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Timesizing News, October 22-27, 2004
[Commentary] ©2004 Phil Hyde, Timesizing.com, Box 622, Porter Sq, Cambridge MA 02140 USA 617-623-8080
10/27/2004 primitive timesizing & worktime consciousness in the news = glimmers of strategic hope - all are 10/26 from GoogleNews & are searched-screened-collected by Alan Applebaum (AA) of Brookline MA with backup from *Ken Ellis (KE) of New Bedford MA, and with excerpting and [commenting] by Phil Hyde (PH) unless otherwise initialed -
10/26/2004 primitive timesizing & worktime consciousness in the news = glimmers of strategic hope - all are 10/25 from GoogleNews & are searched-screened-collected by Alan Applebaum (AA) of Brookline MA with backup from *Ken Ellis (KE) of New Bedford MA, and with excerpting and [commenting] by Phil Hyde (PH) unless otherwise initialed -
How to put a smile on your face - The lost art of hedonism - Do you rush to the pub after a hard week at work? - Is slumping in front of the television your idea of fun? Then you need a masterclass in enjoying yourself
by Oliver Bennett
No one, runs the gag, went to the grave wishing they'd spent more time in the office. But have we become so embroiled in getting to the top - or just staying afloat - that we wouldn't know what to do with our leisure time if we had any?
Now, into the gloom of presenteeism [opposite of absenteeism, US: 'face time'], long hours and the work-till-you-die culture comes a corrective. Entitled The Hedonism Handbook: Mastering the Lost Arts of Leisure and Pleasure, this manifesto offers career-driven office drones a step-by-step guide to having fun. It is published by The Perseus Books Group, price £7.99.
Have things really got so bad we need to be reminded? Yes, says its author, Michael Flocker, who describes himself as one of a new breed of "lifestyle guru". Unsurprisingly, Flocker is an American, a New Yorker, whose past glories have included The Metrosexual Guide to Style, the bestselling book
that popularised the fad for the new dandy.
"The world is a stressed-out place," says Flocker. "Here in New York, I see people walking around with cellphones and
Blackberry organisers, all afraid they're going to miss something. They work 12-hour days, then they work out on treadmills.
Their whole rationale goes like this: if I lose 10 pounds, I'll be happy. If I have $100,000 more, I'll be happy. And it doesn't work." The work ethic is out of control, says Flocker, and it's time to drop the lie and start living. Many of us
would agree with John Betjeman who, when asked if he regretted anything, supposedly said that he wished he'd slept with more
people, and at the end of his book Flocker has a Deathbed Review, with a checklist including items such as "Did you laugh
and play in the sun?"
Flocker's book is for fun, but one senses that he is tapping into something deeper, a fact underlined by the glut of books
currently available about the importance of getting to grips with life outside of work. The Play Ethic, by the Scottish
writer Pat Kane, explores homo ludens, the human at play, while the French title Bonjour Paresse (Hello Laziness) by Corinne
Maier has been a massive French hit with its anti-labour credo: "What you do is pointless. You can be replaced from one day
to the next by any cretin sitting next to you. So work as little as possible." There are paeans to the growing Voluntary Simplicity movement, such as In Praise of Slowness by Carl Honoré, and vital older works such as Leisure: the Basis of Culture, by Josef Pieper, are also being rediscovered.
"I think something's in the air," says Tom Hodgkinson, editor of The Idler magazine and author of How To Be Idle. "It's probably because we are suffering from overwork, and have been driven towards a reassessment of the more important things in life."
The arguments have been going on a long time, says Hodgkinson, from the ancients through to Bertrand Russell, still the
highest-profile antagonist of the work ethic. But the examination of pleasure and leisure does seem to have reached a new
high-water mark. "The Protestant virtue was to value the deferral of pleasure until such future time as Paradise beckoned,"
Hodgkinson says. "These days, you can hear the same paradigm expressed in lay terms when ministers talk about working all
your life and saving for retirement."
Hodgkinson reckons that the rot set in during the Industrial Revolution. "I hark back to England, pre-1750, as gleaned from
EP Thomson and Engels," he says. "I like the idea that each householder had chickens and a loom. OK, it was feudal, but they
were all freelance and in charge of their own lives, and, by most accounts, hadn't been afflicted by the Protestant work
ethic." Sadly, since then, the puritanical attitude to life and work has reigned. "That's why opposition to it is seen as subversive," adds Hodgkinson. "The embrace of pleasure is a reaction against that ethos."
Hedonism is, of course, the pursuit of pleasure. The Ancient Greek chinstroker Aristippus of Cyrene is said to have come up
with the notion that pleasure should be the ultimate purpose in life - not mere instant gratification, but cultural pleasure, love, friendship and contentment - and these ideas were expanded by Epicurus, who emphasised the superiority of
social and intellectual pleasures. "Epicurus's idea of pleasure was sitting under a tree talking philosophy," says the philosopher AC Grayling, author of What Is Good?. "The idea was that the mind was the highest attribute, and cultivating it was the ultimate pleasure. In terms of lifestyle, however, he preached moderation. The Epicureans had infrequent parties."
But the philosophy of hedonism, that one should pursue pleasure and avoid pain, is now often seen as selfish excess. And as
excess often leads to pain - hangovers, jealousy, even addiction - one could argue that the present interpretation of
hedonism isn't worthy of the word. "I prefer it to mean anything that calms you down and engages you with real life, be it
swimming, walks or painting," counsels Flocker.
Fun does seem to have become rather industrialised: harder work than work itself. The average Friday night out or Ibiza club
may be awash with booze, drugs and casual sex, but is it really pleasurable? "You get the feeling that they're confusing
hedonism with libertinism," says Nicholas Lezard, the author of the soon-to-be-published Fun. "To think that having fun is
reliant on being able to pay £15 at the door of a club is a consumer attitude and actually rather miserable."
Professor Tim Jackson of the University of Surrey has done much research into how well-being seems to have dropped as affluence has risen, and believes that the point is to regain a sense of pleasure in daily life. "It's clear that certain aspects of modern society are not necessarily conducive to personal well-being," he says. "I'm suspicious of the pleasure-is-everything idea. The way it is usually proposed is individualistic. And personal gratification misses vital social components." Flocker agrees with him. "Lying on a couch watching television with chips on your belly is numbing rather than pleasurable. Nor am I into working for 51 weeks and then going on a bender. My hedonism is about setting aside a little time each day to cultivate true pleasure."
The growth of the Simplicity movement shows that this credo is gaining ground, with the Slow Food movement leading the way,
now followed by a Slow Sex movement. Indeed, the Slow proposition seems to have crossed over: recently, the art critic
Robert Hughes spoke of the need for "slow art" that nourished rather than instantly gratified. "We're at the beginning of a
counter-reformation against the prevailing culture of speed and worry," says Honoré. "A good first step into the hedonistic
world is to turn off your personal electronic equipment," says Flocker. "Pursue calmness."
There's a growing academic tendency to study fun and leisure. In the US is Dr Ed Diener, a leading psychologist in the field of "subjective well-being" at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, while, in the UK, Andrew Oswald, professor of economics at the University of Warwick, has become our own expert on happiness. "We've looked into the overwork spiral and found it's difficult to get out of it," says Oswald. "Many of us feel trapped. It's an issue across social classes and income groups. Surveys show no rise in happiness in the last 30 years. We have to take this seriously."
In June, the issue of "time poverty" was debated at a conference in the US called Take Back Your Time. The debate focused on
the downgrading of work and the re-acquisition of simple pleasures. "We were trying to raise the issues of time poverty and
overwork in the US," says the national co-ordinator of Take Back Your Time, John de Graaf, who is also the co-author of
Affluenza: the All-Consuming Epidemic.
"You have a problem, but in the US, it's terrible," he continues. "We don't have paid family leave, we don't have four-week
vacations, and we work overlong hours. It has got a lot worse since 1970, when US working hours were shorter than they are
now. Greater expectations have caused us to work harder, in the hope that we can keep up with greater need." De Graaf adds
that there is a disturbing correlation between long work hours and junk leisure. "Studies show that working long hours and
watching TV are closely linked," he says. "Think about it: when you walk in from work you watch television and reach for
convenience foods." Get back into the natural world, he exhorts; spend time with family and friends, eat slow food, de-schedule your kids. "Children in the US only have half the time for fun they had 10 years ago. That's got to be wrong."
Get a hobby, he adds. Do some gardening. See your pals and hang out: "Socialising is so important for happiness and health."
He would say "get a pet", but the trouble is that, increasingly, people don't have time for them. "We joke that in the US
even a dog's life isn't what it used to be."
Which should be enough to convince most British people that taking pleasure is extremely important.
THE PURSUIT OF PLEASURE: WHEN AND HOW
Ten signs you're in too deep
Michael Flocker says that if five or more of the following are true for you, you may be in need of a hedonistic intervention. It is advised you turn off all electronic devices and lie down.
Ten ways to unleash your inner hedonist
- You no longer remember anyone's phone number because they're all programmed into your mobile
- You e-mail people who are seated within 20ft of you
- You make itineraries for your holidays
- The idea of a full week without internet access fills you with terror
- You are bored if the television isn't on
- You have to watch the news every day, just to be sure the world isn't ending
- You regularly watch sitcoms that you have seen countless times before
- You are unable to sit still and think in silence
- Your conversation regularly revolves around the lives of others instead of your own
- You buy your shoes because they match your iPod
Try experimenting with these painfully simple procedures. You will be embarking on the first steps of your higher journey towards a life of unexpected pleasure -
- Find a park bench, sit down and observe life
- Lie in a hammock and stare at the stars
- Bob in the ocean
- Go for a walk without direction
- Read a book in complete silence
- Take a nap in the sun
- Take a bath by candlelight
- Sleep until you can sleep no more
- Extend foreplay
- Watch Swedish cinema
IN FOCUS: Don't we all deserve more time off work?
Peterborough Evening Telegraph, UK
The Government is being urged to agree three extra bank holidays a year,
including one to help break up the "slog" between the end of summer and the
Christmas break. But what would these public holidays mean for businesses,
tourism and residents in Peterborough? Features Editor Rachael Gordon
It's work, work, work but little time for rest and play for workers in
Britain. Because, according to official figures, we get far less bank holidays than
most of our European cousins.
That is why the Trade Unions Congress (TUC) is calling on the Government to
allocate another three days a year as public holidays.
And a survey of 20,000 people across the country thought that October was
the perfect time to have one to break up the long slog between August Bank
Holiday and Christmas.
But what impact would these extra days off work have on the economy in
Bosses at Peterborough tourist attractions said more bank holidays were
always good for business and brought extra visitors to Peterborough.
Jonathan Headland, commercial administrator for Nene Valley Railway, also
welcomed the idea of more public holidays.
He said: "We do get a lot more visitors over bank holiday weekends, and
therefore we would definitely welcome more of them.
"I think it would be good to have one this time of year to coincide with the
school half-term or maybe even the end of September.
"Another idea would be to have a bank holiday the Monday after the clocks go
back to mark the end of British Summer Time."
Ross Lincoln, centre manager of Big Sky children's adventure play centre in
Wainman Road, Woodston, Peterborough, added: "I didn't realise we had less
bank holidays than other parts of Europe but now I do I think it would be a
good idea to have more.
"Our busiest times are bank holidays and school holidays. But I would like
to see the bank holidays more spaced out.
"At the moment they all seem to be too close together we have two in May
when really it would be better if they were spread out throughout the year.
I think it would be good to have one in November because we have a half-term
However not everyone welcomed more bank holidays.
Brian Soanes, managing director of The Business Club, said:
"I think we desperately do not need any more bank holidays.
"When there is a bank holiday, it's as if business seems to shut down for the
rest of that week too.
"We moan we don't get enough time off work, but we should look to America
they may get bank holidays, but
John Bridge, chief executive of Cambridgeshire Chamber of Commerce, agreed, "We are very concerned about any added costs imposed on business. Already there have been an awful lot imposed as different regulations are enforced. It's fine just to look at these things in general terms but someone has to pay for it. And small businesses in particular would find it very different, not only in terms of cost, but also in loss of business, because three extra public holidays are three additional days their company isn't operating."
- when they start a new job, that is the only time off work they get - for the first year of service, they don't get annual annual leave at all.
- "Then, in the second year, they get two weeks
- and after that they get an extra day's holiday for every year they work."
'There's no such thing as a free lunch' say bosses
[And there's no such thing a moneyless markets, say employees.]
Research by the TUC showed huge support for extra public holidays and the
start of the school half-term holidays was one being the preferred date.
More than 20,000 people took part in a TUC poll, with four out of 10 saying
a Monday in late October should become a bank holiday.
A third opted for St David's, St Andrew's or St George's Days and one in 10
for New Year's Eve.
Brendan Barber, general secretary of the TUC, said: "It's a cold, dark
Monday, but autumn doesn't have to be such a slog. The country could
comfortably cope with a day off today to break the 16-week bank holiday-free
"If this Monday were a bank holiday, millions of hard-working families would
be able to spend a day with their children during half-term without taking
"Millions of employees could give our leisure and retail industries a boost
or take a long weekend away and help our tourism sector. Others could simply
be enjoying a well-earned extra lie-in and a very happy Monday.''
The TUC called on the Government to allow three new bank holidays to bring
this country up to the European average.
Kevin Curran, general secretary of the GMB said that workers were most
productive if they were rested and treated fairly.
"If you apply the CBI's misguided argument of productivity to bank holidays
this country would have none at all.
"There is a cast iron case for an extra day off in the long stretch between
August and Christmas."
A spokesman for the CBI said: "We all like the idea of more time off but
there is no such thing as a free lunch.
"If we allow ourselves more free time we would all end up paying because
lower productivity can mean less investment, fewer jobs and higher prices."
St George's Day, Ramadan, Divali and New Year's Eve among the favourites.
A number of existing significant days on our calendar, such as major
religious events and a variety of national patron saints' days, could be
turned into bank holidays if extra ones are granted, including:
- New Year's Eve.
- St George's Day.
- St Andrew's Day.
- St David's Day.
- St Patrick's Day.
- The beginning of the Muslim Ramadan festival.
- The Hindu Festival of Diwali.
- Chinese New Year.
- The Longest Day.
- The End of British Summertime.
Women need more work-life balance, says Cherie Blair
ANI via World News via New Kerala, India
LONDON - Britain's first lady Cherie Blair is urging
the government to make some more women friendly laws i.e. laws which allow a
woman to strike a perfect balance between her home and office life.
According to Mrs Blair, who is a successful lawyer herself, the current laws
are such that they do not allow a woman to spend enough time with her
children and being the parent with larger responsibilities for bringing up
the children, she is not able to put in her best at the workplace either.
She said that men should also put in more time with the kids so that women
can fulfill their office responsibilities. She also said that despite having
four children, she was one of the "privileged few" because she has been able
to climb to the top of her field while still enjoying enough time with her
family, reports the Daily Mail.
She said she had also been lucky because her husband had also been able to
do more than just "the now-almost cliche diaper-changing shift".
Mrs. Blair named inadequate access to "decent, affordable childcare" and
"the culture of presenteeism," as well as the belief that good workers spend
more time "chained to their desks," as the reasons behind women getting the
Most often, it is only the woman who takes leave or cuts down on work hours
when a child is born, instead of both parents sharing responsibilities at
home, she said.
UN work report played down
TVNZ, New Zealand
The Department of Labour is playing down the significance of a UN study
showing more than 20% of New Zealanders work more than 50 hours a week.
The United Nations International Labour Organisation report shows 21.3% of
the workforce clocks in for at least 50 hours a week.
This puts New Zealand second only to Japan and ahead of the US and Australia
in the global working hours stakes.
The study also shows that proportionately, more than twice as many workers
work over 50 hours a week in New Zealand as in Europe.
But the Secretary of Labour at the Department of Labour, James Buwalda, says
the average number of hours worked in New Zealand is in line with other
Buwalda says long hours seem to be a feature of working in certain
The Employers & Manufacturers Association says there's no need for more
regulations controlling the number of hours New Zealanders spend at work.
The association's chief executive, Alistair Thompson, says the New Zealand
figures are similar to Australia, Britain and the United States.
And he says European countries with regulations restricting hours of work to
no more than 48 hours a week have the lowest growth rates of the maincountries in the western world.
[So with such a flawed measure as GDP to measure growth, who says growth rates are the only or even the best scoring method?]
Kiwis work second-longest hours in the West
New Zealand Herald, New Zealand
By STUART DYE
New Zealand workers put in the second-longest hours in the Western world,
an international report says.
The International Labour Organisation study found that 20% of the
New Zealand workforce worked at least 50 hours a week, compared with less
than 10% in most European countries.
The study, which also looked at working times in Australia, the European
Union, Japan and the United States, found that only Japanese workers clocked
longer hours than those in New Zealand.
[But the U.S. has the longest annual hours.]
Titled Working Time and Workers' Preferences in Industrialised Countries:
Finding the Balance, the report argues that there are substantial gaps
between the hours that people are actually working and the number of hours
that they need or would prefer to work.
Jon Messenger, the report's editor, said: "There are groups of workers with
excessively long hours who would prefer to work less, and at the same time
there is a sizeable group of workers whose hours of work are significantly
shorter than they would prefer."
In Japan, 28.1% of the workforce clocked more than 50 hours in a
week, followed by 21.3% of New Zealand employees.
During the late 1990s, Americans and Australians working more than 50 hours
a week rose from 15% to 20% of the workforce.
By contrast, in most European Union countries, before this year's expansion
of the EU, the number of people working 50 hours or more a week remained
well under 10%.
Figures ranged from 1.4% in the Netherlands to 6.2% in
Greece and Ireland.
The only exception was Britain, where 15.5% of the workforce spent
50 hours or more at work.
The overall pattern was that countries with relatively limited regulation
of working time, such as New Zealand and Britain, tended to have a much
higher incidence of excessive hours than other countries, according to the ILO.
But on the other side of the equation, workers could have difficulty
getting enough hours as part- time work became increasingly prevalent, the
Last year the New Zealand Council of Trade Unions identified the work/life
balance as a major issue facing New Zealand.
CTU secretary Carol Beaumont said the ILO report confirmed the council's
"It's a timely contribution to a critical debate," said Ms Beaumont.
The CTU was releasing its own report next week which would call for tighter
regulation of working hours, including definitions of what was "excessive".
Ms Beaumont said it was a problem that would be solved not just by
legislation, but by employers, workers and unions working together.
"There's a wide-ranging need for change. These issues are only going to intensify."
The New Zealand Labour Department has launched a Work-Life Balance Project
to find ways to help people balance their jobs and their lives.
Pursuing the American Dream
By Jennifer Sharples
As a newly arrived expatriate in search of the American Dream, adapting to
life in the land of the Big Mac depends largely on where you settle as each
of the country's 50 states are diverse both culturally and geographically.
There is a mind-blowing difference in lifestyles between isolated Alaska
with its long, dark winters and population of 600,000 and chic, sunny
California populated by a whopping 34 million. Happening cosmopolitan cities
such as Houston, New York and Los Angeles have large expatriate communities
making it easy to carve out a niche but in smaller states, especially those
that are permeated with strong religious influences such as Utah, life can
be more challenging. And isolated.
Many Europeans moving to America assume it will be a cakewalk given the lack
of language barriers but discovering how to operate can take a while. Let's
start with the basics; one of the biggest surprises for many foreigners is
discovering the difficulty of obtaining a credit card; this is because as a
new arrival, you don't have a credit history in the US and having one
elsewhere doesn't count, so start off by transferring a card from your home
country and get your employer to assist in opening a bank account.
The next surprise is the cost of health care. No one in their right mind
would move to America without medical insurance. Even with coverage, you may
have to contribute up to 20% of the cost and meet a minimum
deductible. The NHS can only be regarded with fond nostalgia. Some 44
million uninsured Americans rely on health and good fortune, but if either
vanishes, they may face financial ruin, a fact borne out by medical bills
creating the second major cause of personal bankruptcy.
Another cause for initial confusion is that apart from being governed by
federal law, each state also has different local laws on a whole range of
issues from education standards to levels of state tax (some have none) to
the age of applying for a driver's permit - 14 in some states, 16 in others
- to the legal age for sexual consent as some states have different ages of
consent for heterosexuals than for homosexuals.
Counties and towns might also throw in some extra legislation or taxes. They
are only unified on alcohol consumption, for which 21 is the minimum age
throughout the country, regardless that teens can drive, vote, get married
and join the army before this time. This is rigorously enforced; my
18-year-old was astounded to have a brandy flavoured ice-cream snatched mid
spoonful when her server discovered she was only 18.
When it comes to employment, America has tough employment laws on sexual
discrimination, ageism, safety and equality, but the bad news is that US
workers aren't guaranteed any vacation time by law and only average 10
vacation days a year after three years in the job.
A workaholic society based on Protestant work ethics in pursuit of the
American Dream, Americans work longer hours than their counterparts in other
industrialised countries. As an expatriate, don't expect to stroll in at 9am
and sneak out at 5pm each day or have free weekends.
As a short cut to achieving wealth, many an employee fantasises about
winning a sexual harassment, personal injury or discrimination suit in this
most litigious of societies. Large corporations regularly brief their staff
on politically correct behaviour and how to avoid compromising situations,
such as watching whom you step into the lift with. You should quickly
familiarise yourself with policies as a comment regarded as a joke in Europe
might lead to seriously expensive consequences in the US.
Much emphasis is placed, in theory, on the equality of individuals in the
United States. Law guarantees personal equality but ethnic and social bias
certainly exist. Women are still battling for equality in pay and positions
of authority; a case in point only 14% of the Senate are female and
there has never been a female or minority president or vice-President in the
Despite its image of freedom, egalitarianism and liberalism, for the most
part America is a country made up of earnestly religious people; worship and
other religious activities play a role in the lives of 88% of the
population. Branch Davidians, Wiccas (witchcraft), Pentecostals, Southern
Baptists - whatever you fancy dabbling in, there are more than 1,000
religions currently being practised.
Churches play an important part in the social lives of Americans and are
used to network, provide solace and support for the family and promote a
sense of belonging. Religion is big business and generous donations are
expected; in some states, church employees are exempt from paying property
taxes. As a new arrival, acquaintances will be quick to invite you along to
their local church.
When people arrive in the United States, they often notice the friendliness
and openness of Americans and the ease of gliding into social relationships.
This casual friendliness is often superficial as Americans live in a
peripatetic society and tend to move frequently, meaning they are able to
both form and cancel out friendships more easily and less stressfully than
people in many other cultures.
Another form of socialising is represented by the shopping mall; a mainstay
of a consumer-driven society. Large malls have food outlets, cinemas,
skating rinks and bowling alleys where folks go to "hang out" and meet their
friends and spend, spend, spend on some of the items seen on the average
American householder's seven hours a day of television.
Affluence has a dark side and the richest nation on earth boasts 34.6
million Americans below the poverty line with around 12 million reportedly
living on the edge of starvation. Ironically, the US has the worst child
poverty rate and life expectancy throughout the industrialised world.
In common with many societies, Americans perceive education as the key to
opportunity, and financial security. They take a pragmatic approach to
learning, so what is learnt outside the classroom through internships and
extra-curricular activities is considered as relevant as anything learnt in
the classroom. Consequently, lifelong learning is valued, resulting in many
working adults and continuing "school" taking on large loans to do so.
If you don't have an international school in your new location, America
offers an interesting array of choices; from religious schools where it is
mandatory for parents to become a convert, to public schools which are state
schools similar to large comprehensives in Britain, and prep schools which
are private college preparatory schools usually catering up to the age of 18.
The education system is based on credits which are not only obtained for
work produced but may also be gained by working part-time, participating in
sports or even turning up on time for lessons. Children coming from European
or International schools are usually one or two grades ahead of their
American counterparts. Be warned though, American kids are very empowered!
After working in America, many Europeans return home with innovative ideas,
a stronger sense of "can do" and a sigh of relief at shorter working hours,
free medical care and less stress.
'Trucking time is now seen as employer's responsibility
Narooma News, Australia
The NSW Labor Council today welcomes the long overdue Industrial Relations
Commission (IRC) decision recognising employer responsibility around
excessive hours in the trucking industry.
Commenting on the ruling, Labor Council secretary Mr. John Robertson said
"in NSW fatigue is the biggest killer on our roads, more than alcohol, drugs
Employers spend millions on drug and alcohol testing in the transport
industry, but almost none on fatigue management.
This has to change.
Labor Council is also delighted that the IRC in its ruling has acknowledged
that truckers killed through forced excessive hours are in fact workplace
fatalities, not just road death statistics as the RTA and Workcover try to
If you drive a truck for a living then that truck is your workplace and
enforced excessive work hours are a legitimate industrial issue."
Purchasing Individuality in America
Left Hook via Dissident Voice (www.dissidentvoice.org), CA
by M. Junaid Alam
Bracing against the Marxist menace, America erected a powerful pantheon of
ideas where the deities of Capital received frequent and fulsome tribute.
Foremost among these deities was Individuality. The scripture inscribed at
the base of this particular god was unmistakably clear: Americans, unlike
their enslaved Soviet counterparts, were free. Uninhibited by draconian
government, unimpeded by drab tyranny, their horizons were limited only by
their individual willpower, work ethic, and imagination.
New enemies have stepped out from battered caves and Babylonian crevices to
replace the old, but the sanctity of Individuality still stands, untarnished
by time. Striking down oily terrorists abroad and grubby miscreants at home,
Individuality inveighs against all enemies of Capital with unmatched fury:
as an integral part of their quest for 'uniqueness,' Americans hold a
natural right to pursue infinite wealth and power, without regard for fellow
Americans or human beings elsewhere. And if this wealth and power happen to
become amassed in the hands of a select few - if, by the very procurement of
such worldly treasures by these few, many more are fated to suffer misery -
that is simply the nature of the game: Kings crowned and paupers parsed out
by the forces of the Great American Way.
