Good News, May 16-31, 2000
[Commentary] ©2000 Phil Hyde, The Timesizing Wire, Box 622, Cambridge MA 02140 USA (617) 623-8080
5/31/2000 glimmers of hope -
5/30/2000 glimmers of hope -
- First results from Haitian election show Aristide gaining Senate, by David Gonzalez, NYT, A7.
...14 of the 19 Senate seats at stake in Haiti's first parliamentary elections since 1997 [giving Mr. Aristide's party] a majority in Haiti's 27-member Senate....
- ["good, but..."]
The wisdom of thoughtfulness - In tight labor market, bosses find value in being nice [but] a majority of employees feel underappreciated..., by Amy Zipkin, NYT, C1.
...Based on 1999 survey of 2,293 employees by the Hudson Institute....
[Basically, the statistics they then give prove the opposite of the headline, namely that bosses aren't nice and it's not a tight labor market.]
[So Dilbert is right. But if it's not a tight labor market then what is it? It's a tight skills market because bosses aren't doing any training, they're just whining for more visas to get pre-trained people from India. There's lots of people already here needing good jobs, but downsizings and floods of resumes have spoiled employers and made it very hard to get training in skills that employers are most looking for. Bad for employees, bad for employers.]
- 56% of employees say their company does not genuinely care about them
- 56% of employees say their company does not genuinely care about their careers
- 55% of employees say they do not have a strong loyalty to their company
- 40% of employees rated their boss's performance as poor and said they were likely to look for a new job
- 11% rated their boss's performance as excellent...
5/28-29/2000 weekend glimmers of hope -
- [1 UPsizing - unspecified new jobs]
A new agency opening in New York, by Patricia Lauro, NYT, C10.
Two longtime agency executives are opening a new shop. George Lois and Lois Wyse are opening Lois & Lois in New York with assignments that include a print campaign for the Clairol Loving Care brand of hair color, part of the Bristol-Myers Squibb Co....
- ["Good, but..." - New York Times front page throws labor a crumb? -]
Despite defeat on China bill, labor is on rise - New organizing efforts alter dinosaur image, by Steven Greenhouse, NYT, front page.
...Labor has once again become a powerful political force.
[Don't they mean "farce"? If "force," show us examples.]
Unions provided important political muscle that helped VP Al Gore lock...up the Democratic presidential nomination...
...Labor has blocked legislation to grant the president fast-track authority to negotiate trade agreements and has helped push through a higher minimum wage and the Family and Medical Leave Act.
In other signs of labor's strength, white-collar workers, including doctors and psychologists, are flocking into unions as never before, and labor registered its biggest organizing victory in 60 years by unionizing 74,000 Los Angeles home-care workers last year....
[They still parading that pyrrhic victory from 2/26/99? Unionizing the lowest of the low-wage workers in one city? "Whoopeedoo."]
Last year ...the Bureau of Labor Statistics announced that union membership grew by 265,000..\..
[A 2/20/99 news item ("As union membership grows, leaders seek new ways to use power," by David Moberg, Boston Globe, F1) that reported much larger membership growth in 1998 (475,000) admitted, "The gain was not enough to match the growth in employment, and the union share [overall] dipped slightly to 13.9% [of the workforce]." Ralph Nader, who usually gets his figures right, speaking in Cambridge, Mass. recently (3/25/2000), said, "Union membership has recently dipped below 10% of the workforce." The present Times article is apparently still using the 1998 figure -]
But labor has a long way to go to regain the economic might it had in the 1950's. Back then, 35% of the nation's work force belonged to unions compared with 13.9% today....
[Or maybe the 13.9% is overall - private and public sectors - while the "below 10%" is private sector only -]
Organized labor is losing about half the elections in which workers vote on whether to unionize largely because many corporations mount aggressive and expensive campaigns
that urge workers not to join unions. As a result of such corporate tactics, unions now represent fewer than 1 in 10 private-sector workers [i.e., less than 10% of the workforce]..\..
[There's an additional problem -]
The sectors where unions have traditionally been strongest, like steel, automobiles, mining and apparel, have been losing jobs the fastest, while the sectors where unions have the least representration, like technology, finance and food, are the fastest-growing fields.
[Well, isn't that a coincidence! The high-wage jobs that we've been losing are in manufacturing (ie: "steel, automobiles, mining and apparel") and the low-wage jobs that we've been gaining are in services (ie: technology, finance and food).
Hold on, sez you, finance-sector jobs are high paying. But are they? True, we hear about the high-paying investment bankers, but how many jobs in finance are investment banker jobs? Recall that the banking part of the finance sector was getting automated (ATMs) and merged (beyond belief) throughout the 1990s, and there were 95,000 layoffs a year between 1995 and 2000 in banking alone.
