DoomwatchTM vs. Timesizing®

Collapse trends - March 12-31, 2002
[Commentary] ©2002 Philip Hyde, The Timesizing Wire, Box 622, Cambridge MA 02140 USA (617) 623-8080


3/31/2002  weekend headlines from hell - 3/30/2002  headlines from hell -
  1. Japan: Economy struggles, Bloomberg via NYT, B3.
    Japanese factory production rose less than expected in February and unemployment stayed high, signaling that Japan may not pull out of a 17-month [or 12-year?!] recession quickly.... The jobless rate held at 5.3%.
    [Meanwhile, two small columns to the right we have an implied tip for Japan from the economy that went down to a 35-hour nationwide workweek - "France: Unemployment...falls," Bloomberg via NYT, B3, which indicates "the number of people out of work fell by 4,000 last month, based on the ILO's measure, [though] the decline left the jobless rate unchanged from January at 9%." Perhaps Japan's unemployment will have to get up over 12% as France's did before it got sufficient incentive to cut the workweek. At any rate, to hammer in Japan's position -]
    Japan stocks down at end of fiscal year, AP via NYT, B3.
    Japanese stocks fell sharply yesterday, the last day of trading for Japan's fiscal year....
    [End of March last day of year, April 1 start of new year? One month earlier and they'd coincide with our ancient year-starting-point on March 1.]

  2. [How bad are things in Japan? Check this out -]
    Two Japanese banks lower an interest rate to 0.001% - Only 69,315 years to double your money - Soon, consumers may have to pay for the honor of opening a savings account, by Ken Belson, NYT, B3.
    ...In a typical American savings account paying 2.5%, the balance doubles in less than 30 years..\..
    [Hey, that what it comes down to when you've got the most robotized economy in the world and you're still not sharing the vanishing work. You wind up with a lot of insecurity and hidden unemployment and a severely weakened consumer base. Next they'll have to implement Art Dahlberg's 1938 idea and print money like coupons - with expiration dates - to get any domestic demand at all.]
    TOKYO...- With the basic logic of their business twisted into knots by years of recession and falling prices,
    [God forbid we should use the D-word (d*pr*ss**n)!]
    two of Japan's largest banks [UFJ Holdings and Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi] said [yester]day that they would slash the interest rate the pay on ordinary savings accounts to 0.001%, just 1/20 of the already tiny 0.02% they pay now....

3/29/2002  headlines from hell -
  1. Away on business: Absence makes a spouse grow sadder, by Gunna Dickson, Reuters 12:18 03-28-02 via AOLNews.
    ...A recent study of medical insurance claims submitted by the spouses of World Bank employees over a period of 12 months revealed the level of stress-related and psychological problems was three times higher for those whose partners travel....
    While frequent trips may seem glamorous to many, traveling on business is a trade-off. Various surveys have also found that globe-trotting execs:... Questions or comments...may be emailed to Gunna.Dickson@Reuters.com

  2. Garment shops improve conditions, AP-NY-03-28-02 1824EST.
    ...The Wage and Hour Division of the [federal] Labor Dept...investigat[ed] 67 randomly selected NY shops in February. Just 62% of workers were paid overtime as required by law, but that figure in 1999 was [only] 42%....

  3. First in-office study dishes the dirt on desks - Researchers find average desk harbors 400 times more bacteria than average toilet seat, PRNewswire 03/28/2002 06:00 EST via AOLNews.
    ...With more people spending more time at their desks - the average workweek has increased to 47.1 hours according to the Families and Work Institute - bacteria are finding plenty to snack on....

3/28/2002  headlines from hell - 3/22/2002  headlines from hell -
  1. Soft money lives: Democrats take in $12 million (2 gifts), by Don van Natta, NYT, front page.
    WASHINGTON...- A day after the Senate voted to abolish the enormous campaign contributions known as soft money, Democratic Party officials said [yester]day that they recently received a $7 million check, the largest known donation in the history of American politics [from] Haim Saban, the billionaire chairman of Saban Capital Group, which created the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and other children's entertainment programming.... The Democrats also recently received a $5m check from another Hollywood executive, Steve Bing....
    [What a total waste of money.]

  2. Ukraine: Tuberculosis [TB] epidemic, by Michael Wines, NYT, A6.
    Nearly 700,000 of Ukraine's 49m people have TB, a "dangerous and worrisome situation" that is resisting government efforts to curb it, Yuri Feshchenko, director of a state TB institute, said at a news conference. The rising number of new cases - 32,000 last year alone - means that "we are facing an epidemic," Mr. Feshchenko said.... Many new cases resist standard drug treatment. The situation is made more perilous by the fact that Ukraine's rate of HIV infection [is] 1% [and] expected to rise, [and] HIV sufferers' weakened immune systems are especially susceptible to TB.
    [And 'epidemics is us' unless we get ourselves a president who will quit screwing around like the Clintons or 'black-holing' wealth like Bush and just deliver universal healthcare to replace our current sick sick non-system of no insurance at all for 50m - or costly, takeover-jerked, new-provider-every-month, wall-to-wall paperwork.]

