DoomwatchTM vs. Timesizing®

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


10/30/2003  surfin' those headlines from hell -
  1. [hope ahead for "if Saint James Bible was good enough for Jesus" Americans? - not at this rate -]
    Schools say 'adieu' to foreign languages, as districts cut classes..., WSJ, D1.
    [Something to think about for those who view the Iraq invasion as a great new sign of American engagement as opposed to isolationism.]

  2. [buried in one column inch on inside pages -]
    Briefly: news squib, WSJ, A12.
    Finland has the world's most competitive economy, according to a study released by the Geneva-based World Economic Forum. The Scandinavian country knocked the U.S. from the top spot into second, in part due to the deteriorating public finances in the U.S., the report said.
    [Thank you sooo much, pResident Bush, VP Cheney, and the rest of you neo-cons. The decline and fall of the as-recently-as-3-years-ago still-Most-Competitive United States of America begins.]

10/29/2003  surfin' those headlines from hell - 10/28/2003  surfin' those headlines from hell -
  1. Republicans supply an economic trap for the Democrats, by Alan Murray, WSJ, A4.
    WASHINGTON - ...Supply-side economics has always been as much about politics as economics. 25 years ago, Jude Wanniski, a former editorial writer for the WSJ and self-appointed high priest for the supply-side movement, dubbed it the "Two Santa Claus" theory. He argued Democrats were winning elections by playing Santa with government-spending programs, while Republicans were losing them by being responsible and focusing on deficits. The solution, he said, was for the Republican Party to abandon the green eye shades [i.e., fiscal responsibility] and become the Santa Claus of tax cuts. And so it has....
    [So democracy itself has become a "race to the bottom," a competition in terms of "which side can be more irresponsible." The new motto is, "The buck (ie: bill) doesn't stop here." And the old result is, bad policies drive out good. (The "trap" mentioned to in the headline refers to the Dems getting drawn into championing election-losing fiscal responsibility, but they could put up their donkey in 2004 and we'd still vote for it.)]

  2. The SEC accused Kenneth Lay, pointer summary (to C9), WSJ, front page.
    ...of twisting the law by refusing to produce documents in connection with Enron accounting.
    [Guess who he learned that from - or was it v.v.?]

  3. [so, while Bush & Lay protect any information they want, they expect ordinary Americans to strip naked -]
    Privacy concerns, pointer summary (to D2), WSJ, D1.
    Americans don't believe the Dept. of Homeland Security can be trusted to protect personal data, a study [by the Ponemon Institute of Tucson] indicates.

10/25-27/2003  surfin' those headlines from hell -
  1. 10/25   Congress looks poised to push, pointer blurb (to A2), WSJ, front page.
    ...to let more high-tech foreign workers into the U.S. despite complaints that Americans need the jobs.
    [Dumb and dumber. Wonder if the partyline economists drag out the old "Lump of Labor Fallacy" sneer for people who object to these Third-World-spreading H-1B "temporary" (ha!) visas, or what about for people who object to outsourcing? Here's the main article -]
    U.S. may ease entry for high-tech workers [like we don't have 10,000s of downsized hitech Americans who will otherwise cost us taxpayers one way or another?] - Senators seek to circumvent cap on temporary visas amid corporate pressure, by Michael Schroeder, WSJ, A2.
    [This is just a push for more numerous, lower-paid, and higher-skilled workers right here in the USA, never mind what that does to domestic wage levels and domestic consumer demand which, despite the spindoctoring, is already flat or we wouldn't be hearing ANY talk about sagging prices alias "deflation." It's time corporate leaders smartened up a bit...OK, a LOT. And so, who's the Big Stupid in congress?]
    ...Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch (R, Utah) is pushing a plan to circumvent the 65,000 cap on so-called H-1B temporary worker visas by expanding exemptions, according to Senat aides familiar with the discussions....
    In addition, immigration lawyers, officials and technology trade groups from India, and major U.S. tech companies are pushing to raise the annual visa limit to more than 100,000....
    [This, when our replacement immigration level is only 200,000 and we're already letting in over a million immigrants, legal and illegal, per year. And you don't want to think about the intensifying pressures on water supplies in the south and southwest, acid rain, ozone depletion, farmland depletion, forest depletion, fishery depletion.... Wakey, wakey, everybody! Especially economists like Paul Krugman who should know better than to assume anything's infinite, least of all our job markets.]

