DoomwatchTM vs. Timesizing®

Collapse stories - July 1-14, 1999
[Commentary] ©1999 Philip Hyde, The Timesizing Wire, Box 622, Cambridge MA 02140 USA (617) 623-8080

7/13/99 Argentine stocks fall again, and other Latin markets follow, by Clifford Krauss, New York Timea, p. C6 (NE).
[The question is still, what the hey is going to wake up the 'power elite' to the fact we've got a problem here? And the usual answer is, they only 'get it' when the stock market hits the toilet. Here's hoping the Latino fatcats will now 'get it' and some will penetrate the self-jollying delusions of the 'baby Hueys' of Boston and New York.]
BUENOS AIRES - The Argentine stock market had its worst session in seven months [yesterday], falling 8.7% on fears that the Government deficit was widening and a year-old recession was deepening.... A selling mood...pulled down stock prices across Latin America; Brazil's market fell nearly 3% and Mexico's market shed 1.5%.... "Argentina faces severe challenges as it tries to deal with a strengthening US dollar, weak agricultural commodity prices [see article below] and stagnant global export markets," wrote David Malpass [of] Bear Stearns....
[All of which are only problems when you haven't noticed that your workweek is 60 years behind your technology, so you're maintaining it for fewer and fewer people at the expense of marginalizing and impoverishing ever mounting numbers of people - and strangling your domestic consumer base en route. "Lord, what fools these mortals be."]
At the start of the year, the Government projected that the economy would grow this year, but economists now estimate that the contraction could be as steep as 2.5%....
[So whence, pray tell, this chatter about "rebound"? Is that just Asia? And is Latin America that different from Asia?]
Unemployment is expected to climb to at least 15% in the next few weeks, almost 3 points higher than last October. Private forecasters have estimated that industrial production has fallen nearly 13% in the last year - well above Government estimates....
[So centrifuge your wealth, moronskys! Reverse the "more concentration, less circulation" death spiral and dynamize your own economy. You don't need anyone else. And the easiest way to centrifuge along market lines is to engineer a shortage of labor by rationing worktime availability to the job market, in other words, by Timesizing.]
Last week [the president] backed down on a new vehicle tax to pay teacher raises when tens of thousands of truck drivers went on strike across the country....
[When are we going to get the "linkage" message? You don't rob Peter to pay Paul. You just make Peter pay for what he's getting. And if parents are getting better-paid teachers for their kids, throw a tax on them, not on someone totally irrelevant. And if parents don't want to pay it and thereafter get worse and fewer teachers, they know what they can do - pony up for a tax for teacher's raises. This is not rocket science. And if parents whine that someone else (or 'everyone') should pay because "we're reproducing the nation via our kids," it's time to deliver the ecological message that, au contraire, we're overpopulated all over the planet and we simply don't need to subsidize reproduction anymore.]

[Another big depression harbinger - ]
7/13 Lower prices seen for wheat, other crops, AP via Bos Globe, F7.
WASHINGTON - Prices for wheat, corn and other major crops are heading down, according to a government forecast that is certain to increase pressure on Congress to approve another big bailout of the agricultural economy....
[But now we're getting arm-twisted to bail out big ugly fatcat agribusinesses, not cute little family farms like in the '30s.]

7/12 Asian rebound derails reform as many suffer, by Sanger & Landler, NYT, front page.
...and masks suffering of millions - As the economic crisis fades, so does the urgency of reform [inside headlines].
...All the conventional measures of health look good.... [However,] the pain that is invisible on traders' screens but striking in villages where unemployment and misery still lurk, will not ease soon....
[Here are the section headlines - ]

[U.S. deficit or surplus? Only historians 100 years from now will know for sure.]
7/12 The trillion-dollar problem, editorial, NYT, A18.
[If you've got a lot of time and patience, sit down with a pencil and parse this editorial with elaborate linguistic analyses. We just don't have the time.]

7/11 Antitrust in the slow lane - In a high-technology world, what role for checks and balances? by Steve Lohr, NYT, §3 (Bu), p.4.
...[no one can fail] to notice how much has changed since the [Microsoft] case..\..was filed 14 months ago...: [the chief victim] Netscape Communications, has been acquired by American Online.... Even the most expeditious courts are too slow in many eyes..\.. "Policy- [and decision-] making has to be streamlined so it can operate on something closer to Internet time...," said David Yoffie [of Harvard Business School].... No ruling on Microsoft is expected...before the end of the year, 18 months after the case began....
[We think the same problem exists in government. Look at the logjam of the current and previous do-nothing Congresses, or rather, "do-MonicaMonicaMonica." We think Bucky Fuller's idea of continuous 24-hour issue-oriented referendums could help there, and could probably also help speed up antitrust. We thinks it's the future. Let's get moving towards it!]