But between kings and paupers lies the public. Pretty prose extolling the
virtues of Individuality may massage the moral senses of handsome
millionaires even as it mocks the lot of voiceless victims, but above all
its impact is most pronounced - and most important - among the large middle
layer of the broader American masses. In a period of affluence and
widespread wealth, the rhetoric of Individuality finds many receptive ears;
wages and living standards rise, social mobility eases class tensions, new
products are introduced and new markets opened up. On this rail of economic
upswing, the ideological train of Individuality enjoys a smooth ride. There
is no need to ask too many questions about long-term consequences, eye too
closely the story of the Self-Made Man, worry about those left behind, or
philosophize about the social desirability of certain products, advertising,
consumption, and so on. Life is good, and backdrop, unnecessary.
But what happens when the Self-Made Man is unmade? What happens when the
woman married to the unmade Self-Made Man must work long hours so the
family's income may merely match what the father alone once earned? What
happens when real wages stagnate, when work hours increase, when benefits
dwindle, for a major part of the working class and even a growing portion of
the 'middle class'? What happens when not only low-end jobs but skilled
labor is sacrificed at the altar of Capital's freshly minted deities of
automation and outsourcing; when social safety nets evaporate, when income
inequality grows? What happens - in a word - now?
A healthy society would have prepared some answers. But not healthy society
alone: American society, too, has prepared answers. Here, however, one will
not find any rebuke of the endless glorification of the (successful)
individual or easing up of the contemptuous derision directed at 'those who
did not make it'; any criticism of that type of differentiation which
recognizes only the level of domination achieved over others; any emphasis
on the importance of social and collective responsibility or on the wealthy
classes' abdication of such responsibility. The unhinging of Individuality
from its rails of Opportunity and Affluence has not given rise to much
concern or consternation in America: Decades of inundation by capitalist
theology will not permit it.
Instead, the spectacle has only become more absurd, more intense. What was
previously only the obligatory worship of Individuality has now been
subsumed by the fervent cult of Individuality. Signs of this cult are
omnipresent. In the social sphere, everywhere one turns one finds a coiling
loop of deception: the life sucked out of the worker by the strict
regimentation, monotony, and hardship imposed by Capital is 'relieved' by
products claiming to offer myriad instant enhancements to one's individual
features or attributes. For every illness the market system produces, it
offers up a supposed cure, relayed by advertisement, obtained by purchase,
and administered by consumption. Thus, the illness is the cure. A brief
examination of just some of the more salient 'cures' currently being
administered in America to the nation's youth today will reveal the dangers
posed to the well-being of any society that clings to this faulty loop as a
Any American who has braved adolescence in the past fifteen years has
already been exposed to capitalism's most intense and relentless effort of
'individualizing' the individual: the apparel industry. Immense pressure,
reaching its crescendo during high school but beginning as early as
elementary, is exerted over youth to select a certain style of dress. Boys,
for instance, find themselves identifying with one of several possible
groups: 'preppies', with their clean-cut, expensive, buttoned shirts,
pressed khakis, and stylish loafers; 'gothics', recognized by the
overwhelming blackness of their attire, prominent chains, and piercings;
'jocks', outfitted in muscle shirts, tank tops, and sneakers touting
advanced scientific engineering features; and 'gangstas', donning pants
always prepared to fall off and baggy hooded sweatshirts, layered over with
four or five faux-gold chains.
At first glance, all this seems more or less harmless. One can endlessly
debate the aesthetics of it all, but styles and fads come and go, and any
child's particular choice of one over the other is hardly a blow against
genuine individuality. The real problem lies in the fact that it is not
actually style that is being chosen, but status being bought. Anyone
familiar with the scene well knows that no boy literally pines after the
aesthetics of this or that shirt, pair of shoes, or pants, or agonizes over
this or that particular design. Rather, what is desperately sought after is
entry and acceptance into one of the various social cliques; what is coveted
is the approval of the clique members by immersing oneself in all the proper
external 'gear' associated with the projected image of that clique.
Equally well understood by both children and parents is that, despite the
vastly different images each clique attempts to project with its choice of
apparel, preppies, jocks, gothics, and gangstas alike all obtain their
license to cliquedom through the exact same means: walk into a mall, enter a
clothing store, buy the goods, and leave. All the clothing styles are
equally expensive, each with their own exclusive company brandings, with
"quality", ie., branded, shirts and sweaters ranging from $20-$50, pants
$30-$60, and shoes $50-100, on average. Therefore what we see in this
supposed foray into 'individuality' by youngsters is merely an expensive
game of gaining group acceptance, an anxious rush into conformity poorly
disguised as individual 'choice' and 'style.'
This is no better, and in fact probably worse, than youth's overall
headlong rush into materialism and endless hankering after the latest
consumer products. Leaving aside the issue of cost, what kind of
individuality save the most superficial and trite can be gained by the
obsessive fetishization of apparel? How does one become more unique by
announcing to the world via his t-shirt logo that he is the "property of
Abercrombie & Fitch?"
All that really occurs here is the subsuming of the individual into the
hype and mantra projected by the clique. This is a kind of vicarious
fantasyland where wearing sagging pants transforms one into a rhyme-rolling
rap star, sporting athletic shoes catapults one into all-star NBA player
status, and shrouding oneself in black adds the aura of a rock star. And if
the 'rap star', 'all-star', and 'rock star' all happen to harbor hatred or
suspicion for one another based on a quick glance, as so often happens in
clique-filled schools across the country, then chalk up one more point for
'individuality' - superficial differentiation.
The bitter irony is that those who suffer most for this false individuality
are the working-class mothers and fathers who must slave away at work to pay
for it. While rich and well-off children can be lavished with expensive
clothes without much financial worry for their parents, the poorer kids
invariably demand the same kind of status-defining items from their already
over-pressured parents. Thus the story of people like Kechia Williams is not
atypical: a mother of five and university custodian who rises at 4 a.m. to
begin work at 6, she already works overtime "to pay for basics like new
school clothes and supplies," but finds her boys "always begging for brand
names - especially the ones the rappers are talking about," and can "see in
their eyes how bad they want something, and I want to get it for them."
(Newsweek Sept. 13, 2004)
Whatever the pressures exerted upon young boys in capitalist America, they
pale in comparison to the much greater pressures brought to bear against
young girls. For them, 'choices' stretch far beyond the meager scope of mere
apparel into the vast beyond of cosmetics, or 'beauty products.' As the name
implies, these are advertised to enhance their wearer's beauty, their
desirability, their sex appeal, their comeliness, in myriad ways. One cream
will offer smoother skin, another, age-defying powers; one lipstick brand
will promise lustful lips, only to be outdone by one offering even more
lustful lips and less stickiness to boot. In this manner, a thousand other
variations on a thousand other aspects of the female form will be presented
and peddled as improving one's attractiveness.
Once again, at first glance there appears to be nothing too alarming about
this situation - and once again, what is seen at first glance turns out to
be deceptive. For the keen observer will note that what is impressive in
this arrangement is not the vast number of products and combinations
intensely advertised and offered by the market to young girls, but rather
the narrow, suffocating scope of what aspect of a woman's overall humanity
the market is targeting - and, by its emphasis and glorification - what
aspect a woman's humanity is reduced to: eye-candy.
The reduction of young girls to eye candy has very painful consequences for
many of them, and very happy ones for capitalism. An artificially-induced
and distorted competition to be the most beautiful and attractive ensues,
invariably producing its small share of 'winners' and large share of
'losers,' the latter of whose anxiety, insecurity, and frustration is
quickly pressed into service by the market, which beckons them to purchase
more and more products to improve their place in the pack. Instead of
cultivating individuality or uniqueness, this process only cultivates
insecurity and unhappiness.
Other critical areas of development are left neglected and underrepresented
one will find no massive billboards and pinups appealing to and advancing
women's strength, intelligence, self-reliance, and versatility. What one
finds instead in most media avenues are images of apparently anorexic,
doe-eyed, half-naked women striking submissive sexual poses. In this
environment, women are taught at a young age by the market not about
solidarity or self- advancement, but to set themselves against each other in
competition for pole position in the race to become the best eye candy.
And candy in precisely whose eye? Obviously, that of the man. "Sex sells"
and by "sex" what is mostly meant is sexy women - because men buy. Here we
see the infinite cleverness of capitalism, the grand masking game that it
plays in American society. Of course, there is no visible male authority
figure, no controlling, overbearing stereotypical sexist man barking orders,
directing or commanding women to run around feverishly and anxiously to
improve their looks, to alter their appearance, to become bare-bone thin, or
adjust themselves in any other number of superficial, sexual ways for male
pleasure. In our atmosphere of depoliticized feminism, of a feminism
decapitated by the guillotine of Capital, women are more or less free in
that they are not forced to do any of these things - they simply 'choose'
to. This is a feat no sexist could duplicate.
What lessons can be drawn from this brief exposition? For many decades, we
have been force-fed a major lie: capitalist ideologues intone that there can
only be true individuality within a framework of economic 'freedom' -
freedom for Capital, that is - and that any serious attempt to curb the
freedom of Capital will, conversely, result in a severe curbing of
individuality. But what does reality tell us? That, far from offering the
positive value of individuality to counter its negative tendency to produce
economic inequalities, capitalism instead merely reproduces and replicates
its economic inequalities in the social sphere.
Genuine individuality - not the false idol of Individuality, as defined,
packaged, and peddled under capitalism - is indeed possible. It is possible
in a world where the sagging of one's pants or amount of lipstick on one's
face does not determine one's status or desirability; in a world where
status and desirability are not in turn determined by a handful of elites
who invent artificial distinctions and exacerbate natural ones as a means of
enriching themselves at the expense of the security and self-development of
those below them; in a world where all individuals exercise control over
their economic, and therefore social, destinies. In a word, genuine
individuality is possible only if individuals are allowed to exist
M. Junaid Alam, Boston...is co-editor of the radical youth journal Left
Hook (www.lefthook.org), where this article first appeared. He can be
reached at: email@example.com
Punishing the wealthy punishes us all
Christian Science Monitor, MA
By Patrick Chisholm | csmonitor.com
[Taxes are not "punishment." And not taxing the wealthy is what actually throws a disproportionate burden on all the rest of us and constricts the economy, because we spend a much larger percentage of our earnings than the wealthy, and it's spending that drives effective demand and economic dynamism. The more concentration of wealth, the less circulation of money. The less concentration of wealth, the more circulation of money. It's the principle of marginalism discovered independently at least 5 times in the 19th century. Will Rogers put it like this: "Money's like manure - it's no good unless it's spread around." And it's far past time that US economists started applying it to the national income and wealth distribution again, because their silly idea that the more concentration, the more circulation and jobs has already resulted in Third World levels of long working hours in America, record 'disability' and incarceration, and a complete loss of integrity in our voting system. And it's certainly time the Christian Science Monitor stopped spreading these economic-growth stifling myths.]
WASHINGTON Lest there be any confusion about the overarching philosophy
of John Kerry, the presidential debates cleared that up: income
redistribution and penalization of the rich. Though emotionally appealing,
this philosophy hurts all Americans in the long run.
[What complete nonsense. It's George Bush who has dramatically redistributed income to the rich in the last four years, as you can tell from all the stories we carry (and the many more we cut) about police forces, firefighters and libraries cutting services because Bush has cut taxes for the rich. See the next four stories below, for example.]
Kerry's strongest and most consistent campaign message is the lament that
the top income-earners benefitted from President Bush's across-the-board tax
cut, and that their money instead should have been spent on government
programs. During the three debates he invoked this theme about a
dozen-and-a-half times, pledging to raise income taxes on people earning
over $200,000 and lowering taxes on those making under that amount.
This is a true class warfare-style strategy: punishing the rich and
rewarding the non-rich. It would be terrible for our economy and hurt the
rich, poor, and middle class alike.
The reason America's standard of living is high [but the lowest in the developed world and getting lower by the day] - and why our poor would be
considered middle class in the majority of other countries [given the greed this reporter represents, this is nothing to boast about since most countries are Third-World and most Third-World countries have been impoverished by our IMF and World Bank "development" strategies] - is because we
produce so many goods and services per person.
[Many other countries don't score their well-being in terms of quantity of goods and services, but e.g. in terms of rich human relationships, an area in which we are notably deficient - and the Bible-belt in America has a much higher divorce rate than the 'liberal' coasts. America is getting dragged by the neo-cons into a suicidal experiment in greed, and the stupids that voted for Bush are going to have their faces rubbed deeper in the gutters of the wealthy over the next four years, as the many National Guardsmen and Reservists who gotten shipped off to Iraq and held there beyond their terms and against their will are finding out daily.]
Monetary rewards, and/or a desire to break out of one's current economic class, are largely what
motivate us to produce those goods and services....
[Speak for yourself, Mr. Boring. We're going to gag if we repeat any more of this moron's spew.]
Mount Vernon outlines likely tax-cap cuts
MaineToday.com, United States
By BONNIE COHEN
MOUNT VERNON, Me. - Property tax revenues here could decline by $635,000,
putting a crimp on the municipal and education budgets, if the Palesky
tax-cap measure is approved by voters next Tuesday.
More than 40 residents attending a recent informational meeting heard a
variety of scenarios that could result if the measure is adopted.
In general,the Palesky question would roll back local property tax rates to
$10 per $1,000 valuation. Cities and towns could add to that rate to cover
outstanding debt owned on such things as firetruck payments.
Resident Kerry Casey, a former town treasurer, spoke in favor of the
initiative. Calling the current tax structure "not sustainable," she said
that "getting it (control of taxes) away from the Legislature is a good
idea." She said some people have sold their homes because they couldn't
afford property taxes.
Bruce Inch, the selectmen's chairman, said the total town budget is about $3
million, with $2 million earmarked for education and the remaining $1
million "for everything else."
The town would lose 25% of its tax base if Palesky passes. The
current tax rate is $19.40. Best estimates are that property tax revenue
would drop by $635,000.
While the school board is reluctant to specify what cuts might be made in
staff or services, the shortfall would be about $450,000 - $207,740 from
the Community School District 10 district and $217,260 from the elementary
Superintendent Richard Abramson, in a letter, outlined anticipated effects
as increased class sizes at all levels and reductions in support programs
such as art, music, physical education, foreign languages and health.
He also wrote that reduced revenue would result in a reduction in the number
of buses and number of runs, perhaps providing only that transportation
required by law. In addition, it might prompt maintenance staff reduction
and hours may need to be curtailed, and all co-curricular activities would
continue on a fee-for-service basis.
Inch warned that the municipal operating budget would take a heavy blow,
with projected revenue cuts of $139,000. He predicted long lines at Town
Office with the probable layoff of the deputy town clerk, and fewer hours of
While assuring that the town must meet its obligation to provide basic
levels of service for public safety, he announced that the Fire Department
has offered to cut $9,000 from its operating budget for one year to help the
town. But he also added that street lights may go out as a result.
The total highway budget, primarily in construction and maintenance, will
feel the brunt of a $93,972 reduction in its current $344,000 budget.
Transfer station costs are currently $115,000. Inch said that $75,000 needed
to be cut from the budget and recommended a $1.50 charge per 30-gallon bag
dumped. In addition, Inch said that recreation and community activities
would be severely curtailed.
ELECTION 2004 - LOCAL ISSUES: Libraries fight for millages, survival as
Detroit Free Press, MI
BY LORI HIGGINS
WALLED LAKE, Mich. - They've already taken pay cuts, reduced hours and slashed their budget.
Now, the staffers at the Walled Lake City Library are fighting for its survival.
€ Detroit Public Library
Proposals: Renew 3 mills; add 1 mill.
Impact: About $50 more per year for the owner of a home with a taxable
value of $50,000.
What it's for: Renewal would continue current funding. The 1-mill increase
would improve technology; improve services for senior citizens, children and
young adults, including the creation of teen learning centers at some
branches, and create two so-called super locations that would have increased
hours, better technology and an enhanced library collection.
€ Walled Lake City Library
Proposal: Add 1 mill.
Impact: About $90 annually for the owner of a home with a taxable value of
What it's for: Would fund increased operating costs and make up for
reduction in the amount Commerce Township pays for the library's services.
Other library millages:
Libraries across the region have cut operating hours, materials and staff.
The skirmishes in Detroit, Walled Lake and elsewhere have become rallying
points, both for antitax activists and for residents who point to libraries
as crucial to the lives of their communities.
The Walled Lake and Detroit libraries are trying to get the word out about
Nov. 2 ballot initiatives that ask voters to approve tax increases to
support library funding.
Joleen Audritsh, who lives in Walled Lake and visits its library regularly
with her two children, is willing to pay more in taxes if it means more
updated library materials.
"The city needs a library," Audritsh said. "It's important for kids in
school to have somewhere to go for research, and to have some place to go to
read and relax."
Walled Lake is asking for a 1-mill tax increase, while Detroit is asking to
renew the 3 mills it levies, plus add an additional mill.
Without it, said Juliet Machie, director of public services for the Detroit
library, "we will close buildings."
The Detroit system has one central library, 23 branches and a bookmobile.
Walled Lake operates one library.
- Harrison Township: A proposal asking voters to approve 1 mill to create a
new library. It would generate about $850,000 in the first year.
- Ray Township: A proposal asking voters to approve .03 mill to join the
Suburban Library Cooperative.
- Commerce Township: A proposal asking voters to approve .07 mill to create a
new library. Money likely would support the Walled Lake library until the new library opens.
- Lyon Township: A proposal asking voters to approve 2 mills to create a new
library. "We're basically trying to keep the doors open," said Donna Rickabaugh, the
- Nearly 34 miles away in Detroit's Midtown section, the Detroit Public
Library is fighting a similar battle.
Differences of opinion
The financial hurdles affect many more communities than Walled Lake and
Detroit. State funding for public libraries has taken a hit, as has local
funding. The cuts, said Eileen Palmer, acting director of the Library
Network, are coming in every direction.
"All libraries, like many other organizations in our community, are
suffering because of the bad economic conditions," said Palmer, whose
organization is a state-funded cooperative that provides services to local libraries.
Some libraries have fought back by getting voters to approve tax increases,
and others have taken drastic action. The Warren Public Library system
closed a branch earlier this year because of funding cuts. And libraries
across the region have cut operating hours, materials and staff in recent years.
"We're down past the bone in terms of cutting," Palmer said. "Public
libraries have been very lean traditionally anyway. There wasn't a lot of fat."
But Michael Sessa, chairman of the Macomb County Taxpayers Association,
said libraries need to operate with the funding they have. He said there's
too much duplication of services and that efforts to build new libraries in
communities that could partner with other libraries are misguided.
"People right now are out of work," said Sessa, a Republican from Harrison
Township on the Macomb County Board of Commissioners. "The economy is not
that great. It's getting better, but it's not great yet. We need to start
conserving and looking for efficiencies."
But library advocates said libraries get used the most during economic
downturns because people can't always afford to buy books, and some use
libraries to help with job searches.
While overall usage has remained steady and increased in some libraries,
others, like Walled Lake, have seen sharp reductions in visitors because
they've drastically cut back on hours of operation.
Sessa's taxpayers group opposes a Harrison Township proposal to add 1 mill
to build a new library. "They have no plan, no site for development," he
said. "They have nothing. They're saying, 'Trust us.' "
Harrison Township Supervisor Mark Knowles, a Democrat, supports themillage, which was placed on the ballot by a group of residents who filed
petitions. He said the plans won't be developed until voters have their say
Nov. 2. The township currently has no library.
"You can't make any plans," Knowles said. "You can't count your chickens
before they're hatched."
He wants to see a library in the township because "there's only two things
in life that increase knowledge - the people you meet and the books you read."
Township voters have routinely rejected tax-increase requests, and Knowles
isn't sure how this one will fare.
Still, while many libraries are forced to scale back, some are thriving.
That is a sharp contrast from the quaint, small-town feel of the Walled Lake library.
It's that quaintness that has Kathy Burton traveling once a week with her
two children from her home in West Bloomfield. Most libraries have
negotiated agreements that allow residents in one city to use a library in
"We just like the atmosphere there," said Burton, whose two children often
participate in kids' activities at the library. "It makes you feel like
you're at someone's home. You can talk to a librarian as opposed to being
referred to a computer."
Burton wishes she could cast a vote in the Walled Lake election, because
"it would be a shame" if the library had to close.
- Renovations are ongoing to add 5,500 square feet to the Harper Woods Public
- The Grosse Pointe Public Library, which serves all five Grosse
Pointes, is replacing two of its branches for $16 million.
- And in 2003, one of the area's biggest libraries - the state-of-the-art
Southfield Public Library - opened. The sprawling, three-story building
with its café and three fireplaces.
State funding for public libraries has been reduced from $1.50 per capita
in the late 1990s to $1.30 per capita now, Palmer said. The Detroit library
also had a separate annual payment of $6 million from the state cut in half
last year and eliminated completely in this year's budget negotiations. It
will be eliminated in 2005.
The Detroit library has since reduced its staff from 537 employees to 465,
cut back on some services it provides to other public libraries and
instituted a nonresident fee to check out materials.
None of that, though, "will make up the $6 million for us," Machie said.
The Detroit libraries serve many functions, one of them being as a resource
for children who attend schools that don't have libraries. The library also
holds many collections that are loaned out routinely to other public
libraries. And it provides access to computers and other study tools some
parents say they can't provide at home.
While several parents visiting two branch libraries this week said they're
grateful for what the libraries offer, they would like more.
"We would like more services for our money. We really need more computers,"
said Rolanda Beckwith, a mother of three children, ages 6, 8 and 12.
Libraries are also dealing with local funding woes. Walled Lake is asking
its city voters to increase funding for the first time in 42 years, when it
was created. Funding from Commerce Township, a large contributor to the
library's budget, was substantially reduced when voters there rejected a
millage renewal in 2002 and could be eliminated completely if Commerce
Township moves forward with plans to create its own library.
The township has its own millage on the Nov. 2 ballot, asking voters to
approve 0.7 mill for library services. If approved, the township will
continue to help fund the Walled Lake library until it can create its own in
about two years, Supervisor Tom Zoner said.
Making knowledge accessible
Lisa Voelker, a Wixom resident who grew up in Walled Lake and has been
using its library since she was a child, is also hopeful the millage there
will pass. She likes the personal attention she gets there.
"They are unfailingly polite, always helpful. And they will go above and
beyond the call of duty to help you find what you need," she said.
Voelker said she believes strongly that all children should have access to
books. Bookcases were the second piece of furniture she purchased for her
two children's bedrooms when they were born. The first was the crib.
Books, said Voelker, a tutor and a former substitute teacher, "make
knowledge accessible to everyone.
"What I tell my kids is if you know how to read, you can do anything."
Contact LORI HIGGINS at 248-351-3694 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Staff writer
KIM NORTH SHINE contributed to this report.
Cut in state taxes hurt library - Town Hall forum's goal is to find ways to cope
Indianapolis Star, IN
By Bill Ruthhart email@example.com
CARMEL, Ind. - With a $1 million budget shortfall looming, the Carmel Clay Public Library
will have its first Town Hall meeting in three years Thursday night.
The meeting's purpose is to get input from the community for creative ways
the library can cut spending without trimming services. The library also
will solicit donations for its foundation, which was re-established a year ago.
A reduction in county option income tax dollars distributed to Hamilton
County from the state caused the library's financial crisis.
The reduction has caused headaches for communities across Hamilton County,
which has filed a lawsuit against the state.
Carmel's library lost $1 million in county option income tax revenue this
year, receiving $2 million instead of the $3 million it collected in 2003.
The $1 million shortfall makes up roughly 20% of the library's total
"A million dollars is a big amount, and we're going to the community and
trying to get ideas from them," said library Director Wendy Phillips.
"If push comes to shove, at some point we would have to look at cutting
hours, cutting back on materials, cutting back on personnel. Those are the
big-ticket items we're trying to avoid."
So far, the library has made only small changes. It is carrying fewer copies
of new best-selling books while reducing the number of photocopy machines.
Phillips said the library is trying to save costs in building and grounds
maintenance as well.
But those cost-saving efforts don't add up to $1 million, Phillips said. The
library's cash reserve has helped cushion the budget blow, but Phillips
fears the library will have to make larger cuts soon.
That's where Thursday's Town Hall meeting comes in. The gathering at the
library from 6 to 9 p.m. will focus on getting residents' views about the
services they expect and value the most.
The library also will use the meeting to remind the community about the
Carmel Clay Public Library Foundation.
To date, the foundation has raised around $30,000, said Director Ruth
Nisenshal. The foundation's goal for the year is $80,000.
Phillips said she is working to increase community awareness about the
library's struggles. Ultimately, she said, the library would like to have a
$1 million endowment from the foundation to lean on. That, however, is a 10-
to 15-year goal.
"The foundation is a long-term way of generating more of a secure future for
the library where we're not quite so dependent on tax dollars," Phillips
said. "It's hard to plan when you can't anticipate what your revenues might
Nisenshal is confident that once residents realize the library needs help,
they will be ready to chip in.
"I think the community will support it once they are aware how important
their financial contributions are at this point," she said. "It really is
critical that the community step up and assist us in funding support."
Call Star reporter Bill Ruthhart at (317) 444-2606
Library again asking for voters' support
Canton Repository, OH
By ROBERT WANG
CANTON, Ohio - Elaine Poulos frequently uses the North Branch of the Stark County
District Library at 25th Street NW to check e-mail and check out videos for
her 91-year-old mother.
