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


9/25/2002   headlines from heaven - alias glimmers of vaguer-than-timesizing hope - reported in NY Times &/or Wall St Journal -

  1. [UPsizing #1]
    Lowe's to open 60 stores in New York area, Bloomberg via NYT, C4.
    ...in the NYC metropolitan area and northern New Jersey in the next 5 years. The expansion is expected to cost about $1B and create more than 10,000 jobs, the..\..leading home-improvement retailer said.... Lowe's will open stores this week in Roosevelt Field NY and Holmdel NJ, and begin construction on its first outlet on Staten Is. Lowe's is expanding in major cities to compete head-on with its larger rival, Home Depot Inc. Lowe's, based in Wilkesboro NC, plans to open 123 stores [throughout the country] this year and 130 in 2003.

  2. [UPsizing #2]
    Fiscal 3rd-period net fell 15%, but rival's demise bodes well, Dow Jones via WSJ, A2.
    Roadway Corp. said fiscal Q3 net income fell...but the trucking company issued a bullish forecast...since Consolidated Freightways Corp. ceased operation this month [and] business volume has increased. Roadway has recalled 1,500 laid-off employees and hired 850 former Consolidated workers.
    [Giving us a total or 1500+850= 2,350 salvaged jobs.]

  3. [takeovers are appetizers to downsizings, which induce recession, and Germany is fighting both takeovers and downsizings -]
    Germany is expected to again fight an EU attempt to make corporate takeovers easier, pointer summary (to A11), WSJ, front page.
    [Click on our takeovers page and scan down to today's date (9/25/2002) for this story.]

  4. [the story on Germany fighting downsizings is -]
    Labor laws vex SAP AG - German software maker sees few options for cutting costs, by Neal Boudette, WSJ, A12.
    ...Europe's foremost technology success story is having difficulty competing against its U.S. rivals as German labor laws impede the company's ability to cut costs amid a tech slump.
    [Employees aren't "costs," they're your customers' customers, and SAP's U.S. rivals have made considerable contributions to the tech slump by failing to make that distinction and cutting, specifically, their own employees and, generally, the global consumer base. Even United Airlines seems to recognize this - see today's "Airline considers ways to cut nonlabor costs," by Edward Wong, NYT, C4. You can't build economic recovery and growth out of downsizing - something that, strangely, the Wall Street Journal and many economists have yet to realize.]
    Rules on layoffs, severance pay and employee rights make it expensive and time consuming for the German software maker, the world's third largest, to bring its costs in line with weaker sales.
    [If these considerations are so hobbling, how come it's still "Europe's foremost technology success story" and "the world's third largest"? It is pure CEO near-sightedness doing this whining. And SAP is right there in the German and European markets which are going to sink a lot slower than the U.S. because their employee-friendly regulations are keeping a lot more of their national income spread around to those who actually spend it, instead of concentrating it in unspendable amounts in the top brackets as in the U.S.]
    SAP's limited scope for reducing costs now has top executives worried about whether the company can meet its 2002 profitability target,
    [which is probably set too high]
    and what may happen if it fails and its stock price plunges.
    [Who cares - the stock market depends ultimately on the job market and the consumer base, not vice versa. And if employees are treated well, the job market and the consumer base won't go into the kind of tailspin they're in in Japan and the U.S.]
    SAP's "predicament" [our quotes - ed.] underscores the debate in Germany about overhauling its system of generous social benefits, high wage costs, and employment protection. Economists [evidently shortsighted - ed.] have urged Germany to loosen its labor market.... [Germany's high] unemployment was a key theme of the recent election campaign.
    [Germany has not discovered work-sharing via workweek reduction on a nationwide scale yet, ergo its still-high unemployment.]
    In August, Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder announced some modest job measures, but both he and his challenger, Edmund Stoiber, vowed they would not let Germany become a "hire-and-fire" society....
    [If they did, they'd wind up in the perennial economic toilet with Japan - until it gets its local- and prefecture-level work sharing revved up enough to centrifuge its national income out to those who will actually spend it and restore Japan's consumer base and velocity of currency.]

  5. [still mourning Hong Kong? check out this headline -]
    North Korea to let capitalism loose in investment zone - 'This is an attempt to build Hong Kong north, and it is an extraordinary leap.' Marcus Noland, by Howard French, NYT, A3.
    North Korea's new [autonomous] capitalist zone at Sinuiju [on the western end of its border with China] covers 132 square miles. [map caption]
    ...the most significant reversal of economic policy since North Korea was founded....

