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Timesizing News, October 2009 - from 10/31 back to 10/01
[Commentary] ©2004-09 Phil Hyde, Timesizing.com, Box 117, Harvard Sq PO, Cambridge MA 02238 USA 617-623-8080


10/31/2009  bits and pieces of the timesizing solution in the news, reinvented thousands of times every day in every recession by mainly mid- and small-size companies, organizations and governments despite being *dismissed out-of-hand by many economists and business schools - with excerpting and [commenting] by Phil Hyde (ecdesignr@yahoo.ca) unless otherwise initialed -

  1. Probation officers agree to take furloughs, Boston Globe, B2.
    BOSTON, Mass. - State probation officers have voted to take unpaid furlough days to prevent the layoff of 75 workers scheduled for next week. Members of the National Assoc. of Government Employees [NAGE] voted 424 to 348 to accept eight furlough days rather than see co-workers lose their jobs. The Legislature last week added $4.5 million to the probation department budget in an effort to avert the layoffs, but Governor Deval Patrick vetoed the appropriation. "People stuck together at great cost to themselves in this tough economic environment," said David Holway, president of the NAGE. "It's a very selfless act to put the interests of your fellow workers above your own."

  2. Muskego Family Caught Up In Health Care Battle - Proposed Salary Cuts Would Impact In-Home Nurses, (10/30 10:38pm) WISN.com
    MUSKEGO, Wisc. - Twelve-year-old John Foye and his Muskego family find themselves caught up in the national battle over health care costs.
    “It's very stressful on the families when the state makes proposals like this that could damage our support system,” said Brent Foye, John’s father.
    John needs constant care for multiple medical needs. But Wisconsin’s shrinking state budget is leading the Department of Health Services to cut more than $600 million in Medicaid -- including cutting the pay of the nurses who care for patients like John in their Wisconsin homes.
    “If they cut the wages of the nurses -- who already don't get benefits for what they're working -- they'll just go work in hospitals and there won't be anyone to take care of these patients at home,” Foye said.
    For example, starting this December, registered nurses will no longer get paid for coordinating a patient's complicated system of care -- saving taxpayers an estimated $300,000 a year. Nurses will have to volunteer their time.
    “The one thing we will not do is -- which you are seeing in other states -- is we will not be cutting any benefits to our members and we will not be cutting eligibility,” said Stephanie Marquis of the Wisconsin Department of Health Services.
    The state is proposing what amounts to a five percent wage cut to private duty nurses like Fran Meyer. The estimated savings -- $1.75 million a year.
    “I think the ones that do it, do it simply because they're dedicated to keeping the family member home,” said independent nurse provider Fran Meyer.
    But Brent Foye fears pay cuts will lead to fewer willing nurses and said it would cost taxpayers much more if patient like his son have to go into a care facility:
    “And just having one or two people go into the hospital will negate any of the savings they're proposing,” Foye said.
    Under a state proposal, nurses would also get paid less for working overtime -- for working more than eight hours at a time in a home.
    The state said incentivizing shorter hours will reduce medical mistakes -- something the nurses deny.

  3. BMW to end shorter work hours soon - paper, Reuters.com
    FRANKFURT, Germany - German carmaker BMW (BMWG.DE) will end its its programme on shorter work hours in the coming weeks, weekly Automobilwoche said on Saturday, citing board member Frank-Peter Arndt.
    BMW has reduced the work hours of 26,000 employees in Germany early this year as the financial crisis forced consumers to curtail their spending on items such as cars.
    With the rate of decline in car sales slowing down in recent months, BMW has also gradually reduced those participating in the short hours programme.
    Automobilwoche said BMW has started to re-employ part-time employees in plants located in Leipzig and Regensburg.

  4. Euro400bn State Stimulus Plan Helps Spearhead Chinese Recovery From Recession - The economy expanded 8.9 per cent in the third quarter, by Clifford Noonan, Irish Times via ProQuest via YellowBrix via AmericanChronicle.com
    ZHENGZHOU, Henan province, China - A SKYLINE dotted with cranes and new banks, mobile phone shops mushrooming in retail areas - and thousands of new cars hitting the streets every month, zipping past busy property agencies.
    This sounds like Ireland three years ago, or China three years ago, but this is Zhengzhou today, capital of China's most populous province, Henan, home to 100 million people.
    Workers are putting the finishing touches to a brand new exhibition centre, and it's as if the global recession was happening on another planet.
    The hum of activity in this city echoes the broader recovery in China. The economy expanded by a powerful 8.9 per cent in the third quarter, driven overwhelmingly by massive government stimulus spending focused on a 4 trillion yuan (about [euro]400 billion) stimulus plan that has helped the nation spearhead recovery from the recession.
    Growth in the world's third-largest economy accelerated from 7.9 per cent in the second quarter and for the first nine months of the year was 7.7 per cent, according to the National Statistics Bureau. Back in the first three months of the year, growth was 6.1 per cent.
    Vice-premier Li Keqiang underlined the growing optimism in China when he said the domestic economy's rebound was firmer. "The momentum of China's economic recovery has been consolidated, and economic development is better than expected at the beginning of the year," says Mr Li, who is tipped for higher things when the current leadership steps down in three years.
    He also says he had been confident China would meet its target of achieving growth of 8 per cent of GDP this year, and says the country would keep up its active fiscal policy and moderately loosen monetary policy.
    Li Xiaochao, spokesman for the National Bureau of Statistics, said last week the 8 per cent target would be reached "without doubt".
    Economic expansion appears to be translating into more jobs, a crucial factor in China where analysts reckon about 8 per cent growth is needed to ensure job creation and to ward off politically destabilising demonstrations against the government.
    Unemployment remains high - in some cases labour shortages and unemployment exist alongside each other because many of the factory workers laid off in the early days of the recession are reluctant to come back until the recovery is in full swing.
    Some workers in the southern industrial cauldron of Guangdong or central industrial provinces such as Henan are complaining of how they are working shorter hours.
    But it is looking increasingly like China's stimulus plan, combined with efforts to loosen up the country's savings rate, is paying off, and the growth is translating into new jobs.
    In some cases, job losses in the badly hit export industry have been offset by fresh hirings in the massive infrastructural development programmes forming the backbone of the stimulus plan.
    China will probably create two million more jobs in urban areas this year than officials had targeted, the government says.
    Employment is "stable", and the nation will exceed the goal of nine million additional urban jobs, Yin Chengji, a spokesman for the Human Resources and Social Security Ministry, says.
    Urban registered unemployment was 4.3 per cent at the end of September, compared with 4.2 per cent at the end of 2008.
    "Ah, so much building going on, lots of traffic," says the taxi driver, as we hurtle through this second-tier city in China's heartland, home to seven million people.
    She is pointing to four huge buildings under construction, soon to be apartment blocks, with real estate advertisements below featuring Barack Obama.
    While the effects of China's stimulus plan can be seen on the streets of every Chinese city and town in the shape of major infrastructure projects, you can also see it in the shops and car dealerships. The Buick dealership on Zhengzhou's outskirts is doing brisk business, and so it should.
    There are lots of new cars on the road, as people buy on the back of tax breaks introduced as part of the stimulus plan, and they are going for Volkswagens, Buicks and a few Chinese-made cars.
    China's car market has outstripped that in the US to become the world's largest, with sales up 34 per cent to 9.66 million vehicles in the first nine months of the year.
    Shops are doing the kind of business that other countries can only dream of. Retail sales grew 15 per cent in the first three quarters of the year.
    There are difficulties of course. Fears of overreliance on government spending abound - nearly 6.2 percentage points of China's 7.1 per cent GDP growth in the first half came from investment by the state.
    Lending by Chinese banks totalled 516.7 billion yuan ([euro]51 billion) in September.
    The new lending brings total loans issued in the first nine months of the year to 8.65 trillion yuan ([euro]855 billion), a rise of nearly 150 per cent year-on-year.
    Small to medium-sized enterprises are not benefiting as much as the big firms with political clout or the state-owned enterprises, which have also received a whack of state cash.
    Investment bank Goldman Sachs says quarter-on-quarter growth had in fact slowed to about 10.2 per cent from the second quarter's annualised pace of 16.5 per cent.
    The next step for China, with the economy simmering nicely, is to work out an exit strategy in which it eases back on the heavy investment and lending. Wang Tao, head of China research at UBS, says she does not expect any withdrawal of government stimulus in the coming year, but expects its contribution to GDP growth to drop significantly in 2010.
    "While CPI inflation is expected to be moderate, we see monetary policy facing increasing challenge in an environment of rising FX inflows and inflexible nominal exchange rate," she adds. "Getting the credit growth right and pushing out structural reforms will be the key things to watch in the coming months. Our baseline scenario of robust real growth, modest inflation and continued capital inflows are conducive for further asset price rises."
    Driving through the streets of Zhengzhou, you see brand new branches of Industrial Commercial Bank of China, the world's most profitable bank, and the biggest, with a market capitalisation of [euro]167 billion.
    The global economic recovery is firmly under way in a Chinese city of millions that most people have never heard of.


10/30/2009  bits and pieces of the timesizing solution in the news, reinvented thousands of times every day in every recession by mainly mid- and small-size companies, organizations and governments despite being *dismissed out-of-hand by many economists and business schools - with excerpting and [commenting] by Phil Hyde (ecdesignr@yahoo.ca) unless otherwise initialed -

  1. Dairy Bar changes hours as winter closes in on UNH, by Tyler Britton, University of New Hampshire "The New Hampshire" (subscription) via tnhonline.com
    DURHAM, N.H. - The Dairy Bar has begun its winter schedule and is now closing at 4 p.m. This is the second year that the Dairy Bar has been managed by Dining Services, and according to the director of Dining, John Plodzik, the reduction in hours has been anticipated.
    The numbers from last winter, though, showed that by 4 p.m. the Dairy Bar would start to lose money. Food and beverage sales simply weren’t enough to cover the costs of operation.
    “It’s not a good use of [the students’] money,” said Plodzik. He said that they had tried staying open until hockey games end, but most hungry hockey fans are more likely to end up choosing a steak and cheese at Wildcatessen.
    “We’re always in competition with ourselves,” he said, adding that his job is all about balancing.
    The Dairy Bar started last winter by staying open until 8 p.m. and very quickly began closing earlier, according to Night Manager Diana Guy. By advertising hours they couldn’t follow through on, people could potentially show up within the posted hours and find the building locked. This year, by beginning the winter with shorter hours, they are hoping to avoid a repeat of last season.
    “I hope people will understand what we’re trying to do,” Plodzik said.
    The Dairy Bar is much more than just a place to grab a bite to eat. Now, since extensive renovations were completed just over a year ago, it is also transit center.
    The Amtrak Downeaster train—which runs from Boston to Portland—picks up passengers right behind the Dairy Bar. Before the renovations, there was a small waiting platform, but it offered very little protection from the weather.
    As part of the construction, this area was enclosed to create a heated ticket vestibule. The ticket kiosk, which used to be located in the Whittemore center, has been placed here and a second kiosk was recently added to decrease wait time.
    While this vestibule stays open until 10 p.m., the main building closes at 5 p.m., an hour after food service ends.
    One problem that Amtrak passengers will run into this winter is that once the main building closes there is no access to bathrooms.
    “When the project was proposed we looked to design a facility that permitted multiple uses on multiple schedules,” said Special Projects Director Steve Pesci, who helped design the renovations. “Sections of the building itself can be open hours independent of the food establishment. We are moving towards completing elements that will provide that full functionality.”
    Things take time, though, he pointed out. This is only the second winter since the renovations were completed, and the number of travelers is increasing steadily.
    “An ideal vision of the facility is one in which users are there throughout the day,” Pesci said. “Certainly food service, transit service expansion, such as the new intercity bus service, and, hopefully Wi-Fi will provide these opportunities.”
    Since Amtrak Downeaster service came to Durham in 2001, ridership has since grown an average of 20 percent each year. More travelers equal more potential customers, and the Dairy Bar hours are dictated by demand.
    “We must meet the need,” said Richard LeHoullier, area manager at Philbrook and the Dairy Bar. In the winter the need is during the day.
    The lack of business later in the day is not indicative of the complete financial situation of the Dairy Bar. The establishment had been under the control of the Thompson School for years and has acted as a classroom for food service students who get to practice operating a small-scale restaurant; however, it never turned a profit.
    LeHoullier said that the university made the decision that the establishment had to be run as a business with more concern for the bottom line.
    The Dairy Bar, which used to be closed for weekends and for the entire winter, is finally turning a profit.
    While it would be nice if Amtrak passengers had some more space, things must be kept in perspective.
    “You may recall that the prior facility was in serious disrepair, was not ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) accessible, especially the bathrooms, and provided absolutely no transit amenities,” Pesci said.

  2. Walker's layoff plan causes outcry from supervisors, by Steve Schultze, (10/29) Milwaukee Journal Sentinel via jsonline.com
    MILWAUKEE, Wisc. - Milwaukee County Executive Scott Walker's plan to temporarily lay off up to 180 employees as a last-ditch move to balance this year's budget prompted finger-pointing and shouting Thursday from county supervisors.
    Their anger was directed at Walker, who wasn't present, and his top aides who appeared before the County Board's Finance and Audit Committee.
    Layoff notices are expected to be sent out Friday.
    Supervisors accused Walker of mismanagement and his department heads of hiding what appears to be one of the major causes of the county's 2009 deficit - a change in the formula used by the state to reimburse the county for low-income patients' care. A shortfall in anticipated sales tax revenue also was blamed.
    "The administration failed, and the county executive failed," said Supervisor Michael Mayo Sr.
    "We're supposed to be in this together," said Supervisor Elizabeth M. Coggs, who complained that supervisors routinely have been shut out of critical information by Walker's department heads. "The only time we are in this together is when the crap hits the fan." 
    Walker said he found out last week that state Medicaid reimbursements for patients were short of expectations. A report released Thursday showed the county's Behavioral Health Division expects to end the year $3.6 million short, and that sales tax revenue was down $8.5 million from predictions.
    Walker said claims by supervisors that the layoffs might have been avoided if warnings had been issued earlier on the state funding problem were bogus.
    "I don't know what they think they'd do" if they'd been told sooner, Walker said. The board resisted his call for a 35-hour workweek in May and accused him of crying wolf then, when Walker was predicting an even bigger shortfall, he said.
    "We knew it wasn't going to get any better," Walker said. "They think if they yell enough (the shortfall) will go away."
    County Board Chairman Lee Holloway told Walker's top aides that they should "pray that Scott Walker doesn't win" his Republican bid for governor.
    Holloway said if that happened, "Most of you will be under my supervision and most of you will be fired." If Walker left in midterm, Holloway as County Board chairman would become acting county executive.
    John Chianelli, administrator of the county's Behavioral Health Division, said he realized early this year that the state had changed the way it paid for Medicaid claims for children and patients 65 and older. At first, he thought the changes would balance out and result in no net financial cut.
    But by August, he found that the state was paying far less for older patients' stays at the Mental Health Complex than anticipated. That led to the $3.6 million deficit projected for his division.
    Chianelli said he didn't have a good handle on the deficit problem in his division until reviewing reimbursement claims from the state last month.
    The county's overall yearend deficit is now pegged at $3 million, which Walker wants to erase through laying off 170 to 180 workers for the last six weeks of 2009. Managers as well as line employees will be laid off, said Cindy Archer, director of the county's Department of Administrative Services.
    Departments headed by elected officials such as Sheriff David A. Clarke Jr. are exempt from the layoffs, and employees working on crucial services such as patient care also will be excused.
    Coggs complained that department heads avoided talking to supervisors, apparently in fear of getting fired. During budget hearings, information has been grudgingly provided, she said.
    "That whole veil of 'Don't talk to county supervisors' has got to come off," she said.
    Thomas Nardelli, Walker's chief of staff, said he had never told department heads not to speak to supervisors.

  3. Job-threat staff to join small firms in 'loan deal', by Owen McAteer, TheNorthernEcho.co.uk,Darlington,Durham,England
    DARLINGTON, Durham County, England - Skilled workers in larger firms facing redundancy or short-time working are to take part in a football-style loan-scheme to pass on their expertise to smaller businesses.
    [Is this a government scheme or private-sector?]
    More than 90 small and medium-sized North-East firms are to benefit from the £1.2m project, which will subsidise the wages of workers.
    It aims to give smaller companies and social enterprises access to expert advice, at the same time as helping larger regional companies retain their skilled staff for when the recession ends.
    Companies with people who might be at risk of redundancy or on short-time working will be encouraged to release them for an agreed time to work on a secondment with smaller businesses.
    The scheme is being part-financed by £600,000 from the European Regional Development Fund 2007-13, a figure matched by investment from regional development agency One North East.
    [Government or private-sector?]
    One North East’s head of business, enterprise and skills, Tim Pain, said: “Our principal aim is to aid business resilience by providing an accessible and affordable resource of highly skilled, experienced workers to at least 90 organisations.
    “They will work with them for a fixed period of time on specific areas of expertise to help them push on through the current economic climate.
    “In the longer term, it means we will also be able to retain skilled people in the region by providing them with employment opportunities in host companies when their own employers might be struggling in the short term.”
    One North East has procured the North East Enterprise Agencies Ltd (NEEAL) to identify suitable host and donor companies.
    Shaun Stuart, chief executive of Wear Valley and Teesdale Enterprise Agency, will lead the work on behalf of NEEAL and work closely with support agencies such as Business Link, the Federation of Small Businesses and the North East Chamber of Commerce.
    Mr Stuart said: “It’s an exciting prospect for us to be part of this innovative project and to actively support regional businesses in the current climate.”
    For further information about the project, call Mr Stuart on 01388-776688.


10/29/2009  bits and pieces of the timesizing solution in the news, reinvented thousands of times every day in every recession by mainly mid- and small-size companies, organizations and governments despite being *dismissed out-of-hand by many economists and business schools - with excerpting and [commenting] by Phil Hyde (ecdesignr@yahoo.ca) unless otherwise initialed -

  1. Massachusetts economy - What's next? - Sector cobbles jobless comeback - New technology boosts productivity, reduces hiring needs, by Robert Gavin, Boston Globe, B7.
    WOBURN, MA -..Boston Centerless Inc. of Woburn and its subsidiary, AccuRounds of Avon have enjoyed record orders over the past two months as the state's manufacturing has rebounded. The companies have added workers hours and started to hire. (caption of 3rd photo)
    To cut costs when the economy tumbled, Peerless Precision Inc. invested in computerized equipment, partly to eliminate the use of costly subcontractors. Now that new orders are coming in, the equipment is allowing the Westfield machine shop to expand production without adding to its workforce of about 20.
    “The bottom line is that by working with our employees, we’ve improved efficiency,’’ said Larry Maier, the company president. “That’s why we’re still here. That’s why we’re having a good year.’’
    Manufacturing in Massachusetts is rebounding from the deep recession, but as Peerless shows, the sector will be slow in recovering the 25,000 jobs it lost over the past two years. Even though production is projected to expand by nearly 5 percent over the next year, manufacturers are still expected to slice another 14,000 jobs before employment levels in the second quarter of 2010, according to forecasts by Moody’s Economy.com, a research firm in West Chester, Pa.
    Improved productivity, or producing more with the same or fewer employees, is a key reason why manufacturing no longer generates the jobs it did during the heyday of textiles, shoes, and other traditional industries. But manufacturing nonetheless remains a key component in the state’s economy, and one that will play an important role in its recovery, analysts said.
    Despite decades of job losses, manufacturing still employs five times as many workers as biotechnology and ranks second only to health care in total payroll because its jobs are generally high paying, according to analyses by Moody’s and Northeastern University’s Dukakis Center for Urban and Regional Policy. Manufacturers account for $1 of every $8 in goods and services produced in Massachusetts and export more than $20 billion a year in merchandise to foreign markets, according to the US Commerce Department.
    Massachusetts manufacturers were hit hard in the recession, shedding 8 percent of their jobs and cutting employee hours. But the worst appears over. Many firms are reporting rebounds in orders and extending work weeks to meet the demand. Some are even calling back laid-off workers.
    “We saw the lights go out last year, and now they’re back,’’ said Jack Healy, director of the Massachusetts Manufacturing Extension Partnership, a joint federal-state program that helps manufacturers stay in business. “Dim, but definitely on.’’
    Some firms, however, say conditions are quickly brightening. Michael Tamasi, president of Boston Centerless Inc. of Woburn, said that in the past two months, his company has enjoyed record orders for the precision parts it makes for industries, from aerospace to medical devices.
    ["Boston Centerless"?? - Kate: "Next they'll call a company "Boston Bankrupt".]
    Workers are now on the job 42 hours a week, after being cut to 34 hours.
    The company, which employs 90 in Woburn and another 60 at its AccuRounds subsidiary in Avon, recently hired two workers and has openings for four more.
    “It was tenuous, but we got through it,’’ Tamasi said. “Manufacturing is still very viable and one of the best industries for the future.’’
    Analysts said the state’s manufacturing sector is well positioned for the recovery. Although the recession took its toll, the state’s manufacturers fared far better than their counterparts nationwide. Manufacturing nationally shed 15 percent of jobs, nearly double the loss here.
    Many economists expect the recovery to be led by business investment, particularly in the advanced technology and equipment in which Massachusetts firms specialize. Manufacturers should also get a boost from a weaker dollar, which makes their products cheaper in foreign markets. “This industry was once in free fall,’’ said Barry Bluestone, dean of Northeastern University’s School of Public Policy and Urban Affairs, “but it has retooled and reinvented itself as a sophisticated, high tech sector.’’
    Clinton plastics maker Nypro Inc., for example, prospered for many years by making casings and other components for consumer electronics. But as the electronics industry slowed along with consumer spending, Nypro has shifted its focus to health care products, said company spokesman Al Cotton.
    Those products are experiencing solid growth, as is Nypro’s health care products group, centered in Massachusetts. One of its divisions, NP Medical, recently completed a $5 million expansion in Clinton, and it is considering another one, Cotton said. Nypro employs about 1,000 in the state. “We continue to grow in health care,’’ he said, “and we’re starting to see things improve overall.’’
    Hugh Mason, president of Mason Box Co., in North Attleborough, said he is also starting to see signs of better times after a tough year. The 118-year-old box maker was forced to lay off about 30 percent of its workforce, which is now about 50.
    “The worst is past,’’ he said. “For those of us who’ve survived, as the economy comes back, we’re going to be able to take advantage of it.’’
    Robert Gavin can be reached at rgavin@globe.com.

  2. UK in the same boat? by Ralph Atkins, blogs.FT.com
    LONDON, England - I hope the European Central Bank will forgive me tinkering with one of their charts, but the cause is worthwhile. In a recent post, I included a chart from the ECB’s October monthly bulletin showing how unemployment rates in eurozone bore little resemblance to the severity of local recessions - which illustrated, strikingly, the effects of short-time working schemes, especially in countries such as Germany (DE on the chart). Spain (ES) and Ireland (IE), where unemployment has risen steeply, were the exceptions rather than the norm [huh? something missing here?]. I wrote in today’s newspaper about how government financed short-time working has led Europe to steal a march over the US, at least temporarily.
    The chart on the left reproduces that original ECB image but, thanks to my colleague Andrew Whiffin, adds on the UK and US. Unsurprisingly, it shows Spain and the US behaving in similar ways - although Spain’s jobless crisis has arguably more to do with losses of contract workers in construction and manufacturing.
    What struck me, however, was how similar the pattern is in the UK to the eurozone average.
    That seems strange as I always thought the UK labour market was more akin to that in the US. One explanation is that UK companies have used pay freezes or cuts as alternative to large-scale redundancy programmes. Or maybe it is a sign of just how much more aggressive US corporates have been in slashing jobs? Either way, perhaps continental European ways of thinking have spread across the Channel…

  3. CNN Reports on 'Porn Recession', by Steve Javors, XBIZNewswire.com
    NEW YORK, NY — It seems like CNN is just catching onto the effects the U.S. economy as a whole has had on the adult film industry — something those in the business have known for quite a while.
    The news agency posted a three-minute video report Tuesday on CNN.com from Kareen Wynter detailing the effects the economic downturn has had on the adult industry’s bottom line.
    “Business has been difficult; it’s been trying,” Wicked Pictures Vice President of Special Projects Joy King told CNN. “A lot of companies have gone out of business; companies are shooting fewer movies.”
    The brief piece also explores performers’ scene rates and the downturn in production.
    “Companies don’t have the budgets that they had five years ago,” King said. “So maybe where in the past a girl was making $1,200 a scene [the companies] may now say ‘I can only afford $1,000. Do you want the work?’”
    Also featured in the report is Lisa Ann who claims that online piracy and free online porn is hurting her website membership numbers to the tune of 30-50 percent.
    While the overall economic picture painted isn’t rosy, Wynter interviews new performer Angela Attison who saw porn as a new opportunity for herself and her family. She started performing after being laid off at her civilian job, and says that she makes two to three times more in porn than she did previously, and the shorter hours and fewer workdays allows Attison to spend more time with her children.
    “I never saw myself doing anything like this,” Attison told CNN. “It does pay more, and I’m working less, and I’m home with my kids more. I love that.”

  4. A social timebomb is set to explode in Britain - The true jobless total is already over five million – and the young are hardest hit,, by Edmund Conway. Telegraph.co.uk
    LONDON, England - One of my favourite moments from the television series The Wire comes towards the end of the first season. Two of the police officers who have been monitoring drug dealers arrive one morning to find that the area is deserted: no one is selling drugs, no one lounging on the street corners. "Maybe we won," suggests one cop.
    The reality, of course, is that this is only an interlude: the dealers have been lured away to an inter-gang basketball game. But I was reminded of that sense of false optimism this week, at a Royal Society of Arts discussion on youth unemployment. Someone asked Stephen Timms, Financial Secretary to the Treasury, why, when her organisation tried to provide a job centre with opportunities for young people, those working there insisted they didn't have enough applicants of the appropriate age. "Maybe," said Mr Timms, "you have to see that as a good sign."
    It was little wonder that his comment provoked gasps of disbelief. When it comes to youth unemployment, there is precious little good news. The number of people aged under 25 and out of work is now just below a million – around one in five. This is up by 184,000 in the past year, and still climbing. As everyone apart from the minister could see, the absence of youngsters from a job centre reflects not a let-up in the problem, but shortcomings in the bureaucracy intended to combat it. According to Professor David Blanchflower, a labour market expert and former Bank of England policy-maker, it is highly likely that overall unemployment – currently just under 2.5 million, or 7.9 per cent of the working population – will climb to 3.4 million within a couple of years.
    That would be higher than in the early 1980s, when the unemployment crisis was seen as just that – a social challenge of paramount importance, a cause for protests and riots. Yet so far, there has been far less handwringing, let alone any bold policies to deal with the issue.
    This perplexing state of affairs owes something to three factors. First, unemployment lags behind the rest of the economy, so we are not aware of how bad the picture will get, convincing ourselves that the flexibility of the labour market – the ability of firms to cut hours and pay – will save us.
    [Just cutting hours can save us, because since it cuts the labor surplus, it soon raises pay and spending and marketable productivity and sustainable investment. Think it through. If you can think even three moves ahead in chess, this should not be too hard for you.]
    Second, most of those losing their jobs are not those who find it easy to get their voices across – they are the young, the lower-paid, in the Midlands or the North. Third, economic policy before the 1980s had been explicitly aimed at fostering near-full employment; today's focus on inflation means unemployment is regarded as less of an issue.
    [Yes, the refocus was definitely suicidal everywhere it happened, because inflation is just nature's way of eroding the huge black hole of concentrated money-supply in the top tiny fraction of the population, who can't even find marketable productivity on that scale to sustainably invest it in let alone time or reason to spend it.]
    Yet this is an issue of paramount importance. The labour market is facing two crises: an immediate spike in unemployment, and a longer-term sclerosis after the slump is over. The first is primarily an economic issue, the second a social one, but both are due to government failure.
    [No, both are due to geniuses like you who are blind to the increasing distortion and dysfunction of constantly introducing worksaving technology and responding to it by downsizing the workforce (and the consumer base) instead of just the arbitrary "full time" workweek - and thereby maintaining the consumer base.]
    First things first: we must brace ourselves for further deterioration in the labour market. The most recent figures suggest that the picture is improving: by some measures, unemployment has actually stopped rising. But don't be fooled. For a start, many "discouraged workers" who would previously have been categorised as unemployed have been labelled "economically inactive". Include them, plus those forced to shift to part-time work, and the true jobless total is 5.6 million, or just under 15 per cent of the working population: not far below the 17 per cent level in the US.
    But there could be worse to come. The best way to work out what will happen to unemployment in a recession is to look at productivity – economic output per worker. Given there are fewer people in work, you'd expect that productivity would have risen, as those still in work took up the slack for absent colleagues. But in fact, productivity has fallen by almost 5 per cent, implying that firms have kept workers on despite there being less for them to do.
    Andrew Lilico of the think-tank Policy Exchange estimates that if employment shrinks to match the real level of demand in the economy, another two million will be on the dole. That would be a nasty enough prospect even if things had been hunky-dory before the crisis. But youth unemployment had been rising over the course of a decade: whether due to age discrimination laws, or the failings of the education system, employers have been luring old workers out of retirement rather than taking on youngsters. This problem – massively exacerbated by the recession – will burn a hole in the core of our economy and society if unchecked. Study after study has shown that youngsters who cannot find work are far more likely to enter permanent joblessness than someone who has already been in the labour market.
    The Government must find ways of encouraging companies to take on youngsters rather than grandparents. It must also – as Prof Blanchflower has suggested on these pages – find the money to keep more children in school, perhaps by immediately raising the leaving age to 18, or to create a system of national community or civic service. Extreme ideas, yes. But we still haven't yet absorbed how extreme this unemployment crisis will be.
    [It's amazing to hear these "experts" talk about how "the Government must also find the money to" do this and that - with nary a word about where they'll have to find it - namely, in the pockets of the diminishing number of people who have an exponentiating amount of it, the topmost brackets of the wealthy. What mental disconnects - and what impotent cowards - these "experts"!]


10/28/2009  bits and pieces of the timesizing solution in the news, reinvented thousands of times every day in every recession by mainly mid- and small-size companies, organizations and governments despite being *dismissed out-of-hand by many economists and business schools - with excerpting and [commenting] by Phil Hyde (ecdesignr@yahoo.ca) unless otherwise initialed -

  1. Archbishop of York Dr John Sentamu praises 'selfless' workers at Portakabin in Huntington, by Mark Stead, The Press via YorkPress.co.uk
    HUNTINGTON Village, metropolitan York, England - The Archbishop of York has hailed the “selflessness” of York workers who have opted to take an hours and pay cut to save 40 jobs.
    [Compare Obama's inaugural speech hailing "the selflessness of workers who would rather cut their hours than see a friend lose their job which sees us through our darkest hours" - which turned out to be empty rhetoric because Obama did not understand how developed this approach could become, how central and all-pervasive it was, being based in the pervasive time dimension, how powerful it was in terms of uniting people however diverse, and how fast he had to move on it - same as Hoover in 1932. And once this approach spreads, market forces responding to the reduced labor surplus restore pay - NO PAYCUT.]
    As revealed by The Press yesterday, hundreds of shop-floor employees at Huntington-based Portakabin have voting to adopt a short-time working initiative, in response to news that the firm was to make 75 redundancies due to the recession. 
    The decision will see the staff working one less day a week than they currently do from next month, and is expected to cost each of the 225 people affected more than £100 a week as Christmas approaches, with the reduction in hours possibly lasting until next summer.
    But it means 40 of the jobs threatened with the axe will be spared, although a further 35 positions elsewhere in the company are still in danger.
    The Archbishop of York, Dr John Sentamu, has now sent his own words of praise to the Portakabin workers for the move, which was agreed through negotiations between the firm’s bosses and the Unite union.
    Dr Sentamu said: “Using one’s potential to work is one of the characteristics which mark us out as human beings. I salute the workers at Portakabin for their gesture towards their colleagues and will visit them soon.
    “They have shown all of us the real meaning of partnership. We swim or sink together.
    “God bless their selflessness.”
    Coun. Andrew Waller, the leader of City of York Council said: “We are in very difficult times, and co-operation like this to maintain jobs is a positive sign.
    “What we need to do is to make sure that, through available training programmes, these employees can improve their skills for when the job market improves again.
    “I had agreed to meet with the Shepherd Group (which owns Portakabin) after the consultation period on these potential redundancies finishes to ask what we, as a council and with our partners, can do to help, because if there is Government money available that will assist the company and individuals.
    “It is clearly going to be a significant hit to the pay of these workers and their collaboration to pull together is admirable.
    “It is a sign that, in this city, people are prepared to take these sorts of steps to keep companies running.”
    Unite said 75 per cent of the workers balloted voted in favour of short-time working, which will begin on November 16.

  2. Eurozone feels benefit of short-time work schemes, by Robert Atkins, (10/29) Financial Times via ft.com
    FRANKFURT, Germany - More than a few continental Europeans will have given thanks in the past year for rigid, sclerotic labour markets doped-up with government subsidies.
    [In the future, the government subsidies will be unnecessary because fluctuating adjustment of the workweek against un(der)employment will harness market forces to optimally adjust wages.]
    Unemployment numbers tomorrow, while undoubtedly grim, will show eurozone joblessness has risen far less during the crisis than in the US.
    State-sponsored short-time working schemes - in which people work fewer hours while the government tops up their pay - plus employment protection laws and cultural factors mean that some of the largest European economies have curbed the social costs of the severe recession. And by shoring up domestic demand they have arguably helped their own economies recover as well as contribute to global stabilisation. In so doing, they have also raised the question of whether systems that provide a generous cushion at times of crisis and preserve productive capacity, which had come to be seen as sluggish and inefficient, are really so bad.
    According to the Paris-based Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, more than 20, mainly European, countries have introduced or expanded short-time working schemes during the current downturn.
    Even if tomorrow's figures show a further increase in September, eurozone unemployment in August, at 9.6 per cent of the workforce, was just 2.4 percentage points higher than at the low point in the current cycle, in February 2008. Over the same period in the US, where there are no such equivalent schemes, the unemployment rate rose by almost 5 percentage points to 9.7 per cent. That was despite the eurozone economy shrinking at a significantly faster rate. According to International Monetary Fund forecasts, eurozone gross domestic product will fall 4.2 per cent this year, against 2.7 per cent in the US.
    The contrast between output falls and rises in unemployment rises is even starker on a countryby-country basis. Spanish unemployment has soared as a result of the ending of short-term contracts in manufacturing and construction. But Germany and Italy have seen far smaller increases, despite their economies shrinking by more than 5 per cent. Dutch unemployment has remained stunningly low - just 3.5 per cent in August - despite its economy contracting almost as fast as Germany's.
    By international and historic standards, eurozone unemployment remains worryingly high and is likely to rise further next year. But countries such as Germany, which has made the most extensive use of short-term working measures, have demonstrated the tide can be held back, if not turned.
    Whereas US companies have aggressively cut staff, the German instinct has been to hoard labour. This at least partly explains why its GDP expanded in the second quarter, marking the formal end of Germany's recession (the cash-for-clunkers scheme also helped).
    Does all this mean that the textbooks on labour markets need rewriting? Not necessarily. The obvious danger of schemes that discourage companies from shedding labour is that they prevent economies adjusting to changed circumstances. Dennis Snower, head of the Kiel institute for world economics, argues that if short-time working schemes are used over a long period "you are likely to harm yourself because you are preventing a reallocation of resources". His hunch is that the global crisis is going to alter considerably the way economies tick. Against that background, shorttime working schemes "just set the wrong signal".
    The OECD takes a more sympathetic line. It accepts that short-time working allows companies to retain workers they might find hard to re-recruit later. European policymakers also have a greater incentive to prevent jobless queues lengthening; the experience of the 1970s oil shocks was that steep rises in unemployment in Europe take far longer to reverse than in the US.
    In the face of the sudden drop in global demand after Lehman's collapse last year, short-time schemes "have been pretty useful" and may have represented a good use of public money, says Stefano Scarpetta, head of OECD employment analysis.
    His concern, however, is that they will be deployed for too long. Companies "have to know there is a time limit", he says.
    Not everyone agrees a misallocation of resources is inevitable. Gustav Horn of the trade union-backed Hans-Böckler research foundation points out that even when on short-time working, staff can switch to jobs with better prospects. For him, Germany's embrace of short-time schemes is contributing to the global adjustment process by boosting domestic demand.
    More important, Germany may avoid the lasting scars of long-term unemployment. "You want to avoid it in all circumstances, and short-time working is one way of doing that," says Mr Horn.
    Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2009. You may share using our article tools. Please don't cut articles from FT.com and redistribute by email or post to the web.