If the branch closed, she said, "I would be devastated. I would really be
The library system - which serves most of Stark County including Canton
city and Jackson, Plain and Perry townships - is asking voters for a third
time in about a year to approve a new property tax. Without the levy, says
Director Kent Oliver, about 50 employees will be laid off and at least two
branches will close. Which branches has not yet been decided. The Stark
County Library District comprises all Stark County school districts except
Massillon, Minerva, Louisville, North Canton, Northwest and Alliance.
The library system already has cut hours and book purchases. With reserves
down to about $1.6 million and expenses exceeding revenue by about $1
million, more cuts will come if the levy fails, library officials say.
"Our backs really are against the wall this time," Oliver said.
If the 1-mill levy passes, the $4.74 million a year the library would
collect would restore staff, book purchases and library hours. It also would
rebuild the Perry Township branch destroyed by fire, and help pay for a new
Plain Township branch at the new GlenOak High School.
And, it would be less costly than the 1.2-mill levies voters rejected in
November and March. Those issues would have cost the owner of a $100,000
home $36.75. This five-year levy would cost $30.63 a year.
If the five-year levy passes, about 20% of the money will help build
the new branches at GlenOak and at Sippo Park. The Stark County Park
District also is contributing to the latter.
Officials acknowledged they could have asked for a lower tax just to
maintain operations. But, Oliver said, "We have two incredible
opportunities, ... and they won't be there later."
Assistant Library Director Marge Baker said that Plain "has not had
sufficient service for many years."
She says she understands economic times are tough, but she says tough times
are when the library's resources are needed more to help people in their job
Poulos...of Plain Township, who wore a Bush-Cheney shirt on her visit to
the North Branch, supports the higher tax.
[Boy, is she conflicted!]
"They're going to have to make this decision with their heart, not so much
with their pocketbooks," she said of voters. "It would be unconscionable for
them to vote against funds for these facilities."
You can reach Repository writer Robert Wang at (330) 580-8327 or e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Stark County Library District
Issue No.: 54
Issue type: New, operating
Annual yield: $4.74 million a year
Annual cost to owner of a $100,000 home: $30.63
Census: 'Full-Time Equivalent' State, Local Workers Near 16 Million
U.S. Newswire (press release), DC
To: National Desk, Labor Reporter
Contact: Patricia Buscher of U.S. Census Bureau, 301-763-3030 or
WASHINGTON - State and local governments employed 15.8 million "full-time equivalent" workers in 2003, a 1.0% increase over 2002, the U.S. Census Bureau reported today. "Full-time equivalent" employees equal the number of full-time employees plus total hours worked by part-time employees divided by the standard work week.
Of the total, state governments employed 4.2 million, a decrease of 0.8%.
Local governments reported 11.6 million employees, a 1.7%
increase over 2002.
Tabulations from the 2003 Annual Survey of State and Local Government
Employment and Payroll show that most full-time equivalent employees worked
in education (8.3 million). The tabulations include other employment
categories, such as corrections, financial administration, fire protection,
health, hospitals, judicial and legal, police protection, public welfare,
and streets and highways.
As with all surveys, the data are subject to sampling variability, as well
as nonsampling errors. Sources of nonsampling error include errors of
response, nonreporting and coverage. Measures of sampling variability,
presented as relative standard errors, are shown in the tables.
Editor's Note: The report can be accessed at: http://www.census.gov/govs/www/index.html
Five-Day Workweek Changes Lifestyle - Growing Number of South Koreans Spend More Time on Leisure, Sports, Travel
Korea Times, South Korea
By Kim Rahn (email@example.com)
South Koreans have witnessed rapid changes in their lifestyle in the wake of the operation of the bullet train and the introduction of a shortened workweek.
Since July, the nation’s workers have been able to enjoy more free time thanks to the start of the five-day workweek system, which has long been used in other countries.
The system, set in motion in some workplaces, reduces working hours from 44 to 40 hours a week. Employees in public companies, large conglomerates, banks, finance and insurance companies, and other businesses with more than 1,000 workers now do not work on Saturdays.
Companies with more than 300 workers will be required to adopt the system by July next year, and firms with over 100 workers
by July 2006. Companies with over 50 employees will have to cut working hours by 2007, while the rest will have until 2011.
According to the Labor Ministry, about 1.8 million employees at 282 publicly-owned firms and 426 private companies are currently beneficiaries of the shortened working hours.
Some 1,086 companies with less than 1,000 workers have also introduced the new system even though they are not yet obliged to do so.
Thus workers are now adapting themselves to a new lifestyle. While some may still be pondering what to do in their newly gained spare time, others have already found ways to enhance the quality of their lives.
The most significant change is taking place in the travel industry, both domestically and for overseas.
People who previously had difficulty in taking a break from their week-long duties on the sole holiday of Sunday now say they can spend more time with their families.
``Weekend farms’’ have become popular among families living in urban areas, with people growing plants and vegetables on small plots of land in rural areas to experience some fraction of country life. They visit their land only on weekends, while contracted farmers take care of the crops on weekdays.
This has also brought about an increase in the sales of sports utility vehicles (SUV) and a boom for pensions, a new type of lodging suitable for family-sized groups.
Domestic tourism has also received a boost from the nation’s bullet train, the Korea Train Express (KTX), which launched operations in April, cutting the time between Seoul and Pusan from five to three hours. Seoulites no longer hesitate to include Pusan or Mokpo in their list of weekend holiday destinations.
A total of 2.28 million passengers used the bullet train on Saturdays from April to September, with 2.26 million for Sundays, while the average total for each weekday was around 1.68 million, according to the Korean National Railroad. Local authorities have also developed various travel programs that take advantage of the KTX.
Short overseas trips to Japan or Southeast Asian countries during the weekend are also gaining popularity among young people.
Travel agencies are offering overseas tour packages such as ``tokkabi trips’’ or ``panditbul trips,’’ meaning flash trips,
allowing travelers to leave Korea on Friday night and return Sunday night or early Monday morning.
``We operate two charter planes per week, leaving for Tokyo on Friday night and Saturday night. The occupancy rate has considerably increased from last year mainly due to the five-day workweek,’’ Kim Hyun-soo, an official of All Nippon Airways, said.
``Last year, there were three times when we could not operate the planes as the minimum number of passengers for a flight, two-thirds of total capacity, had not been reached. This year, however, flights have always been full and customers have had to make reservations a month before their trip,’’ Kim added.
The ``well-being’’ trend, putting priority on the soundness of body and mind, has also influenced how people choose to spend their spare time.
Yoga classes and fitness centers have seen a growth in numbers on weekends, as people busy on weekdays visit to boost their health.
However, a growing number of people are also going outdoors to enjoy inline skates and bicycles or to climb mountains.
At Olympic Park and Yoido Park on the weekends, no one seems to be on foot as crowds of people on inline skates dominate the asphalt, their numbers boosted by clubs for the leisure sport in the online community.
``About 80% of last year’s total sales (of inline skates) was achieved during just the first eight months of this
year. We expect even more people to become interested in inline skating in the future,’’ an employee of Roces Korea, an inline skate company, said.
Others spend their weekends enhancing their abilities and competitiveness. weekend English courses have opened for company employees, while some firms are offering language programs for Chinese or Japanese, or other courses such as computer programming to help their workers improve their skills.
Wind of Change
While the new working system has already altered the lifestyles of many, the change has not yet reached the entire nation. The shortened workweek currently only applies to some 1.79 million workers, or only 24.9% of the nation’s total workforce.
The sluggish economy is also preventing workers from fully savoring their spare time to develop different hobbies, as people cannot afford the increased expenses of trying new things. A survey conducted on workers of POSCO has revealed that 53% of respondents cited a rise in expenditure as a disadvantage of the five-day workweek.
[Then what a boon to the economy! - economists take note!]
However, 88% of those surveyed said the new working system had brought positive changes to their lives. Some 37% said they could now get a good rest, while 35% indicated they felt revitalized by their new pastimes.
Another 14% said they were spending more time with their families [conservatives fond of "family values" take note!], and 8% said they were spending more time preparing for their future through studies or second jobs.
``Even if I make less money, I would choose not to work on Saturday. There are many things more precious than money, and for me, the weekend is the time I can pursue them,’’ Park Sung-soo, [an] employee of Samsung Electronics, said.
Europeans have shorter workweek than people in US, Japan, Australia - UN
UN News Centre
20% of the labour force in Australia, Japan, New Zealand and the United States works at least 50
hours a week,
compared with less than 10% of workers in most European countries,
the United Nations International Labour Organization (ILO) says in a new report.
"There are groups of workers with 'excessively' long hours who would prefer to work less, and at the same time, there is a
sizeable group of workers whose hours of work are significantly shorter than they would prefer," says the ILO's Jon
Messenger, edited the new publication on workers' workweek preferences.
Finding a good balance between business requirements and workers' needs will require policies promoting health and safety,
helping workers improve the way they meet family responsibilities, encouraging gender equality, increasing productivity and
helping workers' to choose and influence the length of their work week, according to Mr. Messenger's Working Time and
Workers' Preferences in Industrialized Countries: Finding the Balance.
In Japan, 28.1% of the workforce clocked in for more than 50 hours weekly,
as did 21.3% of New Zealand's employees.
In the 1990s, workers putting in more than 50 hours per week in the United States and Australia increased to 20% from 15%, the report says.
By contrast, in the European Union (EU), the ratio of the labour force working more than 50 hours ranged from 1.4% in the Netherlands to 6.2% in Greece and Ireland. In the United Kingdom, 15.5% of people worked more than 50 hours a week.
[So Europeans are the only members of the human race who are really getting anything out of the waves of work-saving technology in terms of the most basic of human freedoms, free time. Shame on the rest of the world! They are an insult to intelligence and to freedom.]
Part-time [US] employees working 20 hours week or less would prefer to work longer hours, the book says.
"Half of all US workers would prefer shorter hours, while 17% would prefer longer hours," ILO says in a summary.
[A clear imbalance.]
"In the EU, 46% of those working fewer than 20 hours would prefer to work more and 81% of those few with at least 50 hours of work per week would reduce the number of hours worked, if they could."
Work less, author says - Leisure lovers want America to be more like Europe
San Francisco Examiner
By Marisa Lagos
SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. - Sunday marked the 64th anniversary of the United State's official 40-hour workweek, and for that reason, and many others, it
was also the second annual "Take Back Your Time Day," a national movement encouraging Americans to work less and enjoy their
Former high-tech workers Dean Latourrette and Kristine Enea, along with volunteer Alessandra Alacran, stood at the corner of
Union and Laguna streets in The City's Marina District and passed out postcards plugging both the national leisure movement
and their book, "Time Off! The Unemployed Guide to San Francisco." The backs of the cards featured tips for freeing up time,
from taking regular breaks to only having one junk drawer.
"Other countries, because of the way they operate, either culturally or government-wise, are structured to have a better
work-life balance," Latourrette said. "In our society, it's up to the individual how they structure their life ... it's like
a badge of honor to work 60, 70 hour weeks. What's honorable about that?"
According to the Take Back Your Time Campaign, headquartered in Seattle, a new International Labor Office book shows that 20
percent of Americans work more than 50 hours a week. Americans also average about 300 more worked hours annually than their
counterparts in European countries like Germany and France, the International Labor Organization reports.
A wide swath of groups, from the Simple Living Network to the Center for a New American Dream, sponsored Sunday's
celebration and are behind a political push to decrease work hours and encourage more vacation time for American employees,
Julie Henderson, who works at Bar None and the California Wine Merchant, said she agreed that Americans are working too
hard. "You mean the more European approach?" she asked when Latourrette approached her. "I think it's a good idea."
SOCIAL STUDIES - A DAILY MISCELLANY OF INFORMATION
The Globe and Mail, Canada, Page A14
BY MICHAEL KESTERTON (MKesterton@globeandmail.ca)
This is St. Crispin's Day [Oct.25], the anniversary of the battle of Agincourt in
1415. English troops had passed the night quietly and then rose to take up
positions on the rain-soaked field of conflict. "Gentlemen of England now
abed / Shall think themselves accursed they were not here," predicted
Shakespeare's Henry V, showing the typical condescension of larks toward
Among other factors, such as hormonal levels, a set of about 12 genes appear
to influence the time you prefer to go to bed, says The Times of London.
Such is the range of "diurnal preference" that extreme larks can be waking
as extreme owls slip between the sheets....
The tyranny of larks
"Watch out! There's an early morning crush of urban workers trying to take
care of business, often in the predawn darkness," says The Boston Globe.
"For these workers, early is the new late. They say that mornings really
work for errands, once you adapt to the gotta-go, gotta-go schedule. And in
their travels, they have found that their dentists, dry cleaners, gyms, and
coffee shops have been willing to push forward their opening times to
accommodate their rising-sun needs. . . .
But why are we turning to the early-morning hours to cope? Because our work days are stretching longer. Boston College sociology professor Juliet Schor, who wrote The Overworked American: The Unexpected Decline of Leisure, estimates that the typical [U.S.] employee works 200 more hours a year than his or her counterpart 30 years ago."...
Library hopes for community support - What is Issue 41? - Issue 41 is a 0.5-mill, five-year operating levy to restore funding to the Fairfield County District Library - The levy, if passed, will cost the owner of a $100,000 home $15.31 a year or less than $1.30 a month
Chillicothe Eagle-Gazette, OH [pronounced chillakawthey]
By HOLLIE SAUNDERS
LANCASTER, Oh. - Library patrons and supporters are hoping that everyone who
enjoys borrowing books, compact discs and movies free of charge will vote
for Issue 41 on Nov. 2.
Barbara Pickell, director of the Fairfield County District Library, said
because the Ohio legislature used a portion of the Library and Local
Government Support Funds to help balance the budget, the library had to cut
its budget by more than $250,000 each year over the past three years.
LLGSF funds make up 95% of the local library's budget.
"Because of the lack of funding, we were forced to close the Westside
library branch, discontinue the Bookmobile, and reduce the purchase of new
CDs, DVDs and books," Pickell said. "We also laid off eight library workers
and have 11 positions open. Remaining staff members volunteered to take a
pay freeze for two years. Library hours were also shortened."...
Pressurised workers need more bank holidays, says TUC
The government should create three new bank holidays to help overstretched
workers spend more time with their families, according to the Trades Union
As work-related stress costs the UK £4.4 billion a year, staff working
excessive hours should expect a few extra days off to re-charge their
batteries. The TUC claim that the economy could cope with the three extra
bank holidays needed to bring us up to the European average of 11 days.
With 61 days to go until the next bank holiday and 56 days since the last
one, the congress today called for this autumn's half-term Monday to be
instituted as one of three new bank holidays. Britain currently has eight
bank holidays which are placed on top of annual leave Northern Ireland has
The TUC's move comes on the back of an online poll where the majority of
the 20,000 people who took part voted for an extra day off.
Brendan Barber, TUC General Secretary, said: "It's a cold dark Monday but
autumn doesn't have to be such a slog. The country could comfortably cope
with a day off today to break the 16-week bank holiday-free stretch.
"If this Monday were a bank holiday, millions of hard working families
would be able to spend a day with their children during half term without
taking extra leave. Millions of employees could give our leisure and retail
industries a boost or take a long weekend away and help our tourism sector.
Others could simply be enjoying a well-earned extra lie in and a very happy
Across the EU only the Netherlands gives its workers as few public holidays
as the UK, but Dutch workers have more annual leave. The average across the
25 European states is 11.35 days, Slovakia with 18 has the most, closely
followed by Cyprus on 14. Malta, Spain and Portugal grant their workers 14
days each year.
The Labour government in the 1970s introduced two additional bank holidays:
New Year's Day (1974) and May Day (1978). Since then a number of 'one-off'
public holidays have been created to celebrate special events like the 1981
Royal Wedding and the 2002 Golden Jubilee.
Bosses in bid for freedom from NHS
Express and Star News, UK
DUDLEY, England - Dudley's main hospital is bidding for freedom from the National Health
Service [NHS], raising fears its 3,300 workers could suffer pay cuts and longer
Bosses at Russells Hall Hospital have put forward a preliminary application
for foundation status, meaning they could veer away from many national
guidelines including staff pay scales and working conditions.
They say foundation status would allow local people more involvement in
running their hospital.
Union leaders plan crisis talks with chief executive Paul Farenden and the
rest of the hospital board over fears the move would have 'major
implications' for workers.
They fear one scenario could see doctors, cleaners and clerical staff,
working more hours for less money.
The Government is keen to encourage hospitals to become independent if they
gain a three-star rating in the NHS inspection - a target which Russells
Hall achieved earlier this year.
But Mark New, spokesman for Unison [=the name of the union?] in Dudley, said: "Unison nationally
opposes the moves from hospitals to become foundation status as we see it as the breaking up of the NHS and ultimately the next step to full privatisation.
"This is because it could lead to a whole host of problems including pay cuts for working more hours as the hospital would have much more freedom [or license].
"In Dudley, we will be seeking discussions with managers to talk about the
major implications for the staff."
Mr Farenden today confirmed the hospital had applied for foundation status
but said the application was at a very early stage.
He said: "When you get three stars there's an expectation that you will
apply for foundation status and through a preliminary application we will
flush out all the issues and see if it is possible.
"Foundation status gives you a degree of independence but the most
important factor is that the local community plays a role in running the trust."
[So design a way to have that feature within the present NHS system. What is the big deal?!]
The Bush Administration's Attack On Workers And The Eight hour Day - Give Back Our Money!
by Stewart Acuff, ZNet
With the message "Give back our hard-earned money! Take back your overtime pay cut!," several thousand workers on Wednesday,
October 5, delivered hundreds of thousands of postcards to the Bush/Cheney office headquarters in 17 battleground cities
against the Bush overtime pay cut, even taking over their offices in several cities. These workers are enraged about the
fact that the Bush Administration's overtime pay cut strips up to six million workers of their right to receive overtime pay
when they work more than 40 hours in a week.
With this new rule, President Bush has given his corporate friends the green light to stop paying overtime to hardworking
Americans. It's a corporate welfare handout at workers' expense, and it's just plain wrong. Many of the workers that
participated in Wednesday's actions talked about how they will personally be impacted by these cuts, saying that they will
now be forced to work longer hours for less and that this is the last thing they need right now when they're already
struggling in this tough economy.
By denying workers their overtime pay, George Bush has taken the first set of steps toward dismantling the eight-hour
workday. With his effort in manipulating the Department of Labor to rename overtime protection for professional employees
and others, Bush has begun and signaled his intention to move back the eight-hour workday and its promise of some measure of
leisure for America's workers. Despite the fact that the United States Senate has repeatedly voted to stop his efforts, he
continues to pursue his radical agenda.
If Bush can get away with taking away overtime pay from six million workers, then what is next on his chopping block? Social
Security? The minimum wage? Child labor laws? We're angry, and we're not going to take it.
Rolling back collective bargaining rights for America's workers is his next target. When the Bush Administration created the
Transportation Security Administration, thereby making airport screeners federal employees, he destroyed their right to
organize and bargain collectively as private sector employees. Despite this, screeners in Los Angeles, San Francisco,
Baltimore- Washington and other airports are still struggling to form their unions to win quality health care, a living
wage, and a say in their working conditions.
Now George Bush is trying to cancel collective bargaining rights for thousands of other federal employees, including
privatizing the Department of Defense and other agencies, guided by his scornful vision of destroying the unions and
bargaining rights these employees have built and earned over decades of effort.
There may be no clearer example of the cynicism of the Bush Administration than the cancellations of collective bargaining
after 9/11 in the Department of Homeland Security and Transportation Security Administration for the sake of "security
concerns." Every worker who answered the call on 9/11 and went into those Twin Towers - every fire fighter, every police
officer, every EMT - was a union member. Over 300 union members died that day trying to rescue Americans from a terrorist
Yet, when the Bush Administration created the Department of Homeland Security, they cancelled collective bargaining rights
for 160,000 federal workers. In the Bush Administration, union members are good enough to die in the war on terrorism but
not good enough to process files and paper in their Washington offices. With his multiple attacks on overtime, the eight
hour work day and collective bargaining and organizing rights, George Bush and his administration have begun their assault
on the most fundamental freedoms of America's workers. These rights were won at the cost of extraordinary bloodshed and
employer and government sponsored violence.
From the early days of the American labor movement in the 19th century to the New Deal Reforms of 1930's and beyond, more
strikes, more job actions, and more employer violence happened in the struggle of America's workers to win the freedom to
form their own unions and limit their hours of work than any other issue.
Bush has attacked and appears to be intent on destroying the foundation of today's labor movement, and he's making
sacrifices of the worker martyrs who died for these rights.
* In 1898, in the Homestead, PA Steel Strike, 50 workers were killed while on strike for union recognition and the
* In 1916, the state militia intentionally burned 13 children to death in Ludlow, Colorado because their fathers were on
strike for the eight-hour workday and union recognition.
* In 1937, 12 marching steelworkers were murdered at Republic Steel in Chicago, Illinois, while on strike for the freedom to
form their own union.
* Cesar Chavez spent decades fasting and struggling to earn the freedom to organize and bargain collectively for farm
* In 1968, Dr. Martin Luther King was assassinated while leading a struggle of city-employed garbage works to form a union
and bargain collectively.
The stakes for America's workers and progressives in this year's election could hardly be higher. We must beat George Bush.
We have to run our politics this year like the welfare of our kids is at stake. We have to work politically like our future
is at stake. We have to campaign like our way of life is at stake - because it is. We must work this year with the weight
of history on our shoulders and the sacrifice of our martyrs in our hearts and minds.
( Here's the current search pattern used by our backup, Ken Ellis - he's now experimenting with seven search runs:
"work sharing", OR overwork, OR overworking, OR "work-sharing", OR
"job-sharing", OR "job sharing", OR "work week", OR workweeks, OR
"work-week", OR "work-weeks", OR "working week", OR "working weeks", OR
"work-time", OR "worktime", OR "decreases hours", OR "shorter schedule"
"cut hours", OR "cutting hours", OR "more hours", OR "reduce hours", OR
"reduced hours", OR "reduces hours", OR "reducing hours", OR "hours
reduction", OR "40 hour", OR "40 hours", OR "forty hour", OR "forty hours"
"decrease hours", OR "decreased hours", OR "decreasing hours", OR "fewer
hours", OR "schedule reduction", OR "long work", OR "long hours", OR "long
days", OR "long workdays", OR "long workday", OR Nucor, OR "Lincoln
"work hours", OR "working hours", OR "shorter hours", OR "shorten hours", OR
"free time", OR overtime, OR "extra hours", OR leisure, OR "time off", OR
vacation, OR vacations, -sports -coach -coaches -coaching -football -soccer
-baseball -olympics [on hold] )
10/23-25/2004 primitive timesizing & worktime consciousness in the news = glimmers of strategic hope - all are 10/22-24 from GoogleNews & are searched-screened-collected by Alan Applebaum (AA) of Brookline MA with backup from *Ken Ellis (KE) of New Bedford MA, and with excerpting and [commenting] by Phil Hyde (PH) unless otherwise initialed -
10/22/2004 primitive timesizing & worktime consciousness in the news = glimmers of strategic hope - all are 10/21 from GoogleNews & are searched-screened-collected by Alan Applebaum (AA) of Brookline MA with backup from *Ken Ellis (KE) of New Bedford MA (except #15 which is from 10/22 hardcopy), and with excerpting and [commenting] by Phil Hyde (PH) unless otherwise initialed -
Can Europe teach the American Dream?
The big, underlying trends that can shape the world in unexpected ways are invariably ignored in the trivia and sound bites of presidential campaigns. That's why it was so refreshing, a few weeks ago, to have the opportunity to talk with Jeremy Rifkin, an internationally known social critic and writer, who has just published a fascinating new book, "The European Dream."
It is impossible to do justice to the full range of his ideas in this small space, but, stated simply, Rifkin is asking this question: Is the American Dream still working?
The American Dream exalts the autonomous individual, unfettered and free to pursue success - and to risk failure. Two of the greatest achievements of the American system have been the establishment of a vast, upwardly mobile middle class and the creation of a dynamic economy that has led the world.
But today, while millionaires and billionaires are ever more able to keep and multiply their fortunes, there is an underclass locked in poverty and many people in the middle class working much longer hours with less job security, shrinking incomes and vanishing vacations.
[Gotta keep'em busy. No time to think. No time to realize what's happening, what's being done to them.]
Meanwhile, in Europe, though there are fewer folks with extreme wealth, everyone has guaranteed health care and guaranteed annual vacations of four or six weeks or more. College tuitions are cheap. Many Europeans have the right to extended leave from work when a child is born. Many now enjoy a 35-hour work week.
Contrary to popular belief in the United States, Rifkin says, all these social guarantees have not stopped Europe from competing successfully in the global marketplace. The European Union is the largest exporting economy in the world. The EU's $10.5 trillion GDP exceeds that of the United States. In many industries, European enterprises have overtaken American businesses (think of Airbus and Boeing). Europeans are pretty good at saving money while the American economy teeters precariously on a mountain of foreign-owned debt. And, even with those shorter work hours and long vacations, European workers' productivity now matches or exceeds that of Americans.
We may think they are nuts to pay such high taxes, but they think we are crazy to work so hard and have so little time to
enjoy life. Rifkin thinks Europe may be the new model for the world. What do you think? Here's my Burning Question:
Have Europeans figured out how to live happier lives than Americans?
Social theory at play in race
by Edgar Simpson, The Joplin Globe MO
The war in Iraq is getting all the press in the presidential campaign — as it should, in my view — but an equally titanic struggle also is burbling just below the surface.
The battle is contained in the advocacy by President Bush of two programs: health savings accounts and a program to
partially privatize Social Security, and Sen. John Kerry’s ignoring the first in favor of an expanded Medicare program and
his opposition to the second.