7/10 Slide in currency is chilling Europe - Euro near parity with dollar as economies still sputter - [& inside blowout headline:] A currency falls relentlessly off its pedestal, by Edmund Andrews, NYT, front page.
[We don't want to be "we told you so's," but, we tooold you sooo!]
It was supposed to be a symbol of new strength and unity, a sign that Europe had finally achieved economic parity with the United States. But today,...
[Missed opportunity here, Edmund!]
But today, [the only parity the Euro has achieved - by losing 14% in value since its start - is parity with the U.S. dollar!]
[What Edmund actually came up with was...]
But today, little more than six months after 11 European nations adopted the euro as a new single currency, it has become a source of embarrassment and anxiety.
...The euro has steadily declined against the dollar from nearly $1.18 at its introduction on Jan. 4 to just below $1.02 by the end of today. Despite continuous exhortations by European central bankers about the euro's fundamental value, it now has a good chance of dropping below the value of a dollar.
[It's like these guys have all the rhetoric of the future growth-independent, automatically downturn-cushioning, fluid-workweek economy, but they just don't have this kind of economy currently implemented. They still have an arthritic fixed-workweek economy, and trying to unify currency at that primitive level of economic design evolution is a joke. European central bankers don't have a clue about "the euro's fundamental value" - whose stability demands implementation of at least program one, not of supply side economics or demand side economics, but "balance side" economics. We must upgrade to an automatic balance of supply and demand. That means we must continuously reinvest at relatively colossal levels in our own markets (and spending levels and overall demand) and never allow wealth to get so concentrated that it suctions the markets away from the investments (in productivity and supply) where it is supposedly storing (or even enhancing) its value. That means we need new dynamic guidelines to tell us just where and how we should be reinvesting in our own markets so they don't stagnate and dwindle.
[Our current jerry-built economies have the centripetal force down pat - the force that concentrates wealth in the top 5-10% of the population. What we don't have is the centrifugal force to balance it. We babble about "trickle down" economics without acknowledging that wealth is POURING, gushing, rushing, flooding UP and only some kind of "pour down" economics can hope to balance that, - "trickle" down is totally inadequate.
[As far as we know, the "timesizing" program is the only social software that has addressed this problem, let alone addressed it in a market-oriented, government-minimalist, "minimum necessary departure from status quo at each step" manner. Timesizing does not redistribute wealth. It reinvests wealth at the compared-to-today colossal levels required to maintain the consumer base at anywhere near levels that can intake our (hopefully) constantly growing productivity. Productivity growth is constantly driven by technological innovation, and in the last 200 years, more and more of the workforce has been employed in technological innovation. There is a minority of such innovation that is purely quality-enhancing. Most of it is quantity-enhancing, which means greater and greater efficiency, or in Buckminster Fuller's terms, "doing more with less." In the present context, we're talking about "doing more market satisfaction with less work." However, with the kind of fixed-workweek economics we've been enduring for only the last two generations, after at least twice that long on fluid-workweek, mostly deflating-workweek, economics, we've been converting the "less work" part into a fewer and longer full-time jobs (and more marginalized workers) instead of into better pay and more free time to shop. Consequently we're still getting the "more market satisfaction" part but we're also getting less and less "market" to "satisfy."
[So now cometh Timesizing to suggest that we cannot, healthily, start with reinvesting and sharing the wealth - that has only generated dependency. It has also generated resistance, because when one person gives up money to help balance the economy, it's not yet clear what they are getting in return. We must start with reinvesting and sharing the work, the employment, the accountable earnings. And the necessary skills. For two reasons. It generates independence alias self-support, and if a person gives up work to help balance the economy, they are automatically getting back something of value in return, namely, free time. Call it leisure, rest, family time, community time, time to run errands and do some shopping - it is inherently valuable and in a yin-yang relationship with work.
[What about workoholics - people who don't want to stop work at anyone else's whim - for any reason, even if it generates a surplus of their skills and pressures down their wages? It's fine for them to work all the hours they want - as long as they shift, at a certain point, from work absorption to job creation. How? By reinvesting overtime earnings in training and/or hiring. How do we persuade them to do this? By ensuring that the level at which "overtime" starts is not arbitrary, but directly linked to our level of technology, so that we don't continue with this crazy pattern of getting more and more time-saving technology and having less and less time. And by giving workoholics all the options we can, which are mainly three: (1) quit at the "top of the workweek," whatever level it goes up or, more likely, comes down to, (2) keep working and reinvest OT earnings themselves, or (3) keep working and pay the workoholic tax that the government then reinvests in a way as close a possible to how they would have reinvested themselves under option (2). This makes the government the market-targeted "reinvestor of last resort," and gets it out of the business of artificial job creation in all its current gigantic panoply of forms, from unemployment insurance and welfare and disability and crime and prisons, to block grants and enterprise zones and patronage jobs and industrial policy and pork barrelling and corporate welfare and tax breaks and charity for the rich on the "job creation" excuse etc. etc. etc. Most of what government does today is artificial job provision in some form or other, directly or (mostly) indirectly, and this is all unnecessary under a dynamic, automatic, fluid-workweek, work-sharing economic design. Basically, we stop straining for job creation to maintain an arbitrary and rigid workweek, and just let the workweek, like water, "seek its own level" as appropriate to our own rising levels of work-saving technology.
[So a Europe with an integrated, dynamically technology-adjusted workweek, coupled with continuous, high-volume, automatic reinvestment in markets via training and skills, would be the minimum requirement for a realistically unified currency. Despite isolated advances toward this goal, Europe is still some distance from achieving it, and therefore, currency unification was head-shakingly premature and doomed.]

[The spreading rot of sports subsidies - again, on the pathetic plea that we need jobs - despite our supposedly low unemployment rate and "labor shortage" (actually just skills shortage due to flood of resumes and lack of training).]
7/7 Beware of [Boston Red] Sox proposal - taxpayers have been torched in other cities, by Derrick Jackson, Bos Globe, A21.
Chambers of commerce are notorious for chimerical claims that make stadiums the second coming of the WPA....
[The Works Progress Administration (WPA) was one of the biggest and most expensive government makework programs during the Great Depression of the 1930s. Derrick goes on to quote Chambers of Commerce from Seattle to Milwaukee to the effect that if the city only subsidizes this sport via this stadium, we'll have heaven on earth - ]