  6. [still wondering where the Democrats are? here's a hint -]
    Gore's surprising act of leadership against Iraq war - If other Democrats follow Gore's lead, this could be a turning point, op ed by Robert Kuttner, Boston Globe, A19.
    ...The party's standard bearer for 2000...has now made it safe for Democrats to express serious doubts about this reckless war [even though] he was one of a handful of Senate Democrats to support George Bush senior on the Gulf War in 1991....
    [another good sound bite herein -]
    Bush's Iraq strategy is cynically designed to change the subject - actually two subjects:
    1. terrorism and
    2. the economy
9/22-23/2002   headlines from heaven - alias glimmers of vaguer-than-timesizing hope - qikis -
  1. 9/22  Immigration is not the problem, letter to editor by Rebecca Elstromo of Philadelphia, Philadelphia Inquirer, C6.
    In response to Froma Harrop's column ("How many people can U.S. hold?", Sept. 15)....
    [This is the biggest question for America's, and every country's, future. And it is urgently needed to be framed into a regular yearly binding public referendum in each nation on this small and finite planet.]
    Harrop starts with the fact that Americans consume the most resources per capita of any country in the world and concludes that immigrants should be barred in order to protect the environment....

  2. 9/23  Schroeder hangs on in Germany - Chancellor holds thinned coalition, frayed ties to US, by Charles Sennott, Boston Globe, front page.
    [And Schroeder's criticism of Dubya's radical warlust was a major factor in the victory.]

9/21/2002   headlines from heaven - alias glimmers of vaguer-than-timesizing hope - reported in NY Times &/or Wall St Journal -
  1. Some in Congress, recalling Vietnam, oppose war - A familiar refrain, 'Give peace a chance,' is heard, by Carl Hulse, NYT, A9.
    WASHINGTON - Two dozen or so mainly liberal lawmakers...view the current moves toward war through the prism of their memories of Vietnam. Though they may be viewed as outside the mainstream of even their own party, they are raising their voices against an invasion, even if their leadership is not.... Mr. McDermott and 18 fellow House members stood on the terrace of the Cannon House Office Bldg this week to proclaim their opposition to what they view as a potential unprovoked assault on Iraq, without evidence that the nation poses a dire threat....
    "This attempt to foment a war is really against the best interests of America, it is against the spirit of the country, it is against the economic interests of the people," said...Kucinich...a leader of the opposition. ...The Gulf of Tonkin resolution, which in effect authorized the Vietnam war, was passed with little skepticism from Congress.... He said [a] survey of Democrats found more resistance to a first strike across a wider spectrum of lawmakers than he initially expected. There have been quiet reservations expressed by Democrats close to the military who are hearing unease from the uniformed services....

  2. Refugee quota is 70,000, Kansas City Star, A2.
    WASHINGTON - pResident Bush has told the State Dept. that it can authorize 70,000 refugees to enter the U.S. in 2003, far fewer than immigrant advocates had hoped for.
    [Fine. At least there's a limit. Now let's see them enforce it. Over-population limits are a lot easier to enforce when they are set by referendum instead of by "experts" or dart throwers.]
    Tightened security prevented thousands from seeking new lives in this country this year. Despite authorization for 70,000 refugees [in] the year ending Sept. 30, only about 28,000 were allowed to resettle in the U.S. The others, who were held up by delays in processing and security checks, will have to try to gain entry in 2003.

  3. [here's how "the last becomes first" -]
    Russia: Population still shrinking, by Sophia Kishkovsky, NYT, A8.
    The State Statistics Committee reported a population decline of 505,900 people in the first 6 months of 2002, to 143.4m. The drop was slightly less than in the same period last year but the population continues to fall by about 1m people annually. The number of births grew by 50,000 compared with the first half of 2001, but in a sign of the continuing health crisis the number of deaths also increased by nearly 50,000.
    [Not the kindest way to do it, but Russia has achieved not only "ZPG" (zero population growth), but negative population growth. And population is the fount and source of all environmental pressure.]

9/18/2002   headlines from heaven - alias glimmers of vaguer-than-timesizing hope - reported in NY Times &/or Wall St Journal -
  1. Iraq, upside down -Deterrables and undeterrables, op ed by Thomas Friedman, NYT, A31.
    [Here's some serious resistance to dumb Dubya (= W.) from a conservative -]
    Recently, I've had the chance to ride around the country and do some call-in radio shows, during which the question of Iraq has come up often. And here's what I can report from a totally unscientific sample: Don't believe the polls that a majority of Americans favor a military strike against Iraq. It's just not true.
    It's also not true that the public is solidly against taking on Saddam Hussein. What is true is that most Americans are perplexed. The most oft-asked question I heard was some variation of: "How come all of a sudden we have to launch a war against Saddam?..."