The roots of these ideas go back decades, when thinkers in this country were struggling with how to make sense of the advent
of silicon-based technology, the basic ingredient in computer chips. This technology has allowed the rise of the independent
contractor, the worker who is not tied by geography to a “job,” but sells skills for specific tasks.
When the Industrial Revolution hit, many scholars at the time theorized the dawn of a new “Leisure Society,” with iron and
steam finally freeing society from manual labor and allowing, as one author put it, a concentration on “art and love.”
This, of course, turned out to be only partially true. For decades following the installation of labor laws, American
workers did, indeed, work fewer hours, allowing whole “leisure” industries to boom, such as tourism and, well, bowling.
But since the 1980s, the number of hours the average American adult works has been growing. Australian Professor John
Quiggin, in a rather derisive tone, noted this trend in an article for the Australian Financial Review in which he argued
for longer, government-mandated “holidays.” In effect, he argued that Australians did not want to go the way of the
Americans, with an Asian-inspired obsession with work.
“Annual working hours in the United States fell to 1,882 hours per employed worker in 1983. Since then, however, annual
hours have risen steadily towards 2,000 hours per year.
80% of male American workers and more than 60% of
female workers put in over 40 hours per week, and many get only two weeks annual leave.
“The result is like turning the clock back several decades. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that average hours
of work for manufacturing workers in 1998 were higher than in 1950. Working hours in the U.S. are similar to those in much
poorer countries, like Mexico and Hungary.”
[So in terms of working hours, the has-been USA is already in the Third World.]
The shift has less to do with the amount of work Americans are putting in, and more with the kind of work. The changeover
from grunt to brain as marketable job skill has meant many more workers are not tied to a whistle but may work when and how
they feel like it for as many companies as they wish.
Bush’s ideas to privatize Social Security and push health savings accounts rests on a simple theory — put workers in charge
of their own benefits, which follow them throughout life without regard to a specific employer.
The Bush administration is saying that health accounts, pre-tax money that stays with a person wherever he or she may go,
and allowing workers at least partial control of their retirement plans, merely acknowledges what already is happening.
Workers are less and less tied to their companies through benefits. They “rent” their time for given tasks — the Bureau of
Labor Statistics reports that one in five workers spends at least part of his or her work-related time at home — and assumes
workers must take care of themselves. Hence, the all-but-extinct pension program and the rise of the 401(k).
The Kerry camp is fighting this. Their idea is not to set up the individual as an independent contractor for benefits but to
turn that duty over to the government. Kerry’s proposal is to use the Medicaid program as the nation’s health insurance
safety net, rather than private, pre-tax savings accounts.
He also opposes privatizing Social Security, arguing such a move would be a windfall for stockbrokers and would not carry
the guarantees of a government program.
This battle is equally as important as the underlying philosophy behind the war on Iraq. Bush says it is OK to launch a
military campaign to prevent terror; Kerry says no, military power should be used only in response to specific acts.
Individual control carries more risks, such as a downturn in the market robbing hard-won retirements, but carries more
potential rewards. A solid nest egg for health care means far more mobility for workers and less cost to companies, but
could lower the overall level of care for workers at the lowest rungs of the economic ladder.
Author Alan Watts argues technology should be used to enhance life, not demean it, and the way to accomplish this is through
greater opportunities for individuals.
“Isn’t it obvious that the whole purpose of machines is to get rid of work? When you get rid of the work required for
producing basic necessities, you have leisure — time for fun or for new and creative explorations and adventures. But with
the characteristic blindness of those who cannot distinguish symbol from reality, we allow our machinery to put people out
of work — not in the sense of being at leisure but in the sense of having no money and having to accept public welfare.”
Canadian author Bruce O’Hara, in arguing for a three-day work week, said such changes must be lead by the people, not
politicians: “ ... working harder is not working. Most of our current leadership will need to be dragged kicking and
screaming into the Age of Leisure. Change must come from ordinary people.”
Edgar Simpson is editor of The Joplin Globe. Address correspondence to him,
c/o The Joplin Globe, P.O. Box 7, Joplin, Mo. 64802
LifeCare Poll: More Than Half of Employees Believe Flex-Work Arrangements
Would Make Them More Productive
Business Wire, CA
WESTPORT, Conn. - 57% of
employees responding to an online poll by LifeCare(R), Inc., report that
flex-time and flex-place (e.g., working from home) arrangements would enable
them to be most productive on the job. The poll surveyed employees of
LifeCare's 1,500 client companies regarding their on-the-job productivity
and was conducted on the heels of a proposal by President Bush in August
that would give American workers more options for managing the
responsibilities of family and work, including mandatory comp-time and
"Hands down, flexible work arrangements benefit America's workers, its
families and its businesses," says Jeffrey A. Burki, cofounder and chief
strategy officer of LifeCare. "For individuals and families, flex
arrangements minimize the conflicts that arise from juggling personal and
professional responsibilities. As a result, their quality of life improves
significantly. For businesses, flex arrangements strengthen the
employer/employee relationship, improve morale, and boost employee loyalty.
After all, employers who offer flexible arrangements send a clear and
tangible message: we want to make our employees' lives better--at work and
17% of respondents to the LifeCare poll said they would opt
for a compressed work schedule (working a 40-hour week in only three or
four-days), while 15% feel that working fewer hours would enable them to be
more productive by reducing their stress levels.
3% said that
job-sharing would enhance their productivity and 7% identified
"The bottom line," says Burki, "is that employees are struggling to cope
with increasing demands on their time, personally and professionally.
Employers who want to recruit and retain the best talent must offer
work/life and time-management solutions or they run the risk of losing out
to those who do."
Business Interest in Flexibility Sparks Corporate Voices Project
Reflecting a growing concern for more comp-time and flex-time options for
employees,Corporate Voices for Working Families (CVWF), a nonpartisan,
nonprofit 501(c)(3) partnership, has recently undertaken a 12-month project
called, "State of Flexibility in Corporate America: The Business Case for
Expansion." The project is intended to help more employees develop and
enhance flexibility and choice in the workplace.
"Working families must have support in order to be productive employees and
caring family members," says Donna Klein, president and CEO of Corporate
Voices. "Corporate Voices member companies, such as LifeCare, are leaders in
the work-family field but public policy-makers need to be involved. Neither
working families nor the companies they work for can carry the full
responsibility alone." According to Klein, flexibility is a bi-partisan
issue, and engaging both sides of the aisle will be critical if government
is to become a full partner in making workplace flexibility a reality.
CVWF currently represents 47 member corporations with 4 million employees.
The partnership works to bring the private sector voice into the public dialogue on issues
affecting working families.
Flex Is on the Rise
Experts estimate that more than half of U.S. companies are now offering
employees flexible work schedules. Here's why:
- Changing family dynamics - There are more dual-working parent
households, single-parent households, and parents caring for children under
age 18 and/or an elderly parent(s);
- Changing workforce demographics - America's aging workforce wants to
work part-time and beyond typical retirement age;
- Global economy - With today's global economy and the rise of e-commerce,
"downtime" isn't an option, so a flexible workforce is essential.
News Flash: Nobel Laureate Criticizes Bush Tax Cuts!
Tech Central Station, OH
By Arnold Kling
"What Bush has done has been not very big, it's pretty small," Prescott told
CNBC financial news television. "Tax rates were not cut enough," he said.
- AFP news agency
Winners of the Nobel Prize in economics usually are asked their opinion of
policy issues, and this year was no exception. Edward Prescott, the American
who shared the 2004 award with Norway's Finn Kydland, defied the
conventional wisdom on the Bush tax cuts. Contrary to the widespread
characterization of "massive" tax cuts, Prescott describes them as too
small! Is he crazy?
Prescott did not win his Nobel by spouting conventional wisdom. On the
contrary, he was part of a revolution within the economics profession. Over
a period of roughly two decades, starting around 1967, the field of
economics that deals with fluctuations in unemployment and inflation, called
macroeconomics, underwent a dramatic transformation. Ideas that originally
were considered crazy gradually came to be understood and accepted within
To do justice to Kydland and Prescott's work, I feel that I would have to
delve into the full history of these macroeconomic controversies, which are
alluded to in my book in the chapter on Sweetwater vs. Saltwater economics.
Instead, let it suffice to say that Kydland and Prescott were two of the
tugboats who helped turn around the ship of professional opinion. Other
tugboats included Nobel Laureates Robert Lucas and Milton Friedman, as well
as Edmund Phelps, who might have shared a Nobel prize had he been
Scandinavian or had Friedman not been so clearly deserving of a solo award.
In contrast, it is easier to explain Prescott's research on tax rates and
economic activity, which is the basis for his provocative views on the Bush
tax cuts. The tax issue, rather than the macroeconomic theory that was the
focus of the Nobel citation for Kydland and Prescott, will be the topic of
the rest of this article.
Couch Potato or Home Improvement?
Prescott has subtly shifted the way that economists think about the way that
people respond to a change in the rate of take-home pay. He argues that this
response, which economists call the elasticity of labor supply, will be
large. Traditionally, it has been assumed to be small.
The traditional view looks at the elasticity of labor supply in terms of the
choice between labor vs. leisure. That is, you either work longer, or you
lie around watching TV and eating Bon-Bons. In that framework, if you get a
higher wage, that makes working more profitable, but it also gives you more
income, making leisure more attractive. These two effects more or less
cancel one another out, it was thought, so that you do not increase labor
supply very much in response to a higher wage.
Prescott re-casts the trade-off as between "market time" and "non-market
time." In addition to TV and Bon-Bons, you spend some of your non-market
time producing goods and services, such as home-improvement projects, meals
cooked at home, housework, and child care. Thinking of the choice in those
terms, an increase in your wage rate could have a significant effect on your
labor supply. The higher your wage rate, the more it makes sense for you to
"outsource" household chores. If I can earn enough in six hours of work to
pay for someone else to do eight hours of household chores, then I can get
more hours for TV and Bon-Bons by increasing my "market time." Working six
more hours but spending eight fewer hours on household chores gives me a net
saving of two hours.
This use of market time to increase leisure time is an application of one of
the most basic concepts in economics - comparative advantage. An accountant
could put together the bookshelves that she just bought from Ikea, but her
comparative advantage is using spreadsheets, not screwdrivers. She and the
economy are better off if she does more work as an accountant and pays a
professional to assemble her bookshelves.
The Tax Wedge
Prescott emphasizes that taxes and regulations serve to limit the extent to
which people can utilize comparative advantage and outsourcing. For example,
if you are limited to a 35-hour work week, as is the case in France, then
you necessarily cannot increase your market time in order to earn income
that you might use to outsource household chores.
Taxes tend to penalize market time. If I use goods and services bought in
the market to save on household chores, then I have to pay sales taxes. When
I work additional hours to earn income to buy those goods and services, I
have to pay payroll taxes and income taxes. Those taxes constitute a tax
The bigger the tax wedge, the more you will tend to do household chores
yourself rather than outsource them. Suppose that you earn $40 an hour and
it would take you 80 hours to build a deck, although a contractor could
build the deck for $2400. On a pre-tax basis, it takes you only 60 hours to
earn enough money to pay the contractor, so it makes sense to work more
hours and pay the contractor. However, if your income and payroll tax rate
together is 40%, then you have to work 100 hours in order to be able
to take home $2400. Taking into account taxes, you are better off building
the deck yourself, because your deck-building labor is tax-free.
The lower the tax wedge, the more likely it is that you will choose to use
goods and services to replace household chores, increasing your market time
in exchange for more true leisure time. Since many of the goods and services
that we buy - from microwavable food to lawnmowing services to
wash-and-wear clothing - are designed to save on household labor, the tax
wedge is a significant economic factor.
Prescott has backed up this theoretical argument with studies of differences
in labor supply across countries. In a paper entitled, Why Do Americans Work
So Much More Than Europeans, Prescott pointed out that in the 1970's labor
time was comparable between the United States and most European countries.
His research suggests that an increase in the tax wedge in Europe relative
to the United States is what accounts for much of the decline in the rate of
market activity in Europe since then.
A friend who recently visited Germany reports that highly-educated workers
there engage in do-it-yourself projects. Europeans assemble their own Ikea
furniture, rather than paying others to assemble it. Because of taxes and
regulations, Europeans engage in less market time than Americans. However,
the extent to which Europeans actually have more leisure time is less clear.
Taxes and Entitlements
Whether Bush has cut taxes too little or too much depends in part on the
outlook for entitlement reform. Economists all agree that the current
structure of entitlements (Social Security and Medicare) will require an
ever-increasing amount of tax revenues, as longevity increases and new
medical treatments are developed.
Paul Krugman and other economists on the left are optimistic about the
ability to raise tax revenues by increasing tax rates. They are pessimistic
about the political feasibility of reforming Social Security and Medicare in
a way that reduces the government's future liabilities.
Prescott, on the other hand, is very pessimistic about the ability to raise
tax revenues by increasing tax rates. If an increase in the tax wedge leadsto a large reduction in market time, then tax revenues will go up little, if
at all, as rates increase. In that case, there is no way to sustain our
current entitlement system. Some reform is imperative.
It seems to me that Prescott's views have gotten relatively little attention
in the media. My recollection is that in past years, the Nobel Laureate was
interviewed on the PBS news hour and other programs. I do not know whether
Prescott's absence from the news reflects his own reticence or a lack of
interest on the part of the media. However, I believe that his research on
labor supply and taxes deserves a wider audience.
Tyson beef plants slowdown
Sioux City Journal, IA
By Dave Dreeszen
Reacting to tight supplies of cattle, Tyson Foods has reduced hours at its
beef plants, including Siouxland locations in Dakota City and Denison, Iowa.
"We prefer to operate 48 hours a week," Tyson spokesman Gary Mickelson said
Thursday. "Most (plants) have been running 32 to 40 hours a week, and in
some cases, plants have gone dark for an entire day during the work week.''
Citing the cyclical rise and fall of cattle herds, Mickelson said such plant
slowdowns are not unusual in the fall and winter months, with supplies
picking up again in the spring and summer.
Adding to the current tight supplies has been a ban on importing live cattle
from Canada, imposed in the wake of the discovery of a case of mad cow
disease in that country. The first American case of the disease in
Washington state late last year cost closed U.S. beef exports to Japan and
some other foreign customers. Mickelson said the loss of those exports has
contributed to the reduction in production at the Tyson beef plants.
Some other large meatpackers, including Cargill and Swift & Co., also have
recently reduced hours or temporarily closed their beef plants.
During the slowdown, Tyson has cut back employees hours, rather than lay off
workers, he said.
With around 4,000 workers, Tyson's flagship beef slaughter and processing
plant in Dakota City is metro Sioux City's largest employer. The company is
in the midst of a multi-million dollar renovation of the facility.
Honey, I'm home to stay
Blethen Maine Newspapers via Portland Press Herald, Maine
By EDWARD D. MURPHY
Chris Trout wasn't interested in being part of a trend when he decided last
year to give up his job running a program at the People's Regional
Opportunity Program and switch to a home-based consulting business.
Trout was most intrigued by the prospect of being his own boss, making his
own schedule and being at the door when his two children arrived home from
school in the afternoon. But in satisfying those urges, the South Portland
resident became part of a larger movement - the increasing number of people
working from home.
According to figures the U.S. Census Bureau released this week, 4.18
million people worked at home in 2000, up from 3.4 million a decade earlier.
The 23% increase was twice the rise in growth of the work force as a
whole during the same period.
The Census Bureau bases its numbers on people who "usually" work from home.
A worker who sometimes works from home but spends more time each week
working away from home isn't counted as an at-home worker.
In Maine, 26,962 people usually work at home, about 4.4% of the
total work force. That's a greater percentage than nationally, where 3.2%
of the work force consists of at-home workers, according to the Census Bureau figures.
The statistical breakdown of the work-at-home set shows that they tend to
be slightly older than the general work force, more white-collar oriented
and highly educated - more than 37% have a bachelor's degree or
higher, for instance, compared with about 27% of those who don't work at home.
Conversely, the work-at-home contingent as a whole doesn't make as much
money as those for whom the commute is longer than from the bedroom to the
home office. In Maine, 48.3% made less than $20,000 a year at home -
compared to 37.7% of those who work outside the home - and just 13%
made $50,000 or more, compared to nearly 19% of those who don't work at home.
Part of the reason is that the stay-at-home workers put in fewer hours than
those who work outside the home.
Nearly 80% of those who work outside the home work at least 35 hours
a week, while 65.2% of the at-home workers put in a full, or close to
full, week. One in eight home workers puts in 14 hours or less a week,
compared to 5.1% of those who don't work at home.
Paul Edwards, who, with his wife, Sarah Edwards, has written more than a
dozen books on self-employment and working at home, said that's because many
of those who work at home do so to be able to spend more time with their kids.
"It's a lifestyle choice involved for many people," said Paul Edwards,
whose latest book is "The Best Home Businesses for People 50+."
Edwards said some take the at-home approach to the extreme - giving birth
to their children at home, working from home and home-schooling their children.
Edwards said he's not surprised that census figures show more people
working at home during the past decade.
"The driver behind the work-at-home trend is the technology that enabled
it," he said, including cheaper personal computers, broadband Internet
access, cell phones and less-expensive home office equipment, such as faxes
Edwards said the biggest problems self-employed, work-at-home types face is
finding the best way to market themselves to generate enough business and
sky-high health insurance costs.
But with more insurance options starting to emerge, such as local chambers
of commerce that offer group rates to members, Edwards thinks the growth in
at-home workers will continue.
Trout said his experience in working at home has been simultaneously
exciting and nerve-wracking.
"I've never been happier in my life, even when I've got my head in my hands
and I'm wondering, 'What have I done here?' " he said. "The next moment I'm
going, 'Why am I so happy?' "
Trout's home-based business, Sunfire Spirit, offers consulting and training
to organizations working on youth development programs.
He said he wanted to get back to the basics of the work, rather than "all
the other stuff that goes with being an administrator in an organization . .
. (such as) spending 50% or your time fooling around with budgets and
things like that."
Trout started cutting back on his time at PROP last summer and made the
full-time switch to working at home in February.
Although he has no regrets, he said the experience has opened his eyes. He
often looked enviously at the high per-hour rate of consultants, but now he
realizes how much of the day is eaten up by chores that don't generate revenue.
Fixing a balky e-mail system or designing a letterhead is "time with no
money attached to it," he said. "I used to get paid for that time. And
suddenly there was no one else to do anything - every piece of paper, every
stamp that went on an envelope, every trip to Staples - was me. The time it
took to do that stuff was a surprise."
Trout said he and his wife - a work-at-home artist - also struggle with the
cost of health insurance and they spend more time talking about finances now
that neither is drawing a steady paycheck.
But being able to walk a few feet from his desk to the kitchen for lunch or
a cup of coffee is a great bonus, he said, and there are other perks that no
office job could match.
"Having the kids walk in from school and turning around and talking to them
for 10 minutes is huge."
Staff Writer Edward D. Murphy can be contacted at 791-6465 or at:
It would be a happy Monday if today were a Bank holiday
Online Recruitment, UK
With 61 days to go until the next bank holiday and 56 days since the last
one the TUC is calling on the government to make this autumn half-term
Monday one of three new bank holidays. Most of the 20,000 thousand people
who voted for a new Bank holiday in the TUC's online poll think millions of
people should have an extra day off today (Monday).
Brendan Barber, TUC General Secretary, said:
"It's a cold dark Monday but autumn doesn't have to be such a slog. The
country could comfortably cope with a day off today to break the 16-week
bank holiday-free stretch.
"If this Monday were a bank holiday millions of hard working families would
be able to spend a day with their children during half term without taking
extra leave. Millions of employees could give our leisure and retail
industries a boost or take a long weekend away and help our tourism sector.
Others could simply be enjoying a well-earned extra lie in and a very happy Monday."
The UK only has eight bank holidays. The government is rightly going to give
these to all staff on top of annual leave, but the economy could easily cope
with the three extra bank holidays needed to bring us up to the European
average of 11. More than four in ten (41%) of the 19,469 people who
voted online in the WorkSMART.org.uk poll said that a Monday in late October
would be their preferred date for a new bank holiday. Almost a third (32 per
cent) opted for St George's, St Andrew's and St David's Days, and just over
one in ten (11%) for New Year's Eve.
Obviously some people have to work on Bank Holidays but the TUC wants the
law to be strengthened to ensure that anyone doing so earns extra pay or
paid time off in lieu. For information on bank holiday leave and pay rights
employees can visit the TUC's working life website: www.workSMART.org.uk
Bank holiday fact file
· At the moment, England, Scotland and Wales all have eight public holidays per year, whilst Northern Ireland has ten.
· Across the EU only the Netherlands gives its workers as few public holidays as the UK, but Dutch
workers have more annual leave. The average across the 25 European states is 11.35 days, Slovakia with 18 has the most, closely followed by Cyprus on 14. Malta, Spain and Portugal grant their workers 14 days each year.
· Currently millions of workers have to work bank holidays, many with no extra pay or leave days. Others take the day off but with no holiday pay or as part of their minimum four weeks leave.
· Following pressure from the TUC in the 1970s, the 1974-79 Labour Government introduced two additional bank holidays: New Year's Day (1974) and May Day (1978). Since then a number of 'one-off' public holidays have been created to celebrate special events like the 1981 Royal Wedding and the 2002 Golden Jubilee.
Granting of additional bank holidays would have no impact upon the economy:
· On a bank holiday, the activities of the millions of people not in work have a positive effect upon other areas of the economy, particularly retail and tourism. In 2001, when the UK was hit by the foot and mouth epidemic, representatives from the tourism and hospitality industry lobbied the government for a special bank holiday that autumn to stimulate trade.
· Between 1997 and 1999, UK productivity grew by 4.6%, whilst the number of contracted hours worked fell by 0.7%, showing that when extra days holiday are granted there is not a negative impact on output. The granting of additional public holidays merely gives back a small slice of the benefits of increased output to employees.
· Work-related stress costs the UK £4.4 billion a year, so it makes sense to give people working
excessive hours a few extra days off. Extra bank holidays would have a positive impact on staff motivation, recruitment and retention.
EU set for tax and working time conflicts, warns Kok
Boosting Europe's economic growth is set to be a source of conflict between
national capitals, governments and their citizens, EU leaders will hear next
A spring EU summit this year asked Wim Kok to review a four-year old
"Lisbon" pledge to make Europe the world's most competitive economy.
But key, as yet unpublished, strategy proposals from the former Dutch prime
ministers highlight the potential for political divisions and conflict over
reforms to boost economic growth.
Kok is seeking "a radical policy and cultural shift away from early
retirement" and towards longer working hours moves that are deeply
unpopular and opposed by trade unions.
Echoing dire European Commission predictions, Kok warns governments and
citizens that Europe's ageing population can not carry European welfare
"If Europe cannot adapt, its ageing working population will be unable to
sustain the cost of maintaining pensions to Europe's growing army of
pensioners, economic growth will stagnate and institutions will be faced
with contraction and decline," his report states.
Displaying pessimism over the EU's ability to provide more jobs and to boost
productivity, Kok argues that the output burden should fall on the existing
Moves to scrap the French 35-hour week and to drive up working hours across Europe are unlikely to appeal to voters and will trigger battles with trade unions.
"To provide a positive contribution to the growth of output per head, the total number of hours worked in the economy has to increase," Kok concludes.
[Gotta keep people busier! They're thinking too much! They're finding out too much!]
The former Dutch leader recognises that a period of low growth has put
governments in a "catch 22" situation when pushing through unpopular
economic or welfare reform.
"It has been harder in this low growth environment for governments to launch
politically controversial reform measures," the report states.
But Kok sees an economic upturn as a window of opportunity as expanding
employment takes the strain of labour shake-ups.
And he cautions EU leaders that a failure to act could jeopardise Europe's
social fabric and fuel extremism.
"Europe has lost ground to both the US and Asia, its societies are under
strain; and some ugly political forces are beginning to manifest
themselves," the report states.
Kok also takes up concerns expressed by Germany and France that lower levels
of corporate taxation in new EU countries are a source of "tension".
"Their low tax and wage rates attracting inward investment from the rest of
the EU are likely to be a source of growing friction," says the report.
"Unless there is some prospect of convergence so that the EU becomes a
genuine single economy with broadly similar levels of wages and
productivity, these tensions will mount."
Volkswagen Production Threatened as Pay Talks Snagged (Update2)
BBC News via Bloomberg, United States
Volkswagen AG, Europe's largest carmaker, faces
production stoppages in November after the company and the IG Metall workers
union failed to reach an agreement over planned cost cuts, job-security
measures and pay raises.
Chances of averting temporary walkouts next month at Volkswagen's German
plants are ``comparatively low,'' Hartmut Meine, IG Metall union's chief
negotiator, said after more than 12 hours of contract talks in the western
German city of Hanover.
Workers are resisting as Volkswagen, aiming to reverse seven consecutive
quarters of declining profit, plans to cut costs 30% over the next
seven years at its six western German plants. IG Metall, Germany's
second-largest union, is allowed by law to stage warning strikes from
midnight on Oct. 28, when the next round of talks is scheduled, if no accord
is reached by then.
``A day we started with confidence has ended in disappointment,''
Josef-Fidelis Senn, Volkswagen chief negotiator, told journalists. ``Our
expectations shrank to a minimum during the talks.''
Shares of Wolfsburg, Germany-based Volkswagen fell as much as 3.2%
to 33.77 euros and were down 2.2% at 34.15 euros as of 11:43 a.m. in
Frankfurt. The stock has declined 23% this year, the third-worst
performance on Germany's 30- member benchmark DAX index.
