DoomwatchTM vs. Timesizing®
Collapse trends - November, 2003
[Commentary] ©2003 Philip Hyde, The Timesizing Wire, Box 622, Cambridge MA 02140 USA (617) 623-8080 - HOMEPAGE
11/29/2003 surfin' those headlines from hell -
11/28/2003 surfin' those headlines from hell -
- Shame on us for letting poverty get out of hand, op ed by former Bob Dole press secretary Douglas MacKinnon, Boston Globe, A23.
Two deeply disturbing reports were recently released stating
I thought America was better than this. Every single day in our nation, 40 million men, women and children must decide what common staple (food, rent money, clothes, heat, or medical care) they must try to live without. And every day we lose countless of them to poverty who are guilty of nothing more than being born in the wrong place or into the wrong family....
- that more Americans than ever are living in poverty.... We are [supposedly] the most prosperous nation on earth, and yet according to the Census Bureau, 34.6m Americans now live below the poverty line ($18,392 for a family of four)..\..
- and that the number of Americans living without health insurance is dramatically on the rise.... 43.6m Americans have no health insurance. To put it another way, the entire populations of about eight states have no health insurance..\..
- Additionally, 11% of workers at companies that do offer health insurance don't take it because they can no longer afford the premiums....
[A gauge of human progress would be offsetting the downside of the accident of birth. Or the extreme upside, which can be just as harmful.]
11/26/2003 surfin' those headlines from hell -
- Wrong numbers: Social Security doesn't match up, by Eduardo Porter, WSJ, A7.
...The Social Security Administration is trying to distribute money from its "Earnings Suspense [sic] File," comprising contributions that can't be matched up with a proper Social Security number. That file mushroomed in the 1990s, fueled by a fast-growing workforce of illegal immigrants [oxymoron: illegal aliens are not immigrants] using fake Social Security numbers to get jobs.... The 'suspense file' [our quotes] has kept growing, by $30B in 1998, $40B in 1999, and $50B in 2000..\.. By the end of the 2000 tax year, the file contained $374B.
[Here's a dramatic handle on the number of illegal aliens.]
In 1994, the agency began sending out "no match" letters warning employers that they had incorrect Social Security numbers on the payroll and should straighten out their files.
[Why aren't they being prosecuted or fined for hiring illegal aliens?]
Last year , the agency sent about 950,000 letters, each listing as many as 500 bad numbers.
[Let's assume, conservatively, that the average letter lists 210 bad numbers. That's evidence of 950000x210= 1,995,000, say 200 million illegal-alien fake SS numbers in ONE YEAR? So it's not only lack of timesizing, standard-practice-downsizing, and becoming-standard-practice-outsourcing that's the problem. There's this huge, nearly one-million-letter-times-hundreds problem with "insourcing" of illegal hirings - we have no control over our borders or our labor surplus or our wage deterioration or our consumer market deterioration or our economic deterioration. Plus the flouting of our laws by the people already here, like the reporter who wrote this article, who thinks only that this is -]
pushing many immigrants out of jobs, according to many immigrant-rights groups.
[Never mind these aren't immigrants, these are illegal aliens. Never mind they are their jobs, they're our jobs. And never mind that the only reason this country is better economically than where they came from is our greater respect for law and our greater management of the scarcity of labor - so people's time is still worth something here. But it won't be for long if this "oh bring 'em all here" attitude keeps up. Floods of illegal "economic refugees" are clobbering chances for political refugees who'll get killed if they go back, and they're clobbering pay of minorities already here and the impact on pay is now working it's way into the various majority constituencies. The Wal-Martization of America indeed.]
...According to a report by the University of Illinois at Chicago and several immigrants-rights groups [note that illegal aliens do not have immigrant status]...many employers have simply fired the 'workers targeted' [our quotes, ie: the criminals fingered] by a no-match letter.
[Good - they should never have hired them in the first place and the illegals should never have come here in the first place without going through the line like everyone else.]
In other cases, 'unauthorized workers' [ie: aliens using forged documents] have quit after learning of the letters - fearful that immigration authorities are after them.
[...as immigration authorities certainly should be. But even the Social Security Administration is soft of this kind of crime -]
...The Social Security Administration plans to reduce the number of no-match letters issued this year to 130,000....
[Ah, shouldn't that depend on how many fraudulent Social Security numbers they discover?! This idiotic reporter is even worse - he wants to facilitate their crime by -]
...allowing illegal [aliens] to gain access to their [fraud-based] Social Security contributions....
[At least Congress has one thing right -]
Congress, meanwhile, hopes to make it easier for employers to check [job applicants'] status. Last week, the House passed a bill to give employers access to a federal database to vet [applicants'] Social Security numbers and verify they are legally authorized to work at the time they are hired. The bill passed the Senate....
[Funny the Wall Street Journal is always yapping about getting "tough on crime," but while they want to get tough on trivial lifestyle "crime" like drug possession, they want to promote the crime of violating our immigration laws. Bizarre.]
...Marielena Hincapie of the National Immigration [Out!-]Law Center, a co-author of the report, said the new verification system passed by the House will be as bad [sic] as no-match letters, pushing 'workers' out of [our] jobs....
[Outrageous promotion of crime by Americans - crime against the job market - crime against all of us, especially those of us who are real (legal) immigrants and jumped through all the authorized hoops to get a green card. They think they're being compassionate but they're certainly making it harder for all of us to earn a decent wage and support ourselves.]
11/25/2003 surfin' those headlines from hell -
- [Here it is, folks, the metaphor we've all been waiting for -]
As Turks see it, letter to editor by Serdar Tufekci, Boston Globe, A18, flagged by colleague Kate.
I hope that the American public can now understand why most Turks did not want a war in Iraq. In one week Turkey had 50 deaths and more than 700 injured, all civilian.
pResident Bush and his administration did not start this terror, but they are fighting fire with gasoline. This [Bush regime] is single-handedly the biggest menace to international peace and stability. I fear it will only get worse.
- Hunger worsens in many lands, UN says, by Somini Sengupta, NYT, A3.