  2. Sun is ready to push Linux as alternative to Microsoft, by John Markoff, NYT, C4.
    [Go, Sun! Go, Linux!]

9/17/2002   headlines from heaven - alias glimmers of vaguer-than-timesizing hope - reported in NY Times &/or Wall St Journal - 9/17/2002   headlines from heaven - alias glimmers of vaguer-than-timesizing hope - reported in NY Times &/or Wall St Journal - 9/15-16/2002   headlines from heaven - alias glimmers of intelligence - reported in NY Times &/or Wall St Journal -
  1. [Maureen not-at-all-dowdy squewers Dubya again -]
    9/15   W.'s conflicts of interest - The beautiful (us) and the damned (them), op ed by Maureen Dowd, NYT, 4-15.
    When George W. Bush ran for president, he mocked Bill Clinton's addiction to pollsters and promised to tear down the cynical White House trellis of politics and policy. As it turned out, Mr. Bush didn't need the permanent campaign. He was something far more potent: the permanent war.
    Karl Rove and W. have designed a mirror-image pResidency [our quotes - ed.]. They take everything Poppy did that conservatives regard as a mistake and reverse it. Like his dad, Mr. Bush is not keen on delving into tricky domestic issues like Social Security, healthcare and pension protection. It is hard for a Bush to envision the need for a safety net.
    When the Bushes get into the bunker, democracy operates the way they like. It is not messy and cacophonous. It is orderly and symphonic. There are sheriffs and outlaws, patriots and madmen, good and evil, Churchills and Hitlers.
    The Bushes love doing things in secret and without a lot of meddling from know-nothings in Congress and smart alecks in the press.
    [We had a bad feeling when Americans elected a CIA director for president back in '88.]
    In peacetime, such macho behavior comes across as highhanded, but in wartime, it looks like strong leadership. Critics of a warror pResident risk seeming unpatriotic.
    The Democrats are shackled;...
    [no they aren't, they're yellow, lily-livered cowards]
    a majority voted against the Persian Gulf War in 1991. After it went off with the detachment of a video game, they were pilloried. Now they fear that if they approach Desert Storm 2 the same way, raising objections about motives, casualties, costs or the postwar strategy, they will be portrayed as McGovernite wimps.
    [As it is, they're cowards anyway.]
    The Republicans, fighting dictator malfeasance, can't trifle with Democratic charges about GOP donors' corporate malfeasance.
    [Jesu, if this was a Democratic administration pulling all this Sleeze&Secrecy, the Republicans would have been yelling Impeachment for months! Consider the trivia they did yell Impeachment for vs. Clinton.]
    In war, the polls are always jingoistically celestial. Thus spake Karl Rove, who has advised Republicans that they can gain control of Congress by exploiting the "war" on terrorism [our quotes]. The "wartime" press is respectful, producing gauzy TV interviews and square-jawed photo spreads, rectifying mangled pResidential syntax and mindlessly repeating Minister of Information Ari Fleischer's celebration of the pResident as "resolute"....
    But there was no compelling new evidence [in Bush's speech at the U.N.]. Mr. Bush offered only an unusually comprehensive version of the usual laundry list. There was no more attempt to tie Saddam to Osama. The hawks don't know if Osama is dead or alive, but they know that Saddam is alive and they can make him dead....
    [Or can they? What if they're as effective with Saddam as they were with Osama?]
    The Bush principle of pre-emption is already being adored and exploited by other world leaders who have their own devious uses for it. At lunch with NY Times reporters on Friday, Tom Daschle...wondered whether attacking Iraq would damage relationships with Indonesia, Pakistan and Middle East allies necessary to root out terrorists. "Is [Iraq] now more important than the war on terror?" he asked. Does America have conflicts of interest? Are we fighting one war in two places, or are...two wars tripping each other up?
    [What a contrast to the colossal parochialism of Thomas Friedman's op ed across the page -]
    Going our way - The power of peace, markets and democracy, op ed by Thomas Friedman, NYT, 4-15.
    ...For all the noise out there about rising anti-Americanism, America remains the unrivaled leader of the world - the big power, which makes its share of mistakes, but without which nothing good happens....
    [Whaaat?! How about that, all you other mediocre nations? "Nothing good happens" among your citizens without America!? Pass the barf bag. How did this cloistered clown get to be an op ed columnist in the NYT? Where did they dredge up this seaworm?]