  3. Magna-Steyr extends short-time work, Agence France-Presse via google.com/hostednews/afp
    VIENNA, Austria — Magna-Steyr, the Austrian arm of Canadian car parts supplier Magna International, said Wednesday it would extend short-time work by another six months for more than 3,000 employees.
    Magna-Steyr, which already put staff at its plants in Graz and Albersdorf on short-time work in November 2008, said it had been given the green light by the state labour agency AMS to extend the measure for a further six months.
    The Graz factory makes the BMW X3 model, but production is scheduled to be phased out next year.

  4. Business: home to bad debts, (10/29) Sydney Morning Herald,Australia via smh.com.au
    SYDNEY, Australia - The NAB profit result [National Australia Bank] shows that the Australian banks are now operating in a bipolar market. Against all expectations, the global crisis has not spread into a serious rise in defaults on household credit, including home loans, credit cards and personal loans.
    NAB has about $200 billion, or about 46¢ in every dollar it has loaned, in this sector of the economy, and the most startling comment from chief executive Cameron Clyne at yesterday's profit briefing was that the bank sees no deterioration of credit quality: To repeat, no deterioration: not just a little, but none. This in a year when NAB's overall charge for bad and doubtful debts leapt by $2.3 billion to $3.8 billion.
    The flip side, of course, is that the experience on business loans has been far worse; the source in fact of the bad debt problem.
    Clyne's comment suggests that the banks will endure a much milder bad debt cycle than had been expected. But until bad and doubtful business debts stop rising there will be uncertainty. Reserve Bank assistant governor Malcolm Edey highlighted that yesterday and pushed bank share prices lower when he noted that bad debts were concentrated in business lending portfolios, and warned that commercial property exposure was ''an area to watch''.
    Clyne said yesterday that the conditions were improving but that he was still cautious, and the caution was evident in a six-month increase in the bank's collective provision for loan losses as a percentage of risk-weighted assets excluding housing from 107 basis points to 147 basis points. The collective provision points to loan-default trends.
    That doesn't mean that Clyne's comment about household credit quality can be dismissed. The usual pattern in downturns is for loan losses to begin in big corporate portfolios, and it happened again this time as stock exchange boom-time stars hit the wall. Loan losses are then expected to spread to smaller businesses, and that is also what has happened: loans to smaller businesses are now the main source of loan losses.
    But if the profit results from ANZ today and Westpac next Wednesday confirm NAB's experience, we can declare that industrial relations reform, government stimulus and interest rate cuts have combined so far to quarantine households from the downturn.
    Government hand-outs worked to boost corporate revenue and underpin debt servicing capacity. The corporate debt service bill also came down because the Reserve Bank's interest rate cuts were passed down to business borrowers, albeit less completely than to home loan customers, who are, of course, more politically sensitive. More flexible work agreements also allowed companies that were experiencing earnings and debt-service pressure to cut hours worked, rather than jobs themselves.
    It's likely that the banks themselves have helped interrupt the bad debt transmission mechanism.
    They have been criticised for behaving brutally in credit rollover negotiations and for rationing credit, and have sometimes deserved it. But they have also been opting more than they have in the past for unofficial work-outs instead of receiverships and liquidations.
    This has been more out of necessity than kindness: asset prices collapsed during the crisis as buying demand evaporated, giving the banks no option in many cases but to stay in, and keep their clients on life support. Whatever the motivation, the result has been useful: fewer companies have been driven to the wall than expected, jobs have held up, and the bad debts cycle is set to be about half as bad as the one that accompanied the recession of the early 1990s.


10/27/2009  bits and pieces of the timesizing solution in the news, reinvented thousands of times every day in every recession by mainly mid- and small-size companies, organizations and governments despite being *dismissed out-of-hand by many economists and business schools - with excerpting and [commenting] by Phil Hyde (ecdesignr@yahoo.ca) unless otherwise initialed -

  1. Portakabin factory workers vote for shorter week, by Mark Stead, The Press via YorkPress.co.uk
    HUNTINGTON Village, metropolitan York, England - Workers at one of York’s major employers will make a pay sacrifice to stave off losing their jobs.
    Huntington-based Portakabin will not make 40 employees on its shop floor redundant after they voted for a short-time working programme which could cost each of them more than £100 a week.
    It will involve 225 staff working one less day a week and it could remain in force until next July.
    The move, instigated after discussions with the Unite union, was made after Portakabin revealed earlier this month it was set to make 75 redundancies, although 35 other jobs remain in danger.
    A Portakabin spokesman said: “We are pleased to confirm that, during the consultation process between the company and the trade unions, a proposal was agreed for short-time working as an alternative to the redundancy of 40 positions in the factory. This proposal was put to a ballot last Friday and was accepted by a substantial majority. The short time working – a three-and-a-half day week rather than four-and-a-half – will take effect from November 16.
    “The remaining 35 positions potentially redundant are still the subject of consultation and are either staff positions or in hire centres across the country.”
    Unite said the proposal, which made “preserving jobs the highest priority”, equated to working eight-and-a-half hours less a week, and that 75 per cent of the staff balloted were in favour of it.
    John Taylor, the union’s convenor at Portakabin, said: “Short-time working is better than looking for a job elsewhere in the current climate and staff also wanted to do this for the company.
    “It will potentially remain in force until next July, although it can be looked at again if more business comes in. There is still a lot of concern among the workforce, but they see this as the sensible option.”

  2. Deal grants Queensland doctors shorter hours, by Sarah Elks, TheAustralian.news.com.au
    QUEENSLAND, Australia - Doctors will be banned from working shifts longer than 12hours in an effort to fight dangerous doctor fatigue in Queensland's public hospitals.
    The changes come after Queensland Health was slammed for its fatigue management policies, which reportedly recommended that doctors imbibe caffeine equivalent to five or six cups of coffee daily to fight tiredness.
    In a $354 million pay deal struck between the Bligh government and doctors in the state's public hospitals, nearly 5500 Queensland Health medical officers will receive a 12.5 per cent pay rise over threeyears.
    As well as the pay boost, doctors will be restricted from working marathon shifts and will be required to take appropriate fatigue breaks.
    After the first 12 months of the deal, resident medical officers will be allowed to work a maximum of 14 hours at a time.
    In two years, this will be reduced even further to a maximum shift-length of 12hours.
    Resident and senior medical officers will also be expected to take a 10-hour fatigue break between shifts, before being required to be on-duty again.
    Queensland Health Minister Paul Lucas told the parliament it was vital that the new guidelines be introduced gradually, so as not to compromise patient care.
    "This rostering needs to be implemented gradually to ensure our junior doctors have the appropriate supervision and access to training they need," Mr Lucas said.
    "It also means that there will be sufficient staffing levels to ensure patient care and services are not compromised while the new rosters are introduced."
    Mr Lucas said Queensland had employed more than 2100 extra doctors since 2005, when the last salaried doctor agreement was struck.
    By 2011, he said, Queensland would have nearly tripled the number of medical graduates to 644, compared with 250 in 2005.
    In a ballot late on Monday, 60per cent of Queensland's salaried doctors voted in favour of the agreement.
    Before the poll, the state's branch of the Australian Medical Association was urging its members to vote in favour of the deal.
    "We know the agreement isn't perfect, but it is on the right track and may be the best Queensland Health is in a position to offer," AMAQ president Mason Stevenson said in a statement on Monday.
    Queensland Health is now seeking formal ratification of the agreement by the state's Industrial Relations Commission.
    The department could not say last night whether Queensland's action on maximum shift lengths was a national first.

  3. WORK MORE, EARN LESS - Sarkozy appoints 1.65 billion Euro for agriculture, Javno.com/en-world/
    [This is in a kind of franglais that we've tried to clean up a bit.]
    The head of state commented in Poligny on an absolutely extraordinary agriculture crisis. A support plan includes aid in billions of Euros
    POLIGNY, dépt de Jura, France - Nicolas Sarkozy was particularly anticipated this Tuesday in Poligny in the Jura for his speech on agriculture. FNSEA [Fédération nationale des syndicats d'exploitants agricoles = National Federation of Unions of Agricultural Improvers] requested assistance in cash, a reduction of expenses and reduced labour costs to alleviate the farmers for a total of 2 billion euros.
    In a speech entitled "A new future for our agriculture", the head of state deplored an "unprecedented crisis." "No sector is spared, no region is spared. This crisis reached therefore the very core of our society," he said. In his own words, "The impact of the crisis on the first sector of the country [=public sector?] includes a turnover [=expenditure?] of 163 billion euros, which is well ahead of industry [=private sector?]. It affects 1.6 million of assets, 3.6 million pensioners in total," Sarkozy added.
    650 million of outstanding [=potential?] State support
    A plan to support the agricultural sector will thus be established. This plan includes: 1 billion euros in bank loans and 650 million of outstanding state support. Nicolas Sarkozy said that the real interest rate loans would be reduced to 1.5% or 1% for young farmers and a 200 million euros budget would be allocated to reduce the interest cost of Bonds due in 2009 and 2010 by some farmers in difficulty.
    "This crisis requires of us either control or submissiveness, and I choose the first option. I refuse to let French agriculture be controlled by the crisis," added the head of state. "There is no question of France abandoning its agriculture," he insisted. Nicolas Sarkozy’s plea for this sector is somewhat unusual, but farmers on the other hand are a hard core of voters.
    Regulate agricultural prices
    The head of state called for a strong initiative by the European Commission to ensure "real regulation" of agricultural commodities prices. "In the area of procurement of agricultural commodities, Europe must implement an effective control," he said adding: "France calls upon the European Commission to take the initiative in this area in order to put an end to growing speculation and (to) supervise financial derivatives in its markets. The idea that market omnicompetence should be constrained by any rule or political intervention, this idea (...) is a crazy idea," confirmed head of the state.
    [Sarkozy seems incapable of learning from, or even seeing the obvious.]
    Strengthen dairy-market regulation
    Moreover, Nicolas Sarkozy expressed a wish that the European Commission should take a faster lane and propose regulations for the dairy industry. "At the request of France and Germany, the European Commission has established a working group to prepare measures for better organization of the dairy industry," he said.
    "At the rate of one meeting per month, the Commission's conclusions are expected in June," he said. "These delays are unacceptable. Its work has to reach a faster lane. If the European Commission cares to preserve its right of initiative, it must offer operational solutions more adapted to reality," he said.
    The head of the State will therefore demand at the European Council on October 30th that the European Commission propose early in 2010 the strengthening of dairy-market regulatory tools. Nicolas Sarkozy will speak on the issue tomorrow, Wednesday, with German Chancellor Angela Merkel whom will he receive at the Elysée dinner.
    Encourage groups of producers
    President Nicolas Sarkozy has also suggested that support be provided to encourage further branching in producers grouping. "I only hope that the support granted will encourage further branching in producers grouping to weigh in marketing channels," said the head of state. "Half of French fruits and vegetables farms adhere to a producer organization. For this particular half, we have in France 285 producer organizations, all five retail brands. is it reasonable?" wondered Nicolas Sarkozy.
    Exemption of employer costs for seasonal workers
    Nicolas Sarkozy also decided to exempt all employer costs due to the Agricultural Social Insurance for seasonal workers, to reduce the gap in the cost of labour with other European countries. "We'll put you in a fight on equal terms with your competitors," he said.
    "We produce tomatoes with labour costs 12 euros an hour. The problem is that our neighbours produce seven euros an hour or six," said the president. "It is clear that 35 hours have been a disaster for agriculture and for all sectors of French business," he added. "So I decided to exempt all employers’ contributions owed to the Agricultural Social Insurance for seasonal workers. This represents a cost of 170 million euros," he said.
    [Sarkozy is a retard who worshipped the USA in its decade of fastest self-destruction and apparently would like to return to seven 12-hour days and the same sordid living standards we see in the unpublicized 80% of the Chinese economy. He is eager to involve France as deeply in a race to the bottom as the Bush regime involved the once-great USA.]


10/25-26/2009  bits and pieces of the timesizing solution in the news, reinvented thousands of times every day in every recession by mainly mid- and small-size companies, organizations and governments despite being *dismissed out-of-hand by many economists and business schools - with excerpting and [commenting] by Phil Hyde (ecdesignr@yahoo.ca) unless otherwise initialed -

  1. Lansing City Council hopefuls eye budget fixes, by Melissa Domsic, 10/25 LansingStateJournal.com
    LANSING. Mich. - Candidates for Lansing City Council have varying ideas for dealing with the city's budget, ranging from furloughs and shorter workweeks to millages and consolidating services with other localities.
    Seven candidates and one write-in candidate are vying for four, four-year city council terms in the Nov. 3 election.
    Kathie Dunbar, who is running for her second at-large term, said the city will have to consider furloughs or shorter workweeks to make up for the expected loss of $1.8 million in state revenue sharing for this fiscal year.
    "To avoid layoffs, if that's where we're going, it means a shorter workweek of some type," she said.
    "In the long term you can also negotiate health care savings (and) increased revenue sources."
    Dunbar said she's not in favor of unilaterally raising taxes but could support voter-approved millages for specific programs.
    Brian Jeffries, who has served on the council since 2002, also said he wouldn't mind millages.
    Without revenue boosts, Jeffries said the city eventually will have to consider cutting police and fire budgets, because parks and other service departments can't continue to bear the brunt of cutbacks.
    Harold Leeman Jr. hopes to return to the council. He served for 12 years until 2007, and is seeking an at-large spot.
    Leeman wants to cut expenses by getting police, fire and other public service departments together to talk about regional consolidation.
    "We need to bite the bullet when it comes to regionalizing certain things," he said. "People talk about it, but no one wants to go the extra mile to get it done."
    Newcomer at-large candidate Rina Risper suggests the city stop funding the director of faith-based initiatives job.
    The director of community and faith-based initiatives is a part time position with a $25,000 salary, said David Maxwell, who holds that job.
    Risper said it should be an unpaid volunteer position with an advisory board.
    She also wants the city to launch an interactive Web site to allow residents to weigh in on the budget and what services they want funded.
    "I don't think that a lot of people have a very good idea of what we're looking at as far as the budget is concerned," she said.
    Most candidates have voiced support for more neighborhood improvements.
    "I think it's fair to say there's been a lot more emphasis placed on the activities downtown," Jeffries said.
    He said he'd like to use more tax incentives to promote homeownership and home improvements, as well as street and sidewalk improvements.
    Leeman said he hears a lot of negative comments from residents who say the downtown is unfairly favored, but he said there's work happening in the neighborhoods all the time.
    In the second ward, newcomer Tina Houghton is running against Sandy Allen, who is seeking her fifth term.
    The second ward covers the city's southeast side.
    Allen contends the city could save money by consolidating its three police stations into one. She said it shouldn't delay officers' response times because they typically patrol different neighborhoods for their beats.
    "I don't think Lansing is large enough to have three stations for the police department," she said.
    Allen also supports dipping into the city's $10.6 million reserve fund to balance the budget without tax increases.
    Houghton, however, said she wouldn't recommend using any of the reserve money to balance the budget.
    "It's maybe time to look at maybe a shorter work week or some furlough days," she said.
    Houghton said the city needs to work closer with school officials to improve the district's image.
    "The schools are such an intricate part of the city," she said. "That's the first thing people look at when they move here for a job."
    First-time candidate Jessica Yorko is running for the fourth ward seat. Dennis Burdick, who lost in the August primary, registered as a write-in candidate after Chris Lewless pulled out of the race.
    The fourth ward includes parts of the city's west side and northwest corner.
    Yorko said her priorities are retaining and creating jobs as well as growing revenues.
    "I think there are a lot of creative tools out there for retaining residents and retaining companies that I would want to focus on that first and foremost so other city revenues don't continue to drop," she said.
    Among those tools are tax incentives for economic development, beautifying public spaces and partnering with Michigan State University to promote entrepreneurship, she said.
    Burdick said he's not interested in raising city taxes or fees.
    "I'd look at reducing wages for city council, mayor, city clerk," he said.

  2. OPINION: Government policy risks severe deflationary shock - A short, sharp correction is too simplistic and could collapse not just public service provision but the whole economy, by DAVID BEGG, 10/26 IrishTimes.com
    DUBLIN, Ireland - In the current discourse about the economy we must never forget that real people are suffering, especially those who have lost their jobs. There are now 428,000 people on the live register. The corrosive effect of this – the risk of long-term unemployment and the pressure on the public finances – emphasises the need for a holistic approach to the crisis.
    Simplistic solutions like the short, sharp correction don’t cut it at all. Jobs, their protection and creation, must be at the heart of everything we do. It is important to realise that finding a way out of our current crisis is not just an economic challenge. A country is much more than an economy and it is this point of departure that motivated Ictu to launch the Get Up Stand Up campaign.
    This is a political-economy challenge of the first order. The National Economic and Social Council has rightly identified five sub-crises – economic, fiscal, banking, social and reputational – which cannot be dealt with in a partial or sequential way. Our Better, Fairer Way document offers an alternative solution on these lines.
    The response of most governments to the global recession is to try to compensate for a decline in private sector activity by means of a public stimulus. Because of the unique failure of the banking-developer nexus, and the imprudent reliance on property-related transaction taxes, a large segment of our tax base has evaporated. Thus we have not reacted with a stimulus in response to unemployment as other countries have. In fact, public policy is focused on reducing the public sector.
    From recent discussions it is clear that these problems are viewed through different prisms by Government and Ictu. In a nutshell the Government intends to cut €4 billion from public expenditure in the forthcoming budget. This is a major change in policy since April, when the stated intention was to achieve this adjustment through a combination of tax increases and expenditure cuts. The intention is also to restore public borrowing to a level of 3 per cent of GDP by 2013. This is highly unrealistic and potentially catastrophic. It runs the risk of imparting a severe deflationary shock to the economy which could precipitate a prolonged slump, as happened in Japan during the “lost decade” of the 1990s.
    There is an alternative; it will not prevent pain and hardship, but it is better and fairer.
    There is no iron rule which says that the adjustment has to be completed by 2013. Whatever other problems Ireland has, it has at least entered this recession with the lowest debt-to-GDP ratio in Europe. The Bruges Group, a centre-right policy body, recently published a paper forecasting that the average debt-to-GDP ratio in the EU would rise to 90 per cent and that several countries would exceed that. So we have some headroom to temporarily increase borrowing. The Bruges paper suggests the desirability of a co-ordinated EU effort to get the average figure down to 75 per cent again by 2020. This is an even longer timescale than we would suggest.
    I do think it is instructive to look at how Britain is handling a similar challenge, although one larger in scope because they have to achieve an adjustment of £100 billion. Current treasury policy is to make the adjustment over eight years. Both the Economist and the Financial Times have opined that fiscal tightening (cuts) should not begin until the economy has started to recover. This is the context in which we have proposed elongating our adjustment period until 2017. To force a quicker pace runs the risk of not just collapsing public service provision in key areas, but of collapsing the economy. The Government is playing for very high stakes here, and they are playing with our chips!
    The Better, Fairer Way also involves progressive taxation. It is believed there is currently €1.8 billion out there in uncollected taxes. Moreover, the huge windfall gains made during the boom cannot all have evaporated. It stretches credulity to suggest that they have. It is also worth noting that Britain is introducing a 50 per cent rate of tax for very high earners. Nothing, except ideological blinkers, stops us from doing the same here.
    We cannot see this process solely as an economic issue; in fact, the social dimension is far more important. We need to create space for ourselves as a society to engage with the crushing problems of unemployment, home repossessions and the collapse of private sector pensions. The Better, Fairer Way has proposals on these, including keeping people in jobs by means of Government-supported worksharing. Germany has successfully pioneered this approach and has kept 1.4 million people in employment, a fact that played no small part in getting Angela Merkel re-elected.
    There is no pain-free way out of our difficulties, whether in the private or public sectors. But what we can do is ensure that the heaviest burden is borne by those with the broadest shoulders.
    David Begg is general secretary of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions. He is also a governor of the Irish Times Trust, proprietor of The Irish Times

    .

  3. Germany preparing for post-slump labour crunch [LOL], 10/25 Agence France-Presse via AFP via Google.com
    FRANKFURT, Deutschland (Germany) — German companies' order books are thin and people are working shorter hours, but some firms warn that qualified staff are hard to find as they recruit ahead of an anticipated rebound.
    [Don't count your rebounds before they 'hatch.']
    At Trumpf, a family-owned company near Stuttgart in southwestern Germany, 80 percent of its 4,500 workers have been working reduced hours since July because demand for its industrial stamping and metal cutting machines has slumped.
    Trumpf's orders fell by 35 percent in the fiscal year that ended on June 30.
    Thanks to measures introduced by the German government to keep a lid on unemployment during its worst recession since World War II, Trumpf is paying its workers less for fewer hours, and the taxpayer is making up the rest so that employees still go home with a full pay packet.
    But that should not keep the company from hiring 25 engineers fresh out of college during this business year and having them work the same short hours as other workers, spokesman Ingo Schnaitmann said.

    "We absolutely want to avoid the same thing that happened in the 1990s," he said. "No one hired because of a crisis so fewer and fewer young people studied engineering, and when the economy rebounded we were stuck."
    German bosses say that a lack of skilled labour could threaten the country's position as the leading European exporter and number two worldwide, behind China.
    [And don't get dependent on exports. Your strength is in what you control = your domestic consumer base + employment basement.]
    What Trumpf and others are doing now would have been forbidden before, but the national employment agency understands the problem and has eased rules so companies can begin to recruit even as they receive state subsidies.
    [Sustainable as long as they're not recruiting from anywhere but the underemployed portion of their own population.]
    The worst of the economic crisis came just a few months ago, and even though unemployment is still forecast to increase in early 2010, "there are still more job offers for engineers than candidates," according to Michael Stahl.
    [So cut the chest-thumping and streamline training.]
    He is in charge of training issues for the German metal and electronics federation Gesamtmetall.
    The employers federation BDA also recently spoke of a lack of 60,000 qualified workers, almost all in technical professions.
    Gesamtmetall and others are therefore doing all they can to make sure companies have skilled staff and young engineers as soon as business picks up.
    That is expected to happen fairly soon, according to leading economic indicators which suggest Germany is finally pulling out of recession.
    [Economic indicators "suggested" this all through the Great Depression, which only ended with the 44-42-40 workweek in 1938-39-40 as unemployment went 19.0-17.2-14.6%, uncredited because of distraction on to Lend Lease in March/1941 and Pearl Harbor in Dec., whereupon the old wasteful way of restoring the prosperity-maintaining money-centrifuging labor "shortage" (actually a balance at last, instead of a wage-pummeling labor surplus) ramped up, kidnapping 100,000s of the workforce, sending them overseas and getting them killed and injured them, to the immense profit and job security of the one industry, weapons.]
    In the southern state of Bavaria, Gesamtmetall has created a kind of temporary work agency, which hires young graduates and "lends" them to companies while keeping them on the body's payroll.
    ["Body's payroll"?? Is this machine mistranslation for corp. or corporate or corporation's payroll based on "corpse" = body?]
    "That way they do not become a charge on the companies," Stahl said.
    For some firms, hiring new workers is delicate because they are needed but banks look closely at payroll numbers when they decide whether or not to extend credit.
    Tighter credit conditions associated with the slowdown have hit the German manufacturing sector more than construction and services, a study released last month by the Ifo economic think tank found.
    [IFO = Institut für Wirtschaftsforschung (=Wirtschafts Forschung) = Institute for Economic Research.]
    But once the crisis has passed, it is hoped companies will hire the temporary workers full time.
    The main objective is that "young graduates do not lose their training, and that they don't go looking in other sectors" for work, said Holger Wuchold from the machine tools federation VDMA.
    Federation members, a strong force in the German industrial landscape, were among those who have suffered the most in recent years from a lack of skilled staff.
    The lack is a result of several factors, including an ageing society and a trend by young workers away from scientific and technical professions.
    In the former communist east Germany, where the birth rate plunged in the 1990s
    [and in Russia too - there's a lesson in here for capitalists if they believe their own rhetoric about population growth being Good even under conditions of global overpopulation.]
    and emigration towards western parts of the country has been strong, the labour pool will be drained of two million workers by 2025, a study by the IAB Institute for Employment Research showed.

  4. Scania sees bumpy 2010 recovery in truck market, by Niklas Pollard and Johannes Hellstrom, 10/26 Reuters
    STOCKHOLM, Sweden - Truck maker Scania AB on Monday cautioned that strengthening order books and a leveling off in the downturn in its key western European would not bring a quick rebound next year.
    Beating forecasts for third-quarter operating profit provided more signs that truck makers, boosted by sweeping cost cuts, are slowly emerging from a virtual free-fall in demand on both sides of the Atlantic, but a recovery looks to be sluggish.
    "Order intake is a little bumpy still and we see no quick rebound of the European economies or demand for heavy commercial vehicles during 2010," Scania Chief Executive Leif Ostling told a news conference.
    "Maybe in 2011 it will come back a little bit," he added, warning that a short-time work scheme would be extended into 2010.
    Scania shares, buoyed last week by better than expected results from larger rival Volvo AB, reversed early gains to stand 1.7 percent lower at 94.6 crowns versus a 0.5 percent fall in the Stockholm bourse all share index.
    Operating earnings tumbled to 519 million Swedish crowns ($76 million) from a year-ago 2.82 billion, topping the average 246 million seen in a Reuters poll of 16 analysts.
    "EBIT was better due to the cost savings biting better while at the same time they have raised capacity utilization during the quarter," Handelsbanken analyst Hampus Engellau said.
    "The order intake during the quarter is up for the third quarter in a row, and all in all it is better than expected on the back of Europe and Latin America."
    Over the past year European truck makers have been savaged by the steepest market downturn in decades which pulled the plug on years of booming demand.
    Massive stimulus measures from governments and central banks has helped spawn some measure of activity in the highly cyclical heavy-duty market though demand remains dismal.
    Last week, results from rivals Volvo and Germany's Daimler AG indicated that demand in the hard-hit sector was slowly recovering.
    Scania, which like its peers has scrambled to cut costs to cope with the downturn, said orders for trucks fell 6 percent year-on-year in the third quarter compared with a 55 percent drop in the previous quarter.
    "Compared to the second quarter of 2009, total truck order bookings increased by 30 percent and surpassed the level of deliveries," the company said.
    "The European truck market is characterized by low economic activity, but in Scania's judgment the downturn in western European demand has now leveled off."
    In Latin America, demand remained relatively strong while some recovery was seen in Asia, Scania added.
    Scania, majority-controlled by Germany's Volkswagen after a $4 billion deal last year, said sales fell to 13.4 billion crowns from a year-ago 20.4 billion to come in just below the 13.6 billion seen by analysts.
    Cash flow was positive to the tune of 1.1 billion Swedish crowns in the quarter, up from a 794 million a year ago, as sweeping cost cuts helped the group face the weaker demand.
    Like a string of other Swedish engineering firms, Scania in June introduced a four-day working week and related pay cuts for 12,000 employees in its Swedish operations.
    The deal for shorter working hours, agreed with labor unions, is to last for six months and came with a pledge by the company not to carry out any further job cuts during the period.
    "Definitely we need to continue some form of short working week for also part of next year. That is what we see in the cards today," Ostling said, adding he hoped to reach an agreement with unions at the end of November or early December.

    (Additional reporting by Victoria Klesty; Editing by David Cowell)
    ($1=6.830 Swedish Crown)


10/24/2009  bits and pieces of the timesizing solution in the news, reinvented thousands of times every day in every recession by mainly mid- and small-size companies, organizations and governments despite being *dismissed out-of-hand by many economists and business schools - with excerpting and [commenting] by Phil Hyde (ecdesignr@yahoo.ca) unless otherwise initialed -

  1. RV worker gets job back, but now he's saddled with debt. BY KARI HUUS kari.huus@msnbc.com, Elkhart Truth,Elkhart,IN via etruth.com
    The summer brought badly needed good news for Marlin Hostetler: He was called back to work building recreational vehicles in July. Now he once more has a $35-an-hour job on the production line at Keystone RV -- just like the one he left when he was laid off by Keystone in August 2008.
    But the world looks different to Hostetler.
    "Someone asked me if there was a light at the end of the tunnel," he said. "I said 'yeah, there's a candle, and the wind is blowing right at it.'"
    Like the community and economy as a whole, the 36-year-old Hostetler has a long climb to get back to where he was before the recession broadsided him. He and his family no longer have their own home, they are mired in debt and there is little assurance the RV rebound will last.
    The upheaval started on Aug. 7, 2008. As usual, Hostetler had started working at the Goshen plant at 4:30 that morning. At a 9:30 a.m. meeting, management slashed 290 positions, including his -- a result of plummeting sales of recreational vehicles. The cuts were effective immediately.
    "We got our last paychecks and that evening our insurance dropped us," he said.
    He and his Keystone colleagues were far from alone. Hundreds of workers who had been laid off from other area factories after demand for RVs plummeted by 30 percent also were looking for work. Making it harder to compete, Hostetler had been raised in the local Amish community, and, as is the custom, had not attended school after ninth grade.
    The primary breadwinner in the family -- his wife works outside the home about five hours a week cleaning offices -- Hostetler moved quickly to shore up the family resources after his layoff.
    Realizing he would not be able to keep up with the payments on their house in Goshen, he put it on the market immediately, avoiding foreclosure but selling it at a loss.
    "We got out from under it, but it crashed our credit," he said.
    He and his then-pregnant wife, Waneta, and two young sons moved to Shipshewana in neighboring LaGrange County to live with her parents, which was devastating to their sons Bailey, 8, and Brady, 6.
    "The toughest part was taking the children away from their friends and school," said Hostetler. "Just to see our boys go through that was a dagger to me."
    Initially Hostetler was able to find work on short-term construction jobs, which would take him away from his family -- by this time including his newborn son, Kaden -- for weeks at a time. Later he got a job working in a furniture store in Shipshewana. These jobs paid about $10 an hour -- better than nothing, but less than one third what he was earning at Keystone.
    The family pared back spending to a bare minimum. They leaned on their faith -- their church congregation occasionally helped with finances and food.
    "We stayed home as much as possible, because if you stay home you don't spend money," said Hostetler. "We had something like three different garage sales. We sold anything we didn't need -- furniture, picture frames, lamps -- you'd be amazed."
    They used the money, about $3,000 total, to buy food and put gasoline in their van. When it was nice outside, he would ride his bike to work.
    While grateful to be employed again at Keystone, and to have a free place for his family to stay, Hostetler has a long road to get back on sound financial footing.
    He is chipping away at $25,000 in credit card debt and saving to make a bigger down payment should they be able to buy another house -- a goal that he says seems out of reach for now.
    But he's cautious. The family is keeping a tight budget -- one that accounts for the likelihood that Keystone will cut hours, if not jobs, in the fall and winter months.
    Hostetler has continued working a few hours a week at the furniture store, where the owner has assured him he can take on more hours if he needs to.
    It's a modest back-up plan, but offers peace of mind in uncertain times.
    "It's a blessing," Hostetler said.

  2. Training level may determine job security - Technology will demand greater expertise as manufacturing sector seeks post-recession rebound, by Charlie Mathews, Herald Times Reporter via HTReporter.com
    MANITOWOC, Wisc. — Even with unemployment levels double a year ago, on Friday afternoon the Job Center of Wisconsin's Web site listed more than 100 openings in Manitowoc County.
    The Manitowoc Company has several openings, including the director of enterprise application … with annual pay starting at $80,000.
    Aurora's health network is seeking radiology personnel and a nurse anesthetist while Point Beach Nuclear Plant has numerous employment opportunities. Even Manitowoc County, which has laid off about 50 individuals in 2009, has an opening for a corrections officer.
    But will a struggling economy — that might be near the end of the recession that began 18 months ago — sustain job growth? Or will many of the 7.2 million jobs the economy has shed in the United States since December 2007 never come back?
    Interviews with labor analysts, manufacturing executives and health-care network administrators offered a variety of perspectives with, perhaps, one common theme — more highly trained individuals have the best opportunity to keep or land a job.
    "There are going to be a lot of jobs coming out of this recession [oh yeah? on what consumer base and employee basement?] but they will require even higher levels of skill and the ability to use even more sophisticated technology," said Jim Golembeski, executive director of the Bay Area Workforce Development Board.
    Even though 60,000 manufacturing jobs have been lost statewide since the current recession began, Wisconsin now has more individuals employed in that sector than any other state.
    Just a few years ago, Golembeski and others believed a tremendous talent gap might strike around 2010, robbing manufacturers and others of critical skills.
    "The Baby Boomers are still aging but some of us may remain in the workforce … retirement plans aren't where we want them to be," Golembeski said of not fully recovered 401(k) accounts.
    "There will be tremendous entrepreneurial opportunities as manufacturers downsize," Golembeski said. "They may not need as many people to tend the machines but will need people to repair them, bring the company to the next level of technology."
    'Want local sourcing'
    Owner Tom Jagemann said Jagemann Stamping in Manitowoc is down to about 160 employees, from more than 200 a year ago. "Sales are down and we are getting more efficient," he said.
    "My gut says the economy will come back slow, giving companies the time to implement technology reducing the need for labor," Jagemann said. "I agree there will be a shortage of skilled people needed to operate those technologies."
    He believes several factors may result in jobs coming back to the U.S. from overseas including shipping costs, currency exchange rates and quality expectations.
    "We are quoting work for national companies that want local sourcing and we are very competitive," Jagemann said.
    But Golembeski and Jagemann agreed health-care costs, specifically ever-escalating health insurance premiums, will stifle re-employment even as the volume of work escalates.
    "Health-care costs are a growth-stunting mechanism," Golembeski said. Jagemann said his company will rely on paying overtime to a smaller work force before bringing laid-off employees back into the plant and on the benefits roster.
    Jeff Sachse, state Department of Workforce Development regional labor market analyst for Northeastern Wisconsin, said manufacturing is not down as much as expected.
    He believes construction re-employment may lag because economic stimulus tax credits didn't spur building until later in the summer. Sachse said retailers might be hiring this Christmas season if efforts to drive more people to brick and mortar stores are successful.
    Health care employment 'flat'
    Aurora Medical Center and clinics in Manitowoc County continue to employ about 650 "full-time equivalents" with Holy Family Memorial's health network at about 970 FTEs.
    The health-care industry is known for aggressively flexing their number of employees and hours they work depending on patient volume while maintaining statewide minimum standards even if, for example, no mothers are scheduled to deliver newborns on the obstetrics unit.
    Steven Long, Aurora's local chief administrative officer, said a decline in elective surgeries has been offset by more taking advantage of rehabilitative medicine.
    "Health care is different than other industries … a very hands-on field that limits the reduction in people you can have," Long said. "It also has traditionally required a high level of skill."
    Adding technology often increases labor needs, he said.
    Laura Fielding, Holy Family Memorial's administrative director of organizational development, said overtime is rare. She noted the same patient usage trends as Aurora.
    "We do try to come up with new services, new ways of providing things," Fielding said.
    Her network has created "Get Well" and "Stay Well" baskets with a collection of items — for example, cough medicine, aspirin, throat lozenges, tissues, hand wipes, sanitizers — designed to be picked up or delivered to individuals combating cold and-or flu.
    'Employment gains always lag'
    "We think the economy has bottomed out," said Dennis Winters, chief of the office of economic advisers for the DWD, after reviewing the most recent unemployment data, released Wednesday.
    Winters said the unemployment rate dropping two months in a row is "encouraging … (but) it will take another month or two to make us true believers."
    In September, the unemployment rate for the city of Manitowoc was 10.2 percent, down from 11.7 percent in August, but more than double the 4.7 percent of September 2008.
    The county's unemployment rate was 8.5 percent, down from 9.6 percent in August, but way above the 4.1 percent in September 2008.
    However, the labor pool was smaller because of people returning to school and long-term unemployed dropping out of the work force.
    Winters said employment gains always lag economic gains. "Businesses have to be convinced demand has increased before they will make commitments to add new staff," he said. "How long the employment lags will be determined by the strength of the recovery."
    'Every job is critical'
    Michael Fredrich doesn't buy into any talk that the U.S. can't be a strong manufacturing nation.
    "I think we can beat the world in manufacturing productivity and innovation," said Fredrich, president of MCM Composites, a Manitowoc thermoset plastics manufacturer.
    But he has an important caveat. Fredrich said Wisconsin must cut state taxes and the size of government.
    His company has stayed at about 45 employees during 2009 but most work no more than three-and-a-half days per week.
    "We didn't have any fat (before the recession started) and we can't eliminate any muscle," Fredrich said.
    He said his employees recognize the need to cut hours to maintain a strong financial position for the company.
    Fredrich agreed with others on the need for recruiting and retaining highly skilled people to run sophisticated technology, including a new $125,000 molding machine he purchased in the past month.
    "But every job in an organization is important … every job is critical," he said.