...The report, "The state of food insecurity in the world 2003," found that after falling steadily during the first half of the 1990s, hunger grew in the latter half..\..particularly in sub-Saharan Africa.... Between 1999 and 2001...more than 840m people, or one in seven, went hungry. ...Between 1995 and 2001, the number of malnourished people across the developing world grew by an average of 4.5m a year..\..
[Malthus' dismal "positive" (vs. preventive) checks still hold sway - especially with so many humans' minds buried in the sand of a bygone age obsessed with quantity, despite the ecological priority of quality.]
The UN Food & Agriculture Organization...said the findings would make it impossible to meet its goal of halving world hunger by 2015. That goal, set first in 1996, was cited as a top priority by the UN Millennium Summit meeting in Sept/2000.
The rise in hunger came even though the world produced ample food, and in 22 countries, including Bangladesh, Haiti and Mozambique, the number of undernourished did decline in the second half of 1990s. "Bluntly stated, the problem is not so much a lack of food as a lack of political will," the report declared....
[Political shmolitical. That's a glib, catch-phrase answer that obscures the lack of strategic thinking that the problem of hunger has always suffered with. Here's the strategic thinking required: Hunger and poverty go together, and you don't have hunger where you don't have poverty. You can't fight hunger effectively by gearing up gigantic charitable food give-aways. "Give a man a fish and he'll live [only] for a day. Teach a man to fish, and he'll live out his lifetime." You can fight hunger most effectively by fighting poverty. So, you can't fight hunger without fighting poverty, and you can't fight poverty without fighting underemployment (unless you want to foster dependency). And the only way - apart from the "positive" checks such as war, famine and plague - to fight underemployment in the age of automation and robotics is to flex up our downwardly frozen workweek and let underemployment itself tell us what level it should be at any given year or quarter - and, not just "by the way," let overtime and overwork tell us where and when and what level training and hiring should be at all along the way. We basically need to minimally regulate the per-person variables, like income and worktime per person, while deregulating the per-job variables (= a market call - Friedman, "let the Market decide!") such as wages or salaries and shifts or worktime per job. Overwork is a per-person variable, clear enough, but why then regulate overtime, a per-job variable? Only as a tremendous convenience in the long transition from limited-liability (ie: limited-deprivation) corporations to limited-share-range persons (limited deprivation and excess) - to sweeten the on-the-job training alternatives for individual employees, considering that the one-company/job employee can be a subset of the multi-company/job employee but not vice versa.]
11/22-24/2003 surfin' those headlines from hell -
- Consumer complaints soared in 2002, WSJ, D2.
[Gee, wonder why that would be. Maybe the next item is a clue.]
- Windfalls are common in ousters over alleged ethics violations, by Joann Lublin, WSJ, B8.
Here is a great get-rich scheme: Break your employer's ethics rules and collect a windfall for your exit.
Despite a slew of business scandals, most major companies still bestow sizable exit payments on executives forced out for allegedly violating ethics codes. Employment contracts typically restrict firing for "cause." Boards of directors often figure a rich goodbye deal will keep a departed executive from airing dirty linen - or pursuing a nasty court challenge....
[Ah, wasn't capitalism supposed to be good at incentivating quality, not crud?]
11/20/2003 surfin' those headlines from hell -
- 11/22 11th-hour bills irk lawmakers left in the dark, by David Firestone, NYT, front page.
WASHINGTON - For weeks, hundreds of impatient Democrats and Republicans on Capitol Hill have steamed as Congressional leaders confined them to the anteroom while writing gigantic bills reshaping Medicare and energy policy.... By introducing the two big bills at the last minute and thus limiting debate just before the winter adjournment, those leaders hoped to push the measures through a weary Congress, but..\..on Friday...40 members of the Senate succeeded in blocking the energy bill, a long-sought prize of Republican leaders and the Bush administration....
[ie: the Bush Regime - which we may be able to regime-change only when it falls apart by its own internal dissensions.]
- 11/24 The price of 'governance', editorial, WSJ, A14.
What was supposed to be an end-of-session triumph for the Republican Congress is turning into something of an embarrassment, if not a crackup. This tends to happen when a political party attempts to pass legislation inconsistent with what it claims are its limited-government principles....
[The only serious way to get limited government is to get government out of the business of job creation and makework (and corporate welfare and gov't pork and patronage) by switching to market-oriented job spreading and sharework, as in Timesizing.]
- [And what of lawmakers' patrons & puppeteers, our hidden lords & masters? -]
11/24 HealthSouth Corp. - U.S. judge pegs loss caused by executives at $66 million, WSJ, B2.
11/24 In Europe, stigma is first hurdle fired chief [exec]s face, WSJ, C6A.
11/24 CEOs in Europe try to regain trust - Shareholders are demanding greater accountability from business leaders, WSJ, A10.
- 11/24 Canadians don't deserve a 'rinky-dink' insult, letter to editor by David Keosaian of Ann Arbor MI, WSJ, A15.
I was reading Holman Jenkins's Nov. 12 Business World column "The coming crack-up in pharma regulation," but I could not get past paragraph seven. I could not believe my eyes when I read the sentence, "Legalizing importation from Canada, a rinky-dink country of 30m, won't undermine U.S. pricing." Outraged, I stopped reading.... This is just the kind of condescending attitude toward other countries that makes others hate us.....
[You got it, Dave. Is Holman Jenkins a "neo-con," like the simple-minded Wall Street Journal editors? - probably, since he "edits the editorial page's daily email newsletter." But why not let him and this whole big dumbing-down nation, the majority of whom still approve of the Bush regime, keep sinking under the illusion that it's just the Greatest and duh Bestest since Ozzy-Mandy-Ass - just so it doesn't send any more Yank emigrants across the border (or anywhere else). There are still a few Yanks that haven't lost their minds, besides David Keosaian -]
11/24 Stargazing - Dixie Chicks singer Natalie Maines, wire services via Boston Globe, C2.