  2. [here's a little item from tomorrow that might wake up this fogbrain -]
    9/16   Lesson from Germany, letter to editor by James Maxeiner of Bronxville NY, NYT, A20.
    Re "Germany's cautious candidates" (editorial, Sept. 12):
    You suggest that there is stagnation in Germany's lack of interest in "radical labor market 'reform'" [our quotes on 'reform' - ed.]. We should have such stagnation!
    If we had Germany's "distinctive form of capitalism," that it, the social market economy, many thousands of Americans, including myself, who lost their jobs in the last year for no reason other than Enron-style corporate greed, would not have had their lives turned upside down.
    [Not to mention the investors from all over the world who lost millions.]

9/12/2002   headlines from heaven - today, qiki glimmers of intelligence - reported in NY Times &/or Wall St Journal -
  1. What's next - Software developed by 2 physicists relies on visual navigation to facilitate rapid, accurate writing by eye, pointer blowout (to E5), NYT, E1.
    A gaze that dictates, with intuitive software as the scribe - For quadriplegics and others, a less taxing way to write with their eyes, by Anne Eisenberg, NYT, E5.
    [Something to add to the toolbox of future job designers helping everyone become self-supporting.]

  2. The big picture on digital TV: It's still fuzzy - With consumers confused and broadcasters delayed, the "future" [our quotes - ed.] isn't here yet, by Eric Taub, NYT, E1.
    [Thank God. Digital TV is a crock of unnecessary private-sector makework.]

  3. New challenge to Microsoft: Linux on PCs, by Don Clark, WSJ, B1.
    [Let's break the stifling monopolistic power of FrankenGates and get some competition to clear out the multiple bugs, security breaches and world-domination fantasies of Microsoft Windows.]

  4. The New York Fed president urged top corporate executives to cut their pay, blasting the big increases of recent decades, pointer blowout (to A2), WSJ, front page.
    [pointing to -]
    New York Fed president chides CEOs on hefty compensation - [Wm. J.] McDonough urges officials to cut their pay, citing years of outsized gains, by Greg Ip, WSJ, A2.
    [What about years of a spending-starved consumer base?]

  5. The wisdom of imagining the worst-case scenario - On Iraq, take a lesson from the cold war, op ed by Milton Viorst, NYT, A27.
    ...Mr. Bush asserts a new doctrine for America, the right of preemptive attack to keep Saddam Hussein from using his weapons.... But the doctrine...impl[ies] that he will wait around for America to attack at its covenience. ...In the last war, Saddam Hussein blew up almost all of Kuwait's oil wells; in the next he could blow up Saudi Arabian wells, with significant repercussions for the international economy \instead of\ repeat[ing] the strategic mistake he made [last time] in choosing not to invade Saudi Arabia [and] allowing half a million allied troops to assemble over several months time..\.. By moving into Saudi Arabia, Saddam Hussein would shift the battlefield far to the south, imposing on American troops a much heavier burden than just the capture of Baghdad..\.. During the cold war, the futurists who studied world conflict had devised a clever name for..\..the inconceivable \of the sort that\ bec[a]me real \on\ 9/11...: the "worst-case scenario."... In preparing for a war against Iraq, pResident Bush urges us to overlook that lesson. ...In suggesting that our forces will dispose of Saddam Hussein in a war that is quick and painless..., the pResident is clearly choosing not to consider the worst-case scenario at all.... Saddam Hussein's power, and perhaps his evil too, pale next to that of Stalin. Yet even when we had clear military superiority over Stalin we chose not to attack him. All our presidents, Republican and Democratic alike, accepted the principle of avoiding a war that might wreck the planet....
    [More -]
    Europe pauses and grieves, but takes issue with U.S. [about the way the U.S. conducts itself abroad], by Frank Bruni, NYT, B1.
    [More -]
    The chill from Berlin - For the first time, a German chancellor has bluntly declined to support a major US strategic objective - a possible attack on Iraq - and even scored political points doing so, pointer blowout (to A12), WSJ, front page.
    [Well German Chancellor Schroeder can quote our own best President, Abraham Lincoln, "Allow the President to invade a neighboring nation whenever he shall deem it necessary to repel an invasion and you allow him to make war at pleasure." (American Heritage Book of Presidents..., Vol.5, p.407 {1967}, p.407). Or indeed, Chancellor Schroeder can cite a decorated war veteran and Republican Senator Chuck Hagel -]
    Hagel constrains Bush on Iraq - Decorated veteran is a leading GOP skeptic in Senate, by Shailagh Murray, WSJ, A4.
    [And then, today, there's a slew of letters -]
    The pResident's vision of the future, letters to editor, NYT, A26.
    ...Re "Securing freedom's triumph," by George W. Bush (Op-ed, Sept. 11)..\..