[Overall, this is a sad article. It indicates that CEOs still do not "get" the connection between their employees and their consumer base, and between reinvestment in wages and economic dynamism. We may not have had 30 hours work for 40 hours pay in the 1950s, but we had 40 hours work for 80 hours pay because one parent could support the whole family comfortably. Now it takes two working parents to support the family and it's a struggle. Reagan asked Americans if they were better off this year than last. He would have got a different answer if he had asked if they were better off in the 1980s (or after) than in the 1950s.
[We (both Democrats and, via the Pentagon and prisons, Republicans) have been going with the old grocery list of government programs for 60 years and steadily losing ground with it. It's time we took a closer look at it and selected the one central and strategic program. Our best candidate? The maximum workweek section of the Federal Labor Standards Act of 1938. After 150 years of shortening the workweek from 80 to 40, we haven't shortened it by one minute in the last 60 years despite inrushing worksaving technology such as automation and robotization. Instead, we've seen the workweek creeping up again, right back to 80 for many people, and even beyond. And they're not getting paid overtime. Instead they're getting a "salary" - which is a nice way of saying their employers have a blank check on their lives. Sounds a bit like slavery, doesn't it?
[But aren't employees freely choosing this, maybe in hopes of dot-com stock options? Well, number one, how free are employees in today's atmosphere of downsizing, when they're all pressured to try to prove their indispensability so they don't get caught in the next flutter of pink slips? And number two, it's starting to look like the dot-com bonanza is coming to an end and the shake-out is beginning.
[Our solution? Continuous training right in the workplace, targeted by overtime (per job) or overwork (per person) and a flexible workweek that adjusts gradually against under-employment. If under-employment is high or rising, the workweek very slowly adjusts downward, maybe just a quarter hour per quarter. We call it Timesizing.]
- Grizzly bears poised to make a comeback - Opponents fear bear attacks; advocates fear for bears - Welcome to Idaho, by Mark Derr, NYT, D1.
...This summer, the US Fish and Wildlife Service is expected to adopt a controversial plan to put grizzly bears back in the Bitterroot region \of\ western Montana and central Idaho [accompanied by a great frontal photo of a standing, roaring "grizz"]....
5/27/2000 glimmers of hope - 3 "good, but's" -
- 5/29 Civil rights march in Australia, pointer summary (to A7), NYT, A2.
More than 200,000 people, a crowd larger than anyone had expected...marched to support campaigns for social justice for the country's black minority. The largest civil rights gathering in Australian history clogged Sidney and forced the police to close much of the city to traffic for up to eight hours.
Australians march in support of Aborigines - The country's indigenous people are its worst-off, NYT, A6.
[Sounds familiar. Thank God the silent majority who want to share their prosperity are finally making their feelings known.]
- 5/29 Repeal the [New York State] draconian drug laws, say 2 out of 3 letters to the editor, NYT, A18.
[In reverse order -]
- By Carol Shapiro of New York.
It is indeed alarming that 22,300 largely nonviolent drug offenders are in New York prisons (editorial, May 24). Rockefeller-era laws have not only clogged this state's prisons with low-level drug offenders, but also pull apart families and neighborhoods, leaving children without parents and communities economicall and socially fragmented....
[Our solution? The lessons from the failure of Prohibition ¾ century ago and the more recent success of the anti-smoking (anti-nicotine) campaign are: decriminalize drugs and tax them for their costs. At any rate, it's another perfect issue for a direct public referendum.]
- By David Rothenberg of New York.
"Drug laws that destroy lives" (editorial, May 24) is on target. So many politicians and criminal justice experts privately admit that the Rockefeller are self-defeating and costly and should be repealed. Why the delay?
- ...Several upstate communities are prison towns. Their economies would be in a state of upheaval if the prison population decreased as a result of sensible drug laws. Jobs are at stake and alternative employment must be part of the planning.
[This is another argument for sharing the vanishing human work - via Timesizing, Not Downsizing - instead of straining to uphold a World War II-era 40-hour workweek. "But we have low unemployment!" Not by World War II standards, when anything over 2% unemployment was regarded as alarming. Ours hovers around twice that level.]
- ...Many products from soap to steel, have lucrative contracts with the Dept. of Corrections. They view a diminishing prison population as one that causes decreasing profits. Your editorial's position must be accompanied by plans to incorporate the real needs of those who profit from prisons.
[Just as the timesizing approach weans us from war and the military-industrial complex (MIC), it can wean us from the war against ourselves represented by the "prison-industrial complex" (PIC) that is fast replacing the MIC in America.]
- 5/28 Getting personal - As customers flee giants, local banks seem right on the money, by Susan Trausch, Boston Globe, F1.
...It's a place where everybody knows your name. That friendliness is what community banks and credit unions have always sold. But now they're selling it a lot more aggressively, cashing in on what might be called "fee rage" as they market their absolutely, totally, no minimum, we're-not-kidding free checking accounts and promising good, old-fashioned TLC to consumers who feel abandoned [or beaten up - ed.] in the mergers of the giants - FleetBoston Financial Corp. gobbled 2 million BankBoston customers, and Citizens Financial Group swallowed 220,000 USTrust depositors....
