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Good News, January, 2002
[Commentary] ©2002 Phil Hyde, The Timesizing Wire, Box 622, Cambridge MA 02140 USA (617) 623-8080

1/31/2002  glimmers of vaguer-than-timesizing hope -

  1. [UPsizing #1, 1700 new jobs]
    Kohl's to hire 1,700 workers for new stores, Bloomberg via NYT, C4.
    ...as the department store chain plans to open its first stores in Massachusetts and New Hampshire in April. The managers have been hired. Kohl's, based in Menomonee Falls, Wis...has 382 stores in 29 states....
    [Followup story -]
    Kohl's to launch ads as chain plans 13 store openings in [Greater Boston] area, by Chris Reidy, 2/16/2002 Boston Globe, E1.

  2. [UPsizing #2, unspecified new jobs]
    Dakota, Minnesota & Eastern Railroad Corp., NYT, C4.
    ...a 4-state railway, won federal approval for a $1.5B plan to build about 260 miles of track to serve coal fields in Wyoming's Powder River Basin.

  3. [1 UNbankruptcy]
    Regal Cinemas, NYT, C4.
    ...Knoxville, Tenn., a chain of theaters, [has] emerged from Chapter 11 bankruptcy with a reorganization plan.

  4. [glimmer of intelligent life]
    Report: Technology mergers don't work, by Steve Lohr, NYT, C5.
    Walter Hewlett took another step in his assault on Hewlett-Packard's [HP's] planned purchase of Compaq Computer with a report intended to prove that big mergers in the computer business are destined to fail. The 29-page report, prepared by Mr. Hewlett's investment adviser, Friedman, Fleischer & Lowe, and filed with the Securities & Exchange Commission, reviews mergers in the computer industry over the last 2 decades. A leading example is Compaq's purchase of the Digital Equipment Corp. [DEC] in 1998, in which management's optimistic predictions were followed by falling profit and share value for the next 3 years.
    Compaq executives have said recently that the company would have been even worse off without the Digital merger.
    [Yeah but what about DEC - they were the cash cow - and now, part of a decline. More extreme is Dragon speech recognition, foolishly sold to Lernout & Hauspie and carried down in its bankruptcy.]
    Mr. Hewlett, an HP director, said the report "clearly illustrates the extreme risk involved in the proposed HP-Compaq merger."