  6. [and last but not least -]
    Canada's medical care: Need, not ability to pay, letter to editor by Canadian Minister of Health Anne McLellan of Ottawa, WSJ, A15.
    ...I take issue with the assertions in your Sept. 3 editorial "Woe, Canada," Despite what you suggest, a 2001 survey conducted by researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health and the Commonwealth Fund revealed that the US generally ranks at the bottom on most indicators of patient views and experiences in comparison with Canada, New Zealand, Australia and the U.K.
    [In an editorial on p.A20, the WSJ had cited a new report from the Vancouver-based Fraser Institute to bash Canada's "state-run," "socialized" healthcare system (it's a wonder they didn't call it "communist") by asserting that "Despite spending more money per capita than any other country with a similar "universal" system, Canada ranks right up there with Turkey, Hungary and Poland in the quality of care its citizens receive." etc. etc. etc.]
    ...If you ask a majority of Canadians, you will find that they rate the healthcare system as very good or excellent, which suggests that despite the challenges we face, our system is providing access to quality care.
    [In short, while both the US and Canadian system has problems, ALL Canadians have health insurance and increasing millions of Americans are not. Guess who's going to survive a fast-acting plague.]
    In terms of efficiency, Canada's universal medicare system consumes just over 9% of GDP. In contrast, the US system consumes 14%, even though many millions of Americans are either undercovered or have no coverage at all.
    [Seems the Journal better watch out who it tries to slam with its nearsighted "it's US so it must be best" Pravda-like partyline.]

9/11/2002   headlines from heaven - today, glimmers of intelligence - reported in NY Times &/or Wall St Journal -
  1. Europeans curbing their appetite for stocks, by John Tagliabue, NYT, W1.
    [not a bad idea under the circumstances]
    ...The stock market slump, and the uncertainty it breeds in investors, is threatening Europe's fragile new faith in stocks as an investment....

  2. What's news - World-wide - Switzerland joined, blowout, WSJ, front page.
    [Hopefully this will put more pressure on the Shrub to let sleeping dogs lie.]
    Switzerland joined the U.N., becoming the 190th member after voters approved the move in March....
    [The Swiss have the most advanced democracy in the world, with citizen intiatives and referendums all over the place.]

  3. [another heroic Israeli stands up to Sharon -]
    'Moonlight and Mendelssohn in the West Bank - 'Anyone who criticizes my being here today, I only have pity for him', by Serge Schmemann, NYT, A4.
    The pianist and conductor Daniel Barenboim played yesterday for Palestinian students in Ramallah [on the West Bank where some Israelis have been illegally squatting for years]. A recital planned for March was canceled after the Israeli Army said it could not guarantee Mr. Barenboim's security. [photo caption]
    [yeah sure]
    ...Mr. Barenboim, who was born in Argentina, raised in Israel, and now divides most of his time between Berlin and Chicago, has also been vocal in his criticism of Israel's military crackdown on the Palestinians, often posting his views on his website, *daniel-barenboim.com....
9/08-09/2002   headlines from heaven, alias two glimmers of intelligence & a glimmer of vaguer-than-timesizing hope - reported in NY Times &/or Wall St Journal -
  1. 9/9 Boring is back - As New Economy companies vanish, Old Economy recruiters are feeling a lot more desirable. But they wonder: Is it love, or is it desperation?, by Ronald Alsop, WSJ, R9.
    [There's a lot to be said for boredom. Our old Hebrew professor at Toronto's Victoria College, Bill Staples, used to recount the story of the Apple and the Fall of Adam & Eve, and summarize, "Evil is interesting; goodness is boring." Then there's good but boring Micaela vs. bad but interesting Carmen in Bizet's opera of the latter name, and the old Chinese curse, "May you live in interesting times."]

  2. 9/08 Cutting corporate costs, or playing with fire?, letters to editor, NYT, 3-11.

  3. [hope for replacing the ruinous "war on drugs" with a tax on drugs? -]
    9/08 Ill Americans seek marijuana's relief in Canada, by Clifford Krauss, NYT, A4.
    Four decades ago, a wave of American draft dodgers fled to Canada rather than fight in Vietnam.... Over the last year or so, a new generation of Americans has flocked into...Canada, fleeing the Bush administration's crackdown on the clubs that...provide marijuana to sick people, particularly in California....