  2. [CEOs' grabbiness really got going in the 'Me Decade' of the 1980s - now 'The REST of the Story' -]
    10/26   Greed is not good - How the US economy went from boom to gloom during one dizzying decade, book review by Prof. Robert (Lord) Skidelsky of Britain's Warwick University of Joseph Stiglitz's "The Roaring Nineties: A New History of the World's ‘Most Prosperous’ Decade" [our quotes], Boston Globe, D8.
    [A cursory glance indicates that neither Stiglitz nor Skidelsky has connected the dots between downsizing employees and deflation-evidenced downsized consumer markets, nor have they focused much on downsizing and the consequent stifling concentration of national income and wealth. However -]
    Stiglitz's main attack is directed against the deregulation mania that swept through the U.S. in the 80s and 90s. [Wonderful! We have never seen these all gathered together and compared like this!]
    All in all it is a sorry tale, in which the retreat of the state from social protection [AND consumer-markets support!] made it more difficult to shield people from the consequences of collapse, even as business deregulation made collapse more likely....
    [And the Bush administration has accelerated the deterioration ten-, maybe a hundred-fold. Our "leaders" could not be destroying the American economy better if they were doing it on purpose. And it started under the Democrats, not only in terms of the dates mentioned above that are during the Clinton years, 1993-2000, but say, 1963, when Democratic Pres. JFK started dismantling the money-centrifuging graduated income tax, or in 1965, when Democratic Pres. LBJ started doubling the immigration rate (to 500,000 a year, 1965-1990), which had averaged an absorbable 178,000 a year from 1935 to 1965 (replacement is roughly 200,000/year - all figures from video "Immigration by the Numbers," 1998). At this rate, the rest of the world won't have to worry about "America the Last Superpower" much longer.]

  3. [and just to "pound the nail in the coffin" -]
    10/26   Countering Bush's foreign policy, letter to editor by Susan Griffiths of Cambridge MA, Boston Globe, D10.
    ...If allowed to continue, this administration could mark the beginning of the downfall of the United States.... Someone please stand up and make us proud to be American \by\ point[ing] out the deceptions, dangers and ramifications....

10/23/2003  surfin' those headlines from hell -
  1. Big man on campuses [note the "-pus-"], by Jonathan Marino, NYT, A22.
    pResident Bush's approval rating among college students is as high now, 61%, as it was in April, according to a new survey released by the Harvard University Institute of Politics.
    [= the re-elitification of colleges in America + their general dumbing-down, led by Harvard's grade-inflation?]
    The pResident's overall approval rating has declined by more than 20% during the same period [to 49%]. Still, more college students say they consider themselves Republican than Democrat....
    [We're in trouble when the general public is smarter than college students - or maybe it always was?]
    Students who classified themselves as independents outnumbered those in either party.
    [That's good, but worth nothing if they default into the smiling teeth of the current lying and corrupt adminstration.]
    The Harvard survey, a nationwide telephone poll of 1,202 students, has a margin of sampling error of +/-2%.
    [We suspect that the margin of error is probably ten times that.]

  2. The U.S. household debt burden, pointer blurb (to A2), WSJ, front page.
    ...may be higher than reported [currently 13.3% of after-tax income, up more than 2% since 1993], with low-income renters hit hard.
    [And as the indicated article points out -]
    The higher the burden, the less money consumers have left to spend on goods and services....
    [and the sooner our consumer demand will tank, taking with it all the teeth-clenched happytalk about "recovery" - regardless of job loss.]

  3. Illegal immigration, pointer blurb (to A4), WSJ, front page.
    ...has skewed the apportionment of congressional seats in favor of states such as California, a study [by the Center for Immigration Studies, DC] contends.
    [No wonder some in California want to give illegals driving licenses and even let them vote. Might as well repeal our immigration laws and, hey hey, pay their way! - never mind yelps from the green sneakers about water shortages (see today, 10/23/2003 #3) and other ecological 'trivia'.]

10/21/2003  surfin' those headlines from hell -
  1. The U.S. budget deficit more than doubled, pointer blurb (to A4), front page.
    ...to $374 billion in fiscal 2003 and is on track to exceed $600B in the current year.

  2. [Sept. leading] indicators fall for first time in 6 months, NYT, C10.
    [Notice this is buried on page C10. Stay tuned till Hallowe'en when an up estimate of third-quarter GDP gets splashed all over every U.S. front page, thanks to the Bush administration. The big bad news is whispered while the bitsiest good news is shouted from the housetops.]

  3. [leading us to the next page which hints at what is probably the ultimate Bush solution -]
    Stimulant expansion, NYT, C11.
    The FDA has tentatively agreed to expand the approved uses of Cephalon's stimulant, Provigil....

  4. [but we're winning the war on terrorism, right? - well, aah -]
    Air-security personnel, pointer blurb (to D3), WSJ, front page.
    ...took nearly five weeks to find box cutters and other suspicious items a student hid in lavatories on jetliners.

  5. [anyway, the environment is OK, right? - wrong -]
    France: Scientists warn on cod, by Craig Smith, NYT, C6.
    Overfished cod are "near commercial extinction" in northern European waters, [warned] the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea, which advises governments on fishing policy. "...We have to resort to recommending zero catches...." The EU ignored similar advice from the Council last year, resorting to tighter quotas and a shortened fishing season instead of a blanket moratorium that would throw thousands of people out of work....
    [It all comes back to jobs - and the only sustainable arrangement is...automatic fluctuation of the workweek against un(der)employment, alias Timesizing.]

