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Timesizing News, Aug. 28-Sep.1, 2003
[Commentary] ©2003 Phil Hyde, Timesizing.com, Box 622, Porter Sq, Cambridge MA 02140 USA 617-623-8080


8/30-9/01/2003  primitive timesizing & worktime consciousness in the news = glimmers of strategic hope -

  1. 8/30 South Korea parliament approves five-day work week, Reuters 08/29/03 03:47 ET via AOLNews.
    SEOUL...- South Korea's parliament approved on Friday a labour bill cutting the official work week to five days from six and bringing the country in line with most other industrialised countries.... The bill, which reduces the work week to 40 hours from 44, effectively scrapping the practice of working a half day on Saturday, was approved by 141 votes [61%] out of 230, a National Assembly official said..\.. The revised bill [was] part of the election platform of South Korean President Roh Moo-Hyun, who took office in February....
    [Welcome, South Korea, to 1940 in the mainline of human evolution.   In the USA, the Fair Labor Standards Act established the first nationwide workweek cap (in terms of time&ahalf pay for wage workers' overtime) on Oct. 24, 1938 at 44 hours, reduced it to 42 in Oct/39 and 40 in Oct/40. South Korea has done it in one 4-hour jump (oops, nope, in one-year steps, by company size, in number of employees, starting with over 1000 on July 1 2004, over 300 7/01/2005, over 100 2006, over 50 2007, over 20 2008, unspecified to completion in 2011, see 7/10-12/2004 #2), just as today's most advanced economy, France, jumped from a 39- to a 35-hour workweek in 2000 for large companies and 2001 for small companies and government, though many companies transitioned earlier once the concept was approved in 1997. Both the U.S. and France achieved a one percent unemployment reduction for every one-hour reduction in the nationwide workweek.]
    ...Asia's two largest economies have already moved to a 40-hour week, with Japan changing in 1988 and China in 1997.
    ..\..Employers [in South Korea] say the shorter week will cut productivity.
    [How can it cut a per-hour variable? And if they really mean "cut production," restoring 44-hr/wk production levels (110%) is a simple matter of technological efficiency, and in many cases, merely a matter of opening the throttle slightly on all the robotic installations that are being held back for lack of markets.]
    ..\..A reduced working week on the surface appears beneficial for workers,
    [No, a reduced working week in the context of wave after wave of worksaving technology IS beneficial - and indeed, imperative for employees and employers and for production-consumption balance and for the long-term sustainability of the whole economy. The alternative is downsizing, work and income concentration and decirculation, and permanent under-capacity operation alias recession.]
    but labour groups said they opposed the plan because the government also wanted to chop the number of public holidays, hitting members' income and leisure time.
    [Workweek reduction provides much more leisure than workyear reduction via holiday observance. Almost any workweek reduction is worth the sacrifice of almost any number of annual holidays, of which there are usually just a maximum of about a dozen anyway. Do the numbers. Twelve annual 8-hour holy days = 96 hours. How much would you have to reduce the workweek to match that total? Only two hours. A workweek reduced by four hours restores the free time cut by the cancellation of 12 annual holidays in only 24 weeks. Only the umbrella unions in South Korea are gracelessly and stupidly opposing the nationwide 40-hour workweek at this point (see next paragraph) - the Hyundai and Kia Motor unions have each negotiated a 40-hour workweek in recent months and presumably rejoice at its arrival nationwide. The nationwide implementation can be expected to reduce unemployment and mop up some of South Korea's surplus labor. And once you have less of a labor surplus nationwide, labor has automatically has more bargaining power by the market forces of supply and demand, where shortage is always rewarded with a higher valuation and surplus with a lower one. With more power, the umbrella unions can more easily negotiate back any temporarily sacrificed holidays. So bottom line - to the umbrella unions we say, "Smarten up and quit your belly-aching!" This is a time when they should be revelling in victory and "locking in their profits"! However, what are these morons currently planning?]
    ..\..The revised bill...has been opposed by labour groups demanding more benefits to accompany the change.... Hundreds of workers belonging to the country's largest umbrella union groups held a protest rally near the National Assembly building and vowed to nullify the new law. "We won't accept this malicious law," the Federation of Korea Trade Unions said in a statement, arguing the revision completely ignored labour demands and reflected only the voice of management [presumably referring to the employers who opposed the shorter week because it would "cut productivity"]. "It will trigger a fresh round of labour disputes. We'll wage an all-out battle against managers and lawmakers."...
    [Sometimes the labor movement is its own worst enemy - no sense of timing, no sense of strategy, no sense of priorities, no concern about ununionized employees, no short-term whole-systems view, no concern about the long-range future of the individual business they work for or the overall industry and economy they work within.... The classic example is the way the New York City newspaper unions in the 1940s and 50s hastened the death of all but two or three NYC daily newspapers by making more and more demands at a time when newspaper circulation was flat or declining. The main hope of the labor movement - and all of us in terms of substantial human progress - is to create enough of a labor shortage through worktime reduction that we restore the centrifugal forces on the national income and re-activate spending and markets to match the capacity of the huge concentrated-income lumps throughout the top brackets dba 'investment.'   Reuters released 3 photos on South Korea's nationwide workweek shortening. Here are the captions, from mild to hot -]
    Photo captions, Reuters/Lee Jae-Won 8/29/03 via AOLNews.

  2. 9/01 German...industrial union elects leader, AP 08/31/03 14:19 EDT via AOLNews.
    FRANKFURT...- Germany's biggest industrial union on Sunday elected a new leader considered a hardline traditionalist,
    [but today, anyone who isn't a patsy for downsizing CEOs is spun by the 2-guy media as 'a hardline traditionalist.' Just as anyone who isn't a rightwing extremist is spun as a leftist socialist - Howard Dean for instance.]
    highlighting a bitter leadership fight that followed a failed strike for a shorter workweek in the east of the country. At a special congress of IG Metall [here], delegates voted by a 391-187 margin to install Juergen Peters, until now its deputy leader, for a 4-year term....
    [And the Reuters version -]
    9/01 IG Metall's new leader warns SPD over wages policy, AP 08/31/03 07:29 EDT via AOLNews.
    FRANKFURT...- The new leader of German engineering union IG Metall pledged on Sunday to resist pressure to "soften" its image as he repeated warnings to Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder's Social Democrats [SPD?] over economic reforms. ...Juergen Peters told delegates ahead of his formal election [that] IG Metall members did not pay union dues "to support a policy of dismantling social democracy."... Peters replaces Klaus Zwickel as head of IG Metall after the unoin was riven by internal wrangling over who was to blame for a failed campaign for a shorter working week in eastern Germany, the union's first unsuccessful strike in decades....
    [or rather, only partially successful, since only the steelworkers achieved a 35-hour workweek plan.]
    Peters won "only " 66% of votes cast at a special IG Metall congress, rather than the 80%+ norm for German union leaders.... It was the lowest result for an IG Metall leader since 1962..\.. Berthold Huber...received 67% for the deputy's position....
    [For Peters, we get 391/(391+187)= 391/578= 0.67647= 68%. For Huber, we get 397/(397+161)= 397/558= 0.711= 71%.]
    Schroeder has capitalised on the union's woes...to question Germany's tradition of collective wage bargaining, suggesting that wage deals struck at company or regional level are more appropriate....
    [= 'divide and conquer']
    ...Peters made clear he had little sympathy for the idea. Any attempt to change wage bargaining practice in Germany would be met by joint protests by IG Metall and the DGB..\..trade union confederation....

