geographic zones but different time frames. People are scattered all the way back along the course of social evolution. We are not all on the "same page" because we are not even all in the same century. We discuss this challenge in The Football of Time. We theorize that a country cannot, without serious complications, help another country that is more than one era away from it on the evolutionary timeline, except by modeling its own next stage in social evolution and thereby clarifying the overall process. So most "foreign aid" is a very mixed blessing, on the downside both disruptive and unbalancing. Basically we spell out the thinking behind Star Trek's Prime Directive ("no interference with alien civilizations!"), which originally was just a matter of intuition on Gene Roddenberry's (?) part. The large developed nations have enough of an internal clash of timeframes to deal with, and this kind of clash penetrates right down in the scale continuum into many individual citizens in developed nations.]
- Before the Depression, economic indicators forecast rosy future, by *Cynthia Crossen, WSJ, B1.
[Good article, but organization needs some untangling -]
...With so much data giving such mixed signals [today], it's not surprising that many economists are waffling about the state of the U.S. economy..\..
But imagine the challenge of forecasting the future in the 1920s, before computers, econometric models and time-series analyses. There wasn't even a standard measure of GDP until the 1930s. Other measures, such as unemployment rates, were often estimates based on scattered information from states or cities using different methodology. There were no consumer-confidence readings. "They had a lot of information, but it was incomplete and a lot noisier," says Robert Whaples, assoc. prof. of economics at Wake Forest University, Winston-Salem NC. "There weren't the grand statistics we have today. They had lots of strands, but they had to put them together themselves."
- ...The budget deficit is up, which is bad, but interest rates are down, which is good..\..
- Consumer confidence [and] producer prices are down , \but\ GDP is up.
- Unemployment is relatively high, [but so are] sales of new homes....
Even [in the summer of 1929 and even] after the stock market crashed in October 1929, most of the country's leading economists, using the data available, couldn't predict the Great Depression....
Mr. Fisher's reputation took a beating for this faulty optimism, but the statistics of the time suggested he had plenty of reasons for confidence.
- "On the whole"..\..B.C. Forbes, founder of Forbes magazine...wrote in July 1929, "the United States rarely has entered the second half of any year better circumstanced"..\..
- "The year 1930, as a whole, should prove at least a fairly good year," announced the Harvard Economic Service in Dec/1929.
- The following month, Irving Fisher, a respected Yale University economist, agreed with Harvard's forecast. "While prediction is always hazardous in economic statistics," he noted, "and I wish to avoid making any definite predictions, it would not be surprising if by next month the worst of the recession will have been felt, and improvement looked for."
From 1922 through 1928, real earnings rose 22% and corporate profits jumped 62%. Federal income taxes had been drastically cut, from a top rate of 77% to 46%.
- In 1929, car loadings - goods shipped by train, as most were at the time - were breaking records.
- The steel industry was experiencing "phenomenal activity," according to B.C. Forbes, founder of Forbes magazine.
- Consumer prices were stable
- and good wages for the masses, formerly considered likely to sap the moral stamina of workers [as they had of the rich?], were now embraced by employers [but only because of the labor scarcity of the Great War and the flu epidemic of 1918-19! (see mortality notes in 11/29-12/01/2003 #6)].
- Inventories were light.
- People were using the new system of installment credit to snap up cars, radios, appliances and fur coats.
- Many homes were being wired for electricity, and utility companies flourished.
- Unemployment was estimated to be just over 3%.
[Compare the Bush taxcuts.]
People began to speak of the 1920s economy as a New Era, free of boom and bust cycles, and promising continuous prosperity.
[Compare the "New Economy" of the late 1990s.]
"Business cycles have not been 'ironed out' in the United States," wrote Wesley Mitchell, a Columbia University professor of economics in May 1929. "But the amplitude of cyclical fluctuations has been reduced."
Around the country, business executives were bullish. "I have just returned from a trip over all our lines," said Carl Gray, president of the Union Pacific Railroad in July 1929, "and the general feeling among bankers, lumbermen and other businessmen is optimistic as to the business outlook."
The same month, P.D. Saylor, president of Canada Dry Ginger Ale, said, "The outlook for the balance of the year is excellent."
There were a few troubling signs:
But on the whole, the mood was upbeat. Pessimism was considered unpatriotic. When Paul Warburg of the International Acceptance Bank suggested a collapse of the stock market could cause a national depression, a Wall Street spokesman accused him of "sandbagging American prosperity."
- Farmers' prices had been falling while their costs remained the same.
- The stock market had soared...and much of its rise was financed by borrowed money.
- ...Some federal reserve banks started raising interest rates.
- ...Only 20% of Americans had any savings.
Even when the stock market began collapsing in late 1929, economic prognosticators insisted that the severest stock-market panic in history would result in only a mild business depression - as different from the 1920-21 recession as "a thunder shower and a tornado," Mr. Fisher said. In hindsight, the forecasters of the 1920s seem blinded by their own hopefulness. ...A 1988 article in the American Business Review analyzed the data available to economists in the 1920s and concluded "the Depression was not forecastable."
[Neatly absolving their hopeful, happytalking, cheerleading, boxed-thinking profession - though engineer Arthur Dahlberg forecasted the Depression in 1927 in his Utopia Through Capitalism.]
That's what Business Week assumed in September 1929: "Though this market may be due for a disastrous debacle," the magazine editorialized, "we doubt whether all the gypsies in the Bronx, the Oracle of Delphi or all the slide rules of the American Statistical Assoc. can tell whether, or when."
..\..Without the kinds of statistics [we have today,] painstakingly developed and tested over time, they were [unfortunately] grasping at straws....
[And even with the kinds of statistics we have, painstakingly developed and tested over time, we are grasping at straws because we are still blinded by our own optimism, hopefulness, happytalk, cheerleading, and in-the-box thinking.]
For earlier collapse stories, click on the desired date -
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.
Questions? Comments? email email@example.com).