5/26/2000 glimmers of hope -
- [Times op ed on Californians' leaving work early on Fridays, but still tied with cellphones & home computers -]
Who's in the office on Friday's? - In California, work is mobile. In New York, not quite yet, by Michael Yaki, NYT, A27.
...A friend on the East Coast said, "[By the Fourth of July] things finally begin to slow down enough to actually leavel the office early on a Friday." We on the West Coast smile...at that [because] we have a secret.... We don't wait for summer to taste the fruit of the four-and-a-half-day workweek.... Recent statistics show that only one if three Californians holds a regular 9-to-5 job. Perhaps telecommuting, dot-commers and commutes that can stretch for hours render the hold of the traditional workweek increasingly irrelevant....
[Here's the problem. The inability or unwillingness to set work aside. The real irrelevance is leaving the workplace if you're still wired to it.]
Pity us because we are tied by electronic umbilical cords to employers, customers, clients and investors who are with us even when we're putting for birdie at Pebble Beach....
- Almost an energy alternative - Fuel cells hold promise, but problems remain, by Barnaby Feder, NYT, B1.
[*Buckminster Fuller's dream of long-range vehicles powered by fuel cells resurfaces. This article offers sampling, founding date, and progress report of fuel cell companies -]
- Ballard Power Systems, 1979 (as battery firm), commercial use in buses in 2002, cars by 2004
- Fuel Cell Energy, 1976, Mercedes factory in Ala. already using pilot unit
- H Power, 1989, rural utilities currently testing propane-fueled units
- International Fuel Cells, 1958, over 200 250kW units sold siince 1991, first use in office tower (Condé Nast in Times Sq) this year, testing vehicle systems, supplies Space Shuttle
- Metallic Power, 1995, first portable field test units later this year, commercial units by 2002
- Plug Power, 1997, first test units already in field, home units in 2001
- Siemens Westinghouse, 1958, 100kW and 250kW power plants in field tests, 1000kW soon, commercial power plants by 2004
- [Front-page plan to shield shores & reefs, but it's only the shlickmeister struggling to salvage his "legacy," and he doesn't have any specific areas in mind -]
Clinton orders effort to shield coasts and reefs, pointer summary (to A1), NYT, A2.
...intended to preserve fragile shorelines and threatened coral reefs. His order did not specify any areas, but did seek recommendations from federal agencies on what shorelines might be in need of limits on fishing, oil drilling, mining and dumping.
[Clearly Clinton is 'fishing' for a popular cause - but this one is apt to be co-opted by the rich who own large swaths of seashore. But then, as Barney Frank said on "finding himself on the same side as conservative Republicans in Congress opposing the China trade bill, "If you're not able to work closely with people you despise, you really can't work here" (from "Quotes of note," by Mike Luckovida, Boston Globe, A15). "Despise" is too strong a word for Clinton. "Profoundly tired of" and ready for a replacement is more on the mark. But the likely replacements appear pretty pathetic. The shore-shielding news summary we started with points to "Clinton offers plan to protect U.S. shorelines," by Marc Lacey, NYT, front page.]
5/25/2000 glimmers of hope -
- [1 UPsizing]
Talbots plans to hike sales 54%, add stores, Bloomberg via Boston Globe, C3.
...A Hingham [Mass.]-based...women's and children's clothing chain said it plans to boost sales by about 54% and increase the number of stores by 69% by the end of fiscal 2005.... The chain...said it plans to have 1,150 stores operating, up from the present 681.... Earlier this month, the retailer said fiscal Q1 profit rose 69% as it sold more items at full price while sales from its catalog and Web site climbed. Total sales rose 22%.... Share prices have risen 22% this year.
- [At last! -]
California's neighbors threaten to turn off state's water supply, by Robert Jordan, Boston Globe, A12.
LOS ANGELES - For decades, southern California has used more than its share of Colorado River water to fill swimming pools, supply thirsty suburbs, and grow crops in the desert. Now its upstream neighbors are threatening to turn off the tap.
Representatives of California and 6 other states [AZ, CO, NV, NM, UT, WY], meeting behind closed doors in Phoenix, were on the verge of a historic agreement yesterday that would give California a 15-year deadline to cut its use of water - the West's most prized natural resource.
If Calif. failed to follow through with a series of interim water-saving steps, the 15-year grace period would end immediately and upriver states could start withholding water....
For more than 100 years the Colorado River has been dammed, drained and diverted into canals and pipelines, making it one of the most managed rivers in the world, and one of the most environmentally threatened.... The river supplies water to more than 20m people in the US and Mexico. \But\ more than 100 [other Colorado River] species are considered endangered....
Under a 1922 agreement, Calif. is allowed 4.4m acre-feet of water a year from the Colorado River [but] it has been taking as much as 5.2m.... An acre-foot is about 326,000 gallons, or a year's supply for a family of four.....
[How in the world has that been possible, you ask? How have the upstream states been turned into such patsies on this? Here's an interesting piece of the answer -]
Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt warned last year that unless Calif. began conserving [water], he might stop declaring surpluses in other states that allow California to take more than its allotted share..\..