3/21/2002  headlines from hell -
  1. G.E. faulted for strategy on growth, by Alex Berenson, NYT, C1.
    [But the real hell doesn't emerge till the inside header on this article -]
    G.E. faulted for use of acquisitions to drive growth rate, C2.
    [Ah, 'scuse us, but isn't this what they ALL do these days? They no longer manage, they just merge.]

  2. [here's another one like that -]
    Staying or not, Wall St. giants could reap aid, by Charles Bagli, NYT, front page.
    [And the inside version(s) -]
    Wall Street giants are being offered millions for staying put - Will companies leaving the financial district be rewarded?, C14.
    [And if that isn't enough to get you idiot-fingering your lips, ablubbleblubbleblubble - consider that one way or another, this is more "charity for the rich." Taxpayers are gonna get poorer while the titans of Wall Street wax wealthier.   Heads we lose, tails they win.   Some 9/11 "charity" this!   But here's a real appeal to charity on a worldwide scale -]

  3. [in a dramatic slap to whatever genius dreamed up siting a poverty conference in Monterrey, Mexico -]
    Monterrey's poor sinking in rising economic tide, by Tim Weiner, NYT, A6.
    ...A business-class bubble surrounds the presidents, ambassadors and foreign ministers here for the UN conference on how rich nations can help poor ones [but] if they venture out into the streets they might see what modernity has brought.... Monterrey has many millionaires. But many, many more people here are dirt poor. They survive on a few dollars a day or less..., live in shantytowns without sewers or streets [and] have no hope of sending their children to the city's universities...or of building a better life. Globalization did not make them poor. But its tide has not lifted their boats. It has been good for many of Mexico's industries [read "top executives"] but not that good for the poor....
    [And continuing the debunking of globalization, the article above this one blares out -]
    Losing faith: Globalization proves disappointing - Support for foreign aid is growing where market forces are failing, by Joseph Kahn, NYT, A6.
    [Ya know, Tony Blair and some of these jetlagged jocks jaw about a "third way," but isn't this the same ol' bogus ultimatum between No Control and Over-Control that we flubbed in 1933, "market forces" playing on a field unlevelled by any grader, on ice untouched by any zamboni's smoothing and - stifling micromanagement in terms of patronizing elitist givvamannafish capricious-charity-based liberalism?   If we'd simply convert overtime into jobs and cut hours to share the vanishing work, we'd have a balance at our economic core that would simultaneously stop the affluent from vacuuming the spending power out of the markets for so many of their own investment targets and make it much easier for the poor to support themselves so we (and the affluent) don't have to.   How many times do we have to repeat this "course" before we get it right?]

3/20/2002  headlines from hell -
  1. CIA removes 'cookie' from Internet site - 'The public does not need to be concerned that the CIA is tracking them - We're a bit busy to be doing that' - Mike Steff, manager, CIA's public Web site, AP via BG, D6.
    [Yeah, like Hoover was a bit busy to be tracking all those student groups in the '60s. The whole point of computers is, they can take care of it even when you're busy.]
    WASHINGTON - The CIA got caught with a hand in the Internet cookie jar. The agency removed tracking software known as "cookie" from one of its Web sites this week after a private group discovered the banned practice, said Mike Stepp, who manages the CIA's public Web site.
    [Clearly the reporter ain't a nerd. The software may be known as cookie (placing) software, not just "cookie." The "cookies" are the little bits of code that this type of software leaves on your machine without you necessarily knowing it - they're the things you gotta be concerned about, and Stepp didn't say they were making any efforts to erase the cookies they've already placed. And it's such a common practice now, it's news to us that it's "banned." Maybe it's just banned for government agencies to implement, or even just the CIA. Anyhoo, this slip together with the special port Microsoft coded into one of its publicly available programs for the CIA's benefit has gotta spark those paranoid conspiracy chips on the back of your mental motherboard.]
    "It was a mistake on our part. It was not intentional," Stepp said yesterday....
    [Oh sure, the only thing they didn't intend was that some private group would discover it!]

  2. [a good item from Bush in our headlines from heaven today, but here, 2 bad ones -]
    Remember Flori-duh? [our spelling - ed.], letter to editor from Gene Winter of Newburyport MA, BG, A22.
    How ironic that the Bush administration is criticizing Zimbabwe for the conduct of its elections. Does Bush not remember what happened in Florida?

  3. The world's super-bully, letter to editor from Art Weingarten of Milton MA, BG, A22.
    I couldn't help but be struck by pResident Bush's startling hypocrisy as he warned Israel about its aggressive policy toward the Palestinians...while a Pentagon report [is] contemplating the use of nuclear weapons against North Korea, China, Iraq, and other countries.... Unilateralism and bullying seem to be replacing any notion that we will use our world prominence to wage peace, promote global economic prosperity, or build cooperative alliances with other nations.
    [Compare Beijing's reaction yesterday -]
    China - 'Erroneous' US moves said to renew tension, pointer blowout (to A10), BG, A8.
    BEIJING - China yesterday expressed alarm at what it called a "series of erroneous acts" by the United States in the latest indication that relations between the two countries are heading for rocky times again.
    [Day's a lotta 'Merkins sidin' with the Chopsticks on this one.]