Chief Executive Officer Bernd Pischetsrieder, 56, said last month that a
strike by workers in Germany may bring the automaker's production to a stop
Investment, Job-Cut Threats
The carmaker is threatening to stop expanding production at its German
factories without an agreement. Volkswagen said on Sept. 30 that it may cut
as many as 30,000 jobs, or almost one-fifth of its German workforce.
[1994 deja vu.]
Volkswagen is calling for a two-year pay freeze while IG Metall, which has
scaled back its pay-increase demand from an initial call for a 4%
raise, is seeking to preserve carmaking jobs for a decade.
The carmaker has never had a strike at its German operations,
Pischetsrieder said last month. Volkswagen's workers in Mexico staged
strikes three years ago and in August.
The company may say on Oct. 28 that third-quarter net income fell 13%
to 188.5 million euros ($238 million), according to the median
estimate of 10 analysts surveyed by Bloomberg News. The company has lost
market share in its three largest markets of Europe, China and the U.S.
Forecast Scaled Back
Pischetsrieder in July cut the company's 2004 earnings target because of
``weak demand'' in the U.S., Germany and China. He plans to cut 4 billion
euros in costs and cut 5,000 jobs by 2005 to boost profit.
IG Metall wants Volkswagen to guarantee jobs for the next 10 years for
103,000 workers at the carmaker's western German plants.
The union trimmed its pay demand to a 2.2% raise for 12 months and a
2.7% raise for the subsequent 14 months to match compensation levels
agreed on earlier this year for metalworkers at other companies. IG Metall
also would accept lower pay for all new hires and greater flexibility on
``The company is keeping to exaggerated demands,'' Meine told reporters.
``That's a clear escalation of the dispute.''
Volkswagen, which plans to reduce spending on labor by 30% through
2011, said IG Metall's proposals would inflict ``considerable'' costs on the
carmaker. Volkswagen workers are paid about 11% more than other
carmakers' employees in Germany, according to Senn.
IG Metall's threat to stage a series of walkouts at Volkswagen lasting a
few hour at a time comes a day after employees at Adam Opel AG, General
Motors Corp.'s German unit, resumed work following a seven-day wildcat
strike against the Detroit-based carmaker's job-cut plans in Europe.
Opel's plant in Bochum, Germany, shut down on Oct. 14, the day when General
Motors said it intends to cut as many as 12,000 jobs in Europe, of which
about 10,000 are to be eliminated at factories in Germany, the region's
Volkswagen employs a total 177,000 people in Germany, including those at
the luxury carmaker Audi in Ingolstadt, compared with the 167,000 workers at
Siemens AG's German operations and the 104,000 people on DaimlerChrysler
AG's Mercedes Car Group's German payroll as of the end of 2003.
To contact the reporter on this story: Andreas Cremer in Hanover, Germany at firstname.lastname@example.org.
To contact the editor responsible for this story:
Catherine Hickley at email@example.com
The secret recipe to Business Energy success
Online Recruitment, UK
Adecco and the Chartered Management Institute have released the full
Business Energy Survey, offering some much needed advice to help UK
organisations stir up some energy amongst the UK workforce. The Business
Energy Survey questioned over 1,500 managers and found UK businesses need to
listen to the demands of their employees to successfully create a positive
working environment and make employees feel proud to work for their
The Business Energy Survey, conducted in May 2004, assessed attitudes,
motivations and aspirations of the UK's managers. Previous survey highlights
indicated that a substantial number of managers felt undervalued in their
role, many were working a seven-day week and had to compromise spending time
with their family and friends because of work demands. As a result
organisations have been asked to sit up and take note of the following
· Proactive not reactive 65% of managers claimed they worked for a
bureaucratic or reactive organisation. UK organisations need to move away
from these ineffective management styles and involve their staff in the
decision making process
· Resource planning 1 in 3 said they had received no training in the last
12 months despite 53% of managers claiming they were aware a
training budget exists. Companies need to develop their managers and also
provide the resources needed to carry out their job
· Praise not pay 57% of those surveyed claimed to be energised by
achieving their goals but most don't see recognition for their efforts.
Organisations need to thank individuals for personal contributions and
realise that, often, praise matters more than pay
· Flexible working 39% of those surveyed stated they would like a
compressed working week, but less than 6% expect it to happen.
Organisations should respond to the need to juggle commitments to make staff
· Make the message heard CEOs need to express a clear vision and
communicate it effectively to all levels of staff. 51% claimed
directors do not communicate their message clearly to employees and many
feel frustrated by the lack of communication within the workplace
· Zero tolerance The survey highlighted that 50% of businesses
tolerated poor performance. Corporate confidence and energy filters through
to individuals, so leaders need to be inspirational and encourage creativity
to generate business growth
The report shows that managers have expressed dissatisfaction with the
current practices in the workplace. To raise business energy, UK businesses
need to follow the advice that has surfaced from the findings. Respondents
want better two-way communications, to be trusted and empowered, treated
with fairness, dignity and respect. By rewarding those who work hard and by
listening to the demands of employees, people will feel they are being
valued for their contribution and work harder.
"More people are working longer and harder than ever and with the pension
crisis this does not seem like it's going to change," said Richard
MacMillan, MD of Adecco. "With the increase in working hours, traditional
working practices will have to change to ensure business energy remains high
and people do not become demoralised by working. In the long term this will
not only benefit the individual but also UK businesses."...
[Wouldn't it be easier just to decrease working hours, hmmm?]
The Bay Area Puts Its Own Spin on Take Back Your Time Day - "Free Time"
handed out on Union Street in San Francisco
PRWEB via Emediawire
Leisure Team Productions gives passers-by the gift of "free time" in honor
of the second annual Take Back Your Time Day. Simple ways that anybody can
create more free time each day range from having a place for things and
cleaning up as you go, to being more efficient online (log on for a specific
purpose, stick to one subject per email), to finding free entertainment,
such as the Hunters Point Shipyard Artists Open Studios (Sat-Sun
10/23-10/24, 11am-6pm, Hunters Point Shipyard).
SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. - The second annual Take Back
Your Time Day (http://www.timeday.org) falls on a Sunday this year. What
better day to relax and reflect on the need for more leisure? And if your
Sunday routine takes you past the intersection of Union & Laguna Streets
between 11am-1pm, you'll receive "free time" as a gift from the Leisure Team.
"Groups from Beverly Hills to Boston are celebrating Time Day by calling
attention to the need for a better work-life balance," says Dean
LaTourrette, co-founder of Leisure Team Productions, a small press and media
production company dedicated to portraying leisure in a positive light
(http://www.leisureteam.com). "Humans need leisure. Working fewer hours is
one way to get it. Maximizing the free time that you already have is
another." LaTourrette, along with co-author Kristine Enea, recently released
a regional book on the importance of taking breaks from work, called Time
Off! The Unemployed Guide to San Francisco.
Leisure Team will offer passers-by ideas on simple ways that anybody can
create more free time each day. Tips range from having a place for things
and cleaning up as you go, to being more efficient online (log on for a
specific purpose, stick to one subject per email), to finding free
entertainment, such as the Hunters Point Shipyard Artists Open Studios
(Sat-Sun 10/23-10/24, 11am-6pm, Hunters Point Shipyard).
"The sooner you take care of your personal Œchores,' the more time you'll
have for pure fun," says LaTourrette. "Having fun makes you happy. Happy
people are more productive at work. Productive workers have more control
over their schedule, which leads to more free timeŠ Loving leisure creates a
very positive cycle."
Two other Time Day events in the Bay Area focus on political and systemic
solutions to the problem of overwork. Human Agenda's "A Vision for America:
Time Over Money" takes place on Friday October 22 in San Jose. For further
information, contact Milina Jovanovic at 408-204-1842. In Berkeley, Ofer
Sharone and Jenya Cassidy will lead a discussion on work hours, corporate
practices that encourage overwork, and our rights under the new California
Paid Family leave Act. The event will be held at 1pm on Sunday October 24 at
the Institute for Industrial Relations, 2521 Channing Way in Berkeley.
Refreshments will be provided. For more information, contact Ofer Sharone,
e-mail protected from spam bots.
For more information on the origins of Take Back Your Time Day, contact
Gretchen Burger, 206-293-3772, http://www.timeday.org.
Contact: Kristine Enea, 415-609-5322
Free your Time!
Time saving tips brought to you by Leisure Team Productions
1. Take regular breaks
2. Tackle the hard stuff first
3. Drive off-peak hours
4. Use a headset to talk o n the phone while typing
5. Use a speed dialer
6. Keep an overnight bag packed
7. Screen calls
8. Get off phone lists at DoNotCall.org
9. Get off junk mail lists at Junkbusters.com
10. Stay focused
11. Make a list
12. Set goals
13. Turn your commute into exercise
14. Be selective
15. Schedule downtime
17. Get rid of things you don't use
18. Log on for a specific purpose
19. Focus on one subject per email
20. Plan your route
21. Clean up as you go
22. Break a challenging task into small pieces
23. Use express checkouts
24. You gotta love clogs!
Working on the railroad - An industry flush with freight but short on manpower struggles to beef up
its work force
Baltimore Sun via Houston Chronicle, TX
By STACEY HIRSH
With the economy picking up and an increasing demand for freight
transportation, rail businesses plan to hire more than 80,000 workers over
the next six years, according to the Association of American Railroads. But
finding enough qualified people for the positions could be challenging,
experts said, because the work is physically demanding.
"Railroads are experiencing, for the first time in modern history,
significant shifts from the highway to the rails because of highway
congestion, higher fuel prices and difficulty among trucking companies to
attract and retain drivers," said Frank Wilner, a spokesman for the United
Transportation Union, which represents about 50,000 rail workers.
Once a booming American industry with 1.8 million employees during World War
I, railroad employment peaked in 1920 and then began to dwindle as
competition from other forms of transportation grew. Also, government
regulations on the industry became more stringent.
Employment was down to about 174,000 by last year, the most recent figures
available from the Association of American Railroads show.
The worker increase expected this year will be only the second significant
jump in a decade, the association said.
A hard sell
In addition to an uptick in both the economy and the demand for freight
transportation, experts said the railroad industry expansion comes in part
because of a growth in international trade, where railroads can be used to
move goods to and from the ports.
Also, legislation during recent years lowered the retirement age of
railroad workers to 60 from 62, which means an already mature industry will
have more openings even sooner than planned.
But recruiting workers to fill those openings may not be easy.
Though average pay for rail workers is about $62,000 plus benefits, the jobs
can be trying. It's around-the-clock work, experts said, and there are
strict requirements, including random drug tests.
"It can be a physically demanding job," said Rudy Husband, director of
public relations for Norfolk Southern. "We move the freight 24 hours a day,
seven days a week, 365 days a year ‹ through hot days, rainy days, snowy
"So people are going to be outside working in the elements, and there are
times that people are going to be working at night, weekends and holidays."
Churn rate high
Other harsh working conditions make the job unappealing for potential hires,
Many crews are forced to work without days off and with infrequent rest
periods, he said. Some workers are on call at all times, rather than knowing
ahead of time when they will work.
Others have only 10 hours between shifts, leaving them with barely enough
time to commute home, eat, unwind and sleep for a few hours, Wilner said.
Wilner said he has been to some recruiting events where "as many as 50%
of those that apply and are initially accepted either drop out on
their own within the first few months or are deemed unacceptable because
they just don't have the makeup to handle this kind of a schedule."
[Again, wouldn't it be a cost-saving to cut "this kind of a schedule" and get some managers with workload splitting&suturing skills instead of constantly spending on training new recruits who drop out or are deemed incapable of handling it within the first few months, hmmm? Or is this all just too advanced a concept for today's trogloditic CEOs to grasp?]
DA enforces new policy on abattoirs
The Freeman, Philippines
The Department of Agriculture will no longer field inspectors from the
National Meat Inspection to check on meat establishments on Saturdays and
DA recently issued Administrative Order No. 22 or the "no inspection, no
slaughter" policy in meat establishments and prescribing an overtime
compensation system for meat plant officers.
The order was signed by Agriculture Secretary Arthur Yap last October 11 and
by the National Meat Inspection Commission executive director Efren Nuestro.
Under the Order, slaughterhouses and meat establishments will not be allowed
to slaughter and sell products without being inspected by the NMIC.
Yap said the job of meat inspectors usually extends even to Saturdays,
Sundays and holidays. With the order, he said that NMIC will only do the
inspection on working days, Mondays through Fridays, except on cases when
their service is really needed and provided that they are properly
He said that this is in compliance with an executive order requiring all
government employees to render not less than eight hours of work a day for
five days a week excluding Saturdays, Sundays, and holidays.
[This is exactly what people feared in the US during the 1930s if the limit on the workweek was poorly designed = that the maximum workweek would become a minimum, and instead of requiring employees to render not more than 40 hrs/wk, legislation would be interpreted as requiring employees to render not less than 40 hrs/wk. And here's the poor, or rather, suspended, overtime design in the Philippines today -]
He said that
this is also to conform with the cost-cutting measures that the national
government is implementing, including the ban on additional benefit and
suspension of overtime pay.
[Then it gets into a contradiction -]
However, under E.O. No. 292, the daily hours of work of government employees may be extended by the head of the agency provided that work in excess of
eight hours must be compensated....
[Suspension of OT pay, or, work in excess of 8 hrs must be compensated?? Make up your minds!]
Wenna A. Berondo
Custom-made ... in China - More US furniture companies look overseasfor high-quality work, and they're
finding it - They're also saving a lot of money
Boston Globe, MA
By Susan Diesenhouse
Custom-designed imported furniture was once an exclusive [limited] realm.
Now, it's the [unlimited] economical alternative for commercial developers and designers needing everything from seats to beds to desks for their projects.
They're buying it through top domestic furniture makers that are
increasingly partnering with Chinese factories. There, US managers are
fusing American design, engineering, and quality control with the low-wage
Chinese labor. The result: custom armoires that cost $800 instead of $1,800,
for savings of 30 to 50% on a dcor that may be almost 10% of
the total project cost, said Mark Anthony Oliva, senior vice president for
Cresset Development Group LLC, which last month opened Boston's Bulfinch
Hotel, filled with Chinese-made furnishings....
With China's seven-day work week, a time difference that allows for a 24-hour production cycle, the Bulfinch project took nine months rather than 18, at about 40% lower cost with higher-quality workmanship, Platt
Since 2003, Bulfinch Hotel furniture supplier Mark David Inc. of High Point,
N.C., also has been manufacturing in China and every week reserves space on ships to ensure prompt delivery. Now, 70% of its employees are
Chinese who earn about 20 cents an hour plus benefits compared to about
$9.50 for those in High Point, said chief executive Mark Norcross.
[And they expect there to indefinitely be sufficient American customers for their expensive hotel?]
Rail industry is on track to expand
Twin Falls Times-News, ID
Knight Ridder News Service
BALTIMORE - Thousands more people may soon be working on the railroad.
With the economy picking up and an increasing demand for freight
transportation, rail businesses plan to hire more than 80,000 workers over
the next six years, according to the Association of American Railroads. But
finding enough qualified people for the positions could be challenging,
experts said, because the work is physically demanding.
"Railroads are experiencing, for the first time in modern history,
significant shifts from the highway to the rails because of highway
congestion, higher fuel prices and difficulty among trucking companies to
attract and retain drivers," said Frank Wilner, a spokesman for the United
Transportation Union, which represents about 50,000 rail workers.
"We're seeing some very positive growth in the rail freight business, and
obviously when you have growth, you need people to move it and to fix the
equipment and tracks," said Rudy Husband, director of public relations for
Norfolk Southern. Norfolk Southern will add about 2,000 workers a year for
the next four or five years to its work force across 22 states, Husband said.
Once a booming American industry with 1.8 million employees during World War
I, railroad employment peaked in 1920 and then began to dwindle as
competition from other forms of transportation grew. Also, government
regulations on the industry became more stringent.
Employment was down to about 174,000 by last year, the most recent figures
available from the Association of American Railroads. The worker increase
expected this year will be only the second significant jump in a decade, the
In addition to an uptick in both the economy and the demand for freight
transportation, experts said the railroad industry expansion comes in part
because of a growth in international trade, where railroads can be used to
move goods to and from the ports. Also, legislation during recent years
lowered the retirement age of railroad workers to 60 from 62, which means an
already mature industry will have more openings even sooner than planned.
But recruiting workers to fill those openings may not be easy. Though
average pay for rail workers is about $62,000 plus benefits, the jobs can be
trying. It's around-the-clock work, experts said, and there are strict
requirements, including random drug tests.
"It can be a physically demanding job," Husband said. "We move the freight
24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year - through hot days,
rainy days, snowy days. So people are going to be outside working in the
elements, and there are times that people are going to be working at night,
weekends and holidays."
Other harsh working conditions make the job unappealing for potential hires,
said Wilner of the United Transportation Union. Many crews are forced to
work without days off and with infrequent rest periods, he said. Some
workers are on call at all times, rather than knowing ahead of time when
they will work, and others have only 10 hours between shifts - leaving them
with barely enough time to commute home, eat, unwind and sleep for a few
hours, Wilner said.
Wilner said he has been to some recruiting events where "as many as 50%
of those that apply and are initially accepted either drop out on
their own within the first few months or are deemed unacceptable because
they just don't have the makeup to handle this kind of a schedule."
Though those in the industry say recruiting is a challenge, they are still
expecting to have thousands of jobs to fill in the coming years - up to
140,000 during the next decade.
Edward R. Hamberger, president and chief executive officer of the
Association of American Railroads, said that as part of a cooperative effort
with the trucking industry, rail cars will take 10 million trucks off the
road this year by moving containers of goods on the railroad instead of the
back of a tractor-trailer.
United Parcel Service, the rail industry's biggest customer, will spend
about $750 million this year moving their brown trailers by train. "If (a) ground package is going 750 miles or more, it is more economical and efficient for us to load the trailers, move them to the railhead (and) put them on a flatcar," than it is to drive them, said Norman Black, a UPS spokesman.
Railroad cars can move 1 ton of freight 408 miles on a gallon of fuel, in addition to easing congestion caused by trucks on the road, Hamberger said [Edward R. Hamberger, president and chief executive officer of the Association of American Railroads]. A recent study found that if one quarter of what is now shipped by trucks were moved by rail, commuters would spend about 33 fewer hours sitting in traffic each year by 2025.
That is a savings of 174 gallons of gas per commuter each year, said Wendell Cox, a demographic and transportation consultant and author of the study, which was funded by a grant from North America's Freight Railroads. "The basic problem you have with trucks is the space they take up," Cox said. The average truck consumes the space of four cars, Cox said. Cutting down the number of trucks on the road would leave more room for cars. Also, the amount of goods being shipped by truck is expected to increase over the next 20 years, creating an even greater labor shortage than the current one....
[Labor "shortages" based on makework, public or private, are bogus, and claiming a labor "shortage" when the real US unemployment rate - including welfare, disability, homelessness and incarceration - is 13.8%, is also a trifle rich.]
So experts from the two industries said there is a significant effort for
trucking companies and railroads to work together. If a business wants to ship hundreds of trailers of freight across the country, it makes sense to use a train, experts said. That frees up trucks to move other goods to places a train can't go, said Mike Russell, a spokesman for the American Trucking Associations, the trucking industry's largest trade group.
Males, young people highest ad avoiders: Initiative-BBC survey
By HETAL ADESARA
MUMBAI - Lintas' media division Initiative Media headed by Lynn de Souza and
BBC World recently released their annual survey on ad avoidance. This is the
fourth of its kind survey undertaken by the two companies.
The core objective of the study was to measure the incidence of advertising
avoidance across all media; to understand the profile of audiences which
indulge in advertising avoidance in terms of demographics, lifestyle and
psychographics and to get answers to various media planning trivia.
One of the key findings of the survey was that 31% of the surveyed
population was receptive to advertising. The survey also revealed that ad
avoidance is the highest in higher SECs, males and the younger age groups.
Another conclusion drawn (not surprisingly though) was that people with a
stressful lifestyle and long working hours are more likely to avoid ads.
[This is the weirdest argument for shorter workhours we've ever seen, but hey, whatever works!]
The survey took over a month to be completed and was conducted in the four
metro cities of Mumbai, Kolkata, Delhi and Chennai with a sample size of
1750. The demographics was males and female in the age groups of 15-24,
25-34, 35-44, 45+ in SEC A1, A2, B1, B2 and C. The research was conducted by
Hansa Research Group and was analysed by Lintas Media Services Research and
Technologies division Intellect, which is headed by Premjeet Sodhi.
Talking to indiantelevision.com about how the idea of the survey originated,
De Souza says, "Worldwide there is a lot of research that has been done by
Lowe on ad avoidance and what was found that since ad avoidance was at its
peak among people, advertising creatives should be outstanding so as to make
a mark amongst the clutter. Taking a cue from there, we at Initiative Media,
decided that its not always possible to make outstanding creatives. So to
get out of the advertising fatigue, the answer lies in the way you use the
medium and therefore it comes in the area of the media planner and buyer's
area. So assuming that the creative is of a high quality, how can the media
planner/buyer make sure that they can combat advertising fatigue."
This study shows that advertising avoidance is very high (31%) but
it is even higher for television. Avoidance is also high among people who
are exposed a lot to the various medium of communications - Internet,
television, magazines etc. "On DD alone we are getting 450 spots a week and
this is just an average. And the target group that we are talking about may
be bombarded with 1000+ ads in a week an hence they pass ads unseeingly.
They are the target of everyone because if you see the growing service
sector or the durable market; all target the young upwardly mobile couple
and families. Since they are being bombarded with messages, they are the
ones who are withdrawing," explains De Souza.
Sodhi says, "The primary thing that we covered in the survey was the
advertising avoidance and what caused it. But that was not enough, we also
collected supporting information on what is their media consumption and
attitude to advertising."
Talking about an interesting analysis that the research unearthed on
shopping behaviour, Sodhi says, "We found that there were three kinds of
shopping behaviour. 1) Loyals, who stick to their brands; 2) Prudents, who
are very judicious in their purchases and 3) Opportunists, who are on the
look out for offers etc. When we mapped these three sets of people against
their avoidance levels we found a pattern - as they move from becoming more
and more receptive to advertising, their shopping behaviour also changes.
From being prudent they gradually get converted to more and more opportunists."
De Souza adds, "This is a good thing and shows that advertising works."
When asked about how these survey findings were going to be incorporated in
the daily dealings of media professionals, De Souza says, "We've identified
target groups and therefore product categories and services aimed at those
TGs and we need to do much more innovative work for them in turn. Also, in
our ability to demarcate consumers by their shopping behaviour and therefore
by their responsiveness to advertising is the area where we need to work
Media professionals are realising that advertising is just not enough but
are now more precise about, it in the sense - exactly to whom is it not
enough. Therefore the aim is how to get closer to content. De Souza says,
"My feeling is that, in a very short while the consumer is going to switch
off that kind of content also which is bombarded with messages. And that is
also something that we intent to look into. When we say that 31% of
the work we do is not working then we owe it to our clients to minimise that
31%. Also, 70% of the money we put on TV is wasted. So we
should be telling our clients that as per our research, the more
interpersonal the media; like - SMS (14% avoidance), radio (28 per
cent avoidance), Internet (43% avoidance), direct mailers (41 per
cent avoidance) etc; the more it tends to be noticed."
The survey also measured whether programme sponsorships work? It was found
that 76% don't see sponsorships as different and that 48%
don't notice sponsorships at all. Television audience is receptive to
innovations as 60% find pop-up advertising during programmes
innovative. Also 72% pay keen attention to screen tickers as they
provide the latest information.
So what was found was that advertising avoidance is widespread across media
and that different audience segments react differently to advertising.
Thus was concluded that while ad-avoidance continues,
€ Media reach continues to be high,
€ Sponsorships have lost their identity,
€ Programme promotions are useful,
€ Innovation in advertising is appreciated,
€ Interactivity is liked.
Balancing Their Personal Goals - Younger Employees Value Family Time as Highly as Career Advancement
Washington Post, DC
By Amy Joyce
This just in: Gen Xers aren't slackers after all.
But far fewer of the 23- through 37-year-olds are focused on career
advancement above all else than people of the same age were 10 years ago.
According to a study released earlier this month, Gen X employees in 2002
worked more hours per week than employees of comparable ages in 1977 (45.6
hours on average vs. 42.9). But the younger generations, including
Generation Y - the 18- through 22-year-olds - also have become much more
conscious of personal trade-offs as they advance in their careers [ha! no credibility after the hours data], and an
increasing number are choosing not to vie for higher positions in the same
way their baby boomer counterparts did. That does not mean they are not
advancing. They simply aren't willing to cut back on family time to get
[Seems like they've already cut back on family time, even without "getting there." As the saying goes, "Our parents fought to give us the weekend and our kids are giving it back."]
Meanwhile...Generation X fathers spend an hour more a day with their children than fathers of the boomer generation did, according to the study.
[Sounds unlikely in view of their longer working hours.]
"I think I spend more time with my children than my father did," said Paul
Cisneros, senior project manager at Abbott Laboratories. "It's very
important to me." In fact, Cisneros, 35, was leaving early the day I
interviewed him because his parents were coming into town, and he wanted to
spend time with them and his children, a son, 3 1/2, and a daughter, 1 1/2. "I think there's more of a desire to balance work and life, but also a
desire to do well in your job," Cisneros said. His day is spent working with
technology workers in Europe, so he wakes around 4:40 or 5 a.m. to work at
home before he goes into the office. That way, he can come home relatively
early to spend time with his children....
["Relatively" early?? - and how good is zombie time with your children when you've already been "on" for 9-10-11...hours?]
