DoomwatchTM vs. Timesizing®
Collapse trends - April, 2003
[Commentary] ©2003 Philip Hyde, The Timesizing Wire, Box 622, Cambridge MA 02140 USA (617) 623-8080 - HOMEPAGE
4/28/2003 headlines from hell -
4/24/2003 headlines from hell -
- 9/11 and Bush's record, letter to editor by David Potorti of Cary NC, NYT, A26.
Re "Bush's aides plan late sprint in '04" (news article, Apr.22):
Since the worst terrorist attack in American history, which took the life of my brother, occurred in New York on Sept. 11, it seems appropriate that pResident Bush will be making his re-election bid from that city at that time in 2004.
can come to town and join him in celebrating the other achievements of his first term.
- the millions of unemployed Americans,
- veterans whose benefits have been threatened,
- families of dead civilians in Afghanistan and Iraq,
- working people who lost their pensions to corporate fraud,
- and 41 million Americans without health insurance
- [never mind the hosts of ancient Sumerians and Akkadians that we'll never find out about now because Bush couldn't be bothered sending 20-30 Marines to guard the 2 or 3 large museums of Mesopotamia - who's the barbarian now?]
4/19-21/2003 headlines from hell -
- [a little more 'collateral damage' not mentioned in advance, besides the airlines & American credibility etc. -]
Hilton Hotels Corp. - Net plunges 74% as economy, war, limit demand for travel, Dow Jones via WSJ, B8.
4/17/2003 headlines from hell -
- 4/20 A bleak picture for jobs in Mass., by Robert Gavin, Boston Globe, front page.
The Massachusetts economy is substantially weaker than the state's modest unemployment rate indicates - a weakness masked by a survey process that does not count [as "unemployed"] -
Although Massachusetts has shed jobs by the tens of thousands over the past 2 years, the unemployment rate, 5.3% in February, has failed to capture the full extent of the deterioration, according to a study by Northeastern University's Center for Labor Market Studies. The way the state measures unemployment hasn't changed. "But the nature of unemployment has changed," said Andrew Sum, director of the Center and principal author of the study. "If you want to understand what's going on, you've got to look beyond the unemployment statistics."...
- part-time workers,
- commuters from nearby states who lose jobs here [& are counted only where they live, not where they work],
- or residents who simply give up and move away.
[More ammo for our page on the irrelevance of official unemployment figures. As we point out on that page, official unemployment figures today serve only incumbent politicians and their wealthy campaign contributors, who have recreated a permanent recession by concentrating sooo much unspendable spending power that they are not only suctioning the markets away from their own investments, but isolating, insulating and anesthetizing themselves despite their wildly disproportionate decision-making power - ergo, plummeting system feedback]
- [Example of plummeting system feedback in American socio-economy (besides costly but irrelevant Iraq invasion) -]
4/20 Corporate lessons in executive pay, letter to editor by Eileen Darby of Manhattan, NYT, 3:10.
Re "Again, money follows the pinstripes" (Executive pay: A special report, Apr.6), which described how CEOs at 200 big American companies averaged $10.8 million in compensation last year:
Such executives are the primary beneficiaries of the pResident's tax cuts. Do Republicans really believe that the economy won't recover unless this upper 1% of the population has more money? Are these high-paid executives not buying products and services because they haven't enough money?
If their companies can afford these salaries, why are they laying off thousands of people every week?
- 4/20 Economic life - Pessimism remains the operative word - 'It's a muddle-along forecast,' Wm. Dudley, Goldman Sachs, by Charles Stern, Boston Globe, E1.
...Each Friday afternoon \the\ economics team at Goldman Sachs...publishes an 8-page report called "US Economics Analyst."... The subjects change from week to week, but what doesn't change much is the basic message, which can be summarized as follows: Don't get your hopes up. Things still stink....
[and will continue to do so until we maximize our consumer base by guaranteeing full employment via "flexible adjustment of the workweek against all forms of unemployment."]
- [in the 'conservative' newspapers, the happytalk goes on & on -]
4/20 U.S. families in good shape, financially, by Liberman & Lavine, Boston Herald, 62.
...based on a recent study by the Federal Reserve [now 2 years out of date]....
- [and here's why -]
4/21 What is [war] good for? - The war pushers turn out to be the profit takers, op ed by Bob Herbert, NYT, A25.
...George Schultz...was secretary of state under Ronald Reagan and has been a perennial heavyweight with the powerful Bechtel Group of San Francisco, where he previously reigned as president and is now a board member and senior counselor.... Last week Mr. Schultz's Bechtel Group was able to demonstrate exactly what [it is that] wars are good for. The Bush administration...in a closed-door process that was restricted to a handful of politically connected American companies..\..gave it the first big Iraqi reconstruction contract, a prized $680 million [$2/3 billion] deal over 18 months that puts Bechtel in the driver's seat for the long-term reconstruction of the country, which could cost $100 billion or more.... Now the companies (not just Bechtel by any means) have a lock on Iraq, and U.S. taxpayers are obliged to pay the bill..\..
When the George Bushes and the George Schultzes were banging the drums for war with Iraq, we didn't hear one word from them about the benefits that would be accuing to corporate behemoths like Bechtel. And we didn't pay much attention to the grotesque conflict of interest engaged in by corporate titans and their government cronies who were pushing young American men and women into the flames of a war that ultimately would pour billions of dollars into a very select group of corporate coffers....
[and transfer billions from the high-circulation pockets of the vast American middle class (and politically unconnected parts of the tiny upper class) into the high-concentration, low-circulation coffers of the very tiny group of politically connected executives, thus deepening recession into depression.]
- [and meanwhile, for boyish bumpkin Tony Blair -]
4/21 The prize: A deal to rebuild Iraq, letter to editor by...Gretchen Kronenburg of Belmont MA, NYT, A24.
Throughout much of the current war in Iraq...Bush has carefully referred to actions taken by "our coalition," not by America alone.
Today's headlines ("U.S. gives Bechtel a major contract in rebuilding Iraq," front page, Apr.18) tell another story. Bechtel and four other American companies have been awarded lucrative deals to rebuild that country.