  4. [oh what the heck - let's throw in the 3rd one in this 'Bush review' section too -]
    Beware of the manipulators, letter to editor by John Slattery of Lyman ME, BG, A22.
    Indeed what a great comfort it is to have Norman Mailer remind us that if we are foolish enough to install a man with limited intellect as president we should interpret all his utterances with great care ("For whom the [Geo.] Will toils," letter, March 14)....
    [Or with great grains of salt and much eye rolling. Mailer actually said democracy was harmed by the "scurvy manipulation of such words as 'evil' and 'love' by intellectual striplings of the caliber of our president." Whew! - sockittoowim, Norm!]

  5. [here's a hellish ambiguous headline -]
    Hewlett declares victory on merger, by Lohr & Gaither, NYT, front page.
    [Is it anti-merger Walter Hewlett or the pro-merger CEO of HP, Carly Fiorina, and if the latter, why didn't they just say "HP"?! As it turns out, they should have said "HP." NYT editing deteriorates another notch, being unnecessarily ambiguous and playing games with readers' minds. As for the hellish downer the merger would be for all concerned except Carly and her cronies, temporarily, the subheading indicates the jury is still out -]
    Compaq future still uncertain with vote tally weeks away

  6. White House adds billions to an increase in 'foreign aid' [our quotes - ed.] - After criticism of an initial aid plan, a 'clarification' [their quotes] with more spending, by Joseph Kahn, NYT, A9.
    [More forced charity from us taxpayers - for the rich in foreign countries - and indirectly for our weapons industry (e.g., the $3½B/yr to Israel). What good is Bush if he isn't Republican where it costs us? The whole issue of 'foreign aid' is something that should be subject to the direct democracy of referendum, not decided by the affluent in our land - using our money, not theirs - for the benefit of the affluent in other lands.]

  7. U.S. acts to shrink endangered species habitats - A shift angers environmentalists and heartens real estate developers, by Greg Winter, NYT, A16.
    [Just what we need - more real estate development.]
    The Bush administration, under pressure from lawsuits by real estate developers, is urging federal judges to roll back legal protections for nearly two dozen populations of endangered species around the country....

  8. Chairman of bank ousted by Putin - Change spurred by lack of overhaul - Most of Russia's 1,259 banks are tiny outfits that help a few key owners conceal financial dealings and transfer money abroad, specialist say, by Sharon LaFranière, Washington Post via BG, A11.

3/19/2002  headlines from hell -
  1. The plagues of poverty, editorial, NYT, A26.
    Infectious diseases in poor countries kill more than 12 million people a year and play a significant role in keeping countries destitute.
    [On the contrary, any factors that relieve wage-depressing labor surplus in any economy plays a signficant role in centrifuging income and maintaining or improving current economic levels, even if those are the destructive factors that economists don't want to talk about, like war, disease and emigration. Why do you think Mexico is so anxious to have the USA make it easier for Mexicans to emigrate? It all comes down to jobs and the tragic mistake we continue to make, all over the world, by pursuing hopeless (40-hr/wk) job creation instead of (reduced workweek) work sharing. The solution, according to the NYT, is charity in the form of drugs -]
    ...Washington should...devote more money to research on these diseases, and could buy new drugs to give away in poor nations....
    [Talk about bandaid solutions to poverty! "Here, take this drug so you'll get healthy enough to starve for lack of work."]
    But help from wealthy countries will still be needed to help poor governments buy these drugs.
    [Oh here we go. The inescapable appeal for more charity in the form of money, which the affluent in these countries can just scoop right up into their Cayman Islands bank accounts -]
    A financial commitment along with creative ideas and public attention are needed to reverse the human and economic damage caused by neglected diseases.
    [Yet another Times editorial that falls right into the Chesterton pan-utopian trap. What Washington can best do to help poor countries and cure their diseases is model the real solution, and that would involve modernizing the economy, which hasn't cut the workweek since before transistors, and is now in serious and worsening labor surplus, with record prison, homeless, disabled, and forced-retirement populations all covered up with a rose-colored unemployment rate and a cap on welfare. It's time to cut the rhetoric, share the vanishing work, and centrifuge the economy-starving concentration of income in the top brackets. Meanwhile, notice what's happening to medical care for the elderly in our own "rich" nation = headline from hell #2 below, and notice the other item on this page with a solution along the same superficial lines -]
    An economist's vision, letter to editor by Exec. Dir. Steven Sharafman of Citizens Policies Institute of Washington DC, NYT, A26.
    James Tobin's...approach to economic policy is sensibly praised...in Paul Krugman's column of March 12, which also discussed Dr. Tobin's theoretical differences with Milton Friedman. On one issue, however, the two Nobel laureates agreed: both called for cash payments to the very poor.
    [What a disgrace that Milton Friedman's imagination failed him and he succumbed to calling for this surefire subsidy for dependency and parasitism - even though he himself often pointed out that you get more of what you subsidize and less of what you tax.]
    Though the idea of guaranteed income or a negative income tax is mostly forgotten in the United States,
    [and rightly so]
    Dr. Tobin reaffirmed his support in an interview last year with Senator Suplicy of Brazil, who is working to enact it in his country.
    [That'll be the end of Brazil.]
    Coincidentally, Sen. Suplicy was in New York on March 8-9 when more than 90 economists, other academics and political activists found the U.S. Basic Income Guarantee Network.
    [To paraphrase what Krugman himself said a couple of days ago (3/15 #4b below): You may find it hard to believe that so many smart people are advocating such unsustainable "solutions," but if that's what you think, you do not know with how little wisdom the world is governed.]