  3. [We continue with a couple of articles about America's time unaccountability, and without time accountability, anything you claim about time management and efficiency is unfounded tripe.]
    9/01 United Nations - US productivity tops, but work week longer, AP via Boston Globe, A10, flagged by colleague Kate.
    [and they don't adjust for this??]
    GENEVA - US workers are the world's most productive, but they put in more hours than Europeans to score higher, according to a study released today by the UN labor agency.
    [Isn't the whole point of productivity to divide by hours and come up with a measure of productivity? This nonsense can only be a sh*t-eating pacfication monkey-grin on the part of the United Nations toward The Last Superpower Standing.]
    Workers in France, Belgium, and Norway beat the Americans in productivity per hour, the ILO said in its new issue of Key Indicators of the Labor Market.
    [Or, maybe this was just snuggle-up wordgames - the headline should have read "US output per worker tops (trivial), but not productivity (= output per manhour).]
    The output per US worker last year was $60,728, the report said.
    [There goes the silly myth that output determines wages. How many US employees are making anywhere near that? Most of it is concentrated in the top brackets and unavailable for spending to purchase all the output, ergo "stumbling recovery."]
    Belgium, the highest-scoring EU member, had an output of $54,333 per worker. "Part of the difference in output...was due to the fact that Americans worked longer hours than their European counterparts," the ILO said.
    [Yep, the longest annual hours in the developed world does not make for efficiency.]