...is at it again. Maines, who said in March that she was ashamed pResident Geo.W.Bush is from Texas, said this about the war in Iraq...on NBC's "Today Show"..\.. "I think people were misled, and I think people are fighting a war that they didn't know they were going to be fighting."
[Natalie Maines is a hero who speaks out even when it hurts sales. She's beautiful, smart and courageous. But all other countries are rinky-dink to neo-cons, even Deutschland, despite -]
11/23 The German miracle? - What the US economy could learn from abroad - In chemicals, machine tools, and power engineering, Germany is significantly more advanced than the United States, by Will Hutton, Boston Globe, D4.
[Gee, maybe that's because Germany has some "uncompetitive" and "unreformed" and "inflexible" regulations to slow mass layoffs - so people aren't discouraged from innovating by fear of job loss. What about Americans' supposed advanced technology? -]
11/24 Beneath the glitter, the humble phone still has the allure, WSJ, B1.
[Mostly glitter, dysfunctional razzledazzle that leaves us wanting back to "plain old telephone service. And no longer are other countries sitting around like patsies, worshipping American tech "leadership" and swallowing American "free trade" bullying -]
11/22 Japan and Norway to impose tariffs, Bloomberg via NYT, B3.
...on United States goods in retaliation for American steel tariffs.... Norway is planning 30% tariffs on some products.
[Now if Japan and Norway were only equally intelligent about laying off whaling.]
- 11/22 Venezuelan economy declines again, Bloomberg via NYT, B3 (//WSJ, B2).
...7.3% in the period July to September, its septemth oops seventh quarterly contraction....
11/19/2003 surfin' those headlines from hell -
- How big will your next raise be? Despite signs of recovery [ah, those everlasting "signs" of recovery, never actual recovery], most employees will get only modest increases in 2004, WSJ, D1.
- [and here's a sample of the reason why -]
Finance chief Campbell quits for same post at McKesson, Dow Jones via NYT, C12.
...AMR's chief resigned under pressure in April after hiding executive perks from unions while at the same time asking them to accept deep pay cuts....
- [and also -]
Ernst & Young defends wording choices - Contracts with AmEx used 'profit sharing' language to describe obligations, WSJ, C13.
- [and also -]
Currency fraud ran deep, officials say, by Fuerbringer & Rashbaum, NYT, C1.
What began as an undercover FBI agent's "posing as a bad guy with money" led to the discovery of rigged currency trading by traders at some of Wall Street's biggest banks, federal prosecutors said yesterday [after] an 18-month investigation [that] led to charges being filed against 47 people yesterday....
- House backs bill to overhaul mutual funds - A watered-down plan from earlier versions, NYT, C1.
[In short, a wrist-slap.]
11/15-17/2003 surfin' those headlines from hell -
- [anti-terror wimps, especially Bush -]
Report chides governments on stockpiles, Reuters via NYT, A8.
Western governments and Russia are moving far too slowly to stop terrorists from acquiring deadly ingredients to build unconventional weapons, a major international report concluded Tuesday [11/18]. Of a total of $20B pledged by the G8 last year to secure stockpiles of nuclear, chemical and biological materials, "only a tiny fraction" has been spent or even allocated to specific projects, it said. "The threat is outpacing the response," [said] Sam Nunn, a former US senator [and current leader of] the Nuclear Threat Initiative, an antiproliferation watchdog that largely paid for the study by 21 security research groups.
Mr. Nunn said the war in Iraq had distracted the U.S. and diverted resources from securing unconventional weapons materials in regions like the former Soviet Union. According to the study, there are some 100 poorly protected research reactors, spread across 40 countries, containing weapons-usable uranium [of which] "to construct a nuclear bomb...only a small amount [is needed, that would] fit in a suitcase"..\..
"The global community remains alarmingly vulnerable to catastrophic terrorism," it said....
- [And speaking of getting distracted from fighting terrorism -]
Japan heads to Iraq, haunted by taboo bred in another war, by Norimitsu Onishi, NYT, front page.
TOKYO...- As Japan prepares to send ground forces to Iraq...the government twice pushed back the date of deployment because of mounting violence in Iraq, evidently wary of the public's reaction to any casualty.
But the government's hesitation runs deeper than that. While Japan's wartime leaders sent more than 2m soldiers to their deaths, its postwar leaders are proud of having avoided a single combat fatality..\.. Not one Japanese soldier has been killed, or has killed, in combat since the end of World War II [WW2].... A single casualty would tarnish [this perfect record] and, some fear, reopen the Pandora's box of ultranationalism, which thrived more than a half-century ago.
Now, Japan seems to be groping...somewhere between these two extremes....
- Especially toward the desperate final stages of WW2, Japan used its men as if they were mere ammunition, dispatching countless numbers on suicide missions. "Duty is heavier than a mountain, while death is lighter than a feather," went the imperial rescript to soldiers.
- Contrast that to the saying that came to symbolize postwar Japan's official attitude toward death. In a 1977 hijacking of a Japan Airlines plane, the government gave in to demands in order to win the release of the 156 passengers. As the prime minister at the time explained, "Human life is weightier than the earth."
- Real-estate taxes and fees are on the rise - States and municipalities see rising property values as a way to cut budget gap, WSJ, B4.
[Mayhap 'twould be more efficient to go back to taking care of this at the federal level? e.g., through taxes on the rich, as we had when we were most prosperous during and after World War II, to get that megamoola back in circulation.]
- [Workplace pilferage (and sabotage?) -]
Office sticky fingers can turn the rest of us into Joe Fridays [ie: into police detectives as in classic TV series 'Dragnet'], by Jared Sandberg, WSJ, B1.
...Not much has changed in the office klepto culture since [the 1970s], except that fewer people are quick to blame lowly staffers for the mysterious 'liberation' of workplace property. If the latest batch of corporate pirates [eg: CEO scandals] have taught us anything, it's that the buck doesn't stop with the top brass. It can end up in their pockets. [Then there's] the new, more open office environment that many companies have adopted.... You wouldn't pick the lock of an office door to get to a pile of crullers. But on the cube [cubicle] farm, that pile is just one of many [easily accessible] office feeding troughs....