Tony Blair must wonder what happened to "our coalition."
[What a putz, now with the egg thick on his beardless, but bearded, face - too naive to know that today's scorpions and spiders lurking in the White House only share risk and cost, not profits and benefits. The British people have a political system that could have replaced him in a vote of no confidence, but the scum they've currently elected to Parliament are little better than Blair. Instead of making us "colonials" proud, the current crop of excitable MPs caved to this cynical, hate-raising, and homeland-security-destroying pre-emptive war - pre-emptive of nothing but peace and letting sleeping dogs lie.]
4/16/2003 headlines from hell -
- New labor realities - Unions risk losing their relevance as marketplace conditions change, by Edward Wong, NYT, C4.
[So what else is new? Unions have been irrelevant ever since 1933 when they let FDR distract them from their major contributing role - to balance labor and employment by means of adjusting the length of the workweek (alias workshare per person per time period) - with ultimately ineffectual sops, such as minimum wage, social security, workmen's comp, unemployment insurance and jobs programs.]
- Advertising - A campaign supports going out, having a drink and driving, as long as it is done responsibly, by Nat Ives, NYT, C7.
...new commercial...spot...part of a larger effort from the American Beverage Licensees and the American Beverage Institute....
[This should be illegal. Moms Against Drunk Driving (MADD) goes after these idiots and reams them. This stupid campaign could reverse decades of life-saving "guilt hydraulics" against drinking and driving. The industry associations are escalating a battle that will hurt them infinitely more than any gains they make. Don't they remember Prohibition? Don't they see the compulsive perfectionist/religionist mood of much of the country? Don't they see the devastation of the "war" on drugs, meaning an arbitrary list of substances from which alcohol is missing despite its similarity to many of those substances?]
- Museum pillage [in Iraq] described as devastating but not total, by Ian Fisher, NYT, B4.
[Does it need to be TOTAL? What a stretch for a sliver of happytalk! And the 'pillage' was such a professional job, you kinda wonder if Halliburton or any of Cheney's other business interests were discussing this back in 1997, not to mention during the hushed-up energy taskforce meetings prior to 9/11/01. See also -]
Missing in action, op ed by Benjamin & Karen Foster, NYT, A25.
[Too depressing, too devastating an attack on human self-knowledge to excerpt.]
- ["WHY are you sooo cynical?" says you. Check this story, in the "conservative" Wall Street Journal -]
Scholar alleges plan to discredit Mexican mogul, by Michael Allen, WSJ, A10.
MEXICO CITY - An American scholar...Donald E. Schulz, chairman of the political science dept. of Cleveland State University..\..in a sworn affidavit..\..admitted leaking a draft report by a U.S. intelligence facility linking the family of Mexican industrialist Carlos Hank Rhon to drug trafficking and said he believed the leak was part of a "scheme" to discredit the family....
[And remember when they planted the drugs in Delorian's home to ruin him? It seems the "war on drugs" is just too useful to our braindead "intelligence" facilities - for more than mere slush funds - to allow any serious move toward decriminalization of drugs regardless of the astronomical cost to taxpayers of storing hundreds of thousands of non-violent drug "violators" in our prisons and jails. Maybe we should be grateful that there isn't a lot more of this because our "intelligence" facilities are momentarily too busy fencing antiquities and planting 'weapons of mass destruction.']
4/12-14/2003 headlines from hell -
- Industrial output slips 0.5%, worst showing in 3 months, by Michael Schroeder, WSJ, A2.
- [and as for the village idiot in the White House? -]
In significant concession, Bush lowers his proposed tax cut to $550 billion - Conceding that an original $726 billion tax reduction package is dead, continuation headline (from front page), NYT, A14.
[So days after everyone else has moved on from $550B to $350B, this moron is still yapping about $726B? Oyy, vudda putz. And then there's the seriousness with which the nation's foremost newspaper deals with this ridiculosity. Face it. The guy is a laughing stock. There's a laughing stock in the 'leadership' of the world's most heavily armed nation! This is right up there with hapless King John, Caligula and Nero, Nero being the origin of famed numero of ill omen, 666.]
- ["It all comes back to jobs."]
Quotation of the day, by Mehedi Jebel Abed who was jailed under Saddam Hussein for complaining about food, NYT, A2.
"I'm happy that Saddam Hussein is gone. I don't care if the Americans are here or not. But nothing has changed for me. I am out of jail, but I have no job, nowhere to live."
[Gee, sounds just like the thousands of prison and jail inmates we release back onto the streets every month!]
- ["Hey, Mom, what's for dinar?" A: $$.]
World-wide - U.S.-Syria tensions became heated, news blurb, WSJ, front page.
...The U.S. is airlifting [taxpayer??] dollars from the NY Federal Reserve Bank to temporarily replace the Iraqi dinar. American officials will use small-denomination bills to pay hundreds of thousands of Iraqi civil servants. Using US dollars will make the greenback the de facto currency for now.
- [and what was this whole war for??]
U.S. inspectors find no forbidden weapons at Iraqi arms plant, by Judith Miller, NYT, B1.
[and the worst of Backroom Pres. Cheney's war was the looting of the museums of the cradle of civilization in Baghdad and Mosul, by pros with chainsaws, opening up gaps in our knowledge of ourselves (after the White House was warned this would happen if they stooped to war!) -]
Curators appeal for a ban on purchase of Iraqi antiquities, by John Wilford, NYT, B5.
[Meanwhile, only a few Democrats stand against it -]
Looking at postwar Bush, glum Democrats ponder how to win in 2004 - After silence on the war, the opposition has a more difficult campaign next year, by Adam Nagourney, NYT, B6.
[Cowards, most of them, but then there's -]
Howard Dean, at a presidential candidate speaker series yesterday in Washington, has presented himself as an antiwar candidate. [photo caption]
4/08/2003 headlines from hell -
- 4/14 The Iraq money tree, editorial, NYT, A22.
Invading, occupying and rebuilding Iraq will cost American taxpayers more than $100 billion. But for some lucky companies, Iraq is emerging as a profit center.