  2. Who will treat elderly patients?, letter to editor by...Dr. James S. Bernstein of Rockville Center NY, NYT, A26.
    Many doctors are refusing to take new Medicare patients (front page, March 17) because lower reimbursements combined with rising costs are changing Medicare into charity care that doctors can no longer afford.
    Even worse, private insurance companies tend to copy these reductions in their own reimbursement. So while...Bush limits access to care for both the elderly and non-elderly and does nothing about the medically uninsured, he pushes for ever greater tax cuts for our richest citizens and corporations. So much for "compassionate conservatism."
    [Another evidence that the New Deal and its extensions failed. We took the wrong fork in the road back in the 1930s and we still haven't gone back and got it right. We need to balance the center and share the vanishing work, instead of perpetuating huge lopsidedness in the center with the unlimited concentration of highly paid skills and work, and running around everywhere but the center trying to make up for it.]

  3. Workfare harassment, letter to editor by Prof. Eileen Kaufman of Touro Law School, NYT, A26.
    Re "Judge rejects harassment lawsuits for women on workfare" (news article, March 12):...
    Workfare participants have long endured a variety of indignities.... Now they are told that...they are unprotected in the workplace from sexual predators.
    If the courts will not protect...these workers, the employment discrimination laws must be amended to ensure that workfare participants receive the same protection as all other employees.
    [Of course, we can keep ineffectually "pushing the string" forever and accomplish nothing but creating a loopy pile of string, but if we really want to "pull the string" and solve all our long-term deep-structure problems, the workfare population needs a private sector that is hungry to give them skills and jobs. That's the kind of labor shortage you get only during war (eg: 1941-45 US), plague (1348 Europe), or workweek reduction - only half-assedly done as a last-ditch economy-saver between 1840 and 1940 as agriculture and then manufacturing mechanized.]

3/17-18/2002  weekend headlines from hell -
  1. 3/17   "Have..." - CFO Judith Boynton left an ailing Polaroid with a rich package, highlighting a widespread system that ensures that executives do well even if their companies don't, by Jeffrey Krasner, BG, C1.
    [and the previous day's blurb (also C1) for this article -]
    Business & money - Judith Boynton was Polaroid's CFO less than three years. She left with a $638,000 pension payment, $510,000 in stock, and severance checks of $17,308 sent every two weeks - until Polaroid filed for bankruptcy.
    [Polaroid's stock price went from $45 to $6 during her tenure, so she wasn't even good for holders.]
    "...and have not" - Adriano and Lucilia Carvalho put their lives into Polaroid for more than 20 years. Today, the Roxbury couple lives day to day., by Diane Lewis, BG, C1.
    [This kind of injustice won't be fixed until we start sharing directly in the economic sphere and not just in the easily subvertible political sphere of one-person one-vote. The easiest initial economic sharing is one-person one-standard-range-of-worktime. If a person falls below a certain minimum workweek per person for over a certain maximum number of weeks (without being privately supported like traditional housewives), they are counted as unemployed, whether they're "actively seeking work" or not. (The minimums, maximums and rates are set and adjusted by regular referendum of the participating economic population or political constituency.) If the percentage of people unemployed goes above a certain maximum, the maximum workweek per person automatically declines by, say, half an hour a month, to spread the immediately available market-demanded employment onto more people. This, coupled with the automatic conversion of overtime into training and hiring - on the understanding that overtime may be counted from different points in the workweek every month - is the Timesizing program. We repeat, this kind of intelligence-insulting disparity will never end except in economies that introduce economic-level sharing - but if they introduce sharing in the money dimensions before the work dimension, they will only generate dependency and proliferate parasitism. It must be done in a specific order, and employment-sharing comes first.]