10/18-20/2003  surfin' those headlines from hell -
  1. 10/20 Factory jobs are disappearing world-wide due to gains in technology and excess capacity [= fewer consumers], pointer blurb (to A2), WSJ, front page [don't they mean "ALL jobs"?!].
    ...A study found from 1995 to 2002, over 11% of the jobs [in USA] were eliminated.
    [And the indicated article -]
    10/20 Factory employment is falling world-wide - Study [by economists at Alliance Capital Management LP in New York] of 20 big economies finds 22 million jobs lost; Even China shows decline, by Jon Hilsenrath & Rebecca Buckman, WSJ, A2.
    ...From Brazil to Russia and yes, even to China, manufacturing jobs are disappearing around the globe.... Contrary to conventional U.S. beliefs, the research found that American manufacturing workers weren't the biggest losers....
    [So much for the 17th-18th century line the political right is currently pushing in Germany and France that higher labor wages and standards need "reform" (ie: lowering) to be "competitive" because you need to "work hard to get ahead," never mind "work smart, not hard."]
    "It is part of a global trend that began many years ago" [Carson]..\.. The U.S. lost about 2m mfg jobs in the 1995-2002 period, an 11% drop. But Brazil had a 20% decline. Japan...16%..., China...15%. Joseph Carson, director of economic research at Alliance, says the reasons for the declines are similar across the globe; Gains in technology and competitive pressure have "forced" factories to become more efficient,
    [our quotes - they had always the option of timesizing, not downsizing to retain and grow their domestic markets]
    allowing them to boost output with far fewer workers.
    [Timesizing allows you to boost output with far fewer hours and far more numerous worker-consumers if desired, simply by cutting the worktime per worker more deeply and learning the necessary management skills of constant retraining, scheduling, workload-spreading and shift-suturing skills]
    Indeed, even as manufacturing employment declined, says Mr. Carson, global industrial output rose more than 30%....
    [Now we need a similar study on ALL JOBS, because high tech is also getting automated - as early as 1983 there were companies in Cambridge MA working on software-writing software and by now, that development has gone a lot further. But some short-sighted groups are not going to wake up till their markets are much much weaker -]
    Jerry Jasinowski, president of the National Association of Manufacturers [NAM]...says he doesn't accept the results of the Alliance study. He notes that the job losses in the U.S. in just the past three years have been especially pronounced - matching losses, in percentage terms, that were recorded during the sharp recession of 1982. "I don't think it's terribly relevant to [compare] aggregate employment loss...on a global basis with the U.S. and say, 'Hey, everything is all right,' he said.
    [Boy, has he missed the point! The point is that on our current downsizing course, we're in a lot deeper trouble than we thought, because there's nowhere else in the world that's going to bail us out - unless you count Canada, Mexico and Spain, which alone experienced factory-job growth during the period.]
    Glenn Hubbard, who resigned as chairman of...Bush's Council of Economic Advisers earlier this year...likens the trend to the global decline of agricultural employment in the last century as that sector became more productive [ie: mechanized]. From 1910 to 1990, agricultural employment in the U.S. fell to 2.5% of total employment from 32%; ...UK...2% from 11%; ...Germany...3% from 34%; [Japan ??;] according to statistics provided by Douglas Irwin, a Dartmouth-based economic historian. Rather than [trying] to protect the manufacturing sector, Mr. Hubbard says the Bush administration should be pushing harder [to] ease the transition of workers into the service sector....
    [Whoa, Jerry Jasinowski of NAM ain't gonna like that! But what we really need here are surveys exploding the myth that the service sector is going to bail us out with a rigid workweek frozen permanently at ANY level. "Here is no abiding city; here is no continuing stay." We MUST timesize. It's no longer optional. It is the single most important modification we must make in order to get beyond the current backwater of human progress, now eddying around weapons and superficial technological razzledazzle. Hopefully guys like Paul Krugman will pull their heads out of the sand, drop the irrelevant Lump of Labor sneer, and start contributing to the design challenges of work sharing.]

  2. 10/18 No accord with Japan on currency, pointer blurb (A3), NYT, B1.
    [Ah, the contortions that simple-minded dogma puts one to. In order maintain his "free" trader catechism, Bush is going around trying to get other countries to do self-tariffing currency manipulations - and, surprise surprise, they're not buying it. Do we need any further proof that "free trade" is just too simplistic, unworkable and self-destructive - despite its beguiling PR?]