[and we won't know for sure that it was just "luck" until we find out about those energy taskforce meetings that Cheney has refuse to come clean about]
The administration has begun farming out contracts, and politically connected firms like [Cheney's] Halliburton are among the early winners. This looks like naked favoritism and undermines the Bush administration's portrayal of the war as a campaign for disarmament and democracy, not lucre....
- 4/13 This man used to make $300,000 a year - Now he's selling khakis - Masculinity, identity and the white-collar unemployed, pointer photo caption (to p.44), NYT Mag, cover.
[and the indicated article -]
Commute to nowhere - In a new [not!] kind of recession, out-of-work executives are being forced to rethink their professional identities, their personal relationships - and their most fundamental sense of who they are, by Jonathan Mahler, NY Times Mag, 44.
...Between Dec/2000 and Jan/2003, the [NYC computer] industry slashed 41% of its positions..\.. 21,000 computer-industry professionals in NYC...have been let go since the end of 2000.... While the recession of the early 90s took a heavy toll on white-collar workers, this one seems to have institutionalized the phenomenon. Advanced degrees, no matter how prestigious, offer little protection. The economy is grim nationwide, but the picture in NYC is especially bleak. Since the end of 2000, the media&communications sector has cut 15% of its jobs, telecom 27%, advertising 25%,...Wall Street..\..18%...and firms continue to lay people off. Given the delirium with which most high-tech jobs were first created, there's no reason to believe that many of them - and the jobs in other sectors that they generated - will come back anytime soon.
By the numbers, women have been hit as hard as men, but white-collar men tend to experience unemployment differently, organizational psychologists say. For most women, survival trumps ego; they simply adapt and find some job. For men, grappling with joblessness inevitably entails surrendering an idea of who they are - or who others thought they were.... When GDP growth resumed in the 4th quarter of 2001...many economists figured the worst was over. More than a year later, the unemployment picture for all workers remains bleak. Nationwide, more jobs were lost last February than in any single month since Nov/2001. We are in the worst hiring slump in 20 years..\..
The difference [in the evening in each case except the $10/hr Gap employee] is that the father hasn't just returned home from a hard day at work. That's likely to be the case for the forseeable future. As James Parrott, the chief economist for the Fiscal Policy Institute...says, "There's no rebound in sight, and there aren't even the glimmers that would lead you to predict a rebound." [Though you'd never know it by the continuing happytalk in the Journal, e.g., 4/14, C5, "Signs of life appear in IPO market."] That the current situation in Iraq has been accompanied by fears of a terrorist attack on New York and other cities has only further darkened the employment horizon....
- ...Gap's store on Fifth Avenue & 54th Street [NYC, 50-yr-old]...6-ft-4-in Jeff Einstein...not your typical Gap salesman...used to be...interactive industry pioneer...the Mick Jagger of digital media..\..Einstein's Computer Guides..\..an executive VP and a director of interactive marketing for Rapp Digital, a digital media company with 300 employees and a P&L of $40m...lost his job at Rapp Digital almost 2 years ago.... In 1983...flew out to California to pick up a free demo from Apple...went skiing [at] Tahoe with a few of Apple's founders. For the next 15 years, Jeff [was] exactly the right person for the right time.... Founded, with Jay Sandom...the first interactive ad agency, Einstein & Sandom Inc.... Married in 1998.... Soon after, when [wife] became pregnant, Jeff figured it was time to settle down. The job at Rapp Digital seemed as secure as they come; his old partner and best friend, Jay Sandom, was president, and Jeff was on the company's operating board.... Not long after Jeff started, Rapp Digital's parent company, Omnicom, instituted a policy requiring every branch to show a 20% profit, which was out of the realm of possibility for his NY office. Jeff survived the first round of cuts, but not the second. He was laid off in May 2001....
[And eventually the Gap? What a come-down! Where was his best friend, Jay Sandom???]
Jeff figured an offer would arrive shortly after his name started circulating, maybe not as quickly as they had in the past, but he had 3 months of severance - plenty, he thought, to get him to his next position. The 3 months went by, then 4, then 5, then 6. His name was out there, but no offers were forthcoming. Jeff was periodically checking job boards like Monster.com, but he rarely saw postings that looked senior enough. Mostly he was hanging around the house like a moody teenager, checking his e-mail, surfing the Internet, playing the guitar. ...His unemployment [took] its toll on [his marriage. In Nov/2002, his wife, who had pieced together part-time jobs and consulting into an $80k income] did what she had vowed never to do: "I told him that come Feb. 1, if you're not contributing to the rent, you have to move out."
Now, working at the Gap at $10 an hour, it takes Jeff 2½ weeks to earn what he used to make in a day at Rapp Digital, where his annual salary was $300,000 (including bonuses but excluding stock options). But he and Mara [means 'bitter' in Hebrew, and 3-yr old daughter] are still together, and after "the year-and-a-half-long process of dehumanization," as Jeff calls it, he's happy to have any job. "It keeps me out of my head," he says, "which is a bad neighborhood to be in right now."
[This is probably a guy who is ready to look at an alternative to downsizing and layoffs, such as timesizing to share the vanishing work - which is the whole announced purpose of technology anyway.]
- Lou Casagrande [43, of] in Summit NY..\..an IT consultant unable to find work in his field since June 2001.... [photo caption]
...graduate of Brown U. with a PhD in chemistry from Stanford and an MBA from Long Island U...[former] scientist at Northrup Grumman...found a 4-bedroom Colonial [whose] mortgage was a stretch. At his salary of $100,000 a year, the roughly $2,700 monthly payment represented 45% of his take-home pay. But, as Lou says, "at that time, I was imagining an ever-increasing salary, ever-increasing stock options and all those wonderful things."... Lou was laid off in June 2001. At the time, he figured he's be out 3-6 months tops. 22 months later, he's still looking. ...Married..\..3 kids...dire state of family finances...ran through their long-term savings several months ago and are now well into the college funds - accounts that Janet's father started for each child after birth. "That should last about another 2-3 months," Lou says. If he hasn't landed a job by then, he and Janet will be force to raid their 401k.... They have considered downgrading...their house [but] a rental big enough for the five of them isn't likely to cost much less than their mortgage.... "One of the first things we did," Janet says, "is cut off the kids' allowances" - a savings of $6 a week. The Casagrandes also registered all 3 children for a state-subsidized school lunch program. When Lou's unemployment benefits, which came to $890 every 2 weeks, expired last summer - they had already been extended twice, once by the federal government and once by the state of New Jersey - he put up fliers around town advertising hsi software-installation services. He has had 6 clients for a total of about 20 hours, less than $1,000.