  5. [Another glimmer of intelligence]
    The man pressing the White House - David Michael Walker - A former Republican who worked for the president's father, by Neil Lewis, NYT, C6.
    [This is in regard to VP Cheney, now backed by Bush, taking the preposterous position that the formation of the nation's public energy policy is a private matter - a position that smacks of conflict of interest if there ever was one, especially in the wake of Enron et al.]
    As the dispute has escalated, Mr. Walker said today that he would file a lawsuit to force Mr. Cheney to turn over the papers the White House has refused to provide to Congress. As a result, Mr. Walker will become the first Comptroller General..\..running the General Accounting Office [GAO], the investigative arm of Congress...since the office was created in 1921 [another time of incredible corruption under a pretty-faced but "Slime Below!" Republican president (Warren Harding) - ed.] to sue an executive agency for failing to cooperate with a Congressional inquiry..\..
    [Hey, if you're in contempt of Congress, you're in contempt of Congress.]
    Mr. Walker is certainly the first in that position to engage in the kind of blunt sparring with the White House that occurred this week.
    [Somebody needs to straighten them out!]
    "Talk is cheap," he told a reporter in response to VP Dick Cheney's assertion that the GAO was overstepping its bounds in demanding documents about how administration formulated its energy policy....
    [Overstepping its bounds as the investigative arm of Congress? Hell, that's what it was set up to do - investigate for Congress, get the info Congress needs, especially now the White House is reeking under the Enron cloud. And as for "overstepping bounds," how much arrogance does it take for a figure as public as the Vice President to countermand the Freedom of Information Act and claim there's some big privacy issue about the formulation of the nation's energy policy?!]
    Mr. Cheney...has argued that turning over the documents would harm the presidency because it would inhibit open and robust discussions of policy.
    [The bizarre thing about this administration is that its lies and self-contradictions get huger and more outrageous, and the media just go along with it. The lies and contradictions are so COLOSSAL, it's like the press is confused and uncertain what to do, how to take it, and how to proceed.]
    One awkward feature for the Bush White House...is that Mr. Walker's pedigree is generally that of a Republican. [He] served in the Reagan administration in a variety of posts, including asst. sec. of labor for pensions and health. [He was] registered for a few years as a Democrat and then, in 1976...changed his party affiliation to Republican. "I was a bit more comfortable with the Republican Party's philosophy," he said today. He...became an independent the year before he was named to the nonpartisan position [of] Comptroller General, which carries a 15-year term.... Of his current campaign, Mr. Walker said that Democrats in Congress had been openly supportive while many Republicans told him they believed he was correct but preferred no to oppose the administration publicly.
    His job just before he became Comptroller General was running the Atlanta office of Arthur Andersen, the accounting firm now embroiled in the...Enron [debacle. He] said that while at Andersen, he had no experience with the firm's Enron business but that he would recuse himself from any Congressional request for his office's involvement in the issue..\..
    [Deferring, presumably, to the courts, whom he is now trying to involve and delegate the issue to.]
    He said the dispute with VP Cheney was professional and not personal. "I have great respect for the VP and I think he is a principled individual," he said.
    [Wish we shared his faith.]
    "But so am I"..\.. In an interview today, Mr. Walker said he had not sought nor anticipated the confrontation with the Bush administration. "First of all, I'm not pleased with having to take this action," he said. "But I've got a job to do and I'm committed to doing it."...
    [Glad the buck has stopped somewhere. The media sure haven't stopped it.]

1/30/2002  glimmers of vaguer-than-timesizing hope - 1/29/2002  glimmers of vaguer-than-timesizing hope - 1/25/2002  glimmers of vaguer-than-timesizing hope - 1/24/2002  glimmers of vaguer-than-timesizing hope - 1/21/2002  glimmers of vaguer-than-timesizing hope - 1/17/2002  glimmers of vaguer-than-timesizing hope - 1/09/2002  glimmers of frailer-than-timesizing hope - 1/05/2002  glimmers of vaguer-than-timesizing hope -
  1. [1 UPsizing]
    Toyota says it will build Mexico plant - Push to top Chrysler in US sales is seen, by Micheline Maynard, NYT, B3.
    [Thought they'd already topped Chrysler.]
    ...a manufacturing plant...on a 700-acre site outside Tijuana in Baja California...expected to open in 2004 [to] make truck beds for pickup trucks build at New United Motor Mfg Inc., its plant in Fremont, Calif., that is a joint venture with General Motors....
    [Unspecified new jobs, but -]
    Analysts expect the site will eventually be the fifth of Toyota's North American vehicle-assembly complexes.... By 2003, Toyota said the plants would employ 33,000 workers and have a payroll of $18B....
    [At least till Toyota robotizes the plants.]
    Stephen Grisky, an auto industry analyst with Morgan Stanley Dean Witter...said the Mexican announcement reflected Toyota's confidence in the North American market, despite widespread expectations that auto sales would fall this year....
    [...thanks to the ongoing use of automation and robotization for downsizing, not timesizing, not to mention the larger question of just how long volume vehicle sales can continue in a world of rising fossil fuel prices and air pollution.]

    1/04/2002  glimmers of vaguer-than-timesizing hope -

    1. [1 UPsizing]
      FiberCore factory, by Peter Howe, Boston Globe, D3.
      ...A Charlton MA-based maker of optical telecom fiber and components...has completed financing from the Alabama state retirement fund [huh?] to build a $30m factory in Auburn, Ala., set to open in 2004. The site would be the first US-based plant for FiberCore, which has factories in Germany and Brazil.
      [We're sooo honored, FiberCore (but don't strain yourself - or our pensioners). Unspecified new jobs.]