  3. [Ifso, compare -]
    10/18 North Carolina: A case against free trade, by Ariel Hart, NYT, A10.
    Saying that the state has lost half its textile and apparel-industry jobs, more than 138,000 since Nafta [North American Free Trade Agreement] went into effect in 1994 [under Democrat Clinton], Gov. Michael Easley asked local officials to tell Congress and the White House about the impact of federal trade policy in their communities. Mr. Easley, [also] a Democrat, distributed a sample resolution to all county and municipal officials that said international trade agreements had been devastating, and called for a crackdown on what he called product dumping and smuggling by other countries.

  4. [Then, dumm as cinderblocks, Germans can't seem to learn from our mistakes -]
    10/18 German Parliament votes to cut welfare benefits and taxes, by Richard Bernstein, NYT, A4.
    ...Unemployment remained at about 10%.... Leftist legislators, supported by powerful labor unions, have argued that [Schroeder's] "Agenda 2010" requires too much sacrifice from workers and not enough from employers. For example, labor unions [believe] that forcing unemployed people to choose between taking low-wage jobs and losing benefits altogether will force overall wages down....
    [Funny how they talk the talk of incentives and "carrots" but walk the walk of disincentives and "sticks." They yank out the safety net before making the jobs available - if indeed they ever get around to making the necessary jobs available with their brains straining at 35-40-hr/wk job creation instead of relaxing into worksharing. Meanwhile, the resulting collapse in consumption further weakens the economy. Was fuer eine Dummkopfmenge! Wonder if German disability will jump as ours has once they too gut their welfare system. Could the stupidity on both sides of the Atlantic be any greater when this very day, page 2 of the US national business paper has an article titled -]
    U.S. could follow Europe's high-tax path, WSJ, A2.

10/17/2003  surfin' those headlines from hell -
  1. [UN suckered -]
    Unanimous vote by UN's [Security] Council adopts [Bush's] Iraq plan, NYT, front page.
    [The "March of Folly" wanders on. Check embedded article evincing how well Bush's plans are working so far -]
    At Iraqi depot, missiles galore and no guards, by Bonner & Fisher, NYT, front page.
    MUSAYYIB, Iraq -...There is a very nice 15-foot-long missile, in mint condition, there for the taking...along with a dozen ready-to-fire 107mm antitank rounds...simply because the U.S. does not have the personnel to keep watch....

  2. [meanwhile, democracy continues its nosedive in the US -]
    In races with one deep pocket, the law tries to tailor a second, NYT, front page.
    [Never mind the easy way of separating money from campaigning, economics from politics, Market from State, just as we separated politics from religion, State from Church. Nope. We always have to waste a couple of centuries trying to do it the hard way. Compare our still-flailing straining for sufficient public and private sector makework to fill a frozen-in-time 1940-level workweek for everyone (ha!) instead of just cutting the workweek and sharing and spreading the vanishing work.]

  3. The sweet spot - How to fight Bush on taxes, op ed by Paul Krugman, NYT, A27.
    [wherein the Krugster - He has a nice opener -]
    "What we have here is a form of looting." So says George Akerlof, a Nobel laureate in economics, of the Bush administration's budget policies....
    [And a nice wrap -]
    Will someone be able to find the political sweet spot, the combination of fiscal responsibility and electoral smarts that brings the looting to an end? The future of the nation depends on the answer.
    [And thank God he's no longer hedging with "may" depend on the answer.]

  4. [and the U.S. isn't the only outfit subsidizing bankers and other affluent -]
    A German banker [Rolf John] on welfare among Miami's palms [and with a housekeeper yet!], NYT, A3.
    ...the curious case of Rolf John, 64, living in Miami on $2,200 a month in German welfare checks.... Bild...nicknamed [him] "Florida Rolf."... "But I'm 90% disabled.... I've lived here for 25 years.... I have a lot of friends here. My homeland is the U.S."
    [He wants to live in the U.S., not Germany? Let the U.S. pick up his disability tab - that's where he's spending it. We may need global regulations that require you to at least contribute to the consumer base of the economy that's offering you the handout - ie: no dough unless he lives in Deutschland - just as we'll need to require companies to contribute to the employment of the consumer base they trying to sell to - ie: no trade, free or otherwise, unless you're employing your own and your customers' customers.]
10/14/2003  surfin' those headlines from hell -
  1. [here are the 'wages' of the Gospel of Consumption that CEOs have been preaching since the 1920s to justify a rigid workweek that never relaxes regardless of worksaving technology -]
    Study says ranks of the very obese increase sharply, by Rhonda Rundle, WSJ, B7.
    [So the Gospel of Consumption breeds the sin of gluttony.]
    ...Between 1986 and 2000, the number of individuals who are clinically obese, or 100 pounds overweight, quadrupled to about one in 50 adult Americans....
    [Note related story, "A rebound for US luxury goods," by Tracie Rozhon, NYT, C1 - a depressed nation seeks a diet of sugar and excess.]
    The prevalence of obesity in general roughly doubled to about one in five adults...according to the study in the current issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine.
    [Internal medicine would seem to have its own built-in archives - wouldn't it be better off with a more public publication?]