Last fall, Lou started substitute teaching. The pay is $90 a day, but work is sporadic, particularly because Lou is limited to the Summit schools by the fact that the Casagrandes are down to one car, a 1995 Subaru. Their 2nd car would not have passed its 2001 inspection without repair work they couldn't afford, so they gave it away and took the tax deduction instead.
Lou has also been teaching a spinning class at the local YMCA for several months now. At $12 an hour, the money isn't great, but as a part-time employee of the Y, he only pays $100 a year for a family membership.... Janet persuaded the Y to waive the extra fee for the kids' weekly karate class..\.. There's another hidden benefit too. "Believe it or not," he says, "being in front of the group keeps up my confidence in my ability to make the kinds of corporate presentations I've made in the past and that I anticipate making again in the future." ...Janet is one of four women at her Starbucks alone who are working there because their husbands have been laid off. ...Though the pay is just $8 an hour, she needs to log only 20 hours a week to qualify for the company's health-care plan. The Casagrandes, a family of 5, pay just $220 a month; Lou's Cobra, which would have expired by now anyway, was costing them close to $800.
- Tom Pyle  has the kind of background that's supposed to prevent this sort of thing from happening. Hotchkiss, Princeton, Harvard Business School - he was, as he puts it, "programmed to be a world-beater."... During the late 90s, Tom...went to work as a financial director at a Swedish bank, where he earned about $200,000 a year.... At the end of 2001, Tom took a position as the director of development at the US Rowing Assn. The $100,000 (including incentives) salary was low [$100K 'low'???], but Tom considered it a long-term investment. Banking was a young man's game; he could grow old in the nonprofit sector.
Unlike most out-of-work professionals, who watched anxiously as their employers' flow of business slowed to a trickle, Tom never saw it coming. Six months after he started - and three nights after his boss had taken him out to dinner to tell him how well everything was going - a major sponsor abruptly withdrew its financing. For the first time in his life, Tom was terminated.
[But he's the development director - isn't that the FUNDRAISER?!]
...wife, Molly...17-yr-old son Adam.... With the house paid off and the college tuitions protected, the Pyles are by no means in financial distress. Still, as Tom puts it a few minutes later: "Economic reality is not the rev.final arbiter of domestic tranquillity." It soon becomes clear that one of the biggest obstacles to [that] is proximity. "It's terrible," Molly says. "My husband is always in the house"..\..
[Move to a tiny 2-family like Phil and Kate!]
- And then there are people like..\..David Schmier, the head of a career-counseling firm called GetHired.com...who was laid off last May as the director of interactive marketing for AOL. Now, seemingly like half the people in this room..\..at a monthly mixer sponsored by an online networking group....he is trying his hand at selling services to the unemployed..\..
[There's more but you get the drift.... All this should be totally unnecessary. We've got the technology to go to the Moon. We've got superhighspeed computers and precision missiles that execute allies with friendly fire and kill innocent families better than any other billion-dollar expenditure, but we don't have the technology to share the vanishing work as technology itself takes over more and more manhours. We're still downsizing, laying off our markets, slowly starving our own consumer base, and allowing the spending power of the nation to coagulate in unspendable, now even uninvestable, billions in the top income brackets, in response to the incessantly incoming waves of technology that we greet with such clueless optimism. The most gradual and market-oriented alternative to the suicidal stupidity of downsizing, rightsizing or, most ironic of all, "smartsizing," is Timesizing.]
4/07/2003 headlines from hell -
- Of service and privilege, now and then, by Alex Beam, Boston Globe, D1, flagged by colleague Kate.
...When the US Congress was debating the use of force against Iraq last year, it emerged that only a handful of the 535 families represented on Capitol Hill had children in the military, and only one had a son in the enlisted ranks....
[Not a feedback system. As we've droned before, there is such intense concentration of income and wealth in this country today, that the wealthy can pull to themselves all the important decision-making power while insulating themselves completely from any negative consequences of their decisions. We repeat, Not a feedback system. Or a formula for continued survival as a nation.]
- [What happens to the national income when it gets too concentrated to maintain consumption, you may ask? Where does it go? Here are a couple of hints -]
Cash pours into high-yield bonds - 'Junk' funds draw billions, but volume doesn't keep pace with rise in demand, by Nicole Bullock & Tom Barkley, WSJ, C17.
Natural gas shows strength amid speculative fund buying, by Dina O'Meara, WSJ, C16.
[And there are analysts who believe that much of the stock bubble of the 90s was the result of people with astronomically concentrated incomes simply having nowhere else to put it.]
- [Speaking of bubbles,]
Larry Ellison's sober vision - Tech industry will shrink, 1,000 companies will fail, predicts Oracle's feisty chief, by Mylene Mangalindan, WSJ, B1.
[Sounds like a pretty safe prediction, considering it's already happened, in spades! But there's no saying it won't go on -]
Capital spending outlook continues to weaken, by Richard Breeden, WSJ, B2.
[and not just the tech industry -]
Already battered by terror, tourism gets double blow - War and SARS force many to abandon travel plans; Fallout for global economy - Boom times in the Bahamas [nice & close?], by Neuman & Ford & Lederman, WSJ, front page.
"We've suffered nine plagues, with SARS being the ninth," says Barry Sternlicht, CEO of Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide Inc., a White Plains NY company that has the Sheraton and Westin brands....
[Whoah, sounds apocalyptic, but there are ten plagues in Revelation, the first three called 'woes' (Rev.9:12) and the last seven mentioned repeatedly after 15:1. So for those who want to shiver with anticipation over misinterpreted ancient political commentary, there is one more plague to go! But meanwhile, not only tech and tourism (and steel and retail...) are down, but -]
U.S. movie-ticket sales, pointer blurb (to B1), WSJ, front page.
