Timesizing® Not Downsizing - HOMEPAGE

Good News Aug. 1-13, 1999
[Commentary] ©1999 Phil Hyde, The Timesizing Wire, Box 622, Cambridge MA 02140 USA (617) 623-8080


8/13/1999 Canadian buttertarts breaking through U.S. border, special to Worstcaseplan.com.
A buttertart is a miniature pecan pie with raisins instead of pecans. You can get them by the dozen, halfdozen, doubles or singles in every bakery in Canada, English or French, and you can get them at every corner convenience store, from Victoria to St. John's, packaged up by the big Canucksky bakeries.
However, cross the border into uncivilized USA and abruptly - no buttertarts! Not even at the reputedly ethnic-Canadian chain of restaurants in New England known as Bugaboo Creek Steak House. At least its existence signals to Canadians that their chronic identity crisis is over. But you can't get buttertarts ANYwhere down here. Until recently.
The Johnnie's Foodmaster supermarket chain in the Boston area of Massachusetts appropriately in New England, at their larger stores that have onsite bakeries, has begun importing frozen Homestyle brand tarts from Toronto, finish-baking them daily and packaging them for sale at US$3.99 the half-dozen. The tarts have the cryptic line "PRODUCT OF CANADA Give & Go Prepared Foods U.S.A. Toronto M9W 6C2" on the bottom label. Give & Go may have bought the Homestyle brand in Toronto, Ont.
Granted these babies are billed as "pecan tarts" and not buttertarts, but the delicious filling and crust are the same as buttertarts, and if you buy a '6-pack,' throw away the pecans and replace them with raisins, you've got the nearest thing to Canadian heaven in this savage land to the south. And if you microwave them and down them with a glass of milk, it's even better. We're gonna polish off the last one in this six-pack right now. Mmmmmmmm.
[Follow-up (1/1/2002). After only 6 delicious months, Johnnie's Foodmaster foolishly dropped Canadian buttertarts as a sales item. However, a year&a half later, the bigger Star Market chain alias Shaw's Supermarkets picked them up. Their Beacon St. Cambridge MA store often sells out, but their Porter Sq. Cambridge store usually has them, except around Canada Day (July 1).]
[Follow-up (9/24/2002). Canadian buttertarts also disappeared from the shelves of Star/Shaw's around March, 2002. Repeated inquiries suggested there was trouble getting Give & Go to continue supplying them for some reason. So for those of you with baking skills and strong enough willpower to avoid the justly celebrated buttertart obesity, we append a couple of recipes, handed down to Phil Hyde from select sources -

8/12/99 Travelers plans to add 75 jobs in Fall River, AP via Boston Globe, C9.
Travelers Property Casualty will expand its Fall River operations, adding up to 75 jobs in the next year and a half.... Hartford-based Travelers plans to build and staff a new service center to process medical bills for its workers compensation business.... Fall River Mayor Edward M. Lambert hailed the announcement as an important element in the city's plans to revitalize downtown....
[Ask yourself, if there's really an economic boom worth the name, shouldn't it extend throughout the nation, or at least throughout the state of Massachusetts? But if it does, what's the Big Deal about 75 measly new jobs in a city outside the I495 rim route (unless that route really does mark the limits of the prosperity zone, as claimed in a 7/01 article, "Beyond 495, economic boom fades")?]

[America hates itself?  CEOs hate everybody?  Holland is responding more honestly - ]
8/11 The Netherlands: Legalizing euthanasia, Agence France-Presse via NYT, A6.
[Boston Globe covers story from Reuters on p. A2.]
A bill legalizing euthanasia and assisted suicide and applying to children over age 12 has been presented to Dutch legislators. The legislation is intended to bring the law in line with medical practices that have existed for some time in the Netherlands, but had previously been confined to terminally ill adults.....
[If you can't say goodbye gracefully, you can't really say hello gracefully either.]