  2. [state of American 'democracy' -]
    Wooed for Congress, fewer say 'I do' - Incentives shrinking as hardships grow - A response to mudslinging, futile races and the allure of state capitals, by Sheryl Stolberg, NYT, A22.
    Despite being courted by powerful Democrats to run for Congress, Lisa Boscola has decided to remain in the State Senate in Pennsylvania. [photo caption]
    Jeffrey Piccola, the Republican whip of the Pennsylvania Senate, declined to run for Congress. [photo caption]

10/11-13/2003  surfin' those headlines from hell -
  1. [a couple of happytalkin', problem-glossin' articles in the Journal today, first -]
    10/13   What works - Clues to the cure for unemployment begin to emerge - One-stop career centers and cash incentives yield successful job searches, by David Wessel, WSJ, front page.
    ...Sometimes the system works.
    A dynamic economy continually throws off workers as industries are made obsolete because of evolving technology [eg: automation & robotics], globalization [eg: outsourcing & imports] or changing consumer tastes [the least of our problems].
    [Then the cheerleading stand-patter's statement of faith -]
    It constantly creates new industries and jobs.
    [never mind the new industries are in the less urgently demanded service-sector, the new jobs are therefore lower-paid, and even the service-sector jobs are hemorrhaging to India and China, even from Mexico!]
    But even in good times, the displaced workers often aren't the ones who find new job opportunities [huh?]. [And] these are not good times....
    [What we think David Wessel, in an unusually inarticulate moment, is trying to say here is, Even in good times the downsized are often not connecting with the vast new industries and jobs of which I've been telling you. Well, our next article goes into that teensy lethal flaw with a bit more articulation - with still far-from-satisfactory results -]

  2. [Martin Feldstein says a true thing & then blows it -]
    10/13   There's no such thing as a 'jobless' recovery, by Martin Feldstein, WSJ, A18.
    [Actually, he's 'quoted' the wrong thing - it should be "There's no such thing as a jobless 'recovery'." The point is that Martin has infinite faith in GDP growth alias productivity growth - regardless of marketability - to create market-demanded private-sector jobs. And for once he favors us with the whole catechism of the prevailing economic mumbo-jumbo. First question - how does he think the private sector is going to create jobs?]
    ...Although there was never any doubt that higher employment would eventually follow the increases in productivity and sales that started nearly two years ago, it's good to see it happening.
    [Since the increases in productivity were largely due to technology - and uncounted staff hours - there was indeed considerable doubt that higher employment would automatically follow the increases in productivity and even sales.]
    The current economic 'recovery' [our quotes] has been characterized by a remarkably rapid rise in productivity - that is, in output per working hour.
    [He doesn't mention the many uncounted working hours, but he does admits the influence of technology though he sells it short -]
    By using new technologies, firms have been able to produce the output that their customers demanded without hiring as many new workers as they would have at the same stage in a more traditional recovery.
    [Feldstein does the usual economists' disconnect between your workers and your customers' customers, thereby ignoring the difficulty that without hiring as many new workers, there won't be as many new customers - ergo not as much sales and growth.]
    A recent study by the Dept. of Labor showed that the primary reason for the lack of job growth in the past two years has been an unusually low rate of new hiring in expanding businesses rather than an unusual number of layoffs by declining businesses.
    [What about layoffs by stable or growing businesses, due to CEOs' current kneejerk response to technology in terms of downsizing? What about the role such downsizing played in triggering the downward spiral of mergers, overlaps, further downsizings and non-upsizings/non-hiring? What if the usual number of layoffs these decades is unusually high compared to past decades? And what does it matter which is the primary and which the secondary reason for the lack of job growth, when there is no lack of growth in the population needing jobs?]
    The productivity growth rate jumped to an annual rate of more than 4% in the period since early 2001 after rising at 2.6% a year from 1996 to 2001 and at less than 1.5% a year in the previous quarter-century.
    [Isn't it rather bizarre than loudly publicized economists are now congratulating us - and themselves - for the behavior of a variable that rises at the expense of working hours? - the fewer your staff hours per unit of output, the higher your productivity. Yet at the same time, on both right and left, they're ridiculing the very idea that aggregate working hours are limited, never mind falling (see rightwing Bruce Bartlett {10/09/2003 #2} and leftwing Paul Krugman {10/07/2003 #3} ).]
    That 4% productivity rate means that firms were able to increase output by 10% in the past 2½ years without hiring any new workers or increasing the average hours worked per week.
    [Feldstein apparently is completely oblivious to the fact, but he is articulating the great self-contradiction of current downsizing, not timesizing, capitalism - if we increase output without increasing employment, who are we going to sell the increased output to? It's the old Ford-Reuther paradox - F: "Let's see you unionize these robots!" R: "Let's see you sell them cars." To sell the stuff, we need increased spending, & watch Feldstein gloss over the problems as he talks about spending -]
    And during the 2d quarter of this year, productivity rose at an annual rate of nearly 7%, implying that spending would have to increase at that rate just to prevent employment from falling. Only as spending growth catches up to the rise in productivity [alias output] will firms start to increase employment.
    [Problem 1: common sense tells us that employment has to increase before spending can grow - the unemployed are not big spenders.]
    Fortunately, the strong productivity growth will eventually lead to more jobs as higher wages stimulate consumption and higher profits induce more investment in business plant and equipment.
    ["Eventually" isn't good enough, because, Even befuddled Feldstein seems to detect a potential problem -]
    But spending responds only with a lag that depends on expectations and confidence. [not to mention the marginal efficiency of income concentration - but even thinking about maldistribution is taboo to the Feldstein's of this "best of all possible worlds."]
    Even with the extra stimulus of the two Bush taxcuts and the low interest rates, households and firms were so cautious that total spending lagged behind productivity gains.
    [Here it is again. "Quirky consumers" delaying spending due to caution, confidence or expecations. Again we see the inability of the power elite to imagine that consumers aren't making a choice here, such as the choice to be "cautious." The vast majority of consumers, dear Martin, DON'T HAVE THE MONEY and do not have a choice. You and your partitioned-brain colleagues have stood watch over an unprecedented concentration of the national income in the hands of the top income brackets. Most people have less money today, not more. Phil Hyde is living on his fast-vanishing 401k. Colleague Kate has been cut from 40 to 35 to 28 to 25 to 18 hours a week. SHOW US THE MONEY - and we'll spend it. But you're too busy justifying the current warped allocation of the national income - watch for stories in future issues of the Wall Street Journal on how incredibly much more some (few) top executives are spending (see today's "Isn't this rich? Wealthy boost economy," by Jon Hilsenrath, WSJ A2) - as if these paltry exceptions to the rule can absorb the huge technology-multiplied productivity increases of the nation and the world! Enough of this silly article. What we really need are some econometrics on how much consumption and economic growth we are sacrificing by channelling so much of the national income to the top brackets instead of keeping it strongly centrifuged - and by maintaining such huge warehouses of deactivated consumers in terms not only of monitored and capped unemployment and welfare, but of unmonitored and uncapped and generally "externalized" disability, homelessness, prisons, suicides, and the whole invisibly mild plague of forced part-time, self-employment, and early or delayed retirement (depending on whether your nestegg's run out yet). How long will it be before the blind-to-the-obvious Feldstein's of this world wake up to the strategic centrality of distribution issue they tabooed and address their own ignored marginal efficiency principle - as it applies in the supremely relevant areas of concentrated employment and super-concentrated income?]