  2. 3/17   Slumping economy key issue in Portuguese vote, by Barry Hatton, AP via BG, A4.
    [We don't hear much about Portugal in the NYT or the Boston Globe, but looks like they're in trouble too -]
    ...Since Portugal joined the EU in 1989, it has received $26.4B in aid from the 15-nation bloc, and the prosperity is evident in the 8m cellphones for 10m people.
    [Such is our current pathetic "aid" and our current pathetic measure of "prosperity."]
    But the bubble seems to have burst. Inflation surged from 2.9% to 4.3% over last year, the second-highest rate in the EU, while economic growth rates of about 1% a year are among the EU's worst. Unemployment at around 4% is low....
    [We'd call any unemployment over 2% high, and high inflation with high unemployment is stagflation. Stagflation, as Jane Jacobs points out, is the hallmark of third-world countries where the concentration of income is tight enough to strangle growth and suction the markets away from its own investments.]
    ...but that ["low" unemployment] hides the fact that many are in low-paying jobs; thousands earn the minimum wage, equal to about $310 a month. The average annual salary of $9,430 is the EU's lowest.
    [It's too bad the EU is still in "charity mode" when it comes to trying to help its poorer members, because clearly the charitable billions to Portugal just went straight into the pockets of the affluent, allowing enough left over only for a louzy cellphone for everyone else. And it's a pity that at the polls, their two alternatives are only the same old, same old impotent choices of leftist micromanagement - but no real sharing system like timesizing - and rightist non-management - with no central balancer like worksharing. Even with the model of France's dramatic success with the most primitive kind of worksharing/timesizing, a jump down to a nationwide 35-hour workweek, the rest of Europe just doesn't get it, and continues to run its economies on a consumption-constricting shortage of jobs instead of a spending-spurring shortage of labor. Worksharing reverses the former and achieves the latter, as France is finding out, but most flexible, complete and market-driven design for worksharing is Timesizing. Here's the cluelessness of the rightist alternative in Portugal -]
    ..\..The center-right Social Democratic Party [wants] to trim the top rate of income tax from 40% to 35% and increase the sales tax \and cut\ company tax from 30% to 20% to lure foreign investment....
    [Always the focus on outside rescue - deus ex machina. Pathetic. Always the lowering of taxes on the less active concentrated income and the raising of taxes on the more active centrifuged income (eg: sales tax) - exactly the formula for starving economic growth even more, because by Milton Friedman's rule, you get more of what you don't tax and less of what you do. So more concentration, less circulation.]

  3. 3/18   Tunisia and Ohio evolve, letter to the editor by Douglas E. McNeil of Baltimore, NYT, A26.
    As Tunisia moves its schools into the future by teaching Darwinian evolution ("Reaching the next Muslim generation," by Mohamed Charfi, Op-Ed, Mar. 12), Ohio moves into the past by considering teaching of the inherently religious doctrine that life is the product of intelligent design {"Ohio board hears debate on an alternative to Darwinism," news article, Mar. 12)....
    [Ohio the Stupid. Send them over to the same line as Floriduh, the line for those who love waiting. While we're on the letters page, let's notice a great line from a letter by Shankar Viswanathan of Ridgefield Park NJ, "Flying the American flag on an S.U.V. does not reduce the nation's dependence on overseas oil."]

3/15/2002  headlines from hell -
  1. Profits fall 13% at Oracle, and it blames the economy - Some analysts and investors are skeptical, by Matt Richtel, NYT, C4.
    [Better not pack up that recession too fast - too many companies still need to blame it for problems.]

  2. Wal-Mart dips $46m toe into vast Japanese economy, by Ken Belson, NYT, W1.
    [Oh no-o-o - not the great American vampire corporation. This could be the coup de grace to the Japanese economy if Wal-Mart gets in there and starts shutting down all the little mom-&-pop stores. This could be worse than a combined attack by Godzilla, Mothra, Anola, and all the rest of the monsters.]

  3. Delta to stop most commissions, pointer digest (to C9), NYT, C1.
    Delta Air Lines said it would stop commissions routinely to all domestic travel agents who sell its tickets, a move that agents and analysts said would result in higher prices for many passengers.
    [This could be the end of the road for travel agents - yet another entire profession of excellent customer service wiped out by technology soured by short-sighted greed - because the fewer ways there are for people to support themselves, the more pressure on taxpayers to support them and the fewer markets for all companies. Travel agents would be quite justified in completely dropping Delta now. If they can do it before the rest of the airlines drop them, they may pressure Delta back in line. Oops, too late -]
    2 more airlines cut fees for travel agents, AP via 3/19/2002 NYT, C5.
    American Airlines and Continental Airlines said today that they would stop paying base commissions to travel agents for tickets sold in the U.S. and Canada....
    [And it wasn't even American travel agents who sent people to St. John's, Newf., instead of St. John, NB, and Monterey, Calif., instead of Monterrey, Mexico (see 3/19/2002 #3), or was it?]