  4. 9/01 Off the clock - Many workers feel pressure not to accept overtime pay, by Diane Lewis, Boston Globe, front page, flagged by colleague Kate.
    Did overtime [pay] go out of style with the timeclock? The right to time&ahalf pay for work beyond 40 hours is one of the hardest-won achievements of the American labor movement, finally enshrined in law in 1938 after a bitter and divisive struggle.
    [Never mind how hard won. It was THE most significant and important and strategic and critical, because it was the farthest they ever got in futuristic, sustainable, efficient worksharing instead of backward, unsustainable, inefficient makework, that is, artificial fixed-workweek job creation.]
    Although some states had capped the workday at 8 hours shortly after the Civil War, it wasn't until late in the New Deal that aggressive union leaders, including the legendary John L. Lewis of the United Mine Workers, won congressional passage of the Fair Labor Standards Act [FLSA] that guaranteed overtime pay.
    Now, as the nation observes Labor Day and labor leaders direct harsh words at a Bush administration plan to redraw the rules for overtime, the verbal salvos pass unnoticed over the heads of many US workers. For them, overtime is a myth, no matter what the law books say.
    Take Annemarie Kennedy, an editorial assistant at a Massachusetts publishing company and an admitted "workaholic." She routinely works 45 hours per week [pre-1938 level], but never requests overtime pay, she said. She cites loyalty to her employer
    [let's see if that survives her first layoff]
    and a concern for job security in a weak economy. "Ours is a good company, [but we're not naming it, are we]
    and I feel I need to do the best job I can, even it means working 9 or 10 hours, sans lunch breaks, for 7 hours' pay," said Kennedy...of Gloucester MA.
    [So it's not just 45 hrs/wk. It's 45 or 50 hrs/wk that we're admitting to in the media. And even if it's just 45 hrs a wk for 7x5= 35 hrs/wk pay, that's a self-inflicted 45/35= 28.6% cut in hourly wage, self-inflicted except as incentivated by the huge hidden labor surplus thanks to the common downsizing, not timesizing, response to waves of worksharing technology. This way lies doom. To reverse the old labor rhyme -
    Whether you work by the piece or the day,
    Increasing the hours decreases the pay.
    - as in sweatshop = long hours, low pay
    or as in slavery = uncapped hours, no pay.
    Pay is determined by power alias bargaining power alias labor leverage at the bargaining table, and that in turn is determined by supply and demand - of labor on one side and employment on the other, jobseekers alias employer-seekers and job openings alias employee-seekers. Giving employers unlimited access equals being over-accessible, a mark of powerlessness and desperation. It's not good for anybody, because as wages sink and more money defaults to the top income brackets, it becomes too tightly concentrated to be spent, and the output of the nation can't be purchased and must be cut - unless you have a way ("GDP") of counting all kinds of bad output&purchasing, like arms mfrg and military spending - to camouflage your recession/depression.]
    "Last, part of the reason is probably fear. I know the economy isn't so very good. I want to go out of my way to make sure everything my supervisor and I are responsible for is taken care of in an organized, efficieint[??] way."
    Kennedy, who makes $15 an hour, is theoretically giving up $112.50 per week [assuming she only averages 45 hrs/wk = 5 overtime hours at time&ahalf.]
    The thought embarasses her, she said.
    [And so it should. She is powerless and alone.]
    "I don't make enough in the first place to justify working extra for free," she said. "I'm actually embarrassed when I think about how often I do."
    [She is submitting to routine daylight robbery, to an illegal 'protection scheme,' to forced charity for the rich, which harms the rich along with her, because it robs them of sustainable investments and plunges them from one bubble investment market to another.]
    Hourly employees such as Kennedy who do not hold administrative, managerial, or executive jobs and have no managerial duties [the theory being that these exceptions have enough innate power to protect themselves from time abuse? - ha!] are guaranteed overtime under the FLSA. Some professionals are also legally entitled to overtime, provided the have no policy-setting responsibilities.
    In 2001, the last year for which data are available, 80 million American workers, or about 55% of the country's workforce of 146.5m, were guaranteed a right to overtime, according to the US Labor Dept. Of those, 71m were hourly employees and 9m were salaried.
    [Meaning that, in general, a salary is an employer's blank check on your life.]
    However, the Department keeps no statistics on the workers, perhaps numbering in the millions, who are entitled to overtime but do not claim it.
    Teri Franklin, product manager for Expedia.com, the online travel service, said its 2003 survey of 1,000 working adults found that 63% work more than 40 hours per week. But a hard core - one in five [20%] of all workers - work the bulk of the overtime.
    Specialists said employees are most likely to forgo overtime pay, like other job benefits, during economic downturns.
    [that is, during periods of more obvious, less concealable High Unemployment and Labor Surplus. The huge and growing labor surplus is usually hidden under a variety of categories, such as no-option self-'employment,' forced part time, pressured early retirement, unemployment, welfare, disability, homelessness, prison, and suicide.]
    "Culturally, the job insecurity set off by downsizing has meant that there are now more people working longer to try and protect their jobs," said Joe Robinson, author of the 2003 book Work to Live: The Guide to Getting a Life. "But it is a futile exercise because defensive workers who work longer, come in on weekends, and seek no compensation for it are just as likely to get axed."
    [That's "work to live" as distinct from the workaholic's unbalanced, and often unsustainable, pattern of "live to work."]
    Joanne Ciulla, author of "The Working Life: The Promise and Betrayal of Modern Work," said some workers avoid claiming overtime for more positive reasons. "...They tend to put their work before other things on their own, without even asking their employers," Ciulla said in a telephone interview. "No industrial worker does that.
    [not necessarily none, but certainly few]
    "Professionals tend to do it because their work is part of what they think of themselves." [The phenomenon is that of the Little Toymaker Who Never Worked a Day in His Life - because he enjoyed it so much, it was all play, not work.]
    "Some people just love their jobs and the job is their life," said Ciulla, who teaches leadership and ethics at the University of Richmond in Virginia. "There are a whole lot of people like that. The one test of whether that is good is whether the job [makes] the rest of life good. For some people, it does."
    [Ciulla doesn't go nearly far enough in her concept of "the rest of life" that needs to be made good to test whether you really love the job or the money. The rest of life also includes the rest of the economy, the whole big group of people participating in the job market, or trying to, and if you're hogging more than 40 hours a week without accountability, something important that you could and should be sharing, then you're contributing to recession and economic unsustainability. In fact, you're contributing to the whole chain of hidden under-employment that we mentioned above: no-option self-'employment,' forced part time, pressured early retirement, unemployment, welfare, disability, homelessness, prison, and suicide. The Timesizing Progam handles this kind of Little Toymaker workaholism and monopolization in Phase Three, where we have a more accountable test of whether really love the job or the money. If you really love the job, you won't mind not making unaccountable spending power from your overtime (as indeed the people in these examples seem not to) and you will be willing to reinvest your overtime earnings in sharing your love by hiring, and if necessary, training others, thus sweetening the job market for the under-employed and contributing to balancing the economy for the long term instead of destabilizing and de-sustainabilizing it. But though there may be "a whole lot" of people like the Little Toymaker, most people working overtime during a "stumbling recovery" (ha!) aren't -]
    The American employer has traditionally gauged workers' commitment by the number of [free] hours they put in, according to Robinson, the author. He believes the situation has reached new extremes because of anxiety over layoffs. [And he's right!] "I talked to a woman who put in 90 hours per week for a company in Silicon Valley," Robinson said in a telephone interview. "Her hair was falling out; she had hives and insomnia. She could not sleep more than an hour-and-a-half at a time. She'd call in the middle of the night and leave messages for co-workers. Then, after all that dedication, she was let go."
    When Towers Perrin, a mgmt consulting firm, looked at how workers feel about their jobs, it found that workload was the single biggest factor shaping employees' views, accounting for about 15% of their emotional response to their jobs. The 2003 study of 1,100 found that because of cost-cutting and downsizing, many workers felt overworked, burned out, or angry, but stayed on the job because of economic insecurity.
    [So much for the happytalk from the Wall Street Journal on Friday (see "America works - Honk if you love your job," 8/29/2003 #4).]
    For some, this led to unpaid overtime. One worker said, "I'm angry because there's not enough time to do what's required so I often wind up working without pay."
    [Slavery returns to America, millimeter by millimeter, inch by inch.]
    Workers at the bottom of the wage scale, the very workers the federal law is intended to protect, often lose out on overtime pay for a different reason - because they are unaware of their rights. However, the overtime rules are headed for a drastic change. The Labor Dept.'s proposed new regulations, due early next year, are intended to eliminate antiquated job descriptions and salary levels. The proposed rules would exclude professionals who earn $65,000 or more and perform one supervisory duty. Union workers with contracts providing for overtime would not be affected by the changes, nor would hourly employees who earn $65,000 or more per year.
    The Labor Dept. estimates that [only] about 644,000 salaried professionals would lose overtime pay under the new rules. But unions argue that many more workers would be made ineligible. A June 2003 study backed by the labor movement and released by the Economic Policy Institute, a thinktank in DC, estimates that as many as 8 million workers could lose the right to collect time&ahalf when the new rules take effect.
    [And imagine the dampener that is going to have on spending - and the impact on the 'stumbling recovery.']
    One government proposal has won union support: raising the wage ceiling for supervisors eligible for overtime from $8,060 to $21,500. The Department estimates an additional 1.3m people would gain overtime coverage [from that].
    [Thank you, Diane. That's one great article!]

  5. [So in general in America -]
    8/30 Labor leaders not festive this holiday, by Leigh Strope, AP 08/29/03 09:03 EDT via AOLNews.
    WASHINGTON - ...New data Thursday indicated the economy is improving, yet the gains are failing to reach the working class, they said. ...Said AFL-CIO Pres. John Sweeney..."Far too many people are out of work and many have been out of work a long time.... White-collar as well as blue-collar employees are losing jobs, and many of these jobs aren't coming back."
    ..\..The economy...grew at a...3.1% annual rate...yet...has lost 2.7 million net jobs since the recession began in March 2001, and the average time people are unemployed is more than 19 weeks. The nation's unemployment rate is at 6.2%.... A flood of US jobs are going overseas..., said Richard Trumka, AFL-CIO secy-treasurer. [Even] the National Assoc. of Manufacturers, in its annual Labor Day report, said "urgently needed policy changes" were needed to restore the millions of jobs lost.
    ...Sweeney blamed the Bush administration for the poor economic outlook for workers. Three rounds of tax cuts passed by Congress have gone to the wealthiest taxpayers and exploded the federal deficit, he said.... Sweeney also criticized the administration's proposal to change overtime rules....