...have been down each weekend since the Iraq war began. The 2003 box office is off 8% from last year.
4/4/2003 headlines from hell -
- Jobs data suggest weak economy - Report doesn't help Fed to forecast performance once war clouds recede, by Greg Ip, WSJ, A2.
[For more on this report, see the 'not counting' section at the beginning of our downsizings today, 4/07/2003.]
- Shining a light on [fund] managers' pay - Poor performance increases calls for public scrutiny of compensation by funds, by Aaron Lucchetti, WSJ, R1.
Your Congressman brings home an annual salary of about $155,000. A major-league baseball player makes about $2.3m, on average. The CEO of a large public company: $2.8m, before stock options. And the mutual-fund manager running [or ruining?] your money? That's a mystery.... Amid the bear market push for corporations and Wall Street to disclose much more about their business practices to investors...fund companies are [not] required...under SEC rules...to say anything specifically abaout how much they pay their talent or even how that pay is determined.
Now there are intensified efforts to change that...including some in Congress....
4/03/2003 headlines from hell -
- [We've jumped from icefloe to icefloe, trying to keep a status quo of unlimited personal income via a 1940-era workweek afloat - did we not just jump from an Internet bubble to a housing bubble? But now...]
Housing booms tend to collapse - Study finds more harm from home-price busts than in stock bubbles, by Greg Ip, WSJ, A2.
...An IMF examination of housing and stock booms across 21 industrialized countries over the past 30-40 years found housing-price busts occurred less frequently but caused twice as much damage, "reflecting greater effects on consumption and banking systems."...
[Japan went through a housing bust in the 1990s and look where it is today (the tank). How are we doin'? (drum roll) -]
The Labor Dept.said yesterday that initial claims for unemployment insurance jumped 38,000 to an 11-month high of 445,000 last week....
- Bill in Oregon seeks to jail war protesters as terrorists, by Lee Douglas, Boston Globe, A6.
[Ashcroft is la-a-affin'!]
PORTLAND...- An Oregon antiterrorism bill would jail street-blocking protesters for least 25 years in what critics consider a thinly veiled effort to discourage [dissent]. The state judiciary committee['s] chairman, Republican John Minnis, wrote the propos[ed] Senate Bill 742....
[So is Oregon to Washington State as New Hampshire is to Massachusetts? - (at least as Massachusetts was before it got strangled by Dictator Finneran)]
[Here's another item that has Ashcan, oops, Ashcroft smiling in glee -]
Citizen is held on no charge, pointer precis (to A14), NYT, A1.
A federal terrorism taskforce has held an American citizen [software engineer Maher Hawash] who grew up in Kuwait in prison for weeks without charges, an appearance before a judge or any explanation for his arrest in Oregon.
[Then there's the upsurge of Jesus-freakiness and racism, thanks to the Chainybush lid-yank off Pandora's Box -]
- Florida urged to withdraw AIDS leaflet invoking Jesus, by Dana Canedy, NYT, A10.
MIAMI...- The ACLU is asking the Floriduh oops Florida Dept. of Health to recall an AIDS information brochure that includes biblical references and tells people to "answer Jesus' call" by reaching out to people with HIV and AIDS....
[What was Alan Martin's fifth indictment of Bush & Cheney & ilk yesterday? - "They have made an Old Testament-saturated, born-again TV evangelist style of Christianity the religion of the state." Guess thet goes double in thet thar Jeb Bush's demented demesne!]
- North Utah faces influx of racists - Prison-bred gangs take root in Ogden, by Nick Madigan, NYT, A10.
[May mighty Moroni at least keep Moab safe - it's too close to beautiful Arches National Park to be exposed to seriously damaged humans.]
- The war Americans don't see, op ed by Exec. Ed. Rami Khouri of the Beirut Daily Star, NYT, A19.
The Arab press - like Arab public opinion as a whole - predominantly opposes the British and American attack on Iraq, and does not hesitate to say so in its front page headlines, articles and photographs. Yet the press is neither monolithic nor uniformly anti-American. The samples below, from front pages this week in the Arabic-language (and in Algeria's case, French-language) press, demonstrate that the U.S. and the Arab world [not "Arab street"!] do see a different war unfolding....
- An Nahar, Thursday [4/03, front page], Lebanon, Circulation: 78,000
...In a Hilla hospital, 120 km from Baghdad, the Iraqi Abbas Qasem eases the pain of his son after he lost his arm in an air raid by coalition forces. [photo caption]
[Moderate! "Coalition forces," not "invading forces." See frontpage Journal article today, "Battle for viewers colors TV picture coming from Iraq - Different coverage by CNN, Al-Jazeera shows influence of ideology and commerce - 'Invading' vs. 'coalition' forces," by Emily Nelson, WSJ, A1. Orwellian newspeak coats Cheney's Washington.]
- Al Gomhuria, Monday [3/31, front page], Egypt, Circ: 900,000
Fearless resistance to occupation in Iraq and Palestine - 15 American soldiers wounded - a truck driver runs them over in Northern Kuwait - and a Palestinian resistance fighter blows himself up among 30 Israelis in a cafe in Natanya....
[Note the tight connection here between the US occupation of Iraq and the Israeli occupation of the "occupied West Bank." Compare -]
Israel and the settlements, letter to editor by Bruce Laingen of Bethesda MD, NYT, A18.
Re "As Palestinian violence subsides, Israel must stop building settlements, Powell says," (news article, Mar.31):...How many times must we hear what should long since have been obvious? Settlement activity in itself is an obstacle to peace. For years, that has been the stated policy of the US government. It[s cessation] cannot in all logic be conditioned on progress toward peace [by the Palestinians]...
[Yet the Israelis go on and on and on, and we keep paying them $3.5 billion in 'foreign aid' every year, $9 billion this year, cuz we gonna go in ourselz 'n kick aroun sum Ayrabs - and thet mayut jus endanger ar 'client state' thar -]
Israeli army strikes at Palestinians; 7 are shot to death, by James Bennet, NYT, A8.
- Al Hayat, Wednesday [4/02, front page], Britain-based, Circ: 180,000.