[But some of the upstream states are really no better than California. Consider the desert states of Arizona and Nevada -]
Now competition for the water is growing. Phoenix and Las Vegas are among the fastest-growing cities in America....
[Well, they shouldn't be. They're in the middle of a desert, for God's sake! And we taxpayers in the water-rich Northeast are getting soaked to subsidize their profligacy with scarce water, and their totally unsustainable growth. And we shouldn't be, considering especially the fountains at the super-rich Las Vegas casinos. How about reporting on that, Robert?!
This all points up the need for a new sharing mechanism, one that's a little more meaningful than "one person, one vote" is these days. The best candidate we've found is sharing the vanishing livelihoods, defined as market-demanded skills and employment that can enable people to support themselves without soaking the taxpayer. And the best way to do that is to introduce a system of automatically converting overtime into training and hiring right in the workplace, and automatically adjusting the level of the workweek downward as our level of technology moves upward. Right now they're both moving upward and that's unsustainable. We call our approach Timesizing, and we contrast it with downsizing. The whole point of technology is not to replace people but to make life easier - for all of them.]
- [State govts. finally getting smart about stadium-funding ripoffs? -]
Finneren sets terms for ballpark - Ties aid on funding to state keeping all parking lot revenue, by Meg Vaillancourt, Boston Globe, C1.
House Speaker Thomas Finneran [of Massachusetts] said that the House may be willing to authorize as much as $100m in state infrastructure aid for a new Fenway Park, as well as funds for 2 parking garages [if] the Red Sox...agree to a demand by House members that the state keep all of the revenue generated by the garages....
- ["Good, but..."]
House votes to kill phone tax passed to finance the Spanish-American War, AP via Boston Globe, C2.
...when telephones were a new-fangled luxury enjoyed by fewer than 1,500 wealthy households....
[That's good - it gets rid of a tax on circulating money and economic dynamism. "But" #1 -]
With the 3% telephone excise tax affecting an estimated 252m telephone lines - including those connected to cellular phones, fax machines, and computer modems - Democrats and Republicans jockeying to be seen as technology-friendly agreed it was time to use a portion of the projected budget surplus to scrap it.
[The budget "surplus" isn't even real, just projected, and they're already eliminating it??! Plus if real, it should be used to pay down our 5.7T national debt and reduce our interest payments (= charity for the rich).
["But" #2 - another branch of government is moving toward getting rid of a tax on concentrated money and economic stagnation -]
Tackling another vintage tax yesterday, the House Ways and Means Committee approved a bill to gradually phase out inheritance taxes, which date to 1916....
[Clearly, they can't be much worried by the widening income&wealth gap in this country. This is tantamount to "setting up the board" for class warfare. They have not learned the lessons of history, and are dooming their children to repeat them. They should be killing the phone tax, and raising the inheritance tax and graduated income tax to make up for the lost revenues - in short, detaxing circulation and more highly taxing concentration - and leaving any projected budget "surplus" to pay down the national debt if and when such "surplus" materializes.]
5/24/2000 glimmers of hope -
- [1 UPsizing]
Microchip [Technology] to buy chip plant from Matsushita [Electric Industrial], Bloomberg via NYT, C4.
...[A maker of] semiconductors used in everything from cars to computers agreed yesterday to buy a plant in Puyallup, Wash...and will hire more than 1,000 workers.... Microchip plans to hire about 100 employees...this year and expand the work force as production increases.
- Senate committee staff proposes limits on corporate tax shelters, by David Johnston, NYT, C1.
...The proposals would require companies and the shelter designers to disclose tax-avoidance transactions more fully, subject companies that engage in shams to a 40% penalty on taxes they evaded and penalize the designers up to half the fees they charged for creating shams....
[Why not all the fees?!]
- EPA proposes strict new rules to reduce arsenic in tap water, by John Cushman, NYT, front page.
...reducing by 90% the public's maximum exposure to the chemical, which causes cancer and is found at harmful levels in at least 1 out of 10 of the nation's community water supplies....
- Chile strips Pinochet of immunity, lifting one barrier to trial, by Clifford Krauss, NYT, front page.
...He faces charges that he was involved in the kidnapping, murder and torture of thousands during his 17 years as Chile's dictator....
5/23/2000 glimmers of hope -
- Israel quitting Lebanon after 22 years, by Deborah Sontag, NYT, front page.
[Time to start being friendly with your neighbors, O Yisra'el. Remember, it was not because you were the greatest of the nations of the world that YHWH of Armies chose you, but just because He loved you - and expects you to "pass it on." "Love ye therefore the stranger, for ye were strangers in the land of Egypt." (Deut. 10:19). Next opportunity: the West Bank.]
- Refunds offered for late flights, pointer blowout (to C10), NYT, C1.
Business travel - An online agency [biztravel.com] is offering reimbursement for some common frustrations like tardy flights, by Joe Sharkey, NYT, C10.
