Timesizing® Associates

Good News, December 16-31, 1999
[Commentary] ©1999 Phil Hyde, The Timesizing Wire, Box 622, Cambridge MA 02140 USA (617) 623-8080


12/31/1999  6 glimmers of hope -

  1. Two natural-food chains ban gene-altered products, Bloomberg via Boston Globe, D4.
    ...Whole Foods Market Inc. and Wild Oats Markets Inc., the two largest natural food store chains in the U.S., plan to ban genetically-modified ingredients from their hundreds of private label products....
    ["Natural food" chains??  Gee, we thought we could take this for granted.]
    The move follows similar bans by major European supermarket chains, reacting to consumer concerns over the foods' safety....
    [Thank God for Europe. Note you don't have to be a "natural food" chain in Europe to be smart enough to ban these "Frankenfoods."]
    "I would not be surprised to see labeling at some point," said Frank Mitsch, an analyst wtih Deutsche Banc Alex. Brown....
    [This is the weirdest thing. In this so-called "democracy" we don't even have this stuff LABELLED yet so we can make an informed choice?!! This is tantamount to terrorism by agribusiness.]

  2. [2UPsizings, totalling 5000 new jobs]
    Labor market [strictly, skills market] even tighter as jobless claims decline, Bloomberg via NYT, C8.
    Fewer workers are seeking jobless benefits than at any time in more than a quarter-century, government figures showed today....
    [But then, that's just because we're moving our unskilled into prisons so fast. And then there's the whole nest of problems with our concept of "jobless."]
    Jobs are being created on all fronts: manufacturing, computers and food service.
    ["All fronts" and all they can come up with are two examples totalling 5000 new jobs? -]
  3. [1 UNbankruptcy]
    Shareholders OK bailout of German builder, Bloomberg via Boston Globe, D4.
    FRANKFURT - Philipp Holzmann AG yesterday said that shareholders have backed a 4.3B deutschmark ($2.2B) rescue..., allowing the 150-year-old [firm] to stay in business.... Losses of 2.4B marks brought it close to bankruptcy.... Holzmann was only saved after Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder intervened and creditors agreed to bail out the company that twice helped build the Berlin Reichstag, Germany's parliament....

  4. [UNtakeover #1]
    Maker of testing instruments accepts chief's bid, Bloomberg via NYT, C4.
    The [NC-based] CEM Corp. said yesterday that its chief executive, Michael Collins, had offered to buy all shares outstanding for about $34.4m, as the maker of testing instruments accepted his third bid to take the company private [for] $11.15 a share....

  5. [UNtakeover #2]
    No offer for Aerolineas Argentinas, Bloomberg via NYT, C4.
    Argentina's flagship airline...will return to Spanish government management in January because its current manager, the AMR Corp. [alias American Airlines] has not made Spain a purchase offer....
12/30  2 glimmers of hope -
  1. Bold effort leaves much unchanged for the poor, by Jason DeParle, NYT, front page.
    MILWAUKEE - So, did it work?... It left far fewer people on welfare. It put more people to work.... Wisconsin has cut its welfare rolls more than 90%....
    [Pretty impressive, and a real boost to the incentive of the upper and middle classes who now no longer have to carry 90% of this burden. But -]
    But after three years of tracking the nation's boldest antiwelfare campaign,...most noteworthy...is the long list of things that remain the same: violent neighborhoods, absent fathers, bare cupboards, epidemics of depression, the temptations of drugs.... Those hardships endure not just for the families who are obvious failures...with neither welfare nor work. They endure for the seeming successes...with jobs....
    [So we're still not making it easier to earn a good honest living than a dishonest one. Hence our prison statistics, mentioned yesterday 12/29/99. And we'll never be able to do it unless we get a grip on our population figures, also mentioned yesterday, 12/29/99. And the only comprehensive program we've ever seen that integrates population policy with quality of life is our own Timesizing program. It ain't perfect. It sure isn't the last word. But it's got all the necessary elements in a simple 5-phase program and it lays down a prototype and yardstick for all future design efforts.]