  6. [but workers also have themselves to blame, for retaining this kind of pre-technology mentality -]
    9/01 2003 Louisiana worker of the year announced, PR Newswire 08/31/2003 08:00 EDT via AOLNews.
    ...DEVILLE, La...- To honor hardworking people across the nation on Labor Day, Dickies Workwear is proud to announce...the 2003 Louisiana Worker of the Year is...painting contractor and firefighter David Lemmons of Deville.... Mr. Lemmons is a member of the Alexandria Fire Dept., where he works 56 hours a week in addition to his 35 hours a week as a painting contractor..\..
    [56+35= an 81-hour workweek? That's the level the whole country had in the 1840s. The labor movement allied with forward-thinking CEOs fought for 100 years to win the 40-hour workweek and this dufus is throwing it all away, and hogging another person's share of the vanishing market-demanded employment in this automating, robotizing world.]
    He was nominated by his daughter, Erica White, who wrote in her winning essay, "He exemplifies the American spirit of a worker because he is...the hardest working man I know.... He is my hero...."
    [This guy isn't a hero. He's a criminal. And if this is the American spirit of a worker, the promise of technology will continue to be transformed into a curse for America, the curse of overwork for fewer and fewer and for more and more, the lethal chain of hidden under- and un-employment, including no-option (& no clients) self-'employment,' forced part time, pressured early retirement, unemployment, welfare, disability, homelessness, prison, and suicide.]
    "Any man should work hard for his family...," said Mr. Lemmons. "I've tried to set a standard in this house that hard work pays off."...
    [This attitude would be dandy prior to the Industrial and Cybernetic Revolutions, but today, it's a lemon. When will Mr. Lemmons catch up to "working smart, not hard"?]

8/29/2003  primitive timesizing & worktime consciousness in the news = glimmers of strategic hope -
  1. [first, some good news -]
    Washington wire -...Outfoxed, by Jackie Calmes, WSJ, A4.
    After losing a trademark-infringement suit against critic comedian Al Franken [see "Oh, they hate him so" on the opposite page & 8/23 NYT A12], Fox News suffers a second defeat in the usually friendly [not to say, sycophantic] Bush administration. Denying a Fox petition, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration won't reconsider a new limit on truckers' hours. Fox argued it would be "forced to cover fewer news stories" if satellite-truck drivers weren't available. The agency said Fox's bid was inconsistent with safety goals.

  2. [then, epidemic time mismgmt in the American medical 'system' from within -]
    The unhealthy paper chase, op ed by psychiatrist Elissa Ely, Boston Globe, A19, flagged by colleague Kate.
    ...Many universes are now housed in one hospital.... Those on the front lines are expected to give equal and full attention to...each separate universe.... In the basement, there is the Legal Universe.... Upstairs, there is the Committee Universe.... On patient floors, the Group Therapy Universe expects all daily groups to be led and docoumented. ...The Billing Universe requires all hours each week to be justified.... Within that universe, there is a smaller but equally fiery galaxy, where documentation must be exquisitely detailed according to Medicare manual requirements.
    Together, these many universes are supposed to better patient care. My own hunch is that patients are onto the fact that we have almost no time left for them.... A nurse...told me she foresees when she will work a full shift without speaking to a single patient.... Patient contact continues to deteriorate.
    This devolution...strikes me as a microcosmic example of misgrowth in the greater world. We are busier doing less, burdened by technology meant to lighten our loads, led by a government notorious for its political secrecy while full of plans to invade individual privacy....
    [and gov't talk of freedom and liberty while rolling back the most basic freedom, free time.]

  3. [and in another step backwards in free-time-terrified America -]
    Giving Fridays some class - More colleges are pushing [back up to] a five-day workweek; Next: math at 7:30 a.m., by Elizabeth Bernstein, WSJ, W1.
    ...There's something new on the schedule for America's college students this year: a 5-day workweek.
    [That's not new - it's 63 years old.]
    ..\..After years of watching students take 3-day weekends..\..Wesleyan University...is scheduling more classes at week's end.... From Syracuse to Miami [to] Ohio, schools across the country are bringing back more Friday classes to ease up on a lecture-hall space crunch - and cut down on an extra day of partying, too. Indiana University is considering 7:30 a.m. classes next year, while the University of Richmond tells professors to give Friday quizzes to prevent class-cutting....
    [Puritanism in America - the nagging suspicion that somebody, somewhere, is having a good time.]
    The move is something of a shift at many schools, which in recent years have been pampering kids with perks like cushy dorm rooms and gourmet cafeterias. But with tuition at record levels and the economy still off, school officials say more parents want a full week's worth of teaching for their money. Study habits are another issue, with extended weekends encouraging extra procrastination.
    [Oh really.]
    The there are the administrators who say idle Fridays just plain look bad....
    [Especially in a culture that is fostering such job insecurity that people are staying at work longer and longer, not shorter and shorter, and while the concentration of market-demanded employable hours sends more and more Americans to the devil - forced part-time, forced early retirement, unemployment, welfare, disability, homelessness and prison - we MUST all remember, "The devil finds work for idle hands to do" - and to hell with the leisure industries. Our grandparents fought for the weekend, and we're giving it all back -]
    ..\..For Wesleyan University sophomore Dana Taussig, getting back to college means Saturdays at drama rehearsals and Sundays in the library....
    [Gotta train them kids for the unlimited workweek of the great American sweatshop in the new American Third World. The 5-day workweek is 60 years old. The 48-hour 6-day workweek is 80 years old. The 72-hour 6-day workweek goes back to the Fourth Commandment of Moses, c.1500 BC. And the unlimited workweek goes back indefinitely. So much for "something new on the schedule." Traditional Australian aborigines could handle the leisure left them by a workweek of only 20 hours, but such freedom, real freedom, terrifies Americans. Perhaps they're not so free as they'd like to convince themselves by their incessant self-congratulatory rhetoric. "The slave loves his chains."]