8/11 Reno proposes programs to curb inmate recidivism, by Eric Lichtblau, LA Times via Boston Globe, A3.
[For background, check out our Prisons page.]
WASHINGTON - Attorney General Janet Reno, condemning the failure of current criminal justice policies, called yesterday for a potentially radical restructuring of lcoal court systems across the United States to prevent convicts from shuttling in and out of prisons "again and again and again"... [by empowering judges] to oversee inmates' re-entry into society and shepherd their rehabilitation through work, education and community programs....

[More interest in direct, referendum democracy - ]
8/10 Mass. voters could decide Internet fight - Group wants cable firms to open their networks, by Peter Howe, Boston Globe, D1.
[How Peter could get through nearly 20 column inches without naming the group is beyond us.]
...A group organized by Boston venture capitalist J. Christopher Grace wants to give state voters the option of forcing cable franchises to provide "non-discriminatory and equal access" to other ISPs that connect to customers by telephone. The group has filed a proposal calling for such a ballot question for the November 2000 election.... Besides Grace, other people backing the proposed initiative petition include Harvard University professor Richard Zeckhauser, publicist Thaleia Tsongas Schlesinger, and several Hale and Dorr attorneys..\..
If [the Mass.] Attorney General...determines the state constitution allows Bay State voters to decide the issue, Grace and his supporters would have to collect about 67,000 signatures over the next year, unless the state Legislature adopts the proposed law first, which appears unlikely....
[And indeed, why should insulated and money-obsessed "representatives" cooperate in the erosion of their own power? Yet more and more direct, referendum democracy is indispensable to real human progress, and we already have the technology. Why in the world should the Swiss, who extended voting rights to women only in 1971 (Oswald Sigg, Switzerland's Political Institutions, 1983, p.10), be ahead of America in the technology of democracy?]

[Only one out of three featured-white-males sane enough to want "surplus" to pay down $5.5T national debt.]
8/10 Surplus dreams - A debate over dividing tax dollars yet to be collected, by Richard Stevenson, NYT, C1.
[Feature fotos of three men, two dummies and one with common sense - ]

  1. Cut taxes
    The surplus should "be returned as tax cuts so the Government share of the economy will shrink and the private share of the economy will expand."  Lawrence Kudlow, economist.
    [Your kud needs more chewing, Lowrinse.  What about "shrinking" the Government's HUGE "share" of the debt-market part of the economy?]

  2. Spend more
    "The nation is in a far better position to afford those kinds of investments today."  Robert Reich, former Labor Secy.
    [When one of the nation's biggest budget items is paying interest (to the wealthy) on its record-breaking debt?  Bob, we thought you had more sense.]

  3. Pay off debt
    "The best way the Government has of increasing savings is paying down the debt."  Robert Bixby, *Concord Coalition.
    [Why is Bob Bixby the only sane dude of the three? Because the whole concept of a "surplus" when you're in record debt is nothing but an insane linguistic shell game, spreading apart our already partitioned brains (pons asinorum?) to new, yawning breadths of brayingly asinine crevasse.
    [Although we agree with Bixby's conclusion, we disagree with his reasoning.  In a pre-depression economy when wealth is concentrating beyond all historic precedent such that past some point, the more concentration, the less circulation, the "best thing we can do for the economy" is NOT "to increase savings," but to reinvest in economic dynamism by reinvesting in markets-spendings-earnings-wages-HIRING & TRAINING à la timesizing, not more government upsizing.  But current astronomical government borrowing involves astronomical and unnecessary government distortion of the capital markets, and a humungous waste of taxpayers' money on debt service, so let's quit it.  Andrew Jackson was pretty clueless in economics, but at least he paid off the national debt completely in the 1830s and got government living within its means for awhile, like most citizens have to do.]
8/08-09  more reasons for direct, issue-oriented electronic referendum democracy on population questions -
  1. 8/09 Immigration: Let debate go on, Letters to the Editor, NYT, A18.