  4. A failure of energy, editorial, NYT, A22.
    Americans should be outraged at the Senate's vote on Wednesday to compromise important national security and environmental concerns in order to plase the auto industry and its unions. That is precisely what took place when 62 senators...rejected a long-overdue effort to increase fuel efficiency standards by 50% over 13 years [which would have saved] 2.5m barrels of oil a day, more than is currently imported from the Middle East.
    {What is this but Luddism - the rejection of technology and progress?]
    The average mileage for vehicles sold in America has dropped to 24 mpg, the lowest level since 1980....
    [America turns around and marches backward in time. Here's Paul Krugman's take -
    ANWR and peas - The crusade against conservation, op ed by Paul Krugman, NYT, A23.
    On Wednesday the Senate voted down a proposal by John Kerry and John McCain to raise mileage standards on automobiles.... Was it yet another victory for special interests at the expense of the national interest?
    No, it was much worse than that. What prevailed Wednesday was an alliance between conservatives who hate the very idea of conservation...and union leaders trying to demonstrate their influence by [appearing to] mak[e] politicians jump. It's the same alliance that, last summer, led the House to support drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) by a surprisingly large margin.
    ...Oil companies are not behind the push for drilling there - ...Arctic oil is so expensive to get at that it's barely worth extracting at current market prices. ...Then why are the Bush administration and its allies so vehement about ANWR? Pay no attention to the rhetoric about national security; the Kerry-McCain proposal would save about 3 times as much oil per year as ANWR would deliver even in its bried period of peak production.
    The real reason conservatives...
    [sorry, we can't go on calling these shortsighted radicals "conservatives," if for no other reason that that real conservatives are in favor of conservation, not against it. So let's start that sentence over -]
    The real reason [Bush and allied immediate-gratification radicals] want to drill in ANWR is the same reason they want to keep snowmobiles roaring through Yellowstone: sheer symbolism. Forcing rangers to wear respirators won't make much difference to snowmobile sales - but it makes the tree-huggers furious, and that's what's appealing about it. The same is true about arctic drilling: as one very moderate environmentalist told me, the reason the Bush administration pursues hig-profile anti-environmental policies is not that they please special interests but that they are "red meat for the right." (The real special-interest payoffs come via less showy policies, like the way the administration is undermining enforcement of the Clean Air Act.)
    And what about the Teamsters union, which threw its support behind the Bush plan? It claimed to be motivated by the 700,000 jobs ANWR drilling would supposedly create.
    [If anyone doubts that Republicans are just as misled into job creation (instead of work sharing) as Democrats are, here is yet another example - besides the Pentagon and the prisons.]
    One suspects that the union's leadership knows that this figure is at least 10 times too high. But the union's members don't know that; so by making common cause with the anti-environmental right the leaders can seem to be bringing home the bacon.
    ...Ed Gillespie, the top Republican operative turned Enron lobbyist, in a memo last April...proposed selling the administration's drill-and-burn energy plan by painting conservationists as "eat your peas" types, who want to take away our creature comforts. Sure enough, [Senate] opponents portrayed a modest proposal, which would have set a 36-mpg standard 13 years from now, as an immediate threat to the American way of life. Trent Lott displayed a photo of a tiny 70-mpg European compact and declared, "I don't want every American to have to drive this car." And senators who are indifferent to the air pollution that kills thousands of Americans each year got all weepy at the prospect - rejected by serious analysts - that making cars more efficient would lead to more traffic fatalities.
    The surprise, though, is that this dishonest anti-conservationism got crucial support from the UAW. There's no good reason to think that higher efficiency standards would actually cost any auto worker jobs; certainly fighting a modest mileage increase phased over 15 [or 13??] years shouldn't be a priority for the union's members. But as with the Teamsters and ANWR drilling, fighting conservation gave the union's leadership an opportunity to look powerful; the appearance, not the reality, was what mattered.
    You may find it hard to believe that such crucial decisions are driven by such petty concerns, that an alliance between showboating union leaders and "drive 100 and freeze a Yankee" [southern radicals] could do so much damage to our nation's future. But if that's what you think, you do not know with how little wisdom the world is governed.
3/14/2002  headlines from hell -
  1. Israel's unwise offensive, editorial, NYT, A30.
    With 20,000 troops in action, Israel is currently engaged in the biggest military offensive in the Palestinian territories since the 1967 war. In less than two weeks it has killed more than 160 Palestinians [while continuing its illegal 30-year occupation of Palestinian territories - ed.]. Soldiers in full battle dress, riding in [American$-bought] tanks and backed by fire from [American$-bought] Apache attack helicopters, have ripped their way through large refugee camps. Tanks have torn up roads [and] missiles have gutted homes....
    [Don't like it? Cut the $3.5 billion "foreign aid" to Israel extracted yearly with no sanctioning referendum from American taxpayers.]

  2. France: Migrants stifle Channel traffic, by Suzanne Daly, NYT, A8.
    The intrusion of hundreds of immigrants into a railyard a few miles inland from the Channel Tunnel has forced officials to suspend virtually all freight service to Britain through the tunnel.... The tunnel operator, Eurotunnel, says the nearby Sangatte refugee center has become a launching pad for people trying to sneak aboard trains and should be closed..\..
    [The fact that this refugee center wasn't closed months ago is a testimony to the residual spotty stupidity of the French government. To position a refugee center so close to the doorway to a country with even sloppier immigration laws than France (namely the UK) is like putting the Tree of Knowing Good and Evil right in the middle of the Garden and saying "Don't touch." It's a design for disaster. Or as ol' Bill Staples, our Hebrew professor at olde Victoria College in Toronto used to say, "God could have tucked that tree away in a corner somewhere but oh no, He put put it smack dab in the middle and told man not to touch. The purpose of creation is destruction. And today, they could make these cars to last forever, but do they? Oh no, they make them to wear out after a few years, so we'll have to buy more. The greatest achievement of Western Civilization is built-in obsolescence." Built-in obsolescence also accounts for the wonderful artistic skills of many ordinary people on the island of Bali. Their materials are all transient; their temples, drawings and sculptures crumble easily, so they have to keep renewing them - see Hickman Powell's "The Last Paradise" (1930), pp.136 ff.]
    The immigrants, frustrated by increased security near the mouth of the tunnel, are now massing inland at the Frethun freight depot, hoping to get on trains headed to Britain. Normally about 25 freight trains go through the tunnel each day but officials expected no more than three to go through yesterday....
3/13/2002  headlines from hell -
  1. [colleague Kate called this story "battling sluts" -]
    And now the 16th minute of fame - New rules of celebrity: Has-beens qualify, by Caryn James, NYT, front page of the "Arts"??? section.
    Tonya Harding...and Paula Jones [with boxing gloves on]...fight tonight on Fox.... [lead photo caption].