  4. America works - Honk if you love your job, editorial, WSJ, A8.
    [This is a major attempt by the CEOs' newspaper, armed with a collection of surveys from a rightwing thinktank (American Enterprise Institute) to convince themselves, and CEOs, that the majority of American employees are happy with their jobs - there's nary a mention of rampant job insecurity and the resulting expansion of working hours back to 19th century levels. Shades of the club conversation of America's plantation owners prior to the 1860s, "Yessir, we've got happy slaves I tell you!" Note the Journal's own contradiction of this happytalk in the manufacturing sector, below, item #5, "As it turns out, solidarity is not forever," and a much more straightforward rebuttal on Monday in the Boston Globe: 8/30-9/01/2003 #2. Note also the article right beside this one today -]
    Blue-state pols are emptying their own states, by Daniel Henninger, WSJ, A8.
    [in which we learn that -]
    ...If you look down the Census Bureau's coming-and-going column...the consistent [except for the 3 exceptions] breakdown of 8 Democratic blue-state population losers [CA CT IL MA MI NJ NY PA] and 8 Republican red-state gainers [AZ CO FL NV NC SC TN TX] is striking (...exceptions: Oregon & Washington gained, while Louisiana lost).
    [It's not spelled out but we think the essense of blueness here is population loss and of redness, population gain.]
    This may leave the blue states bluer than ever, but not very pleasant places to live if their most industrious, motivate [workaholic?] citizens are loading up one-way U-Hauls....
    [Oh we don't know....considering that the Republican states are all in ignorant and racist Dixie or the ignorant and redneck West. Many are states that have been kept poor or impoverished by uncapped work&income concentration and a widening income gap. Was it Republican policies that did that or did the Republicans win the South too recently to be blamed? The fact is, the North and Northeast have long been more progressive and industrialized, whether under progressive Republicans (1860s-1920s) or progressive Democrats (1930s-present, if you can still call Dems 'progressive'), so it's natural that property values would be higher in the north, and the pattern would develop of making money in the north and buying bigger property with it in the more backward, less-industrialized south. Plus historically greater mechanization and automation in the North would force greater respect for overtime laws regardless of race, since the alternative of a huge underclass would overwhelm state budgets, even before Prop.2½. Again, compare neighboring editorial -]
    The other commandments - Regulation: the good, the bad and the ugly, editorial, WSJ, A8.
    ...We're talking about what the Cato Institute calls the "Ten Thousand Commandments" in its recently released snapshot of the federal regulatory state. ...Last year the Federal Register swelled to an all-time record of 75,606 pages, which tops the previous record of 74,258 pages set in the last year of the Clinton presidency..\..
    [So a Republican presidency is even worse than a Democratic presidency in terms of the blizzard of micromanaging regulations. It still hasn't occurred to the WSJ that if you avoid balancing the center by regulation, you're going to have to make a LOT more, much less efficient regulatory balancing efforts everywhere BUT the center, or to ask where that "center" might be. (We suggest that since 1933, the amount of federal regulation and bureaucracy devoted directly and indirectly to makework and job creation and maintenance, however artificial {eg: pork and patronage}, has been the fastest growing part of 'government' and that if we quit straining for artificial job creation and shifted to natural, market-oriented work sharing, we'd make it much easier for everyone to support themselves so that government and taxpayers wouldn't have to.) It also hasn't occurred to the WSJ that lack of growth is no longer the major problem, but lack of centrifugation of work and income. In short, it's no longer the size of the pie but the slicing thereof, not slow expansion dba hollow bubbles but solid-expansion-blocking maldistribution. Instead, the Journal focuses on a single byproduct of this overconcentration of work and income -]
    In addition to detailing the scope and impact of federal legislation, the report points the way to the only real cure: more accountability from Congress. ...The challenge posed by expanding regulations is as much constitutional as it is economic. Simply put, what we have now is regulation without representation....
    [Whoa, isn't this the same newspaper that supported the Supreme Court's bizarre confusion of unlimited political $$ contributions with free speech? Isn't this the same rag that has opposed all attempts at campaign finance reform? When the newspaper of CEOs and the wealthy, with all their swarming PACs and lobbyists, starts complaining about lack of representation in Congress, maybe we have gone beyond the capabilities of representative democracy to provide timely reality checks and need to get going on the direct democracy to restore the feedback function, not only to our plutocratic government but to the insulated and isolated top brackets that corrupt it with their astronomically concentrated income, a function of the gross and growing hidden labor surplus that they so carefully foster, and camouflage (as forced part time, forced early retirement, unemployment, welfare, disability, homelessness and prison).]

  5. As it turns out, solidarity is not forever, by Tunku Vadarajan, WSJ, W11.
    [No introduction provided, but it appears that an immigrant from the subcontinent (unless 'Tunku' is somehow Finnish like 'Turku') is going to enlighten us about Labor Day, and while sucking up to the power elite, ease our slide into the 3rd world from which s/he came.]
    I don't mean to be a killjoy here, and mean even less to suggest that the holiday be abolished,
    [but thanks so much for putting the idea in the first sentence - did you get it from the French right?]
    but I can't help thinking that Labor Day - in its origins no better than a kind of blue-collar Kwanzaa - ought to be regarded with a dash of skepticism.
    [Phew, how many can we offend at once?! Assuming Tunku is a person of color, we have another example of minorities being their own worst enemies. As we understand it, Kwanzaa was the historically recent brainchild of a small minority within the larger black minority, while Labor Day was first celebrated by the Knights of Labor in 1882, is a legal holiday in the U.S. and Canada, and however weak the unions may now have become from ignoring their power issue (of labor-surplus prevention by shorter hours, backed up by interest-rate and population moderation), labor as distinct from management includes the vast majority of Americans.]
    Labor Day is really now no more than a species of cultural punctuation...that marks the termination of the holiday season. ...The day...is meaningless, imbued as it is with a false romanticism, one that connects not at all with the way we live now.
    [Never mind that disconnect is losing our domestic consumer base to, you guessed it, forced part time, forced early retirement, unemployment, welfare, disability, homelessness and prison.]
    ...The average American lives now in a competitive, postindustrial, service-dominated deteriorating?!] world. ...Today's unions are no longer proud standard-bearers of a craft or metier, or even of an economic class.
    [Cut to the bottom line: they're down to less than 14% of the American workforce, while in the 1950s they were up to 39%. But here's what this is all about -]
    Instead, they are vast political engines [vast? unions thank you!], in the service of the Democratic Party [aha], dinosaurs that thunder into view whenever there is an election.
    [True, unions will continue to be irrelevant if they continue to ignore their power issue (shorter worktime), but the spoiled dysfunctionality and corruption of American management has been so blatant of late that it's actually triggering a resurgence of the labor movement, even (or especially?) among conservatives. But then Tunku gives us the usual partyline exaggeration about how the majority of Americans are really rich supporters of the super-rich -]
    The class struggle has pretty much withered away in America....
    [But stay tuned....]
    ...Workers with their 401ks, pension plans and mutual funds are all capitalists now.
    [Not with recent bubble-burst losses and gov't&CEO-looting of pensions. The Tunku gets all squishy and condescending about labor history -]
    ...Each episode was a notable historical moment, of course, contentious and politically charged; and part of the world we work in today was shaped by those events: [what a concession!]
    [Like so many top-bracket wannabes and cuddle-ups, this climber has already insulated him/herself from the eroding realities of the American workplace today, and takes for granted, with a slight nod to labor history marred with sarcasm ("Henry Clay Frick...preface[d] every working-class upheaval with the word 'great'"), the 'civilized' framework of that workplace, largely a union creation. S/he also sees blue-collar status as something only to leave and perpetuates the comforting myth of the wealthy that anybody has an easy chance at doing so -]
    On the positive side, America's preference for "blue collar" [instead of the term "working class"] suggests a widespread belief that bottom-of-the-heap need only be a transient state. Why ossify a group into an enduring class when the aim of most individuals in that group is to leave it?
    [Suddenly "class" is more confining than "collar" - in Tunku's twisted mind maybe. And as for "most individuals in that group aiming to leave it," Tunku apparently doesn't know much about the dignity of labor and hasn't polled most individuals in that group - who were and are quite satisfied with that kind of hands-on job.]
    Com to think of it, that's American labor's great march. Onward, and upward. Workers of America unite, you have nothing to lose but your blue collar.
    [Suddenly CEO-suckup Tunku becomes a spokesperson for American labor just long enough to impute self-detestation to them? This Tunku Varadarajan is quite an alien "piece of work," probably in more ways than one. If there's any self-detestation going on here, you'd better "speak for thyself," Tunku Varadarajan.]
    [Followup -]
    Hogwash to you, sir! Labor Day is still viable, letter to ed by John R. Phillips of Palm Harbor FL, 9/08/2003 WSJ, A17.
    ...Mr. Varadarajan argues that...wage, hour and health & safety issues are passe...and that Labor Day is meaningless.... Tell that to -