  2. [First study of crime&tax-saving effects of legalized reproductive choice.]
    8/8 Stopping crime before it starts - Study says legalized abortion eliminated potential offenders, by Karen Brandon, Chicago Tribune via Boston Globe, A10.
    Two widely respected scholars studying the causes of the declining US crime rate have reached a provocative conclusion: Legalizing abortion in the early 1970s eliminated many of the potential criminals of the 1990s.
    The research...suggests that those who would have been at greatest risk of criminal activity during the peak crime years of young adulthood - the unwanted offspring of teenage, poor, and minority women - were aborted at disproportionately high rates more than two decades ago.
    Steven Levitt, a University of Chicago economist, and John Donohue III, a Stanford University Law School professor, conclude that legalized abortion may explain as much as half of the overall crime reduction the nation experienced from 1991 to 1997.
    Levin said the findings support the idea that legalized abortion "provides a way for the would-be mothers of those kids who are going to lead really tough lives to avoid bringing them into the world. They're the ones who are most likely to have been unloved by their mothers, to have faced intense poverty, to have had tough lives"..\..
    The research...has been circulating among economists and criminal law experts [and] a copy of the controversial paper, "Legalized Abortion and Crime," was provided to the Chicago Tribune, though it has not been submitted for publication in an academic journal....
    The authors emphasize that their findings do not constitute an endorsement of abortion, and say their research was motivated by a desire to discover the forces responsible reducing crime. In particular, they said, they hoped research into the reasons for the decline in crime would avoid needless public spending on ineffective programs and devices that may take undeserved credit for reducing crime.
    They concede that their paper may be attacked as suggesting that abortion has a beneficial social effect, or that certain groups should be encouraged to have abortions, an idea they insist they do not advocate.... But [Levitt] added, "I don't think it's our job as economists or scientists to withhold truth because some people are not going to like it. I just think it's important to understand the impact of social policies."...
    In their 45-page analysis, the authors detail the following findings: [How much courage it sometimes takes for us, in this supposedly intelligent species, to utter the obvious! We submit that the articulations in this report would not have been possible at all before the economic age, with its discouragement of drama and rhetoric, and its use of mathematics as a second language. They don't call 'em "numb-ers" for nothing.
    [As we move into the ecological age, and shift from quantity of life to quality of life, we will gradually focus in from quality in worlds of the physical and biological sciences to quality in the world of the social sciences - the world of us - and ask a chain of obvious questions:
    • How do we get quality people? From quality children.
    • How do we get quality children? From wanted children.
    • How do we get wanted children? From parents who want children and are not having them by accident or compulsion.]
    The authors conclude that the women who chose abortion were those at greatest risk for bearing chldren who would have been most likely to commit crimes as young adults.... "The effect of abortion legalization is still to lower crime even when those women who had previously delayed having children (by resorting to abortion) subsequently increased their childbearing," Donohue and Levitt wrote. "This suggests that it is not simply who has the abortion that leads to the lower crime rate...but the ability of the woman to choose better timing for childrearing that lowers criminality....
    In making the connection, the paper also relies on a number of long-term studies of women living in various European countries where government approval to have an abortion was required. Conducted in Easter Europe and Scandinavia, these studies found that children born because their mothers were denied abortions were substantially more likely to be involved in crime and have poorer life prospects, even when researchers took into account other influences such as the income, age, education, and health of the mother. These women overwhelmingly kept their babies, rather than giving them up for adoption, but they often resented the unwanted children, researchers found.
    The reasons for the rapid fall of crime in the 1990s...have been intensely debated. Possible explanations include the increasing use of prisons, more police, improved policing strategies ["zero tolerance"] such as those adopted in New York City, declines in crack cocaine trade, the strong economy [or at least the blanketing propaganda to that effect], and the growing use of security guards and alarms.
    [This whole debate presses us toward issue-oriented referendums. Because "representatives" on public votes in Congress will seldom make any but the easy choices. Only citizens on secret ballots can make the hard choices.]
8/07 Town rides to the rescue of its young inmates, by William Glaberson, NYT, A6.
Dalton, Ga., Aug.5 - For years, reports of overcrowding, assaults, self-multilation and suicide attempts flowed out of the state juvenile detention center in this conservative northwest Georgia community. In a lot of towns, people might have said that the problem was someone else's business. The children were not theirs, after all, and the center was a source of jobs....
[And we so desperately need those jobs in this "booming economy."]
But not in Dalton. Upset at the treatment of these...boys and girls [who range in age from 9 to 17, an unlikely group of citizens including a roadbuilder,] a doctor's wife, a carpet-company owner and a bank president [put up $100,000 to bring] a Federal civil rights suit against the state, and won a settlement improving conditions at the center....
Many lawyers say this rare kind of civic activism demonstrates the lengths to which people must now go if poor prison conditions are to be challenged. They blame the 1996 enactment of Federal laws that sharply curtailed the ability to bring lawsuits on behalf of prisoners, in part by making it more difficult for lawyers to finance them. The restrictions were passed largely our of anger over what were seen as frivolous suits, with critics saying one prisoner had even sued over a lack of chunky peanut butter.
The plaintiffs here, a loose grouping of a dozen or so, maintained that children at the Dalton Regional Youth Detention Center were receiving inadequate education, psychological therapy and medical care, and sometimes slept five to a room designed for one, often on the floor near open toilets.... Some of the mostly afflluent plaintiffs were motivated by what they had learned as volunteers in the local juvenile court.... The suit was filed in 1996.... "Some of these children didn't have glasses" to see with, Deelee Barnwell, one of the group, said by way of explaining the plaintiffs' lack of concern over money. "They didn't have toothbrushes."...
[God bless you, good people, every one! - Deelee Barnwell, J.M. Boring, Deborah Peppers, Connie Blaylock, George Andros, Nancy Lester, Dawn Sanders,...]