"I do know they want a different way to live and work, and most employers
know that when they're recruiting," Galinsky said [Ellen Galinsky, president of the Families and Work Institute, which conducted the survey for the American Business
Collaboration]. "What I hear companies talking about is redefining the fast track, creating sabbaticals and leaves."...
Join Amy Joyce from 11 a.m. to noon Tuesday at www.washingtonpost.com to
discuss your life at work.
Daley asks city workers to take unpaid days off
Chicago Sun Times, IL
BY FRAN SPIELMAN
Despite the $1.82 billion jackpot from privatizing the Chicago Skyway, City
Hall wants unions representing 30,000 city employees - including police
officers and firefighters - to take unpaid furlough days to help eliminate
a $220 million budget shortfall.
Without savings generated by unpaid vacation days, increased health care
contributions and work-rule changes that shrink crew sizes and reduce
overtime costs, budget director John Harris said Mayor Daley will have no
choice but to order another painful round of employee layoffs.
A few weeks ago, Ald. Richard Mell (33rd) floated a furlough plan for
employees to take between two and eight unpaid days off, based on their
Daley's version calls for an unspecified number of furlough days for all
employees, including management. Union leaders will be briefed on the plan
for shared sacrifice during two days of meetings, beginning today.
"They should do what they can to help us through this difficult budget. If
they don't, we'll have to look at alternatives - like cuts they don't need
to agree with. . . . They'd be facing permanent cuts in the workforce,"
No silver bullet
Police officers and firefighters cannot be exempted from furloughs because
public safety represents 60% of the city's corporate spending, Harris
said. He promised that unpaid days off would be scheduled "in a way that has
no impact on street-level protection."...
Earlier this month, Daley postponed the unveiling of his 2005 budget to
give aldermen time to choose from a painful menu of tax increases, only tosend Harris back to make even deeper cuts in response to the corruption
uncovered by the Hired Truck scandal. The furlough request is an apparent
outgrowth of the mayor's demand for more spending cuts.
"Even if we get this, it would only be part of the solution," Harris said.
"There is no silver bullet. The 2005 budget challenges will involve cuts and
some revenue enhancements."
Two years ago, Daley asked the city's unionized work force to choose
between five unpaid vacation days and deferred pay raises to avert the need
for 425 layoffs. When union leaders said no, the mayor followed through on
his layoff threat. More than 3,000 jobs have been eliminated from the city
payroll in the last two years alone.
On heels of back pay demand
On Monday, union leaders reacted coolly to Daley's latest request. It comes
on top of a demand that 30,000 unionized city employees forfeit their right
to at least 16 months of back pay.
"Manpower is down across the city. Our contract expired almost a year and a
half ago and there's been no real effort to negotiate a new agreement in a
timely manner," said Fraternal Order of Police President Mark Donahue.
"These things don't advance the cause of good faith."...
[If American union leaders had any sense, they'd pour all the pressure they can muster into gaining nationwide cuts in worktime per person, because until they do that and reduce the much-denied nationwide surplus of labor, they will have no bargaining power.]
A terminal diagnosis for the NHS
The Scotsman, UK
EDDIE BARNES AND STEPHEN BREEN
Gamekeeper Sandy Ward's job depends on him being fit. So when he was
diagnosed recently with calcification of his spine at the Western General in
Edinburgh, it wasn't just his health that was at stake, it was his livelihood.
An operation was a necessity and he was quickly booked in. But there was
just one problem: it would be in 68 weeks' time.
"I am a gamekeeper and I need my legs, and I didn't want to end up in a
wheelchair," the 60-year-old from Galashiels told Scotland on Sunday. The
wait was particularly galling, as he had spent 25 years working in the
Luckily, he had the funds to pay the £9,000 bill for a private operation,
which was carried out within a month. "I just feel sorry for those poor
folks who can't afford to consider going private," he added.
Ward's experience is an increasingly difficult one for the government to
explain. Only last month, it was announced that spending on the Health
Service will rocket to more than £10bn by 2008.
Never before has so much money gone into propping up the nation's health.
And yet, as we reveal today, Scotland's Royal Colleges are now issuing dire
warnings about the growing shortfall in healthcare staffing.
Scotland still has more medics per head than England, but a combination of
factors such as new limits on working time, a move to greater specialisation
and a forthcoming retirement 'bulge' means that the future for healthcare
provision looks dire.
Already across Scotland, 21 hospitals are facing reorganisation or mergers
as boards attempt to deal with the crisis....
[One word, TRAINING. Break the training bottleneck in medicine or this will never change. And break doctors' bogus monopoly by empowering nurses and EMTs or aides.]
It is all the more remarkable because doctors are being paid more than ever
for their professional skills. Under the new consultant contract, those at
the higher end of the pay scale saw their salary increase from £70,715 to
£88,000, while those at the lower end rose from £54,340 to £65,035.
[That's because they've succeeded in bottlenecking access to their skills and creating a shortage of ... themselves.]
And within hospitals, medics are finding it near impossible to cope with
the new working arrangements which restrict the hours of junior doctors,
forcing consultants to do more.
[Medical bottlenecking of training has reached a pitch where the fake shortage of doctors "requires" megahours that endanger patients. Clearly doctors are asking for a takeover, since they can't manage their own greed and worktime in consonance with their mission.]
Dr John Sinclair...a consultant urologist at Glasgow's Southern
Hospital, has spent his whole working life in a job he says he still loves.
But the pressures are now more intense than before.
He said: "Everyone is under such great pressure. I feel it is so great that
it simply can't continue. I think the NHS will eventually just implode. It
is just a question of how and when."
Consultants, he said, are being squeezed from one end to meet tough waiting
time targets, and at the other by the new working time regulations for
juniors, which mean they have to pick up the work which was once done by
less experienced staff.
[The regulations should apply to juniors and seniors alike.]
All the while, they are also supposed to carry out
crucial training to junior doctors, without which there will be no
consultants in future years.
"There is the pressure to get through operations, but if you are going to
train a junior doctor, then that might take some more time. But there is no
way round that, because you have to train people up."
[Doctors are apparently completely incompetent managers. Not that non-medical CEOs are much better.]
Another consultant who asked not to be named added: "Most consultants are
now in hospital at eight in the morning and are the last to leave. Junior
staff now have limits on their working hours, but we have a moral
responsibility to get the work done. The days of consultants turning up andgoing off for a round of golf are long gone. It's no wonder that most
consultants, as a result of this, are retiring as soon as they can."
Experts in the field are scathing about the failure of government to
[But what have the "experts" done about it because blame someone else?]
Nothing, they claim, has been done to prepare the NHS for the enormous changes in working arrangements it is undergoing. The result is hospital closures.
Dr Matthew Dunnigan, a research fellow at Glasgow University, said: "There
is no doubt we are heading towards a period of doctor shortages, and that is
being used as a driver for hospital closures.
["Heading towards"??? Doctors all over the world have been, with CEOs, the most successful at carefully cultivating and fastidiously fostering shortages of their own skills for at least the last 50 years! And now they want to play the victim. Pathetic!]
"It is the shortages of doctors plus the European working time directive which is pushing things.
[Well, the EU working time directive just wants to bring doctors a little closer to their fellow employees, and "incidentally" get their schedules a little more aligned with patient safety.]
"The fundamental question that should be asked is how did we get into this
state? It is not an act of God. The government and the Executive have known
about the working time directive for 10 years.
[Well you medical morons have been cultivating your self- and patient-destructive shortage of training and skills for at least 50 years, so "physicians, heal yourselves!"]
"The problems we are now facing are being used to push forward the
centralisation agenda. Is it really sensible to compound one failure of
policy with another - that of closing hospitals?"...
[If you can't manage your profession competently and share your skills adequately, you lose control, so SHADDAP!]
- [another version -]
Report warns of NHS staff crisis - New rules are changing the length of time doctors work
BBC News, UK
The NHS in Scotland could face a shortfall of 500 GPs within a decade, it
has been claimed.
The suggestion is made in a report which will be published later this week
by leading medical figures in Scotland.
The analysis was carried out by the Royal Colleges of Anaesthetists, GPs,
and Surgeons and Physicians, as well as the Consultants' Association.
It was a response to an inquiry by the Scottish Parliament's health
committee into future planning of the NHS.
The European Working Time Directive (EWTD), which restricts the workinghours of doctors, is identified as one of the underlying factors.
And as many as 21 hospitals are facing restructuring or closure as some
health boards struggle to ensure provision of specialist services.
It is imperative that we deal with this issue and train more staff in
line with the needs of the patients rather than the doctors
It is claimed in the Scotland on Sunday newspaper that that there will be
fewer trained GPs and by 2012 there will be a deficit of 500 GPs.
The Scottish National Party's health spokeswoman Shona Robison said: "The
shortfall in the number of doctors was predicted some time ago and this is
an indictment of the Scottish Government for their failure to act when they
knew of the impact of the working time directive.
"While I do agree with much of what the Royal College representatives have
said, I disagree with their conclusion that we need more centralisation.
"It is imperative that we deal with this issue and train more staff in line
with the needs of the patients rather than the doctors as is the case at
The Scottish Executive said ministers had unveiled a "workforce plan"
earlier this year designed to ensure there were enough doctors and medical
staff to provide healthcare.
But in August, executive figures showed that 650 junior doctors in 11 of
Scotland's 15 health boards were working more than the EWTD limit of 58
hours per week.
Staff shortages in some parts of the country meant not all health boards
were able to comply with the new legislation immediately.
Health boards which do not comply could face fines and the British Medical
Association is warning it will back any junior doctor who is forced to go
over the 58 hour limit.
Health boards are liable to a £5,000 fine per breach.
Implementation of the EWTD for junior doctors was delayed by six years to
give health boards time to comply.
Liberty and conservative justice for all - Justice Thomas brings uncompromising nature
by Michael A. Fletcher and Kevin Merida, Washington Post via Fort Wayne Journal Gazette, IN
WASHINGTON Shortly after delivering a sober commencement address at Ave Maria School of Law in Ann Arbor, Mich., Clarence Thomas chatted with some of the 56 graduates.... On the court's most important cases, Thomas' voice is most often heard not in majority opinions but in strongly worded dissents and concurrences that he believes one day will become law.
It remains to be seen whether that approach will place him on the path of
quirky [ineffectual] justices whose solitary views never capture the court, or in the
company of an [effective] Harlan or Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr. the latter an early
champion of the legislative authority to prohibit child labor and establish
a 60-hour limit on the work week....
[Must have been at least 100 years ago.]
Holiday request to end UK 'slog'
Glasgow Daily Record, UK
A plea for three extra days off a year is being made to the Government today.
Workers in Scotland, Wales and England have eight public holidays a year and
those in Northern Ireland have 10.
But staff in Europe enjoy an average of 11 - with Slovakia taking the most
Now the Trade Unions Congress want to break the 'slog' between summer and
Around 40% of the 20,000 workers polled want a Monday off in late
A third opted for St Andrew's, St David's or St George's days and a tenth
wanted a break on Hogmanay.
General secretary Brendan Barber said: 'Millions of employees could be
giving our leisure, retail or tourism industries a boost.'
However, a spokesman for bosses group the CBI warned: 'Lower productivity can
mean less investment, fewer jobs and higher prices.'
Gatherings Tap Into Japan Marriage Market
by Masayo Yoshida, Associated Press via Kansas City Star (subscription), United States
TOKYO - Tadashi Saito imagines his son leaving the office and trudging home
to a lonely bachelor's apartment - with all the lights out and no hot food
on the table - after a long day at work.
So instead of waiting for his son to find the woman of his dreams and settle
down, Saito is making the first move by joining the latest fad in Japan's
lucrative marriage market: attending a lonely heart parent convention.
"When I imagine my son going home with nobody waiting for him, I feel sorry
for him," Saito said as he handed out photos of his 33-year-old son to
parents with eligible daughters at a recent gathering in Tokyo.
Saito and his wife, Mitsue...are among the some 1,500 parents to
have attended one of the marriage conventions in recent years - a trend that
is slowly changing the face of matchmaking for profit in Japan.
The conventions, which can gather more than 100 parents at a time, are
filling the breach left by the decline of the traditional arranged marriage,
which accounted for only 7.4% of Japanese marriages in 2002,
according to the National Institute of Population and Social Security Research.
The meetings also reflect the growing anxiety among tradition-minded parents
in a country where the percentage of unmarried people in their 20s and early
30s has skyrocketed in the past two decades and hectic work schedules leave
little time for dating.
"There's little chance for my daughters to meet Mr. Right - we are driven
into a corner," complained Yukio Fujita, who attended the meeting in Tokyo
to seek matches for his two unmarried daughters, ages 30 and 31.
Tradition and class have long dictated that marriages be worked out between
families or through official introductions known as "omiai."
Such arrangements, however, have declined in recent decades as more and more
young people opt for choosing their own partners and marrying for love.
But with busy schedules and long work hours taking up the lion's share of
men's - and increasingly women's - time, finding Mr. or Ms. Right is getting
harder all the time.
The parent conventions allow anguished mothers and fathers to take matters
into their own hands.
Office Ann, based in the northern city of Sapporo, is the leader in
organizing such conventions and has been such a hit that at least one other
major agency has started its own version and others are considering it.
The mass meetings are the brainchild of Michiko Saito, 60, president of
Office Ann. The idea came to her six years ago after meeting elderly parents
who fretted that they would die before seeing their offspring happily
"We each have our own values, so I don't think everybody needs to marry,"
said Saito, who is not related to Tadashi and Mitsue Saito. "But ... I want
many people to know that marriage is valuable."
The conventions are carefully scripted affairs.
At a Tokyo hotel last month, detailed lists of the eligible - 60 women ages
25-42, and 55 men ages 25-44 - were handed out to guests. A master of
ceremonies with a microphone broke the ice by cracking a few jokes.
The lists showed each entrant's age, education and employment, family
information and even blood type - considered in Japan to help determine a
person's character, much like zodiac signs in the West.
One crucial piece of information, however, was missing: names. In a nod to
privacy concerns, the lists assigned numbers to entrants, in part because
some parents were attending without telling their children.
Guests who thought they had found a good match on the list cruised among
long tables where parents - armed with photographs and resumes - were seated
with their children's numbers posted in front of them.
Parents with a possible match exchange information, and, if their children
agree, a meeting is set up. The rest is up to the families.
The conventions don't come cheap - each parent paid $72 to attend. But
that's much more affordable than the $3,640 parents can pay typical marriage
agencies for an individually crafted two-year spouse search.
It's not yet clear how successful the meetings have been. Office Ann says it
conducts no follow-up, but parents have reported some 30 marriages arranged
at the conventions.
Some parents are just relieved to get their son or daughter out on the
Tadashi Saito was giddy as parent after parent stopped at his table to check
out his son's credentials.
"I thought I would have to run from one end of the room to the other to
introduce my son," he said. "But I was really surprised and happy that so
many parents came to see us."
Long Hair roughed up
Green Left Weekly, Australia
by Eva Cheng
HONG KONG - The attacks on recently elected pro-worker parliamentarian Leung Kwok-Hung,
commonly known as Long Hair, have continued, as has his defiance in the face
A motion in the Legislative Council, Hong Kong's quasi parliament, for a minimum wage and maximum work week was defeated on October 13.
The next day, Leung joined other protesters outside the legislative building to present a
petition on the issue to Hong Kong's Chief Executive Tung Chee-Hwa. Most
protesters were confined to the official "protest area" metres away, but
Leung, as a parliamentarian, has a right to be at the entrance. He tried to
approach Tung with the petition on the other protesters' behalf but was
forcibly pulled back by Tung's bodyguards.
Eventually able to enter and take up his seat, Leung demanded council
chairperson Rita Fan take a formal ruling on the incident, because he had
been prevented from attending a parliamentary session. Leung argued against
Fan's decision to deal with it another time, prompting Fan to suspend the
session for eight minutes. When the session resumed, Fan reminded Leung that
clothing with political slogans was banned from the chamber . Leung's
T-shirt was emblazoned with the demand: "Vindicate the June 4th incident
[the 1989 massacre of students in Tiananmen, Beijing], return the rule to
the people". Leung refused to cover the t-shirt, adding that the message was
especially meant for Tung. Leung immediately asked whether Tung has
registered the demand. Tung responded with a smile.
Leung was further reprimanded during a question-and-answer session for
Tung, when he challenged an answer given without waiting for the call.
Another rule forbids parliamentarians to walk from one side of the
legislative floor to the other during a formal session. After quizzing Tung,
when the session was still underway, Leung did just that ‹ walked across to
the other side of the legislative chamber and handed the petition that he
intended for Tung outside the building earlier, now passed to Tung's
bodyguards within the chamber. Leung then left the legislative chamber
Chinese scientists busy and tired, report
People's Daily Online, China
Chinese scientists work more hours than their counterparts worldwide and
have less time for recreational activities, according to a survey on
scientists' life status.
[No kidding. What a surprise. Could it have anything to do with China's astronomical unemployment and mongo labor surplus.]
The survey is published in the latest issue of Chinese Science Bulletin
magazine, a Beijing-based comprehensive natural science magazine run by
Chinese Academy of Sciences and National Natural Science Foundation of
The survey has found that scientists worldwide work an average of 9 hours a
day during weekdays and 5.5 hours at weekend. Chinese scientists work 9.68
hours per weekday and 7.73 hours at weekend.
Meanwhile, Chinese scientists participate in the least amount of sports and
recreational activities. On average, Chinese scientists go to the cinema,
theater or other entertainment venues less frequently than once every five
Conducted by Yang Weiping, deputy director of the Institute of Zoology with
the academy, the survey was sent by e-mail to 321 scientists in different
fields around the world and received 196 respondents. Among them, 30.6%
are from Asia, 18.4% from North America, 32.7% from
Europe and 6.1% from Australia.
"I did not expect so many respondents because surveys conducted in the form
of e-mail usually get a low respondent rate. Not to mention it is a
cross-border survey and the target audience are busy scientists," said Yang.
Will life become better? More than half of the scientists said "yes."
Chinese scientists were on top of the list of this confidence in the future,
where 20 out of 28 believe that life will be better.
Eight scientists claimed that they suffer from insomnia, which account for
4.1%, and nearly half of the respondent scientists said they
occasionally suffer from the disease.
Jawad Group unveils BD8m expansion plan
Gulf Daily News, Bahrain
by Soman Baby
MANAMA - Bahrain's Jawad Group is to invest BD8 million in a Gulf-wide
expansion over the coming two years, it was revealed yesterday.
The family business has also set up a new company, which will offer 40 per
cent of its shares to the public, said chairman and chief executive officer
The new company, Jawad International Fashion, is valued at BD14m, he told
"New and existing brands of fashion businesses have been brought under this
new venture," he said.
"We shall divest 30pc of the shares, valued at BD4.2m, and put it into an
investment bank and make the company of a semi-public nature by the end of
"Another 10pc will also be offered to the public by next year, thereby
attracting more outside investors to Bahrain."
In addition, by early 2007 the new company may be listed on Bahrain Stock
"We are working out details with our financial advisers, BDO Jawad Habib,"
said Mr Jawad.
"We believe that the future of a public company is more solid than that of a
The Jawad Group now has 152 shops in the GCC, of which 35 are in Bahrain.
"We hope the number will increase to more than 200 in two years, for which
we shall invest about BD8 million," said Mr Jawad.
"We are expanding as the market grows, especially in Bahrain, the UAE, Saudi
Arabia and Kuwait.
"We shall expand our presence, especially in the areas of restaurants and
fashion, in all major shopping malls in these countries."
These will include about 15 shops in a newly-proposed shopping mall in
Bahrain, which is being financed by Al Futtaim Investment Group, and another
eight in Seef Mall as it undergoes expansion.
"Like a small boat crossing the Atlantic, we may also take two of our
fashion brands to India eventually," said Mr Jawad.
The Jawad Group employs more than 1,600 people in all the GCC states - over
half of them in Bahrain.
"Our Bahrainisation level has reached 40pc. The majority of them are working
in our two supermarkets and the warehouse," said Mr Jawad. "We are keen to
increase this number to 50pc soon. "However, we find it difficult to get
qualified Bahrainis who will stay with us and grow in their profession.
"Despite our reasonably good pay structure, they do not stay long because of
the long working hours."
[Same as the Scottish medical consultants mentioned above.]
Seasonal postal work a holiday tradition for some
Steven Adams via Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, PA
by Kim Lyons
Callon Thompkins, of Turtle Creek, knows about the long hours and tough
work he'll be doing if he gets a temporary job with the post office this Christmas.
"The post office can make you nuts - the work makes a lot of people go a
little crazy," said Thompkins...who has done it the past two years. "You
can end up working 10- and 12-hour days, standing on your feet the whole
time. But if you work the overnight tour, you can make really good money,
around $16 an hour."
About 120 people turned out Tuesday morning at the IBEW hall on the South
Side to apply for seasonal work with the U.S. Postal Service.
Some applicants wore suits and ties, and others sported jeans. Some
appeared to be college students, but most appeared to be mid-career workers.
The Postal Service scheduled nine hiring sessions in the Pittsburgh area,
and each one drew at least 100 people, said Linda Ostronic, supervisor for
hiring and testing in Pittsburgh. She expects to hire 600 to 700 people for
the Christmas rush, and will place them in two postal facilities, in
Marshall and the General Mail Facility on the North Side.
"Not all of these people will want to come to work for us, because it is
full-time work, 10 to 12 hours a day, often six days a week," Ostronic
said." A lot of people can't manage the work hours."...
Kim Lyons can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (412) 320-7922.
Analysis - Finally, good news from Reuters
Newsquest (Herald & Times) via The Herald, United Kingdom
After almost four years of falling sales, belt-tightening, broker downgrades
and brutal staff cuts, Reuters appears to be on the path to recovery.
Evidence of a turnaround in the company's fortunes came last week, when the
global news and business information provider announced it had signed more
contracts for its desktop terminals than have been cancelled for the first
time since 2001.
During a presentation of its third-quarter results, Reuters said gross sales
had outpaced cancellations....
While the financial picture is improving at Reuters, the situation at
arch-rival Bloomberg appears to be rocky.
The Economist magazine published a negative article about the company in
September, saying it had lost some of its impetus after its energetic
founder, Michael Bloomberg, left in 2002 to become mayor of New York City.
Under Bloomberg's direction, the company prospered, selling nearly 180,000
terminals to banks and brokerages, and capturing 43% of the $7bn (£3.8bn)
data-market industry, according to Market Data Reference. But a management
team put in place by Bloomberg has no reputation for innovation and appears
to be averse to risk.
Some staff complain of long working hours, authoritarian management and a
lack of concern about their welfare not seen when Bloomberg was running the
Glocer told the Economist many disgruntled Bloomberg employees have applied
for jobs at Reuters.
However, a spokesman for Bloomberg denied the company is haemorrhaging
staff, saying the turnover level is normal.
So far, there are no signs that Bloomberg is going to return to the company.
That may be the best news Reuters has heard for some time.
Point of view - 'Fiscal eugenics,' she said - Are old ideas tainting trends?
Richmond Times Dispatch, VA
by Betty Booker (804-649-6805 or email@example.com)
The room had almost emptied of the group of retirees who had been discussing
current funding, taxation and policy trends. The term "survival of the
fittest" had surfaced. Heads had nodded.
I think this astute woman named a very worrisome ideological drift. Someday
she might allow me to use her name; she deserves historical credit. I'm not
the creator of this apt term.
Eugenics is far more than state-sponsored sterilization of supposedly
genetically inferior people.
Eugenics, at its root, is a spurious pseudoscience that calls for the
elevation of a wealthy "elite" while the rest of us in the "lower classes"
stay in our places.
I've studied eugenics since the 1980s when mental retardation expert Ray
Nelson Jr. found a key survivor of Virginia's sorry history of sterilizing
mental and physical "defectives" to improve the gene pool.
So reprehensible were eugenics and sterilization that the General Assembly,
led by religious conservative legislators, in 2001 publicly apologized "with
profound regret" for sterilization.
Until the'70s, sterilization and abortion were still sometimes foisted on
the mentally retarded, mentally ill and poor - people ill-equipped for
industrial productivity. Eugenic ideas, by then thoroughly merged with
social Darwinism and typically not described by either name, still
infiltrated medical, scientific and sociological education.
As sterilization encountered public disapproval in America, population
control rose to the forefront, with exhortations in the press to limit
Mandated sterilization, abortion and family-size limits were preached,
funded and researched worldwide. Some nations still impose these practices.
Such policies aren't needed. People self-regulate family size when they are
assured their children will survive and thrive, a process aided by access to
birth control, said the now-late eugenics and scientific racism historian
and author Allan Chase.
Eugenics, from a Greek word meaning "well-born," developed in the 1800s and
merged with social Darwinism, a bastardization of Charles Darwin's research,
into a convoluted system of beliefs designed to maintain structures of
class, wealth and power.
Chase describes the movement clearly in his 1975 seminal work, "The Legacy
"Herbert Spencer, the guru of Social Darwinism, with its fierce injunctions
against the Undeserving Poor; against free universal education; against free
meals for indigent schoolchildren; against clinics, hospitals, and social
services for the nonrich; against all laws that either regulated working
hours or called for minimum standards of occupational safety and health in
mines and factories; against laws establishing minimum standards of health
and safety in dwellings built, sold, and rented for human habitation; and,
above all else, against the trade unions, which Spencer saw as instruments
of human tyranny that would destroy civilization - quickly became the
favored philosophy of the affluent. He not only proclaimed the moral rights
of the Deserving Rich to heaven, Spencer also denounced the immorality and
impracticality of health, education, safety and welfare programs that would
have materially increased their taxes here on Earth."