10/23/2009  bits and pieces of the timesizing solution in the news, reinvented thousands of times every day in every recession by mainly mid- and small-size companies, organizations and governments despite being *dismissed out-of-hand by many economists and business schools - with excerpting and [commenting] by Phil Hyde (ecdesignr@yahoo.ca) unless otherwise initialed -

  1. New York State Layoff Aversion Program Saves Thousands of Jobs This Year - Dept. of Labor Releases 8-Month Report on Shared Work News From New York State Dept. of Labor, press release via (10/22) ReadMedia.com
    ALBANY, NY -- Governor David A. Paterson announced today that the Department of Labor's *Shared Work program saved more than 10,500 jobs statewide in the first eight months of this year, attracting more than 1,800 companies to participate more than three times the number of companies that took part in Shared Work in all of 2008.
    "During this economic crisis, government needs to respond and the Shared Work program has delivered time and time again," said Governor David A. Paterson. "Helping keep one company from laying off one worker is a good day, helping keep over 1,800 companies from laying off more than 10,000 workers is striking and a prime example of government working for the people."

    Commissioner M. Patricia Smith said Shared Work has performed exactly as intended, saving jobs while allowing companies to cut costs and survive in this difficult economic climate. The Commissioner pointed to the success, as she called for more companies to contact the Department of Labor to take advantage of the program.
    Thomas Marusak, founder and President of Comfortex Corporation in Watervliet, NY, whose company has been using the Shared Work Program for at least a decade, encourages other businesses across the state to take advantage of the program. "If you don't know about the Shared Work program, you have to seek out an application to this program immediately because it's one of the best programs that New York State offers."
    Shared Work gives employers a [temporary] alternative to layoffs.
    [Timesizing gives employers a permanent alternative to layoffs.]
    Rather than lay off a percentage of workers to cut costs, an employer can reduce hours of all or a particular group of employees.
    Those employees can use the program to collect unemployment insurance benefits to make up for the lost wages. The Shared Work program allows employees to retain their health insurance, retirement, vacation pay or other fringe benefits.
    The benefit for a participating company is they keep the skilled and trained worker during the economic downturn. When business picks up, the employer does not have to find new workers and train them.
    "If you are a business in trouble and you're thinking of laying off workers -- before you make a move, contact the Department of Labor to see what we can offer you." said Smith.
    Shared Work Statewide Totals January 1, 2007 - September 9, 2009
    Year Firms JobsSaved (estimated)
    2007 293 2,771
    2008 483 4,030
    2009 1,858 10,500
    Martina Julian, a Comfortex employee, says the program saved her job. "I would have had to take another job to help pay for my bills and everything," she noted.
    To participate in the program, an employer must have at least five full-time (35-40 hours/week) employees, and have paid (or its predecessor paid) UI tax contributions for at least a year. Employers must apply to the Liability & Determination Section at least two weeks before the start of the program.
    A [NY-state-eligible] Shared Work plan must include:
    * a reduction in work hours between 20 - 60%
    * benefits may not be used to pay existing part-time employees
    * no reduction in fringe benefits
    * no extension beyond 53 weeks
    * approval by the NYSDOL Liability & Determination Section before implementation
    * the employer cannot hire more workers for the group covered by the plan
    * the plan must be in lieu of a layoff of an equivalent percentage of the workforce
    * all employees in an affected unit reduce their hours by the same extent (different units may reduce varying percentages)
    * in union shops, the collective bargaining unit must agree to the Shared Work Program
    Employees who would normally qualify for regular unemployment insurance benefits in New York State are eligible to participate in the Shared Work Program. Because Shared Work is an alternative to layoffs, a plan cannot result in payment of more benefits than would have been paid if a total layoff occurred. Individuals can collect 20 weeks of Shared Work benefits and may be able to collect beyond this through additional funding. However, any additional emergency or extended benefits will require federal legislation.
    Companies can apply for the Shared Work program at: *http://www.labor.state.ny.us/ui/dande/sharedwork1.shtm
    In addition, a business interested in applying for the Shared Work program on behalf of its workers can call (518) 457-5807.
    Shared Work by Region January 1, 2008 - September 9, 2009
    Region Year Firms JobsSaved
    Capital Region 2008 49 366
    2009 123 589
    Long Island 2008 54 278
    2009 216 977
    Finger Lakes 2008 63 749
    2009 324 2317
    Hudson Valley 2008 45 177
    2009 126 567
    Mohawk Valley 2008 27 237
    2009 76 666
    New York City 2008 37 167
    2009 327 1359
    North Country 2008 10 74
    2009 33 251
    Southern Tier 2008 44 261
    2009 120 1085
    Central New York 2008 51 418
    2009 135 868
    Western New York 2008 86 1116
    2009 294 1916

  2. 1916 WNY jobs saved, state says, by David Robinson, BuffaloNews.com
    A state program that tries to prevent layoffs by letting companies reduce workers to a four-day workweek while allowing them to recoup some of their wages through unemployment benefits has saved more than 1,900 jobs in portions of Western New York, the state Labor Department said Thursday.
    The shared work program has helped 294 companies in five Western New York counties preserve 1,916 jobs this year, the Labor Department said.
    “These are active, participating companies,” as of mid-September, said Michelle Duffy, a Labor Department spokeswoman in Albany.
    The program gained popularity with businesses this year as the recession deepened, providing them a way to keep their work force intact while also reducing labor costs as their business has slumped. The program also allows workers to maintain their health insurance, retirement, vacation and other fringe benefits.
    The number of companies participating in the program in Allegany, Cattaraugus, Chautauqua, Erie and Niagara counties has more than tripled this year, from 86 in 2008, when the shared work initiative was credited with protecting 1,116 jobs.
    Statewide, the program is credited with protecting more than 10,500 jobs at 1,858 companies this year. Individuals can collect shared work benefits for up to 20 weeks.
    drobinson@buffnews.com

  3. Economists perform dismally again - City fails to predict longest recession since records began, by Ashley Seager, Manchester Guardian via guardian.co.uk
    ["City" = London's financial center and the "experts" therein.]
    So, there we have it, the recession is the longest since quarterly records began in 1955 and, guess what, the City again failed to predict it.
    The average forecast from economists in the Square Mile was that the economy had expanded by 0.2% in the July to September period. But in fact, according to the ONS's preliminary figures, it contracted by 0.4% - the sixth drop in a row. That's a big forecasting error, really big.
    Sure, we had had dismal industrial output figures recently and poor retail sales figures yesterday, but, undeterred, the guys in the City decided those warning signs did not change the view that all the stimulus of 0.5% interest rates and all that quantitative easing, combined with cuts in VAT and a falling pound, were bound to push the economy back to growth in the third quarter.
    Of course, these are the same people who failed to see the recession coming so really we shouldn't have even paid any attention to their forecasts in the first place.
    But, as they like to say in Westminster, we are where we are. And it is true that the ONS number is a very preliminary estimate, based on about a third of the economic data for the period, and could well be revised up in coming months.
    But to get from -0.4% to growth would take some pretty hefty revisions. Better, then, to conclude that the economy remained in recession.
    I have always been of the view that the self-inflicted damage to the banking system plus the huge amounts of personal debt people took into this recession, meant that recovery could be a slow and protracted process and that the idea of a "V"-shaped recovery was for the birds.
    This was obviously in Bank of England deputy governor Paul Tucker's mind last night when he warned that the recovery was likely to prove "anaemic".
    No party
    So what of the future? Well, in the City they will probably just push their forecasts for positive growth on to the current quarter, and they may well be right.
    But we would be unwise to think that everything is going to bounce back to normal any time soon, not while people seem determined to pay down debt and save money rather than spend it. People, especially those who have lost their jobs or been forced on to short-time working, have had a real scare in this recession and are not likely to get back in party mode very quickly.
    What about the policy response? Well, interest rates are already at rock bottom so nothing to be done there. But the figures do help to explain why Bank governor Mervyn King and a couple of his monetary policy committee colleagues had voted to increase so-called "quantitative easing" to £200bn rather than the £175bn preferred by the majority. So today's numbers significantly increase the likelihood that at its next meeting in early November, the MPC will agree to pump yet more money into the economy to ensure that a self-sustaining recovery, rather than one merely dependent on the extraordinary stimulus thrown at it, can take hold.
    The figures also highlight the folly of the Conservatives in their desire to start cutting public spending and raising taxes if they win next year's general election. The public finances do need to be mended at some point, but the process should certainly not start in 2010 and probably not 2011 either.


10/22/2009  bits and pieces of the timesizing solution in the news, reinvented thousands of times every day in every recession by mainly mid- and small-size companies, organizations and governments despite being *dismissed out-of-hand by many economists and business schools - with excerpting and [commenting] by Phil Hyde (ecdesignr@yahoo.ca) unless otherwise initialed -

  1. State's 'shared work' program saves 10500 jobs, Bizjournals.com,Albany NY
    ALBANY, N.Y. - A New York state program has saved more than 10,500 jobs already this year by enabling companies to avoid layoffs and retain skilled workers.
    The state Department of Labor’s “shared work” program has surged in popularity during the recession. Under the program, companies can cut hours for certain workers by 20 percent to 60 percent, adjusting to changing demand from their clients while avoiding layoffs and the expenses connected with trying to find and train new workers when the economy rebounds.
    In exchange, workers in the program receive partial state unemployment benefits to partly make up for any lost wages at their jobs. They also maintain the same level of health insurance, retirement benefits and vacation as they had when they were working full-time.
    “Helping keep one company from laying off one worker is a good day. Helping keep over 1,800 companies from laying off more than 10,000 workers is striking, and a prime example of government working for the people,” said Gov. David Paterson.
    Companies must meet a series of requirements to participate. For instance, firms must have at least five full-time employees, and have paid unemployment insurance taxes to the state for at least one year.
    A full list of requirements, and more information, can be found at *www.labor.state.ny.us/ui/dande/sharedwork1.shtm or by calling (518) 457-5807.
    [A better number for employers to start with is 518-457-2635x.Liability & Determination, and then 518-485-6375.
    Employees can start with 518-485-6375 x3.]
    Last year, 49 companies in the Capital Region used the shared work program. So far this year, 123 firms have been involved—2.5 times the number of companies as the year before.
    Last year, the shared work program preserved 366 jobs in the region. This year, 589 jobs have been maintained, a 60 percent increase.
    Still, unemployment remains at the highest levels on record in the Albany-Schenectady-Troy area, and around the state.
    [Does this mean higher than in the Great Depression? or didn't they keep NY-state unemployment records then?]
    Last month, more than 32,000 people in the Albany metro area were unemployed and seeking work, according to state data. That’s 9,000 more people than a year ago, an increase of 40 percent.
    In New York, 847,700 people were unemployed and seeking work last month. That’s more than 300,000 more people than a year ago.
    The extensive use of the shared work program is one reason why the state fund for unemployment benefits has been bankrupt since January. The state expects to borrow roughly $2 billion this year from the federal government to pay out benefits, which have been extended a few times during the recession.
    As a result, some Democrats in the state Legislature have introduced bills to increase the unemployment tax on businesses to help bring the state unemployment fund back into solvency. The bills remain under consideration in various committees.
    [This story was from the perspective of state government. Compare the next story today from a union (labor) perspective -]

    The good news, and the bad news, about jobs, by Eric Anderson, Albany Times-Union via timesunion.com
    ALBANY, N.Y. - The state Labor Department’s shared work program saved more than 10,500 jobs statewide during the first eight months of 2009, Gov. David Paterson said this morning. More than 1,800 companies participated in the program, which permits employees to share the workload, putting in fewer hours each week and receiving unemployment benefits for the days they don’t work. More importantly, the employer also agrees to maintain their benefits.
    That number was more than twice the 4,030 who participated in the same period of 2008.
    In the Capital Region, 123 firms participated, and 589 jobs were saved, up from 49 firms and 366 jobs during the same period of 2008.
    Still, the jobs saved were a tiny fraction of those lost. The Labor Department reported 847,700 New Yorkers unemployed and seeking work in September, up from 545,800 a year earlier. In the Capital Region, 32,100 were unemployed, up from 23,100 a year earlier.
    [These stories were from Albany, the state capital. Compare the following articles today from Syracuse three Amtrak stops to the west of Albany (after Schenectady and Utica) and from Binghamton in the "southern tier" of NY State on the border with Pennsylvania directly south of Syracuse -]

    Number of Central New Yorkers receiving unemployment pay during partial layoffs spikes, by Charley Hannagan, Syracuse Post-Standard via Syracuse.com
    SYRACUSE, N.Y.--The number of Central New Yorkers taking part in a state program that pays them when their employer lays them off for one or two days a week has skyrocketed.
    From January to September, 3,339 workers in Central New York participated in the Shared Work program at the state Department of Labor. That’s a 107 percent increase from the 1,611 people who participated in all of 2008.
    It marks the highest number of participants in Shared Work since the program begin in 1986, the department said today. From September 2008 to last month, the Syracuse area lost 6,500 jobs. Onondaga, Oswego and Madison counties had an 8.1 percent unemployment rate last month.
    Here’s how the program works: in a traditional lay off, companies send workers home for weeks or months. Workers then apply for unemployment insurance from the state to carry them through until they’re called back to work, or they find another job.
    Under the Shared Work program, companies continue to employ workers, but lay them off for one or two days a week. Workers receive their normal compensation for the days they work, and unemployment compensation from the state for the days they don’t.
    Employers promise to continue paying benefits, such as medical insurance, vacation pay or retirement during the Shared Work program.
    Statewide, the department said the program saved 10,500 jobs this year. In Central New York, the state puts that number at 868 jobs saved so far this year.
    The program allows companies to keep qualified, trained workers during slow periods rather than lose them to other employers. The result saves companies the money it would spend recruiting and training new workers when work returns.
    [Compare the following article today from south of Syracuse, Binghamton, NY -]

    Shared Work program credited for saving more than 1000 Southern Tier jobs this year, by My-Ly Nguyen •mnguyen@gannett.com, Binghamton Press & Sun-Bulletin via Pressconnects.com
    BINGHAMTON, N.Y. - Nearly three times as many businesses in the Southern Tier participated in the state's Shared Work program during the first eight months of this year versus all of last year, saving more than 1,000 jobs, the state Labor Department announced Thursday.
    About 120 Southern Tier companies used the program at some point from January through Sept. 9, saving 1,085 jobs, the Labor Department said. That's up from 44 area companies that used Shared Work in all of 2008.
    Shared Work is touted by the state as a layoff alternative for businesses.
    Employers using the program can reduce the hours of all or some of their employees. Workers can collect partial unemployment insurance benefits to make up for the lost wages and retain any health insurance, retirement, vacation pay or other fringe benefits.
    The employer does not have to then recruit and train new workers when business picks up.
    In the Binghamton area, companies such as The Raymond Corp. in Greene, Conklin-based Universal Instruments and Endicott Interconnect Technologies have used the program.
    Statewide, more than 1,800 companies used Shared Work from January through Sept. 9, saving about 10,500 jobs, the Labor Department said. That's up from about 480 companies in 2008.
    Gov. David Paterson called the results a "striking and a prime example of government working for the people."
    Labor Commissioner M. Patricia Smith is encouraging more companies to contact the Labor Department for information on how to use the program.
    [U.S. states aren't the only ones worksharing - next a story about the German government worksharing ("shortwork") program -]

  2. Germany's recession fills classes, by Kate Connolly, Guardian Weekly via guardianweekly.co.uk
    A $2.9bn government scheme *["Kurzarbeit"] to help the unemployed and workers whose hours have been reduced because of the recession access training has given Germany's English language schools an unexpected boost.
    Earlier this year Johann Schneider was told that the recession-hit bus company in Germany’s Ruhr Valley where he had worked for 25 years was having to make drastic cutbacks and his hours were being reduced. Under a government scheme to temporarily subsidise shorter working hours in an attempt to stem the number of redundancies and stabilise the labour market, Schneider (not his real name) was put on Kurzarbeit [trans. kurz+Arbeit = short+work], meaning his hours were cut by 20% and his pay reduced.
    [If and when Germany modifies this program from temporary to permanent, they will cut the labor surplus and market forces will raise pay to its original level and higher, revitalizing the consumer base and restoring marketable productivity for profitable investment.]
    One “sweetener”, as he put it, soon came his way in the form of a Bildungsgutschein or education voucher, part of a $2.9bn government measure to subsidise training courses for Kurzarbeit workers.
    Schneider, 49, could in theory have taken a course in anything from marketing to computer skills. Instead, like tens of thousands of workers around the country, he chose to take a three-month course in English in Essen.
    The voucher scheme has already been in place for some years for job seekers, conveniently taking them off the unemployed register for the duration of the course, but it was extended in January this year to those on reduced working hours.
    According to the nation’s language schools, it is having a profound effect on their enrolments, with some reporting that up to 40% of their pupils are now voucher holders.
    “We won’t know until the end of this year exactly how many vouchers have been used for courses with us, but we’re noticing that the take-up is high,” said Tatiana Scrilatti, assistant manager at Berlitz, the country’s leading provider of English language courses, which makes an annual profit of around $78m.
    Scrilatti added that the scheme had offered a welcome boost to Berlitz’s business at a time when corporations, traditionally a significant source of income, had drastically reduced their language training budgets.
    At Inlingua, another leading language institute, which has 70 schools in Germany, traffic is also booming.
    “Around 20% to 30% of our students have the vouchers,” said Heidrun Englert, head of the Inlingua branch in Stuttgart, southern Germany, admitting that the scheme had turned schools into “quasi-agents” of the employment office, which had done much to advertise their courses.
    But Inlingua schools have had to increase their flexibility to accommodate the new pupils, she said. Traditional demand is for evening classes, but voucher-holders want tuition during the working day. “Our trainers have to adapt to that,” she said.
    The style of classes has not been changed to respond to the new clientele. “We stick to our normal offerings, which are quite business-oriented,” she said. But class sizes are bigger. “We’d normally say six pupils per class, but with state-sponsored classes we have around 10-12, to make sure it pays for us to do it,” she added.
    One disadvantage was that students were not necessarily as driven as “non-voucher” clients who had paid their own way. “They’re scared for their futures. It’s sometimes hard for them to concentrate,” she said.
    Adriane Galunic of the Federal Employment Office said no breakdown has yet been made as to how many recipients of the vouchers have used them to pay for language courses. Last month a total of 79,000 vouchers were distributed for training courses.
    An employee of one major school, who declined to be named, expressed his concern that schools were overly reliant on the government subsidies and were effectively becoming an extension of the state welfare system.
    “The education voucher-holders are bringing in most of the revenue at the moment,” he said. “I worry that this is like putting all one’s eggs in one basket so that if the state pulls the plug then many of these private institutions will suffer from their over-reliance on taxpayers’ money.”
    But although she expected Bildungsgutschein to be extended into next year to cope with worsening conditions in the labour market, Englert of Inlingua said it was wrong to look at the voucher scheme as anything other than a temporary measure to plug the gap until the market bounced back.
    “This is a lucrative source for us right now, enabling us to claw back resources we’ve lost from the corporate sector,” she said.
    “The firms will start coming back because no one underestimates the importance of English.” Although his command of the conditional was not yet advanced enough for him to express himself in English, Schneider said:
    “If things look up in a few months I’ll be able to go back to a full-time post; if not, I’ll apply for another voucher and hope to continue improving my English rather than sitting around getting bored.”
    [And next a story about one big company that's taking advantage of the German gov't worksharing program -]

  3. Daimler to step up investment in German operations, Deutsche Presse-Agentur via MonstersAndCritics.com
    RASTATT, Germany - Carmaker Daimler plans to invest 3 billion euros (4.5 billion dollars) in its German operations over the next two years, chief executive Dieter Zetsche said Thursday.
    Zetsche said 600 million euros would go towards expanding the plant at Rastatt, where the luxury Mercedes A-class and B-class compact cars are produced.
    Zetsche said Mercedes planned to increase the number of A-Class and B-Class models from two to four, with some of them being produced at a factory currently under construction in Hungary.
    The Stuttgart-based carmaker has been badly hit by the global economic crisis, which saw sales slumping and forced it to put thousands of employees on short-time work.
    After months of heavy losses, Daimler earlier this week reported a third-quarter profit for 2009.
    On October 16 Daimler laid the cornerstone of a new production facility in the town of Kecskemet, central Hungary, that will employ some 2,500 people.
    Daimler is planning to invest some 800 million euros in the facility, which is expected to produce some 100,000 Mercedes A- and B-class cars annually beginning in 2012.

  4. Chinese GDP 'set' to hit target, BBC News,UK via bbc.co.uk
    China has said it is on track to hit its growth target of 8% this year, after the economy grew 8.9% from a year ago in the third quarter.
    The figure is up from the 7.9% rate seen in the previous quarter and is the country's fastest GDP growth since the third quarter of last year.
    Separate reports show that industrial production and retail sales also accelerated in September.
    The economy grew by 7.7% in the nine months to September.
    Retail sales growth was 15.1% in the first three quarters of the year, the National Statistics Bureau said.
    China's car market has become the world's largest, with sales up 34% to 9.66 million vehicles in the first nine months of the year.
    Government investment
    At the end of 2008 the Chinese government announced a 4 trillion yuan ($586bn; £354bn) stimulus plan involving increased spending on infrastructure, such as rail and roads, to boost the domestic economy as exports slumped.
    Latest figures show that investment, accounting for nearly 88% of GDP growth earlier this year, is playing a vital role in China's growth.
    Investment in factories, construction and other fixed assets rose by one-third in the first nine months of the year to a record 15.5tn yuan.
    But factory owners say that in many cases, while the volume of goods they are producing has risen, the prices customers are prepared to pay for them are lower than before the financial crisis.
    Unemployment is still high in many areas, and some factory workers are reported to be working shorter hours and earning less [than before the financial crisis].
    The next challenge for policy makers is to begin to withdraw elements of the stimulus plan, and to reduce the huge outflows of credit the country's state owned banks have issued, without damaging economic recovery.
    As the stimulus is withdrawn, the hope is that demand from the private sector, from consumer spending and eventually from renewed demand for China's exports, will keep the country's growth rate stable.


10/21/2009  bits and pieces of the timesizing solution in the news, reinvented thousands of times every day in every recession by mainly mid- and small-size companies, organizations and governments despite being *dismissed out-of-hand by many economists and business schools - with excerpting and [commenting] by Phil Hyde (ecdesignr@yahoo.ca) unless otherwise initialed -

  1. Social security cover needs enhancement, by GERARD S. DELA PEñA, BusinessWorld Online via bworldonline.com
    STATE-LED pension and insurance schemes in the Asia-Pacific region have been successful in extending protection to members, but much still needs to be done to cover a wider segment of the population, an international organization of social security systems said.
    In a report titled "Dynamic Social Security for Asia and the Pacific: Integrated Responses for More Equitable Growth" released yesterday, Switzerland-based International Social Security Association (ISSA) said social security systems in the region compare well with its counterparts elsewhere around the globe.
    The Social Security System (SSS), Government Service Insurance System (GSIS) and the Home Development Mutual Fund, commonly known as Pag-IBIG Fund, are ISSA members.
    ISSA said governments have recognized the importance of social security especially in times of economic distress, extending financial assistance through contributory and tax-financed cash benefit programs, social assistance, and other schemes.
    The Philippine government, for instance, extends conditional cash transfers to as many as one million families.
    The SSS, GSIS and the Pag-IBIG Fund have also allocated billions in loans to those hit hard by recent storms.
    "The trends in the region are impressive and it is clear that social security systems are dynamic," Hans-Horst Konkolewsky, ISSA secretary general, told BusinessWorld at the sidelines of the Regional Social Security Forum for Asia and the Pacific yesterday. "We are seeing efforts in extending social security."
    "There seems to be much political will to invest in social security systems nowadays. It could be a sign that social security is well-integrated in the development [agenda of governments]."
    Mr. Konkolewsky said the resilience of Asia-Pacific economies amid the global downturn — and the prospects of higher growth as the global economy recovers — have enabled state pension funds in the region to extend assistance to citizens.
    This puts the region at par — if not ahead — of Latin America and Africa, Mr. Konkolewsky said.
    "There is more dynamism in the Asia-Pacific as shown in the rapid economic development. There is much more wealth to distribute," he added.
    "The Philippines and other countries in the region are able to use the surplus of economic progress achieved over the last decade to balance the current economic situation."
    He also noted the progress in addressing concerns on management and governance through the use of information technology systems, which have greatly improved efficiency in administration, particularly of state pension funds.
    Mr. Konkolewsky, however, said governments should work further on increasing access among low- and middle-income earners to social security benefits.
    He noted that only one out of five in the region has access to health care benefits from the government.
    In the Philippines, GSIS and SSS members constitute only about 20% of the population.
    Mr. Konkolewsky also said governments should increase its involvement in the provision of social security by creating policies that not only extend financial assistance to those who lost their jobs but also restore their capacity to earn.
    Long-term dependence on social security benefit, particularly by the unemployed, would eventually weigh down on the capability of organizations to serve their members, he said.
    "There must be policies that would link an individual to employment opportunities through work-sharing agreements, subsidies and other schemes," he said.
    [The recession will keep adeepening as long as they're still mentioning last the strategy they should be mentioning first.]
    For the Philippines, he said the government should take advantage of the country’s nine million-strong migrant workforce by creating facilities that would provide them with financial cover in the event of job loss or natural disasters, as well as prepare them for retirement.

  2. President praises work-sharing and focuses on PCT reform, European Patent Office via EOP.org
    [Oops - here's a weird different meaning of worksharing, more like resource sharing and work coordination.]
    Work-sharing is the way of the future, bringing benefits for applicants and patent offices world-wide, according to Alison Brimelow, the President of the EPO.
    "The EPO believes that the greatest potential for a global work-sharing scheme lies with the PCT, with nearly 164 000 applications filed only last year", she stated in a speech at the AIPLA Annual Meeting in Washington, D.C.
    A number of work-sharing schemes have been piloted around the world, the common denominator of which is to take concrete measures which help to eliminate unnecessary duplication of work between offices. From a European perspective, the most important arrangements in this respect are the utilisation scheme of the European Patent Network (EPN), the Patent Prosecution Highway (PPH) and the PCT.
    Alison Brimelow stressed that "timeliness, high quality of work-products and confidence-building between offices are the essential ingredients for work-sharing schemes to be successful." The EPO is committed to moving this process of integration forward.
    Further information
    * Press release: President extols the virtues of work-sharing and focuses on PCT reform

  3. Shared work program gives employers alternative to layoffs, by TARYN FITSIK, WTEN
    WATERVLIET, N.Y. -- With businesses forced to cut costs, the Department of Labor's shared work program gives employers an alternative to layoffs.
    So far this year, 589 jobs have been saved in the Capital Region.
    Under the program, employees' hours are cut, but they still keep their jobs, using unemployment benefits to make up for the lost wages.
    Comfortex,
    a local manufacturing business in Watervliet, relies on the program, especially during the winter months when production slows.
    "You're not jobless, that's a benefit right there," says Robin Nichols, one of the 370 workers who make custom window treatments.
    For Nichols, the shared work program gives her the security of having a job, even during an economic downturn.
    Under the shared work program, employees still keep their paycheck, as well as their benefits and vacation time, even if their hours get cut.
    "Rather than lay off good seasoned, quality employees, that we like to keep in the business, we have the shared work program," says Comfortex President Thomas Marusak.
    Marusak says although employees' hours may be dropped to 32 hours a week, unemployment benefits make up for some of the lost wages.
    Plus, when production picks back up, Marusak says the employees are still there, eliminating the training of new workers, and keeping quality at a premium.
    "If we have a reputation where we keep people employed throughout the year, we'll get good productive, quality people coming to us seeking employment," says Marusak.
    Many of the workers at Comfortex say without the shared work program, they don't know what they would do when production slows.
    "It would make it very tough for a lot of people in this plant," says Kevin O'Melia.
    But with the shared work program, that weight is lifted.
    You don't have to worry about being unemployed, which a lot of people are these days," says O'Melia.
    "It's a big relief," adds Nichols.
    There are 123 businesses in the Capital Region taking advantage of the shared work program, a number that has tripled in just one year.
    The Department of Labor is encourages businesses that might be trouble to think twice before laying off workers, and take advantage of this program.


10/20/2009  bits and pieces of the timesizing solution in the news, reinvented thousands of times every day in every recession by mainly mid- and small-size companies, organizations and governments despite being *dismissed out-of-hand by many economists and business schools - with excerpting and [commenting] by Phil Hyde (ecdesignr@yahoo.ca) unless otherwise initialed -

  1. Mitchell pitches state jobs summit for Decatur, by RON INGRAM, (11:30pm 10/19) Herald & Review,Decatur,IL via herald-review.com
    DECATUR, Illinois - Citing a loss of more than 1,600 manufacturing jobs in Decatur in the past year, state Rep. Bill Mitchell said Monday he is proposing a jobs creation package and calling for a jobs summit of state and local leaders in Decatur.
    Mitchell, R-Forsyth, outlined his proposals during a news conference in front of the Illinois Department of Employment Security office. He said he was sending Gov. Pat Quinn a letter asking that he convene the jobs summit and provide Decatur with assistance from the state's economic development agencies.
    Unemployment figures released last month showed the continuation of a recession that has cost the local community thousands of jobs, Mitchell said. For the last 20 years, Decatur has had a higher unemployment rate than the state average, he said.
    "We've got about 7,000 people out of work in Macon County," Mitchell said. "We're still waiting for stimulus money and the new capital jobs program to take effect, but much more needs to be done. I'm asking the governor to put our state's best minds together and work with local business and labor leaders to come up with a long-term strategy to help rebuild our local economy."
    Mitchell said the legislation he will introduce this week will propose a job creation tax credit for businesses and a work sharing program aimed at avoiding worker layoffs.
    The jobs creation tax credit would be a temporary, supplemental credit for employers for net jobs created, Mitchell said. Employers would have to demonstrate a year-over-year increase in their employment headcount, and the value of the credit would be proportionate to the number of new jobs created, he said.
    The credit would be applied to the payroll taxes withheld by the employer from the new employees' wages, Mitchell said.
    The idea of a work sharing program was given to Mitchell by Jamie and Julie Gahwiler, owners of DCT Industrial Supply Co., 410 N. Jasper St., which sells heavy equipment. They heard about its use in Missouri from one of their customers.
    "We're a sales business, and when sales are down, our employees don't have a lot to do," Jamie Gahwiler said Monday at the news conference.
    In the summer of 2008, Gahwiler said his firm had 52 employees in Illinois and Missouri but currently has 32. He said the firm is using one week a month of furlough time for employees to reduce expenses while maintaining a work force, but that is not a good scenario for workers seeking unemployment benefits for time off.
    Illinois had a law prior to 1988 that allowed temporarily laid off workers to file for unemployment benefits, but the law expired, Jamie Gahwiler said.
    His sister said if that law was reinstated, workers could collect up to 16 hours a week in unemployment while working part-time at their jobs, which would help workers financially and allow businesses to manage work flow.
    "It's hard for our work force to be off the road for an entire week and still be able to sell," Julie Gahwiler said.
    Mitchell's bill should be acted upon during the legislature's fall veto session if it is going to have a real impact on helping Illinois businesses, Jamie Gahwiler said.
    ringram@herald-review.com|421-7973


10/18-19/2009  bits and pieces of the timesizing solution in the news, reinvented thousands of times every day in every recession by mainly mid- and small-size companies, organizations and governments despite being *dismissed out-of-hand by many economists and business schools - with excerpting and [commenting] by Phil Hyde (ecdesignr@yahoo.ca) unless otherwise initialed -

  1. The health of the American worker is appalling, 10/18 Boston Sunday Globe, A1 pointer to G1
    ..and declining, according to a report from the nonprofit Families and Work Institute that details the worrying effect of a stressed-out, time-strapped, overworked era. Sick, on the job - Nation's health suffers as trying economic times ratchet stress up at work - Poor health can start at workplace, by Maggie Jackson, BSG, G1 target article.
    Don’t read this sitting down. Walk, jog, take the stairs - anything to help soften the news that the health of the American worker is appalling, and declining.
    As the national health care debate heats up, a timely report from the nonprofit Families and Work Institute details the worrying effect of a stressed-out, time-strapped, overworked era. Too many of us are fat, sick, sleepless, and inactive. Just 28 percent of US workers say their health is excellent, down from 34 percent six years ago. And businesses are suffering as a result, not simply from rising costs for health care. Workers in poor health are less likely to be loyal, engaged, and satisfied with their jobs, the findings show.
    As we might suspect, health insurance makes a difference. Those with coverage are more likely to report sleeping well, being less stressed, and feeling in excellent health than those without it, according to the report. But insurance isn’t the whole story. So holistic is the issue of health that even a respectful boss is linked to worker wellness, the researchers say.
    “You have to pay attention to the small things, the way people treat each other, whether there are opportunities to learn, whether people’s input is asked for and considered,’’ says Ellen Galinsky, president of the New York-based institute. The report is largely based on data comparing worker health in 2002 and 2008.
    I can see the connection: unreasonable boss = high stress = daily cookie habit = expanding tummy.
    Nearly 40 percent of employees in a highly “effective’’ workplace - where people are trusted and supported - report being in excellent health, double the number of those who say they’re in the best health at less effective companies. The institute defines an effective workplace as one offering a climate of trust and respect, learning opportunities, worker autonomy, work-life fit, supervisor support, and economic security. High work-life support and flexibility are especially linked to good health outcomes.
    In turn, good health is correlated with good work: More than a third of those who say they are in excellent health are highly engaged, versus less than a quarter of workers who say they are in poor health.
    Of course, it’s hard to think much about exercise or getting home on time if your job is on the line, or if your company is going through rocky times.
    Even before the recession, work was demanding and hectic. Nowadays, people are even more time-squeezed, and anxious about money, too.
    The result? Bad habits.
    “People are stressed, they aren’t exercising, not eating well, not taking care of their health,’’ says Alison Magee, vice president of clinical services at Providence-based Sobel and Raciti Associates Inc., which provides employee assistance programs to companies including Staples Inc. and Citizens Bank. Those working long or unpredictable hours find it particularly hard to stick to an exercise or dieting regimen, she says.
    Still, there is progress on some fronts. More employers are realizing that health goes beyond on-site fitness centers and low-fat cafeteria muffins. What began as a wave of wellness programs a few years ago has expanded into a wider emphasis on sustainable life habits on and off the job.
    “The trend among leading companies is to create a culture of well-being and health,’’ says Randall Abbott, a Boston-based senior health care consultant with Watson Wyatt, a human resources consulting firm. “If all you do is inform people that they need to improve their health, it’s not going to get any better.’’
    Just ask Chris Boyce, chief executive of Framingham-based Virgin HealthMiles, a subsidiary of Britain’s Virgin Group.
    The company sells corporate health-monitoring systems, such as pedometers and health kiosks where weight and blood pressure can be self-monitored. Usually, Virgin HealthMiles clients tie improvements to cash or other rewards - an incentive option now offered by 40 percent of large companies, according to Watson Wyatt.
    The aim of the HealthMiles program is to “democratize’’ exercise, says Boyce, who often holds walking meetings with his staff on a track looping around the company offices.
    “You don’t have to be a triathlete or hit the gym an hour a day,’’ says Boyce, who has lost 15 pounds since helping launch the company in the United States in 2006. “You can get your exercise however you want to.’’
    Nearly 30 percent of previously inactive employees who participate in HealthMiles begin exercising at least a half-hour a day under the program, according to Boyce.
    Easy opportunities to exercise, fresh foods, and understanding bosses all help create a health-centric workplace.
    Naturally, sunshine and healthy workspaces help, too. Research shows that views of nature can help children focus, hospital patients heal, and workers boost productivity. The environment matters, indoors and out.
    After NRG Systems Inc., a maker of wind measurement technology based in Hinesburg, Vt., moved into a green building in 2004, sick days fell and employees reported fewer allergies and colds.
    The building, along with a second facility completed in 2008, features solar power, open spaces, and all-natural materials. On-site perks include a small swimming pool, workout room, wooded walking trails, and free healthy catered lunches four days a week.
    The facilities were built both to be earth- and human-friendly, says chief executive and president Jan Blittersdorf. The starting point was, “how do we create great buildings that people will want to be in?’’ she says. “People lead full lives inside and outside of work. We want them to feel good about coming to work, enjoy their work, and do it well.’’
    Maggie Jackson is the author of “Distracted: The Erosion of Attention and the Coming Dark Age.’’ She can be reached at www.maggie-jackson.com

  2. Is it possible to reduce everyone's hours without running afoul of the law? (10/18) Business Management Daily
    Q. In an effort to avoid laying off employees in this tough economy, our company has decided to temporarily reduce everyone’s work hours to 35 hours per week. May we?
    A. Generally, yes. However, you should be aware of several things.
    First, the reduction in hours may only be done prospectively and should be communicated in writing.
    Second, you are nearing certain thresholds under the North Carolina Employment Security Law. If an employee’s hours are reduced by 20% or more on a permanent basis, or if an employee’s wages are reduced by 15% or more on a permanent basis, the employee may voluntarily quit and still be eligible for unemployment benefits. If your reduction in hours is truly temporary, this should not be a problem for you.
    Third, the salaries of employees exempt from federal and state overtime requirements may not be reduced on a temporary basis, without jeopardizing their exempt status.
    Thus, you can reduce those employees’ salaries permanently as a cost-saving measure, but not because of a reduction in working hours.