The problem is that theft is often rationalized as a perk....
[Sort of like child abuse among RC clergy?]
Says Bill Hill, president of Wackenhut Corp.'s consulting & investigation division..."the culture of honesty has to come from the top down."...
[Guess there ain't much of it comin' down these days.]
11/14/2003 surfin' those headlines from hell -
- 11/15 The Wal-Martization of America, editorial, NYT, A26.
The 70,000 grocery workers on strike in Southern California are the front line in a battle to prevent middle-class service jobs from turning into poverty-level ones....
[Alternative headline = The Third-Worldification of America, or worse, with no pay, The Re-Enslavement of America (see 6/25/2002 #1). Oops, watch out, chillun, heah come dee boss lady -]
Wal-Mart and workers, letter to editor by Communications VP Mona Williams of Wal-Mart Stores of Bentonville ARK, 11/19/2003 #1 NYT, A28.
- 11/17 Exxon verdict reflects wider anger - Judgment of $11.9B in Alabama [for cheating the state out of natural gas royalties] underscores distrust of companies, WSJ, A6.
- 11/15 Retail sales decline 0.3% - Industrial output rises 0.2%, NYT, B2.
[The sales decline indicates there's nobody to buy that additional output.]
- 11/15 Pentagon seeing new keys to victory - Report emphasizes post-combat work, 'social intelligence', by Brian Bender, Boston Globe A10, flagged by colleague Kate.
[Colleague Kate asks, Wouldn't these 'new' keys to victory be ... the old State Department that Chaney(!)-Bush-Rummy-Rove-Condy-Wolfie so despised?!]
- 11/17 New equation for charities: More money, less oversight, NYT, E1.
11/17 The gray area for nonprofits, where legal is questionable - It may not look good, but it's not illegal, by Bernard Stamler, NYT, E1.
[As waves of technology sweep in and are met with a frozen 1940-era workweek and downsizing, not timeisizing, mounting labor surplus clobbers pay and consumer markets, money zooms to the top brackets and charity becomes ever more urgent. But "any economic design that relies for vital functions on the caprices of charity is lethally flawed."]
...The American Relief Organization \alias\ the Help for Education Program, the Four Corners Indian Organization and the Arizona Indian Heritage Assoc...raises money throughout the U.S., mainly through telephone solicitation..."to provide food, clothing, medical and school supplies for needy and abused children, homeless people and Native Americans on reservations," according to a filing with the State of Arizona.
But American Relief does not [pass along] much of what it takes in. Its tax return indicates that it raised $665,844 in 2001 and [passed along only] $6,424! Its grants, which included items like a "disposable camera and developing of pictures" for $11, made up about 1% of the total it collected. The rest went to expenses, including salaries totaling more than $450,000....
Barring outright fraud, charities that solicit money from the public are generally protected from persecution, regardless of how much money they give to worthy causes. As a result, Daniel Borochoff, the president of the American Institute of Philanthropy, a watchdog group, said that there were charities that raised millions of dollars a year that went largely, if not entirely, to overhead and expenses. In some cases, salaries and telemarketer fees can consumer as much as 90% or more of donations.... American Relief's VP, Hulya Coban...earlier this year told The Arizona Republic...that the donations had actually amounted to 2 or 3% of the revenues.... Mr. Borochoff said..."We think a group should give away at least 60%."...
[And the result? -]
11/17 Why they don't give, pointer summary (to E17), NYT, E1.
Anger and economic worries are among the reasons donors stop donating.
[And the target article's headline -]
11/17 They're mad as hell, and they're not making donations anymore, by Robert Strauss, NYT, E17.
11/13/2003 surfin' those headlines from hell -
- Tardy pay called G.I.'s fate, by Renwick McLean, NYT, A8.
DC...- Members of the Army National Guard who have been called up for active duty since the Sept.11 attacks have often been paid late or improperly, according to a congressional report released on Thursday.
The report, by the GAO, a nonpartisan research arm of Congress, found that over 90% of the nearly 500 soldiers it studied, many serving in combat zones overseas, had experienced at least one problem with pay since they were mobilized.
The problems included paychecks that took up to six months to arrive and others that were either thousands of dollars too large or too small....
- Wal-Mart profit falls a bit short - The first time since 1994 that the retailer hasn't beat estimates, NYT, C3.
[Bad news but ... couldn't happen to a more deserving-of-badnews corporation - see below 11/08-10/2003 #5 and start of multistep links there.]
11/11/2003 surfin' those headlines from hell -
- Deal is reached on Sept. 11 papers, by Scot Paltrow, NYT, A10.
DC - The White House has agreed to give the independent panel investigating the 9/11/2001 terrorist attacks access to classified intelligence briefings, but only under tightly controlled circumstances....
[What are they afraid of? And if it's the "safety of our secret agents," where was that concern when they 'outed' the CIA agent-wife of the guy who broke the story on the bogus nuclear buys by Saddam from Africa.]
Deal on 9/11 briefings lets White House edit papers, 11/14/2003 NYT, A14.
- Iraq policy in crisis, editorial, NYT, A30.
The abrupt recall of America's top administrator [dba dictator] in Iraq, Paul Bremer, for two days of urgent White House consultations signals a new level of alarm among American policy usurpers oops makers [in the wake of] the bombing of an Italian military police compound [that] killed at least 17 Italians and 9 Iraqis....
[Well, Italy's gangster PM Berlusconi was dumb enuff to risk Italian lives in the 'great' game of Bushwaq Irack.]
- 'The American Way' is a work in progress, by David Wessel, WSJ, A2.
Not so long ago the U.S. boasted that we did three things so well that others should copy us:
- We knew how to run elections.
- We knew how to run companies.
- And we knew how to run financial markets.
- First came the marred 2000 presidential election,
- then corporate and accounting scandals,
- and now disturbing discoveries about mutual funds and the NYSE....
- Their master's voice - In Cheneyworld, [nothing but] worst-case scenarios, op ed by Maureen Dowd, NYT, A31.