Gunfire of the Americans mows down dozens of civlians around Baghdad, Hilla and Najaf
The Americans killed the family of Kareem Muhammad - among them six children. [caption of photo showing man sitting among coffins]
- Al Alam, Tuesday [4/01, front page], Morocco, circ: 100,000.
- Fierce fighting between the Iraqi Republican Guard and American forces south of Najaf and Baghdad
- The attacking forces of the Americans plunder and steal the money of Iraqi civilians. [photo caption]
- Le Matin, Thursday [4/03, front page], Algeria, circ: not available
Baghdad at any cost - Bush unleashes his army against civilians
Arab media portray war as killing field, by Susan Sachs, NYT, B1.
[Compare also -]
Reporting war under eyes of Iraqi 'minders' - [Western] journalists develop a sixth sense to tell fear-inspired words from the truth, by Jim Rutenberg, NYT, B11.
[And who develops a sixth sense to tell fear-inspired reports from Western journalists from the truth, in the wake of what happened to Peter Arnett, and the Dixie Chicks and self-censored Madonna?]
- Germany: Unemployment rises, by Petra Kappl, NYT, W1.
4/02/2003 headlines from hell -
- Rocking the nation's foundations, letter to editor by Alan Martin of Methuen MA, Boston Globe, A16.
...War is upon us, and it is only one aspect of the problem. We should be demanding the resignation of George Bush, Dick Cheney, and their cronies.
If [Clinton's] pathetic seduction of a White House intern can be construed as the kind of high crime or misdemeanor that justifies impeachment, then what are these [nine!] actions that destroy the very foundations of our great country?
- They have waged class warfare to benefit the few at the expense of the many [and at the expense of those few too - in the longer term!], reversing a tradition of fairness that goes back to Franklin D. Roosevelt [though, tragically as he himself admitted, he picked a dead-end route to fairness!] and beyond.
- They have sold out the public interest to favor their campaign contributors in everything from the environment to food safety.
- They are ruining our economy as they lead us back into crippling budget deficits.
- Their attorney general [Ashcan, oops, Ashcroft] encroaches on our civil liberties.
- They have made an Old Testament-saturated, born-again TV evangelist style of Christianity the religion of the state.
- They have put US soldiers in harm's way unnecessarily without bothering to seek the declaration required by our Constitution for a war that will benefit their business associates.
- In their reckless, unilateralist foreign policy, Bush and company show disdain for the rule of law and contempt for longtime allies while relying on threats, bribery, and force to solve every problem.
- In many parts of the world, the U.S. must seem like the land of high-tech killer robots out of some "Terminator" movie. Thus, any blow, even terrorism, against the source of the gunships, B-52s, cookie cutters, cluster bombs, and cruise missiles can be justified in their eyes. [In short, Bushey-Chain has made every American's life infinitely less secure.]
- The preeminent position of the U.S. in the world, painfully built by our ancestors with a hundred years [or 90 years anyway] of effort, sacrifice, blood and treasure, is crumbling around us.
- Swiss cut interest rates [to 0.11-.30%] and the franc drops [0.5% vs. euro], by Alison Langley, NYT, W7.
...With global tensions amplified since 9/11/01, many investors have sought safety for their assets by shifting deposits to Switzerland, whose army last fought a war in 1515. But this trend had made Swiss products more expensive abroad, weakening its economy, which relies heavily on exports [always a mistake!]. In response, the Swiss National Bank has repeatedly cut interest rates - seven times in two years....
- Thin work force of North Dakota gets thinner as residents go off to war, by Jennifer Lee, NYT, B11.
[It's working! Already in isolated parts of America the war has reduced the labor surplus and begun centrifuging and activating spending power. But far better to reduce the labor surplus with timesizing than militarization and population culling.]
- [check out the labor surplus in China -]
China says half of farm workforce isn't needed, Dow Jones via WSJ, A13.
...about 150 million people...will eventually have to find nonfarm employment.... The labor force in China's rural areas is estimated at 480 million people, of whom 320 million are actually farm workers. But the Ministry [of Agriculture] estimates that agricultural production requires a workforce of only 170 million, meaning the remaining 150 million are in surplus.\.. Those figures highlight the scale of the problem China faces....
[A perfect situation for timesizing, since neither war nor SARS can handle surplus labor on this scale.]
- [and speaking of war & SARS -]
War and SARS hit March air travel - Continental's traffic slides by 8.3%, American's 4.8%; Disease hurts Asia flights, by Carey & Stringer & Trottman, WSJ, A3.
- [and focusing in on war -]
War expected to sap global growth - World Bank says conflict to slow pace of economy in first 6 months of 2003, by Greg Ip, WSJ, A2.
[Pretty safe forecast considering the first 6 months of 2003 are already more than half over. WB economists get the big bucks for this??]
Bush soon may learn whether Iraq gamble pays off, by Hitt & Cummings, 4/4/2003 WSJ, A4.
["Soon"? - we wish. But the costly ramifications of this colossal blunder will be dribbling in for decades, as the subheader implies -]
Course of battle, postwar plans will determine success of domestic and overseas agendas
Washington wire -...War costs could include Bush administration's trade ambitions, by Jackie Calmes, 4/4/2003 WSJ, A4.
[In other words, you can kiss mindless globalization goodby, thank God -]
[Plus there's the deep divisions opened up in the USA itself -]
- Free-trade talks with Morocco, moved from Rabat to Geneva last week amid security concerns, now may be delayed; Moroccan officials fear rising anti-US sentiment.
- A US-Chile deal, finalized in December, faces a rougher ride in Congress after Chile refused to back war resolution at the UN.
- Given war rifts with Europe, global talks at the WTO aren't expected to be finished by a deadline of the end of next year.
[Compare tomorrow -]
An angry Europe wants no part of fence-mending, by Bilefsky & Schoenfeld, 4/4/2003 WSJ, A7.