  2. Desserts-only McDonald's, Reuters via NYT, C4.
    A kiosk opened...in Rio de Janeiro's largest shantytown is offering only desserts to avoid the risk of ruining local hamburger sellers. The operation is the first to open in a marginal Brazilian neighborhood and will employ nine people, preferably area residents....
12/29 Berkshire [Hathaway] lifts its stake in steel maker, Bloomberg via NYT, C9.
...The company controlled by Warren E. Buffett more than doubled its stake in the Nucor Corp. in the 3rd quarter of 1998, to 4.1m shares, according to a regulatory filing.
[Nucor is a timesizing and paysizing company, the most flexible corporate design in the world today, nosing Lincoln Electric slightly which is burdened with an annual merit bonus which was meant to be completely optional but turned out to be obligatory in practice a few years ago. Both companies appear at the top of our working models page.]
In the previous quarter, Berkshire had reported holding almost 1.9m shares in the company, which is the nation's 2nd-largest steel maker. The addition of Nucor shares was reported in a filing submitted to the SEC more than a year ago and kept confidential until now. Mr. Buffett added to Berkshire's Nucor holdings as the steel maker cut prices of flat-rolled steel - which is used in a vast array of products ranging from automobiles to appliances - to compete with cheap imports from Asian and Eastern European rivals.
"...We haven't had any contact with Buffett and we don't know what his strategy is," said Samuel Siegel, Nucor's vice chairman. Shares in Nucor...rose $1.525 to $56. The company's shares have risen almost 30% this year.
[And that's solid rustbelt increase, not part of the huge Internet bubble. It is just very hard for companies with timesizing flexibility to fail, - they're too adaptible and they're morale is too high. They are real "companies" in the original sense of the word, "together+bread" - people who eat together, people who stick together. The first of Lincoln's three conditions for granting an employee their lifetime employment guarantee is "acceptance of the principle that everyone sacrifices together, starting at the top" - the other two are "complete cooperation" (no unions) and "acceptance of the possibility of job reassignment."]

12/28 Buffett donates stock to charity, pointer blowout (to C2), NYT, C1.
Warren E. Buffett, the billionaire investor, and his wife Susan, have donated 2,500 shares of Berkshire Hathaway stock worth about $134m to four charities. A spokeswoman at Berkshire Hathaway declined to identify the charities....
[A strange place to draw the line on disclosure. And again, any economy that relies for vital functions on capricious charity is fatally flawed. In a well-designed economy, a huge chunk of the technology-multiplied profits of today would be getting automatically reinvested in grassroots retraining.]
The charities have agreed not to sell more than 10 shares during any one-week period.

12/25-27  3 glimmers of hope -

  1. Clinton allots $900m to homeless programs - Grants to states and nonprofits will fund housing, services, AP via Boston Globe, A23.
    [But, just a drop in the bucket unless we start sharing the vanishing work as technology takes it over, and getting pervasive about on-the-job training.

  2. Saving US foreign policy from its worst instincts - The message Washington sends too often to other powers is one of exercising arbitrary power, op ed by Robert Manning, Bos Globe, A19.
    [So nice to see an American recognizing this is in print, especially a former State Dept. policy adviser like Manning.]