8/28/2003  primitive timesizing & worktime consciousness in the news = glimmers of strategic hope -
  1. [To break through to wartime heights of prosperity without war, the one thing we need to enforce (and preferably redesign) is our workweek cap. You thought France was the only place with overtime police (= a Good Thing!) ?  - Here's a hopeful story about overtime police in America -]
    Sleep-deprived doctors, pointer summary (to D15), WSJ, D1.
    The Council that accredits medical residency programs is threatening to decertify a Johns Hopkins program. Regulators say residents were forced to work too many hours, a violation of rules designed to prevent sleepy [and error-prone!] physicians.
    [And here's the indicated article -]
    Johns Hopkins Hospital to lose an accreditation, by Peter Landers, WSJ, D15.
    The body in charge of policing medical schools' treatment of residents [= doctors in training]...the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education \ACGME\ has told Johns Hopkins University it plans to strip the accreditation of an internal-medicine residency program at the university's hospital, citing alleged violations of rules about how long residents can work. The ACGME [is] demonstrat[ing] that it is vigorously enforcing the work-hours rules in light of public concern about the care provided by sleep-deprived residents.... Johns Hopkins officials...received a letter 2 weeks ago...informing the university that an internal-medicine residency program...with 110 residents will lose its accreditation on July 1, 2004....
    David Nichols, vice dean for education at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine...said the issue was whether the hospital can put a resident on a night-call shift every other night for a short period, provided that the resident is on call only one night out of three averaged over a 4-week period. The hospital thought it could, but the ACGME said that "no every-other-night call is ever allowed," Dr. Nichols said.
    [This prestigious but very sick institution of healing seems intent on disrupting people's lives as much as they possibly can. Every-other-night calls indeed!]
    ...Dr. Nichols said, "The Johns Hopkins internal-medicine program is one of the best programs in the country.
    [At creating zombies?]
    "Decertification seems a bit extreme given the quality of the program."
    [Wake up, Dr. Nichols. You and your sadistic, exploitative and grossly overpaid colleagues may be a bit overtired.]
    He said the ACGME hadn't given Johns Hopkins a warning or a chance to improve before deciding on the punishment.
    [If they've been ignoring their own residents all these weeks/months/years, why would they respect a warning from a hitherto in-the-pocket part of the old-boys' network? Now this arrogant school must change and do some public scrambling, instead of the usual hush-hush 'fix.' Besides, the ACGME gave them a whole year to crawl back, and while we're all enjoying the spectacle, the rest of the haughty med schools in this land of healthcare chaos will find it hard to miss the message.]
    The hospital has changed its shifts to comply with the ACGME's interpretation, he said. ...The university may formally ask the ACGME to reconsider or it may submit a new application to be accredited....
    [We applaud the ACGME for nailing a school with the biggest stuffed shirts in the healthcare industry to get the message out - the patient-endangering and pathological gauntlet of fatigue imposed by the American medical establishment on its newcomers - with many carryovers - is on the way out. The American public is fed up with it, and frightened to put themselves in the hands of these zombie healers, who like the blind guides of Christ's day, "strain out gnats and swallow camels."]

  2. 4 Sri Lankan trainees sue Hub [Boston] firm, by *David Abel, Boston Globe, front page.
    The ad in the Sri Lankan newspaper promised "Free! Restaurant Training in the USA." Of thousands of ambitious hospitality students who responded, Dev Srilan and 14 others won slots in what was described as an 18-month "training course" with Finagle A Bagle, the award-winning Boston-based franchise, which said it was seeking managers to run new sandwich shops in Asia.
    Instead, after obtaining special visas for training programs and moving into company-provided housing here last September, Srilan said, he and the other Sri Lankans were required by the company to work as much as 75 hours a week for under $300 [$4/hr] - less than minimum wage - at jobs ranging from cashiers to bagel makers.
    When he and others complained about the lack of training, they said, the company fired 2 of them, and threatened to call the Dept. of Homeland Security to deport them if they did not leave the country immediately. "I was made to feel like I was their slave - we couldn't question anything," Srilan said.
    Yesterday, he and 3 other Sri Lankans filed a class-action lawsuit in federal court against Finagle A Bagle, alleging the company broke minimum wage and overtime laws, unfairly terminated their employment, threatened them and their families in Sri Lanka with retaliatory action, and violated the terms of their H-3 visas, which specifically prohibit "productive employment" or a position "in the normal operation of the business."...
    [With American businessmen like this, who needs foreign terrorists? BOYCOTT Finagle a Bagle - they deserve bankruptcy, not awards.]
    They also filed complaints against the company with the US Equal Opportunity Commission, the Wage & Hour Division of the US Dept. of Labor, the Mass. Commission Against Discrimination, and the state Attorney General....
    [Damn, these guys are GOOD!]
    The Sri Lankan plaintiffs, according to time sheets provided to the [Boston] Globe, spent as much as 75 hours a week working, without overtime [pay]. No matter how many hours they worked, they said, each earned just $287.50 a week [so now it's down to $3.83/hr].... Kevin Dirckze [still working for Finagle a Bagel] said he often worked 75 hours a week as a manager.... All the work, their attorney said, is banned by the terms of their visa. ...Shannon Liss-Riordan [is] an attorney referred to the Sri Lankans by the state's Dept. of Labor & Workforce Development. "The bottom line is that the company used these well-educated, English-speaking employees as cheap labor, because they come from a country where the wages are much lower than here."...
    [Let this be a lesson to executives across the USA - if you want sweatshop labor from a low-wage country, make sure they're not well-educated and English-speaking.]