...Mr. Cheney's parallel universe is a Bizarro world where no doubts exist....
[Hitler too had no doubts. Jacob Bronowski warns against it in his chapter on 'Knowledge or certainty', mentioning Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle, in "Ascent of Man" (1973). John Kenneth Galbraith has a whole book about it, "Age of Uncertainty" (1977). Lao Tzu celebrates it - "The sage is hesitant, like a man fording a stream in winter." Such certainty is often a mark of deep insecurity - "Bush...is too intellectually insecure. He can't handle people who disagree with him, so he retreats into the cocoon of the like-minded." - from op ed by David Brooks, 11/15/2003 NYT, A27. (Unfortunately there aren't yet enough people who know about worktime economics for there to be a "cocoon of the like-minded.")]
- [and despite all this, Americans' stupidity roars on -]
Improving economy stems slide in pResident's overall job rating, by John Harwood, WSJ, A4.
...A new WSJ/NBC News poll found...some 51% approve of his performance as pResident, compared with 49% in September. The survey of 1,003 adults, conducted Nov. 8-10, has a margin of error of 3.1%....
['Course, with the WSJ mixed into the poll, and the ease of subtly slanting a conclusion about 290m people on the basis of only 1k, and a 2% margin of error, there may be some "cookin' the books."]
- A Saudi-Israeli deal, op ed by Thos. [Toss] Friedman, NYT, A31.
...The latest poll from the EU...indicates that 59% of EU citizens now consider Israel [ie: the Sharon gov't] the greatest "threat to world peace"....
["You can fool some of the people some of the time, but you can't fool all of the people all of the time."]
- [2nd-greatest threat to world peace? -]
Bishops open a new drive opposing contraception, by Daniel Wakin, NYT, A16.
[Contraception, not abortion this time!]
The nation's Roman Catholic bishops, acknowledging that American Catholics pay little heed to their church's ban on contraception, undertook an effort Wednesday [11/12] to reinforce it, and linked it to the anti-abortion campaign.
["How else we gonna git them women back under control!" You've heard Dave Barry's definition of the US Senate ("white male millionaires working for you"). We give you a parallel definition of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops (Roman Catholic, that is, not to be confused with Anglo-Catholic and Greek Catholic...) - "celibate male child-abuse condoners keeping women down and over-population up."]
The US Conference of Catholic Bishops, in session [in DC] at its regular fall meeting ["fall" is right!], also tackled another sexuality issue, approving the text of a brochure that lays out the church's condemnation of same-sex unions....
[Never mind sexual diversification is normal in populations of many species in crowded habitats. Never mind even for heteros, social sex has far outpaced reproductive sex as we move from the Economic to the Ecological Age. Never mind that marriage has become a legal convenience to change your "next-of-kin" from the default blood relatives....]
11/08-10/2003 surfin' those headlines from hell -
- Support the troops - As long as it doesn't involve money, op ed by Paul Krugman, NYT, A23.
Yesterday's absurd conspiracy theory about the Bush administration has a way of turning into today's conventional wisdom.
...Squeezing government spending almost always means cutting back or eliminating services people actually want.... And since it's Veterans' Day, let's talk about how [Bush's] big squeeze on spending may be alienating a surprising group: the nation's soldiers....
[Compare yesterday's #6.]
- [Back in the 90s when wealth-insulated CEOs first started noticing the market-weakening which their own cumulative kneejerk downsizing had caused (though they conveniently didn't notice the coinnection), they blamed consumers for not spending out of mere caprice or willfulness, ne'er a thought that it might just possibly be necessity - "Quirky consumers!" they fretted. Well just today we noticed it's been institutionalized in a Wall Street Journal column. We just today connected the dots to a regular Journal column called "Cranky Consumer" - today's topic -]
A makeover for your resume, Cranky Consumer column by Elizabeth Schatz, WSJ, D2.
[Now, when will Wall Street connect the dots?! Their own favorite recommendation, downsizing, is dragging down markets, not consumer quirkiness or crankiness.]
- [How safe are we from home-made nukes?]
Federal investigators have counted..., news summary, WSJ, front page.
...1,300 cases of radioactive material being lost, stolen or abandoned inside of the U.S. over the past five years.
- [Europe-bashing rolls on -]
As world economy revives, Europe struggles, WSJ, A16.
[Shouldn't this read -]
As world population struggles, Europeans enjoy life
11/07/2003 surfin' those headlines from hell -
- 11/10 Consumer debt rose at a greater rate than was expected, Dow Jones via WSJ, A2.
[But that's just because the Wall Street analysts doin' the "expecting" still believe in automatic business cycles of up and down and up, instead of seeing the reality of automatic economic deterioration, accumulating because of automatic downsizing in response to technology, instead of automatic timesizing.]
Consumers increased their debt loads in September at the fastest pace since January, the Fed said Friday [11/07]. Consumer-credit balances on auto loans, credit-card loans and other debt rose $15.1B in Sept. to $1.972 trillion. That follows a[n upwardly!] revised $8.8B rise in Aug. to $1.957T, originally reported up ['only'] $8.2B.
The Sept. consumer-credit increase was more than twice as large as Wall Street analysts expected....
[And that, ladies and gentlemen, is debt, so it's unsustainable. Here's Bob Herbert's headline -]
Living on borrowed money - Too many are caught in the debt trap, says Edwards, op ed by Bob Herbert, NYT, A23.
It's interesting that so much attention is being paid to the modest job creation numbers for October, and so little is being given to a much more significant issue that Democratic candidate John Edwards is homing in on...."The American dream"...has been replaced by the reality of "just getting by." It has become increasingly difficult to get into - or stay in - the middle class.... The consumer debt load for the average family has tripled in just one generation....
- [If we're looking for an economic boost from abroad, look again -]
11/10 Global economic snapshot - Unemployment/Group of Seven, Economy.com via WSJ, A14.
Number of unemployed persons as a percentage of the civilian labor force, monthly [in order of size of economy (GDP)]....