Godzilla has already landed in many cities, torching the taxpayer. In Seattle the Mariners wangled $372 million in public funds for a $517 million stadium. Voters approved $300 million for a $425 million football stadium for the Seahawks. And the Mariners now want more. Their stadium is $60 million over budget. Even though the team has three billionaires among its 16 owners, it says it needs the public to bail it out....
[And besides the astrorich owners, let's not forget the astronomical salaries paid to many sports figures today. Dragging the public into subsidizing the hobby of a minority of its members is offensive because it has no end. There are millions of potential hobbies to subsidize, and it's grossly unfair to subsidize one and not all. And when the subsidized hobby is sprinkled with billionaire and millionaire owners and players, we're running fullspeed into subsidizing the rich, worsening the concentration of wealth, and hastening the Depression from Hell. As for the rationalization that it will be an economic boon and create jobs - ]
If the Red Sox indeed hit up the [Massachusetts] taxpayers for $200 million for infrastructure, that means that each permanent job created will cost $100,000 per employee. That is nearly 100 times more than what the state pays to train workers in manufacturing, service, and high tech.... These considerations, of course...are never in any projections offered by chambers of commerce.... It is no accident that when chambers of commerce say "the new stadium will produce 2,000 jobs!" they never tell you what kind. Minimum-wage ushers are hardly poster children of 21st century economic development..\..
[Never mind officious Chambers issuing "studies"...]
Many economists say money spent on sports...would still be spent in the state's leisure economy and thus [new stadiums] have little or no net effect. This study, by the way, does not come from leftwing grass-roots activists.... A study issued this spring by the Cato Institute, as free-market as you can get, said: "If no ballpark existed in a city, a family might go bowling, take in a concert, go to the movies, or undertake some other recreational activity."
[Amen to that! And thanks for another great article, Derrick.]

7/7 Clinton, in Illinois, sees 'great promise' in impoverished city's new Wallgreens [East St. Louis], by Ann Scales, Bos Globe, A3.
[What a moron! As if huge, merged megastores, American or not, with a few minimum-wage employees can match for economic effervescence the rich, diverse landscape of mom-and-pop stores on every corner that they destroyed. Time to pull the tax write-offs and other subtle subsidies for mergers and acquisitions and giantism, and level the playing field for the small businessperson.]

7/06 Emergency declared over Ecuador strike, Reuters via Bos Globe, A9.
QUITO - ...Ecuador is facing its worst economic crisis in decades under the weight of $16.4 billion in external debt [to guess who]. More than 62% of its population of 12.2 million lives in poverty....
The government has struggled to contain civil unrest in recent months after it tried to impose a 165% increase in fuel prices and controls on bank withdrawals.... Widespread protests, roadblocks and the government's plunging approval rating - to just 16% at one point - led [Pres.] Mahuad to scale back the austerity measures. [However]..\..
Faced with a...strike [by truckers and cabbies], Ecuador declared a state of emergency yesterday, effectively forcing them back to work after they paralyzed the Andean nation earlier in the day.... The 60-day state of emergency empowers police and soldiers to detain protesters and to order strikers off the streets....
[Finally, here's a concrete example of what the IMF's brain-dead policies bring. Its mounting desperation for high-interest investments for the super-astrorich leads it, smarmy-unctuous with self-righteousness, to "help" desperately [not poor but] unbalanced 3rd-world nations by giving them MEGA loans they don't have a prayer of repaying. And then demanding "reforms" - not in terms of centrifuging their wealth and rebalancing their economy - the IMF is too dujmb to design a way of doing that (we suggest timesizing) - but in terms of taking those 62% of poor people and SQUEEZING the living daylights out of them. The IMF sanctimoniously calls it "austerity measures" - like, the world will be fine if the poor stop spending rather than if the rich start reinvesting instead of skimming and concentrating (we suggest automatic reinvestment thresholds). Truly the IMF, as Jeffrey Sachs of Harvard put it (in the recent PBS Frontline special The Crash), is the world's Typhoid Mary - someone who goes to nurse the sick but lethally infects everyone she touches.]