  3. [Let's do this bizarre proposed step-backward on workyear reduction in steps -]
    France reacted, pointer summary (to A8), WSJ, front page.
    ...to heat deaths by weighing an end to one of its many holidays and using the taxes to fund better care for the elderly.
    [And jump to the Times version -]
    France: Plan to cut holiday to aid elderly, Agence France-Presse via NYT, A6.
    [That should make the elderly, who already feel uncomfortably burdensome, eversomuch more comfortable!]
    The government [ie: Chirac & self-styled 'conservatives'] said it might ask workers to give up a public holiday in order to finance measures to help the elderly after thousands died in the summer's devastating heatwave. "It would be, as is done in Germany, a bank holiday on which employees would work in the name of national public solidarity," the secretary of state for the elderly, Hubert Falco, said. He declined to name which of France's 11 holidays might be eliminated, but speculation focused on [VE Day] Victory in Europe Day, May 8....
    [Ya know, with sissyhawks like Bush-Cheney-Wolfowitz&Rummy running America into fatuous wars and badmouthing ungrateful-for-American-liberation-from-Nazis France for not joining them, VE Day might be an excellent ho liday to "retire" from the calendar - throughout Europe. (Plaudits to author/journalist Calvin Trillin seen on Charlie Rose's show this week for the wonderfully multiply compacted and accurately descriptive connotations of "sissyhawks"! - none of these "tough guys" has a son in the military.) Jump back to the Journal version, main article -]
    To fund care for elderly, France weighs working an extra day, AP via WSJ, A8.
    PARIS -...France's center-right government, assailed by criticism that it reacted too slowly to the heatwave and the plight of elderly people left alone, is scrambling for solutions to patch up flaws in a health system that struggled with a deluge of heat-stricken victims.... Under the proposal, taxes gathered from an extra work day each year would finance improved care for the elderly....
    [Then the Journal, possibly following AP, proceeds with the usual attempt to smear worktime reduction as socialist or communist - a great misfortune since it is the only free-market compatible, non-socialist, peacetime alternative to the present-day penchant for decrementing consumption by downsizing the workforce -]
    The idea of eliminating any day off touches a nerve. Labor laws passed by the previous Socialist government restricted the working week for many [we understood it was for all] to 35 hours. Alain Bocquet, head of the Communist group at the French parliament, was up in arms. "There's no question of touching holidays," he said.
    [Then we get the pre-technology partyline from the ignorant wing of the other side -]
    But Ernest-Antoine Seilliere, president of France's leading business federation, which opposed the 35-hour week, welcomed the idea.
    [...regardless of all the extra business that the 4-hour workweek reduction - and resulting 4% additional employment - reaped for his constituents. But he's so busy himself, he's GOT to be important, and working more has GOT to be the solution to everything, right? -]
    "The idea that we can solve problems by working more is a big first for our country," he said on Europe-1 radio.
    [No it isn't. It was the reigning idea for centuries before the last 200 years when technology started shouldering more and more and more of the predictable parts of human employment.]
    "We will solve our problems only if we work more, and we all know that the time has passed for the illusion that we can be more united and make the French system function all while eyeing leisure time."
    [The only one who knows that, M.Seilliere, is your history- and technology-ignorant self - and your masochistic club of workaholics, desperate to keep as much control over as many people's time as you can, whatever the cost to your own businesses. It seems that increasing worktime, like rape, is at bottom an issue of power and control. There's an irony about this Journal article about "gotta solve our problems by working more!" in that it is ensconced in one corner of a larger article about the city of Paris' trying to change its imposing, sober, chilly, inaccessible, beautiful but haughty image - in short, trying to lighten up -]
    Paris gets a makeover, by Vauhini Vara, WSJ, A8.
    [The AP and Reuters versions of our main story are -]
    France may scrap holiday to finance care, by John Leicester, AP 08/27/03 17:00 EDT via AOLNews.
    PARIS - France, a country where leisure time is sacrosanct, is mulling a radical plan for financing healthcare after a heatwave estimated to have killed thousands: Make people work on a national holiday.
    [At last someone is calling a spade a spade - this plan from 'conservatives' is radical.]
    The idea, which the government floated Wednesday, immediately split opinion and provoked one main question - which of France's 11 national holidays should go? Labor Day, perhaps, or a religious festival?... Ever wary of angering France's powerful unions, the government insisted it still hadn't made a decision. But even considering the idea shows how seriously the government is taking calls to improve care for the elderly, who made up most of the victims from the record temperatures that baked Europe this month....
    [Or how many people, even in the world's most advanced economy in terms of the shortest nationwide workweek, still don't understand the timesizing imperative that technology lays upon every automating and robotizing economy - if they want to maintain their consumer base.]
    Hamlaoui Mekachera, secretary of state for war veterans, told AP that if the plan is adopted, social taxes from the extra workday could help finance elderly care. ...Hubert Falco noted that Germany has made people work the Day of Penance and Prayer in November to finance care for the aged since 1995....
    [Bizarre - anything but tax those who have waaay too much even if the resulting "forced volunteerism" is tantamount to slavery, a further step from the weird "suggested donations" that began eclipsing free-to-the-public events in Canada and the U.S. in the early 1960s.]
    ...The United States has 10 federally declared holidays.
    [That's not so different from the 11 in France, but, as if workaholic USA (or Japan) is any model of appropriate behavior in the Robotics Age in the first place, watch how this mere one-day difference in holidays is twisted into laying both "long" annual vacation and "short" weekly working hours on the line -]
    But the French, long connoisseurs of fine living, take pride in their generous paid vacations that are in addition to the 11 national holidays. The law guarantees all workers five weeks of paid vacation per year, and legislation passed under the previous Socialist government limits the working week to 35 hours for most employees.
    [Lord Christ, this treats an advanced reduced workweek as an object of shame instead of what it should be in this day and age - merely a control variable that is constantly gradually adjusted to keep everyone employed as technology shoulders more and more human toil. You want "solidarity"?! - then quit excluding more and more people from the workforce by introducing technology on the excuse that it will "make life easier for everyone" and then turning around and downsizing the workforce in response to it rather than downsizing worktime, especially the workweek! Again, these morons proceed to a discussion of which holiday to sacrifice. Note that the first suggestion in this article was Labor Day (above), so this is what labor has to say -]
    On the political left, there was outrage.... Jean-Claude Mailly, a leader of the Workers' Force trade union, said a wealthy country like France should not have to make workers labor longer to finance health care.
    [Oh but isn't it always the role of the right to dismantle the money centrifuge and make the poorer, not the richer, pay - until the whole economy sinks into depression from weakness of markets? Then, of course, the right acts surprised about the lack of effective demand - "Where did all the consumers go???"]
    The union, he warned, would not take kindly to the abolition of the May 1 Labor Day holiday.
    [Then this clever fellow makes the point we made above -]
    "It's enforced charity, totally unacceptable," he said in an interview.
    [The article gives the last word to workaholism and increased concentration of employment, and further unbalancing of worktime (and down the line: income, wealth, credit...) -]
    But Ernest-Antoine Seilliere, president of MEDEF, France's leading business federation, said one less holiday would be "fantastic."...
    [Clearly missing a chip on his motherboard. Here's the Reuters version of the story -]
    France eyes cut in holidays to help elderly, Reuters 08/27/03 10:30 ET via AOLNews.
    PARIS - ..."It is a measure under consideration," government spokesman Jean-Francois Cope told reporters of the idea, raised by welfare groups in a meeting with PM Jean-Pierre Raffarin....
    "I think it's wonderful," said Ernest-Antoine Seilliere, head of the Medef association.
    [Employers' associations are enemies of anyone's freedom but their own - even though free time is the basis of all freedoms, including their own. Even so, they are willing to sacrifice this basis to regain power, power over people's lives, power over people's time - regardless of a constantly automating workplace.]
    "The idea we can sort out problems by working more is truly original in this country, at least for the past six years," said Seilliere, a campaigner against the 35-hour work week introduced by the Socialist-led government ejected from power last year.
    [(A) Here we get the full quote, that acknowledges the idea is "original" only for the last 6 years. (B) Seilliere has completely forgotten that workweek reduction was an idea that even the political right in France had been forced to come up with - on the voluntary basis of the Robien Law, 1996-97 - but their version was too slow to make a dent on unemployment, so the majority of French voters went for the alternative, the Socialists, who promised to more quickly finish the one-hour-per-year process of bringing in the 35-hour workweek they'd started in 1982 but had been interrupted in after only the first year's one-hour reduction. (C) The Socialist-led government was not "ejected" from power last year - it was edged out of power by a nose, because the majority of voters, still on the left, had foolishly split their votes among the greater number of left-side choices, impatient with the major Socialist choice on their side and unmindful of the facts that (1) he had taken care of the basics, namely getting a 4-hour reduction in the workweek = 4% reduction in the unemployment rate that gave them more power by making them (labor) less of a cheap surplus commodity, and (2) "things take time." (D) What's it going to take to get through people's heads that "working hard" in terms of "long" in the age of floods and floods of worksaving technology IS UNNECESSARY and COUNTER-PRODUCTIVE to the point of DYSFUNCTIONAL?!! Long hours of human employment ARE NOT NEEDED ANY MORE! In fact, they are disemploying people, funnelling increasingly less-urgently demanded and less highly paid human employment onto fewer and fewer people and into fewer and fewer hours per week, and allowing the national income of all technology-introducing economies to funnel into unspendably tight concentrations in the top income brackets - and wake up, people, less spending means weaker markets. Weaker markets eventually mean weaker production - once we stop inventing new bogus "production" with which to inflate our GDP, such as America's wasteful wars in Islamic lands, and ludicrous reduplications of effort in its chaotic privatized and deregulated energy markets (recent example: electricity grid) and health insurance and phone companies....]
    France has some dozen public holidays [11 to be exact], including religious festivals and celebrations such as the July 14 Bastille Day. French workers are entitled to a further 5 weeks holiday a year [ie: vacation]. Many also opt to work longer than 35 hours a week to accrue extra [full-]days off.
    ...A survey conducted by pollster TNS-Sofres for pensioners' magazine Notre Temps in July, before the worst of the heatwave, found that 81% of 1,000 French respondents said they would be prepared to work an extra day of holiday.
    [Oh brother, they started this stupidity even before the worst of the heatwave? And it was the old, pre-technological, "work hard to get ahead" pensioners who originated this fundamental misunderstanding of the Technological Age, presumably misled by the neo-cons' clueless fear-mongering about "oh dear, we won't have enough workers to support all the new retirees!!" - oblivious to the fact that you can have as many workers as you want if you SHARE and spread the vanishing human employment instead of sticking to a rigid and arbitrary workweek, even at the nationally still-unusual 35-hour level!]
    Marc Blondel, head of the Force Ouvriere trade union, said the real problem was reduced funding to French elderly homes, where around half of the victims are believed to have died.
    [Well well well. This is the first we've heard of this! No wonder the government is at pains to come up with something to distract people from their original mistake. Sort of like Bush and Cheney were so eager to use national disaster to distract people from the smelly secrecy of the energy task force, the sinking economy and the corruption of all their buddies in Enron and WorldCom and Global Crossing and on and on and on, something that the effectively low-key Calvin Trillin reminded us of just the other night on Charlie Rose. The Force Ouvriere is probably the same union as the Workers' Force mentioned above. Blondel (here) is its "head" while Mailly (above) is just "a leader", probably one of its sub-heads.]
    "The idea reminds me of the day of the harvest in the Soviet Union," he told RMC radio, referring to the conscription of Russians to help on farms.
    [Bingo! Blondel throws the charges of "socialism" and "communism" back in the teeth of the self-styled right by noting the similarity between this forced labor and the old Soviet Russian system - the right is even using the leftist terminology of "solidarity" to try to sell this! Hooboy, it's another role reversal - the right in its lust for Power Regardless is sacrificing freedom right and left, while the left is standing up for freedom and liberty, based on more free time.]
    "This is not a modern way of doing things."
    [Here Blondel reminds us of our grandparents' view of progress = more time and money of our own, shorter hours and higher pay. But as we hear so often, our grandparents gave us the weekend and our kids are giving it all back. We have failed to teach them worktime economics - or even to articulate it (outside this website) - and now we are beginning to pay for it - and our kids will pay even more dearly.]