    2. Staying off welfare for good - Even in recession, the best help for the poor is help getting work, op ed by Pres. Bruce Reed of Democratic Leadership Council, NYT, A25.
      Now that we've officially entered our first recession in a decade, both supporters and opponents of the 1996 welfare reform law are asking the same question: Will tough love still work in tough times?
      [Here's another Democrat sounding a bit like a Republican, but at least as far as his subtitle, we're in complete agreement. After that, he sounds, not surprisingly, like a tout for the Dems.]
      The good news still far outweighs the bad.
      [This guy can't have been looking at homelessness lately. What has he been looking at?]
      Thanks to a relentless national effort to reward and require work in the 1990's,
      • single mothers are more likely to be working [= a no brainer] and less likely to be poor [= must have a pretty outdated definition] than ever before.
      • A nine-year decline in teen births has reduced the number of young mothers, a group at high risk for going on welfare.
      • Despite the recession, most people who left welfare for work are still working, and most who have lost jobs still have welfare to fall back on.
        [But only with a 5-year lifetime cap - so pray for recovery, few slumps, and a short life.]
      Still, some aspects of the current downturn give cause for concern.
      [No kidding. What does he suggest we do about it? As usual for Dems, Reed has so much faith in the ability of big gov't to throw money at this problem and create enough jobs that you know he hasn't read much history. Let's just leave it at his salutary subtitle, omit his tired appeals for more gov't money, and call attention to the fact that the only way to really create enough jobs for everyone as technology and big business downsize human workers, is to quit straining for makework and switch to work sharing - in other words, cut the workweek and couple it to overtime-directed training and hiring - in short, Timesizing.]