[hey, Chomsky even got a mention in this one! -]
...So even as coalition forces rack up gains on the Iraqi battlefield,
[any short-term "gain" in a first-strike war is a long-term loss]
using precision weapons to minimize casualties,
[oh yeah, when friendly fire from "precision weapons" has killed dozens of "coalition" troops and just now on the radio, 2 more journalists (at the Palestine Hotel 5 pm 4/08)]
the PR war in continental Europe has turned decisively against the US. It is common to hear the war described as an "occupation" even in mainstream European news media,
[who for some reason aren't allowing Macchiavellian Cheney to make fools of them as our media are]
where outspoken critics of the US such as Noam Chomsky and Edward Said make frequent appearances.
[We'd better be glad of such critics - they may serve as bargaining chips in some such negotiation as that between Abraham and Yahweh in Genesis 18: "Peradventure there be [ten] righteous within [America]: wilt thou also destroy and not spare the place for the [ten] righteous that are therein?" But what a justaposition of antipodes: the cheerleaders and gulls of the Wall Street Journal and the man with the most courage in the world to research and confront the horrible things this "wonderful" nation has done and continues to do.]
- In El Salvador, foes try to scuttle US trade talks with 5 Central American nations. Protesters there shred US flags, and wave Iraqi banners....
...Iraq these days is almost as varied, tribal and polarized a society as the U.S. (a California bumper sticker declares, "Regime change starts at home")....
[according to "Iraq's not Vietnam" [we wish], op ed by Nicholas Kristof, 4/4/2003 NYT, A19. And then there's the weirdness this first-strike madness has stirred up elsewhere -]
Dozens of Cuba dissidents face trial for subversion - Critics could be sentenced to life in prison - Prosecutions are expected to deepen tensions with the United States, by David Gonzalez, NYT, A8.
[unless, of course, the Bush administration has its dissent-stifling way and follows suit.]
4/01/2003 headlines from hell -
- Paying for the war - Panels approve war spending...- Agreeing to $74.7 billion, and adding more for domestic security and airlines, by Firestone & Lichtblau, NYT, B13.
[& the limits of courage -]
Madonna cites war and pulls her [antiwar] video, by Jon Pareles, NYT, E1.
[Truth is the first victim.... At least we've got Maureen Dowd -]
Warring tribes, here and there - Macho schemes and schisms, op ed by Maureen Dowd, NYT, A29.
The pResident and his war council did not expect so much heavy guerrilla resistance in Iraq. And they really did not expect so much heavy guerrilla resistance at home....
This was a war designed to change the nature of American foreign policy, military policy and even the national character - flushing out ambivalence and embracing absolutism.
As 2 members of the pre-emptive Bush doctrine's neo-con brain trust, Bill Kristol and Lawrence Kaplan, argued in a book-length call for battle, "The War Over Iraq": "Well, what is wrong with dominance, in the service of sound principles and high ideals?"
[Like these Neanderthals have a clue about 'sound principles and high ideals'!]
So it should not be a surprise that the troubled opening phase of the war has exacerbated territorial and ideological fissures in the administration and the Republican party.
Democrats are muter than mute. But a dozen days of real war in the desert has turned the usually disciplined Bush crowd into a bunch of schismatics: there is internecine warfare between the "hold out a hand" Bush I team and the "back of the hand" Bush II team. There's a feud between...Rumsfeld and some of his generals and ex-generals, and animosity between the Pentagon - where Rummy, ...Wolfowitz,...Perle and...Feith spin schemes for intimidating the world and remodeling the Middle East - and the State Dept. - [where] Colin Powell and his deputies wince as old alliances shatter and the Arab world seethes, and mutter that there had to be a way to get rid of Saddam without making everyone on the planet despise American....
[There was, or were, but they wouldn't have cut Cheney and his buds in on Iraqi oil and major war and reconstruction contracts, would they.]
The Washington Post [WP] reported on Monday that moderate Republicans were trying to do an intervention with the pResident to show him that hawks were giving him "bum advice."
[Ah, that comforting classic adjective from the '30s!]
The [WP] article was clearly referring to...James Baker, Brent Scowcroft, Lawrence Eagleburger and Mr. Powell... - pals of Poppy Bush [who] are alarmed that the Hobbesian Dick Cheney - who has been down in his undisclosed locations reading books about how war is the natural state of mankind - the flamboyantly belligerent Rummy and the crusading neo-cons have mesmerized the pResident with the macho schemes....
One former senior Republican official noted: "The only one who can reach the pResident is his father. But is is not timely yet to talk to him." This raised the odd specter of the pResident's being dragged off from running a war and taken to Kennebunkport for a Metternichian outing in the family cigarette boat. Mr. Scowcroft and Mr. Eagleburger could pin W. down while Bar [= Barbara Bush?] steered and Poppy explained the facts of international life.
The Oedipal struggle of the Bushes - a father who was an ambassador to the UN and an envoy to China, a globe-trotting VP and an internationalist president, and a son who was a Texas governor with little knowledge of the world - was bound to be aggravated by an invasion of Iraq not sanctioned by the UN.
Here was a son acting to correct his fatther's "mistakes" in the first gulf war, when his father did not think he had made a mistake, but rather a great contribution to history....
[And the father was right about his contribution, especially to America's prestige as a powerful nation that knew where to stop. But compare the son's trying to correct a mistake his father doesn't think he made with the son's trying to liberate the Iraqi people when they don't think they need liberation. As a letter to the editor (from James Bozeman of Lower Waterford VT) on the opposite page says -]
...Over the past few days 7 innocent Iraqi women and children riding in a van were shot to death; 20 people, including 11 women and children, were reported killed when a missile struck a farm, and a young girl lost her mother in cross-fire. This is liberation?
While all the usual questions about who is to blame...are sure to begin, can there be any doubt about where the ultimate responsibility lies? ...with those who declared this "pre-emptive" war and then began an unprovoked attack.... It is disturbinb to know that all this death is supposedly on my behalf, orchestrated by people who believe that they are guided by a universal and infallible morality.
[Here's an example, to add to the list of dismissing the taboo against unprovoked attack, the World Court, the Kyoto accords, the test-ban treaty, sane budgeting etc etc etc and more broadly, against the Glass-Steagall banking act and the decades-old bankruptcy law -]
Viability of WWII-era rules of war questioned, by Mulligan & Kerber, Boston Globe, A21.