  3. Pay cut in the town of Dumfries, Letter to editor by Mayor FRED E. YOHEY, Jr. of Dumfries VA, (10/17) Northern Virginia News & Messenger via InsideNoVA.com
    As Mayor of Dumfries, I want to announce how much of my current town salary I will forgo starting in Nov. 2009 and continuing through June 2010. A reduction in town council salaries was the subject of your Oct. 11 editorial. In that regard, I will take a $300 monthly reduction from my current monthly gross salary of $673. This reduced salary will mean that the average of 35 hours I work most weeks will continue, but my hourly salary will drop from $4.80 to $2.66 per hour.
    Since taking office in July 2006, I have worked five days a week, including some holidays for at least 6 hours and as many as 15 hours per weekday. During this time, I often meet with business people and citizens who come by Town Hall to discuss matters important to them. In addition, I am an officer in both the Historic Dumfries, Inc. board of directors as well as the Dumfries Business Association. I have also worked with the General Heiser Boys and Girls Club and Salvation Army.
    As a representative of the town government, I attend meetings/events that take place on weekdays, weeknights, and weekends. I never have requested reimbursement for mileage when using my own vehicle on town business nor ever used a town vehicle for any reason. I also turned in my town cell phone shortly after taking office as mayor because I believed it was not cost-effective.
    In recent weeks, Councilman Cliff Brewer has stated repeatedly in televised council meetings that he will forgo any salary for the remainder of his council tenure. Many town business people and citizens believe that he is only doing this in preparation to run for mayor in next May’s town election. In fact, Mr. Brewer has already told many persons in town that he does intend to run for mayor, but has made no formal announcement. Based on his poor attitude and failure to make any budget changing recommendations during the Town Council’s October 6 and 9 budget meetings, perhaps he is right and should take no future salary.

  4. Le Patrimoine - French Symbolism, and the Triumph of Patriotism over Nationalism, by Graham Lea, 10/19 Swans Commentary via swans.com
    The notion of le patrimoine is deeply imbued in the French psyche. It connotes more than its literal translation as patrimony, a term not much used in English. (1) In French, the meaning of patrimoine is much broader, and is perhaps better translated as heritage, although this does not give the whole picture. France is far from unique in remembering and preserving its heritage, but it is highly cherished. To gain some insight, it is perhaps helpful to touch first on some French national symbols, and to examine notions such as patriotism and nationalism.
    Le matrimoine is occasionally used, but it is best known as the title of a 1966 novel by Hervé Bazin, an autopsy of a 1950s marriage describing how women's lives have changed. It would be excessive to suggest that the derivation of patrimoine from pater (father) is male-dominant, since Marianne is a key emblem of the French Republic, an allegory of liberty and reason. She was depicted in 1848 by the artist Honoré Daumier as a nursing mother. On the Arc de Triomphe, the sculptor François Rude showed Marianne as a fierce warrior singing the Marseillaise (a war song), but perhaps the most magnificent of her sculptures is the 1889 Le triomphe de la République by Aimé-Jules Dalou at the Place de la Nation in Paris. The wartime Vichy régime, on German instruction, destroyed many Marianne statues. Today, representations of Marianne are prominent in French law courts; they replace statues of the virgin in schools; and she is often seen with her back to the local church, facing the Hôtel de ville. (2)
    Marianne can be regarded as a complement, or even rival, to le coq gaulois (the Gallic rooster) that represents France as a nation, together with its history, land, and culture. (3) Marianne represents France as a republican state. The adoption of Marianne was perhaps influenced by the British adoption of Boudica (Boadicea) as an emblem: she was far from being allegorical, having led the Iceni of East Anglia and other tribes against the Roman occupiers of Britain, around 1,950 years ago.
    The French government of Lionel Jospin created a new government identifier in 1999, combining Marianne (but not the coq), the tricolore, and the motto Liberté, Egalité, Fraternité, (which was not confirmed until the 1958 Constitution of the Fifth Republic, although it was used from the early days of the Revolution but was largely abandoned thereafter). The motto also appears above the door of some churches, following the passage of the Loi du 9 décembre 1905 concernant la séparation des églises et de l'état (law separating church and state), although state secularism effectively began with the French Revolution. Roman Catholicism, Calvinism and Lutheranism, and Judaism were funded by the state until 1905. The Loi declared religious buildings to be the property of the state, but made them available for religious purposes without charge. Funding continues today, but it is described as being for the restoration of national monuments.
    There were two opposing visions of France: la France cléricale favorable au concordat (clerical France agreeing to the legal settlement) and la France républicaine et laïque (a secular, republican state). The latter vision was supported by two factions: the jacobins (4) who wanted to eradicate the Christian religion, or strictly confine it, and a more moderate group who supported the neutrality of the state.
    Neither Marianne nor the coq are defined as official symbols in the French Constitution, where Article 2 states that the flag of France is the only official emblem. It is particularly interesting but hardly surprising that France has no coat of arms, although Jospin's emblem could perhaps be regarded as a modern form of heraldry. A little reflection on the former French custom of removing the heads of their aristocrats, and the association between coats of arms and the aristocracy, makes this omission quite understandable. Some aristocratic families that survived the Revolution do not fly the French tricolore on their châteaux on the quatorze juillet, but hoist their own family flag as a tribute to their murdered ancestors. The fleur-de-lis, a lily much used in French heraldry, probably dates from the 12th century and certainly from the time of the future Louis VIII in the 13th century. Today it is mainly to be found adorning rolls of fabric, as a motif.
    Frenchness extends beyond the symbols of the French state. The undefinable part is le patrimoine, but we need to distinguish between nationalism and patriotism if we are to make progress in understanding the French attachment to their patrimoine. As George Orwell remarked, "Patriotism is of its nature defensive, both militarily and culturally." It is, he suggested, "devotion to a particular place and a particular way of life" that is protected but not projected on to other people. (5)
    What is often termed patriotism, particularly in the United States, is in fact nationalism, which Orwell suggested was "inseparable from the desire for power. The abiding purpose of every nationalist is to secure more power and more prestige, not for himself but for the nation or other unit in which he has chosen to sink his own individuality." For Orwell, nationalism included "such movements and tendencies as Communism, political Catholicism, Zionism, Antisemitism, Trotskyism and Pacifism."
    A great difference between the French and Americans is that the latter wish to project their lifestyle, and as a result the world has experienced the pestilence of pop music and fast food, to say nothing of the spread of greed in business and finance. The French certainly do not wish to make the whole world in their image; they do not export their savoir faire; and they do not care if other people do not have six weeks holiday, excellent healthcare, and a 35-hour workweek. Above all, they want their independence, and to maintain their lifestyle, whatever their president may dream in his re-engagement with the United States and NATO. French people are just not behind him.
    Minxin Pei of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace defined American nationalism not by ethnic notions claiming superiority, but by a belief in the supremacy of US democratic ideals. (6) Pei considered it a paradox that the United States was highly nationalistic, but unaware of it. Americans are usually offended if they are called nationalists, since they prefer the term patriot, despite their form of patriotism manifesting itself as nationalism. Pei conceded that American nationalism is triumphant rather than aggrieved. He also considered that the U.S. had generally failed to appreciate the power of its nationalism abroad. American nationalism is forward-looking, with missionary spirit and a short collective memory, Pei suggested. The downside of this is that sordid details are frequently ignored and only the positive side enters the collective memory, because the media suppress bad news.
    Anatol Lieven's America right or wrong: an anatomy of American nationalism gives useful insight into the development and current state of what Americans see as patriotism, and which is called American imperialism by critics. (7) The darker side of American nationalism: Its paranoia, its black-and-white Manichaeanism, and its Messianism made it possible for the United States to drag the world into a Cold War that had as its primary objective supporting the American economic creed of unrestrained market capitalism, which has, like communism, failed as an economic system. Nationalism is bound up with greed for natural resources and economic control, although these are now called "security" and "stability." Orwell was right.
    France is near the patriotic end of any patriotism-nationalism axis. The French do not engage in arm-chair sentiment induced by an equivalent of the nationalist CNN/Fox/talk radio channels. Such propaganda is a new genre of cowboys and Indians, where the good guys wear steel helmets and body armour and the bad guys have tea cloths on their heads.
    Le patrimoine represents the human face of environmentalism, the better aspects of heritage, with more than a touch of nostalgia. During the third weekend of September, more than 15,000 of France's 43,000 historical monuments, famous buildings, and heritage sites open their doors for the Journées du Patrimoine. There are around 12 million visitors to the châteaux and gardens, the museums, archives, and archaeological sites, the windmills and watermills, the churches and abbeys. There are 86 cathedrals open to the public, 46 of which are currently being restored. Artisans of all kinds are active, especially in rural areas. In the small region of Bas-Couserans, Ariège, Pyrénées, there were exhibitions of old local postcards and photographs, accounts of life 200 years ago, a local poetess reading her poems, conducted tours, demonstrations of working oxen and asses, and special exhibitions concerned with local celebrities. There is a slow but increasing realisation in France of the potential of industrial archaeology for creating tourism.
    From 2007, crowds have been drawn to the Palais de l'élysée (a modest 18th century residence and presidential office in Paris, now occupied by un certain Nicolas Sarkozy, and where Napoléon signed his abdication), but this year the Moulin Rouge was the big draw, with visitors allowed to go backstage. The two biggest attractions are the Louvre and Versailles.
    Web sites associated with le patrimoine have received around half as many hits this year, according to alexa.com, (8) but this did not appear to result in a significant fall in attendance. In most cases, admission is free. Many sites are privately owned residences, and only open for le patrimoine.
    Europe, with the Council of Europe in the lead rather than the European Commission, created in 1991 the Journées Européennes du Patrimoine, closely based on the 1983 French Ministry of Culture model of the Journées portes ouvertes des monuments historiques (from 1992, Journées nationales de patrimoine). The weekends are often at different times in other countries. France has set a splendid example, but there remains much to be done. Bigger and better Web sites are needed, and more information should be made available locally about the Journées. The French cultural heritage results in some 500,000 jobs, with more than a quarter of a billion euros being spent annually on restoration. It is claimed that 21 billion euros are returned to the economy.
    There are five primary factors that have given rise to France's particularly rich patrimoine: the varied geology and physiography; the climate; the rich history; relative ethnic cohesion; and finally, what may be simply described as French civilisation.
    In the real world of la France profonde, there is an inheritance and diffusion of beauty that promotes good feelings and bonhomie. The Journées du Patrimoine are but a focus for perpetual values. For around a fifth of the French population to be out and about enjoying les Journées is a considerable achievement. It is an occasion for enjoyment and pride, something very much to be admired. Le patrimoine is not a retreat from the real world of high French taxes and a lifestyle being assaulted by consumerism and an economic crisis; it is the reward for being concerned about the national inheritance, about history, and about enduring values.
    Death to theme parks (for their false history, plastic, and fast food)! Death to shopping centres (for their planned ugliness)! Vive le patrimoine!
    Notes
    1. If you believe in Google hits (and there is good reason not to do so), there are about 28 times as many hits for patrimoine compared with patrimony.
    2. Stories abound of Brits disappointedly knocking late at night on the door of an hôtel de ville, only to discover that it is the town hall.
    3. Gallus is a homonym for an inhabitant of Gaul, and a rooster or cockerel. Gauloises are a brand of cigarettes, approaching their centenary, but no longer owned by the French state.
    4. From the 13th century there was rivalry between the religious jacobins (Dominicans) and the cordeliers (Franciscans). The former were poor and sober, while the latter were regarded as jovial fellows, giving rise to the song {does anyone know the tune?}:
    Boire à la jacobine
    C'est chopine à chopine,
    Mais boire en cordelier
    C'est vider le cellier.
    {Boire: to drink; chopine: an obsolete word for a bottle of wine, usually half a litre; vider le cellier: to empty the wine cellar}
    The rivalry lasted until 1790, when the Revolution threatened the future of the monks. Political clubs such as the Club des Jacobins Parisien, which met in the Couvent des Jacobins, promoted the French republic.
    5. George Orwell: Notes on nationalism, May 1945. Complete works: http://www.george-orwell.org/
    6. Minxin Pei: "The paradoxes of American nationalism." Foreign Policy, May 2003.
    7. Anatol Lieven: America right or wrong: an anatomy of American nationalism. Oxford University Press, 2004.
    8. For example, patrimoine-de-France.org and journeesdupatrimoine.culture.fr

  5. Australia faces a slow haul to recovery: Access Economics, 10/18 Sydney Morning Herald,Australia via BrisbaneTimes.com
    AUSTRALIA'S economy will face ''stiff headwinds'' as world growth picks up next year with higher interest rates and cautious consumers generating a subdued recovery, according to Access Economics.
    The Canberra consultancy's latest forecasts predict that the Reserve Bank will lift official interest rates by another 2 percentage points over the next 18 months to two years.
    This factor, together with the withdrawal of Federal Government stimulus measures and an eventual slowing in Chinese growth, meant the recovery would be significantly weaker than the 5 to 6 per cent growth rates seen after Australia's 1980s and 1990s recessions.
    ''Australia has dodged the bullet of a deeper downturn, and that is a grand achievement,'' Access says in its latest Business Outlook report to be released today.
    ''But it comes at the cost of a softer and slower recovery than today's headlines suggest.''
    Access forecasts that gross domestic product would increase by 1.9 per cent this financial year and by 3.2 per cent in 2010-11. That would leave the economy emerging from the global recession growing at only its long-term trend rate of about 3 per cent.
    The economic consultancy expects the unemployment rate, now at 5.7 per cent, to peak at 6.8 per cent in the middle of 2010.
    It warns of a ''jobless recovery'' as employers increase the working hours of existing employees before hiring new workers, resulting in employment growth of just 0.3 per cent this financial year, and 2 per cent in 2010-11.
    The Access forecasts come after the governor of the Reserve Bank, Glenn Stevens, said last week the central bank would not be ''too timid'' in lifting interest rates from emergency levels as the economy recovered.
    The economy's performance in avoiding a recession has prompted the Opposition to call on the Government to withdraw its debt-funded stimulus measures.
    But the Treasurer, Wayne Swan, said yesterday the impact of the stimulus measures had already peaked and would gradually withdraw and subtract from growth in 2010 as the private sector recovered.
    ''In contrast, ripping out the fiscal support from the economy at once would subtract a massive 2.5 per cent from growth in 2010 and risk stalling the economy before a self-sustaining recovery in private activity has taken hold,'' he said.
    Access said the economy had held up better than expected in 2009 mainly because consumers had kept on spending, employers had cut hours rather than jobs, and Beijing's stimulus policies meant China had kept on buying Australian commodity exports.
    Spending on household consumption had held up because cuts to interest rates and government cash payments in 2009 had significantly boosted the disposable income of the average family.
    But the cash payments had now been spent and the boost to household spending power from lower interest rates was set to be withdrawn.
    ''The implications of that for the recovery are tougher than most realise,'' the report says.
    ''Australia's economy kept going through the crisis - shoppers are spending 7 per cent more than when the crisis hit - because between them the Reserve Bank and the Government gave the average family the equivalent of 10 per cent extra income to spend.''
    Source: The Sydney Morning Herald


10/17/2009  bits and pieces of the timesizing solution in the news, reinvented thousands of times every day in every recession by mainly mid- and small-size companies, organizations and governments despite being *dismissed out-of-hand by many economists and business schools - with excerpting and [commenting] by Phil Hyde (ecdesignr@yahoo.ca) unless otherwise initialed -

  1. Hawaii's health system offers wide coverage and low costs - Once benefits are entrenched, taking them away becomes almost impossible, by Gardiner Harris, NYT, A1
    [Everyone loved Hawaii's system in the early 90s before they started modifying it toward the Clintons' proposed plan. But maybe it depends on a boost from island solidarity (here called "paternalism") and isolation (employers can't threaten to move across state lines)? - and it's a looong way to think that attracting patients from other states will justify constant expansion! But there are numerous hints in this article that suggest the author is writing from the insurance industry's standpoint.]
    HONOLULU - Imee Gallardo..has been scooping ice cream at a Haagen-Dasz shop at Waikiki Beach for five years, and during that time the shop has done something its counterparts on the mainland rarely do: it has paid for her health care.
    Ms. Gallardo cannot imagine any other system.
    "I wouldn't get coverage on the mainland?" Ms. Gallardo asked. "Even if I worked? Why?"
    Since 1974, Hawaii has required all employers to provide relatively generous healthcare benefits to any employee who works 20 hours a week or more.
    [So here's a state where enough employment for the costliest job benefit, and "full time" employment in that important sense, is only 20 hours a week, the level that Arthur Dahlberg was recommending as the workweek celing for the nation in 1932 in the depths of the Depression in his book, "Jobs, Machines and Capitalism" - see our bibliography page.]
    If health care legislation passes in Congress, the rest of the country may barely catch up.
    Lawmakers working on a national healthcare fix have much to learn from the past 35 years in Hawaii, Pres. Obama's [home] state.
    Among the most important lessons is that even small steps to change the system can have lasting effects on health. Another is that, once benefits are entrenched, taking them away becomes almost impossible. There have not been any serious efforts in Hawaii to repeal the law, although cheating by employers may be on the rise.
    But perhaps the most intriguing lesson from Hawaii has to do with costs. This is a state where regular milk sells for $8 a gallon, gasoline costs $3.60 a gallon and the median price of a home in 2008 was $624,000 - the second-highest in the nation [after ??]. Despite this, Hawaii's health insurance premiums are nearly tied with North Dakota for the lowest in the country and Medicare costs per beneficiary are the nation's lowest.
    Hawaii residents live longer than people in the rest of the country, recent surveys have shown, and the state's healthcare system may be one reason. In one example, Hawaii has the nation's highest incidence of breast cancer but the lowest deathrate from the disease.
    Why is Hawaiian care so efficient? No one really knows.
    In dozens of interviews, doctors and hospital and insurance executives in Hawaii offered many theories, including an active population that is culturally disinclined to hospitals, a significant military presence and a healthcare market dominated by a few not-for-profit organizations.
    [and half the Pacific all around it to maximize fresh air and minimize pollution - recall "The solution to pollution is dilution."]
    But there was another answer: With nearly 90% of the populace given relatively generous benefits, patients stay healthy and health providers have the money and motivation to innovate.
    [Now, an inadequately signaled change of focus from Hawaii to mainland U.S. (NYT editing has been deteriorating in the last few years - next week (10/24) there is an instance of "off of" in a subhead right on the front page = "Arizona may put all state prisons in private hands - Death row is included - Bid to cut $100 million off of (sic!) its $2 billion budget shortfall".)]
    If true, it's a crucial lesson [to the mainland. There,] healthcare overhaul efforts at the state and national level..have so far been largely confined to providing barebones insurance coverage to those in need. But changing the way care is provided [in the rest of the nation] has been given short shrift, and medical experts warn that costs could soar if overhaul legislation passes. After expanding coverage in 2006, Massachusetts is only now tackling the cost problem as expenses continue their inexorable rise.
    [There are many healthcare systems elsewhere in the developed world that demonstrate that there is absolutely nothing "inexorable" about rising healthcare expenses or even that they are rising at all or even that there is necessarily a cost "problem" in the first place.]
    But the Hawaii experience suggests that overhauling health insurance before changing the way healthcare is provided could work, eventually. With more people given access to care, hospital and insurance executives in Hawaii say they have been able to innovate efficiencies. For instance, the state's top three medical providers are adopting electronic medical records - years ahead of most mainland counterparts.
    The Hawaii Medical Service Assoc., the state's largest insurer and a Blue Cross Blue Shield member, recently offered the nation's only statewide system whereby anyone for a nominal fee [eg: ??] can talk by phone or e-mail, day or night, to doctors of their choosing.
    Kaiser Permanente Hawaii, which covers about 20% of the state's population [of ??], screens 85% of its female members age[d] 42-69 for breast cancer, among the highest screening rates in the country.
    One result of Hawaii's employer mandate and the relatively high number of people with health insurance is that hospital emergency rooms in the state are islands of relative calm. In 2007, the state had 264 outpatient visits to emergency rooms per 1,000 people - 34% lower than the national average of 401.
    Dr. Ray Sebastian splits his time between the emergency room at Kapi'olani Medical Center at Pali Momi and a hospital in Los Angeles. Nearly all of his poorest patients in Hawaii have routine access to family doctors who can provide follow-up care, while fewer than half of those in Los Angeles do, he estimated. So, he said, the emergency room in Hawaii is not clogged with patients suffering minor problems like medication adjustments and cold symptoms, and patient waiting times are a small fraction of those in Los Angeles.
    "It's like greased lightning here,' he said.
    Other states tried employer-mandated care only to repeal the efforts after employers threatened to move across state lines. Hawaii's isolation forestalled such threats, and its paternalistic plantation history made employer-provided care an easy fit.
    [Funny that what mainland U.S. labels "socialist" (regardless of the universal health systems of every other advanced economy) is here labeled (justified?) as "paternalistic."]
    In interviews, leaders and employers in Hawaii referred with surprising earnestness [does he mean "enthusiasm"? - it's hard for earnestness to be surprising] to an "aloha spirit" and a sense of familial obligation known as ohana to justify providing care to nearly everyone.
    [And unlike this journalist, they probably don't even see a need to "justify" this any more, if they ever did.]
    Hospital executives said they never overbuilt their facilities because the Pacific ocean meant they could not delude themselves into thinking, as their mainland counterparts sometimes do, that they would be able to attract patients from afar.
    Since supply tends to drive demand in healthcare, this may be one reason Hawaii residents use fewer healthcare services - they get a third fewer magnetic resonance imaging [MRI] tests and are admitted to the hospital 26% less than the U.S. average.
    There are clear problems with Hawaii's system [but they are on a different planet of triviality compared to those of the mainland]. Hospitals on the outer islands are small and losing money. With unemployment rising, so, too, are the ranks of the uninsured - which is now 10.7% of nonelderly adults. [But still,] only Massachusetts has a lower [proportion] of uninsured adults, and the national share is 20.4%, [nearly twice Hawaii's proportion]. And there is growing evidence that as the economy has slowed and premiums have risen, employers have hired more part-time workers who are ineligible for benefits.
    [These are "problems" that are much worse on the mainland.]
    Barbara Zacchini, owner of Pizzeria Zacchini on the island of Hawaii, said she makes sure that her 17 part-timers work less than 20 hours a week so she does not have to pay for their care. [Could this be another ironic pressure on backward USA to cut working hours instead of jobs - in addition to losing jobs to government-healthcare Canada? (eg: Toyota dropped an employer-healthcare Dixie location in favor of a new plant in Mississauga, Canada)]
    "I'm for universal healthcare," Ms. Zacchini said, "but it's tough to run a business in this state and in this economy."
    Some employers are ducking the law altogether. A..travel agent in Honolulu said her boss refused to provide health insurance although he is required by law to do so. She cannot find another job, so she asked that her name not be used.
    She has not been to a primary-care doctor or a gynecologist in years and goes to the emergency room when she needs care. "I could have..cancer growing inside me, but who knows?" she said. "It worries me."
    Hawaii[an] law requires employers to offer standardized health plans with low co-pays, no deductibles adn few out-of-pocket costs. Cliff Cisco, a senior VP at the Hawaii Medical Service Assoc., said that having a standardized and popular benefit has helped keep administrative costs to just 7% of revenue, among the lowest in the nation.
    Indeed, many in Hawaii are worried that legislation moving through Congress could, if it supercedes Hawaii law, allow employers to reduce the quality of care provided. So legislators in Hawaii have pushed for provisions exempting the state.
    Chad Buck, owner of Hawaii Food Service Alliance, a grocery distribution company with 140 employees, said he feared national healthcare legislation might allow his competitors to provide low-cost, high-deductible plans in place of the generous benefits now required by the state.
    [Any so-called universal healthcare that is merely required by government instead of provided by government is window-dressing "doing good with other people's money" - a cop out.]
    "I don't want to compete against low-quality healthcare, and I don't want my employees to have a cheap second," Mr. Buck said.
    Richard Caldarazzo..a manager at Lulu's Waikiki Surf Club, said he had worked at restaurants in Ann Arbor, Mich., and Chicago, and had never [received] health insurance.
    After he moved to Hawaii and got a job at Lulu's, "I was really surprised when they told me I'd get [health] insurance," [he] said. "My parents couldn't believe it."

  2. TMI restores workers' hours as business picks up, AP via Grand Forks Herald

    DICKINSON, N.D. — Workers at TMI Systems Design Corp. in Dickinson are returning to 40-hour work weeks as business picks up.
    TMI cut hours at two of its three factories in August, citing a drop in production. Hours were scaled back to 36 per week.

    TMI president Dean Rummel says hours were restored to affected employees this week. And, there will be opportunities for overtime in the near future.
    Rummel says the company has many orders to fill and should be operating at full schedule until September.

  3. Germany's economy to grow 2.7 per cent, by Sahit Muja, (10/16) Examiner.com
    Michael Heise, Allianz's chief economist, is a optimist for German economy. Forecasters at the International Monetary Fund and European Central Bank had had an incentive to be extra gloomy.
    Germany sunk [sic] deeper into recession than the US [doubtful], but is now benefiting from a revival in exports. Allianz argued, disposable incomes have continued to grow. Increases in unemployment have been mild.
    The jobless total will remain below 4m in 2010 - and falls in wage income have been more than offset by rises in, for instance, pensions and government payments for short-time working *[ie: "Kurzarbeit"].
    German GDP in 2010 would be higher than in 2009. With employment levels still falling, the recovery would not be self-sustaining but the pressure to consolidate public finances would reduce Berlin's scope for providing stimulus, although Allianz saw room for growth-boosting tax cuts pitched at mid- and lower-income households. As a result, Heise did not expect German economic output to return to the peak seen in early 2008 until the end of 2011.
    Germany's stronger-than-expected economic performance is helping to bolster EU economic confidence. Germany, Europe's biggest economy, is expected to lead the EU recovery.
    German investor confidence rose to the highest level in more than three years in September after the economic recovery gathered strength and stocks surged.
    The ZEW Center for European Economic Research said its index of investor and analyst expectations, which aims to predict developments six months ahead, increased to 57.7 from 56.1 in August.
    Economists expected the index to rise to 60, the median of 39 forecasts in a survey showed.Improving factory orders, exports and business confidence suggest growth to rise.
    The benchmark DAX index has rebounded 52 percent from its March trough and reached the highest level in almost a year last week as companies worldwide from Goldman Sachs Group to Bayer posted better-than-projected earnings.

  4. Jiangxi, China, Qnr.cn
    A recent survey shows that people who get higher salaries generally work longer hours than those who get lower salaries. Some people favor higher-paying jobs, even though such jobs always result in longer work time. They believe that money is so indispensable in people’s lives that without it no material comforts or well-being can be guaranteed.
    However, others have different preferences. They would rather take up lower-paying jobs with shorter hours. In their eyes, money doesn’t necessarily ensure happiness and well-being. They want to spend more time in doing their likes and getting together with their family and friends.
    As for me, I prefer to take up a job with shorter hours even if it pays less. In my opinion, work is not our whole life. We should allocate enough time to our family and friends and have more time to enjoy our life. Besides, we are not machines. We need time to relax and rest so that we could be energetic enough to do our job better.


10/16/2009  bits and pieces of the timesizing solution in the news, reinvented thousands of times every day in every recession by mainly mid- and small-size companies, organizations and governments despite being *dismissed out-of-hand by many economists and business schools - with excerpting and [commenting] by Phil Hyde (ecdesignr@yahoo.ca) unless otherwise initialed -

  1. State budget cut puts slant on library tax, by Wayne Witkowski, PoconoRecord.com
    With the Pennsylvania budget being approved 101 days late, libraries across the state got some bleak news: a 20.1 percent cut in state subsidies.
    A year ago, the cut was a mere 1 percent.
    This one will take a chunk out of libraries, including $50,000 out of the $245,000 allocated in the last one to Pike County, according to Pike County Public Library Director Ellen Schaffner. Statewide, it cuts subsidies from $75,137,000 to $60 million.
    It brings into clearer focus a referendum coming up on Nov. 3 for a proposed 1-mill county library tax, a $35 expense for the median household in the county. The Community News has a story by Pocono Record Writer Michael Sadowski on page 3.
    "Moreso than ever, we need it for operations. We were in the red for operations in the last budget," said Schaffner. "We're operating partially on reserve funds. We did it last year for the first time. This year, despite a lot of cost cutting of $5,000 from the budget, including cut hours, we still have to dip into reserves by $19,000 or $20,000."
    State cuts will make it even more difficult for services, such as interlibrary loaning among the three branches in Milford, Lackawaxen and Dingmans and the Power Library database. "There are many ways we would have to cut expenses if the tax is not passed," said Schaffner.
    "This absolutely makes it even more important to pass the tax for our operating expenses," said Board President Maleyne Syracuse.
    Furthermore, Delaware Township was granted an exemption by the county Board of Elections from voting on the tax proposal because it has its own private library. The Pike County Library Board has filed with the Pike Court of Common Pleas litigation to overturn that decision see P. 16).
    "I'm glad now we at least know what the number percentage cut from state subsidies) is," said Schaffner.
    New Jersey cut its funding for libraries by 12 percent and New York by 8 percent, according to the Pennsylvanialibraries.com Web site.
    Anyone looking for more specifics or who may have their own questions can attend the next library board meeting scheduled for Monday at 10 a.m. at the Delaware Valley School District Administration Building. With the elections coming up, this would be a good meeting for concerned residents to attend.
    With the broader services libraries offer these days with Internet programs, library-by-mail and community programs, funding is needed even more.
    The board has visited the municipalities around the county pitching the tax and it's not an easy sell, with five of the 13 not making annual contributions.
    There are criticisms. Some say that the money from the tax that is earmarked for operating expenses will go into building the new headquarters on West Harford Street, although Library Board President Maleyne Syracuse has made it clear that would not happen, that the money for that construction comes from grants and fundraisers. Others feel it will be diverted solely into the Milford branch.
    Although Syracuse says in the page 3 story that plans are moving forward for a library branch in Lehman Township, which had been discussed for many years, the Lehman township supervisors are skeptical. They present their argument in a letter to the editor on page 13. They consider it a ploy to lure more votes from Lehman residents for the tax referendum. A pie chart p. 2) shows Lehman would carry the highest percentage of the tax burden at 17 percent. Dingmans follows at 15 percent.
    Although Schaffner said that expenses do rise every year, the Lehman supervisors point to the library budgets posted online that jump from $355,000 for this year to $394,893, to $504,992 for 2011, to $588,207 in 2012, to a whopping $807,694 for 2013.
    The last year takes into account new expenses of $112,00 for the proposed Lehman branch in the southern end of the county and $85,000 for the planned western branch.
    A big part of the increase is system-wide administration that goes from $210,00 this year gradually higher to $337,890 in 2013.
    "System-wise administration is the administrative offices that make things run smoothly in the county library system," said Schaffner. "One example is automated circulation. It's something that's not for just one specific branch."
    It also includes things such as administration salaries, secretary's computer and other operating expenses.
    The other question that comes up is whether that tax will hold a 1-mill with the budget expected to rise.
    "The library has no power to raise that amount," said Schaffner. "The only one who can raise that amount is the county) commissioners."
    Considering that the library has gotten the same $200,000 amount from the county every year since 2000, that probably will not happen too soon.
    The only other way it can be increased, said Schaffner, is if residents want it increased and put it to another referendum.
    It still seems residents' small outlay can help defray a dire need of funding. Personally, I am not letting the Bushkill branch issue encourage my vote because things change. And I have my doubts the county commissioners would raise the tax, if passed, any time too soon.
    But it might be good for residents to have a watchdog making sure the library is handling its finances in everyone's best interests.

  2. German government raises economic forecast, by GEIR MOULSON, Forbes.com
    BERLIN -- The German government raised its growth forecast on Friday, predicting that Europe's largest economy will grow by 1.2 percent in 2010, up from an earlier prediction of 0.5 percent.
    The new forecast was also more optimistic about this year, predicting the economy will shrink by 5 percent instead of the 6 percent foreseen in April.
    Germany's export-fueled economy returned to modest growth in the second quarter following a deep recession, and business confidence and industrial orders have been improving.
    [Ah, Germany is one of the least export-dependent economies in the world, because of its shorter workweeks, longer vacations, and consequent stronger domestic consumer base and higher consumption per capita.]
    Economy Minister Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg said the economy passed its low point in the summer after a year-long downswing, and "the chances are good that we can consolidate the upward course next year."
    Unemployment is still set to rise: the government forecast that the number of Germans out of work will average 3.5 million this year and increase to 4.1 million next year. That compares with 3.3 million in 2008.
    "Negative forecasts of over 5 million unemployed, as were being made at the height of the economic crisis, are now totally implausible," Guttenberg said.
    Unemployment has been kept in check so far by employers' use of government-supported short-time working arrangements [*"Kurzarbeit"] rather than layoffs. In September, nearly 3.35 million people were registered as unemployed, a jobless rate of 8 percent.
    Friday's forecast sees German exports slumping by 14.6 percent this year and then growing by 4.3 percent in 2010. In April, the government had predicted an 18.8 percent decline in 2009 and slim growth of 0.9 percent next year.
    Domestic demand will shrink by 1.8 percent this year and expand by a modest 0.6 percent in 2010, the new forecast said.
    The forecast comes as the partners in Chancellor Angela Merkel's incoming center-right government haggle over economic policy. Both Merkel's conservatives and the pro-business Free Democrats, their new coalition partners, advocate tax relief on the grounds that it would stimulate the economy, thus ultimately increasing tax revenue. However, the Free Democrats have called for wider-ranging cuts than Merkel's party.
    "The new coalition will set the right course: only if we relieve citizens and business ... will we successfully master the crisis," said Guttenberg, a conservative who is expected to remain in the new Cabinet.
    He added that "clear signposting for the way back to market economic normality" is needed following costly efforts to combat the economic crisis and that "budget discipline is a matter of course in view of strained public finances."
    This year's economic performance is still on course to be easily Germany's worst since World War II, despite Friday's upward revision.
    The worst performance to date was a 0.9 percent decline in West Germany's gross domestic product in 1975. The worst since German reunification was a 0.8 percent fall in 1993.
    The new forecast put the government in line with predictions earlier this week by a group of leading economic research institutes.