  3. [and here's a little illustrative article from the Boston Sunday Globe -]
    US firms are gaining, but some workers pay - US firms doing more with fewer workers, by Robert Gavin, BG, front page & A25, flag credit to Colleague Kate.
    WEBSTER, Mass. [next to Lake Chargoggagog-manchau(gog)gagog-chaubunagungamaug alias Lake Webster] - Cranston Print Works Co., which has printed textiles here since 1936, recently posted its biggest profits in a decade, handed out generous bonuses to its 500 employees, and invested nearly $2m to further modernize its operations in this old Central Massachusetts milltown.
    So what will the Rhode-Island-based firm do to follow up on this success?
    Cut 24 jobs [5%].
    [A cut that could painlessly have been done by cutting 5% of their corporate workweek and pay across-the-board and avoided fueling the downward spiral of jobs and customers and sales.]
    In another time, a banner year for profits might have led to a new round of hiring, but in this era of economic uncertainty and increasingly fierce global competition [and increasingly robotized workplaces], Cranston, like many US companies, is boosting the productivity of its plant to meet demand rather than hiring more workers....
    [The only problem being, of course, that modernized operations don't buy things, as Walter Reuther indicated in his retort to Henry Ford's taunt, "Let's see you unionize these robots!" (Reuther - "Let's see you sell them cars"). ]
    Cranston's recent $2m investment will further automate the line that folds, measures, and wraps printed fabric for shipment, and reduce the number of workers needed for that operation by more than half - to 16 from 40....
    [The urgency of the worksharing imperative heightens - we need to substitute timesizing for downsizing or we won't have any markets left.]
    ...Under intense pressure from foreign competition, Cranston has not increased prices in a decade and has remained profitable - and able to increase wages [for those still working] - only because the company ahs done more with fewer workers....
    ["Divide and conquer."]
    As a general rule, analysts say, the economy will not generate new jobs until it grows faster than productivity, since companies are unlikely to hire new workers until demand outstrips the ability of their workers [and 'modern' automation] to meet it....
    [So what we have here is a new Malthusianism = just as Malthus said that unrestrained population growth would always outstrip the food supply in terms of agricultural growth, so today, increasing automation and robotics - and unrestrained downsizing instead of timesizing in response - is outstripping the job supply in terms of hiring to meet demand that technology can't meet. Did anybody hear Jeremy Rifkin's message in his 1995 book title, "The End of Work"? If CEOs continue to "divide and conquer" - split us into have-jobs and have-not-jobs, into workers and drones, into the Eloi and the Morlocks, they're going to be slitting their own throats by strangling their own markets. Check this story in a later issue of the Times -]
    Robot sales surge, by Elizabeth Olson, 10/22/2003 NYT, C3.
    Record sales of industrial robots in the first six months of 2003 have reversed a two-year downturn, and point to a revival in the global market for the machines, according to a UN report. Sales of domestic robots to mow lawns or vacuum carpets fueled the sales. North America led the way, with sales up 35%. The EU posted a 25% increase in sales, and Asia registered an 18% increase - with Japan remaining the world leader in industrial robot use....
    [And guess which economy has been in the economic toilet ever since 1988-89 when it failed to grasp the timesizing response to technology and started copying American downsizing? Notice we're not attacking technology a la Luddism. Far from it. Technology holds the promise of easier lives for all of us - via timesizing (trimming working hours instead of working people). But we're attacking many CEOs' response to technology in terms of downsizing, which is actually a kind of passive Luddism because it blocks the promise of technology, splits society, and gradually wastes away its own markets. This is the Technological Crisis, which is actually the crisis of Downsizing, Not Timesizing, instead of the reverse.]