  2. [introducing "pump and dump" -]
    Market Place - A white-collar criminal adds conviction No. 7 to his record, by Floyd Norris, NYT, C11
    ...Lionel Reifler admitted to...conspiring to rig the price of a stock traded on the OTC bulletin board...FinancialWeb.com Inc. [Thus,] Mr. Reifler yesterday became the fifth person to plead guilty to charges relating to that pump-and-dump scheme. A sixth defendant is expected to enter a plea soon....

  3. Many hungry mouths, Agence France-Presse via NYT, A6.
    [Here we go again. Just as the media consistently focus on the direct but unworkable "solution" to homelessness (low-cost government-micromanaged housing), they consistently focus on the direct but unworkable "solution" to starvation -]
    Around 815 million people - 13% of the world's population - suffer from hunger and malnutrition, mostly in developing countries, said Jacques Diouf, head of the UN Food and Agriculture Organization....
    [as if the answer is free UN-micromanaged food and agriculture programs. This is like giving a man a fish so he can live for a day, instead of giving him free contraceptives and teaching him how to fish, or in this case, how to share the vanishing work.]
    At the opening of a regional conference in Iran, Mr. Diouf said that of that number, 777m were in the developing world, 27m in "transitional" countries and 11 million in industrialized countries.

  4. House passes immigrant bill to aid Mexico, by Robert Pear, NYT, front page.
    ...that would allow tens of thousands of Mexicans now living illegally in the United States to obtain visas here without returning to Mexico to file applications, as they [and every other nationality] would ordinarily have to do....
    [So let us get this straight. Our immigration "policy," if it can be dignified with that name, has gone from being determined by a corrupt rightwing "Democratic" administration so it can gain more voters and stay in power, to being determined by a foreign nation and its illegal immigrants, who pour across the border, some say at the rate of 30,000 a month at one crossing point alone (Nogales, AZ). Then they cluster in jobless profusion in places like the Culmore district of northern Virginia (see 3/10-11/2002 #4 below) or somehow access low-cost government-subsidized housing before homeless Americans, as in west Cambridge, Mass. and we're supposed to raise our eyes worshipfully toward Miss Liberty and feel all warm and fuzzy. How should immigration policy be determined? It should be determined by regular public referendum, since no elected "representative" in his right mind is going to take it on. We need to set overall population goals or limits for this country and quit hiding our heads in the sand of "let chaos reign." By letting our immigration laws be determined "as a gesture of good will toward Mexico" or any other single foreign country, we have completely destroyed any impartiality the law may have had with favoritism and, basically, we have no credible immigration policy whatsoever.]

3/12/2002  headlines from hell -
  1. America as nuclear rogue, editorial, NYT, A28.
    If another country were planning to develop a new nuclear weapon and contemplating pre-emptive strikes against a list of non-nuclear powers, Washington would rightly label that nation a dangerous rogue state. Yet such is the course recommended to pResident Bush by a new Pentagon planning paper that became public last weekend.
    [Time to recall Pres. Gen. Eisenhower's warning against letting the military too far into the seats of power. 'Course, when we got a religious-right CIA-director-exprez-son Enron-pyramid-scheme-financed locker-room towel-flicker in the White House anyway, maybe there's not too much diff.]
    Mr. Bush needs to send that document back to its authors and ask for a new version less menacing to the security of future American generations.
    [Ah, hints of a long-term view. The weird thing here is, the past coupla years have seen the Pentagon asking for LESS than the religious-right crusaders in Congress have been trying to push on them. Suddenly the Pentagon has lost what balance it had. Paranoia? = another legacy of bin Laden? Some hope comes tomorrow -]
    Powell says US will keep cutting arsenal, by Barry Schweld, AP via 3/13/2002 BG, A21.

  2. Ready to quit, but deep in debt - Trying to break the borrowing habits of a lifetime, by Daniel Altman, NYT, E11.
    Saving for retirement is hard enough without being in debt. But more Americans than ever are finding themselves on the cusp of retirement and in the red.... Debt multiplied among older people during the 1990's..\..said William Novelli, exec. dir. and CEO of AARP [American Assoc. of Retired Persons], even though "the bloom was on the economy."
    [Or "the bubble."]
    Data from the Survey of Consumer Finances, conducted by the Federal Reserve Board, confirm that among households headed by 55- to 64-year-olds, the average ratio of debt payments to family income grew to 13% from 9% between 1989 and 1998.... Indebted people between ages 50 and 64 owed an average of $13,000..\..said Michael Hurd, the director fo the RAND Center for the Study of Aging....
    Several factors contributed....
    [And this article's suggestion is no solution -]
    Often, however, older people are reluctant to ask for help....
    [Constantly falling back on unreliable charity is a pathetic excuse for not targeting and redesigning the flaws in the system that have made it one of narrow $$$funneling into islands of unspendably high wealth and capricious charity, instead of massive systemic reinvestment in markets via pervasive on-the-job training and pervasive high hourly wages. (How "systemic"? - Timesizing engineers a shortage of labor instead of continuing our pathetic chronic shortage of jobs. See preface to Arthur Dahlberg's "Jobs, Machines and Capitalism.")]