  4. S.Korean output records sharpest [monthly] fall in 7 years, by Kim Myong-hwan, Reuters 08/27/03 23:03 ET via AOLNews.
    ...the government said on Thursday, attributing the drop mainly to the labour unrest at the country's car maker. Although the strike at Hyundai Motor Co Ltd can be regarded as a one-off case, analysts said the data still cast doubt on recent government assertions the economy had bottomed....
    [No they don't. Both the big manufacturers in the economy, Hyundai and Kia, have now gone down 4 hours to a 40-hour workweek. Robotization will prevent their output from decreasing and therefore their productivity (output per employee) will jump. "Analysts" still have their heads stuck in a pre-technology world of "work hard, not smart."]
    Earlier this month, Hyundai Motor resolved a strike that cost the company $1.2B in lost production.
    [But does management get a pat on the back for settling quickly with labor? Nope, they get knocked -]
    It caved in to union demands for an 8.6% rise in basic pay, more say in managerial decisions, and a shorter work week....
    [And if management holds out and labor compromises, as IG Metall did in Germany recently, the union gets knocked. So there seems to be two general biases in the media, one toward more confrontation - nobody should compromise - and one against labor - labor is to blame for dislocations from striking to try to win (Germany) and causes problems by winning (South Korea). So much for the "liberal media" scare of the rightwing.]

  5. Mexico manufacturing jobs fall 4 pct in June, by Greg Brosnan, Reuters 08/27/03 18:14 ET via AOLNews.
    ...from the same month a year earlier, government statistics institute INEGI said on Wednesday....
    [All the more reason, then, to cut the workweek and share and spread the vanishing human employment -]
    Auto production and exports both fell in July as car makers eased output, and earlier this month workers at Volkswagen's Mexico plant agreed to cut their work week to four days to avoid 2,000 layoffs....


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