  3. [A few welcome facts about how our "absolute moral standards" have yoyoed their way thru history -]
    In every era, [odd] judgments on bad behavior - Some ponder [zigzag] evolution of vice laws, by David Savage, LA Times via Bos Globe, A7.
    ...The evolution of US laws on personal vices makes...one of the oddest, most fascinating chapters of 20th-century...history..\.. When this century began, it was illegal to sell cigarettes in 14 states...
    [Well, we're gradually going back to that one...]
    ...and selling a lottery ticket was a federal crime....
    [...and we will eventually go back to that one too.]
    At the same time, narcotics such as opium, morphine, and heroin were sold over the counter and from mail-order catalogs as [remedies] for what one writer called the "nervous pace of modern life".... The patent medicines of the era were laced with morphine. In 1899, the Bayer Co. developed two pain medications that proved instantly popular. One sodium acetyl salicylic acid and was named aspirin. The other, diacetylmorphine, was added to cough syrups. It was named heroin.
    Cocaine was commonly found in tonics and was the recommended treatment for those with hay fever and sinus trouble. Until 1903, it was added to the newly popular soda known as Coca-Cola. Cocaine was "considered a pick-me-up, a brain food," says Yale historian David Musto.
    By the 1920s, however, the tides had reversed. In the wave of sentiment for Prohibition, alcohol and narcotics were seen as too addictive, and their sale was banned under federal law. Heroin, which proved to be especially addictive, was brought under federal law in 1924.
    [And now we're wasting millions of lives and dollars with minimum sentencing for minor charges of drug possession - see our PrisonWatch page, especially the 11/08/98 story.]
    But the cigarette bans were lifted, and smoking because a glamorous, all-American habit [not "addiction", got it?]. By mid-century, more than half of American men and one-third of women smoked regularly.
    Nevada became an oasis for legal gambling in the 1930s. Lotteries did not spread across the nation until the 1970s, as the same governments that had prosecuted gamblers and the so-called numbers racket decided to promote lotteries as a source of instant riches for state coffers.... All [states] but Utah and Hawaii have some form of legal gambling and 37 states sponsor lotteries..\..
    [And that whole anti gambling&racketeering phase was so intense at the time - check out some of the old movies with dark stars like Edward G. Robinson and Peter Lorre. What a flipflop and, we fear, a costly one.]
    It would seem that the nation can carry on only one [drug war] at a time. Four years after the prohibition on alcohol was repealed in 1933, federal authorities adopted a new prohibition on marijuana. David Musto has tracked the rise and fall of the temperance movements in alcohol and drugs over two centuries. "The pattern has been repeated," he says: The reformers gain steam but go too far, thereby spurring a backlash....
    [Organizations like Moral Rearmament who want absolute morality, take note.

12/24/99  4 glimmers of hope -
  1. Sweden: role of women, AP via NYT, A6.
    Swedish women have more than 40% of the seats in Parliament, putting them atop the gender-equality ranks in legislatures arond the world.... The U.S. [for all its talk] is 43rd when ranked by the House of Representatives, the larger chamber of Congress, with women in 13.3% of the seats [only 58 of the 435 seats].

  2. [1 UPsizing - unspecified new jobs (or stolen from neat neighborhood diners?).]
    Starbucks to open 400 more coffee shops, Bloomberg via NYT, C5.
    ...at least 400....
    [AAAAAAAAaaaaarrrrrgggghhh, chainstores, YUK.]
    Starbucks, based in Seattle, opened 460 stores in its most recent fiscal year, which ended on Oct. 3. It did not specify...where it would open the new stores. It operates more than 2,600 coffee shops worldwide....
    [Move over McDonalds and Dunkin' Donuts! With good news like this, who needs The Invasion of the Blancs-Manges?]

  3. [UNtakeover #1]
    Nextel is dropping hostile [$8.31B] bid for NextWave [Telecom], Reuters via NYT, C3.
    ...citing "significant developments" in NextWave's bankruptcy case....

  4. [UNtakeover #2]
    Wilmar Industries to go private in $300m[+65= $365m] deal, Dow Jones via NYT, C3.
    ...by an investor group in a buyout that values the company at $300m. The group will also assume $65m of Wilmar debt. The investor group, which includes Wilmar senior management, is led by Parthenon Capital of Boston and Chase Manhattan's Chase Capital Partners....
12/23  3 glimmers of hope -
  1. [500 jobs saved (for 2 years anyway) in a spontaneous transitional form of "timesizing, not downsizing" -]
    Unions accept plan to avert Nassau [County, NY] layoffs, by Michael Cooper, NYT, A24.
    Nassau County's unions averted 500 threatened layoffs yesterday [when] union presidents agreed to a plan in which county workers would be paid up front from only 50 of 52 weeks next year; the county would hold onto the extra two weeks' pay until the employee [terminates]. By doing so, county officials said they expect to save $20 million next year \and\ close [the county's] $60 million budget gap that was created last month when the Republican legislators repealed a real estate transfer tax that they themselves had passed..\..
    [That's funny. The Republicans used to be the party with all the fiscal common sense. Seems they can't even be counted on for that any more.]
    In return for the unions' concessions, County Executive Thomas S. Gulotta pledged that there would be no layoffs in 2000 and won agreements that would make it extremely difficult for the county to lay off any workers before 2003....
    [So here we have a downsizing avoided by a worktime-based financial arrangement that, however, does not involve actual reduction of worktime, only the withholding of worktime-based (2 wks/yr) pay until the employee "quits, retires or is fired." This was apparently an independently invented solution design, specific and unique to these county-level labor negotiations in New York State. It is clearly not a long-term solution because it leaves all the cards with management - they get to hold the "purse" and presumably they get the interest on it too, although this is not actually mentioned in the story. Labor's position remains as vulnerable as ever, because it remains as redundant or "surplus" as ever. No worktime-based rationing of labor availability to the job market has taken place, so market forces of supply and demand are not being harnessed here to strengthen labor's leverage and help centrifuge income and wealth out of the astronomically overbalanced and crash-prone concentration it's in among the top income and wealth brackets in the nation and the world. But it's one of many independently invented transitional forms of worktime-based layoff avoidance that we're being spontaneously driven to in the world today as we gradually run out of options in our semi-conscious but fierce determination to avoid actually setting upper limits on anything (such as worktime or income or wealth per person for example). ]