7/06 Supreme Court folly - By all means, curb Congress. But do it logically. by Charles Fried, New York Times, p. A21 (NE).
[Nice list of Supreme Court kludges that would benefit from being bulletted. But Charles, a Harvard Law prof, wants to re-open a long-settled question - the constitutionality of maximum hours laws.]
...Even when a problem requires a national solution, like the siting of readioactive waste disposal centers, Congress too often prefers to make state and local officials take the heat of making and paying for the unpopular decisions. And where Congress does make the decision itself, as when it passes laws imposing [minimum] wage and [maximum] hours standards on state and local governments or banning mandatory retirement [maximum worklife, it does not consider that state governments have special problems and responsibilities, and that these governments are at least as responsive to the people they govern as is the Congress.
The Supreme Court is right to see in this misbehavior an offense to the separate authority and capability of the states that the Constitution at least presupposes and perhaps - in the 10th Amendment - explicitly proclaims.... That is the impulse behind the Court's three Federalism decisions handed down at the end of this term: that states may not be sued in Federal or even in state courts for violotaion of Federal statutes. The three cases involved state violations or Federal minimum wage, patent and trademark laws....
Take the minimum wage laws. The Supreme Court long ago held that Congress's power over interstate commerce extends to setting standards in the national labor market, and state governments are among the largest factors in that market.
[Oh are they? How so? And if it's from hiring people from out of state, maybe they shouldn't be!]
But in 1976 the Court said that state governments are special and that Congress may not regulate them in ways that impair their ability to carry out their essential functions, and wage and hours regulations went to the heart of how states provided essential functions.
That decision was overruled in 1985, over the bitter dissent of the present Chief Justice, and that overruling stll stands: Congress may impose minimum wage laws on the states.... But what the Court did last week [in passing two restraints on Congress] makes no sense at all. It did not overrule the 1985 labor case and reinstate the 1976 decision. Congress may still force minimum wage laws on state and local governments....
[And maximum hours laws?]
...The Court's real complaint is with the wage and hours law, which it may reasonably be argued should not be allowed to apply to the states. The straightforward thing to do would have been to reinstate the 1976 decision and declare that states have immunity from this intrusion of the Federal Government's substantive power....
[Our view is that the regulation of per-job factors such as wages (job prices) is indeed unconstitutional (i.e., in our view, minimum wage laws are unconstitutional and detrimental to the public weal) - an arbitrary and dysfunctional constraint on necessary diversity and fluidity - and belongs squarely in the realm of the free market. However, the regulation of per-person factors such as income (wages from all sources) is constitutional (although our current level of social evolution makes it premature to consider regulating income more directly than via graduated income taxes).
[Translating this from the money dimension back into the time dimension, the regulation of worktime per job is indeed unconstitutional, while the regulation of worktime per person is consitutional. And it is a major responsibility of management to reconcile these two areas - the limited and stable worktime availability of the individual person vs. the potentially unlimited and highly volatile worktime demands of the individual job.
[Federal regulation of worktime per person, far from premature, has been done since 1938 but done very poorly and ineffectually and unenforcedly. The design of the overtime section of the Federal Labor Standards Act of 1938 is so bad that it turned the maximum workweek (of 40 hours in 1940) into a virtual minimum workweek for full-time employees. It also effectively froze that minimum - apparently in perpetuity - in contradiction to all previous American history, when the workweek fluctuated, usually in the downward direction, as technology poured into the economy and took over tasks as soon as they became routine.
[Thus, shorter-maximum-hours advocates should resist being cemented into paradigm with higher-minimum-wage advocates, and should make the point that they are talking about a government-sphere per-person variable and not about a private-sector per-job variable, although a company-level version of such a maximum may be a useful transitionary step.]

7/04 Just saw George Lukas' Phantom Menace in the Star Wars series. It has same basic plot as PBS Frontline special The Crash aired this past week. Lukas' Trade Federation opens the flic with "Trade with us on our terms or we'll blockade you (but our terms will loot you)." Our own Wall St-IMF team roams the world and says "Trade with us on our terms or we'll exclude you from our clubs (but our terms will loot you)." Both buy politicians & ruin you, one way or another - but their Ponzi scheme of uncontrolled con"solid"ation pyramids into a big hollow bubble - they're investing for their (& our) own collapse!

7/04 My biggest mistake - Milton Friedman, by Michael Weinstein, NYT, 2 BU.
Milton Friedman has been the intellectual spark plug of the conservative movement for 60 years.... Monetarism - [his] doctrine that the Federal Reserve could keep the economy on an even keel merely by allowing the money supply to grow slowly and evenly [meaning??] over time - was offered as an antidote to the Keynesian doctrine that Government needed to manipulate spending and taxes to keep the economy out of depression.
[We agree with Friedman that taxes are not the ultimate answer. We think that the future will make government (and costly private-sector practices with good lobbyists) more accountable by gradually transforming taxes into fees for service. That will take some highly skilled accounting and benefit-assigning, but - it will be done eventually, granting that it will to some extent be an ongoing process. In the short-term however, we need to get rid of mickeymouse taxes and just regraduate the income tax, until we have timesizing and its successors implemented enough to take over the vital wealth-centrifuging function.
[We also agree with Friedman that Keynesian direct government spending, so-called "fiscal policy," is not the answer. Tragically, the U.S. Republicans took this approach to the stratosphere, funnelling astronomical spending through the Pentagon, spending at levels far beyond the peacetime dreams of Keynes, and possibly beyond even World War II realities. These were levels that took the U.S. national debt from the billions to the trillions.
[A much more pervasive approach to maintaining spending and markets must be found, and one that is less risky than military spending and more conducive to economic stability and ecological health in the long run. Timesizing is our candidate.]
...When asked to identify his biggest academic blunder, Mr. Friedman named a time when he went against his intellectual grain [and] sought common ground between Keynesian and monetarist formulations [by translating] profound disagreements...into simpler, specific quarrels over a few concrete relationships [e.g., the impact of output changes on prices] that might be resolved by statistical studies. ...The effort...his rare attempt to compromise \with Keynesians\ failed....
[As we mentioned 2 paragraphs above, the Republicans in the 1980s followed Friedman in compromising with Keynesians and pushed peacetime government spending to the skies, justifying it by trying to win the Cold War and funnelling it all through the Pentagon. It did help win the Cold War, but that has turned into a mixed blessing, and meanwhile the national debt and debt service are at record levels.
[Friedman himself seems to give Republicans a convenient way of distinguishing themselves from Libertarians. Libertarians say they want no regulation - equivalent to anarchism - but Freidman conservatives want regulation "merely by allowing the money supply to grow slowly and evenly over time" - in other words, monetarism. Monetarism presumably includes interest rate manipulation, virtually our only hullaballooed government regulation to prevent depression with the Republicans in power (except for all the conveniently unmentioned Keynesian pork that benefits GOP politicians and the loads and loads and loads of welfare and jobs programs held over from the Democrats' Great Society and the New Deal, including minimum wage, social security, workmen's comp and unemployment insurance). Keynesian Democrats presumably accept monetarism but disagree that it alone is sufficient. They want to go beyond monetary policy into fiscal policy = government spending and borrowing and taxes. Hence the loads and loads of poverty and jobs programs that can be mentioned and even boasted about when Democrats are in power.
[So Libertarians want no controls, like anarchists. Pre-Reagan Republicans want merely monetary controls (interest rate manipulation etc.), like Friedman. Post-Reagan Republicans want additional fiscal controls (government spending, borrowing and taxing), like Keynesians, but only funnelled through the Pentagon. And Democrats want additional fiscal controls too, but preferably funnelled through social programs rather than the Pentagon. Libertarians are presumably willing to "take their lumps" when it comes to depression, but the other three are presumably trying "to keep the economy out of depression." Curiously, depression is primarily a condition of high unemployment, but the goals of our Federal Reserve's monetary policy have narrowed down to just blocking inflation, from both blocking inflation and unemployment. We agree only in the sense that in the deep structure of an economy with unemployment insurance and welfare like ours, unemployment is the biggest and most immediately accessible component of the compound complex phenomenon known as inflation.
[Let's bring in our handy scheme here. "There are three ways to go: (A) no controls (a mirage), (B) any controls (which tend to become many controls), and (B) few controls (theoretically just one if well-positioned and skillfully designed). Anarchists, Libertarians and extreme Republicans want route A. Democrats want route B and so do post-Reagan Republicans if the controls can be rationalized in the context of national security and funds funnelled through the Pentagon. Pre-Reagan Republicans following Friedman think they have discovered the best positioning for few controls, and that is, on the money supply.
[We disagree, and we point to Japan's continuing depression despite an interest rate effectively pushed down to zero as evidence. We think the next minimum departure from status quo, before launching into the extreme controversiality of the "population variables" (imports, immigrants, births), is worktime. Curiously, all the groups mentioned have a central blindspot in their thinking in that they if they think about worktime at all (and most of them don't), they assume it is negligible factor or functionally a constant (although it has has only been rigid since World War II). We think the timesizing approach is the best way to change remove this blindspot and gain the vast benefits of worktime manipulation.
[And as for monetarism in particular, we believe that interest rates in the future will go through stages of being controlled by referendum of all affected citizens, being squeezed to the max for all the jobs they can provide and frozen there - as essentially Japan has done by reducing them to zero, and finally, set to adjust slowly and automatically against some intuitively opposite "problem variable."]