To this, Chase wrote, an English aristocrat and inventor of eugenics named
Sir Francis Galton added so-called " 'hereditary' reasons in the 'Natural
Laws' of biology for not wasting sympathy, money education and, above all
else, health care on biologically low-class types who were destined by the
Will of God and/or Nature to be nothing but drains on society and a rapidly
proliferating population of hereditary paupers, thieves and parasites."
Wealthy American "tax-hating new billionaires," Chase noted, combined
Spencer's and Galton's ideas - which already had been disproved by medical
researchers - as reasons against taxing their wealth.
Churches reinforced eugenics and social Darwinism, Jesus' teachings to the
contrary notwithstanding. The 19th-century Christian hymn "All Things Bright
and Beautiful" has a verse, now typically omitted, that advises parishioners
to follow the class work to which they were born.
In public, eugenics/social Darwinism was promoted as a way to improve the
human race. It was embraced with gusto across the industrialized world by
conservatives and liberals alike, churchgoers, agnostics, doctors,
educators, social workers, government leaders and the rich.
And it was adopted by the newly emerging middle class who forgot that they
had risen from the ranks of the poor with the help of tax-funded public
education, sanitation, vaccines and, eventually, government rules to provide
safer and more fairly paid work.
The ideas of American and British eugenics societies permeated academia,
hospital maternity wards and social service departments. Germany and
Austria, among other countries, followed suit. The terminal extreme wasexemplified by Hitler and his followers.
Modern research has shown that genes are not the sole factor determining
ability. What the vast lot of humanity, before and after birth, needs to
flourish are clean water and healthful food, a safe home and neighborhood
environment, a nurturing and intellectually stimulating childhood, avoidance
of toxins, access to rigorous education and regular medical care.
No wonder we wealthy succeed in comparison with the poor.
It's interesting to listen to readers who describe current fiscal policy as
a reverse Robin Hood - taking from the modest majority to further enrich the minority.
"There's a mean attitude in this country," another senior had mused at the
same discussion group.
They question funding cuts or policy changes that threaten successful
programs, such as Head Start, school meals and Social Security, which help
Americans hoist themselves to higher levels of achievement and security, to
maintain themselves in old age and to prevent early death."You hear it in Washington, on talk shows and in letters to the editor. It's
'I've got mine. Fend for yourself. It's your own fault if you're poor.
Powerful people know best,' and the implication is that they should dominate
everybody else because they're better than the rest of us."
That's a pretty concise description of eugenics doctrine.
In Atlantic City, walkout is bad luck all around
by John Curran, Associated Press via Newsday, NY
Atlantic City feeling strike pinch - Strikers hurt by cut in pay, police overtime climbs and some gamblers staying away
AP via Asbury Park Press, United States
ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. - Sonny Lea didn't realize how many of his regulars
were casino employees.
Then the strike hit, and cash-strapped workers started canceling
appointments and putting off their weekly $10 trims at Sonny's Hair Salon, a
neighborhood barber shop near the casino strip.
Lea's business has dropped off by about 40%, he said Friday.
"We've been sitting here, watching TV and talking to each other," said Lea...gesturing
to his two other barbers as a customer sat down in his chair.
"I wouldn't have thought it would affect us, but it has. I'll be glad when it's over."
In slot parlors and executive suites, on picket lines and at City Hall, the
feeling is mutual. Three weeks into a strike by 10,000 service workers at
seven casino-hotels, the walkout is wearing thin.
These days, the question around here isn't who will win the White House or
the World Series, it's, "How long can this go on?"
"They need to get back to work," said gambler Sheldon Korn...of Fort
Myers, Fla., checking out of Showboat Casino-Hotel after a five-night stay
during which the sheets on his bed were never changed.
"It's inconvenient, but it's not as bad for me as it is for them," said
Korn, pointing down the block to a cluster of noisy, sign-wielding strikers.
The service workers, members of Local 54 of the Hotel Employees and
Restaurant Employees union, walked off the job Oct. 1 - spawning the longest
strike in the 26-year history of Atlantic City casinos.
Now, nerves are fraying and budgets are straining.
The city has rung up more than $400,000 in police overtime charges, the
lion's share during an Oct. 8 sit-in and an Oct. 16 march that saw thousand
of union members streaming down the casino strip.
Police officers have been forced to work 12-hour shifts and had days-off
canceled, which has drained officers emotionally and physically, according
to police Lt. Michael Tullio.
"The way we're being stretched, it impacts our pro-activity in other areas.
It's not affecting our 911 responses, but we'll be quite pleased when it's
all over," he said....
Caesars and Harrah's have flown employees into Atlantic City from other
states to relieve exhausted nonunion workers and executives who have filled
in for the strikers, making beds, cleaning rooms and acting as waiters and
"You should see it here, people are walking around like zombies," said one
casino executive who asked that his name not be published. "Everyone's exhausted."
An Economy That's Working
In an election year, voters are bombarded with high-blown rhetoric and
plenty of statistics. And the numbers are often as contradictory as the
prose. The challenger wants us to believe things are awful, while the
incumbent needs us to believe things are rosy, or at least getting better.
So let's step back from the world of stump speeches and debates and ask the
old Ed Koch question: How are we doing? When it comes to the economy, the
objective answer is: Very well.
On Oct. 1, the federal government's Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)
released its final pre-election jobs report. According to that tally, our
economy added 96,000 jobs in September, and our unemployment rate held
steady. Those numbers disappointed some analysts, who'd expected even more
In fact, though, the job news is actually even better than advertised. The
Labor Department also admitted it has undercounted jobs since last spring.
Early next year, the department will revise its figures to include an
additional 236,000 jobs added since March.
Even that figure may be too low. As Heritage Foundation economist Tim Kane
reported in August, the BLS admits that its employment count has problems.
It mistakenly counts workers twice when they change jobs, for example, but
doesn't count them at all if they move from a payroll position working for a
company to a consulting job working for themselves, or starting a small
Fortunately, the government presents an alternative: The Census Bureau's
household survey, which actually asks people whether or not they're working.
This survey tallies people who work at home, those who are independent
contractors, and those who work for themselves, while the payroll survey
ignores all these groups.
According to the household survey, the American economy has added 2.2
million jobs in the last year. All told, that means we've created 1.6
million net new jobs since January 2001. We've pulled out of a shallow
recession, and today more Americans than ever are working.
With that in mind, there's another number that's worth considering: The
unemployment rate. Economists say the economy nears "full employment" when
that rate drops below 5.5%. Today, it's at 5.4% - lower than
it was in the late '90s.
Unemployment has dropped in each region of the country this year, and in 45
states. At the same time, overall employment has increased in 47 states and
compensation is rising. The Labor Department says real earnings have
increased since March 2001.
And let's compare ourselves with our competitors overseas. Last month,
Germany's unemployment rate climbed to 10.7% - double our rate. And
the German economy is actually losing jobs, even as we're adding them.
How about France? The government there legislated a 35-hour work week in an attempt to boost employment. It didn't work - the French are struggling along at 9.9% unemployment.
And right next door, consider Canada. Canadians enjoy a free-trade
agreement with the United States and they pay virtually nothing for national
defense (we cover that for them). Still, they lag far behind us, with an
unemployment rate of 7.1%.
Much of this good news can be credited to tax cuts. Over three years,
Congress and the president slashed taxes on married couples, parents and
low-income workers. Now, lawmakers should make all those cuts permanent and
simplify the tax code, so all Americans will continue to have more money to
save and invest.
By any measure, the American economy is booming. Business confidence is
high, and worker productivity is soaring to record highs. Things are so good
that a normally reserved observer - Alan Greenspan - recently called oureconomy "resilient." That's high praise from the Federal Reserve chairman.
The next president will face many challenges, but getting the economy
restarted isn't one of them. If he simply follows sensible policies, there's
no reason our economic engine won't keep humming for years to come.
Ed Feulner is president of The Heritage Foundation, a Washington-based
public policy research institute.
VW rejects union's salary offer - German labour costs are among the highest in Europe
BBC News, UK
[So maybe German domestic demand per capita is among the highest in Europe. You can't get a strong consumer base on which to build your other markets (b2b, financial...) without getting the spending power to the people who immediately spend it.]
Volkswagen, Europe's largest carmaker, has rejected a trade union offer to
limit workers' pay rises, saying it does not go far enough....
Volkswagen is the latest German firm to take on the unions as it looks to
cut costs as competition intensifies.
Germany's labour laws have often been blamed for holding back the economy.
[Holding it back from what? It's already got more consumption per capita than almost any other economy. But if you're talking about holding it back from competing with China and India, then you're talking about greasing its path to their less consumption per capita than almost any other economy.]
Volkswagen has warned that 30,000 jobs could be lost at its six German
plants unless staff accept a two-year pay freeze.
[Shades of 1994, when VW wound up going for timesizing, not downsizing.]
The IG Metall trade union initially demanded a 4% annual increase in wages.
They have now tabled plans to lift salaries by 2.2% and by 2.7% from March, 2005.
Volkswagen said that the demands were still excessive.
"IG Metall is obviously not prepared to concede the necessary drop in costs in exchange for job guarantees," said Volkswagen's chief negotiator Josef-Fidelis Senn.
The company is looking to trim costs by 500m euros (£345m) as it faces
growing competition from rivals operating out of low-cost eastern European markets.
As well as a two-year pay freeze, VW wants workers to accept longer working
hours without extra pay and a reform of overtime payments.
Hartmut Meine, the chief negotiator at IG Metall, said that the chances of
reaching an agreement were now "relatively small".
[Some lost, but 2 jobs saved by timesizing -]
Facing budget cuts, NHPTV employees take one for the team
The New Hampshire
By Patrick McClary
Marc Diessner, a production manager at New Hampshire Public Television (NHPTV), is one of 16 members on staff that will see a 12.5% pay-cut starting Dec. 1 to help the station balance its budget.... In return, they will save two colleagues from having to pack up their offices and find new jobs. The NHPTV cuts will come in the form of reduced hours for employees. Salaries will be based on a new 35-hour work week.
For some, this comes as a hardship, even a need to find another job to fill the void of lost wages. But for Deissner, it's an opportunity to take some time for himself. "I'm one who enjoys time off and can keep busy doing other things," he said. As far as time off without the benefits of a paycheck, he's used to that
from his days as a teacher at Lyndon State College in Lyndonville, VT..\..
Members of Diessner's team, which includes three videographers and others
on the production team, will experience pay cuts. Several jobs have been
eliminated in cutting costs. The position of pledge producer, manager of
membership, a sales position and a master control operator were all taken
away. Other staff members will take on these responsibilities in their
The budget for the current fiscal year, which began July 1 and runs until
June 30, 2005 is slated at $9.15 million, according to Steve Baker, chief
financial officer at NHPTV. Unfortunately, with similar budgets in past
years, and little growth in revenue, NHPTV has had to face higher expenses
and thus a potential overspending problem. This year, executives hope to cut
expenses by just over $300,000 in order to achieve a balanced budget.
The entire staff of NHPTV is slightly smaller than in past years. Last
year's full-time staff stood at 71 employees. This year's staff numbers
about 65. It could have easily been less if Diessner and company didn't take
action and take the pay cut that will lower their yearly earnings. To put
this number into perspective, for someone making $35,000, a 12.5%
pay-cut would mean a loss of $4,400.
"You don't realize how much 12% is," said Deissner. "It's quite a
lot. It's like going back three years."...
NHPTV is taking a number of other steps along with slashing a handful of
employees' paychecks. Some are as small as reminding employees to conserve
heat, lights, and power in the NHPTV building in Durham.
A popular program, New Hampshire Outlook, will see significant changes in
the production process in an effort to curb the budget. This show, produced
daily, has made NHPTV stand out among other public stations. Most public
stations simply cannot afford to produce daily shows. Travel costs have
taken a toll on the budget, so travel will be limited to save money.
A member publication, "This Month," will also not be produced. Mailed to
over 30,000 donors to NHPTV for many years, the publication will make a
transition from a printed product to an online resource. Members can still
request the publication, but will not have it automatically mailed to them.
NHPTV's $9.15 million operating budget comes from various sources. It is
slated to receive $2.3 million of $60 million of state appropriation funds
that the University System Board of Trustees allocates to UNH, according to
Candace Corvey, vice president for Finance and Administration.
The state funding USNH receives is problematic, according to CFO Baker.
"This state has a lower priority for funding things like university
education," said Baker. New Hampshire ranks dead last in state support of
university systems in the country, according to Baker.
NHPTV receives $1.3 million from federal grants and most of their funds come
from community support. In fact, 54%, or over $5 million, comes from
the public to keep the station running.
The economy has taken a toll on the NHPTV's budget. Corporate underwriting,
public broadcasting's version of commercials, has been in decline. Every
year NHPTV hopes that underwriting realizes both new and increased support,
but in a weakened economy, corporations are unable to provide as much.
"In this climate it is very difficult to do fundraising and NHPTV is reliant
on that income source," said Corvey.
Lack of funding doesn't only affect public television in New Hampshire.
Vermont Public Television (VPT) has suffered some of the same financial
shortcomings as their neighboring state.
"It's been painful for a lot of organizations and state agencies," said Anne
Curran, community relations director at VPT. Only 10% of VPT's
revenue is reliant on the state of Vermont, putting an added emphasis on the
community for funding. They also have a smaller budget. For the 2005 fiscal
year, the budget was set at $5.8 million.
No matter where you go in the country, the funding for stations like NHPTV
and VPT have seen declines.
"Public broadcasting is under-funded on the federal level," said Curran.
"We've all had leveling off of federal funding."
Even with the stress of lack of funding, the 16 staff members at NHPTV have
managed to keep their team together.
"When employees of an organization are willing to sacrifice some of their
own compensation for the good of the whole, it says a great deal about their
loyalty and commitment to the mission and goals of the organization," said
[6-7 more jobs potentially saved by timesizing -]
Carroll sheriff seeks way to bail out jail
Canton Repository, OH
By Jan H. Kennedy (330-580-8325 or firstname.lastname@example.org)
CARROLLTON, Ohio - No money, no jail?
The Carroll County sheriff's account has enough money for three more
payrolls, but six are needed to get to the new year, said Carroll County
Auditor Leroy VanHorne.
He and the county's three commissioners agreed in a letter to Sheriff Ralph
Lucas on Monday that the sheriff's account is $135,000 short and that
"operations for your department should be reduced drastically by the end of
the month, if not before."
Although it is unlikely a shortfall will close the Carroll County Jail
before the end of the year, it's the third option, according to the sheriff.
Lucas said Wednesday he talked with police union officials about
concessions that would help the department get through the year.
"Most of the employees already have used comp time for holidays and given
up the second-half uniform allowance, which is $300 each, and now I'm asking
if they will consider a four-day work week," Lucas said. Lucas is retiring
at the end of the year after two terms as sheriff.
Concessions are the first option. If the union says no, Lucas said he will
lay off three of the six full-time jailers, one of the five dispatchers, the
lone courthouse security guard and one or two road patrol officers.
[I.e., 6-7 potential layoffs.]
He estimated that would save enough money for one pay period.
"Belmont County owes us $7,396 for housing prisoners for August and
September, and, at about $8,000 per month for the last three months of the
year, that would add another $24,000," Lucas said. "We were supposed to
receive $25,800 for a 911 coordinator, but I've never seen it in our budget."
Commissioner Robert Herron said the $25,800 was for planning purposes at
the beginning of the year.
"We are funding two dispatchers, but 911 hasn't produced enough revenues
yet for the coordinator," he said. The emergency dispatch system is in its
Herron said commissioners and VanHorne told Lucas at the beginning of the
year there would be no more money available, and they have reminded him
several times throughout the year that something had to be done.
"All of the other departments took cuts, and they've all done a good job
and will finish the year in the black," VanHorne said. "The only exception
is the MRDD board, and they have a levy on the ballot in November. That
won't help them now, but they have the authority to get a loan to tide them
The county also has the ability to get a loan, but commissioners are not of
a mind to do that now, Herron said.
Herron said if Lucas can get it down to where he only needs $20,000 or
$30,000 for the last payroll, they would help him then, but it doesn't
appear he's done much all year to help himself.
Commissioners already pulled $50,000 from another account and transferred
it to the sheriff's equipment account. They insist that money has to be
reimbursed first, Herron said.Lucas said his department has had some financial setbacks this year. The
computer costs to coordinate the Right to Carry Law was $8,200. The jail
doctor resigned, and the new doctor charged $18,000 more for the year.
"The price of gas has skyrocketed," he added. "My budget was $138,000 less
this year than last."
VanHorne provided figures that showed it was down $142,158.
"It's still way up from when he came in office," VanHorne said. "We've had
to rob Peter to pay Paul, and he's been Paul. Even the years his expenses
have been under budget, the budget amount had been estimated much higher
than the previous year."
Lucas said if he can't get concessions or find the money, he'll close the
doors and retire early.
"I don't know if we're allowed to shut down, and I think it's highly
unlikely, because that would include closing the court system," he said.
"But if we don't have the money, we'll lock the doors."
Moms group holds open house
Dover Community News, United States
The Seacoast Chapter of Mothers & More will hold its fall open house on
Thursday, Oct. 28, at 7:30 p.m. at the Sylvan Learning Center, Pease
Tradeport, Newington. Mothers & More is a national support and advocacy
group for mothers who have modified their work hours to balance their work
and family lives. All mothers - regardless of whether they work full time,
part-time, or are stay-at-home moms - are encouraged to come and learn about
the activities, support, and connection that Mothers & More has to offer....
Mothers and More Seacoast Chapter (#144) is a local chapter of a nationalnon-profit organization with more than 180 chapters and almost 8,000 members
worldwide. M&M was created as a support and advocacy network for women who
have modified their work patterns to spend more time at home with their
children. The local chapter was formed in 1996 and strives to offer a wide
variety of fun and informative programs, activities and events. Member moms
have infants, toddlers, young and grade-school children, and come from a
wide variety of work environments.
For information on the open house or on any Mothers and More program, e-mail Elaine Grant at email@example.com or call 269-5452.
Iowa unemployment inches up, becomes a hot political issue
Quad City Times, IA
by Todd Dorman (515-243-0138 or firstname.lastname@example.org)
[But not hot enough apparently. Or did Rove have Diebold "voting" machines throughout Iowa as well as Florida and Ohio?]
DES MOINES, Iowa - Iowa's unemployment rate increased in September for the third
consecutive month even as employers added to their payrolls, according to
state figures released Thursday....
Private-sector workers earned an average wage of $458.70 per week, down
$2.29 from August. Officials attributed the drop to a 36-minute decline in
the average work week. But hourly earnings in goods-producing industries
rose 42 cents.
[So shorter hours is happening anyway, but in the worst possible way.]
Kok expert group divided over working hours
Longer working hours and delayed retirement were the main sticking points
among the expert group chaired by Wim Kok, which is carrying out a review
of the Lisbon process.
The eagerly awaited Kok Report was adopted by the high level expert group
despite internal differences, a source close to the group told EurActiv.
The main sticking points were differences between employers and trade
unionists over longer working hours and a later retirement age, according
to the British newspaper the Guardian .
In their review of the target to increase the overall employment rate in
the EU from the current 64 to 70% (60% for women), the
group's members were at odds over labour issues. While the employers in
the group wanted greater flexibility built into working hours and a clear
reference saying that the French model of the 35-hour week is not
sustainable, trade unionists were strongly opposed to this approach.
[True, it's not sustainable at that low a level IF you remove all automation, robotics, cybernetics, computation, and mechanization. If you keep all that and add more, it's not sustainable at that HIGH a level, because the human workload of the nation will continue to funnel onto fewer shoulders, and more and more consumers will be disemployed and de-activated. As Reuther retorted when Ford said, "Let's see you unionize these robots!" - "Let's see you sell them cars."]
John Monks, chairman of the European unions' federation ETUC, was quoted as
saying that rather than looking to the US, Europe should take examples from
its own ranks.
[Amen to that. Why join the big dumb gorilla intent on joining the Third World?]
Finland for example, which has repeatedly been ranked the
world's most competitive economy (see EurActiv 15 October 2004), manages to
combine low unemployment with flexible retirement schemes
and a high union density, said Monks in the Guardian....
The Kok Report wil...be presented to the Commission on 3
November 2004 and to the European Council on 5 November 2004.
The report is also expected to recommend national action plans to be drawn
up by the member states and a reduction in the number of goals set out by the Lisbon
agenda (see EurActiv 12 October 2004).
Chinaware makers plan merger to battle pottery crisis
Channel News Asia, Singapore
LONDON - Two of the world's leading chinaware manufacturers, Waterford
Wedgwood and Royal Doulton, said they were close to agreeing on a merger, as
the British ceramics industry battles to survive....
Waterford announced last month plans to cut the working hours for 1,400
staff at its two Irish glassware manufacturing plants, in an effort to
return to profitability....
[Better cut hours than cut jobs.]
Update 5: Production Resumes at GM Europe Plant
Production resumed Thursday at a General Motors Corp. plant in Belgium idled
for six days by a lack of parts after workers an another GM factory staged a
six-day walkout aimed at stopping threatened job cuts.
The walkout at the Bochum, Germany, plant ended Wednesday, and GM and
employee delegates held talks Thursday on how to cut costs at the company's
German plants, although they did not reach any agreements. Negotiations were
expected to pick up Monday.
The GM Europe plant in Antwerp, Belgium, that resumed production Thursday
was one of several brought to a standstill this week, with the company
losing production of about 6,700 cars across Europe, said GM Europe
spokesman Ruediger Assion.
Workers at Bochum fear their plant may be slated for closure or deep cuts,
but they voted Wednesday to return to work after appeals from their union
and German government leaders.
GM last week announced plans to slash up to 12,000 jobs in Europe - most of
them in Germany - by 2006 in order to cut $620 million a year in costs. GM
says it must reduce overhead at its money-losing European operations - Opel,
Saab and Vauxhall - to cope with sluggish consumer demand and increased
competition from Japanese and other European carmakers.
As negotiators met at Opel's base in Ruesselsheim outside Frankfurt, a union
leader said that cutting working hours to spread available work among more
people was one option. But the official, IG Metall chief Juergen Peters,
also said that lower wages could be discussed.
[Peters should stick to his first option. Talking about pay before getting worktime right has devastated American unions and will devastate Euro unions too if they don't learn from our labor history.]
"We certainly won't rule out anything," Peters said on NDR radio.
[Then what good are you?]
"We will talk about everything that is necessary to ensure that no plants are closed
and production is secured beyond 2010."...
[Six years out? That is impossible unless you get your workweeks automatically adjusted with corporate revenues and/or consumer demand.]
IG Metall, which is Germany's main industrial
union, represents auto workers among others.
[Not very well, it seems.]
The Bochum plant, in western Germany's Ruhr Valley industrial region, turns
out body panels, engines, transmissions and exhaust systems, as well as
Astra compacts and Zafira minivans....
Update 1: US Airways Pilots Ratify Labor Deal
US Airways' pilots' union ratified a new labor contract Thursday that the
airline says is a critical step to a successful emergence from bankruptcy,
with pilots accepting an 18% pay cut on average and other changes
that will cut costs by $300 million a year....
[Everywhere the powerful are ratcheting up crisis and fear, to force their self-undermining shaved-down sharing on everyone else, which of course will downsize the economy and their own income and security.]
The bankrupt airline has been hopeful that a ratified deal with the pilots
will give it momentum as it seeks concessions from its three other major
unions: its machinists, flight attendants and passenger service workers. US
Airways, a unit of US Airways Group Inc., says it needs about $950 million
in annual cost cuts from all its unions to become financially viable.
The Air Line Pilots Association said that 1,690 pilots, or 58%, voted
in favor of the contract, while 1,236 voted against. Eighty-nine% of
the union's 3,291 eligible members cast ballots.
The ratification means that US Airways pilots will not face temporary pay
cuts of 21% that a bankruptcy judge imposed last week on unions that
have not agreed to new, long-term contracts.
The airline issued a statement Thursday saying that "pilots have
demonstrated their leadership in working with us" on "the very difficult
issues that will soon confront virtually every one of our legacy competitors
The ratification vote follows months of contentious negotiations that
exposed deep divisions within the pilots' union. Union representatives in
Pittsburgh and Philadelphia, who represent a majority of US Airways pilots,
had blocked a ratification vote in the weeks before last month's bankruptcy
filing, saying the terms were so harsh that accepting them would have been
Even after agreeing earlier this month to allow a ratification vote, the
Pittsburgh and Philadelphia reps had recommended a no vote, suggesting a
better contract might be obtainable through the bankruptcy process.
In the voting, which concluded Thursday, the Pittsburgh and Philadelphia
units rejected the agreement, with 52 and 54% in opposition,
But the union's four smaller units - based in Charlotte, N.C., Washington,
Boston and New York - all voted overwhelmingly for the new contract, with
support ranging from 68% to 84% in those cities.
"Clearly, this ratification shows that the pilots of US Airways understand
why it was necessary to come to a consensual agreement with the company,"
said Bill Pollock, chairman of the US Airways Master Executive Council.
"This agreement provides us with the means to survive, emerge from
bankruptcy as a formidable competitor, and ultimately prosper in even the
most challenging of economic environments."
The pilots' deal extends through 2009. Along with the 18% pay cut,
pilots will have to fly more hours each month, likely resulting in
[I.e., layoffs. So here we have all three together = longer hours, layoffs and lower pay.]
Nearly 1,900 US Airways pilots have been furloughed over the past three years as the airline has endured two trips into bankruptcy.
The average US Airways pilot makes $155,000, according to the airline. An
18.25% pay cut would reduce that to $126,713. For some pilots,
though, a cut could be even greater. If the new work rules result in some
captains being reduced to first officers, those persons' pay might drop from$155,000 to less than $90,000, depending on certain factors....