10/10/2003  surfin' those headlines from hell -
  1. Tighter border yields odd result: More illegals stay - Once-migrant [illegal] Mexican workers settle in Stockton CA; a burden on schools, ER, WSJ, front page.

  2. [more obscuring and lulling happytalk -]
    US job market is showing signs of a turnaround, by Ip & Rebello, WSJ, A2.
    [Yeah sure. This is called shouting the bitsy good news while whispering the huge bad news.]
    D.C. - Initial apps for UE bens dropped by 23,000 to 8-mon. low of 382,000 last week....
    [Whuppeedoo - never mind "externalities" such as welfare, disability (5.7m), incarceration (2.2m), homelessness (600k), suicide, and the less dramatic incidence of forced self-employment with or without clients and the juxtaposition of forced overtime and forced part-time (undertime), and of forced early retirement and forced delayed or interrupted retirement.]

10/09/2003  surfin' those headlines from hell - 10/08/2003  surfin' those headlines from hell -
  1. Indebtedness rises more than expected among American [consumers], Dow Jones via WSJ, A2.
    Americans took on more debt in August, as outstanding consumer credit saw its biggest rise since May.... Overall, US consumer credit grew by about $8.2 billion in August to a seasonally adjusted $1.956 trillion....
    The new student loans [newly added to the Fed's consumer-credit data] increased the level of outstanding consumer credit by about 3% on average between 1Q77 and 2Q03, the Fed said. The consumer-credit growthrate also increased, by an avg of 0.4% per year....

  2. Global survey cites creeping corruption, AP via NYT, A6.
    ...Rated No. 1 or least corrupt was Finland, followed by Iceland, Denmark and New Zealand.
    The US was No. 18..\..
    Bangladesh came in last, at No. 133, as the most corrupt country, just after Nigeria and Haiti.... Laurence Cockcroft, head of [survey source] Transparency International in Britain, said corruption was "worryingly high" in Greece, No. 50, and Italy, No. 35.
    Several potentially wealthy oil-producing countries stood out for poor scores. Angola, Azerbaijan, Indonesia, Libya, Venezuela and Kazakhstan all ranked among the most corrupt 25%,

  3. Leaker may remain elusive, Bush suggests, NYT, A18.
    [Gee, what a coincidence - just like Osama, the anthrax mailer, Saddam, the proceedings of Cheney's energy taskforce.... This should help boost the U.S. up the ladder of the most corrupt.]

10/07/2003  surfin' those headlines from hell -
  1. [While our main Bush-basher is distracting & disgracing himself with the LOLF today (see 10/07/2003 #3) -]
    Bush tells Israel it has the right to defend itself - Raid on Syria is the issue - pResident says Sharon 'Must not feel constrained' in battling terror attacks, NYT, front page.
    [In short, they attacked a minimally relevant neighbor in retaliation for -]
    Bomb kills 19, wounds 50 in Israel - Palestinian woman attacks packed eatery, 10/052003 Boston Globe, front page.
    [which "coincidentally" happened after -]
    Israel to build in 3 settlements - 600 new homes in West Bank - U.S. officials critical, 10/03/2003 NYT, front page, //WSJ, front page.
    [Not to mention the wall that those embarrassments to Judaism are building all around themselves. So Reagan gets the Berlin Wall down and Bush Junior stands by supportively while it's rebuilt in the "Holy" Land. The USA kills segregation, South Africa kills apartheid - and Israel resurrects them both.]