[While our CEOs and 2-guy-owned media go through their cheerleading routine & sing the same old song "robust economy robust economy robust economy robust...", here's what's happening in the world's 2nd-biggest economy - ]
7/03  Recession layoffs spark suicide record [in Japan], AP via Boston Globe, p. A12.
[Note the iron resistance to using the word "depression." That's because American dogma says that the Great Depression of the 1930s was the last depression the world is ever going to have, so all the 2-guy-owned media and standard economists have blackballed the word "depression." It's as if, because World War I was "the war to end all wars" at the time, we refused to call anything after it a "war," so World War II got called "The Great Followup Skirmish."]
TOKYO - Amid a stubborn recession and rising layoffs, more Japanese killed themselves in 1998 than in any other year on record. The number of middle-aged people taking their lives surged, as a wave of corporate restructuring "forced" [our quotes, ed.] layoffs of employees on once-secure career tracks. The number of suicides in 1998 hit 32,863, a 34.7% increase over the previous year and the highest since the government started tracking it in 1947, the National Policy Agency said.
[This is all so stupid and unnecessary. All they have to do is cut hours instead of jobs, and keep everybody employed. They (nor we nor anyone else) are going to have NO non-superficial progress until they do this. We can't keep introducing work-saving technology and, against most of our history, propping the workweek at a pre-technology level. Efficient technology saves work, and we're gonna get those savings one way or another. Right now we're getting them in the form of a marginalized labor force and bulging prisons (here) or record suicides (Japan). We missed the bus to the 30-hour workweek when we passed it the US Senate in 1933 but blocked it in the House, but we can still walk in the right direction by timesizing instead of downsizing. We blather on and on about our precious freedoms. Let's take the promise of technology in terms of more financially secure free time. It's the most basic freedom there is.]