10/15/2009  bits and pieces of the timesizing solution in the news, reinvented thousands of times every day in every recession by mainly mid- and small-size companies, organizations and governments despite being *dismissed out-of-hand by many economists and business schools - with excerpting and [commenting] by Phil Hyde (ecdesignr@yahoo.ca) unless otherwise initialed -

  1. Week in Review - Seven Days: The Straight Dope From the Week That Was, by Geoff Kelly, Artvoice.com,ErieCounty,NY
    Erie County, N.Y. - On Wednesday afternoon, at the public library downtown, Erie County Executive Chris Collins announced the formation of a Rare Books Commission to explore how best to showcase the collections of rare manuscripts and literary ephemera housed at various regional institutions.
    Given that the budget and four-year plan Collins unveiled a week earlier threatens to devastate the Buffalo and Erie County Public Library System, the commission might consider expanding the scope of its mission. Collins’ four-year plan holds county support for the regional library system steady at $22.2 million per year.
    But the libraries already have been dipping into reserve funds to stay afloat in recent years. At the current funding level, those reserves will be depleted by 2011, the year that the county runs out of Obama stimulus money, when the Collins budget suggests a possible 10 percent cut in county funding for libraries.
    Such a cut virtually ensures that the libraries will cut hours or close branches, reduce staff, and curtail acquisitions. As a result, books and access to books will indeed become more rare.

  2. A year of cuts and redundancies, YorkshirePost.co.uk
    Yorkshire, England - Most SMEs [small or mid sized enterprises?] in Yorkshire have either introduced short-time working or made redundancies during the last 12 months, new research has confirmed.
    The research arm of Leeds-based marketing communications agency Brahm found that most have also cut costs, with many looking for savings by introducing environmental measures such as recycling.
    Brahm, which surveyed 100 companies across the region, said just five per cent of companies would go to Business Link if they needed financial support.
    The majority said they would go to banks and mainstream lenders instead.


10/14/2009  bits and pieces of the timesizing solution in the news, reinvented thousands of times every day in every recession by mainly mid- and small-size companies, organizations and governments despite being *dismissed out-of-hand by many economists and business schools - with excerpting and [commenting] by Phil Hyde (ecdesignr@yahoo.ca) unless otherwise initialed -

  1. Work share program to benefit businesses and employees, by Mario Cywinski, CanadaOne.com
    [And at least 20 countries have some sort of worksharing program and almost 20 U.S. states (listed first, countries below).]
    The economy is picking up, but in recent months some small businesses find cash flow shortages that have accumulated over the past year are catching up to them. One option, instead of laying off staff, is Service Canada's *Work-Sharing Program.
    The program intends to allow employers to keep workers in dire economic times, which will eliminate the need to retrain staff when the company is "back on its feet."

    Criteria are in place to determine which businesses are eligible for the program. Companies must:
    * be a year round business operating for at least two years;
    * demonstrate that reduced hours are a necessity;
    * show that lack of work is unexpected and not permanent;
    * create a recovery plan showing how business will operate through duration of agreement and how it will be back to normal, once the economy recovers; and
    * not be in the process of a labour dispute and have an agreement in place between union and employees (if a union is used).
    Workers must be year round full-time or part-time 'core' staff who are needed in recovery, must be eligible to receive Employment Insurance and are not in a current labour dispute. A company must have at least two employees to be eligible for the program.
    The duration of the program must be no less than six weeks and - until April 3, 2010 - cannot be any longer than 52 weeks. After that date, the program can only last 26 weeks, or 38 weeks under special circumstances reviewed by Service Canada.
    Business interested in the program can view the applicant guide for employers online. Once an employer has decided to proceed with the program, they need to fill out an application form.... In addition to the application form, an Attachment A form must be completed....
    As well as the forms listed, recovery plan is required with the application process....
    Once all application forms are completed; the package can be taken to a Service Canada Centre or mailed to Service Canada....
    All agreements are to start on a Sunday and your package must be submitted at least 30 days before the start of an agreement. An assessment is performed by Service Canada, to determine if applications are to be approved.
    Once in the program, employers are expected to complete a Utilization Report every week to show how many hours each employ[ee] in the program is working....
    An example of the work share program was outlined by Stéphanie Lacroix, Service Canada. "In a 14-employee company, all workers in the same job description should be part of the work unit and reduce their hours. If there were only three workers doing essentially the same job (e.g. all office staff) then they could form a work unit. An agreement can be signed for a reduction in work anywhere from 20 per cent (one day in a typical five-day workweek) to 60 per cent (three days in a typical workweek).
    "In this scenario the work unit could potentially work two days (60 per cent reduction) and collect EI for the three days he does not work (55 per cent of his salary to a max of $447 (gross) per week/ the number of days he is not working).
    "If the employer gets weeks where there is more work, this additional work must be shared equally among the members of the work-unit. In any given week the employees could work less or more than the two days in the example above, as long as on average, over the life of the agreement the reduction in work comes close to the 60 per cent agreed upon."
    [Links to all the forms mentioned are provided in the *online version of this article.]

  2. Netstal ends short-time manufacturing, by Chris Smith, Fakuma Fair 2009 news via European Plastics News
    Swiss injection machinery maker Netstal is to return to full time working at its plant at Nafels from 1 November, citing a significant impovement in order intake.
    The company, which has been operating short time working arrangements in parts of its production plant since February and across most of the manufacturing operation since July, announced the decision to its workforce of around 500 people on Wednesday last week.
    Netstal marketing manager Reto Morger told European Plastics News on the company’s stand at the Fakuma fair in Germany that the company has seen a significant order increase over the past few months.
    “This gives us a production base for the next four months,” he said.
    Morger said the factory will be running at above its budgeted levels until at least the end of January, by which time the machinery maker is confident it will have a clearer – and more positive – view of future demand.
    Netstal has reduced its workforce by around 20% since the beginning of the year, which it achieved through a combination of early retirement, transfers and redundancies.
    At the Drinktec exhibition in Munich in September, Netstal CEO Bernhard Merki had indicated to European Plastics News that a review of working arrangements was likely in the near future, due to near record levels of orders [for] PET preform systems.
    “PET is a substantial part of our business today and we have seen a steady increase in our market position,” he said.
    The company expects to record its second best year ever in PET preforms system sales in 2009.
    Netstal is understood to be the first of the major machinery makers to bring short time working measures to a close. However, earlier this week materials maker Bayer MaterialScience announced it was also to return its manufacturing facilities in Germany to full time working from the beginning of November.

  3. Australia's Doctors and Nurses are part of an ageing workforce according to Medical Labour Force report, (10/15) TheGovMonitor.com
    The number of employed medical practitioners in Australia increased by almost 20% from 56,207 in 2003 to 67,208 in 2007, according to a report released today by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW).
    The vast majority of these practitioners (over 90%) mainly worked in direct patient care, and of these, close to 40% were primary care practitioners, mostly GPs,’ said David Braddock, Head of the AIHW’s Labour Force Unit.
    The report, Medical labour force 2007 found that women continued to gain ground in the workforce with females making up 34% of employed medical practitioners in 2007 compared to 32% in 2003.
    The report also found that the medical practitioner workforce is ageing.
    ‘This is mostly attributable to female practitioners, because the proportion of women in the medical labour force aged 55–74 years increased while the proportion of women aged less than 45 years decreased,’ Mr Braddock explained.
    ‘This suggests that the increasing numbers of young women joining the medical practitioner workforce over recent decades have stayed in the workforce, and statistically, have moved into older age groups,’ he said.
    The age profile for male practitioners changed very little during the same period.
    The report showed medical practitioners worked a slightly shorter week in 2007 – an average of 43 hours a week, compared with slightly more than 44 hours in 2003.
    ‘Although practitioners were working fewer hours per week, the rising numbers of practitioners resulted in an increase in supply overall,’ he said.
    Measured by the full time equivalent of medical practitioners per 100,000 people, there was an increase from 279 in 2003 to 305 in 2007.
    A second report released today Nursing and midwifery labour force 2007 showed the number of nurses increased by over 11% between 2003 and 2007, and that nursing continued to be a female-dominated profession.
    Men made up 10% of employed nurses, up from 9% in 2003.
    The nursing workforce is also ageing. From 2003 to 2007 the proportion of nurses aged 50 years and over increased from 28% to 33%.
    The average weekly hours worked by nurses, unlike for medical practitioners, rose over the 2003–2007 period. Nurses worked 33.3 hours in 2007 compared to 32.5 hours in 2003. The proportion of nurses working part-time (less than 35 hours per week) fell from 50% to 48%.
    [So in Australia a 35-hour workweek is regarded as "full time"!]

    The number of full time equivalent nurses per 100,000 people increased from 1,017 in 2003 to 1,095 in 2007, this was an 8% increase.
    Source: Government of Australia


10/13/2009  bits and pieces of the timesizing solution in the news, reinvented thousands of times every day in every recession by mainly mid- and small-size companies, organizations and governments despite being *dismissed out-of-hand by many economists and business schools - with excerpting and [commenting] by Phil Hyde (ecdesignr@yahoo.ca) unless otherwise initialed -

  1. Demand Up For Partial Jobless Benefits, By: Steve Milne, KXJZ News via capradio.org
    Aired 10/12/2009 on All Things Considered
    Aired 10/12/2009 on Morning Edition
    State officials say demand is rising for a program that offers benefits to Californians who’ve had their wages cut. But if you’re thinking most of that demand is because of furloughed state workers – you’re wrong. State employees aren’t even eligible
    Sacramento, CA - It’s called *Work Sharing Unemployment Insurance. Employers, both large and small, can choose to take part. Talbott Smith is with the state’s Employment Development Department [EDD]. He says a lot more employers are doing just that.
    “Interest in the program sort of follows the economy. It has jumped back up recently very, very rapidly.”
    In fact, EDD has seen a 127% increase in the number of employee claims filed over last year and a 300% increase over 2007.
    [And almost 20 states in all have some sort of worksharing program and at least that many countries (listed below the states).]
    The way it works is, if a business owner needs to cut their payroll by 20% for example, instead of laying off workers, they reduce the hours and pay of their staff by 20%. Those employees then get work share jobless benefits.

    Smith says a lot more smaller employers like dentist’s offices and car mechanics are participating.
    “Because during a recession like the one that we’re in, people will make decisions to postpone things like dental work, they may not get their car fixed.”
    But there’s one group of employees who aren’t eligible for the benefits: state workers.
    “The employer has to choose to participate and the State of California as an employer has not applied to take advantage of the Work Sharing program.”
    Smith says he expects demand for the program among private employers to keep rising as the recession continues.

  2. New Budget Means Cuts for Libraries, (10/12) Ch.16 WNEP-TV via wnep.com
    Mahanoy City, PA - Now that Pennsylvania's long-overdue budget has passed, some non-profit groups are feeling the effects.
    The governor finally signed the new state budget into law Friday night. Now, some libraries in our area are bracing for its effects.
    Officials at the Mahanoy City Public Library said Monday more people are using the place for computers, reading, and learning.
    The smaller library and others across Pennsylvania will have their state funding cut by 20 percent as a result of the new budget.
    "I was working full time, 35 hours a week. Now I am down to 20 hours a week. My part timers were working 20 hours a week. Now they're down to 9 hours," said Tom Seiberling of the Mahanoy City Public Library.
    Library officials said although they've been hit with a 20 percent cut, it could have been worse. At first lawmakers were talking about a 50 percent cut.
    "If we got a 50 percent cut for small libraries I think we would have folded. I think every library in Schuylkill County would have folded except Pottsville," Seiberling added.
    Even at the larger Hazleton Area Public Library, officials are concerned. They are working through the numbers now.
    "Most public libraries have access to something called Power Library which is 40 databases which is available through their web site that have valuable information for students. At this point so we don't know if that will be funded wholly or in part or at all," said Jim Reinmiller with the Hazleton Area Public Library.
    Because of a late budget and the cuts to programs people depend on, some said lawmakers will pay a price election day.
    "Oh, of course, of course. Why wouldn't we? It's taken this long to do it, but they're well taken care of," said Dawn May of Barnesville.
    "There is no reason for a budget to take this long. As far as being in the work place, if you didn't balance your budget, you'd be fired. So they're not doing their job," said Gary Smith of Mahanoy City.


10/11-12/2009  bits and pieces of the timesizing solution in the news, reinvented thousands of times every day in every recession by mainly mid- and small-size companies, organizations and governments despite being *dismissed out-of-hand by many economists and business schools - with excerpting and [commenting] by Phil Hyde (ecdesignr@yahoo.ca) unless otherwise initialed -

  1. Saskatchewan boasts lowest unemployment rate in Canada, 10/12 theGovMonitor.com
    [While mainstream economists, media, and business schools ignore or slander worksharing and grope after civilian or military makework or more downsizing, a few smart populations under pressure are pioneering prototype designs for timesizing.]
    Saskatchewan continued to have the lowest unemployment rate (seasonally adjusted) in Canada in September, with unemployment at 4.6 per cent, down from 5.0 per cent in August.
    Among major Canadian cities, Saskatoon now has the lowest unemployment rate in Canada at 4.5 per cent while Regina is second-lowest at 4.6 per cent.
    According to numbers released today by Statistics Canada, there were 521,800 people working in Saskatchewan in September. That’s 2,100 more people working than the previous month (seasonally adjusted), but 700 fewer than September 2008. Canada as a whole has lost 328,900 jobs over the past year.
    Advanced Education, Employment and Labour Minister Rob Norris said the low unemployment rate shows Saskatchewan’s economy has remained strong through the economic downturn.
    “We’ve known for some time that Saskatchewan is not immune from the recession, and we’ve seen its effects on the number of people working here,” Norris said. “Still, we have the lowest unemployment rate in Canada, so Saskatchewan is the place to be if you’re looking for work.
    “Now with the Canadian economy starting to pull out of the recession and create new jobs, Saskatchewan is well-positioned to lead the recovery.”
    Norris said lower provincial taxes and a record investment in government construction projects have helped keep unemployment low in Saskatchewan, while the government’s Rapid Response Teams have been working diligently to assist workers and employers who have fallen on difficult times.
    “By facilitating federal Work Sharing that can protect jobs through challenging times, and provincial training and provincial career development programs, our Rapid Response Teams are on the front lines of this storm – and we’ve seen positive results,” Norris said. “More than 1,300 Saskatchewan workers were on the federal *Work Sharing Program in September, with 730 layoffs averted.”
    Norris also pointed to the more than 6,000 vacancies on www.saskjobs.ca as an indicator that opportunities are still available.
    Source: *Government of Saskatchewan
    For more information, contact:
    Christopher Jones-Bonk
    Advanced Education, Employment and Labour
    Regina
    Phone: 306-798-3106
    Email: chris.jones-bonk@gov.sk.ca

  2. Shorter hours could be in store for winter months at the S.F. Zoo, by: Will Reisman, San Francisco Examiner via 10/12 sfexaminer.com
    Wildlife enthusiasts hoping to get a glimpse of their favorite animals at the San Francisco Zoo may have their window shortened slightly starting next month.
    On Thursday, commissioners for the Recreation and Park Department, which co-manages operations at the Zoo, could vote on shortening visiting hours at the establishment by one hour during the winter months.
    Instead of staying open from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m. the Zoo would close at 4 p.m., starting on November 1 and lasting until March 16 — the span in which Daylight Saving hours are in effect. The Recreation and Park Commission could also vote on giving Zoo director Tanya Peterson the authority to shut down operations during stormy days.
    The shorter hours are expected to help the Zoo balance its operating budget, which is still in the red following the Christmas Day tiger mauling incident of 2007.


10/10/2009  bits and pieces of the timesizing solution in the news, reinvented thousands of times every day in every recession by mainly mid- and small-size companies, organizations and governments despite being *dismissed out-of-hand by many economists and business schools - with excerpting and [commenting] by Phil Hyde (ecdesignr@yahoo.ca) unless otherwise initialed -

  1. Washington starts cooking third stimulus - Bleak job report moves plan from back burner, by Greg Robb, (10/09) MarketWatch
    WASHINGTON -- The bleak September jobs report appears to have cracked the political logjam blocking progress on a third stimulus package.
    Many economists have come to think that a third stimulus makes good sense. "I think the economy needs more help and they should provide it," said Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody's Economy.com.
    This by itself would never be enough to get a package through Congress. But analysts say that Democrats are likely to need a new initiative to show voters they are trying to create more jobs.
    The first stimulus package of $152 billion came in early 2008, mostly in the form of tax-rebate checks. The second stimulus of $787 billion was passed in February 2009, and included reduced tax withholding for most working Americans, aid to states, and spending on infrastructure projects.
    Washington had been hostile environment for another stimulus proposal all summer. Even the word "stimulus" has become political dynamite.
    The public has come to equate the word with the deeply unpopular $700 billion bank rescue package rushed through Congress in the fall of 2008, said Ethan Siegel, an analyst with The Washington Exchange, a firm that monitors Congress for institutional investors.
    Independent voters "look at the [bank bailout] with horror," agreed political analyst Charles Cook, at a conference earlier this week. The measure is viewed as a grab for more control over the economy by big government, Cook said.
    Republicans have been quick to capitalize on the anti-government mood, successfully tying the programs to Democrats, even though it was initially proposed by two Republican appointees: Henry Paulson and Ben Bernanke.
    "Republicans have successfully raised the deficit in the public consciousness. Any stimulus will be judged not just on whether it stimulates the economy but what it would do to the deficit," said Stan Collender, a budget analyst.
    Given the political reality, the Obama administration pulled back, hoping the economic recovery would be strong enough to avoid the need for more government assistance.
    "The dominant view of policy people was 'we're going to ride this out,'" said Dean Baker, co-director of the Washington-based Center for Economic and Policy Research.
    Since August, disappointing economic data have been accumulating, most pointing to a lackluster recovery. Then last Friday, the Labor Department reported that employers cut 263,000 jobs in September. The unemployment rate rose to a 26-year high of 9.8%.
    Fears of a double-dip recession are now returning, said Richard Berner, economist at Morgan Stanley. The most recent data "is consistent with our view that a healthy third quarter would give way to a wobbly fourth quarter," Berner wrote in a note to clients.
    The Blue Chip consensus forecast sees GDP growth around 2.75% over the next year, well short of previous recoveries.
    Berner himself believes that the economy will avoid a double-dip recession, but many other economists are less confident. Pessimists -- given short shrift only weeks ago -- are now being given new credence.
    "It is pretty clear the situation is going to get worse," said Nobel-prize winning economist Joseph Stiglitz, earlier this week in a televised interview at the annual meeting of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund.
    Growth is going to be well short of the pace needed to generate jobs, Stiglitz noted.
    A recent forecast of the Congressional Budget Office has the unemployment rate staying above 8% through 2011.
    Economist Paul Krugman paints the same picture in terms of an "output gap" or the difference between what the economy could be producing and what it actually will produce.
    "We're looking at an output gap of between $2 trillion and $3 trillion over the next year and a half, while the remaining stimulus in the pipeline is probably less than $400 billion. We have to do much more," Krugman wrote recently on his blog.
    Congressional Democrats appear to have had enough.
    Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid rushed to the White House this week to discuss what to do about the economy.
    Cook said there is now as great as a 50-50 chance that Democrats will lose the House in mid-term elections next November.
    Democrats feel a "political need" to put together a jobs bill, Siegel said. "The 2010 midterm elections will be about three things -- jobs, jobs, jobs."
    The measure will have to be christened as "a jobs bill," Siegel said. "If they call it stimulus they should be sent back to kindergarten."
    "People in Congress and the administration will run from you if you say the word 'stimulus,'" agreed Baker.
    Earlier this week, White House spokesman Robert Gibbs insisted any legislation to extend some of the expiring provisions of the Obama stimulus package should not be called a stimulus.
    At the same time, President Obama said in his weekly radio address that he was "working closely with my economic team to explore additional options to promote job creation."
    But there has been a flurry of activity.
    White House officials have said Obama is looking at extending jobless benefits and health-care subsides for unemployed workers through 2010. Also under consideration is an extension or expansion of the $8,000 tax credit for first-time home buyers.
    Zandi of Moody's Economy.com, who has worked closely with Pelosi, suggested there might be a two-pronged approach.
    He said Congress should pass the extension package by the end of the year at a cost of roughly $100 billion. This would include extending jobless benefits, health-care subsidies, the homebuyer tax credit and a provision to allow Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to continue to finance larger mortgages.
    Then, early in 2010, if the economy is not gaining traction, another package should be put in place, Zandi said. This proposal should include additional aid to states, more money for mortgage modifications, expanding the housing tax credit to all buyers, and credit for small businesses, Zandi said.
    The total cost -- another $100 billion.
    Many analysts are skeptical that a plan could succeed.
    In the current political climate, Republicans will not want to help Obama, Collender said. Given the straightjacket of the deficit, "where is the room to maneuver?" Collender asked.
    "Whether Democrats can get it done remains very much up in the air," Siegel said. But Siegel said that a package that includes tax breaks aimed at businesses may be able to get bipartisan support.
    Rep. Eric Cantor, a top House Republican leader, has put forward a tax credit for companies to create new jobs.
    The credit was in the first Obama stimulus package but was dropped on concern that businesses could game the system.
    For instance, companies that now contract out custodial staff could move them onto the payroll. This would not result in net new jobs.
    Baker of the CEPR proposed that companies be given a tax credit for shortening the work week. A variation of the plan is in place in Germany, he said.
    [And not just Germany - in fact, at least 18 US states already have "a variation of the plan in place.]
    Cutting hours would force some companies to turn around and hire more workers, Baker said.

    Greg Robb is a senior reporter for MarketWatch in Washington.

  2. Custody laws force parents to extremes, by MINORU MATSUTANI, The Japan Times Online via search.JapanTimes.co.jp
    The high-profile case of Christopher Savoie, a Tennessee man who was arrested in Fukuoka Prefecture for snatching his two children from his Japanese former wife and now faces kidnapping charges, illustrates the extremes a partner in a broken international marriage will resort to for child custody.
    The case, which made a splash in U.S. media, especially on CNN, also highlights the uniqueness of Japan's culture and judicial system regarding the custody of children in cases of divorce, and its lack of regard for custody rulings by courts overseas where divorces took place, such as the one in the U.S. favoring Savoie.
    The fact that Japan has not signed the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction, which secures the prompt return of a child wrongfully removed to or retained in any signatory countries, complicates the problem even further.
    Following are some questions and answers regarding a child's custody in international marriages that end in divorce in Japan:
    How do family courts usually rule on custody, regardless of a parent's nationality?
    Family courts normally grant sole custody to the ex-spouse who is able to spend more time with the child, which in Japan is usually the mother. This contrasts with the United States and many other developed nations, where joint custody is the norm.
    The parent who wins custody, almost always the mother, is able to control how much, or how little, the other parent can see the child. They can even bar all contact.
    In short, a divorced mother in Japan gets sole custody of the child and decides the visitation terms of the father.
    Why is shared custody out of the question?
    Article 819 of the Civil Code stipulates that "shinken," or parental rights, reside with only one of the divorced spouses. The legal term refers to the general rights and duties of parents in raising their child. An exact term in English probably does not exist, according to lawyer Takao Tanase.
    Article 766 lays out the arrangement of "kangoken," or custody, which translates as the right to live with and duty to raise a child.
    If a divorced couple cannot agree on either parental rights or custody, family courts decide for them. In most cases, the court grants both parental rights and custody to a single parent, normally the mother.
    "Family court judges thoughtlessly equate sole parental rights with sole custody. I suspect the judges think it is difficult to maintain the parent-child connection outside the home, and thus if someone does not live with a child and only has periodic visitation, the concept of the family is threatened," Tanase said.
    Tomoyuki Tobisawa, an official from the Justice Ministry's Civil Bureau, said Articles 819 and 766 have not been revised since December 1947, when the country's laws were rewritten in modern Japanese. He declined to say why the ministry thinks parental rights should reside with only one parent.
    What is the cultural background in granting parental rights to mothers?
    There are no laws suggesting mothers are more suitable to hold parental rights or custody than fathers.
    However, family courts rarely challenge the widely held belief that mothers should take care of the child, unless they are abusive or in some way incompetent, because fathers are normally away from home due to their jobs.
    Legal expert Shinichiro Kudo, who specializes in divorce and settlement consultations, said fathers who work shorter hours than their ex-wives sometimes gain custody, but that it is quite rare.
    But longer working hours do not necessarily make fathers less competent at child-rearing, Kudo said.

    He said the term "parental rights" actually involves the duty to act in the best interests of the child. According to Kudo, it makes sense for a parent who works hard from morning to evening to perform parental duties because they are providing financial support for the child.
    "In mediation, lawyers always ask a working parent what time he or she comes home from work. That is a very vital question," he said.
    Does a divorced spouse who lacks parental rights remain a legal parent?
    Yes, children are still listed as theirs in the residency registry even after divorce, lawyer Tanase said.
    Why is an international divorce case a bigger problem?
    Japan's laws and judicial system differ from other developed countries, and its courts feel no responsibility to side with any preceding rulings made by their overseas counterparts in specific cases.
    About 80 countries, including the United States, most European countries and Australia, have signed the Hague convention.
    Various countries have urged Japan to sign the convention a number of times. Most recently, the U.S., Canada, Britain and France issued a joint statement urging Japan to address the problem, said Kosei Nomura, an official in charge of international law at the Foreign Ministry.
    But there are arguments in Japan that signing the convention would make it harder for parents to flee abusive spouses.
    What would happen if Japan signed the Hague convention?
    In the case of Christopher Savoie, whose former wife, Noriko, was judged by a Tennessee court to have kidnapped their two children, Japan would have to order her to return them to the United States, because they were "wrongfully" removed and taken to Japan, Tanase said.
    He added that the case will probably become a diplomatic issue since it is so prominent.
    Reports from CNN and AP said that a Tennessee court granted Savoie sole custody and served an arrest warrant on his wife in August after she allegedly kidnapped her 8-year-old son and 6-year-old daughter and took them to Fukuoka. Savoie was arrested Sept. 28 by Fukuoka police on suspicion of kidnapping the two children in Fukuoka. He is now being held by prosecutors.
    Are there other similar cases in which foreign parents cannot see their child?
    There are no reliable statistics as to how many are in this predicament. But some groups supporting divorced parents, including the Assembly for French Overseas Nationals for Japan, have said 160,000 foreign and Japanese parents in Japan are unable to meet their kids after separation or divorce.
    They also claim more than 10,000 dual-citizenship children living in Japan are prevented from seeing their foreign parent.


10/09/2009  bits and pieces of the timesizing solution in the news, reinvented thousands of times every day in every recession by mainly mid- and small-size companies, organizations and governments despite being *dismissed out-of-hand by many economists and business schools - with excerpting and [commenting] by Phil Hyde (ecdesignr@yahoo.ca) unless otherwise initialed -

  1. Others should follow Yakima County when it comes to budgets, editorial*, Yakima Herald-Republic,WA via Yakima-Herald.com
    Tough times require tough measures, and that certainly appears to be the case for Yakima County, the city of Yakima and other municipalities in Central Washington.
    Dwindling revenues through property and sales taxes, along with diminished investment returns, have put a hammerlock on municipal and county operations. The altered landscape has forced local governments to make difficult decisions in order to balance next year's budgets.
    For the first time in nearly three decades, the city of Yakima is laying off workers. Five jobs will be cut; that's on top of 18 positions that have not been filled. The total of 23 vacant positions will help the city reduce a $4.1 million budget gap going into 2010.
    Yakima County commissioners have proposed something even more unusual in trying to offset their $3 million budget deficit: closing down administrative offices for one day each workweek. If the proposal clears several hurdles -- including agreement from union representatives -- county planning, auditor and several other offices would be closed three days a week and be open nine hours a day for the other four. That would amount to a 10 percent cutback in hours for some county staff members.
    Nonunion workers as well as department heads and managers would also see a reduction in hours.

    Those working in public safety -- the Sheriff's Office, Department of Corrections and the courts -- would not be affected and would remain in operation for the entire workweek.
    With roughly 1,000 employees, the county predicts this reduced workweek would produce tangible savings and end up taking a serious bite out of its expected revenue shortfall for 2010. This approach also helps sidestep layoffs, a prospect any business, whether public or private, would prefer to avoid.
    [We wish!]
    Yakima County commissioners have proven themselves in recent years to be innovators in how they have pieced together their budgets, developing a Priorities in Government process that's easy to understand. This latest attempt to curb the escalating burden of payroll expenses is another example of their fiscally sound approach to budgeting.
    We hope other municipalities consider similar approaches. Sunnyside has already taken this step of reducing costs by closing down City Hall on Fridays.
    While it may not be the preferred way of taking care of the public's business, part-time employment is far better than no employment.
    With continued softness in the economy, this approach to reducing payroll costs is frequently the right one to take both from a humanitarian and productivity perspective. We hope it forestalls any more drastic measures.
    * Members of the Yakima Herald-Republic editorial board are Michael Shepard, Bob Crider, Spencer Hatton and Karen Troianello.

  2. Mahoney, lawmakers respond to public budget meeting, NewsChannel 9 WSYR,Syracuse,NY via 9wsyr.com
    [Now maybe Onandaga County in New York should follow Yakima County, WA when it comes to budgets -]
    Syracuse, NY - More than a thousand people were packed into the Oncenter until the early morning hours to let lawmakers know how they feel about Onondaga County's proposed 2010 budget.
    Most in the crowd were members of the CSEA, the union that represents 2,000 county workers who will become part-time if the budget is passed.
    The county executive says that's the only option, since the union refuses to forgo a pay raise; those affected feel much differently, and didn't hold back when they had their turn at the microphone.
    For nearly seven hours, county employees, one by one, let lawmakers know how they felt about the budget -- and more specifically, about the woman who put it together.
    “We've got a contract right here that Joanie Mahoney signed -- if she cared so much, couldn't she have been bothered to be here?” said one CSEA employee.
    [The perfect name for this role - you couldn't make this up if you were writing fiction!]
    Deputy County Executive William Fisher was blasted with boos from the crowd when he tried to speak.
    “My grandfather was a railroad trainman, he was president of the local union and I don't think he'd be very proud of how you're behaving,” he said.
    Mahoney says she knows this is an emotional issue, but the workforce reductions could have been avoided if the CSEA agreed to a pay freeze, like some of the other unions have.
    [Unions really need to educate their members more - and their members need to get their unions back on their power issue = reducing the disempowering and cheapening labor surplus with general, downward adjustments to the "full time" workweek to get it in line with our rising levels of worksaving technology.]
    "If there had been a thousand people who were private citizens who were from the community who had turned out like this, it would have had a different effect -- but last night's showing was pretty self-serving, county employees looking for raises in a very difficult economy,” says Mahoney.
    Employees say they can’t afford to take the wage freeze.
    [Then get the wealthy to pay wartime levels of graduated income taxes instead of letting them move toward getting away scott-free over the last 40 years!]
    “Nobody comes to Onondaga County to become rich, our workers come to put food on the table and pay for their mortgages,” said another employee at the public hearing. “We come every day to make this a safe place to work.”
    [Better raise periscope and look around at what you've allowed to happen to your economy at large, little feller, while you've been hiding out in Onondaga County with your head in the sand.]
    The full county legislature, which sat through all of Thursday night's meeting, will ultimately decide whether these full time jobs are saved, but there's no doubt that morale at the county office building is low.
    “She doesn't care about us, she cares about herself and her people,” said another county employee at the meeting.
    The full county legislature will meet on Tuesday to review the budget, and start its talks about what stays in and what changes will be made.
    The biggest issue county Democratic lawmakers have with Mahoney's version is the same issue CSEA workers have -- a shorter work week for 2,000 employees.
    “Our budget is $1.17 billion, we have a seven-million dollar problem that she pushed people into part-time positions to correct,” says county legislator Mark Stanczyk, the Democratic floor leader.
    [OK, what's Stanczyk's correction?]
    Stanczyk says they made a promise to the union when they signed a new contract last year.
    “We guaranteed to pay them those increases over a number of years,” he says.
    The county executive says, in these economic times, she's trying to be fair to everyone.
    “The legislature represents not only county employees, but the rest of the community -- many of whom have lost their own jobs and taken cuts -- and we'd have to go back to them and ask for money to give county employees raises, that's where the fairness comes in,” Mahoney says.
    Stanczyk says the county can -- and should -- tap into reserve accounts from the health insurance fund and room occupancy tax,
    [how much is in the reserve accounts?]
    but Mahoney says not so fast.
    “If the legislature spends more money, we will certainly pursue our opportunities, and that includes vetoes [huh?],” Mahoney says.
    “We have a pot of money [how much?], and for whatever reason we think it's more important to keep the pot rather than fulfilling our obligation to our workers, which is an absurd conclusion,” says Stanczyk.
    [depending on how big the 'pot'.]
    Other lawmakers we spoke with say they're hopeful when they meet on Tuesday they'll be able to find a compromise.
    Mahoney says she's still willing to work with the CSEA, and she has met with them several times since she put out her budget.