5/21-22/2000 glimmers of hope -
- Banks seeking ways to thwart predatory lenders, AP via Boston Globe, E6.
Federally insured banks are often unwitting accomplices in financing...unscrupulous mortgage and finance companies.... A predatory loan can include excessive charges, high points, or refinancing a loan multiple times and collecting fees and points every time..\.. Finding ways to stop abusive lending companies was the goal of a first-of-a-kind conference in Boston yesterday....
- GM, Giner in venture, AP via Boston Globe, E9.
General Motors has joined forces with a technology and electrochemical research firm [Giner Inc.] to develop clean and quiet fuel-cell vehicles, which emit water instead of fumes.... Fuel cell vehicles run on electricity generated by an electrochemical process using hydrogen and oxygen.
[Bucky Fuller's dream comes closer to reality.]
5/20/2000 glimmers of hope -
- 5/22 Haitians rejoice as calm prevails in landmark vote, by John Donnelly, Boston Globe, A1.
[It wasn't perfect, but at least jeeps weren't zooming by machine-gunning waiting voters as in 1987.]
...The vote...was notable for the absence of fear among participants. It was social, and it also was miserable for those waiting 5,6,7 hours in the sun.... For many, voting was their duty. [But] for some, it was pure joy.
"I scored!" yelled a young woman as she danced out of a voting place in Leogane.... "I voted!" she shouted. "For the first time!"....
"Look at us," said Jean Jean-Robert.... "The fact that [we are] able to hang around a polling station [today without fear of] getting shot...shows that things are much better."
"It was worth staying in line for 5 hours," said Olivier Bonnet.... "We know where we came from. We know where we want to go. And without this vote, we can't get there"....
Metilhomme Alexis \saw "the jeep of death"\ in 1987...drive in \and kill\ about 20 people lined up to vote.... "We escaped," he said. "I have no fear whatsoever today. If we didn't vote, I see nothing happening in this country. I see no escape"....
Most people, their faces stoic, approached voting as their solemn national duty.... [Monsieur] Fort Stenley...straddling his bicycle [said] "We're not going to solve this in one [stroke], one vote.... It's going to be day by day, and little by little it's going to get better."
[Sounds like these people are getting VERY determined and realistic. More power to them! They have suffered enough. They had such promise as the world's first Black republic in 1805, yet they have since suffered 200 years of the world's most repetitive dereliction of duty in their leaders, and the most nitpicking racism among their elite, where every tiny shade of color has a name and a declining level of prestige as color darkens. They are the unswept attic of the western hemisphere, which "offers" voodoo, spirit possession (Baron Samedi et al.), witchdoctors (hougans/bocors), zombies, Tomtom Macoute, werewolves (loups garoux), AIDS, cannibalism (Croix Rouge sect).... Our entertainment at their expense? Enough already.]
- [Conservative columnist nails it -]
5/22 Nothing normal about China, op ed by Jeff Jacoby, Boston Globe, A13.
It will be time to upgrade China's trade status with the United States when the Chinese government stops torturing middle-aged widows [like Chen Zixiu] to death....
[Check out also a liberal congressman's eloquent indictment of enhancing China's right to trade with the US on 5/21, "Why I will vote no," op ed by Barney Frank, Boston Globe, E7 - "...It comes down to one word. When Greenspan acknowledged that increased trade causes pain to some, he said that we must not let our "inability" to help workers who are being damaged reduce support for globalization. But it is not an "inability" that we face, but an "unwillingness." This country is creating wealth to a degree unparalleled in human history. This provides [the unparalleled wherewithal] to share...with those who are being hurt. Instead, public policy has reinforced gains [for] the wealthy while undercutting the economic position of the most vulnerable...." And that way lies tightening strangulation of the wealthy's own vital foundation - our weakening consumer base. "The more concentration, the less circulation."
[Check out also "Shifting Fortunes: The Perils of the Growing American Wealth Gap," a 1999 book by Betsy Leondar-Wright (and co-authors Chuck Collins and Holly Sklar) who spoke yesterday at the Community Church of Boston on the subject of the book's subtitle. The publicity had this to say, "They ask why there are more billionaires yet more bankruptcies, and why there is more insecurity for working and middle-class Americans. They point out that behind the hoopla of the booming economy, most Americans have actually lost wealth. The top 1% of households now have more wealth than the entire bottom 95%!" And that's a lot of lost economic dynamism. Our goal here at Timesizing.com is to make sure that there is no truth component to Greenspan's word "inability" in terms of the lack of a gradual market-oriented economic design to lower the workweek as we raise the technology level, and thereby share the source of income and wealth, namely skills and employment. We want to have the best economic design to solve all this mishigas, and the best gradual step-by-step transition to implement it. Our Timesizing.com design features continuous training right in the workplace via overtime reinvestment, and automatic overtime-start adjustment (via repeated small workweek adjustments) tied to under-employment. We defy anyone to come up with a better design.]