[Before looking at Russia's more disguised suicides, let's peek thru our own suicidally rose-colored glasses, the American media - ]
7/03 After brief pause, strong job gains reported in June - 2 in 3 Americans at work - Tight labor market is spurring more people to quit before new position is lined up, by Sylvia Nasar, New York Times, front page.
7/03 US economy creates 268,000 jobs in June - Unemployment rate nudges up; Dow jumps to record, by Kimberly Blanton, Bos Globe, F1.
[Questions to ask - The Times article admits that there's "another big drop in factory jobs" - which are the best paying for ordinary people - and that the "great American job engine" idled in May, dropping 5,000 jobs overall, but does that really mean it is "purring again" now and we're in the clear? Does "2 in 3 Americans at work" really mean a tight labor market? Or does it mean a real unemployment rate of 33%, 8% higher than official figures during the worst of the Depression? And if it's mitigated by comparing the workforce to the entire population, notice that in the Depression, most women were not in the workforce, so why should we rejoice that pay has lagged productivity so far so long that working mothers are now the norm? Is it really a tight labor market or just a tight skills market? And even then, are companies doing any training? - because we agree with Lester Thurow ( 4/20) - "No one should take seriously employers who do no training themselves but complain about a shortage of skilled workers."
[As for the so-called "quit rate" - the fraction of people who left their last job without having lined up another - could just be because they're getting treated SO BAD by spoiled employers? - because employers are SO SPOILED by so many desperate jobseekers and so many resumes, they think they can pluck exactly the jigsaw piece they want right off the jobmarket shelves; they raise qualifications repeatedly in their want ads, and they treat existing employees like disposable tissues. In short, the quit rate could be as much a reflection of employer confidence cum arrogance cum disrespect (and employees' desperate response) as a gauge of employee cockiness and consumer confidence.
[Now let's look at the Boston Globe's headline. First, look closely and you'll see it's good-bad-good - 268K jobs created= good; unemployment UP= bad (quick, distract from that!); Dow jumps to record= good. In fact, the Dow may be up BECAUSE unemployment is up and people are more afraid for their jobs and rich folks with discretionary money in storage figure - great, no inflation.
[But what a remarkable admission to sandwich in the middle of the Globe's headline on the front page of Saturday's (low readership) business section. Kimberly Blanton carefully spins it as unimportant - ]
...While the report yesterday by the US Dept of Labor showed that the nation's unemployment rate inched up last month, the real news was in a hard-charging job market that saw job gains in most major industries. Losses were confined to manufacturing and mining.
[Oh so burger flipping and retail jobs are important major industries and manufacturing and mining aren't? And how the hey can we have a net increase of 268,000 jobs in June, which is certainly the implication of both headlines, when the unemployment rate actually "nudged up"? This whole "news" item is smoke and mirrors! Just for fun, let's see if the Times even mentions the rise in unemployment and ifso, how long it takes them.... Not on the front page - that takes us back to the business section and way in to p.14 - that should be a safe place to mention it.... yep, there it is - para. 3, with an immediate dismissal from a Labor Bureau official that the rise was "not statistically meaningful" - after all, it was only from 4.2 to 4.3% - but if it had been good news, the headline would have roared it forth.
[We love the happy spin in the previous para. - that new entrants to the labor force rose even more (by nearly 400,000) than the number of new jobs. This was supposedly "another sign that Americans are more confident than ever that work is there for the asking." Could this not instead be another sign that we're not creating enough jobs for those who need them - not by a country mile?!]

[Now some backup data for the viewpoint below ("7/01  Beyond [rim route] 495, economic boom fades") that the downside of the split Massachusetts economy reflects rest of world, not the upside - ]
7/03 In Moscow, misery rises with mercury - Drownings mount, fires rage during month of record heat, by David Filipov, Bos Globe, A2.
MOSCOW - Forest fires...a rapidly mounting death toll in the waterways around the city. These are the bitter fruits of the best summer weather in this normally chilly clime.... It has...been one of the deadliest [months] for swimmers who have flocked to the city's swimming holes to beat the heat. Police said 140 people drowned in Moscow last month, just 10 less that the death toll for all of last summer.... Carelessness appears to be a factor.... Police say alcohol is involved in most of the drownings, many of which have been registered in areas not designated safe for swimming....
[Could these be thinly disguised suicides on the part of the increasingly depressed and risk-taking Russians? Mayhap they're another little indication of the economic distress in Russia of the sort denied three times in PBS Frontline's recent The Crash by our insulated IMF vice-chief (Stanley Fischer: "the social distress is not that bad" etc.), mainly because his stupid policies are causing this suffering and, has he visited the Russian outback recently? He hasn't a clue how bad the social distress is. Besides, he makes 6 figures & doesn't know anyone who doesn't, so how could he believe it?]

7/02/99  omens -

  1. Bank's collapse raises concerns on Mexico, by Garance Burke, Bos Globe, C1.
    MEXICO CITY - The recent announcement that Mexico's third-largest bank collapsed has rekindled concerns about a country that is desperately trying to convince the world that it's financially fit.
    Ironically, the collapse occurred two days after international lenders granted Mexico a $23.7 billion financial package to help it through what promises to be a tumultuous presidential election next year.
    [Is this "irony" or cause and effect? Recall the "irony" that the peso collapsed 10 days after Mexico entered NAFTA. And how do they figure that $24 billion is going to "help" a country through a presidential election? Sounds like manipulative interference to us. And speaking of NAFTA...]
    While the North American Free Trade Agreement may have jump-started some sectors of Mexico's economy, the nation's banks are still struggling to recover from the currency crisis that sent investors packing in 1994.
    [Count your blessings. "Investors" that go packing when the going gets rough aren't investors. They're speculators.]
    But for insiders, the June 17 collapse of Grupo Financiero Serfin SA - a big player in what Moody's Investors Service bills as Latin America's weakest banking system - came as no surprise.... After years of liquidity problems, Serfin will follow the path of other failed banks and be bailed out by a government agency that has pledged to spend $2 billion on its cleanup....
    [There's your problem right there. Protecting concentrated wealth using tax money, i.e., money from unconcentrated wealth which constitutes the real economy of the consumer base. Centrifuged wealth gets spent on purchasing products and services, and maintains national production of such. Concentrated wealth engages in pitiful little market-maintaining purchasing of its own. Instead, it just goes sliding around straining to locate the last few areas of spending-supported productivity left in the world before the general collapse.] The International Monetary Fund has offered its tacit approval of President Ernesto Zedillo's "reforms".... [Our quotes, ed. Yeah, we figured the IMF would be playing its usual dumb-parasite role somewhere in this mess. What was it that Jeffrey Sachs called the IMF? - the "Typhoid Mary" of international finance? Typhoid Mary infected everyone she touched, just like the IMF. High time to retire it. P.S. There's a photo of Mary Mallon, the original "Typhoid Mary," in bed in quarantine on North Brother Island, wherever that is, on page H4 in the 5/04/2003 Boston Sunday Globe.]
    Bracing the financial system [don't they mean "propping"?] with new contingency loans, authorities say, would guarantee a smooth political transition in 2000 ["smooth" as perceived by Wall Street perhaps?] and end the cyclical crises that have haunted the last year of each six-year presidential term for the past three decades.
    [And by what magic would that happen?]
    Despite the changes of thee financial system, however, deeper problems remain....
    [No kidding! The nation's money supply is so concentrated among so few hands that their consumer base is inadequate to support their productive capacity, which has therefore shrunk to a level of inadequacy to maintain living statndards. So everything's sinking. The alternative? Spread the wealth by sharing the work (& skills) with timesizing, and the whole process reverses. Keep bailing out the banks and concentrated wealth with taxpayer (deconcentrated-wealth) money & credit and you merely intensify the concentration and make the whole thing worse.]