[1 upsizing]
8/07 Jobs for Louisville, Ky., Bloomberg via NYT, B15.
The Providian Financial Corp., the biggest issuer of credit cards to consumers who have tarnished credit, said today that it would open a new operations center in Louisville, Ky. The move will create 1,000 jobs in the next two years to help Providian, based in San Francisisco, handle the million-plus accounts it is adding every quarter.
[They're adding over a million "tarnished credit" accounts every 3 months? Ah, how secure are these new jobs? This sounds like the kind of boom an undertaker has during an epidemic.]
Providian, which already has an office in Louisville employing 500 people, said the Kentucky state government granted preliminary approval for $20 million in tax credits for the new office.
[Oh, that's it. More desperate bribery by state legislators to get jobs. Awfully strange in a "booming economy," wouldn'tcha say? Yet Massachusetts did it with both Raytheon and Fidelity in the last few years, and it's going on all across this country in this wonderful "booming economy."]

8/06/1999  2 upsizings:

  1. PNC Bank Corp., NYT, C4.
    ...Pittsburgh, the biggest bank in Pa., said it was adding 100 employees, partly to handle its growing electronic banking business.
    [No need to apologize. But electronic banking has been destroying 95,000 jobs a year since 1995 in banking, even if it's creating 100 jobs in this case. And we notice that PNC arranged on 7/21 to take over First Data Mutual Fund Services (for $1.1b) and therefore the usual takeover-downsizing connection may yet materialize there.]