  2. Electric cars for the mail, AP via NYT, A19.
    The U.S. Postal Service says it will begin using 500 electric vehicles to deliver the mail in California and the Washington, DC area.... The agency will buy [the] right-hand drive vehicles based on the Ford Ranger for about $12m..\.. As the agency announced it had awarded the single largest contract for electric vehicles in American history to the Ford Motor Co..\..Postmaster General William Henderson said..\.."We deliver clean air along with the nation's mail"....
    [More from the longer excerpt by the Boston Globe -]
    Postal Service to buy 500 electric-powered vehicles, by Rebecca Sinderbrand, AP via Bos Globe, A8.
    "This doubles the number of electric vehicles in use in the whole federal government in one swoop"..\..T. L. Gauthier, an assistant secretary at the Energy Dept., said. [480 of the vehicles] will be used for mail delivery in California, with the remaining 20 going to the Washington DC area.... Thanks to a combination of state and federal subsidies, the fleet of pricey $39,000 electric vehicles will cost the Postal Service only a bargain $23,000 apiece.... The state of California and the Energy Dept. are offering the Postal Service special subsidies for using electric, rather than standard emission, vehicles. Electric cars are virtually pollution free, and officials say the vehicles will elminate thousands of pounds of pollutants.
    [Morely likely, millions.]

  3. Israel to import natural gas from Egypt - An energy buyer who had avoided the Middle East turns to [its most powerful] neighbor, by William Orme, NYT, C4.
    Egypt will provide natural gas to Israel through a long-delayed "peace pipeline" across the Sinai Desert.... Gas could be flowing...within two years.... For Israel...the deal represents a profound strategic and psychological shift. For Egypt, [it] represents a significant thawing of what has been termed the "cold peace" with its Jewish neighbor. Two decades after the signing of their landmark Camp David peace accord, Egypt and Israel have maintained a frigid diplomatic distance and only minimal economic ties. Egypt's approval of the gas deal is clearly intended as a reward for what it sees as Mr. Barak's serious peacemaking efforts in the region....
    [Good, now these two old enemies, both of them sibling Semites (Arabic, spoken in Egypt, is a member of the Semitic language family like ancient Hebrew, revived and spoken in Israel), can enter the next millennium BCE on a friendlier basis.]
12/22  2 (+2) glimmers -
  1. [UNtakeover #1]
    Of mice and genes: A merger is killed by soaring valuation, by Andrew Pollack, NYT, C12.
    ...Cell Genesys...directors...rescinded their recommendation that the company be sold to the Genzyme General Corp. for $350m in stock [because] Cell Genesys's 19% of Abgenix, worth about $130m when the merger...was announced in Oct. has nearly tripled in value..\.. Abgenix Inc. has a valuable mouse [but] does not expect to be profitable for two more years....
    [Such is the madness of pre-crash speculation, but at least it squelched a takeover.]