- 5/21 A tax for the rich, letter to editor by Marvin Mandell of West Roxbury, Boston Globe, E6.
Michael Kranish in his article "Social Security's hidden dilemma" (Focus, May 14) quotes the rightwing Cato Institute as warning that raising the earnings cap from $72,600 last year to $76,200 this year amounts to a $447 tax increase. As the institute well knows, this is not an increase for everyone, just for those who earned over $72,600 [and would least notice it - ed.]. The rich pay Medicare taxes on all their income. If the $76,200 cap were removed [entirely] and the rich paid Social Security taxes on all their income, as they do for Medicare, this would bring in $80B annually and solve the long-term imbalance.
[And it would be a completely non-progressive FLAT TAX - something that richboy Steve Forbes has been wanting for decades. But how many times are we going to have to repeat this idea to get it implemented? Probably a lot.]
5/19/2000 glimmers of hope -
- Chill out! - Juggling too many taks takes a toll, researchers say, by Patricia Wen, Boston Globe, front page.
Desperate to squeeze a 25th hour out of each day, busy Americans clamor for new ways to save time. In a society in which talking on the cell phone is common [and dangerous - ed.] while driving, can minivans with washers and dryers in the back seat be far behind? How about dinner placemats that display e-mail messages? But, increasingly, brain research shows that [people] can't..\..juggle many things at once in hope they will do them all fast and...well.
In fact, studies show that trying to do two or more mentally demanding tasks...may actually be self-defeating.... And studies show people are becoming less happy and more error-prone in the process of jugglnig so many tasks.
[Note people's tendency to turn down the radio when they are parking - evidently to free up part of the brain or just to listen harder. Recall Michael Kennedy's tragic death a year ago last New Year's when he was making the "last" ski descent of the day (so, fatigue factor), and playing touch football, and wielding a videocam.]
"There are absolute limits to what we can do simultaneously," said Marcel Just, codirector of the Center for Cognitive Brain Imaging at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh. "It's a question of sheer biological resources".... For example, pilots who juggle excessive amounts of information have faster heart rates, higher blood pressure, and slower reaction times to new events, according to US Air Force and FAA laboratories....
[And speaking of "less happy" and "absolute limits," there's an article about our happiness in the NYT today and a letter to the editor today about the desirability of limits -]
- A happiness index with a long reach - Beyond the GNP to subtler measures, by Alexander Stille, NYT, A17.
After eight years of record-breaking economic growth...social scientists and communities from Jacksonville to Hawaii...are looking beyond purely economic numbers - at health and crime statistics, clear-air days and commuting time - to gain a fuller measure of people's elusive sense of collective well-being, to create what is essentially a happiness index....
[And don't forget the Herman Daly and John Cobb "Index of Social and Economic Well-being" described in their book, "For the Common Good." Our own view is that all we need is a complete unemployment rate - one that counts all the relevant parts of the problem. Perhaps we should call it an under-employment rate, because it would include besides conventional unemployment, incarceration, homelessness, disability, welfare, and the working poor - the people who are working but are getting such low pay that they're living in squalor, and maybe even working 2,3,4 part-time jobs with low pay, no benefits, and no time for their families. Our Timesizing program describes an alternative to these intensifying madness.]
- How to be a cool mom, letter to the editor by Carol Weston, NYT, A30.
...As an advice columnist and an author of books for girls, I can assure you that children want - and need - both love and limits [our italics - ed.]
5/18/2000 glimmers of hope -
- PepsiCo ordered to pay overtime, NYT, C5.
...to hundreds of drivers who worked for the company between 1993 and 1995. At issue was the job description for the drivers, whom Pepsi calls customer representatives.... But a lawyer for the drivers said their hours and movements were closely controlled by Pepsi.... The decision could affect Pepsi drivers across the country.
[Gee, an example of actual enforcement of American overtime laws! Wow. Gosh. This is one for the Special Exhibits case in the main vestibule.]
- Vibrant job growth in France, by John Tagliabue, NYT, C4.
[Check outt this story for time blindness -]
With computers and telecomms leading the way, French companies lifted the number of jobs in the economy by 1%, or 142,300 jobs, in the first quarter, the biggest number since France began keeping job creation statistics in 1970.
[No mention of the fact that France shifted down from a nationwide 39-hour workweek to a 35-hour one on February 1, and thereby squeezed 4 hours per week per person out onto more persons. No no. We mustn't mention that for American audiences. They might realize what fools they're being for working 50, 60, 70-hour weeks and more, while paying $25-30K per year for 2,000,000 incarcerated fellow-citizens for whom they've made it easier to earn a dishonest living than an honest one.]
The growth was attributed to the rapidly expanding economy, likely to show growth above 4% this year.
[And why was the economy expanding? Because the worksharing has centrifuged wealth out of its concentration in the top brackets and into the hands of ordinary people who actually need it and spend it. The more centrifugation, the more circulation and economic dynamism. These benefits await any economy with the sense to spread the vanishing work and the concentrating wealth, by cutting the workweek and making it easier for people to support themselves (so taxpayers don't get soaked).]