9/07/2002   headlines from heaven, alias two glimmers of intelligence & a glimmer of vaguer-than-timesizing hope - reported in NY Times &/or Wall St Journal -
  1. Women threaten to skip pageant in Nigeria, Agence France-Presse via NYT, A2.
    LAGOS, Nigeria...- Many of the beauty queens scheduled to take part in the Miss World pageant here in November are threatening to boycott the event, to protest an Islamic court's death-by-stoning sentence of a single mother in northern Nigeria. The threat has heaped embarrassment on a country struggling to remake a bad image that persists despite the end of military rule 3 years ago. Nigeria hoped to use the Miss World contest as a springboard for tourism.
    ...This week, Miss France and Miss Belgium joined Scandinavian and West African contestants in calling for a boycott [or "girlcott"?], and more women warned that they were considering whether to add their names to the list.
    Women's rights campaigners and world leaders have also taken up the cause of Amina Lawal...a single mother sentenced to death for having sex out of wedlock. Nigeria's federal government, under Pres. Olusegun Obasanjo, has said that it opposes the use of Shariah, the legal code of Islam based on the Koran, in criminal cases, but is powerless to act against the states that have adopted it....
    [Islam is so much more obvious about its pockets of backwardness than Christianity.]

  2. Swiss face pressure from Europe to loosen bank secrecy laws, Bloomberg via NYT, B3.
    The European Union may consider imposing curbs on investment to and from Switzerland if the Swiss government refuses to loosen its banking secrecy laws, Frits Bolkestein, the financial services commissioner of the Union, said.... "I refuse to believe that the Swiss government would not want to help us fight tax evasion," Mr. Bolkestein told a news conference at a meeting of union finance ministers. Banking secrecy is the linchpin of the Swiss financial industry, the country's largest. Banks generate about 11% of Swiss GDP and as much as 12% of tax income....
    [Great. So the Swiss generate a pile of tax income by diminishing everybody else's tax income.]
    Switzerland is balking at EU demands to disclose interest earned by residents of the union because that would weaken its 70-year-old bank secrecy law..\..
    ...Mr. Bolkestein said Switzerland's proposals for reporting interest income earned by EU citizens to their home governments did not go far enough.... Mr. Bolkestein said the Union might have to consider "disagreeable" steps like putting the flow of capital between the 15 EU nations and Switzerland "under some sort of control." Finance ministers from Germany, Britain, Spain, and France encouraged him to consider applying pressure, an official said.

  3. Canada: Strong job growth in August, by Bernard Simon, NYT, B3.
    More jobs were created in Canada in the first 8 months of this year than in any corresponding period since 1994, Statistics Canada said in a report.... About 59,000 new jobs were created in August [alone], mainly in manufacturing and construction, bringing the total so far this year to 386,000..\..
    [Good, but -]
    The unemployment rate dipped to 7.5% in August from 7.6% in July....
    [That's still pretty high.]
9/06/2002   headlines from heaven, alias a glimmer of intelligence & a glimmer of vaguer-than-timesizing hope - reported in NY Times &/or Wall St Journal -
  1. [a conservative gets nervous -]
    How we "won" the war [our quotes - ed.] - Can Saddam be ordered to lose?, by Nicholas Kristof, NYT, A25.
    [The thrust here is that our military is playing war games in which it loses unless it can control the enemy. A few prime excerpts -]
    ...The war game was fiddled with in ways that raise questions about whether the government is returning to a Vietnam-style overoptimism and myopia....
    It began, key participants say, with the Americans confidently assuming that they could intercept enemy communications and predict enemy movements. But the enemy didn't cooperate. It used motorcycle couriers intead of radio and electronic messages, and sent orders as code words inserted into the muezzins' call to prayer - and this went right by the American intelligence analysts. The upshot was the enemy "sank" much of the American fleet as the exercise opened. Oops....
    Hubris kills....
    But the absurdism got worse. The people running the war games even ordered the enemy to pull its forces back in order to allow American units to land safely, according to Paul Van Riper, a retired Marine lieut. general who played the enemy's military commander. "Then I asked to use chemical weapons," Gen. Van Riper recalled. "That was refused." The people running the war games even ordered the enemy to disclose some of its troop locations so that the Americans could find them....
    The U.S. crushed the enemy in the end.... "I absolutely believe that it was not rigged," General Pace said..\..Gen. Peter Pace, vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff....
    I asked Gen. Van Riper if the war games should make us nervous. "There's an unfortunate culture developing in the American military that maybe should make you nervous," he said. "I don't see the rich intellectual discussions that we had after Vietnam. I see mostly slogans, cliches, and unreadable materials."
    Gen. Van Riper said the mood reminded him of the mindset in Vietnam: Myself, I'm a wimp on Iraq: I'm in favor of invading but only if we can win easily. So can we?
    I'd feel reassured if the decision to invade was being made honestly, after a rigorous weighing of all the risks.
    [Can you ever catch them all?]
    Instead I detect a cheery Vietnam-style faith that obstacles can be assumed away.
    That only works in war games.