  2. Nafta - Shocks from Mexico, pointer summary (to A18), WSJ, front page.
    A decade after the accord spurred a boom in trade between the U.S. and Mexico, a series of disputes have spurred anger and threats of retaliation.
    [Basically, the U.S. power elite doesn't want anybody to object to the fact that they subsidize their agribusinessmen and the Mexican power elite doesn't wants their agriculture, small and mostly large, to be reamed by subsidized U.S. agribiz imports, so they've applied tariffs, which go against the "free trade" bill, by which U.S. CEOs hoped to ream Mexico (or at least everyone but themselves inside the USA). So "the disputes could hinder U.S. trade pacts with other Latin American countries." Here's hopin'.]

10/04-06/2003  surfin' those headlines from hell -
  1. 10/04   Sound-biting the deficit, editorial, NYT, A26.
    There is no sign of brakes' being applied to the spree of record deficit spending and borrowing engineered by pResident Bush and the Republican-led Congress. Warnings about budgetary disaster continue to mount: ...House "Republicans" are still...working for more than $100 billion more in deficit-feeding taxcuts for corporations.
    [our quotes, since they're clearly not fiscal conservatives = real Republicans]
    This makes all the more ludicrous the news [that] the House majority leader, Tom DeLay [wants] to allow debate on a constitutional amendment to mandate balancing the federal budget...an exercise in self-parody.

  2. 10/04   Epidemics incubators, letter to editor by Prof. Dr. Alan Wells of University of Pittsburg, NYT, A26.
    ...Maybe the appalling condition of 43.6m [15.2%] in this country without health insurance in 2002, as reported in the latest Census Bureau figures, will get some attention when Congress and...Bush figure out the implications for domestic security and bioterrorism.
    The uninsured and the homeless are perfect incubators for spreading epidemics, since they come to medical attention later in their illnesses than the insured population.
    [AT LAST somebody has brought up this obvious incentive to GET UNIVERSAL HEALTHCARE regardless of quibbles about capitalism/socialism/choice of doctor and all the other precious caveats that we will suddenly see as trivial once strange sickness starts to spread through our neighborhood.]

  3. 10/06   When going gets tough, Japanese women shop, letter to editor by Dir. Mindy Kotler of Japanese Information Access Project of DC, WSJ, A15.
    Re your Sept. 23 story "The Japanese paradox," it's no mystery why Japanese women prefer designer handbags to anything else.... For more than a decade, Japanese women have demonstrated a deep lack of faith in Japan's future. At the heart [well, maybe not the very heart] of Japan's economic problem is women's pessimism about the ability of their male leaders to create a better life. Women see no way out of Purchases for themselves are a kind of desperate grasp at self-preservation in the face of a grim future....
    [The USA is probably already experiencing some of this same syndrome - desperation-driven luxury purchases because our credit's maxxing out and this is our last chance to experience such a symbol. Phil Hyde always (OK, twice) ponies up and joins the tony, and expensive, Harvard Faculty Club as his funds run low.]

10/03/2003  surfin' those headlines from hell -
  1. They spent the tax rebate - Now what will consumers do?, column by Floyd Norris, NYT, C1.

  2. Executive pay keeps rising, despite outcry, WSJ, B1.

  3. Scandal scorecard - Executives on trial, WSJ, B1.
    ...Here is a status report on the corporate carnage and principal players:
    [We list the sections of this report -]

    1. Adelphia Communications Corp.

    2. Arthur Andersen LLP

    3. Citigroup Inc.

    4. Enron Corp.

    5. Global Crossing Ltd.

    6. HealthSouth Corp.

    7. ImClone Systems Inc.

    8. Merrill Lynch & Co.

    9. Qwest Communications International Inc.

    10. Rite Aid Corp.

    11. Tyco International Ltd.

    12. WorldCom Inc.

    13. Xerox Corp.

  4. [and overseas, the latest on America's pet pitbull -]
    Israel to build in 3 settlements - 600 new homes in West Bank - U.S. officials critical, NYT, front page.
    [More squatters on Palestinian land. More powder for the keg atop the Mideast volcano.]
10/02/2003  surfin' those headlines from hell - 10/01/2003  surfin' those headlines from hell -

For earlier collapse stories, click on the desired date -

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        Earlier Y2000 months accessible via links at bottom of Dec.1-10/2000 page.
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        Earlier 1999 months accessible via links at bottom of Dec.1-15/99 page.
  • Dec/98.
        Earlier months accessible via links at bottom of Dec/98 page.


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