  3. Historic sites still in limbo, by Kelly Jackson, Chattanooga Times Free Press,TN via (10/08) CherokeePhoenix.org
    CHATSWORTH, Ga. — Supporters of the Chief Vann House and New Echota historic sites say they'll continue efforts to return both locations to the operating levels that existed before statewide budget cuts.
    State leaders recently declined a proposal from the Cherokee Nation in Oklahoma that offered about $40,000 for both sites if certain requirements were met, such as offering workers that were let go their jobs back.
    ''We're at a stalemate with the state of Georgia, but we're still hoping to work some things out in conjunction with the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians (in Cherokee, N.C.)," said Cherokee Nation Council representative Jack Baker.
    Kim Hatcher, public affairs coordinator for Georgia state parks and historic sites, said rehiring past employees is "not that easy" and "you can't just create a position once it's gone."
    Sally Winchester, marketing and communications manager for state parks and historic sites in Georgia, said it would cost about $142,600 annually to return the sites to how they were before cuts. But, she said, operating hours could be restored for about $51,000.
    For that figure, she said, two part-time employees could be replaced, but the sites would have to rely on some volunteers during operation hours.
    The Chief Vann House also would have to remain under management with Fort Mountain State Park instead of returning to independent management, she said.
    Tim Howard, a member of Friends of the Vann House, said the group has asked to meet with state officials to discuss various options.
    David Gomez, site manager at New Echota, said a friends group is forming while community, state and Cherokee leaders are looking at "long-term solutions."
    Ms. Hatcher said Dahlonega provides an example of a state and local partnership restoring a historic site's hours.
    Mayor Gary McCullough said he started work to restore hours at the Dahlonega Gold Museum as soon as he found out it would be open five days instead of seven. The site is "the centerpiece of the (town) square" and vital for tourism, he said.
    A friends group formed and community organizations and government pitched in the $25,000 needed to restore the museum's regular hours, and they've added volunteer staff, Mr. McCullough said.
    Mr. Gomez and Jeff Stancil, site manager at the Chief Vann House, said the new, shorter hours make it tougher to accommodate school groups and other visitors.
    ''We've been real busy the three days that we're open," Mr. Stancil said.
    "We're trying to do the best we can despite the circumstances."
    Ms. Hatcher said her department wants to keep the sites open as much as possible, but "all of the state agencies are having such a difficult time."
    Chief Vann House:
    Background: Built in 1804 by James Vann, a Cherokee Indian leader and wealthy businessman. The Vann family lost its home when family members were forced west on the Trail of Tears.
    --2009 operating budget: $171,705
    --2010 operating budget: $138,482
    --Staff before: 2 full-time, 6 part-time
    --Staff now: 1 full-time, 2 part-time (plus 1 temporary federal employee)
    --Hours of operation before: 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday, half day Sunday
    --Hours of operation now: 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Thursday-Saturday
    New Echota
    Background: The Cherokee national legislature established its capital, called New Echota, at the headwaters of the Oostanaula River in 1825. It was the site of many historic events, including the assembly of Indians for removal west on the Trail of Tears. The site features 12 original and reconstructed buildings.
    --2009 operating budget: $203,030
    --2010 operating budget: $139,742
    --Staff before: 4 full-time, 2 part-time
    --Staff now: 2 full-time, 2 reduced part-time (plus 1 temporary federal employee)
    --Hours of operation before: 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday; half day Sunday
    --Hours of operation now: 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Thursday-Saturday
    Sources: Sally Winchester with Georgia Department of Natural Resources, DNR Web site, managers at Chief Vann House and New Echota
    BUDGET CUTS
    Georgia Department of Natural Resources/State ParksandHistoric Sites budget cuts, effective July 2009:
    --39 percent reduction in state appropriations, 24 percent projected loss of revenue
    --Reduced services and access at five state parks
    --Reduced operational days and/or pursuing community support at 12 state historic sites
    Source: Georgia Department of Natural Resources
    ON THE WEB
    --Friends of Georgia State ParksandHistoric Sites: www.friendsofgastateparks.org
    --Georgia Department of Natural Resources: www.gadnr.org


10/08/2009  bits and pieces of the timesizing solution in the news, reinvented thousands of times every day in every recession by mainly mid- and small-size companies, organizations and governments despite being *dismissed out-of-hand by many economists and business schools - with excerpting and [commenting] by Phil Hyde (ecdesignr@yahoo.ca) unless otherwise initialed -

  1. No Recovery in the Labor Market - Job Losses Up in September, by Adam Price, Fight Back! Newspaper via FightBackNews.org
    [Now, kids, this is a left-wing article on a socialist website, which you can immediately tell from the anger starting with "Fight Back! News" and the socialist signal words, such as "working people" and "workers" instead of employees, and "working class" instead of lower brackets, marker words that immediately shoot them out of any mainstream policy discussions and keep them preaching to the converted. If the left or socialism or the labor movement itself had any use in the current stage of economic evolution, it would be focused on its power issue and preaching shorter hours. Let's peruse and see if they are doing it, or even mentioning it as an urgently needed, long overdue and fully sustainable policy.]
    On Oct. 3, the Department of Labor reported that 263,000 jobs were lost in September, an increase of 50,000 over the jobs lost in August. So far more than 7 million jobs have been lost since the recession began in December of 2007. The official unemployment rate rose to 9.8% in September, from 9.7% in August, double the 4.9% unemployment rate when the recession began. This is the highest level of unemployment since 1983. These facts show that despite the talk of a ‘recovery’ in the corporate media, there is not recovery for working people.
    The official unemployment rate understates the amount of pain workers are feeling. Over a half million people gave up looking for work in September. If they were counted as unemployed, the unemployment rate would have topped 10%. A broader measure of unemployment, including part-time workers who can’t find full time work and unemployed workers who have stopped looking for work rose to 17% in September. Employers cut workers' hours more in September through furloughs and hour cuts; the average workweek fell to only 33 hours.
    Figures from the Census Bureau released in late September showed that working class and poor families have been hit the hardest by the recession, resulting in a record gap between high and low-income Americans. The median, or typical household income, is now back to 1997 levels. Private sector employment is also fallen back to 1999 levels and only government jobs have grown over the last 10 years. But now local governments and public schools and colleges have shed more than 50,000 jobs in September, more than double the rate of August, as budget cuts lead to more public-sector layoffs.
    There are now six unemployed workers looking for a job for every job opening, another record high. It is no wonder that 5.5 million people had been out of work for six months or longer in September, a half million more than in August. 100,000 jobless workers were dropped from unemployment insurance benefits in September, and another million could lose their benefits by the end of the year. Further, the federal extended unemployment benefits program is set to expire Dec. 31, so that workers laid off next year would only be eligible for the six months of unemployment benefits that states provide.
    After the last recession in 2001, a so-called ‘jobless recovery followed, as employers cut hours and outsourced work to lower-wage countries. Employers added only 100,000 jobs per month on average, and the unemployment rate fell by only six-tenths of one percent from the beginning to the end of the expansion (2001-2007). If the coming recovery has the same pattern of slow job growth, it would take 42 years to get back to the 5% unemployment at the beginning of the recession (and that assumes no recession during the entire time)! Even if the economy were to follow the more robust recovery of the 1990s, which added jobs at twice the pace and cut three percentage points off the unemployment rate over nine years, it would take fourteen years to get the unemployment rate down 5% (again without a recession along the way). But both the 1990s and 2000s economic expansion were pumped up by big increases in consumer, business and financial sector debt, and this source of stimulus is not going to be available going forward.
    The rising unemployment rate, growing number of long-term unemployed and dismal prospects for the future mean more suffering. There will be more families losing their homes, more people losing their health insurance, less taxes paid and even more budget cuts of social programs and schools that serve working people. Unemployment benefits need to be extended and the extended benefits program renewed for another year at least.
    But unemployment benefits don't make up lost income from not working. Even with federal aid, health insurance is unaffordable for many jobless workers. Long-term unemployment means lost job skills and growing demoralization. During the Great Depression of the 1930s the Works Progress Administration (WPA) created 8 million jobs and was the country’s largest employer until World War II. Highways, roads, public buildings and public utility infrastructure were built by the WPA (including a large part of my high school). What is really needed today is another massive federal jobs program that targets the unemployed and youth coming out of school.
    [Nothing. They stay focused on diagnosis, not cure. They got nuthin'. The left is as time blind and bankrupt on the real solution as the right - despite the labor history of the last 200 years where shorter hours and smaller labor surpluses enabled all kinds of labor progress and higher living standards, and despite many people labeling shorter hours as socialist. How ironic. Guess we discovered the bankruptcy of the left from Carter, whose lack of focus gave us Reagan. Then eventually Clinton came along and for lack of focus started The Great Drift to the right. Guys, drop higher pay and get back onto shorter hours and worksharing. That is your power issue.]

  2. After first three months of fiscal year, state's financial outlook is bleak, by Doug Finke, GateHouse News Service via Galesburg Register-Mail via galesburg.com
    SPRINGFIELD, Ill. — At the end of September, Illinois concluded the first quarter of its budget year, which runs from July 1 to June 30.
    The bad news is revenues are down and payment delays are up.
    At the same time, the state budget finally approved by lawmakers provided more money for human service programs that was initially expected, allowing some agencies to rescind some of the cuts they imposed.
    Moving forward, though, the state's financial situation remains murky. Neither more budget cuts nor tax hikes appear imminent.
    Here’s a look at the state’s budget picture after the first quarter of the fiscal year.
    Revenue
    Both the General Assembly's Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability and Comptroller Dan Hynes issued reports in the last week detailing the state's financial condition for the first three months of the budget year.
    Both reports were sobering.
    COGFA was first out, detailing how base revenues in the first quarter were $340 million less than the same period a year ago. And that's only when money from the federal government is included in the total (which is the usual practice). The amount coming into Illinois from the feds was up $259 million in the first three months of this year over last year. Take that money out of the picture and revenues are down $629 million, a figure COGFA referred to as "much more alarming."
    State budget experts figured income from state taxes would be down this year because of the on-going effects of the recession. In an economic slump, money from income and sales taxes (the two biggest sources of money for the state) naturally fall off. What the experts didn't anticipate was the amount of the drop. COGFA said the "magnitude of the falloffs are somewhat unsettling..."
    The concern is whether things will improve enough that the state can hit its revenue targets by the end of the year. COGFA economists concur with national assessments that the economy has now entered a recovery phase. The problem is that historically Illinois tax receipts don't turn around quickly once a recession ends. COGFA said that after the last recession in 2001, it took nearly a full year for income and sales tax revenues to show a recovery. If that situation repeats, the state budget will continue to be squeezed for months to come.
    Spending
    The report from Hynes' office mirrored the COGFA assessment of state income. Hynes, though, also looked at outgo and the picture was not pretty.
    By the end of September, the state had $2.9 billion of bills that need to be paid, but can't because there isn't enough money. A year ago at this time that amount was $1.8 billion.
    What that means is that organizations reliant on state money and businesses that sold products or services to the state are waiting longer than ever to be paid. The report issued by Hynes' office said it takes 61 business days for a check to be issued. That's after a bill is handed over to Hynes' office for payment. Often, state agencies hold on to bills for weeks before submitting them for payment.
    And the problem is getting worse, fast. In just five working days, the delay went from 61 days to 66 days. A year ago, the delay was 42 days.
    Hynes said the office tries to address emergencies as they arise, like the Chicago Meals on Wheels program that ran out of money to buy food. There are limits, however. School aid payments have to be made on time. Large amounts have to be devoted to certain Medicaid programs to ensure maximum federal funding. Those bills have to be paid within 30 days or the state gets a lower reimbursement from Washington. But that means payment of other bills has to be delayed, even if those bills have been around longer.
    The record backlog of bills does not include an estimated $500 million in other Medicaid bills still sitting at the Department of Healthcare and Family Services, according to Hynes' report. Nor does it include payment backlogs in state employee and retiree health care. The state budget underfunded that health care by $600 million, which means more payment delays as the year proceeds.
    Community services
    In early July, local human service providers were raising alarms about what was in store for their programs.
    With a threatened cut of 50 percent or more looming, various providers laid out what would happen if the cuts became a reality. Employees would lose their jobs, hours would be cut, specific programs would be eliminated or curtailed.
    When a final budget agreement was reached, though, more money was directed to those programs. Carlissa Puckett, executive director of Sparc in Springfield, said the agency was told in June that its grant funding would be cut by $650,000. In August, word came that $580,000 of that would be restored.
    When the initial cuts were announced, Puckett said, the agency cut more than 60 positions and cut or eliminated programs like its respite program and epilepsy resource program. Now, the agency has been able to rehire some staff and restore programs, but Puckett still has concerns.
    "We're still in kind of an iffy stage," Puckett said. "We're starting to see (state) payments falling behind."
    The Boys & Girls Clubs of Springfield laid off staff and closed its central unit on 15th Street in Springfield after the initial cuts were announced.
    Now, said president and CEO Jill Shurtz, the central unit has reopened, albeit with shorter hours. The full-time staff went from five to two and other jobs were cut to part time status.
    The state came through with more money than expected, but private fundraising, particularly from St. John's Lutheran Church, has also helped, Shurtz said. She, too, is wary.
    "We have had major, major delays in getting reimbursements," Shurtz said. "We still have expenses from April and May. Our line of credit is maxed out at this point. We have nowhere to turn."
    Pete Roberts of the Springfield Center for Independent Living called the financial situation a "mixed bag." Like others, the organization is promised more money than was initially anticipated in July. But the promised money isn't coming in, which caused the organization's board to reinstate furlough days on Fridays.
    "The state owes us about $96,000. We are on fumes right now," Roberts said.
    If not for private donations, Roberts said, the agency would have closed in July.
    In addition to furlough days, the agency is taking other cost-saving measures, like stopping its janitorial service.
    "I and other staff will be cleaning toilets," Roberts said. "I am trying to cut every expense I can."
    Sojourn Shelter and Services laid off nine of its 17 employees and reduced its emergency beds from 32 to 16 when the agency was looking at a 75 percent funding cut, said Candi Clouse, prevention and development coordinator. By September, the agency found it was facing a 10 percent reduction, allowing it to rehire all but two workers and reopen all of the emergency beds. Still, Clouse said the agency hasn't gotten any money it is supposed to get through the Department of Human Services yet this year.
    "Right now we're going with other funding sources," Clouse said.
    What’s next?
    “What’s next?” is a question state vendors, human service providers and even rank-and-file lawmakers would love to have answered.
    Gov. Pat Quinn has proposed some money-saving ideas and a 50 percent increase in the state income tax. Lawmakers have been cool to the tax idea. Quinn appears content to let the income tax issue remain dormant until after the February primary.
    Hynes, who is running against Quinn, thinks that is a mistake. So does Sen. John Sullivan, D-Rushville, a budget negotiator for Senate Democrats.
    "It's a problem that isn't going to go away. The longer we wait, the harder it is going to be (to resolve)," Sullivan said.
    Still, Sullivan acknowledges there doesn't appear to be enough votes to pass any kind of revenue increase at this point.
    Rep. Frank Mautino, D-Spring Valley, said people need to realize that even worse problems lie ahead. The $2 billion the state borrowed in the short term has to be repaid, health care for employees is inadequately funded and another huge pension payment is looming next year. All of that will continue to put pressure on what revenue the state does collect and the state's ability to pay bills.
    "These are things that lie just below the surface," Mautino said. "What happens next year when revenues haven't come back and we have this interest payment and pension payment? At what point will vendors and suppliers not sell to us anymore?"
    Doug Finke can be reached at (217) 788-1527 or doug.finke@sj-r.com.
    On the Web: The government reports on state finances
    http://www.ilga.gov/commission/cgfa2006/Upload/0909revenue.pdf
    http://www.ioc.state.il.us/ioc-pdf/CQOctober09.pdf

  3. Speak of the Quality of People: Interviewing Berkshire Hathaway Subsidiary Chairman Eitan Wertheimer, GuruFocus.com
    In 2006, Warren Buffett bought his first foreign operating business, an Israeli company called Iscar Metalworking. The process he did the acquisition is classical, making you wonder whether even in business world certain people are meant to be together, just like in a marriage. Buffett recounted how the deal was made in his 2006 Chairman’s Letter to Shareholders:
    << The highlight of the year, however, was our July 5th acquisition of most of ISCAR, an Israeli company, and our new association with its chairman, Eitan Wertheimer, and CEO, Jacob Harpaz. The story here began on October 25, 2005, when I received a 1¼-page letter from Eitan, of whom I then knew nothing. The letter began, “I am writing to introduce you to ISCAR,” and proceeded to describe a cutting tool business carried on in 61 countries. Then Eitan wrote, “We have for some time considered the issues of generational transfer and ownership that are typical for large family enterprises, and have given much thought to ISCAR’s future. Our conclusion is that Berkshire Hathaway would be the ideal home for ISCAR. We believe that ISCAR would continue to thrive as a part of your portfolio of businesses.”
    << Overall, Eitan’s letter made the quality of the company and the character of its management leap off the page. It also made me want to learn more, and in November, Eitan, Jacob and ISCAR’s CFO, Danny Goldman, came to Omaha. A few hours with them convinced me that if we were to make a deal, we would be teaming up with extraordinarily talented managers who could be trusted to run the business after a sale with all of the energy and dedication that they had exhibited previously. However, having never bought a business based outside of the U.S. (though I had bought a number of foreign stocks), I needed to get educated on some tax and jurisdictional matters. With that task completed, Berkshire purchased 80% of ISCAR for $4 billion. The remaining 20% stays in the hands of the Wertheimer family, making it our valued partner.
    << ISCAR’s products are small, consumable cutting tools that are used in conjunction with large and expensive machine tools. It’s a business without magic except for that imparted by the people who run it. But Eitan, Jacob and their associates are true managerial magicians who constantly develop tools that make their customers’ machines more productive. The result: ISCAR makes money because it enables its customers to make more money. There is no better recipe for continued success.
    << In September, Charlie and I, along with five Berkshire associates, visited ISCAR in Israel. We – and I mean every one of us – have never been more impressed with any operation. At ISCAR, as throughout Israel, brains and energy are ubiquitous. Berkshire shareholders are lucky to have joined with Eitan, Jacob, Danny and their talented associates. >>
    Now three years have passed, how have the relationship worked out? How is the cutting tool maker weathering the impact of the global credit and financial crisis? Watch the following recent interview of Eitan Wertheimer, Chairman of Iscar:
    I am mostly intrigued by Eitan Wertheimer's attitude towards cost cutting. Through the downturn, he kept cash flow very high by cutting everything that could be cut except people. They went down to 4-day workweek and recently brought it back to 5-day workweek. How about the idea of cutting headcount? “Never in my dreams!” he said.
    Speak of the quality of people.

  4. Toyota begins making the Highlander, by Nicole DiDonato, WFIE-TV via 14WFIE.com
    PRINCETON, IN - Thursday was an important day in Gibson County.
    Toyota made good on a promise they made to employees last summer.
    Toyota pulled production of its Tundra pickups last summer and replaced it with the Highlander.
    Thursday was the first day of production.
    Toyota told its 4,200 employees they weren't going to lay anyone off in the process.
    While there's a good ending, it has been a tough year for everyone.
    After a year of slowed production, you'd think there'd be more of a celebration on this first day back to normal.
    As Toyota continues to cope with the slow economy, employees were grateful to receive a cupcake and coffee mug, welcoming them back for the first day of production on the Highlander.
    With the addition of the Highlander SUV, the Princeton plant is back to producing three vehicle models instead of just the Sequoia and Sienna.
    For the past several months, Toyota's been installing new equipment and training workers on how to build the Highlander.
    This is a day many thought would never come.
    "Toyota's always told us there was no worry of layoffs," team leader Mark Neikirk told our reporter. "But it was still in the back of everybody's mind."
    During the transition period, about half of the employees were moved around the plant and given other duties and training.
    Neikirk says bonuses were cut and his workweek dropped to 36 hours.
    [Timesizing, not downsizing.]
    Neikirk knows it wasn't easy, financially, for Toyota to keep everyone in some sort of paid role during this slow down but he's glad they did.
    Neikirk feels that says alot about the company.

    "They did what they said they were going to do," Neikirk said. "In these times, that's important."


10/07/2009  bits and pieces of the timesizing solution in the news, reinvented thousands of times every day in every recession by mainly mid- and small-size companies, organizations and governments despite being *dismissed out-of-hand by many economists and business schools - with excerpting and [commenting] by Phil Hyde (ecdesignr@yahoo.ca) unless otherwise initialed -

  1. House cuts workweek to 2 1/2 days, by John Byrne, Politico via RawStory.com
    In theory, the best job in American politics is the President of the United States.
    But the president's now got some competition: House Representative. The Democratic-led House -- in the middle of the biggest healthcare fight in a generation -- has now trimmed their workweek to just two and a half days, leaving members of Congress plenty of time to ski or play golf.
    House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) promised after the Democrats won the House in 2006 and then after Obama's election this year that the House would hold longer workweeks. But as the fall of 2009 wanes, the House has taken to starting on Tuesdays at 6:30 pm and adjourning "before the sun goes down" on Thursdays.
    That certainly wasn't Hoyer's tune in 2006, when he claimed that congressmembers were going to have to work five days a week.
    "I have bad news for you," Hoyer told reporters after the Democrats took over the chamber. "Those trips you had planned in January, forget 'em. We will be working almost every day in January, starting with the 4th." Story continues below...
    The Washington Post blared this headline Dec. 6, 2006: "Culture Shock on Capitol Hill: House to Work 5 Days a Week."
    But since the House returned from recess on Sept. 8 of this year, it has stuck around to vote on a Friday just once. For what? Approving an a 5.8 percent increase in Congress' budget.
    Republican lawmakers accuse Democrats of hypocrisy, as the liberal party had previously accused conservatives of having lackadaisical work schedules when they were in power. Not everyone is turned off, however.
    “Two and a half days a week is plenty of time to consider the ideas coming out of this Democrat-led House,” Rep. Roy Blunt (R-MO), once a power-broker for former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-TX), told Politico. “Imagine the damage they could do with five-day workweeks.”
    House Democrats say they're not holding many votes because the legislation they've already passed is backed up in the Senate. The Democrat-led House has already approved climate change "carbon cap" legislation and a plan to reform Americans' healthcare options.
    Hoyer spokesman Katie Grant invoked autumn leaves in her defense of congressmembers' curtailed hours.
    “Every fall we can count [on] two things: The leaves change colors, and stories on the floor schedule change from Congress doing too much to [Congress] doing too little,” Grant told Politico. “In fact, we have spent a great deal of time in session and gotten a tremendous amount of work done this year, and members are continuing to work both in Washington and their districts.”
    51 Comments ...
    Nonnie 2 days ago
    Have they cut their pay from a 5 day work week down to two and a half days of work? They don't go back to their home state and work, that's for sure. ...

  2. Expert View - Building The Labor Force With Forced Labor - Government jobs, a road to bigger economic woes, by Michael Pento, Forbes
    [Here's an "expert view" where progeny is called 'prodigy,' employment is called 'labor,' and artificial government makework is called 'forced labor.' If Michael Pento is an expert, we're in serious trouble because it takes a linguistic analysis to figure out what he's trying to say. For example, this headline should read, "Building wages and markets with artificial and arbitrary, centrally planned employment - Government jobs, a road to bigger economic woes" (a sentiment with which we agree) - under worktime economics, labor-force size is determined by the size of the adult population that is not privately supported (like traditional housewives) and government job-creation efforts have no effect on it and certainly nothing to do with forced labor alias slavery.]
    The number of people eligible for work is known as the Labor Force.
    [As such, this concept is useless. We need to know the number of people who need to support themselves and therefore, how many jobs we need and what technical support we need for the handicapped and "disabled."]
    It should not now, nor should it ever, be thought of as the number of people government can force into labor.
    [So who thinks of it as that anyway? Nobody. People are desperate for jobs. The problem is getting forced out of employment, not getting forced into it. Speaking as conservative independents, we charge Pento with a typical, block-headed neo-con paranoid missing-of-the-point - so anxious to fault-find that they accuse anyone they disagree with of trying to "force" something on others. Why is Pento even mentioning forced labor? Did anyone else bring it up?]
    I would hope Robert Reich (former labor secretary under Bill Clinton) would understand that by now.
    [This implies that Robert Reich brought it up. But a close reading of his Oct.2 article fails to turn up any mention of forced labor. And to read anything about it into the article is quite a stretch. So, please, Pento, quit introducing irrelevant, red-herring, straw men into the discussion. It's already complex enough.]
    Reich is a gentleman I respect and like.
    [Then have the decency to quit putting words in his mouth.]
    However, in a commentary published Oct. 2, 2009, "The Truth About Jobs That No One Wants to Tell You," the now Public Policy professor at University of California, Berkeley, makes it clear that he doesn't know where viable labor growth must emanate from, or how it must be achieved.
    [Well, let's wait and see if Pento knows either of these answers.]
    To be sure, he does get a few things right in his article. For example, he points out that the real rate of unemployment and underemployment is closer to 20%, rather than the current 9.8% unemployment rate reported by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
    [Agreed.]
    I would add to that, not only is the unemployment rate very high by historic standards, and rising, but the duration of time the unemployed have been out of work is soaring. Among the jobless, those out of work for more than 27 weeks has reached an all-time high of 35.6% or 5.4 million. The average workweek has shrunk back to an all-time low of 33 hours, even as the workforce is shrinking. It's bad news all around and on that we agree.
    [Actually, it isn't bad news all around. The fact that the average workweek has shrunk to 33 hours is a credit to our constantly expanding achievements in efficient, productive, worksaving technology. The fact that our "social software" lags far far behind our computer and robotic software and that we are too time blind and ignorant of our own economic history to cut the workweek intentionally is the real bad news here. It means, for example, that people like Pento who are so sensitive about anyone being "forced" to do anything is completely blind to the fact that the general labor force is forced to work an arbitrary minimum of 40 hours a week, because the concept of "full-time job" has been frozen since it was enacted as a maximum of 40 hours on Oct.24, 1940. It flipped to a minimum because there was no smooth and automatic way of taking technological time-savings as more free time for all instead of more insecure joblessness for a few, and a few more, and a few more.... And must we point out again that free time is the most basic and fundamental freedom, without which the other freedoms are inaccessible?!]
    Mr. Reich is also correct in his assertion that "people who are worried about their jobs or have no jobs, and who are also trying to get out from under a pile of debt, are not going do a lot of shopping. And businesses that don't have customers aren't going do a lot of new investing. And without customers, companies won't hire. They'll cut payrolls instead."
    [Agreed.]
    But this is where his reasoning powers end and his thought process becomes a bit soggy. The former labor secretary states that because the private sector is dead in the water, government must step in as the buyer of last resort. He then heads further into the deep end by stating that government should increase its spending and that it's no time to be worrying about our nation's debt. Finally, he submerges himself completely by stating, "The Federal Government [my emphasis] should be spending more money than it already is on roads and bridges and schools and parks and everything else we need [again my emphasis]."
    [Agreed.]
    I have some questions for the professor. How is it, Mr. Reich, that a group of people located in Washington, D.C., can know what "we need" as consumers? Do we really need more parks? Does "forcing" people to build roads to nowhere increase the country's ability to produce goods, which can help balance our trade deficit?
    [Oh give the "forcing" crap a rest and get on with your solution if you have one.]
    Reich seems to be equating public-sector growth, even on the federal level, with the same benefits that we derive from growth in the private sector. What he fails to realize is that only the private sector creates jobs that are economically viable, can be sustained by the free market and are accretive to growth.
    [General agreement, though most conservatives just LOVE having the private-sector military-industrial complex sustained by the public sector and used to be prepared to pay for it, though now they want to pay no taxes and FORCE everyone else to pay for it.] 
    When a centralized power creates jobs or redistributes the country's wealth, it does so by fiat and without the normal vetting process individuals risking their own capital go through.
    [What planet has Pento been living on? Big capital is no longer risking anything. They've just been "bailed out" to the tune of $700 billion and it's still going on. This is a huge private-sector redistribution of the country's wealth to the topmost brackets, and it has been forced on all the lower brackets starting with the supposedly "conservative" Bush administration. As for the normal vetting process that individuals risking their own capital go through, this too has become a joke as 80-90% of our private-sector leaders in banking and finance have become corrupt, proliferating toxic assets and liars' loans, bundling them as derivatives and credit default swaps etc., including Geithner and Bernanke.]
    If there is no demand from the free market for a government job or program, it may still not be purged from the system via creative destruction. Instead, it may continue to exist merely to appease some constituency or political group.
    [That's right, and so-called conservatives have become much more guilty of this than so-called liberals, with a "homeland security" government under Bush ten times the size of Clinton's government and with a national debt over three times as high.]
    To believe any central planning authority can supplant the free market for any length of time without seriously damaging the economy is ludicrous.
    [Agreed.]
    All a government can do is borrow from capital available currently, or in the future, and redirect this savings according to its whims. Alternatively, it can borrow from foreign sources or deploy the furtive tax known as inflation.
    By all accounts and measures our borrowing days should be over.
    [Agreed. And his alternative is ___???]
    The nation's debt now stands at nearly $12 trillion and is projected to nearly double over the next decade. Total debt as a percentage of gross domestic product is already at a record high. Meanwhile, we are wearing down foreigners' patience for holding our debt through our willingness to allow the nation's currency to crumble. We have guaranteed our prodigy [that's PROGENY, Mr. "Expert"!] a lower standard of living that will be accompanied by higher inflation, taxes, interest rates and below-trend GDP growth.
    The truth, Mr. Reich, is that consumers aren't spending because they're spent out. Household debt currently stands at 96.5% of GDP. That's just barely below its all-time high and well above the 46% it stood at in 1983. That, by the way, is the last year in which the unemployment rate reached 9.8%.
    [No need to lecture Reich on this point - he's already making it.]
    The policies that Reich endorsed will bring us further away from an economy based on production and savings. What is needed is de-leveraging on a national level--not more government-directed consumption and debt.
    [De-leveraging the government is exactly what Bill Clinton did, and the only difference then was that things were deteriorating slowly instead of rapidly as under Bush. We repeat, what is Pento's alternative, because deleveraging implies something much more powerful than government as the employer and charity of last resort. OK, what is it?]
    A necessary period of pain must take place to reconcile the decades of imbalances caused by debt and artificially low interest rates.
    [Pain? That's all he's got? We search in vain for anything positive. This guy has nothing. He's as bankrupt of alternatives as Obama, Bush and Clinton. So back to bashing Reich -]
    But those in Reich's camp are encouraging the government to step in where the market has demanded that the private sector bow out.
    [Has he got this wrong too? Does he mean Reich is encouraging the government (public sector) to step in where the market has demanded that it (public sector) bow out? Because if the market has demanded that the private sector step out of some area (like employment) and Pento doesn't want the government to step in, then he's recommending a vacuum, which was the original, problematic situation. There is, of course, one real alternative that Pento isn't mentioning and is possibly ignorant of, and that is to have the private sector clean up its own unemployment mess and strengthen its own weak markets by a technique that involves an absolute minimum of government action, and that is, for the private sector to implement full employment and markets via fluctuating adjustment of the workweek vs. un(der)employment (note that detailed market-determined unemployment sets a fluctuating general-workweek level, not somebody's arbitrary guesswork duly frozen forever), plus overtime-to-jobs conversion (note that the market-determined incidence of overtime targets, funds and paces the repackaging of overwork into easier and better-paid jobs, better-paid because the additional jobs reduce the current pay-punishing labor surplus). This that is, what we call worksharing, or 'timesizing' in distinction to downsizing. Under timesizing, the government would simply oversee a process of sharing and spreading natural, market-demanded work by switching the existing 40-hour definition of "fulltime job" workweek from the minimum it's turned (ie: an unenforced ceiling) back to the maximum it was meant to be - and enforce it equally first on all corporations, large and small, and then on all individuals, rich and poor, workaholic and lazy, and then on levels gradually lower than the pre-technology 40-hour level as much as required to achieve full employment and resultingly full markets and resultingly robust money-supply circulation and resultingly sustainable investments. But back to Pento's solutionless conclusion -]
    However, since the nation's debt is our debt, such a course would only temporarily hold in abeyance the eventual de-leveraging process.
    [There will be no de-leveraging process until we have a robust work sharing and spreading system in full operation, as described above and below.]
    If we pursue such a path, the next economic crisis will be much worse than the last one because we would enter it with increased leverage and a diminished private sector. The next time it will be government that needs the bailout. The only one around to "help" will be Banana Ben Bernanke and his printing press.
    [No, the only real help around will be that old Republican strategy mentioned just above and known alternatively as reducing the workweek against technological disemployment - this approach maintains jobs and consumers and markets and investments, and when intensified, creates more jobs - in the private sector, market-determined, by spreading around overtime-targeted skills and converting overtime into training and hiring. This is the only alternative to our current trap because it is capable of reducing the wage-depressing labor surplus and therefore centrifuging the gigantic black hole of coagulated money supply in the tiny population in the topmost income&wealth brackets. As long as we continue downsizing instead of switching to this timesizing alternative, we are, naturally enough, continuing on a downward path. (By the way, we curb the Fed's hyperinflationary option by turning its powers, one by one, over to referendum of the affected population - if they're just throwing darts, let's all get in on the game since we're the ones that have to take the consequences.)]
    Michael Pento is chief economist at Delta Global Advisors and a contributor to greenfaucet.com.

  3. Routt County commissioners to lay off 2 employees - 2010 budget includes end to furloughs, restoration of part of pay, by Mike Lawrence, SteamboatPilot.com, Steamboat Springs, Colo.
    Steamboat Springs — Routt County commissioners laid off two county employees, shrank two positions and eliminated two vacant positions Tuesday, cutting about $280,000 from the county’s 2010 budget in the face of decreasing revenues.
    Commissioners voted unanimously to approve the recommendations of County Manager Tom Sullivan, who met with department administrators and created a plan to save the funds. The budget also includes an end to furloughs and restoration of 5 percent of employees’ pay after the county cut it by 10 percent this year.
    The Routt County Planning Department will lose its assistant director, a position primarily dedicated to long-term planning. The Road and Bridge Department will lose an engineering technician, who Di­­rector Paul Draper said is the department’s traffic control supervisor. Commissioners reinstated a seasonal traffic flagging position into the 2010 budget, at a cost of about $17,000.
    Draper said the changes would bring his department back to staffing levels of eight years ago — at a time when improvement projects are slated across the county.
    “Our programs are increasing, not decreasing,” Draper said, citing ongoing work on Routt County Road 14 in South Routt; C.R. 27, also known as Twentymile Road, in west Routt County; C.R. 76, known as the Cog; and at the Elkhead slide on C.R. 86.
    Commissioners stressed that the positions could be restored if the economy rebounds.
    “We have to be fiscally responsible to our citizens, and the only way to do that is to find ways to cut our budget,” Commissioner Nancy Stahoviak said. “Eliminating positions is not fortunate, and it’s not fun, and it’s not comfortable, but unfortunately, it is something we have to do right now.”
    The county’s budget also changes employees’ pay reduction from 10 percent in 2009 to 5 percent in 2010 and ends the county furlough program, restoring the workweek to 40 hours.
    Sullivan wrote in his report to commissioners that the city of Steamboat Springs’ decision to delay an update of the Steamboat Springs Community Area Plan, at least through 2010, spurred his recommendation to cut the Planning Department’s assistant director position.
    That person’s workload also includes the Stagecoach Community Area Plan. Chad Phillips, director of the planning department, said a minor update of that plan is under way and could be completed by the end of 2009.
    Commissioner Doug Monger said the strength of existing community plans allows for a temporary reduction of long-term planning. 
    “I do believe long-range planning is more of a luxury than a critical need — in the short term, anyway,” Monger said. “It’s not sustainable to not have it over the long run — we know that.”
    Commissioner Diane Mitsch Bush said the Planning Department layoff could mean longer service times for planning applications.
    In other staffing changes Monday, the county’s fair coordinator position will be shared in a 60/40 percent split with the Building and Plant/Purchasing Department, which lost an administrative position earlier this year. Commissioners also reduced the hours of a fairgrounds maintenance position and opted to share that worker with Yampa Valley Regional Airport.
    Finally, commissioners eliminated two vacant administrative positions that were not filled because of the county’s hiring freeze. Those positions are in the Information Systems Department and in the 4-H section of the Cooperative Extension Office.
    All of Monday’s layoffs and changes are effective Dec. 15.
    Stahoviak said Monday’s changes create total county cuts of 14 full-time-equivalent positions this year.
    All three com­missioners emphasized that they were cutting positions, not individuals, and that every cut position could be restored in a more favorable economy.
    Commissioners did not foresee additional cuts.
    “We’ll see how our crystal ball goes,” Monger said. “I hope we’re at the bottom of this thing because the next thing to go would be snowplowing, in my mind.”
    — To reach Mike Lawrence, call 871-4233 or e-mail mlawrence@steamboatpilot.com


10/06/2009  bits and pieces of the timesizing solution in the news, reinvented thousands of times every day in every recession by mainly mid- and small-size companies, organizations and governments despite being *dismissed out-of-hand by many economists and business schools - with excerpting and [commenting] by Phil Hyde (PH) unless otherwise initialed -

  1. Commercial Plastics Recycling gets help sorting its materials, by Matt Griswold, PlasticsNews.com
    TAMPA, FLA. -- People with disabilities in West Virginia are playing a key role in Commercial Plastics Recycling Inc.’s material stream — providing value-added services to a process that would otherwise require the services of low-cost labor countries to stay competitive.
    Tampa-based CPR has partnered with the Jackson County Development Center in Millwood, W.Va., to employ several people through the JCDC to help sort various plastics in CPR’s post-industrial recycling stream prior to regrinding at its 53,500-square-foot plant in Millwood.
    Because of the increased workload, JCDC has been able to add a supervisor position and return to a five-day work week, after the group had cut back due to the recession.
    “It is a true win-win situation for everyone,” CPR President Ben Benvenuti said in a company news release. “CPR provided a better-quality product, and JCDC received more work that in turn helps the community, and the entire process was handled domestically.”