  2. [Undoing a hard lesson of the Depression - ]
    House takes up financial overhaul measure - Removing a Depression-era law intended to protect consumers, by Stephen Labaton, New York Times, C1 (NE).
    [Ah, we'd say "to protect MARKETS" - that was the whole point of all the Depression-era regulations that we learned the hard way.]
    ...House approval would be the first time that both chambers of Congress have approved measures repealing the Glass-Steagall Act of 1933. That landmark law reflected the view that the close affiliations between banks and securities firms [and now they want to mix in insurance companies?!] had been a primary cause of the Great Depression.
    [Just ducky! We want to reopen the door to massive conflict of interest, and remix security (banks and insurance cos.) and risk ("securities" firms). Jimmy Jones lives. Might as well pass round the Guiana cocktail to these clowns in Congress - it'll be quicker and affect only them.]
    ...Over the last 12 years, [the Glass-Steagall] restrictions have eased considerably as judges and regulators have interpreted the act more loosely.
    [Yeah, we guess they didn't learn much about the history of the Great Depression. And this is not only a matter of not learning the lessons of history. This is a matter of learning them the hard way and turning around and willfully FORGETTING them!]
    Their rulings have enabled the rise of some enormous financial conglomerates....
    [...which have done SO MUCH for us, and for market vitality - as we concentrate skills, work and especially wealth in fewer and fewer and fewer hands, suctioning the spending and the markets away from our own massive investments. Dumb dumb dumb. This is too depressing to go on with. Check out the record of unregulated banks in the 1920s' roll-up to the Depression, and the dim awakening-to-the-danger by a couple of standard economists in today's (7/02) goodnews page. Follow-up: Even the conservative Economist ragazine out of London recently came round and asked "Bring back Glass-Steagall?" in an article called "Commercial banks after Enron - Conflicts, conflicts everywhere [ie: conflicts of interest] - Was America wrong to scrap the laws that kept commercial and investment banking apart?" 1/26/2002 Economist, 61, which fudges around updating all the arguments for Glass-Steagall with simply answering the question in the affirmative, and then ends by basically virtually implicitly implying the answer is No because Glass-Steagall wouldn't be strong enough for today's Enron-calibre slime.]

7/01/99  2 clunkers -
  1. [Dual-economy syndrome is splitting even small states like Massachusetts, and the Hammond oped cartoon 5 days later (7/06 p. E4 showing a beast labelled "economy" with a bull's head pulling eastwards from I-495 and a bear's head pulling westwards) dramatized the syndrome even better than this article.]
    Beyond [rim route] 495, economic boom fades - Study: State made up of two economies, by Heather Kamins, Boston Globe, p. C1.
    ..."There is a tendency to assume that if the [Greater Boston] economy is is happening [throughout] the state," said Michael Widmer, president of the [Mass. Taxpayers Foundation which released a study yesterday.] "Knowledge-based industries make up [nearly 80%] of the Greater Boston economic base [79%], compared to [half that] in the rest of the state [44%] the nation as a whole [42%]," according to the study.
    [One standard economist begins to wake up...]
    The survey suggested that some of Boston's...growth has begun to spill over to the rest of the state, but not enough to make up for the great economic losses incurred during the recession of [1989-90]. Cape Ann Economics president Edward Moscovitch, the study's consultant, said both regions have recovered..., but outer Mass. has not reached its prerecession employment level. "I don't think I understood how dramatically the rest of the state [which is more like the nation as a whole] had been hurt by the recession," Moscovitch said.... In some parts of the state, he said, the "employment rate dropped by 25% - that's what the Great Depression was." (Further evidence of the depression in "outer Massachusetts" and the nation as a whole came a week later, 7/08, in the following items on the editorial and op-ed pages: "The rural poor need democracy and jobs" p. A24, "Clinton's cosmetic poverty tour" A25, and "A backup plan" A 24.)
    Western Mass. politicians say this is not news to them.... "There are basically two different economies...," said state Rep. Daniel Bosley, a Democrat from North Adams..\.. While unemployment in the Boston area has hovered near record lows, hitting 2.5% in May, other parts of the state posted higher joblessness: 3.8% in Pittsfield, 4.1% in Lawrence and 5.2% in New Bedford..\.. Greater Boston, the so-called "inside Interstate 495" sector, is powered by high-tech and knowledge-intensive industries, including management consulting, software, private universities, money management, insurance, and high-tech manufacturing, which have proved to be money makers. The second economy, "outer Mass." - areas north, west and south of I495 - has an economic base similar to the rest of the nation, which is dependent largely on older manufacturing industries that have not been the recipients of such striking prosperity....
    [In fact, since so much of the Greater Boston area is working on work-saving knowledge and technology, you might say that it has suctioned the work away from outer Mass. and concentrated it in the middle. But as the work savings mount up, how long before "the middle" shrinks from the I495 circle to the smaller I128 circle? And if it also shrinks outward from the inner city, it may become concentrated in a ring between I's 128 and 495?]
    Outer Mass. needs knowledge-based industries to invest in its communities to create the type of economic growth now visible in the Boston area, said state Sen. Mark Montigny, a New Bedford Democrat.
    [But if the whole point of knowledge-based industries is knowledge of efficiency, work savings and time savings, how long can we keep how many people working how old a workweek? We cut the workweek in half - from 80 hrs to 40 - over the first 3/4 of American history, but for the last 1/4 (since 1940-41) we've kept it frozen at 40, prolonged our education "requirements," boosted our "entitlements" (welfare and disability) and mushroomed our prison population. Ah, do we really want to keep "going there"?]
    ...Dramatic growth in local technology and knowledge-based industries has spurred an economic boom pushing the Boston area far ahead of the national average [the study says]. The windfall has not [equally] reached the rest of Mass. [or the nation or, as the item below suggests, the world].