  3. Learning to cope when hospital patients turn violent, by Dr. Sandeep Jauhar, NYT, D6.
    One night last spring...an alcoholic...tied to the bed rails...lunged at me with a force that shook the entire bed.... "This hand, doctor," he said with eerie composure, "when it's free, it's going through your head."...
    I started asking colleagues about their brushes with menacing patients. Almost all the people I talked to - nurses, residents and attending physicians - said they had been verbally or physically abused by patients in the past year. And this was just my hospital, a relatively staid institution on the Upper East Side of Manhattan. When I looked in the medical literature, I was shocked by what I read. ..A patient who had broken a window in his room with an IV pole, when asked why...said that he needed to go to the bathroom, but that the nurse had waited too long to help him..\.. Dr. Alan Wickersty, a clinical psychologist...in Maryland [who] told [the story] said, "This isn't just coming from people with psychiatric problems. It's also coming from normal people for whom the healthcare system is unable to respond to their basic human needs.
    In 1998, the American Psychiatric Assoc. commissioned a panel [including] Dr. Arthur Berg, a psychiatrist at Harvard..\..to examine the problem. ...Many factors...contributed to hospital violence, including [Clearly American healthcare is sick. Not only are millions of Americans without healthcare, but it's still the most gender-polarized industry in the economy next to the U.S. Roman Catholic church which still refuses to ordain women (or married men - with predictable results) and the U.S. military, which gets a bit more of our sympathy. We fault the powerful group, physicians, who for the short-term goals of money and prestige, have been slowly making access to their skills (ie: medical training) harder, longer and costlier, instead of easier, shorter and less expensive. They need to redesign medical training to cut the pompous posturing and strong frathouse-gauntlet odor and make it much more efficient and functional. For example, they need to simplify and functionalize their whole nomenclature to save time and memory and mistakes. Instead, what lame suggestions does our present physician-reporter have? -]
    ...Occupational risks - needle sticks [in the age of AIDS???], contagious diseases and even aggressive patients - are necessarily parts of medicine..\..
    [Talk about "tolerance for violent behavior"!   And what else? -]
    But..."We thought that institutions should give physicians permission to defend themselves," Dr. Berg said. "If a guy's going to hurt you, you've got to hurt him first."...
    [From tolerance for violent behavior to violent behavior itself. There goes the Hippocratic Oath: "First do no harm...."   Next American physicians will all be gun-packing members of the NRA. And this in a country so immature it tosses Dr. Kevorkian in jail. Check out this nearby article -]
    Comfort vs. longevity? Who decides?, by Eric Nagourney, NYT, D7.
    More than a third of seriously ill patients who requested that doctors ease their discomfort instead of prolonging their lives appear to have had their wishes overlooked, a new study reports.
    The findings were based on a study of 1,185 Medicare patients at five teaching hospitals across the country who were suffereing illnesses like multiple organ failure, cancer and congestive heart failure. The researchers...report their findings in the current Journal of American Geriatrics Society. ...Evidence supported the patients' belief that doctors were trying to prolong their lives, despite their wishes, said the lead author of the study, Dr. Joan Teno of Brown University. The patients had higher medical bills and lived longer than comparable patients who thought their wishes were being respected.
    [Who decides? Clearly the patient should be the one. The doctors are there for him/her, not vice versa.]
    About 60% of patients said they wanted doctors to focus on making them comfortable. [But] "Our finding suggest that physicians are unaware of their patients' preferences [too busy or "important" to listen?] or, worse, that they are actively ignoring them," the authors wrote.
    [Pathetic, but understandable in view of our treatment of Dr. Kevorkian. America's ultimate answer to unemployment and now the healthcare crisis, guns and jails. Behold the first becoming last.]

For earlier collapse stories, click on the desired date -
  • Mar.1-11/2002.
  • Feb.16-28/2002.
  • Feb.1-15/2002.
  • Jan/2002.
  • Dec/2001.
  • Nov.16-30/2001.
  • Nov.1-15/2001.
  • Oct/2001.
  • Sep.15-30/2001.
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  • Aug/2001.
  • July/2001.
  • June/2001.
  • Apr-May/2001.
  • Mar/2001.
  • Feb/2001.
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  • Dec.21-31/2000.
  • Dec.11-20/2000.
  • Dec.1-10/2000.
        Earlier Y2000 months accessible via links at bottom of Dec.1-10/2000 page.
  • Dec.16-31/99.
  • Dec.1-15/99.
        Earlier 1999 months accessible via links at bottom of Dec.1-15/99 page.
  • Dec/98.
        Earlier months accessible via links at bottom of Dec/98 page.


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