  2. Tompkins County workers suggest improvements - Altered schedules, less air conditioning among items, by Stacey Shackford • sshackford@gannett.com, TheIthacaJournal.com, NY
    When Tompkins County Administrator Joe Mareane was preparing for his first draft budget, he sought advice from those who really know how county business is conducted -- its employees.
    All 780 or so county employees were invited to submit suggestions via the county's staff intranet Web site. As identification was optional, there is no accurate count of how many did so. But legislators got a peek at 45 of their comments, included on a summary sheet circulated last week.
    Among them, many county workers called for adjustments to the work week and voluntary unpaid leave, and several said they would sacrifice their own hours if it meant saving a colleague's job.
    "If I knew that my getting paid for one less workday (28-hour work week rather than 35) would save someone's job, I would do it willingly," one employee wrote.
    [This is exactly what Pres. Obama praised in his inaugural speech: "the selflessness of workers who would rather cut their hours than see a friend lose their job..."]
    Others emphasized the importance of starting with voluntary hourly reductions, to spare those who may be the only income earners in their household,
    and one complained that they have to commute to work from another county because they cannot afford local taxes. They noted that "the county isn't the only place that tax dollars go" and said other taxing entities such as school districts should also be forced to cut back.
    A few wanted four-day work weeks, with one pitching the idea of staggered starts and another suggesting closing on Mondays and offering extended evening hours the rest of the week.
    [Four 10-hour days still totalling a 40-hour workweek doth not a friend's or colleague's job save.]
    "I know it would be a longer day, but the office would be open longer during those days providing more hours to the public," the comment states.
    It would also save on electricity and heating bills, the writer pointed out. Energy conservation was a common concern, with one claiming most county buildings ran too cold in the summer.
    "There are some employees who run county-provided heaters in the summer in order to keep warm," the worker wrote. "We joke that we have to remember to take off our jackets when we leave a county building, but the waste of money is no joke."
    Several also suggested the county look at cleaning up and downsizing its fleet of cars.
    "It's wasteful for cars with powerful engines to be used to serve court papers or transfer criminals," one person wrote.
    Another suggested a PR campaign informing people of the services provided with tax dollars.
    "It is easy to portray taxes as evil, but it is what they are being spent on that makes the difference to me and I don't think I am alone in the perspective," the worker wrote.
    Marcia Lynch, public information officer for the county, said some of the suggestions are being implemented.
    Some employees have made voluntary hours reductions which have been incorporated into the tentative budget, and policies regarding energy conservation and the vehicle fleet are heading toward adoption, she said.
    "The suggestions certainly have been taken seriously and will continue to be," she added.

  3. As Obama Advocates Longer School Year, Teachers' Unions Push for Shorter Weeks, by Kristin Thorne, FOXNews.com
    [Trying to associate shorter workweeks exclusively with unions, now down to less than 13% of the American workforce, isn't going to work when, as this timesizing page demonstrates, the worksharing strategy is reinvented hundreds of times a day across the American economy and thousands of times a day across the world. Our kids might as well get used to it.]
    President Obama is pushing for more hours in school, but some of his staunchest supporters are moving in the other direction -- seeking to adopt four-day school weeks as a way to avoid pay cuts and firings in the face of crumbling state budgets.
    Last fall, when the American Federation of Teachers endorsed him for president, Barack Obama spoke to a crowd of 3,000 union members and promised that "we will change education in this country; and we will bring about a better future for our children..."
    One way to build that better future, Obama has said, is to increase the number of hours children spend in school, both by lengthening the days themselves and by shortening vacations to extend the school year.
    But now, as President Obama pushes for more hours in school, some of his staunchest supporters are moving in the other direction, seeking to adopt four-day school weeks as a way to avoid pay cuts and firings in the face of crumbling state budgets.
    In order to save everyone's job, teachers' union organizers in many states and school districts are advocating payless furloughs for all employees -- getting four days' pay for four days' work.
    But critics say the teachers are putting their own priorities above the students they're supposed to be nurturing, and that payless furloughs will cost the kids services and class time.
    In Hawaii, where the Department of Education has to cut $468 million over the next two years, the State Teachers Association, which represents 13,000 public school teachers, has agreed to the creation of "Furlough Fridays."
    Rather than accept layoffs, the teachers have decided to take 17 Fridays off. That means 170,800 students will be out of school on Fridays, and teachers will have to try to cover the instructional minutes for the year in 163 days instead of the usual 180.
    "I was really shocked, going 'What are they thinking. Are they insane'?" said Kristie Charron, an elementary school parent. "How are they (the students) going to learn?"
    The president of the Teachers Association, Wil Okabe, said he isn't happy with the agreement, but that "Furlough Fridays" will cause the least disruption to the public school system. And he placed the blame for the tough decision on the state's legislators.
    "The Board of Education and the Hawaii State Teachers Association should never have been put in this position," Okabe said in a written statement. "Our children and students should not have been forced to miss class days. The state should have maintained a commitment to our children and funded their education at the appropriate level and provided them the 180 days of instructional time they deserve."
    On the first Furlough Friday, October 23 -- concerned parents are planning to rally at the Hawaii state Capitol.
    "As a parent I just didn't think it could happen. We thought we were protected by federal laws," said Debbie Schatz, co-president of the Parent Teacher Student Association at Aikahi Elementary School.
    But the number of days in a school year is determined by the individual states, not the federal government. In Idaho, the school year is 170 days, 10 fewer than most states. Others, like Colorado, Delaware and Michigan, dictate the number of hours -- not days -- in a school year.
    And since the length of the school year is decided by states and school districts, the teachers' unions have a great deal of bargaining power in making the decisions.
    Other school districts using furloughs to save money this year are in Georgia, North Carolina, New Mexico, Florida and California. And other unions, too, are winning furloughs over layoffs. In the Los Angeles School District, 1,100 bus drivers recently agreed to take six furlough days, leaving parents scrambling to figure out how to get their children to school on the days the buses don't run.
    "Furloughs are a way of sharing the suffering equally," said Ed Muir, deputy director of research at the American Federation of Teachers, which has more than 1.4 million members.
    "There's nothing that you can do that isn't going to hurt the students. You can do layoffs. You can do furloughs. You're going to increase the class size, taking away instructional time, one way or another," he said.
    But critics say there are real losers when teachers take furloughs: the students, who miss valuable time in the classroom. And they say there's another way to meet drastic budgets: fire some bad teachers.
    Frederick Hess, director of education policy studies at the American Enterprise Institute, said school officials should be using the economic downturn as an opportunity to consolidate what he says is an overpopulated teacher workforce.
    "One good thing about rough patches is that they provide the motivation and cover to make difficult personnel choices," Hess said.
    Since 2000, he said, school districts nationwide have hired teachers at twice the rate that they have added new students.
    "It's disturbing that rather than addressing this directly [as, for example, by ???], school teachers and school districts are trying to dance around the real issue," Hess said. "Furloughs are a result of small-minded, timid management."
    [And longer hours are the result of equally small-minded and timid, but also suicidally outdated, management.]
    Muir said many AFT unions, including ones in St. Louis and Detroit, are developing measures, like peer reviews, to weed out ineffective teachers. But he said many districts don't have policies on how to deal with those teachers. He also said that peer reviews and layoffs should not be used as a mechanism for dealing with budget cuts. "Due process is a guarantee of a process, not of an outcome," he said.
    Muir said unions are doing the best they can in the face of difficult decisions. "When there isn't enough money, there isn't enough money," he said. "There's no good way out of a crisis this bad."
    But critics say there's a bad way out of a bad crisis: four-day work weeks and shorter school years.
    There are other victims, too. Working parents who are suffering financially will have tough decisions to make on furlough days: whether to pay for child care, skip work or pay for programs that are being created by local service organizations. Some parents in Hawaii are even considering "renting" schools on furlough days and paying the teachers to staff them.
    With the Obama administration advocating tougher testing and higher academic standards, critics say, it's ironic that some of Obama's staunchest supporters, the teachers' unions, are putting up roadblocks in his way.
    When asked whether there's a growing divide between what the unions are doing by shortening the school week and what the president is advocating, the AFT's associate director of public affairs, John See, said his office was too busy to answer the question.
    On further questioning, he said his office is developing a policy to deal with inquiries from Fox News and FOXNews.com.


10/04-05/2009  bits and pieces of the timesizing solution in the news, reinvented thousands of times every day in every recession by mainly mid- and small-size companies, organizations and governments despite being *dismissed out-of-hand by many economists and business schools - with excerpting and [commenting] by Phil Hyde (PH) unless otherwise initialed -

  1. Michael Moore Takes on Capitalism: What Is the Alternative? by Dan DiMaggio, 10/05 SocialistAlternative.org
    Michael Moore’s new film, Capitalism: A Love Story, opened in over 1,000 theaters across the U.S. on Friday, October 2 with a simple message: “Capitalism is evil,” and must be replaced with a system that puts the interests of ordinary people over profit.
    The film puts the suffering of ordinary, hard-working Americans facing job losses, home foreclosures, skyrocketing tuition, and declining wages and benefits on full display. Capitalism is exposed as a system that is rotten to the core, subordinating every social concern to the limitless quest for profit.
    Moore calls this movie “the culmination of all the films I’ve ever made.” In his previous films, he focused on specific industries like health insurance (Sicko) or corporations like General Motors (Roger & Me). But in Capitalism, Moore shows how the problems we face are systemic in nature, rather than the product of a few bad apples or a handful of evil corporations.
    As he explained in a brilliant interview on Democracy Now (9/24/09): “I am tired of having to dance around this or deal with this symptom of the problem or that calamity caused by capitalism. I mean, I could keep doing this ’til the end of my life, and I don’t think anything is really going to change that much. And I’d like to see change in my lifetime… I guess I can keep making movies for another twenty years about the next General Motors or the next healthcare issue or whatever, but I thought I’d just kind of cut to the chase and propose that we deal with this economic system and try to restructure it in a way that benefits people and not the richest one percent.”
    Capitalism: A Love Story will educate millions about the realities of a system which has only one goal: the short-term maximization of profit. The significance of this phenomenon – a major filmmaker denouncing capitalism in front of an audience of millions in the most powerful capitalist nation in the history of the world – should not be lost. While Moore does not provide a clear alternative, he is forcing open a popular debate on the need to transform the entire social system.
    Victims of the system
    The film relies on intimate portrayals of the human costs of capitalism. In one example, Moore shows a privatized juvenile detention facility in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania. The owners of this facility made tens of millions of dollars by bribing judges to unjustly convict over 6,500 kids and lock them up for months for offenses ranging from throwing a piece of steak at their parents to making a MySpace page about their assistant principal.
    He interviews families facing foreclosures and layoffs, giving voice to working class anger at the bosses, bankers, and politicians responsible. Moore traces the devastation of Randy and Donna Hacker, as police force them from the home they built on their family farm. As Randy Hacker says, “There’s gotta be some kind of rebellion between the people that’s got nothing and the people who have it all… There’s no in between anymore.”
    Perhaps most disgusting, Moore exposes the “Dead Peasant” insurance policy, through which giant corporations like Wal-Mart and Bank of America take out life insurance policies on their employees, usually unbeknownst to the workers or their families. If a worker dies, these companies collect tens of thousands – or even millions! – of dollars, while the family is left to foot the bills for medical and funeral expenses. This gives these companies an incentive for their employees to die young, when they can collect the most money.
    Similarly, Wall Street investment banks, seeking a new arena to profit after the collapse in housing prices, are hatching a plan to buy up millions of life insurance policies from elderly Americans at less than half their value, then bundle them together to be sold to big investors as bonds. The investors will then collect the payouts when the people die (with the biggest profits coming from earlier deaths). Predictions are that this market could reach up to $500 billion (NY Times, 9/6/09).
    This is the sick logic of the capitalist system, in which human life itself is reduced to a mere commodity. If there’s profit to be made off of something, the capitalists will find a way to do it, leading to the ever-growing commercialization and commodification of our society. Moore exposes Wall Street for what it is – an “insane casino” – and fittingly, covers it in crime scene tape.
    The film does not even get into the crimes of capitalism on a global scale. This is a system that condemns 30,000 kids under the age of 5 to die every single day because of poverty (State of the World’s Children, 2008, UNICEF). This year, for the first time in world history, 1 billion people will go hungry, despite record harvests, because they are too poor to afford food. Meanwhile, the wealth of the world’s 200 richest individuals is greater than the combined wealth of the poorest 2.6 billion who struggle for survival on $2/day or less. Not to mention the record $1.47 trillion in military spending in 2009 (48% by the U.S.), or the environmental catastrophe being wrought by the endless quest for profits, no matter the long-term damage to the planet.
    Capitalism Vs. Democracy
    At the end of the film, Moore concludes: “Capitalism is an evil, and you can’t regulate evil. You have to eliminate it, and replace it with something that is good for all people.” Yet while Moore is clear on the problems of capitalism, he avoids putting forward a coherent alternative. He says we need to replace capitalism with “democracy,” though what exactly he means by this is unclear.
    Moore counterposes his call for real “democracy” to the anti-democratic character of capitalism, decimating the claims of the corporate media and political elite that the free market goes hand-in-hand with democracy.
    As he told Democracy Now, “The wealthiest one percent [of Americans] have more financial wealth than the bottom 95 percent combined. When you have a situation like that, where the one percent essentially not only own all the wealth, but own Congress, call the shots, are we really telling the truth when we call this a democracy? I know we get to vote every two or four years. Is that it? Just because we get to vote every now and then, we can call this a democracy, when the economy is anything but? You and I have no say in it. The people watching this, listening to us today have no say in how this economy is run. There’s not democracy in the workplace. I mean, through most of our daily lives, the idea of democracy is fairly nonexistent. And I think things work better when the people who have to work with whatever it is we’re working with have a say in how it’s working.” (Democracy Now, 9/24/09)
    Moore’s call for “democracy” means in part the building of social movements of workers and oppressed. The film cites some important examples, including community struggles to prevent evictions and, most notably, the successful factory occupation by workers at Republic Windows & Doors in Chicago last December where workers forced their employers to give them the back pay and severance owed them. Moore also shows several factories that are owned and democratically operated by workers themselves, rather than corporate bosses. It is to be hoped that this film will help spur similar struggles across the country.
    Yet while highlighting the need for struggle from below, and calling for an alternative to capitalism, Moore avoids calling himself a socialist. For example, when asked by Amy Goodman on Democracy Now if he was a socialist, he evaded the question, answering, “Uhh, I’m a heterosexual! Uhh, uhh, I’m overweight!” before they ran out of time (9/24/09).
    Moore’s reticence to refer to himself a socialist may have something to do with the long anti-Communist history in the U.S., and the words association with the crimes of Stalinism. The film does highlight the growing interest in socialism among Americans, and points out the recent Rasmussen poll showing that among people under thirty, only 37% say they “prefer” capitalism to socialism, while 33% prefer socialism and 30% are unsure. This is thanks in part to the right-wing’s efforts to tar any efforts at reform as “socialism,” as well as the impact the crisis of capitalism is having on the legitimacy of the system.
    Yet many of Moore’s descriptions of “democracy” could accurately describe genuine socialism! Democratic socialism does not mean the dictatorships that existed in the Soviet Union and elsewhere, or the sort of top-down system in which the government controls every aspect of life, as the right-wing likes to caricature it. Nor does it have anything to do with bailing out the biggest banks and corporations with trillions of taxpayer dollars. Neither is socialism is some conspiracy to be organized by a tiny minority acting in the interests of the “masses.”
    Rather, as the socialist pioneers Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels explained in The Communist Manifesto, socialism is “the movement of the immense majority, in the interests of the immense majority.” They explained that “the emancipation of the working class must be the act of the working class itself.”
    A Socialist Alternative
    A socialist society would put the economy and political system under the democratic control of working people, whose labor actually creates all the wealth. If we all got a democratic say in what got produced, the methods of production, and how products were distributed, the world would be a fundamentally different place. The resources of society could be used to benefit all of humanity and the environment, rather than just a few super-rich people.
    For workers to control what is produced, that means the economy must be run on an entirely different basis than the current system of private ownership. Socialists call for taking the top 500 corporations, including the big banks, auto and oil industries, pharmaceutical and insurance companies, and more, out of the hands of their wealthy shareholders and placing them under public ownership and democratic working class control.
    This doesn’t mean putting the resources of these corporations into the hands of government bureaucrats appointed by big money politicians, like the recent nationalization of General Motors. Instead, the current government, controlled by a two-party system thoroughly awash in corporate cash, must be replaced by a government made up of direct representatives of ordinary working people.
    In this way, socialism would mean a massive expansion of democracy. In fact, direct democracy will be vital for socialism to succeed. Instead of simply voting for representatives every few years, while the real decisions are made behind the scenes in corporate boardrooms, socialist democracy would bring collective decision making into the day-to-day functioning of every workplace, every neighborhood, and every school and university. Elected workplace committees would replace existing bosses. They would control wage scales and methods of production, and have a say in what was produced.
    Neighborhood and workplace councils, holding regular meetings open to all, would send representatives to expanded city and regional councils. In turn, such regional councils would elect national representatives. Elected representatives would be paid no more than the wage of the average worker, and be subject to immediate recall should they betray their promises (imagine if voters had been able to recall all the politicians in Congress who voted for the Iraq war, the Patriot Act, or the bank bailouts).
    By taking the biggest corporations under public ownership, they would no longer be able to buy votes and lobby to exert what amounts to a corporate dictatorship over the political system. Just look at the current healthcare “reform” debate if you need convincing of this, where the head of the Senate Finance Committee, Democrat Max Baucus, receives 1 of every 4 dollars of his campaign contributions from for-profit health companies anxious to stymie real reform. A reduction in the workweek to 30 hours or less, which is entirely possible given the vast increases in productivity that Moore shows in the film, would also give people more time to engage in discussions and debate about the direction of society.
    [If socialists had the sense to focus on automatic adjustment of the workweek against unemployment and automatic conversion of overtime into training and hiring, instead of their burgeoning maximum of stifling detailed controls and micromanagement, we'd all be socialists by now. But notice how long it's taken to get mentioned in this article. And it's introduced out of the blue, an abrupt non-sequitur, clearly not thought through very carefully.]
    On the basis of bringing the economy into public ownership and democratic control, and by replacing the “insane casino” of the market with democratic economic planning, we could dramatically improve living standards for the majority, save the environment, and abolish poverty and war.
    A socialist United States would guarantee the right to a living wage job, a home, adequate medical care, social security, and a good education. Under capitalism people are evicted from their homes and forced to live on the streets while millions of houses lie vacant. Workers are thrown out of their jobs despite the urgent need for more teachers, nurses, and public transportation. A democratically planned economy would not allow this cruel insanity, instead utilizing the resources of society to meet human needs, rather than profits for shareholders.
    Many object that socialism is impossible, because people are too lazy and would cease to work without a boss. But Moore shows how such a society might be possible in the film, when he highlights several companies being run democratically by their workers. There are numerous examples throughout history that show that when workers have been able to democratically control their workplaces, productivity has actually increased, contrary to capitalist mythology.
    However, while these co-ops and democratically run workplaces show workers’ ability to run their own factories – and society as a whole – alone and isolated they cannot form a viable alternative to capitalism, given their small scale. Real social change will require the most powerful sections of the economy to be brought under democratic control and public ownership, and the drawing up of a democratic plan of production.
    Role of the Democratic Party
    Moore’s film exposes the role of both the Democratic and Republican parties in implementing policies that have benefited the top 1% at the expense of ordinary workers. This film could have been a wake-up call, educating anyone interested in real change of the need for a political alternative to the two-party system. This would include running independent, pro-worker, anti-war candidates in the 2010 Congressional elections and preparing for a national challenge in 2012.
    Unfortunately, Moore himself stops short of calling for this critical step, and at times, the film serves to mask the true role of the Democratic Party, both in the current crisis and historically. Recently, Moore has said he’s too old to help start a new party, and to him, reforming the Democratic Party from within is more realistic. But this is a complete misreading of recent history.
    Moore does show a powerful clip of Democratic Rep. Marcy Kaptur of Toledo, Ohio, calling from the floor of Congress for Americans to “squat in their own homes” and refuse to leave. He also shows left-wing Democrat Dennis Kucinich, also of Ohio, asking, “Is this the U.S. Congress or the Board of Directors of Goldman Sachs?”
    But figures like Kucinich are marginalized within the Democratic Party, often functioning, despite their intentions, to provide a left-wing face while the party continues to carry out pro-corporate, pro-war policies. The important positions go to people like Christopher Dodd and Max Baucus, who after raking in health industry donations are now busy making sure that health care reform does not even include a public option. The real party leaders make policy within the strict limits imposed by the Democrats’ corporate donors.
    For example, as Kaptur explains, after the $700 billion bank bailout was initially voted down by the House of Representatives in September 2008, there was massive pressure exerted on anyone who wanted to advance in Congress to vote yes. Party leaders promised Senate seats, committee chairmanships, and more. The bailout sailed through shortly thereafter, with both major presidential candidates, McCain and Obama, playing a key role in lobbying their parties for its passage.
    All efforts at reforming or “capturing” the Democratic Party by the left have only resulted in the left being captured by the Democrats, pushing movements to water down their programs and methods of struggle to what is acceptable to the big business leaders of the party. Instead of relying on the Democrats or holding out false illusions that the party can be transformed (even as it drifts further to the right), we need a party of, by, and for working people. Such a party would refuse all corporate contributions, and would provide a vehicle to unite our social movements into a common struggle against big business.
    The Myth of Roosevelt
    Another weakness is Moore’s presentation of Franklin Delano Roosevelt, who at times comes across as the hero of the film. FDR appears as the champion of working people, supporting their struggles to unionize and fight for a decent living in the 1930s. Moore claims that had FDR lived a few more years, history would have been different, with the enactment of a Second Bill of Rights guaranteeing the right to living wage jobs, health care, housing, education, and more, as FDR outlined in a 1944 speech.
    Yet reality is far different from the popular mythology of the New Deal and this “great man theory of history.” It was not thanks to FDR’s leadership that workers achieved all the gains they made in the 1930s, from stronger unions to Social Security and unemployment relief. It was because they broke the law and defied court injunctions, local police, “citizens’” militias, and National Guard troops with sit-down strikes, mass pickets, general strikes, demonstrations of the unemployed for relief, and more.
    One would never know from Moore’s film that, as labor historian Art Preis writes, under FDR “more company unions had been organized, more workers killed, wounded and jailed, more troops called out against strikers … than under any president in memory” (Labor’s Giant Step, 47). It was only under massive pressure from below, and the fear that workers would go even farther and threaten the entire capitalist system, that FDR and the political establishment made concessions.
    These struggles were most often led by anti-capitalists – including socialists, communists, and anarchists – who refused to accept the logic of capitalism during the Great Depression and instead based on themselves on the needs of the working class. This powerful labor movement was key in securing the gains of the postwar period as well, with the biggest strike wave in U.S. history coming in the years immediately following World War II.
    Moore also shows how after World War II the Japanese, Germans, and Italians, to name a few, achieved social provisions in their constitutions such as were outlined in FDR’s Second Bill of Rights speech. According to Moore, the U.S. should know this since we helped them write their constitutions. But contrary to Moore’s portrayal, these social provisions were only granted following massive struggles by workers in these countries, and the fear that workers would move to the left and challenge capitalism itself. The film neglects to mention that U.S. occupying forces actually banned workers’ strikes and demonstrations in Japan and Germany after the war.
    Social democratic reforms were granted in Europe in particular because mass workers’ parties rose to power to challenge the establishment parties and this, combined with the threat of the Soviet Union and Easter Europe, threatened the very foundations of European capitalism.
    Obama’s Role
    Moore also treats Obama with kid gloves, despite criticisms of his economic team and some of his policies. In the film, he presents Obama as if he were initially a threat to Wall Street and Corporate America, who they sought to rein in by throwing tons of money at him – with Goldman Sachs his top contributor. Yet Obama never would have been able to make his meteoric rise to power had he not, from the start, been thoroughly vetted by key power brokers among the U.S. corporate elite, who he impressed with his ability to employ a soaring message of “hope” and “change” at the same time as faithfully serving the same interests who have run the show for many years.
    Further, despite the impression that he created of his campaign’s reliance on an army of small donors, nearly half his campaign money came from donors who gave $1,000 or more – in other words, the wealthy. Obama himself was more than willing to play by these rules.
    Moore supported Obama’s campaign in 2008 and even helped create false illusions in his policies. This was despite Obama’s support for the bank bailouts, opposition to single-payer, and call to send tens of thousands more troops to Afghanistan. Moore justified his support by saying: “I'm hoping that Senator Obama is like all politicians: they don't always keep their campaign promises, right? Somehow I've told myself that those campaign promises that he will not keep are expanding the war in Afghanistan [and] pushing a healthcare plan that leaves the profit-making health insurance companies in charge of the plan” (Democracy Now!, 10/31/08).
    Of course, these are exactly the promises that Obama has kept, sending over 30,000 more troops to Afghanistan this year (and now debating whether to send tens of thousands more), and allowing the for-profit health insurance industry to dictate the terms of the healthcare debate.
    Today, as millions grow increasingly frustrated with Obama and the Congressional Democrats’ policies, Moore continues to create illusions in them. In late September, he told the AFL-CIO convention, "Instead of us piling on [Obama], he needs our support… I see him out there [at the town halls] on his own. Who's got his back?" (Washington Post, 9/16/09)
    Clearly the racist attacks on Obama put forward by the right-wing should be sharply opposed by all. But Obama’s sell-out on health care reform, his bailouts for the banks, and his refusal to create the kinds of jobs programs needed to reverse rising unemployment, are rapidly creating the conditions for a right populist movement to develop. The half-measures of Obama and the Democrats have managed to antagonize the right while demoralizing the millions of workers and youth who had hoped for real change.
    Instead of “having Obama’s back,” the key is to mobilize, independently of the Democrats and Republicans, around the needs of working people, rather than from the standpoint of what is acceptable to the corporations and their two-party system. Imagine if the AFL-CIO had mobilized its millions of members to demand single-payer healthcare (a guaranteed, universal health care plan in which the government insures everyone, cutting out the insurance companies, and allowing free choice of doctor and hospital)? Or if the unions had spent the $450 million they spent electing Democrats in 2008 on building a new party that stood unabashedly for a moratorium on foreclosures, a mass jobs program, and single-payer healthcare?
    Unfortunately, the right-wing has mobilized its base and dominated the debate, despite the massive public support that exists for a single-payer system (as well as the public option). The left, meanwhile, not wanting to embarrass its “friend” in the White House, has remained largely silent. This is why Moore’s position is so problematic.
    In the film, Moore includes clips of quotes from former president George W. Bush defending capitalism during the financial crisis last year. Bush intones, “Capitalism is the best system ever devised.” Yet Bush is not alone in this position. Despite the right wing’s claims that Obama is a socialist, he wrote in his autobiography, “Our greatest asset has been our system of social organization, a system that for generations has encouraged constant innovation, individual initiative and efficient allocation of resources...our free market system.”
    So Obama defends the very system that Moore is indicting with this film. Far from being a socialist, his policies thus far have been aimed at saving the capitalist system from a devastating crash like the Great Depression and, like FDR, preventing social upheaval that could threaten corporate rule. Thus, it is no coincidence that his top economic advisers have ties to Goldman Sachs and other big Wall Street firms. Instead of providing relief to homeowners or guaranteeing jobs to workers, he has prioritized the interests of the banks, and the profit system.
    Ultimately, as Moore shows, we need to build movements from below – for jobs, homes, health care, education, and more - to challenge the corporate stranglehold over our political system. But that will also mean breaking from the Democrats, and linking those movements together into a new political party to represent ordinary workers and youth – a party of the millions, not the millionaires.
    Moore himself was once a proud champion of the need to break from the Democrats and build a political alternative that represents working people. He was a supporter of the Labor Party in the 1990s, founded by a number of the country’s most progressive unions, and also a major backer of Ralph Nader’s 2000 presidential campaign. For those who want to see real change, it’s necessary to return to this spirit.
    End of the American Dream
    Capitalism: A Love Story provides striking proof that U.S. capitalism cannot guarantee a decent living for working people in the 21st century.
    Moore charts the changes in the U.S. economy in recent years, and what he terms the end of the U.S. “love affair” with capitalism following the end of the post-World War II economic boom in the early 1970s. This boom allowed U.S. capitalism the space to grant millions of workers a decent living, though this was only in order to secure class peace to more securely make profits, following the massive postwar strike wave and growth in the power of the labor movement.
    Millions of working class families were able to survive on one income, and those with a good union job often secured 4 weeks paid vacation, free dental and health care for their entire family, and guaranteed pensions. Many Americans came to take these living standards for granted, along with the idea that their children would be better off than they were (although at the same time, millions were left out, in particular African-Americans and Latinos).
    All of these gains are under sharp attack today, just like the advances made by workers around the world, as the capitalists attempt to restore and maintain their profits in the wake of growing competition. This shows how the reforms won under capitalism will never be secure or permanent, because they will be undermined by the relentless competition to maximize profits unless the fundamental structure of society is changed.
    In reality, the conditions that existed during the postwar boom were an exception to the rule, not a normal part of capitalism. As Moore briefly shows, this boom in large part owed to the decimation of any competition during the carnage of World War II, when the industrial bases of Western Europe and Japan were reduced to rubble. In addition, there was the U.S. corporate and military domination of the formerly colonized countries, ensured by U.S.-backed coups (Iran 1954, Guatemala 1954, Chile 1973, etc.) and violent military interventions (Vietnam, etc.).
    The post-war boom came to an end in the early 1970s, with the oil price shocks and the restoration of German and Japanese competition. In order to restore profits, big business around the world resorted to attacks on workers and the welfare state. The more recent period has seen a return to some of the more “normal” features of capitalism, with a global race-to-the-bottom, massive attacks on unions, corporate globalization, financial deregulation, and more. Despite huge increases in productivity, workers have seen their wages stagnate, and their pensions, health care coverage, and job security under attack.
    These trends have only deepened recently. According to one measure, 3.5 million good jobs, defined as “one with health insurance, a pension plan and earnings of at least $17 per hour” were lost in the U.S. between 2000 and 2006 – before the current recession even began (McClatchy, 3/23/08). Inequality in the U.S. today has reached its highest point in 80 years. To give one example, in just two weeks in 2004, Wal-Mart CEO Lee Scott earned as much as the average American Wal-Mart worker would earn in a lifetime.
    In order to stay afloat, workers have been forced into record levels of debt. Meanwhile, the prison population has skyrocketed, with 2.3 million people now locked up, disproportionately people of color. The U.S., which capitalist ideologues love to refer to as “the freest country in world history”, now has by far the highest incarceration rate of any country in the history of the world.
    Even when there is a recovery from the current recession, it will not mean a return to the living standards of the past. As radical journalist Naomi Klein writes, “Without huge popular pressure for structural reform, the crisis will prove to have been nothing more than a very wrenching adjustment. The result will be even greater inequality than before the crisis. Because the millions of people losing their jobs and their homes aren't all going to be getting them back, not by a long shot.” (The Progressive, 8/09). Achieving any gains will require massive movements from below.
    Movement Against Capitalism Needed
    Moore ends the film with an appeal for people to get active in building movements against the corporate domination of our society. It is an appeal that could certainly catch on, given the anger bubbling up beneath the surface in U.S. society.
    We cannot sit around and wait for capitalism to fall on its own accord. No matter how deep the economic crisis goes, capitalism will always recover at the cost of much pain to working people, unless we build a movement powerful enough to change the system.
    The need to struggle to fundamentally transform this system is posed more urgently now than ever before. If this system is allowed to continue, in addition to the usual exploitation, wars, and general rottenness, the question of the very future of the planet itself is posed.
    Building such a movement will clearly be a difficult task. We are faced with reorganizing the socialist movement from humble foundations, given the throwback in socialist consciousness and all types of struggle in the last two decades. But imagine if just a tiny fraction of the 33% of young people ages 18 to 30 who said told a Rasmussen poll they preferred socialism over capitalism got active in the socialist movement?
    Every single worker and young person who gets active can make a massive contribution to fighting for a just world. Let Capitalism: A Love Story be a wake-up call for a new generation of activists to rebuild our build movements and link these to the struggle to fundamentally transform the system.
    To anyone interested in building a fight back against capitalism, we urge you to consider getting involved in Socialist Alternative. Join us in the fight for a world free of poverty, exploitation, war, and the tyranny of the super-rich. Join us in the struggle for a democratic socialist future.
    [Socialism (the micromanagement of a burgeoning maximum of stifling detailed controls) is no alternative - if it were, we'd have solved unemployment and poverty by now. The next article at least focuses on jobs and heralds the only real alternative, worksharing via fluctuating adjustment of the workweek, with a little more fanfare - though it takes till the 2nd-last paragraph to get there, embeds it in makework, and ends with a silly makework proposal for some Washington windowdressing that undermines the credibility of the whole piece. Clearly these "progressives" have learned nothing from the Great Depression and are still in love with their own market-dismissing ideas for Things That *I* THINK Need to Be Done - instead of just using the market-determined incidence of overtime to target job creation - not by straining but just by converting the overtime into training and hiring.]

  2. We need a jobs program and leadership that will DO it this time, by Dave Johnson, 10/05 SeeingTheForest.com
    This post originally appeared at Campaign for America's Future (CAF) at their Blog for OurFuture as part of the Making It In America project. I am a Fellow with CAF.
    Friday’s jobs report said 263,000 jobs were lost in September.
    BUT that is after 571,000 people gave up actively looking for work. The number of jobs lost last month was 263,000 plus 571,000 = 834,000.
    The "stimulus plan" is currently creating (and/or saving) between 200,000 and 250,000 jobs a month. Yes, that means the real job loss would have been at least 1,034,000 without the assistance of the stimulus plan.
    On top of that the "birth/death" model -- the government's assumption that a number of small businesses are starting up that they are not tracking -- is overestimating job creation, leaving policymakers without needed warning signals. The job loss numbers for the last year are expected to be revised upward by 824,000 early next year as a result.
    This is bad. Really bad. We need a real jobs program, and we need it bad.
    There is something else we need: we need progressive leadership that understands how important this is to people.
    Here is what I mean. I came across a news story from the fight over the stimulus plan earlier this year, that now in light of Friday’s terrible jobs report says a lot more than it said at the time. House Dems Strip Stimulus of $200 Million Provision to Refurbish National Mall,
    “The move was made amidst a torrent of GOP criticism about wasteful or non-stimulative spending in the bill, including those two projects, as the president attempts to woo House GOPers.”
    Yes, the House gave up this project that would have brought jobs to DC - and fixed up the the National Mall - to try to get Republican votes. How did that work out? How many House GOP votes did they get?
    How many people in DC could be employed fixing up the mall and other buildings? The Democrats took out $200 million that was originally in the stimulus without gaining a single vote for the bill for doing it!
    Meanwhile, the terrible jobs report showed that state and local governments are shedding jobs,
    "Government employment fell by 53,000, with the largest drop—24,000 jobs—in the noneducation component of local governments."
    With that in mind, let me remind you of this brilliant negotiating tactic: Senate Stimulus Compromise Deals a Blow to Cash-Strapped States,
    ... "state stabilization funds" ... were cut back by $40 billion this weekend in the deal cut by Senate centrists.
    That's right. The original stimulus plan provided funds to help keep states from laying people off. These funds were cut -- and now states are laying off.
    The compromises in the stimulus plan have consequences, and those consequences are people's jobs. The compromises were an experiment in "bipartisanship" that failed. The stimulus package gave up several important things, but how many Republican votes were won over? And as a result real people are losing real jobs.
    Making matters worse, unemployment compensation is starting to run out for many people who were laid off when this mess started. AND the COBRA health insurance subsidies are running out soon as well! On top of that, contractors - employees who are not called employees because companies can get away with not paying benefits, stock options, unemployment insurance, etc. - a huge component of the labor force, don't even get unemployment or COBRA in the first place.
    We Need Jobs Programs NOW
    So here is an idea from outside of Washington: How about our government help our people by putting together some real jobs programs? Put people to work while we figure out how to fix the economic mess that conservative policies created.
    It is time to use the power of government to start doing something that helps people, and that is not blocked by a misplaced need to get "centrists" (read: politicians trolling for payments/future jobs from big corporations) to like you or a fear that Rush Limbaugh is going to say something bad about you if you go ahead and do what we elected you to do. Here is a news flash: The market-fundamentalist corporatists are not going to like you, and Rush Limbaugh IS going to say bad things about you. Get a clue, they are not responding to the carrots so start using sticks.
    Friday's jobs report says this mess is not going away any time soon. Friday’s jobs report shows that things are too serious and too many Americans are suffering for the administration and congressional leadership to continue playing nice guy and give-in strategies. This is important to too many people. People need to be able to eat and have shelter – never mind the health care fiasco – and they need this now.
    And it would be politically popular. Think about this: giving people jobs would be politically popular.
    Here are some job ideas:
    Why don’t we pay people to start retrofitting homes and buildings today to be energy efficient, for free?
    Why don’t we pay people to do thousands of projects in the national and state parks?
    Why don't we add a teaching assistant to every classroom> And why don't we hire enough teachers to cut class sizes in half?
    Why don't we fix all the roads and bridges that haven't been repaired for decades?
    What about direct aid to manufacturers who still cannot get credit?
    Here's a big one: why don't we cut the workweek to 30 hours? How many people will that put to work? Do you think people are going to object to having to work 30 hours instead of 40?
    Oh, and why don't we fix up the National Mall in Washington DC? It needs it and people in DC need jobs. There is simply no excuse not to do this.
    [Oh please - this commentator has just changed planets from functional priorities to window dressing - and gone back to not "seeing the forest".]