U.S. [#1] 6.0, previously 6.1
Japan [#2] 5.1 [high for Japan], previously 5.1
Germany [#3] 10.5, previously 10.5
U.K. [#4] 5.0, previously 5.1
France [#5] 9.7, previously 9.6
Italy [#7] 8.3, previously 8.9
Canada [#8] 7.6, previously 8.0
[G7 omits China #6. The "tough capitalist" Journal spends a whole graph on Canada's dramatic one-month 0.4% unemployment drop, and Canada has universal health insurance, high taxes, and lots of other pinko 'outrages' that the Journal has chosen to disregard for the moment. Note also -]
11/08 Canada: Jobless rate falls, by Bernard Simon, NYT, B3.
...A total of 65,000 jobs, mostly in the service sector [so don't get your hopes up], were created in Oct., the strongest gain in 19 months....
[But we can fantasize - 12 months of 0.4% unemployment drops would be, da dada daaaa, a 4.8% drop in one year, bringing Canada's unemployment rate down to 7.6-4.8= 2.8% = World War II levels! Well, maybe if they dropped the drag on business dynamism of the ludicrous 15% Goods & Services Tax (the hated "GST") and switched to a more steeply graduated income tax on Canada's upper income brackets, whose tight money concentration is also dragging on business dynamism.... Of course, Timesizing would still be necessary for longer-term sustainability.]
- [And here's a hint of why everything's finally really flattening down -]
11/09 Charity money [is] funding perks - Foundation leaders help themselves, by Healy & Latour & Pfeiffer & Rezendes & Robinson, Boston Globe, front page, flagged by colleague Kate.
[In short, the automatic trend in current economic is to concentrate the national income in the upper income brackets (and by the Marginalism of neo-classical economics, concentrated money has diminishing utility), meaning that current economic design has no automatic way of 'centrifuging' or spreading around the national income and keeping dynamically active - and the non-automatic discretionary way of spreading around the national income is grossly inadequate. (As a wise man once - OK, frequently - said, "Any economic system that relies upon capricious charity for vital economic functions - like centrifuing spending power - is lethally flawed.") The chief locus of the gradually lethal money-concentration is the common downsizing response to technology. The simple alternative is timesizing, which automatically retains your workforce and your consumer base - even grows it if you timesize deeper than required to merely hold the deterioration to existing levels of un(der)employment. One juicy example of what goes wrong with our current brand of "skimming & charity economics" -]
At the King Foundation [in Dallas], president Carl Yeckel arranged for himself and his top aide to receive pensions totaling more than $1m a year, creating an unfunded future liability that experts say could drive the $32m foundation into insolvency, according to lawyers involved in a lawsuit against the foundation.... Yeckel, 67, and his deputy, Thomas Vett, used foundation credit cards to take at least one foreign vacation a year. But it took years for anyone to discover the excessive spending.
[Hey, at least it was getting spent and stimulating the economy a bit, and not just bottling up scanning for rarer and rarer sustainable investments!]
In early 2002, Yeckel's sister, Dorothy Yeckel, became suspicious of her brother's lifestyle, including his $1.5m home and the exotic vacations he took..\..to Australia and at least six European countries....
[Good ol' sibling rivalry! It's amazing the unexpected directions from which exposure comes - bless'em!]
Todd Amacher, Dorothy Yeckel's lawyer, looked over the foundation's tax returns and alerted the Texas attorney general to the $1m in compensation [her brother] was taking. Asst Atty General John Vinson filed suit, and ultimately a new board took control of the foundation. The suit became public last year, but the detail's of Yeckel and Vett's free-spending ways had not been disclosed.
[And what is the money supposed to be used for?]
..\..The Carl and Florence King Foundation [was] established by a Texas oilman to fund educational programs....
[There are at least 4 more, similar "charity for the rich" examples in this article. And then we turn to "non-profit" educational institutions themselves -]
11/10 4 highest-paid university presidents top $800,000 a year [- Rensselaer Polytechnic, Vanderbilt, UPenn, Rockefeller U.], NYT, A10.
[Hey, at least 2 of these 4 rip-off artists are women (Renselaer & UPenn). All this is not to say that sometimes the non-profit, charity way doesn't work -]
11/09 NPR's windfall, editorial, Boston Globe, D10.
Suddenly, National Public Radio [NPR] is...a lot richer. [A] massive gift of $200m comes from the estate of Joan Kroc, wife of McDonald's founder Ray Kroc, who made fast food an American icon....
[Hence the American slang response to a 'can of worms' = "That's a crock!"?]
She died last month of brain cancer.
NPR officials say this is the largest gift ever given to a cultural institution....
[But then, even NPR acts a little suspicious sometimes. Colleague Kate reported that Bill Moyer's NOW program on Friday [11/14] at 9 pm featured a Bush visit to a South Carolina BMW factory, and juxtaposed the same-day? headline from the local newspaper, something like "With all our job losses, who's going to buy our BMWs?" WGBH, Boston puts out a monthly program calendar which said NOW would repeat Sunday at 11 am. Phil set up to tape it. What did he get? A half-hour show of David Frost fawning all over Bush and a half-hour repeat of Emily Rooney. Hmm. Wonder who got the payoff?]
- [And on the subject of the non-disclosure common in a plutocratic "democracy" -]
11/08 The fruits of secrecy, editorial, NYT, A26.
One of pResident Bush' first acts was to convene a taskforce to produce a national energy strategy.
[Or at least a personal further-enrichment strategy.]
Led by VP Dick Cheney, the group met secretly with hundreds of witnesses. It heard from few environmentalists, but many lobbyists and executives from industries whose [already existing] fortunes would be affected by any new policies.
Despite lawsuits, the White House has refused to divulge the names of those privileged to get Mr. Cheney's ear. The results, however, have been plain as day: policies that broadly favor industry - including big campaign contributors - at the expense of the environment and public health.
The unfortunate [say it, destructive] bias was demonstrated anew this week when the EPA decided to drop investigations into more than 140 power plants, refineries and other industrial sites suspected of violating the Clean Air Act. The [short term] winner is industry: the loser, the public.