In March, unemployment fell to 10%, its lowest in 8 years.
[Stick that in your pipes and smoke it, ye timesizing skeptics.]
- [1 UPsizing - totaling 450+2000= 2,450 new jobs]
Lucent to add over 2,000 jobs, Bloomberg via NYT, C3.
MURRAY HILL, NJ...- Lucent Technologies said [yester]day that it would spend $40m to increase manufacturing of components for optical networks in Southern California, creating 450 jobs in the next 18 months...to take on Nortel Networks [and] Cisco Systems [increasing] the output of its factories...16-fold.... The company will build new plants in Irwindale...and add to existing ones in Irwindale and Alhambra. The expansion comes after Lucent's completion last month of its $3.3B acquisition of the optical parts maker Ortel, which was based in Alhambra..\..
[Here we have a rare example of a takeover-UPsizing connection.]
The No. 1 phone equipment maker also said it would add 2,000 people in Europe in the next 6 months [to] employ about 20,000 in Europe, the Middle East and Africa by the end of the year..\..after its business [in Europe] grew by almost 50% last year, helped by sales to providers of phone and wireless services.... Lucent also said that it won a $51m order from the Egyptian Co. for Networks, or EgyNet, for equipment to expand the company's data network....
5/17/2000 glimmers of hope -
- 2 Times op eds slam free trade with China -
- China's mythic market - The sales pitch for trade does not bear scrutiny, by Alan Tonelson, NYT, A31.
...The public's perception of normal trade with China remains on the mark: a possible bonanza for management and shareholders, at least in the short term, and nothing but trouble for workers.
[Ah, a perfect issue for a binding electronic referendum.]
- The biggest vote - Yanking our teeth on China trade, by William Safire, NYT, A31.
The most far-reaching vote any representative will cast this year will take place next week. It will be on the bill to permanently guarantee that Congress will have no economic leverage to restrain China's internal repression of dissidents or external aggression against Taiwan.... Our only hope is that the undecideds in Congress consider that unemployment in their districts will not always be under 4%, and that when recession or aggression bites, voters will not forget who threw away economic restraints on China.
[We repeat, take it away from our PAC-sprayed, lobbyist-hobbled, money-drowned "representatives" in Congress and put it to binding electronic referendum. Recall Dave Barry's definition of the US Senate - "white male millionaires working for you."]
- Runoff or not, Dominican opposition declares victory, by David Gonzalez, NYT, A3.
[So the old 93-year-old virtual dictator is history, we hope?]
Tantalizingly close to an outright majority, Hipolito Mejia of the left-leaning Dominican Revolutionary Party [yester]day declared himself the winner of Tuesday's presidential election, vowing that the country's poorest residents would no longer be bystanders to the economic boom of the last four years....
[Sounds vaguely familiar. Cahn't quite place it.]
5/16/2000 glimmers of hope -
- [1 UPsizing - unspecified new jobs]
Home Depot plans 59 more stores in N.E., by Chris Reidy, Boston Globe, D7.
At its new regional HQ in Canton [Mass.] Home Depot unveiled plans to open an additional 59 stores in New England by 2002....
[So the good news is that this will mean new jobs. The bad news is they'll be low-paying retail jobs and we'll have a lot more "big box" hardware stores marring the once-lovely New England landscape.]
The chain also plans to open its first Boston-area Expo Design Center, a full-service interior design store, in Middlesex Commons in Burlington this year.
["Full-service" and "Home Depot" is an oxymoron.]
The Atlanta-based chain currently operates 78 stores from New York State to Maine....
[We prefer the little old local family-run hardware stores where the "full service" is real and people still know what they're talking about. The only ones left around here are Masse's Hardware on Walden St in Cambridge and Hilltop Hardware on the other side of Tufts University in Medford.]
- [One of our timesizing working models makes a move -]
Nucor to buy back stock, Dow Jones via NYT, C25.
CHARLOTTE, NC...- The Nucor Corp., a steel maker, said [yester]day that it would buy back up to 5m shares of its stock. The buyback, which will take place over an unspecified time, represents about 6% of Nucor's outstanding shares. Companies use buybacks to increase earnings per share by reducing shares outstanding. Shares of Nucor, which is based in Charlotte NC were up 75 cents today at $42.6875 on the NYSE.
[Gotta git us some in what's left of our 401k - and in our "copious spare time."]
- Cybersleuths pursue Net criminals, pointer blowout (to A1), NYT, C1.
A growing number of Internet habitués have turned into cybersleuths, and their work has become vital to the pursuit of online criminals. In the spirit of members of a neighborhood watch program, they point law enforcement officials to leads. And some have escalated their role from tipster to sleuth...to identify actual suspects including malicious hackers, virus writers and online child pornographers.
In the pursuit of cybercriminals, real detectives [get help from] amateurs, by Matt Richtel, NYT, front page.
Within hours after a destructive computer program began circulating this month, borne by an e-mail message marked "I Love You," a handful of high-tech detectives around the globe leaped into action....