  2. [and at laaast, a Democrat speaks up -]
    We still have a choice on Iraq - War must be a last resort, not our first step, by Sen. John Kerry (D, Mass.), NYT, A25.
    [Some highlights -]
    ...Regime change by itself is not a justification for going to war....
    Overthrowing Saddam Hussein - the ultimate weapons-inspection enforcement mechanism - should be the last step, not the first.
    ...Bush must be able to say to this nation that we had no choice....
    [which is ridiculous]
    So far...the administration has complicated its own case and compromised America's credibility by casting about in an unfocused, overly public internal debate in the search for a rationale for war....
    ["Desperately seeking World War 3 (or at least Vietnam 2)."]
    By beginning its public discourse with talk of invasion...the administration's hasty war talk makes it much more difficult to manage our relations with other Arab governments, let alone the Arab street....
    We are at a strange moment in history when an American administration has to be persuaded of the virtue of utilizing the procedures of international law and community - institutions American presidents from across the ideological spectrum have insisted on as essential to global security.
    [let alone genuine "homeland security"!]
    ...Until we have properly laid the groundwork and proved to our fellow citizens and our allies that we really have no other choice, we are not yet at the moment of unilateral decision-making in going to war against Iraq.

9/05/2002   headlines from heaven, alias one glimmer of vaguer-than-timesizing hope & one glimmer of intelligence - reported in NY Times &/or Wall St Journal -
  1. Dunlap settles fraud charges with the SEC, by Michael Schroeder, WSJ, C1.
    In a humiliating end to a flamboyant career, "Chainsaw" Albert Dunlap, former chairman of the collapsed Sunbeam Corp., agreed to be banned permanently from serving as a public company official and to pay a $500,000 penalty to settle SEC civil allegations of accounting fraud. Mr. Dunlap, who got his nickname for the way he slashed jobs during "recovery" efforts [our quotes - ed.] at several companies, earlier paid $15m out of his own pocket [he should pay it out of someone else's??] as part of a $141m settlement of a shareholder class-action fraud lawsuit against Sunbeam....
    [Not enough. If he can afford a settlement of half a billion dollars, he still has most of his ill-gotten gains and needs to be completely bankrupted by fines and restitution and thrown into lockup for the rest of his arrogant, company-after-company destroying life. The NYT version puts it more emphatically -]
    Former Sunbeam chief agrees to ban and a fine of $500k, by Floyd Norris, NYT, C1.
    ...agreed yesterday...to accept being banned from ever serving as an officer or director of a public company....
    [That's cuz he never "served" - he looted. But it's all just a wrist slap for him anyway, and wrist slaps aren't going to change the loot-and-burn corporate culture that they teach in American management schools.]