[Astonishing how far a group of extremists can get just by calling themselves conservatives and calling anything they want to change "old-fashioned."]
- The embattled economy, by Gregory Zimmerman, WSJ, C1.
Another day, another piece of evidence that the economy may be headed back into the tank....
Manufacturing index declines for the first time in 5 months, AP via NYT, C9.
Feeling spent - Increasing expenses cut consumers' buying power, raising fears of recession - Paying more for life's essentials, by Beth Healy, Boston Globe, D1.
Rising costs for heat, utilities, gasoline, water and insurance [and banking fees] may be leading the nation back into recession, as Americans who have kept the economy pumping with purchases of big-ticket items such as cars and dishwashers shift their spending to basic necessities. "The consumer is caving in," said Allen Sinai, chief economist at Primark Decision Economics in Boston. "We are on heightened recession alert at this moment."...
[Of course, another big problem is the fact that they have defined "recession" so narrowly, we can almost never have one. The economy can be deteriorating for years and economists doze on -]
Two straight months of declining US consumption have raised red flags, economists say,
[but flags are so fluttery and restful]
after anemic spending in the fourth quarter. The war is holding back the recovery, to be sure, but so is the stack of everyday expenses facing consumers. A typical Massachusetts family is paying $714 more in 2003 than last year for heating oil, water bills, medical coverage, and car and home insurance, according to a calculation by the Boston Globe. Add another $1,000 for families paying college tuition, all at a time when most paychecks are not growing. "A lot of things consumers have to spend money on have prices that are rising very sharply, and that is taking away from the discretionary spending. Inflation looks low, but it's not low," Sinai said.
[Yes it is, but we've got a split economy. Discretionary goods and services are getting cheaper and cheaper, like cars and travel, but essentials, driven by near-monopoly power and skyrocketing anxiety of their providers, are getting more and more expensive.]
Purchases of home furnishings, stereos, and new clothes can be put off in times of uncertainty, he said.
[Hence their prices are falling.]
But, "you can't postpone spending on health care, on gasoline, or on college education."...
[Ignore the falling prices of discretionary goods and you get the same kind of stagflation as in the mid-1970s - which should have been impossible according to the received economic wisdom of the time. Unemployment and inflation were supposed to be on a seesaw, never both going up or down together at once. But there it was, simultaneous rising inflation and unemployment, and it's happening again, and as Jane Jacobs points out, stagflation is perfectly normal - in Third World economies.]
- Japan survey finds rise in pessimism...among executives \-\ Businesses expect to reduce spending -...War and global tensions are a big worry in a trade-driven economy, by Ken Belson, NYT, W1.
- [it's gettin' CRAZY out there! -]
Calif. diocese sues Boston archidiocese - Alleges officials hid Shanley's past, by Larry Stammer, Boston Globe, front page.
[The meltdown of Roman Catholicism in America undergoes an accelerating cave-in.]
- Tiny insurers, big [tax evasion], pointer blurb (to C1), NYT, front page.
A law that created tiny, tax-exempt insurance companies is being used by some companies and wealthy individuals to avoid taxes.
New use for old program, pointer summary (to C1), NYT, A2.
Fifty years ago, Congress allowed the creation of [small] tax-exempt insurance firms for farmers who had a hard time obtaining insurance. Today, accountants use the program to get huge tax breaks for wealthy clients.
[and the indicated article -]
From tiny insurers, big tax breaks - 1954 plan for needy created a loophole - ...Plan for small insurers now generates big tax breaks for the rich, by David Johnston, NYT, C1.
- Worldcom audit fraud may rise to $11 billion, by Pulliam & Blumenstein, WSJ, B11.
...[from] $3.7B in July \to\ expect[ed] $9B [plus] $2B in overstated profits reported by Bloomberg News yesterday....
- Manufacturing on downswing in Midwest, by Bloomberg via NYT, C2.
...in the Chicago area...for the first time in 5 months...to 48.4 in March from 54.9 in February..\..as the war in Iraq shook consumer confidence and slowed spending....
- [and speaking of the war -]
A top commander suggests Shiites haven't rebelled because U.S. failed them in '91, by John Broder, NYT, B6.
Arab League concerns, Reuters via NYT, B15.
...[that] any military action against Syria or Iran would wreak havoc in the Middle East and elsewhere. The U.S. has warned Syria and Iran - both labeled by the U.S. as state sponsors of terrorism - not to meddle in the war in Iraq....
[Guess US and UK are doing enough meddling for everybody, and for many years to come.]
- Saudi pilot licenses, Agence France-Presse via NYT, B15.
Saudi Arabia has begun issuing its own licenses for pilots and crew members after the U.S. revoked certification of four Saudi pilots on the grounds that they posed a security threat....
[Goood, now we don't have to train the terrorism directed against us.]
- Business, consumer confidence falls in Europe, Dow Jones via WSJ, A13.
- Japan: Industrial output falls, by Ken Belson, NYT, W1.
[= a natural consequence of fallen domestic (and foreign) markets = a natural consequence of insufficient 40-hr/wk jobs - but God forbid they should reduce the definition of "full-time" to re-employ everyone and restore their markets.]
- SK Group restates earnings and Korean stocks tumble, by Don Kirk, NYT, W1.
...SK Group, South Korea's 3rd-largest conglomerate....
- Brazil's president to boost minimum wage 20%, Dow Jones via WSJ, A13.
[mmmboy did we ever set the rest of the world a bad example when, 70 years ago, we went for minimum wages and manifold makework, instead of just cutting the workweek and spreading the vanishing work so everyone could support themselves without fleecing taxpayers to do it]
- India: Economic growth slows, by Saritha Rai, NYT, W1.
...[to] 2.6% in the quarter...compared with 6.3% a year earlier....
For earlier collapse stories, click on the desired date -Mar. 21-31/2003.
July 1-15/2002 + Jun 30.
Earlier Y2000 months accessible via links at bottom of Dec.1-10/2000 page.
Earlier 1999 months accessible via links at bottom of Dec.1-15/99 page.
Earlier months accessible via links at bottom of Dec/98 page.
Questions? Comments? email firstname.lastname@example.org).