  2. Calpine Corp., NYT, C4.
    ...which owns stakes in power plants in 12 states, said it would buy the right to build a $350 million plant in No. Calif. from Enron Corp. for an undisclosed price.
    [When they're this specific, that presumably means they're really gonna do it and it's gonna mean new jobs.]
8/06  2 untakeovers:
  1. Lucent and LSME Holding terminate deal on sale of unit, Reuters via NYT, C4.
    Lucent Technologies Inc., the telecommunications equipment maker, and LSME Holding Co., a start-up led by Susan Mandl (yay, female CEO!), said yesterday that they had terminated an agreement for Lucent to sell its small-business sales unit to LSME. Under the deal, Lucent planned to...transfer about 2,000 employees and 700,000 customers to LSME.... Lucent said the companies mutually ended the deal.
    [One down, ten (of today's eleven takeovers) to go.]

  2. New doubts about TV merger, by Ladka Bauerova, NYT, C4.
    Central European Media Enterprises Ltd. has come one step closer to losing its prize asset, TV Nova, the hugely successful Czech commercial station [because of the machinations of former station director Vladimir Zelezny]. The move was seen as increasing the risk that Central European Media's planned $615 million merger with SBS Broadcasting SA might have to be renegotiated or abandoned.
    [Either way, a move in the right direction, toward diversity and competition and away from monoculture and concentration.]
[This will presumably mean more jobs, if only low-wage.]
8/04 J. Jill stores to open ahead of schedule, Dow Jones via Boston Globe, D8.
J. Jill Group Inc. [a seller of women's apparel, accessories, shoes, and gifts, based in Mass.] plans to open its first two J. Jill retail stores ahead of schedule.... The stores will open in Natick [Mass.] and Providence [R.I.] in November, ahead of the planned 1Q00 opening. The company plans to open 10 to 12 stores by fiscal year-end 2000.

8/03 [Boston] hub's 2.1% increase in jobs ranks 18th in [biggest 23 US metropolitan areas], by Kimberly Blanton, Bos Globe, D7.
...In the Boston area, 39,700 nonfarm jobs - half of them in the services sector - were added between 1997 and 1998, boosting city employment to 1.943 million. That is Boston's lowest ranking...since 1991. The most dramatic growth occurred in Western and Southwestern cities, with Phoenix producing the largest increase at 5.6%.

8/01/99 Gates to give away £65 billion [$100B] fortune, by Rhodes & Chittenden, Sunday Times of London, on the Web at 4:16 am EDT via Tony Schinella.
[The New York Times seems to have missed (or ignored) this but the Boston Globe has a squib on p. A4 under World Briefs. The whole story is denied by Gates himself on Tue, Aug.3 on p. D3 of the Boston Globe, and still, to their credit, totally ignored by the NY Times.]
The founder of Microsoft, Bill Gates, who is the richest man in the world, plans to become the biggest single benefactor in history by giving away his £65 billion fortune to help rid the planet of diseases such as Aids and malaria....
[Ah, the opportunity to criticize the best and biggest of our current skimming and charity system! Bill Gates' generous action points up the critical bugs in our current social software characterized by hugely concentrated (and centralized) spending power, spending power that is thereby even more centralized than if it were under the centralized bureaucracy of the former USSR. Private sector or public sector, who cares? The market is enormously distorted and diminished by such concentration, whatever sector it occurs in, because of the marginal utility of wealth. better understood as "the more concentration, the less circulation."
[The major world problems of unemployment, poverty and starvation will go on and on, while this one guilt-ridden human makes an arbitrary and totally serendipitous decision to give it all away to one non-core-code area of human problems - thus creating an even huger distortion in what we naively refer to as the "free market system" than we already have from freezing the workweek at 40 hrs/wk against all future work-saving technology, and thus concentrating skills, employment, income and wealth at rates and volumes never before seen in human history.
[We need a system that automatically reinvests work and income, as it starts to concentrate - in a completely decentralized fashion at the grassroots and up&down the corporate frontlines of the economy - on the appropriate COLOSSAL (compared to today) scales. The only complete economic design for such a system is timesizing, which uses the incidence of overtime work to target, trigger, fund and pace the necessary vast decentralized reinvestment - essentially in our own markets so that we render the traumatic boom&bust cycle obsolete.]


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