    3. Scottish islanders wake up as lairds of all they survey, by Warren Hoge, NYT, front page.
      [You may have wondered why you've heard so much about Ireland over the years and so little about Scotland. This article gives the clue.]
      ...The island [of Gigha] amounts to a test case of a proposed solution to the [problem] of land ownership, an emotive issue that has vexed the Scots for generations since their country has the highest concentration of landlording in the world..\.. This feudal system was set up in the 12th century and reinforced by the infamous Highland Clearances of the early 19th century, which saw farmers burned out of their thatched cottages and packed onto ships for America....
      ["...visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation (or 23rd and 24th) of them that hate me...." Ex. 20:3.]
      Members of the Scottish Parliament in Edinburgh, the legislature created in 1999 that is the first the country has had in 300 years, said at the outset that land reform would be the body's principal early objective.... Introduced at the end of November...new legislation will expand a limited land purchase right granted in 1974 to individual tenant farmers known as crofters so that they can buy their plots whenever they want.
      [Zimbabwe take notice. Herrre's the rrrefined Scots rrroad to land rrreform.]
      It gives rural communities first purchase rights for full estates that come up for sale, a chance to buy profitable fishing, grazing and mineral rights and, in its most controversial passages, empowers groups of 20 families or more to compel a landlord to sell them the land they work..\..
      Among the lairds [= landlords] are aristocrats, reclusive foreign investors, pop stars, desert sheiks, offshore companies and wealthy people from London's financial sector who live in leafy English suburbs and treat their distant Scottish properties as commodities to be traded on foreign markets or used as hunting retreats for city swells.... Landowners have reacted with class-war anger. Robert Balfour, convener of the Scottish Landowners' Federation, accused the lawmakers of producing an expropriation bill and said, "Why don't they just be honest and say that it's land nationalization and they have a socialist agenda?"..\.. Lord Strathclyde, leader of the conservatives in the House of Lords and the laird of property near Prestwick in western Scotland, said, "Even the Soviet Union never tried something like this."
      [Sure they did. Ever heard of the kulaks? But for all the waste and carnage, at least we heard from the USSR. We've heard nothing from Scotland for decades, just from its emigrés. Perhaps Balfour and Strathclyde could still find some great land deals in Myanmar or Haiti, where the goverrrnment, such as it is, would prrrobably be morrre to theirrr likin'.]
      ..\..Half of Scottish land in private hands belongs to just 350 people, and 1,500 private estates account for 80% of the country.... The 110 residents of Gigha (pronounced GHEE-aah) succeeded in buying their island in October without benefit of the new law [but with benefit of] a benevolent laird, a retired Scots businessman who turned down several higher bids in the belief that the islanders ought to have a chance to run their island.
      [and how about just "own their own land"?!]
      ..\..The price paid was $5.8m, but almost all of it came from public money - $5.1m from the National Lottery-financed Scottish Land Fund and $700,000 from the Highlands and Islands Enterprise, an agency promoting regional growth. Even by thrifty Scots standards, the residents got a great deal: they paid only $3.25 each to get their island back.... Under the arrangement, though, they must pay back $1.45m of the purchase price over the next two years as well as figure out how to run their island. In the event they do not make the deadline, the state will have to make up the difference, and the Scottish government is consequently sending in a development officer to set up a business and management plan....
      Notable past instances of locals becoming their own landlords attacted many headlines, like
      • the $500,000 purchase by 150 crofters of the Assynt estate near Lochinver in northern Scotland from its Swedish corporate owner in 1993 and
      • the $2.5m purchase of their own island by 72 residents of the Isle of Eigg north of here from a bankrupt German artist in 1997....
      [Until we get a new basic, general and non-stifling sharing technology such as Timesizing and get on with refining it and mapping it onto a series of more general dimensions as our self-respect and expectations rise, these crude micromanaging commodity-specific efforts will go on and on, sort of like rent control in Cambridge, Mass. or school busing in Boston and equal opportunity admissions to American colleges (we don't call it "racial profiling" there, do we?! - keep those brain compartments separate now!).]
    1/1/2002  glimmers of vaguer hope -
    1. ["Good, but"]
      Euro hoopla, photo caption, BG, C2.
      Europe inaugurated its single currency at midnight.... Austria, Belgium, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Portugal, and Spain are adopting the euro. Britain, Sweden and Denmark are not.
      [The goal is good - from "The euro take visible form: pocket change," by Edmund Andrews, NYT, front page, we learn -]
      Europe's dream of a common currency became tangible this morning, when euro notes and coins became the legal tender in 12 nations with a combined population of 300 million....
      [That's on par with the United States, which had a population of 272.9 million in 1999. And God knows this country needs a counterweight with jocks like Bush usurping the presidency and pulling us out of every international agreement except free trade until he wants to use other countries to help us fight terrorism. But, a single currency is premature for Europe. People in America can move around from bad conditions in the Appalachians to better conditions in Silicon Valley - or back again when conditions reverse. It's not so easy in Europe where everybody speaks a different language, and that makes skills much less transferable. And then there's the inability to use national monetary policy for minor adjustments. And there's the disparity in worktime, the differing vacation periods country to country and...France's 35-hour workweek vs. longer in the other eleven economies. Standardized worktime and a well-known lingua franca would seem to be basic prerequisites for a common currency.]

    2. [Cheerleaders' come-uppance #1]
      Difficult year for merger advisors, pointer digest (to C4), NYT, C1.
      [Well it should be...]

    3. [Cheerleaders' come-uppance #2]
      Business schools review approach, pointer digest (to C4), NYT, C1.
      [Well they might...]

    4. One power station under God - 15 Hundreds of feet beneath Copley Plaza's Trinity Church, construction crews are drilling Boston's first geothermal energy tap, by Michael Paulson, BG, E1.

    5. Cambodia: Effort to save forests, Agence France-Presse via NYT, A8.
      Prime Minister Hun Sen ordered a moratorium on all logging in the country as he vowed to preserve the remaining forests.... [Good...especially if he had the power to enforce it (but he doesn't).]

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