  3. A tightening pinch - Fewer firefighters, library cutbacks, even street lights going dark. The big picture may be brightening, but locally, it could get worse, by Kathy McCabe, 10/04 Boston Globe
    On Sesame Street in Wakefield, there is no crossing guard to help youngsters get to Dolbeare Elementary School. Lawrence firefighters don’t respond to every 911 medical aid call. Andover soon will switch off more than 600 street lights. Teen services have been shelved at the Tewksbury Public Library.
    Three months into the new fiscal year, there are no sunny days on Sesame Street or anywhere else in cash-strapped cities and towns. Deep cuts to public services, due largely to the state’s fiscal crisis, are affecting everyday living. Libraries are open shorter hours. What fire stations are open depends on how many firefighters are on duty. There are fewer police patrols on local streets.
    “We’ve seen cutbacks in every corner,’’ said Geoffrey Beckwith, executive director of the Massachusetts Municipal Association, a group representing cities and towns. “It’s worse than the early ’90s. It will take longer to recover than at any other time.’’
    The service cuts have left some local residents feeling the fiscal blues.
    “I think it’s lousy,’’ said Steven Bishop, 36, of Tewksbury, watching his daughter, Sarah, 9, play Book Bingo during Heath Brook School Night at the town library. He was most bothered by the temporary closing of the South Street fire station for the summer months, Bishop said.
    “That left my neck of the woods without protection,’’ he said. “I was very concerned, not so much about the fire, but the [emergency] medical services.’’
    Deanna Johnson, 35, a mother of four, worries about the loss of library and school staff. “It’s too bad there are no more teen services here,’’ she said, as her youngest son searched for a book on the library computer. “The library, and the schools, are important to our family.’’
    It could get worse. Governor Deval Patrick announced Friday that September revenues came in $243 million below expectations, which may lead to more cuts in local aid. Patrick said that action was “certainly on the table.’’ Michael Widmer, president of the Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation, thinks emergency cuts may be necessary, noting the “probability has gone above 50-50.’’
    “I think, given the scare that September revenues have produced, we may well see some midyear cuts in local aid,” Widmer said. “I’m surprised at how bad’’ the revenues were.
    But Widmer sees some signs of hope. State revenues this fiscal year could fall as much as $500 million, he said, but that’s well short of the $2.9 billion last year.
    “We’re ending the free fall,’’ Widmer said of steep drops in monthly revenue. “Obviously, every $100 million drop is serious business, but the [declines] every month aren’t going to be what they were last year.’’
    Local communities, though, are still reeling from millions of dollars in state aid cuts in effect since July 1, the start of the current fiscal year. In Tewksbury, a 7 percent cut to the library budget forced the layoff of the teen librarian and a reduction in hours, said Jennifer Hinderer, the library director.
    “It’s a challenging time for everybody,’’ said Hinderer, who has organized school nights at the library, to reach out to the community during hard times. “We miss our teen librarian. She spent half her time devoted to teen programming. She was available to teens anytime they were here.’’
    Other communities have taken steps of all sizes to make up for the cuts. In Wakefield, eight school crossing guards were cut after the school budget was reduced $990,000.
    In Lawrence, where the city already has a $10.9 million deficit for this year, the Fire Department closed two stations and cut 10 positions. That’s left the department with three engine companies and one ladder to cover the densely populated city of about 70,000, officials said.
    With less equipment available, crews now only respond to major medical calls, such as accidents or reports of a heart attack. “We have to leave enough resources available to respond to fires,’’ said Fire Chief Peter Takvorian. “That’s our core responsibility. We’re trying to serve the community as best we can, with such devastating cuts.’’
    Andover is finalizing plans to shut off 628 street lights, a first step in a plan to shave as much as $47,000 annually off electricity costs, officials said.
    “We’re laying the groundwork for larger savings in the years ahead,’’ said Town Manager Reginald “Buzz’’ Stapczynski.
    About two dozen residents have asked the town to reconsider shutting off lights on their streets. “We’re not doing this alone,’’ he said. “Citizens are saying to us, ‘Please don’t turn off the lights in our neighborhood.’ We are trying to work with people.’’
    In Winthrop, local aid was cut $800,000 for this fiscal year. That effectively erased just about one-third of the $2.5 million tax increase voters approved last spring to help save vital services, such as police, fire, and trash collection.
    The town so far has not been able to add services. At times, only two police cruisers are on patrol. The Police and Fire departments are each down two positions and the library is only open part time. Winthrop officials are only hoping the state doesn’t order emergency cuts to local aid this year, said Town Manager James McKenna.
    “We’re holding our breath that we don’t have to cut any more this year,’’ said McKenna, who has been on the job only since July. “If we do, that is when we will see a serious loss in services.’’
    Kathy McCabe can be reached at kmccabe@globe.com

  4. To be or not to be for employment recovery, by Terry Keenan, 10/04 New York Post
    NOTHING like a presidential trip to the world's happiest country to distract people in this country from the fact that something is indeed rotten when it comes to the state of the American job market.
    Yes, just hours after Air Force One touched down in Denmark, the Labor Department served up another dismal US employment report -- not only did the jobless rate bump up to a 26-year high of 9.8 percent, as 263,000 more jobs were lost, but the average hourly workweek fell to an all-time low of just 33 hours.
    For those keeping track, that's 2 hours and 24 minutes less than the average work week in the land of Hamlet.
    But the short hours that keep the Danes smiling paint a different picture for American workers accustomed to working long and living large.

    [Yeah, working longer and longer for less and less and eating larger and larger meals to compensate, thus breaking larger and larger obesity records and more and more effeminate and buying larger and larger TVs and vans for lower and lower prices at larger and larger box stores to compensate. Is this really the kind of "living large" we want to be doing?]
    As the average workweek has plunged in tandem with available jobs, the US economy has sunk further into an employment abyss that will take years to repair.
    [No, it will take years to get used to and forget our previous first-world living standards as we sink deeper and deeper into the third world. To actually repair, it will take timesizing instead of downsizing.]
    "What does this mean?" asks, David Rosenberg, the former Merrill Lynch economist who has been spot-on about the economy for years now, referring to the decline in working hours. "It means that when the economy does begin to recover, when we finally get to the other side of the mountain, companies are going to raise their labor input first by lifting the workweek from its record low."
    The math is daunting. If business picks up, companies could raise hours to the pre-recession levels of 33.8 hours with little need to add new employees. If the workweek hadn't shrunk so much in the first place, millions of workers would have to be re-hired.
    [This reporter, Kelly Sheenan, has it backwards - if the workweek hadn't shrunk so much after such a drop in markets, millions more workers would have had to be fired.]
    This looks unlikely. As Rosenberg notes, it is common sense that employers will tap their existing workers first and for as long as possible. Add to that uncertainty about how much health-care reform will add to the cost of hiring each additional new worker and you have headwinds in the labor market not seen in more than 70 years.
    [Taking us back to 1939 when the Great Depression still had two years to go. Actually the headwinds were much worse the previous year, 1938, when unemployment had slipped back up from 14.2 to 19.0% - so bad that FDR initiated a nationwide workweek ceiling of 44 hours
    Even Fed chief Ben Bernanke is changing his tune in light of the recent jobs figures. This past week, he admitted that the expansion may not be strong enough to "substantially" bring down unemployment. He also said he's now bracing for the jobless rate to hold above 9 percent through 2010. Talk of a V-shaped recovery is now being replaced by talk of the next letter in the alphabet.
    This spells bad news for President Obama and his party as we head into that mid-term election year. Never mind that his Olympic dreams were eclipsed by the star power of another international phenom -- Brazilian soccer star Pele -- Obama won't be able to blame his domestic problems on Rio for long.
    As the year winds down, the president can look forward to more bad economic numbers, and an unemployment rate soon to cross 10 percent. Not only are local governments continuing to cut teaching jobs, half of all US retailers say they will be adding fewer seasonal jobs this holiday season.
    The Olympic games often stir feelings of glory and national pride, but history shows that Olympic investments rarely pay off.
    Even when the games are spectacular, as they were in Beijing, there seems to be an Olympic jinx. The awe-inspiring closing ceremonies in Beijing on August 24, 2008, also punctuated the end of the era of rapid globalization and easy credit. Exactly three weeks later, Lehman Brothers was history.
    In personally trying to win the Olympics for Chicago, President Obama, who has never seen a global body he thought he couldn't charm, swung for the fences and lost to Brazil, an emerging nation that has managed more than most to stave off the Great Recession.
    The Friday decision ends Obama's dreams of presiding at the opening ceremonies in his hometown in the last year of his presidency.
    It also reminds Americans that the new president isn't always preternaturally lucky or smart. The perception that Obama went to Copenhagen because he knew he would win, turned out to be flat-out wrong.
    For the sake of our struggling economy, President Obama could learn a lesson from the greatest Olympic athletes and husband his energy and political capital for those challenges that really matter.
    terrykeenan@email.com

  5. Irish pilots join campaign for shorter hours, 10/05 BelfastTelegraph.co.uk
    Irish pilots are taking part in a Europe-wide campaign calling for a change in laws on the amount of hours they can work.
    [Bad writing - which direction is the change, longer or shorter hours? - this is ambiguous throughout the story except in the headline - and the headline editor may have got it backwards. A linguistic analysis of the last sentence seems to support the headline - but that's too much work for a short article.]
    The Irish Airline Pilots Association says there are serious flaws in new EU regulations that came into force last year governing their working hours.
    The rules regulate the amount of time pilots and cabin crew can spend in the air and the rest periods they must have between flights.
    Pilots across Europe say EU officials are refusing to bring in tougher regulations despite commissioning a scientific study that recommended such a move on safety grounds.
    [This would seem to imply that EU officials commissioned a study that recommended tougher (against airline management?) regulations on airtime (shorter) and rest periods (longer) for safety's sake, but we're way beyond double negatives in this sentence.]


10/03/2009  bits and pieces of the timesizing solution in the news, reinvented thousands of times every day in every recession by mainly mid- and small-size companies, organizations and governments despite being *dismissed out-of-hand by many economists and business schools - with excerpting and [commenting] by Phil Hyde (PH) unless otherwise initialed -

  1. Preoccupations - Two Workers, Wearing One Hat, by JENNIFER TURANO, NYTimes.com
    [Job sharing is good but it's only sharing a 40-hour job. Worksharing is reducing the 40-hour workweek and with it the very definition of full time.]
    Jennifer Turano..and Joan O’Rourke share an ad sales job at Glamour magazine. Colleagues refer to them as a unified entity — “Jen and Joan.” (photo caption)
    FROM the moment I learned about job-sharing, I knew I wanted this type of work arrangement someday. It’s perfect for women who want a flexible work schedule after having children, and it’s not uncommon in the publishing industry.
    A few of my colleagues were sharing jobs when I was working at a New York publishing company in the mid-1990s. I left that job and joined Condé Nast more than eight years ago, when my first child was almost 2. I’ve been sharing an advertising sales job at Glamour magazine ever since.
    I was supposed to share a job from the start, but at the last minute my job partner decided to stay home full time with her children. I told the manager who interviewed me that I still wanted to work at Glamour, and that if she hired me, I’d be responsible for all the accounts myself until I could find another partner. I was determined to do everything possible to make job-sharing a success.
    I found another woman to share with, but five years later she left to stay home with her children, too, so I was back at square one.
    Finding the right person to share a job with is a little like dating — you can sense right away whether there’s a connection. I could tell that some women thought job-sharing would be easy. They were more concerned about hearing what they didn’t have to do than what the responsibilities were.
    One woman wondered whether I had to entertain clients at night and do anything work-related on my days off. She wanted to know exactly when I could take vacations. There was a woman I thought I might be able to work with, but I wasn’t sure that she’d fit in at the magazine. I also wanted a partner with a sense of humor.
    Then the ad director at Glamour introduced me to Joan O’Rourke, my current partner. The two of us clicked right away — we had the same style and work ethic. Both of us work three days a week. Joan works Monday and Tuesday, we both work Wednesday, and I work on Thursday and Friday. We’ve also become friends outside of work.
    We share about 20 accounts, most of which are large companies, and we both know everything about each client. We never wanted our arrangement to be difficult for anyone, so we do whatever we can to make it easy. For example, we use the same phone number so we don’t need a voice-mail message directing callers to a different number if one of us is out. We also share an e-mail address.
    We’re actually referred to as one person in the office — people call each of us “Jen and Joan.” Occasionally clients confuse us with each other, and we don’t bother correcting them. I tell clients that whatever they tell me, I’ll tell Joan, and we take copious notes and leave them for each other.
    I like to think we’re able to keep track of everything even more than if we were working on our own. When you have your own job, you may forget something if you don’t make a note. We keep such detailed records that we don’t worry about that.
    On a day when I’m not at work, Joan might document that a company wants to place an ad to run a few months from now, and add that she took care of it. If there’s an e-mail message that requires action, she’ll flag it electronically. We also keep a list of things we need to do. Once in a while, we call each other at home with a quick question.
    Years ago when I worked part time, I had to check voice mail and e-mail when I wasn’t working. With job-sharing I don’t have to. I make sure I’m caught up on everything I need to know before I go in on Wednesday.
    [Ohoh, so what are the actual hours? We're never told, and maybe the author is hiding this from herself as well.]
    I don’t think it’s fair to spend half a day finding out what happened on the days I was off. Besides, that’s the day we usually visit the headquarters of our New York and New Jersey clients together. It’s my favorite workday.
    I’VE always been a committed employee, no matter what job I’ve had, but I know that in this job, I need to work even harder.
    [that is, longer??]
    There’s an extra push to make it work, both with the person you share with, and to prove to the company that it’s worth it. Your work has to be flawless, to counter any perception that things might fall through the cracks.
    [This is similar to the way Ron Healey made his 30/40 Plan workin Indiana in the 1990s = by grooming a flawless workforce, never sick, never late.]
    Joan and I both get full employee benefits. We know we’re an expensive team, so we want to be high-performing. This is the greatest job ever, and I’ll do everything I can to keep it.
    We’re the only ones sharing a job at this magazine. Last year, we won the salesperson — or salespeople — of the year award. It’s gratifying to know that our hard work paid off.
    The only downside in sharing a job is that you don’t get the entire commission. It would be nice to have the whole thing. I’m not saying Joan doesn’t deserve her share, but I wouldn’t mind getting all of it.
    As told to Patricia R. Olsen.
    A version of this article appeared in print on October 4, 2009, on page BU8 of the New York edition.

  2. Royal BC Museum reduces opening hours to cut costs, by Katherine Dedyna, Victoria Times Colonist
    Opening hours for the Royal B.C. Museum and the adjacent B.C. Archives have been reduced as part of cost-cutting efforts amid budget constraints.
    Beginning Oct. 13, the museum will open an hour later, at 10 a.m., seven days a week. The idea of closing one day a week -- common in other Canadian and European museums -- was rejected, said CEO Pauline Rafferty. "[It's] certainly something that we looked at and we decided that this was the least impact on the public."
    The provincial archives will trim eight hours during the week through earlier closures -- something Victoria historian John Adams calls a "substantial" curtailment that will impede the work of researchers.
    The hours eliminated are the least popular with the public, Rafferty said.
    Earlier this year, the province cut the museum's grant by more than $600,000, on an operating budget of $20 million. The just-closed Treasures: The World's Cultures from the British Museum drew about 22,000 fewer patrons than projected -- another major loss in revenue. The museum has been allowed by the province to project a deficit for the first time -- about $500,000 on its operating budget.
    But there have been no layoffs, Rafferty said, although some employees' shifts will be shortened. "Layoffs, as I have said from the very beginning, are the very last resort," she said. "The reason we are successful is because of the people that make us successful. We will live within our means."
    The move to shorter hours is expected to save about $100,000, based on savings in security, maintenance and electricity, said museum communications manager Diane Dakers.
    Other cost-cutting measures include leaving three or four staff positions unfilled and delaying brochures, projects and website development.
    The archives currently open 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays, and 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Fridays. That will change to 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. weekdays. Saturday hours remain at 1 to 5 p.m.
    Adams called the archives the "lifeblood" of many historians researching the history of B.C., adding the curtailment will not just affect local researchers. "One of the biggest impacts will be for scholars and students who come to Victoria for specific research and have a limited amount of time."
    While a large amount of archival material is online, many researchers still have to use the archives in person, Adams said.
    Rafferty, however, said there's an upside to shorter public hours. Museum staff will be able to access display cases or exhibition galleries, something that's not always possible when the public is around. At the archives, staff will be able to have material ready for people when it opens.
    Because the Treasures exhibit wasn't making its targets from the beginning, some of the costs it would have incurred were reduced along the way, she said. "We had line managers scheduled all day but then you don't have lineups, you don't need line managers."
    Since Rafferty joined the museum in the 1990s, provincial funding has flatlined around $12 million annually regardless of the government in power, she said. One of the reasons the museum became a Crown corporation in 2003 was to diversify revenue sources. "We are so far behind where museums are elsewhere in terms of diversification of revenue."
    The museum's endowment fund is only $3 million, she said.
    kdedyna@tc.canwest.com

  3. New shorter hours at KPD records window, TheGardenIsland.com News via KauaiWorld.com
    LIHU‘E, Hawaii — Due to a staffing shortage, the Kaua‘i Police Department Records Section will be temporarily reducing their hours of window service, according to a county press release.
    Currently, window service is provided Monday to Friday, 7:45 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
    Starting Monday, Oct. 12, the new hours will be 8:30 a.m. to 4:15 p.m.
    Information that can be obtained at KPD’s records window include: accident and criminal history reports; restraining orders; sex offender registration list; and firearms registration.
    For more information, call 241-1661.


10/02/2009  bits and pieces of the timesizing solution in the news, reinvented thousands of times every day in every recession by mainly mid- and small-size companies, organizations and governments despite being *dismissed out-of-hand by many economists and business schools - with excerpting and [commenting] by Phil Hyde (PH) unless otherwise initialed -

  1. Labor Market is Terrible, by Matthew Yglesias via yglesias.thinkprogress.org
    Unemployment is up, yes, but there’s more bad news where that came from:
    (graph: actual mfg workweek is back down from 33.1 hours to 33.0 hours)
    [This should be good news. Our worksaving technology is so advanced that it has given us another six minutes of the most fundamental freedom per week, free time.]
    At this point there’s obviously not going to be another stimulus bill this year, but as appropriations bills get written and passed they should be done so as to try to have stimulative effect.
    18 Responses to “Labor Market is Terrible”
    #1. ron Says:
    October 2nd, 2009 at 1:11 pm
    You ain’t seen nothin yet...
    #14. # Njorl Says:
    October 2nd, 2009 at 2:34 pm
    ...I think it’s time to adopt an 8 hour day, 5 day week, with an extra day off every other week as the norm. Cut the hours necessary for someone to count as a full time employee.
    Increases in worker productivity should not be restricted to eliminating jobs. They should create leisure time as well.
    Ten workers with shorter hours are in a better bargaining position than 9 workers with an unemployed person waiting in the wings to take their job. Reducing the standard work week would probably increase average pay.
    Combining that with icreased leisure time would create increased spending, which, in turn, creates more demand for labor...

  2. Unemployment hits 26 year high, Many more face shorter hours, by Don Lee & Tiffany Chu, Washington Bureau, ChicagoTribune.com
    Washington - The nation's unemployment rate edged closer to a milestone 10% in September, but that only began to measure the miserable reality confronting America's workforce.
    Last month's jobless rate, reported Friday by the government, rose to a 26-year high of 9.8% -- up from 9.7% in August. Private and public employers cut a total of 263,000 jobs, far worse than analysts had expected, raising fresh concerns about the nation's ability to sustain the budding economic recovery.
    But in addition to the 15.1 million people counted as officially unemployed, the Labor Department said, another 9.2 million workers last month were relegated to part-time work because their employers had scaled back their hours or they simply could not find full-time jobs.
    [What a disgrace to intelligence we are! - fighting the downward redefinition of "full time" tooth and nail, scared to death of real freedom = free time.]
    Friday's report showed that employees on average put in just 33 hours of work a week last month, a record low. Employees with reduced hours are counted as marginally attached workers, along with people so discouraged that they have quit looking for jobs. When these workers are added to those who have no jobs, the Labor Department said, the broader measure of the unemployed and the underemployed stood at 17% in September.
    [Is it any wonder, then, that when the US (1938-40) and France (1997-2001) cut four hours from their workweeks, they got one percent less unemployment for every hour they cut (US: 19.0%..14.6% and France: 12/6%..8.6%).]
    This figure is significant not only because of the picture it paints of the hardships many workers face, but also because of what it suggests about the future - and the picture isn't pretty.
    [What's the matter with more of the most fundamental freedom, free time?! - and if we did it systemically instead of slapdash, the reduced labor surplus would harness market forces in raising wages and restoring our consumer base via our employment basement - and restoring our secondary industrial and financial markets.]
    Most government officials and outside economists believe the economy has technically entered a recovery;
    [and if they don't, they shut up about it because it's not party line or politically acceptable]
    that is, the economy has stopped shrinking and begun to grow again. But many of these same experts are predicting a long period of high unemployment, plus stagnant wage growth for workers who do have jobs.
    [In other words, it's a "recovery" in label only.]
    One contributing factor in this dismal prognosis is the large pool of involuntary part-time workers.
    [Many of them like everything but the pay cut - which wouldn't happen if we went "part" time economywide because there'd be no more labor surplus to push down pay or keep it down.]
    By having their hours and work weeks shortened, they have experienced sometimes-sharp reductions in income. That means a corresponding loss of purchasing power - an indirect loss for the country as a whole because consumer spending now accounts for some 70% of GDP.
    [Isn't it amazing that a systemic reduction of "full time" NEVER OCCURS to these geniuses - yet it's sooo obvious!]
    And for the future, many economists say that even if the prospect of recovery encourages businesses to step up production, many are likely to begin by restoring the hours of workers who were cut back - instead of hiring new workers.
    [So legislate against it and get those new workers and restored markets, duh. This is not rocket science!]
    "When the economy starts to recover, firms can expand quite a bit without adding new workers," said David Card, a labor economist at the University of California at Berkeley.
    [There will be no sustainable recoveries, just a downward string of bubbles, until we deregulate the frozen 40-hour pre-technology workweek and get down to the workweek levels compatible with our higher levels of worksaving technology.]
    And many employers aren't done ratcheting back work hours
    --or days.

    Media General, a communications firm based in Richmond, Va., told its employees in February to take 10 days off without pay because of the tough business situation. Last month the company added five more days between September and December.
    In Wichita, Kansas, workers at jet maker Hawker Beechcraft will be taking additional, unpaid days off around Thanksgiving and Christmas. Spokeswoman Nicole Alexander wouldn't comment about next year's plans. "I don't know if it's safe to say things have stabilized," she said.
    Shannon Robinson, of Kihei, Maui, found out Thursday that her 40 hours of work a week as office manager at a small real estate company were being cut in half ? taking a big chunk out of her $45,000-a-year salary.
    "I thought it might be coming," the 39-year-old mother of two said. "With the market tanking, I know how slow it is - We don't know how long this situation will last," she added. "It could just be for October. It could be for the rest of the year, it could be for another year."
    With Robinson's husband collecting unemployment benefits - he has been laid off twice since last year--she said the family would be spending just one-fourth of their usual budget for holiday shopping.
    Like Robinson, most part-time employees who want full-time work aren't the youngest and oldest in the labor force; rather they are in their prime working years, between 25 and 54 years of age, according to Labor Department Statistics.
    [They don't want full-time work - they just want full-time wages, which they would get if we would redefine "full time" downward!]
    It's stories like the Robinsons' that worry economists [unimaginatve retards!], especially those in Washington. The Obama administration's massive stimulus package and other government measures have bolstered car sales, beefed up home purchases with tax credits and plowed billions into highway and environmental work projects.
    And while there are signs that the housing market and manufacturing are stabilizing [mostly mirage, pushed by desperate wishful thinking], the stubbornly grim job market continues to threaten consumer spending and the recovery itself.
    Alan Krueger, the Treasury Department's chief economist, on Friday sought to put the best light on the latest labor statistics, noting that the pace of job loss has slowed each quarter this year despite monthly fluctuations, from 691,000 in the first three months to 256,000 in the third quarter.
    [1-2-3-organized cheer]
    "At least we're seeing less job loss, and that's necessary before we start to see job growth," Krueger said.
    [This guy pulls a six-digit salary for these brilliant belaborings of the obvious?]
    But he acknowledged that the large number of involuntary part-time workers was one of the reasons that the White House believes "the job market poses a severe challenge."
    [Obama's inaugural had it right ("the selflessness of workers who would rather cut their hours than see a friend lose their job") until he reverted to the outdated cliché of "those values upon which our success depends — hard work...".]
    High unemployment coupled with the scarcity of new jobs - the Labor Department says there are six unemployed persons for every one opening - also means employers will feel little pressure to raise wages to attract and retain employees. Add to that the large numbers of part-time workers who prefer full-time work, and Sophia Koropeckyj, a labor economist at Moody's Economy.com, says that workers' bargaining power dwindles even more.
    [Shorter hours is happening anyway, but not the best way.]
    As employers restore lost hours and pay, she said, "they can say, 'You're making more money now and the economy is still bad. Be happy with what you have.'"
    [Those hours aren't "lost" - they've been turned over to worksaving technology in the form of mechanization, automation and now, robotization. They represent the PROMISE of technology = to make life easier for all, not just the top one percent of the population. They represent PROGRESS toward a more advanced society with more of the most basic freedom, financially secure free time.]
    Loree Griffith, a human resource specialist at the Mercer consulting firm in New York, is a little more sanguine about the lot of employees going forward. She said Mercer's survey last month found that 11% of companies were planning to freeze salaries next year, down from 30% in 2009. The average salary increase expected next year: 2.6%.
    Employers by and large have wound down the large-scale layoffs, she said, and more companies are restoring hours and pay. "But furloughs are something that they'll keep in their arsenal."
    Government figures show that in September, workers forced to accept part time were concentrated in three major sectors - wholesale and retail trade, leisure and hospitality, and education and health services. But more recently, there's been a surge of state and local government employees whose hours or days have been shaved.
    Alberto Alquicira, 26, of West Los Angeles, already has taken two furlough days since the university where he works announced required days off about a month ago. The IT help-desk manager says he now has 11 to 14 furlough days left throughout the rest of the year.
    The other options were worse, he said - companywide layoffs or an outright salary cut. "When I saw my check, it wasn't as drastic as I thought it would be," he said. "But the furlough definitely calls for some re-evaluation of spending priorities. It'll definitely be tighter for me."
    Jim Puzzanghera in Washington contributed to this report.

  3. Is a Shorter Work Week our Demographic Destiny? by Jessica Stillman, blogs.bnet.com
    Repeat the old truism ‘demographics is destiny’ to a young person and you’ll probably spark gloomy thoughts of the coming wave of boomer retirements and the strain they’re likely to put on the public finances. After all, we’re the ones who are likely to get stuck with the higher taxes, longer working lives and a bankrupt social security system. But do demographics hold any positive surprises for the youngest members of the workforce?
    An article in the Guardian today suggest that yes, in fact demographic change promises some things that are more positive than office drudgery into our 80s. Reporting a recent study published in medical journal, The Lancet, the UK paper says,
    Professor Kaare Christensen and colleagues at the ageing research centre at the University of Southern Denmark calculate that at least half the babies born in the UK in the year 2000 will reach their 100th birthday. Life expectancy is increasing so fast that half the babies born in 2007 will live to be at least 103, while half the Japanese babies born in the same year will reach the age of 107.
    With US life expectancy lagging behind most of the developed world, how many centenarians we can expect here on this side of the Atlantic is up in the air. (How’s that health insurance reform thing coming, Senators?) But whatever happens to the US health care system, this is certainly good news. Still, longer life expectancy does nothing to change the fact that we’re going to spend a whole lot more time working, right? Not necessarily, say the researchers, who have “a radical solution” to the strain of our demographic imbalance:
    Young and old should work fewer hours a week. Over a lifetime, we would all spend the same total amount of time at work as we do now, but spread out over the years.
    [Not necessarily, depending on how long we lived - and we would tend to live longer without needing mandatory retirement to make room for young workers.]
    “The 20th century was a century of redistribution of income. The 21st century could be a century of redistribution of work,” they write. “Redistribution would spread work more evenly across populations and over the ages of life. Individuals could combine work, education, leisure and child rearing in varying amounts at different ages.”
    It is a theory that is beginning to receive “some preliminary attention”, the authors say, citing a study in the Science journal three years ago which suggested that shorter working weeks would help young people and increase western Europe’s flagging birth rate.
    A proposal that would help the notoriously apolitical (read, non-voting) US youth as much as those dedicated ballot goers, our senior citizens? What a radical idea.


10/01/2009  bits and pieces of the timesizing solution in the news, reinvented thousands of times every day in every recession by mainly mid- and small-size companies, organizations and governments despite being *dismissed out-of-hand by many economists and business schools - with excerpting and [commenting] by Phil Hyde (PH) unless otherwise initialed -

  1. San Jacinto City Council approves cuts in office hours, workers' pay, by GAIL WESSON, (10/01 10pm) Riverside Press-Enterprise via pe.com
    San Jacinto will join other public agencies in closing city offices on Fridays to cut costs beginning next week.
    The San Jacinto City Council voted 4-0 Thursday to approve an agreement with employee bargaining groups for a change to a 38-hour workweek and 5 percent pay reduction. Mayor Dale Stubblefield was absent. Council members passed the measure without comment.
    New public office hours will be 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Employees would work 7 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.
    City workers represented by Service Employees International Union 721 and a separate group representing management and confidential employees agreed to the change.
    The change is expected to save the city up to $175,000 in salary and utility costs a year, Assistant City Manager Tim Hults said earlier this week.
    Hults characterized it as a "short-term solution." The schedule will be re-examined in a year.
    The Friday closures will affect City Hall and the Public Works Department, but the Community Center will remain open for senior citizens' lunches and other activities, according to a staff report by City Manager Barry McClellan.
    McClellan wrote in the report that impacts from the state on the city budget made it necessary to further reduce operating costs. Earlier this year the city laid off nine employees and eliminated four vacant positions to cut costs by $1.1 million.
    The state has borrowed more than $650,000 this year from tax and highway funds, Hults said.
    The combination of the state taking money away from local governments and the foreclosure crisis created "monumental" impacts on local governments, SEIU spokeswoman Tracie Morales said by phone earlier this week.
    Reach Gail Wesson at 951-763-3455 or gwesson@PE.com

  2. BUCM implements furloughs, by Julie Chang, (9/30) Morganton News Herald via Morganton.com
    MORGANTON, N.C. - A decrease in monetary donations has led Burke United Christian Ministries to cut employee work hours.
    Executive Director David Tate said, "We find ourselves basically with more expenses than income, and it's just irresponsible for us to not do something about that."
    Four full-time administrative and support employees, which is about half the staff, will take one furlough day a week for the indefinite future, Tate said. Additionally, Tate took a 10 percent pay cut.
    The changes went into effect Monday, Tate said. The measures will save the organization about $2,600 per month.
    "We would hope and pray that these actions are temporary," Tate said.
    If donations continue to fall short of the organization's needs, employees may see more hours cut from their work week, he said.
    Donations currently are down about 20 percent from last year.
    "I understand why that is," Tate said, pointing to Burke County's prolonged high unemployment rate (14.2 percent in August).
    "But we also have ever increasing need that we're trying to deal with," Tate said. "We continue to see large numbers of people asking for assistance."
    The increase in need began about a year and a half ago, Tate said, and peaked in December. The colder months are usually times when demand is high.
    Another factor in decreased funding is the lack of substantial grants during a troubled economy, Tate said.
    Recession-relief grants have helped ease BUCM's finances somewhat, however.
    Tate stressed that the organization will do its best to prevent cutting any services or programs.
    One program already has been affected. BUCM has cut almost two-thirds of the funds for financial assistance.
    However, the soup kitchen and crisis services have not been affected, Tate said.
    BUCM also is looking for volunteers to help with crisis counseling, he said.

  3. GETTING PERSONAL: US States Help Cos Cut Costs, Keep Workers - To Keep Staff, Businesses Try Work-Sharing, by Victoria Knight, Wall Street Journal
    U.S. business owners struggling with the weak economy are turning in much bigger numbers this year to state programs that let them pare workers' hours without making layoffs.
    Enrollment by companies in so-called work sharing programs, which are offered in 17 states, is sharply up: In New York, for example, there's been a fourfold increase and in Minnesota it's up eight times.
    The programs allow employers to combine reduced work hours for employees with partial unemployment benefits. A company needing to cut its payroll by 20% can, instead of laying off workers, reduce their hours by 20%. The workers would get 80% of their regular pay, and 20% of what they would be entitled to in state unemployment benefits.
    "For companies experiencing a temporary decline in revenues, it's a really good way to keep employees," says Bassim Michael, president of Michael & Co., a CPA firm based in Fresno, Calif., that works with small and medium-sized businesses.
    Several of Michael's clients, including manufacturers, dental practices and providers of professional services, have signed up for California's program.
    Workers benefit because they still get a paycheck and retain benefits like health insurance. Employers are able to retain experienced employees, putting them in a better position to ramp back up when business improves.
    There are some downsides: Employers can expect to pay more for unemployment insurance. "But their premiums will increase at a lower rate than if they laid off employees," says Leo Rosales, a spokesman for the New York State Department of Labor. Employees, in turn, may burn through some of their maximum unemployment benefit, leaving them with less if they are later laid off.
    Other states offering the programs include Arizona, Arkansas, Connecticut, Florida, Iowa, Kansas, Maryland, Massachusetts, Missouri, Oregon, Rhode Island, Texas, Vermont and Washington. They are open to almost all types of business, though eligibility criteria vary slightly by state.
    New York's program is available to companies with five or more full-time employees. It requires a reduction in work hours of between 20% and 60% based on a work week of between 35 to 40 hours. Health insurance, retirement pay, vacation pay and other fringe benefits can't be reduced. A union, if there is one, must give its consent.
    Enrollment in many programs is markedly up, albeit from a low base. So far this year 1,858 firms have signed up in New York compared with 483 in all of 2008. In California, plans approved by mid-year exceeded all of last year's by 125%. In Minnesota, around 420 employers are currently participating compared with 30 to 50 in a regular year.
    New Buffalo Shirt Factory, a Clarence, N.Y.-based company that prints images on apparel sold by music merchandisers, has used the program several times in the last three years to help with seasonal slumps. Business is brisk during the summer when bands are on tour, and falls off in winter, when the shared work program kicks in.
    Greg Wall, the company's president and chief operating officer, says the slowdown was particularly sharp in January. Still, he credits the shared work program for enabling the company to develop new business lines that have been successful.
    Write to Victoria E. Knight at victoria.knight@dowjones.com




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