  2. [Dopey Dunlap is a prime example of the "free"-market license for CEOs to run amok. Here's more -]
    Economic scene - Devotion to free-market, laissez-faire dogma makes for ineffectual policy, by Jeff Madrick, NYT, C2.
    ...The so-called new classical economists, whose home base is the University of Chicago [and who are true believers in simple free-market laissez-faire]..\..depend greatly on one assumption: that buyers and sellers are rational and seek to maximize their own incomes and profits. These economists...conclude that -
    1. stocks are almost always sensibly priced....
    2. markets are so efficient that unemployment is largely voluntary.
      [What planet do these guys live on?!]
      For the most part, they say, people who are out of work can find jobs if they are willing to work for less. Government cannot really help them..\..
    3. ...unemployment cannot be reduced without creating inflation.... There is a unique natural rate of unemployment. If policy makers push the jobless rate lower,...inflation will inevitably accelerate. ...monetary policy has little or no consequence..\..
    4. people save enough on their own.... People save rationally over their lifetimes for retirement...no matter what their level of income..\..
      [The whole movement to privatize Social Security is based on this fallacy.]
    5. regulations that limit the international flow of capital are anathema..\..
    In his Nobel acceptance speech, reprinted in the June issue of The American Economic Review..\..George Akerlof, a professor at UCal/Berkeley...uses behavioral economics to criticize [such] over-simplified laissez-faire theories.... The starting point for Mr. Akerlof and his colleagues is to make the central assumption of economics realistic. People are often not rational, maybe even most of the time.
    1. ...Investors in stocks are subject to fads and fashions. ...Robert Shiller of Yale has carefully shown that stock prices are much more volatile than corporate profits and dividends.
    2. ...In real life, businesses often pay more than the market wage to retain good workers, bolster morale, or create incentives to work harder. Thus, jobs are actually rationed, and many job seekers are shut out.
      [And so, government can presumably help with this.]
    3. ...As Keynes asserted, monetary and fiscal stimulus can produce more jobs and higher incomes that will not be undermined by higher inflation.
      [And worktime economics controls inflation more directly by setting upper limits, for example, on worktime per person, which can in the post-worktime stages be mapped onto, e.g., income per person, instead of just shadow-boxing with inflation as monetary and fiscal policies do.]
    4. ...Behavioral economists show that people systematically procrastinate [= oxymoron?] - they spend today and plan to save tomorrow.... For many people, especially with lower incomes, saving is very difficult.
      [Besides, with the fade-out of "old-fashioned" corporate pension plans, the new American pension is either dying on the job or dialing 800-KEVORKIAN.]
    5. [Presumably behavioral economists see a place for regulating capital flows - to avoid the "Asian currency contagion" of '98-99 for example.]
    The strength of behavioral economics is that it is based largely on actual observation of human behavior, not pure theory. ...Mr. Akerlof writes, "behavioral macroeconomists are rebuilding the microfoundations that were sacked by the new classical economists."
    [We would say they're rebuilding the semantic foundations that were twisted by "partial analysis" or "thought experiments," and making economics more of a observational science.]
    To be fair, economists from other schools of thought, including have tried to explain the same observations with other interesting theories, and they deserve more of a hearing.
    But Mr. Akerlof and his colleagues [in the behavioral economics school] have attacked today's conventional wisdom, which dominates the halls of power, on the basis of its own assumptions and values [always the most powerful antidote, "fighting fire with fire"], Mr. Akerlof's side, I believe, is winning this battle of ideas. The battle for power may be another matter.
    [Well, as Keynes said, the rantings of economists today are the conventional dogma of tomorrow - it just takes time.]

9/04/2002   headlines from heaven, alias glimmers of vaguer-than-timesizing hope - reported in NY Times &/or Wall St Journal -
  1. [UPsizing #1]
    Ball Corp. to invest $43m in plant, WSJ, A6.
    ...its Milwaukee facility, in connection with a long-term supply agreement with Abbott Labs' Ross Products unit. The packaging company [is] to supply Abbott with 2-piece metal food cans.... Ball plans to add a high-speed foodcan line that can produce as many as 1.2B recyclable steel cans annually, as well as a 225,000-sq-ft warehouse addition to the Milwaukee facility. The company expects to complete the addition and start up the new can line early next year. The expansion will create about 50 jobs at the plant, which already employs about 140.

  2. [UPsizing #2]
    From graffiti to high hopes for a desolate area, by Rachelle Garbarine, NYT, C11.
    An $80m development, anchored by a Target store, is planned in a corner of the Bronx. [graphic caption]
    ...on 9.45 sloping acres alongside the Harlem River and adjacent to the Major Deegan Expwy and West 225th St, which becomes West Kingsbridge Rd in the Bronx.... The Target store, with 120,000 sq ft,...will be the first outlet in the Bronx for the Minneapolis-based chain, which has 2 stores in Queens and will open one in Brooklyn in Oct....
    [Unspecified new jobs.]

  3. [a glimmer of intelligence -]
    Good business analysis should include morality, ...letter to editor by Hal Jordan Jr. of New Haven CT, WSJ, A23.
    Maybe if enough of the thieving executives bringing down major corporations and bankrupting thousands of honest, middle-class employees in the process [i.e., bashing their own markets - ed.] could be put behind bars, then our fancy business schools could take their boys and girls on field trips to the prisons to see how the white-collar criminal spends his time.

9/03/2002   headlines from heaven, alias glimmers of vaguer-than-timesizing hope - reported in NY Times &/or Wall St Journal -
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