[And the mid and longer term loser, industry. You can't go on transferring costs to your customers forever without damaging your markets. Why isn't the Times connecting these dots?!]
- [More corporate self-destruction, Wal-Mart's "screw-our-employees" policy -]
11/10 Nine immigrants sue Wal-Mart over pay, tax contributions, WSJ, B5.
[Compare tomorrow -]
Suit by Wal-Mart cleaners asserts rackets violation, 11/11/2003 NYT, A12.
[See below 11/05/2003 #6.]
- [And how much does Bush himself really "support the troops"? How much does he really appreciate the American grunts he's conned ("neo-conned"?) into risking their lives for him? - Here's what they can look forward to -]
11/10 U.S. moves to block money for troops held in '91 war - Damages for torture are seen as needed for Iraqi reconstruction [ie: Halliburton exec salaries & "Cheney's Cut"], NYT, A5.
[Are we mad yet or still in Mad "what, me, worry?" Magazine mode? This is in addition to all kinds of benefits and stuff he's already cut from American soldiers currently in Iraq to support his self-obsessed dreams.]
11/06/2003 surfin' those headlines from hell -
- With U.S. tax checks spent, retailers report slower gains, Bloomberg via NYT, C5.
- School violence data under a cloud in Houston, NYT, front page.
[And all that too-low-to-believe highschool dropout data from Texas was cooked too, as revealed by Bill Moyer's NOW program a couple of weeks ago. They blame pressure from Bush's "no child left behind" program of "produce the dramatic figures or lose your funding." So Texas may no longer be the biggest state (Alaska is), but with Bush Jr. and the school system, Texas is still the land of the biggest liars. And now, as colleague Kate points out, Bush is going far to turning the Land of the Free into the Land of the Fraud, starting with the chain of bogus reasons for his criminal invasion of a country at peace - Iraq. (And still no groundswell for impeachment?!) Guess that's what it is to have powerful - and stupid-as-you-are - friends. So we careen from No Child Left Behind, to No CEO Left Behind.]
11/05/2003 surfin' those headlines from hell -
- Bush signs ban on a procedure for abortions, by Richard Stevenson, NYT, front page.
[Now we see how deep the neo-cons commitment to freedom and privacy is. And this in an age of water shortages, forest & fishery depletion, ozone exhaustion and multidimensionally encroaching overpopulation. Fortunately there was an immediate offset -]
Challenging a mendacious [ie: lying] law, editorial, NYT, A20.
Less than an hour after pResident Bush lifted his pen yesterday to sign a stealthy attempt to roll back Roe v. Wade known as the Partial Birth Abortion Act of 2003, a federal trial judge in Nebraska [Richard Knopf] issued a temporary restraining order blocking its enforcement against four physician plaintiffs and their associates. The judge's decision cited the absence in the new law of an exception to preserve the health of the pregnant woman.
In lieu of that constitutionally required exception, the law substitutes weakly supported legislative "findings" that the ill-defined procedures it bans are "never necessary to preserve the health of a woman." Unsurprisingly, that audacious - and medically and constitutionally suspect - tactic failed to persuade the judge....
- [this is how smart our current crop of pols are -]
Republicans, Democrats divide on how to encourage saving
[This at a time when we have so great an overbalance of investment money over active spending money that stock P/E ratios are still way up above historic norms and our economic status, at best, can only be described as a "stumbling recovery," stumbling for lack of robust consumer spending - a condition also reflected in our constant current fear of deflation = prices falling due to lack of consumer demand.]
11/04/2003 surfin' those headlines from hell -
- Quotation of the day, by Rep. Chris Shays (Conn.) on public campaign financing for U.S. presidential primaries, NYT, A2.
"The bottom line is that you can't really get your message out for $45 million. You need to be able to spend more."
[And they call this a "democracy."]
- CBS pulls 'Reagans' amid opposition from conservatives, WSJ, A3.
[And they call this "free speech." At least one "conservative" begins to see the light -]
Republican excoriates US strategy on Iraq, Reuters via Boston Globe, A21.
DES MOINES - Iowa Republican Rep. Jim Leach, once an aide to now-Defense Secy Donald Rumsfeld, said yesterday that White House policy makers had made one of the most misguided assumptions ever in US strategy by not planning for a decisive withdrawal from Iraq....
[and that's right beside -]
Casualties challenge Bush - Critics take note of his approach on war deaths - 'The real message is that this isn't the last one of these and we need to accept them as part of this [unnecessary] campaign. Sort of, "Get used to it, folks." ' - Prof. Jarol Manheim of George Washington University, Boston Globe, A21.
- The Supreme Court is asking the administration, news blurb, WSJ, front page.
...to explain the secrecy surrounding an immigrant detained following the Sept. 11 attacks.
[Not to mention all the indefinite, untried, uncharged detainees at Guantanamo, not to mention records requested by the 9/11 investigation, not to mention the records of Cheney's energy taskforce prior to 9/11.... And they call this an "open society."]
- Federal regulators decided not to ban use of arsenic, news blurb, WSJ, front page.
...to treat lumber used in playgrounds....
[And they call this a "safe society."]
- Insiders' bearish sentiment hits record level despite stock gains, WSJ, C9.
[And they call this a "recovery." Kuttner's take -]
Growth without benefit...- Despite high [GDP] growth rate, the economy is still shedding jobs, op ed by Robert Kuttner, Boston Globe, A19.
[In short, America's CEOs still don't get the connection between their employees and their markets, so they're still betraying the better-life promise of technology by responding with jobcuts for an ever-increasing few, instead of hourscuts and pay maintenance for all, downsizing instead of timesizing.]
- [and what's the world's biggest retailer doing now that it's gotten nailed for slavery (6/25/2002 #1)?]
Wal-Mart said it is a target, pointer blurb (to A10), WSJ, front page.
...of a federal grand jury probe into hiring of illegal workers.
[These guys never learn. Current Wal-Mart execs are just lucky their founder is dead, or he'd kick their butts to Kokomo.]