[Hey, they're the "Mounties" of cybertech.]
- [Star reporter bails one day after UPI "goes moonie."]
Helen Thomas...resigns reporter's job, by David Stout, NYT, A16.
Helen Thomas, a White House reporter since John F. Kennedy was president, abruptly resigned from United Press International [(UPI) yester]day, one day after the news service was acquired...by News World Communications Inc., which was founded by the Rev. Sun Myung Moon, leader of the Unification Church.... Lee Michael Katz, who quit [yester]day as UPI's international editor, said he was not surprised by Ms. Thomas's departure.... [He] called his own decision to resign "a no-brainer" and said, "I cannot work for the new owners"....
[Hey we've put up with the Christian Science Monitor all these years. Christian Science has that peculiar denial of the existence of evil. The denial did not carry over completely into the newspaper and it was actually refreshing to have one paper not completely basking in sensationalized bad news. But you gotta draw a line somewhere. And the creeping mind control of the moonies' spreading tentacles - with their "deep conservatism" except for their tax evasion, mass marriages, and aggressive proselytizing - is a pretty good place. This is a conflict of interest on the face of it, and whether or not it's already happened, it's like an accident waiting to happen.]
- ["About Time!" Dept. -]
Trucks and buses are facing curbs on their emissions - EPA set to issue rules - Big drop in sulfur content of diesel will be ordered, to dismay of oil industry - 'The end of the big smoking dirty obnoxious truck' [Frank O'Donnell, executive director of the Clean Air Trust, an environmental group], by Matthew Wald, NYT, front page + A17.
- [1 UPsizing - unspecified new jobs]
360networks in expansion, Dow Jones via NYT, C8.
[Vancouver, BC-based] 360networks Inc...agreed to acquire 1m sq ft of space to house computer networking equipment in LA, Atlanta and Dallas from Telecom Real Estate Services for $144m....
- Pollution victims start to fight back in China, by Elisabeth Rosenthal, NYT, front page.
Zhang Jinhu, who says pollution in a river near Beijing killed hundreds of his ducks, has turned to raising quail. He is suing [an upstream pig farm] for compensation.... After local government agencies gave him little satisfaction in the duck deaths, which he calculates cost him $12,000, Mr. Zhang turned to a new legal-aid center in Beijing...the Center for Legal Assistance to Pollution Victims \opened by\ Wang Canfa...in the fall....
- Keep copyrights safe on the Net, by Irwin Schwartz, Boston Globe, F4.
...The defendants crowed that they were "youth access" activists.... [However] the Internet is not Sherwood Forest and hackers are not Robin Hood and the merry men....
- ["Good but..." #1]
Microsoft revises [Outlook] program to protect e-mail users - It moves to block rogue file attachments, by Lawrence Fisher, NYT, C10.
...would reduce the vulnerability to [viruses] like "I love you" and "Melissa"....
[Phil: About time! Kate: They fixed it with such reluctance - 2 years they've been having this problem!]
- ["Good but..." #2]
Production surged [0.9%] in April, and the Fed was watching, Reuters via NYT, C28.
or better, BG headline -
Industrial production at strongest pace in 20 months - Economists say report suggests growth needs to be slowed or economy faces inflation threat, AP via Boston Globe, F2.
[Again, they "tunnel-vision" past the current operative form of unemployment - under-employment - including the working poor, the widening income gap, growing disability, homelessness, incarceration - and the exclusive focus on inflation. Even slightly enlightened conventional economist Lester Thurow at MIT in today's "Shooting in the dark - Overreacting to inflationary dangers may lead to recession," BG, F4, ends his column, "If we deliberately raise interest rates to slow the economy, there had better be some very good reasons for doing so because we are going to be throwing a lot of social progress into reverse." But his ending is lame because he has spent his whole column establishing our ignorance - and thus the impossibility of any "very good reasons" - in such statements as "But the truth of the matter is genuine uncertainty. Who knows where the economy's noninflationary limits lie and what its real speed limit is?... No one knows for sure."
[The Timesizing.com prophecy is that under such conditions of uncertainty, important economic variables like interest rates are going to eventually be set by regular referendum of all of the affected population on the general principle "no pain without input" originated in the American Revolution in the more specific form "no taxation without representation." Further, we believe there are two kinds of inflation -
- runaway inflation, which is bad - it starves people on fixed incomes, as in the German hyperinflation of the early 1920s
- centrifuging inflation, which is good - it erodes vast pools of less active capital and reverses the widening income gap. The design and implementation of more targeted centrifuging mechansms, such as Timesizing's overtime-to-training conversion and underemployment-adjusted overtime, make this kind of inflation - and graduated income taxes - unnecessary. But in the absence of timesizing and graduated income taxes, centrifuging inflation is necessary to check the widening income gap, and this widening must be checked because it masks uncontrolled and unbalanced concentration of spending power and decline of effective demand. "The more concentration, the less circulation."]
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