[At those levels, at least they're not hurtin.]
Fred Freshwater, a pilots' representative from Pittsburgh, who opposed the
deal, said he believes many pilots will quit when they realize the depth of
"When the pilots find out what they voted for, when they actually find out
how draconian this contract is, they'll vote with their feet," he said.
[Oh yeah, Fred? And just where in today's airline industry do you suppose they're going to go?!]
Work-life discord off the scales
by Helena Bryan, Georgia Straight [Canada]
GEORGIA STRAIT, B.C. -
For longer than she cares to remember, Cindy Warkentin felt like she was on
a merry-go-round with no way off. Every morning, she'd head to North
Vancouver's Lions Gate Hospital to visit her terminally ill mother-in-law.
Then she'd rush to her job as medical-office assistant, where she'd work
until at least 6 p.m., often skipping her breaks. After another stop at the
hospital, she'd go home to make dinner for her husband, three kids, and
father-in-law, who was in the beginning stages of dementia. She'd make one
last trip to the hospital before pulling into her driveway around 9 or 9:30
p.m., at which time she'd fall into bed like a stone.
[THREE visits a day to your mother-in-law? This woman lives in a hell of her own making. Supersized guilt complex??]
once a tight end with the Calgary Stampeders, helped out as much as he
could, but had been diagnosed years earlier with one of the most progressive
forms of multiple sclerosis.
Warkentin was so busy taking care of everyone else's needs that she stopped
taking care of her own. It took a heartfelt warning from her family doctor
to get her to wrench back some control and put the brakes on her runaway
She is part of a growing segment of the population called the "sandwich
generation", a group of men and women struggling to meet the demands of
their children and their aging parents. A September 2004 Statistics Canada
report, which puts their numbers at 712,000 in 2002, warns that those ranks
will swell dramatically over the next two decades as baby boomers become
Members of the sandwich generation aren't the only ones feeling overloaded.
Despite the apparently enlightened corporate speak of the 1990s about the
value of contented employees to the bottom line, escalating numbers of
Canadians are struggling to juggle job, family, and social lives.
Downsizing, restructuring, and galloping technological change have just made
matters worse. Even those without dependants are working more and playing
less, with their discretionary time dwindling to increasingly wispy
That's life in the techno-charged, hyperactive new millennium, some might
say, but if that's the case, life in this century is making people sick - and
costing companies an estimated $4.5 billion to $10 billion a year in
absenteeism and decreased production, according to a 2001 Health Canada
study on work-life balance.
The survey - entitled Work-Life Conflict in Canada in the New
Millennium, involving 31,571 employees of medium to large Canadian
organizations (consisting of 500 to 1,000-plus people) - reported that
Unfortunately, not everybody has a family doctor like Warkentin's to alert
them to potentially dangerous situations of overload. And when it comes to
our own self-care, "common sense is not common," according to Paula Cayley,
the president and CEO of Interlock, a Vancouver-based nonprofit organization
that develops and implements employee-wellness programs. In a telephone
interview with the Georgia Straight (which is an Interlock client), Cayley
said she believes that employers have a responsibility to try and
accommodate the diverse needs of employees, but that individuals must bear
some of the burden for their own well-being. "People have a hard time
putting themselves on their list of things to do, but in the end we are all
responsible for the way we respond to stressful situations, and there are
things we can do to increase our sense of control," she explained.
That doesn't have to mean drastic action, such as changing jobs or taking
leave. Learning to say no is a good place to start.
Jeff Christian, a partner with Vancouver-based law firm Lawson Lundell and
a father of two young children, knows the value of setting boundaries. "I'm
zealous about protecting my time; I never agree lightly to change my
schedule," Christian said in an interview from his downtown office. And
although he works about 55 hours a week and teaches a course at UBC [University of British Columbia], he also plays hockey and gets a solid seven hours' sleep each night. Of course, he's not living in Toronto or New York, where the pressure to work even longer hours is off the scale. Compared to his professional friends in both cities, who are working at least 70 or 80 hours a week, Christian's life, although full, seems blissfully balanced.
- in 2001, 25% of respondents worked 50 or more hours each week, compared 10% to a decade earlier.
- In 2001, 58% said they felt overloaded, that they didn't have the time and energy to complete their tasks adequately or comfortably, an increase of 11% since 1991.
- Worse, in 2001, 33% claimed to be burned out or depressed,
- and nearly 20% rated his or her physical health as fair or poor.
- 50% said they missed work three or more days in a six-month period because of ill health or due
- to emotional, physical, or mental fatigue. That was double the number from a
- decade earlier.
Warkentin, though her circumstances were clearly more extreme, had no such
instinct for setting boundaries. "My situation definitely had something to
do with my personality. I'm driven, and I don't like to say no," Warkentin
told the Straight. She added that when her schedule was at its fullest, she
lost sight of the fact that little things can make a difference: eating
properly, making sleep a priority, and exercising, even for 15 minutes a day.
They may sound simplistic, but such small steps eventually helped. After a
year of working out for half an hour at a time at a women's fitness club
three days each week, Warkentin is enjoying a newfound stamina. "I really
like whipping up flights of stairs without getting winded," she said. "I
also made a conscious decision not to have e-mail at home, and we found a
gardener we could afford."
Cayley agrees that positive change can come in tiny increments. "It's what
we do every day that counts," she said. "It's about taking a moment, a deep
breath, and really seeing what's going on around you. It's not about saving
up for that big holiday once a year or holding your breath until the
weekend." Cayley suggested booking time in the schedule for individual,
family, and couple activities, the same way you would mark a business
meeting down in your DayTimer. She also recommends simplifying life as much
as possible: get rid of clutter, hire a house cleaner or someone to do the
yard work once in a while, and have a potluck dinner when you want to have
friends over instead of putting on an elaborate five-course meal.
More difficult to pull off, perhaps, are the necessary shifts in attitude,
the shift from a stiff-upper-lip approach to life, the kind our grandparents
endorsed, to one that says it's okay, even healthy, to ask for help. "You
can't let the pressure build out of fear of being perceived as weak," Cayley
said. "Enlist support. Identify people in your social network, your
community, and at work that you can go to for help when you need it."
If the statistics are anything to go by, it's only a matter of time before
you'll be returning the favour.
[Now some UNtimesizing, supposedly to prevent downsizing -]
Sword hangs over Kumba workers: Solidarity
Business Day, South Africa
Mining group Kumba Resources (KMB) refused to withdraw an Article 189 notice in which the company expressed its intention to dismiss 400 workers, according to the trade union Solidarity. Solidarity requested that the notice be withdrawn during the first consultative meeting between Kumba and the trade unions about the retrenchment of the workers. The retrenchments stem from the Kumba Business Improvement Project (KBIP), which was begun in February 2004. Solidarity had asked to be part of the process but, according to the union, Kumba proceeded unilaterally and only informed the trade unions of its consequences, including the retrenchment of 400 workers. "Formulating the KBIP took eight months, and now it is expected of trade unions to give their approval within three weeks," Solidarity said. According to the union, the lay-offs at Kumba form part of a strategy that is aimed at realising a net profit of 800-million rand by December 2005. "The cost-cutting that the group is pursuing forms part of the KBIP, which is to be implemented Kumba's operations at Grootegeluk, Sishen, Thabazimbi, Glen Douglas and Tsikondeni in an effort to make the group more profitable. Kumba sees retrenchments as an easy way of shedding workers. "Adding to Solidarity anger is the fact that the trade union signed an agreement with Kumba three weeks ago for the implementation of a seven-day work week at the Grootegeluk Mine.
[With unions like this, who needs management?]
"At this meeting Kumba gave its assurances to Solidarity and the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) that there would not be any job losses," Solidarity charged.
[And if you believe that, we've got a bridge to sell ya.]
Kumba CEO Dr Con Fauconnier, also gave his assurance during wage negotiations earlier this year that no labour cuts were being considered, the union asserted. "Fauconnier indicated that he would get rid of his assets rather than his people. During the past book year Kumba invested 759-million rand in new production capacity and achieved profits of 167-million rand. "The group's turnover for the year was 8.45-billion rand, an increase of 13% on the previous year," Solidarity added.
The Politics of Fear - Vote for George W. Bush, or the terrorists will strike again!
Scott C. Smith
Fear can be a great motivator. It's very much a part of corporate America;
since no one, for the most part, works for the same company until they
retire, a worker, depending on the corporation, is always in a position
that they could lose their job, whether it be through a corporate
reorganization, massive layoffs, or the outsourcing of jobs to India,
China, Malaysia, and other countries. Workers know that the possibility
exists of their position being eliminated, so they put in more hours,
hoping the extra effort will save their job. In some industries, such as
high tech, working long hours is no guarantee of job security. But fear
motivates employees, and they work hard.
[Or at least long, or at least they have longer 'face time.' But this demonstrates that long hours goes with layoffs and fear.]
George W. Bush knows the power of fear. His campaign knows it. They know
that Bush's record, both foreign and domestic, is poor. The war in Iraq is
claiming lives nearly every day. Bush's domestic policy accomplishments
boil down to several tax cuts. It's not a great record to run on.
Not that the administration is running on Bush's record. Instead, they've
focused on one single issue, terrorism, and how George W. Bush is the best
person to deal with terrorism. The campaign has even warned ominously the
possibility of terrorists attacking America again if the wrong man is in
At a town hall meeting in Des Moines, Iowa on Sept. 8, Vice President Dick
Cheney warned against a possible terrorist attack - if John Kerry is
elected. Not that he mentioned Kerry by name, but the implication was
clear: "It's absolutely essential on Nov. 2, we make the right choice,
because if we make the wrong choice then the danger is that we'll get hit
again and we'll be hit in a way that will be devastating from the
standpoint of the United States," Cheney said.
The Bush administration has been creating a climate of fear since the
attacks of September 11. In March of 2002, the Department of Homeland
Security unveiled the color-coded terror alert advisory. And, every few
months, some vague threat would be announced, and the terror alert would be
raised for a while, then lowered, and then raised again, causing a
near-constant state of anxiety for some people. Americans were also
warned of all the possible ways terrorists could attack the United States,
from the smuggling of biological weapons into the country or the use of
remote-controlled model airplanes armed with explosives. Every few months
a new terrorist alert would be released; Americans were told to be vigilant
but not to change their daily routines.
The Bush campaign is now counting on that anxiety to win a second term.
Vote for Bush/Cheney, and you'll be protected from terrorists. Vote for
Kerry/Edwards, and watch your ass.
There is no indication at all that a President Kerry would deal with this
issue in a way that would cause another attack on America. George W. Bush
wants you to believe Kerry will let down our guard and be attacked again.
As the administration would point out, we have not been attacked since
9/11. This is an indication of the success of Bush's anti-terrorist
measures. But is it? Terrorists may not be attacking the United States,
but they are attacking other countries: in May, terrorists struck train
stations in Madrid, Spain, killing at least 192 people and wounding over
one thousand. Insurgents in Iraq attack U.S. and Iraqi targets almost
daily. The State Department's Patterns of Global Terrorism report for 2003
showed an increase in terrorist activity for that year. Terrorists may not
be attacking the United States, but they sure are active in other
countries. Osama Bin Laden, mastermind of the 9/11 attacks, remains at
large. Not to fear; team Bush will save us all from that evil terrorist.
As soon as we find him.
So, the United States remains on alert, never knowing when or where the
terrorists will strike again. President Bush will keep them at bay, Bush's
campaign might say. President Kerry, on the other hand, will open the
borders and send first-class plane tickets to terrorists everywhere as an
incentive to attack us again.
Terrorism has been quite the boon for Bush. His war on terror can last
indefinitely, and Bush knows that many Americans are worried we'll be
attacked again. Bush has no problem with exploiting that fear for his own
gain. There's no way our terror alert will ever drop down to green (low)
while Bush is president. Keeping a nation in a perpetual state of anxiety
is Bush's goal. And it looks like it's working.
Write-in candidate Brantley takes on Goodall - Winner will represent Union County and part of eastern Mecklenburg
Charlotte Observer, NC
Howie Paul Hartnett (704-289-6576)
Even with no opponent on the ballot, Eddie Goodall isn't ready to call
himself a state senator yet.
Voters still have to choose him in the Nov. 2 general election. And while no
Democrat met the filing deadlines to get on the ballot, Cornelius "Neal"
Brantley Jr. has collected enough signatures to be a qualified write-in
The winner will replace Fern Shubert as senator for District 35, which
covers Union County and a portion of eastern Mecklenburg County.
Republican: Eddie Goodall
Still, Goodall acknowledges he has begun to think about what he could
accomplish in Raleigh. Given his accounting background, Goodall would like
to join either the appropriations or finance committees.He says he would
like to ensure the U.S. 74 Bypass is chosen as a toll road and then help
speed its construction.
"We deserve our share of road money, not only for toll roads but for the
county's other needs," Goodall said.
Roads aren't the only county need, though. Booming residential growth is
leading to a school construction crunch Goodall believes will require more
than new bonds to fix.
Two ways officials could ease the burden on the school system is to offer a
voucher program and open more charter schools, he said.
Typically, voucher programs allow students to attend private schools using
the money public school officials spend per student per year.
New charter schools would further reduce the number of students using the
public school system, Goodall said. Charter schools use public money to
operate, but are not constructed with tax dollars.
Goodall supports opening more charter schools, but that would take
legislative approval. Right now, the state has capped the number of charter
schools at 100.
Another way to help school systems is by charging developers fees to build
new houses. A few counties have started collecting these fees to help pay
for school construction.
Goodall doesn't agree with such fees but said he would work to pass them if
local officials want them.
Even if he can't get the legislature to lift the charter school cap, Goodall
will have plenty to do in office. Local officials have requested help on
several issues, he said.
"I have a pretty lengthy to-do list already," he said. "Some of those things
we've discussed might be done legislatively. Others can probably be
accomplished by dialogue."
Goodall declined to say what his to-do list includes, though, because he
said he is not yet an elected official.
Democrat (write-in): Cornelius `Neal' Brantley Jr.
It likely will be difficult for Brantley, a pastor at two Union County
churches, to upset Goodall.
Brantley is not actively campaigning and will not appear on the ballot.
Votes for him will count, though, because he collected enough signatures to
be a qualified write-in candidate. Write-in votes are counted only if the
candidate has qualified.
So why run? Because voters should have options in any political race, said
Brantley, a self-described lifelong Democrat.
"I wish we could have elections where it wasn't personality contests," he
said, adding he would like to debate his opponent. Goodall said he would be
The issues Brantley wants to discuss include campaign reform, lowering taxes
and beefing up the state's homeland security.
The state and federal income tax systems should be revised so they offer
more breaks to families struggling to make ends meet, he said. The state
should not wait for federal officials to raise the minimum wage, Brantley
said. The legislature should require employees earn a minimum of $6 an hour.
Brantley also believes workers who have paid more than $5,000 in state
income taxes should earn no less than $11 an hour, overtime should be twice
an employee's hourly pay, not time and a half, and the work week should be
reduced to 32 hours.
Government officials also should do more to protect residents from the
threat of terrorism by tightening security around the state's ports.
Brantley worries cargo coming into the state is not being screened
sufficiently. Similar concerns have been raised across the country.
"We don't need to check out what books people are buying in bookstores," he
said. "(But) we need to have things inspected."
Closer to home, Brantley supports the 74 Bypass, but wants to be sure the
endangered Carolina heelsplitter mussels living near the route are
protected. He also supports building more schools and giving teachers higher
The money for these budget increases could come from an entertainment tax,
"I don't think people would mind paying a few extra cents for a concert or
movie or sporting event to pay for computers or higher teacher salaries," he
SUVs heading from boom to pothole? - Increase in diesel price, taxes pose potential roadblock to auto segment
Korea Herald, South Korea
By Kim Tae-gyun (email@example.com)
Hong Hak-pyo is a sport utility vehicle enthusiast who oversees an online
SUV community of 12,400 fans nationwide. But the beauty salon owner from
Icheon, Gyeonggi Province, is thinking about dumping his Sorento SUV for a
"SUV is a clever choice. Aside from the unique styling and driving, the
fuel costs and taxes are much cheaper than gasoline powered cars. But the
bad news is that these economic benefits will soon disappear," he said.
The SUV is one of the few auto segments that is expanding amid weak
domestic spending. It now accounts for more than 30% of the domestic
Customers look at Hyundai Motor`s compact Tuscon sport utility model at a
dealer in southern Seoul. The SUV is one of the few auto segments
That has made it an attractive target for the government, which needs
revenue to lubricate its fiscal spending. It wants to raise the price of
diesel, which powers all domestic SUVs. The increase would be in addition to
higher ownership taxes on SUVs, beginning in 2007. Industry analysts and
auto dealers are divided over the price impact.
"The SUV market here has swollen far too much mainly due to cheaper fuel
and lower taxes. But after the policy changes, many customers will avoid
buying such vehicles. The market will suffer at least slowing sales," said
Kim Hag-ju, an analyst at Samsung Securities.
Lim Chae-gu at Kyobo Securities disagrees, predicting Hyunda Motor Co.'s
Santa Fe and Kia Motor Corp.'s Sportage will continue to propel the
lackluster auto market.
"The SUV boom has created a large number of loyal customers here. Even if
the fuel costs and taxes rise, these SUV fans will not go away. We believe
the growth will continue," said Lim.
"The five-day work week scheme is quickly changing people's lifestyle. Many
drivers now want a car for hiking or traveling. The function as a leisure
car will remain the strong selling point for SUVs regardless of the fuel
costs or taxes," said Park Sung-jin, an auto analyst at Woori Securities. The
nation's new work week went into effect in the summer and will be expanded
over the next [six] years.
Kang Hee-jung, who owns a car dealership in southern Seoul, cautions about
the price sensitivity of consumers in the current economic uncertainties. "I
don't think that this will cause a sudden plunge in the SUV sales. But many
of our customers are sensitive to the issue. The sales have already dropped
a little bit," he said.
The government plans to announce its diesel price policy by the end of this
year. Officials declined to reveal the extent of a price increase, saying
discussions are still ongoing but said a change is certain.
"At this point, we cannot elaborate on the issue. But the bottom line here
is that the price will surely be lifted," said Lee Bo-in, a deputy director
at Ministry of Finance and Economy.
Policymakers have been under mounting pressure from environment groups to
increase the diesel price to curb increasing diesel vehicles. Emission gases
from diesel engines are widely considered one of the main contributors to
the nation's air pollution.
The changes to the auto tax policy were approved in 2001. All SUVs will be
subject to the same tax rate as passenger cars by 2007. Up to now, owners of
SUVs bigger than seven-seat models have paid only 65,000 won in the annual
ownership tax, 10 times less than owners of above 3,000-cc engine sedans.
SUVs initially were considered a truck in Korea, where the tax rate is lower
for trucks. When SUVs first hit road in Korea in early 1980s it was driven
by street vendors and other self-employed who needed to haul products.
"Obviously, people here will no longer buy SUVs because of its low
maintenance costs. We understand that this will be the critical juncture for
the SUV market," said an official at Ssangyong Motor.
Also, notwithstanding an increase at diesel pumps, savings will be realized
on operating efficiency. For example, Kia's Sportage with a 2,000-cc diesel
engine runs 14.6 kilometers per liter. But the Optima sedan with the same
capacity gasoline engine gets 9.6 kilometers per liter.
Hyundai, Kia, and Ssangyong Motor Co. sold 27,670 SUVs at home last month,
a gain of 23% from a year earlier. But overall car sales in September
fell 4.4% year-on-year to 90,843 units.
Hyundai, Korea's largest carmaker, currently sells five SUV models while
its affiliate Kia, the No. 2 player here, offers two. Smaller Ssangyong
Motor is seen as a specialized recreation vehicle maker, and understandably,
four out of its six models are SUVs.
GM Daewoo Auto & Technology Co., the nation's No. 3 carmaker, plans to
introduce its SUV model by 2006. "As the market matures, our customers will
become more selective. We should prepare for stiffer competition," said the
Foreign automakers also are gearing up. Imported SUVs mostly run on
gasoline and belong to the high-end segment. But some foreign brands aim for
the midsection of the market.
This month, Honda Motor Co. unveiled its perennial bestseller CR-V. This
compact SUV sells for 29.9 million, significantly narrowing on the price gap
with local rivals. The premium model of Hyundai's Santa Fe SUV costs 22.65
"Global carmakers also see burgeoning opportunities in Korea's SUV market.
As some of them try to enter the mid-price segment as well, the competition
with local companies will become more visible," said Yoon Dae-sung,
executive director of Korea Automobile Importers and Distributors
According to KAIDA, total 13 foreign carmakers currently sell 39 SUV models
here. But outside of Toyota and Lexus none of them are popular.
Experts here point to a crossover SUV, which offers the comfort of a sedan,
as the next hot model.
"Original SUVs were basically designed for old drivers after their middle
age. But the crossover models are also appealing to young taste. We believe
that such SUVs will lead the entire market," said Hyundai's marketing team
in a recent e-mail interview with the Korea Herald.
The popularity of Hyundai's Tucson supports the assessment. The model,
which uses the platform of the Avante compact sedan, had an 80% gain
in the September sales from the 2,552 units sold in August.
A cheaper price is another benefit. Compared with other SUVs with a price
tag around 30 million won, the smaller five-seat vehicle only costs about 20
Kia's Sportage - which shares the platform and basic parts with Tucson - is
currently the top-selling model in the company's product line-up. Sportage
dealers said the model's stylish design is also attracting many woman
customers who used to shy away from the SUV segment.
Tucson and Sportage were introduced to the local market in March and August
this year, respectively.
Ssangyong does not have such a compact SUV yet. But the company officials
said the focus will be on larger vehicles. The nation's No. 4 carmaker
unveiled a redesigned version of the seven-seat Rexton SUV in December 2003.
Since then, it has not unveiled any new model yet.
Ssangyong officials declined to elaborate on plans for a new lineup, citing
a strategic reason.
October 24th is Take Back Your Time Day
Seattle, WA - What do a gathering of writers in San Diego, a community forum on family dinners in the Twin
Cities, teach-ins at several universities and the "Stop, Drop and Read" hour at the Montpelier, Vermont, public library have
in common? These are just a few of the events happening across the country in recognition of Take Back Your Time Day,
(www.timeday.org) an US/Canadian initiative generating dialogue about the issues of overwork, over-scheduling and time
poverty. October 24th is the second annual celebration of Take Back Your Time Day.
"Last year, with over 200 events reaching thousands, we put the issue on the map. This year we hope to bring our message to
an even broader audience," says Take Back Your Time Day staffer, Gretchen Burger, who is coordinating a community potluck in
Seattle featuring acclaimed travel writer and Time Day supporter Rick Steves.
With Take Back Your Time Day falling on a Sunday this year (October 24 marks the anniversary of the date in 1940 when the US
officially got the 40 hour work week), many churches are helping to spread the message. The Massachusetts Council of
Churches (www.masscouncilofchurches.org), in partnership with the Boston Time Day committee, has developed one of the
largest and most exciting activities of Time Day 2004: the "Take Four Windows of Time" program. "Take Four Windows of Time"
encourages MCC members, of which there are over 1700 congregations, to choose four windows of time for rest and relaxation
between Labor Day and Take Back Your Time Day. "The response to this program has been overwhelmingly positive," says Diane
Kessler, Executive Director of the Council.
And while October 24th is the official Take Back Your Time Day, organizers see the date itself as part of an ongoing
movement. "Take Back Your Time Day is one part of a larger campaign which is really gaining momentum and attracting interest
from a broad range of individuals and organizations," says John de Graaf, national coordinator for Take Back Your Time.
Over the past year, the Take Back Your Time campaign has adopted a six-point public policy plan the "Time to Care" agenda;
hosted a North American conference at Loyola University, Chicago; and most recently helped spearhead the formation of the
"It's About Time" coalition which calls on political candidates to begin addressing the impact of workplace demands on
families by endorsing the "Time to Care" agenda.
While Take Back Your Time addresses all issues resulting in Time Poverty, the campaign calls attention to a just-published
International Labor Office (ILO) book, "Working Time and Workers' Preferences in Industrial Countries: Finding the Balance,"
which shows that 20% of Americans work "excessive hours," "more than 50 a week" compared with 1.4% in the Netherlands and much
smaller percentages throughout Continental Europe. The ILO reports that half of all Americans would prefer shorter working
hours and have trouble balancing work and family responsibilities.
For more info: www.ilo.org/public/english/protection/condtrav/time/index.htm.
"It's not at all clear that Americans need to work such long hours, harming their health, family life, communities and
environment, in order to compete in the global economy," argues Time Day's John de Graaf, editor of the "Take Back Your
Time" handbook. While the World Economic Forum recently found the US to be among the most competitive of world economies, it
is no more so than northern European countries such as Finland and Sweden, where workers put in much shorter hours each
"We hope that these issues will be included in the discussions happening this weekend," says Gretchen Burger. "And that
really is the goal: to get folks talking about this critical issue. Even if there isn't an event scheduled in their
community, we hope that folks will gather with friends and family, share a meal and have a dialogue about how these issues
impact their lives and what they see are viable solutions."
Crew in plane crash had lengthy shift, investigator says
by Matthew Wald, NYT, A12.
WASHINGTON - The crew of the commuter plane that crashed Tuesday night on approach to the Kirksville MO airport had been working for nearly 15 hours, the member of the National Transportation Safety Board at the scene [Carol Carmody] said on Thursday morning [10/21].... The carrier, Corporate Airlines, doing business as American Connection, said early Thursday that the captain was Kim Sasse, who joined the airline in 2001, and the first officer was Jonathan Palmer.... Both men were killed, along with 11 of the 13 passengers.
Click here for spontaneous cases of primitive timesizing in -
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