11/01-03/2003 surfin' those headlines from hell -
- [typical headline of the Robotic Age -]
Manufacturing activity rose...- Consumer spending appears to be slowing, pointer blurb (to A2), WSJ, front page.
[Manufacturing rises, consumption sinks.]
...[mfg] rose in October to its highest level since Jan/2000....
[But what good is that if it doesn't sell? Here's Tom Oliphant's take -]
Economy leaves workers behind, op ed by Thomas Oliphant, Boston Globe, A19.
WASHINGTON -...Connecting the...dots, it would appear that Americans got a decent windfall this summer from the latest round of income tax cuts. They took the cash to the stores and spent it, largely on durables, and when the windfall was exhausted, they mostly paused. To the extent that there was any strength in consumer spending in September, it came out of savings [or loans?], not income. As a percentage of disposable income, the rate of savings was below 3% for the first time since the beginning of 2000....
...Also...there is one increasingly important development these days that is not reflected in the national numbers. In nearly all 50 states, severe budget deficits caused in part by cuts in federal aid have been leading to property tax increases at the local level.... The situation faced by American households is thus somewhat worse than the federal figures indicate.
When taxes and inflation are subtracted from gross income, what is left is a rough expression in dollar terms of our standard of living. Put in terms of each individuals in the country (something like 290m at last count), what economists call real disposable income per capita would appear almost flat - not just this year but ever since Bush became pResident.
That is an increase of $1,404, or only 5.1%, over nearly three years. I would not brag about that puny performance, much less campaign on it....
- During the first quarter of 2001, the figure was $23,470.
- In September, it was $24,874.
[And meanwhile, how have top executives been doing?]
- Iraq's economy is mostly stagnant, propped up by U.S. cash and by hopes of safer days, NYT, A12.
[Hey, just like Afghanistan's economy or for that matter, Israel's. But no matter - as long as Cheney's henchmen in Halliburton and Bush's bouncers in Bechtel are doin' dandy, what do they care about anyone else?]
- 11/03 Cut in R&D spending 'a disaster' - As firms scale back, future of innovation is in doubt, Boston Globe, C1.
[And what incentive is there to innovate anyway when it just triggers more downsizing instead of timesizing, and we can never get the freedom-enhancing benefits of new technological worksavings in terms of more, financially secure, free time - because CEOs are too busy sticking them to us in terms of more, financially insecure unemployment?]
- [how good is company-'helping' downsizing for the economy at large, 'invisible hand' notwithstanding?]
11/03 Consumer spending loses some momentum, WSJ, A4.
...as the third quarter ended....
- [what's the downstream 'vision'?]
11/01 More US families are going hungry, USDA [Dept. of Agric.] report says, by Emily Gersema, AP via Boston Globe, A3.
About 12m American families last year worried that they couldn't afford to buy food, and 32% of them actually experienced someone going hungry at one time or another.... It was the third year in a row that the USDA has seen an increase in the number of households experiencing hunger and those worried about having enough money to pay for food.
Based on a Census Bureau survey of 50,000 households, the department estimated that 3.8m families were hungry last year to the point where someone in the household skipped meals because they couldn't afford them. That's an 8.6% increase from 2001, when 3.5m families were hungry, and a 13% increase from 2000.
Also, more and more families are unsure if they can afford to eat or do not have enough food in their cupboards. Last year, 11% of 108m families were in that situation. That's up 5% from 2001 and 8% from 2000....
[Better reduce our estimate for when the USA joins the Third World from 20 to just 15 years ahead.]
- [meanwhile, what is our executive class doing? - our insulated, isolated plutocrats in this what-they-try-to-convince-us-is-a "democracy"? -]
11/03 Despite lawsuits, Enron bonuses haven't been returned, WSJ, C1.
11/03 Former HealthSouth executives helped themselves to $561,728 - Money went to legal fees before they pleaded guilty to defrauding stockholders, WSJ, A3.
[Hey, just like their Moms told them, "If you're going to plead guilty to defrauding, make sure you first defraud enough to cover your legal fees!"]
- [and what's our major business newspaper saying about it?]
11/03 To Europe's chagrin, U.S. economy sits in the driver's seat, by Alan Friedman, WSJ, A2.
[Basically, they're busy counting their chickens before they hatch and going "nyaa nyaa nyaa-aaa" to Europe (never mind little Finland has just beaten us in competitiveness for the 3rd year in a row) instead of looking at the huge, momentarily subsurface problems listed by Paul Krugman yesterday ("A big quarter - Putting the 'gee' in G.D.P." in 10/31/2003 #1) and outlined by Joseph Stiglitz in his books, "The Roaring 90s" and "Globalization Discontents." Now granted IPOs are up (""IPOs see best week in over a year," 11/03 WSJ, C4) and there's some media yelling about corporate welfare dba pork ("Unconstitutional farm checkoffs," 11/01 NYT editorial, A28), but there also media counter-yelling against the people who are speaking truth to power -]
11/03 Prestigious party-poopers persist, by E.S. Browning & Aaron Lucchetti, WSJ, C1.
[We prefer to call them "stupidity-repeat stoppers."]
Let's say it right away: These guys could very well be wrong.
[No they couldn't.]
They admit that themselves.
[Just to get you to listen for one minute.]
But a few respected Wall Street economists are warning that the economy could be heading for a disappointment.
[Make that catastrophe. So who are these scattered seers in the land of the wilfully blind?]
...The doubters come from some of Wall Street's most prestigious brokerage firms:...
- "Profit growth is in the process of peaking right now.... It means it is going to be a more challenging environment," says David Rosenberg, chief North American economist at Merrill Lynch....
- Stephen Roach, Morgan Stanley's chief economist, frets..."There is an idea here that we have finally turned the corner on a big recovery [but] if I am right, it will be a big surprise for financial markets [and] disappointingfor stocks because it will call into question sustained earnings" growth.
[Note the welcome injection of the ecological concept of sustainability.]
- ...Some firms...doubt how fast the economy can grow, such as Goldman Sachs....
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).