  2. [How long can we save the world by bringing (concentrating) everybody here?]
      Desperately ill foreigners at U.S. emergency rooms, by Randy Kennedy, New York Times, front page.
    ...They are known as medical immigrants, poor or middle-class people who scrape and save to fly to New York, but not to join family, flee oppression or find work. Instead, they come solely to seek treatment at city emergency rooms, where Federal and state law says they must be examined and treated if their problems require immediate care.
    [Great, poor Americans who have been here all their lives have to participate in risky medical testing just to get examined. {Find&Cite recent article in NYT of Bos Globe.}]
    Doctors say that such patients have been gravitating to the city in modest numbers for years, mostly to the city's public hospitals. While New York appears to receive the brunt, hospitals in Chicago, Houston and Miami also report treating a steady stream of medical immigrants, mostly from poor countries..\.. One man from the Dominican Republic flew into La Guardia [airport in New York] weak with fever....
    Medical immigrants are a tiny but striking example of a larger and growing problem of uninsured or underinsured patients - both citizens and immigants, legal and illegal - who rely on emergency rooms as clinics for everything from colds to cancer.
    According to the New York State Health Dept, city hospitals provided $1.2 billion in care to those who could not pay in 1997.... The same year, the state collected only [half that =] $635 million in a charity pool used for such care, most of which went to city hospitals. The pool is financed through taxes on hospitals and insurers.
    In addition to the shortfall, New York's percentage of uninsured people, 19.1%, is not only higher than the country's, but is growing faster. Medical immigrants are only a sliver of this group.... Not all cities are welcoming. At Jackson Memorial Hospital in Miami, officials have begun to make access much harder when patients cannot prove legal residency or an ability to pay.... Recently Jackson has even begun...alerting immigration authorities if hospital administrators determine that a patient's condition can be treated in his home country....
    [This only goes so far - there was a National Public Radio piece within the last 2 days about unhygienic conditions in Russian operating rooms....]
    Some of the immigrant traffic may be an unintended side effect of occasional good-will missions by public and private hospitals, which bring in foreign patients from impoverished or war-torn countries in need of complicated surgeries or treatments. These patients get special medical visas, they usually have the support of a charity, and the cases generate a huge amount of publicity for the hospitals. It is publicity sometimes seen around the world as an invitation to free care at New York's emergency rooms..\..
    [Talk about "paving the way to hell with good intentions" or, "the extent to which we rely on charity for vital functions is the extent of the flaws in our system design" - because "charity is unreliable" and discretionary and arbitrary and piecemeal, rather than automatic and whole-problem-linked.]
    "We have to draw a line...," said Maria Rosa Gonzalez, a spokeswoman [for Jackson]. "The county has made it very clear that our first responsibility is to the people of Miami-Dade County...."
    [This is one area that cries out for referendums, because it's so hard to draw the line. Everybody wants to be nice, but as Milton Friedman calls it, it's usually "doing good with other people's money." Political representatives will never make tough not-nice decisions in public votes in legislatures. Only the citizens themselves, in the secrecy of the voting booth and faced with the prospect of higher taxes, will draw any lines. And as we move further into the ecological age when we're looking at more of the world and longer timespans, we'll be faced with more and more line-drawing emergencies. Direct democracy (binding public referendums), at first glance expensive and slow, will get this task done. Representative democracy will not.
    [And speaking of drawing a line - bear in mind that we've got a lot more billionaires in this country than 10 -15 years ago - just as we had more millionaires in the late 1920s. Bill Gates is up to 90-95 billion dollars. As long as we get huffy about our "right" to unlimited wealth concentration, though for most of us this is just an unlimited fantasy, we are going to have BIG problems everywhere else in our society.
    [Al Pesso of the Psychomotor Therapy Institute called this kind of thing an omnipotent need that held people back because it scared and rigidified them, as well as giving them a type of infinite goal. It's an omnivorousness, a dream of engulfing and controlling the whole world - but it's a nightmare for everyone else and ultimately for ourselves.
    [Isn't it time humanity grew up a little more and accepted a few more limits (beyond one person one vote) - as sensible, intuitive and agreeable as we can design, to be sure - but limits that will enable our infinite dreams - which are creating nightmares for more and more of our fellow citizens in this country and on this planet - to turn into real dreams, dreams come true, for a lot higher percentage of the people than just the few aggressive white men who are becoming billionaires? How do we balance the overwhelming centripetal forces on wealth (and work and skills) in our economics with centrifugal motion? What and when do we centrifuge? What's the new "astrophysical economics" of balanced centripetal-centrifugal forces that bar our becoming a Black Hole? Our website response to this design challenge is Timesizing.]
For earlier collapse stories, click on the desired date -
  • June 16-30/99.
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  • Apr.16-30/99.
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  • Jan 1-15/99.
  • Dec/98.
  • Nov/98.
  • Oct/98.
  • Sep 16-30/98.
  • Sep 1-15/98.
  • Aug/98 and before.

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