  2. [UNtakeovers #2,3,4 in 1 short item -]
    Italian bank deal collapses, Bloomberg via NYT, C4.
    [The largest] Italian bank, San Paolo-IMI, said talks to buy Banca del Salento had collapsed, setting back a plan to expand in southern Italy, [but] did not say why.... The Salento reversal follows San Paolo's thwarted $8.8B bid for Banca di Roma and an unsuccessful attempt to acquire Istituto Nazionale delle Assicurazioni....
12/21  3 glimmers of hope -
  1. Vermont's high court extends full rights to same-sex couples, by Carey Goldberg, NYT, front page.
    ...To extend equal rights to homosexual couples "who seek nothing more, nor less, that legal protection and security for their avowed commitment to an intimate and lasting relationship is simply, when all is said and done," [yesterday's unanimous] ruling said, "a recognition of our common humanity."...
    [Hear, hear, and three cheers. This is a tremendous step forward into the ecological age, when quality of human life becomes more important than quantity. Marriage, and especially the monogamous version thereof that eventually became a world standard, was developed as a small incorporated partnership for the manufacture and training of new humans. Its multifaceted arrangements in various human cultures undoubtedly contributed greatly to the early development of commercial contracts and incorporations. However, we now have over six billion humans on this planet and we really need QUALITY a lot more than quantity at this point. In the advanced economies, we are in the midst of a vast shift in our basic social unit, away from the reproductive pair toward the productive person, and away from the procreative couple toward the creative individual. The spreading of the legal protections on population growth from (hetero)sexual pairings to homosexual pairings, male or female, is a second big step, following on the burgeoning acceptance and multiplication of divorce, in the direction of this huge social-evolutionary shift from quantity to quality of human life in the dawning age of ecological constraints. Ecology will shortly be the ultimate, authoritative and increasingly non-negotiable/unyielding/unforgiving source of all human morality and ethics. In the long run, ecology is NOT optional, and with the start of a new millennium, we're looking at what for us (but not for nature) is a looong run. We find out ecology's rules, we get in line with them, or we're gone, period. Ecological totalitarianism? You bet. But the market, as we repeatedly finetune its self-balancing mechanism (and boy, is it time for a tune-up now!) will cushion the adaptations our cultures need to make to move from the world of "be fruitful and multiply and fill the Earth and subdue it" (Gen. 1:28), just accomplished, to the world of "in my Parent's house are many waystations" (John 14:2). And speaking of ecology and quality of life, check the next item re air quality -]

  2. Stricter rules are set on vehicle emissions, pointer headline (to A21), NYT, front page.
    The Clinton administration plans to announce today a sweeping round of measures to reduce pollution from cars and light trucks, an effort to reduce smog even as the number of vehicles and miles driven rises sharply.... [This closes the big loophole for SUVs -]
    The new rules...differ...by setting the same limits for cars and light trucks, a category that once [fell under] commercial vehicles but that is now dominated by sport utility vehicles, pickup trucks and minivans.

  3. [1 UPsizing]
    Toyota expanding in North America, AP via NYT, C6.
    ...Japan's biggest automaker \said yesterday\ that it would create 2000 jobs as part of an $800m plan to expand production in North America amid booming sales in the region, the world's biggest auto market. Toyota...will increase annual production at its four United States [oops, they meant "North American"] factoriesby 200,000 vehicles, or 16%, to 1.45m.... Toyota employs 16,200 workers in North America at factories in Indiana, Kentucky, California and in Ontario [Canada].
    [And a timesizing solution, though not recommended for over a 40-hr week, would take their assumed current 40-hr week up to 46.4 hrs and give their existing 16,200 workers additional job security for when sales collapse (this is how timesizing Lincoln Electric's workweek got up to 55 hrs in the early 1980s.) Colleague Kate is looking at Jan-Feb after the millennium hullaballoo for the great unravelling.]

[Globe's economic dilettante retails some vital history -]
12/19 A distant mirror - 'Invisible orphanage': evidence [of progress] is before us - In the orphanages of the 1870s, as in prisons, protecting the innocent was possible, but even more expensive, by David Warsh, Boston Globe, F1.
[This is a departure for Warsh, since, as an economic journalist and fully as dillettantish as that role requires, he has naturally absorbed the long-prevailing neglect, even distaste, for historical economics, which should be the basis of all economics instead of the ubiquitous 'economic models,' heirs of Marshall's dangerously 'partial analyses' (parallel in turn to the equally dangerous 'thought experiments' of Einstein - both bearing unsettling similarities to the 'spectral evidence' of the Salem witch trials). Warsh is essentially reviewing -]
"Building the Invisible Orphanage: A Prehistory of the American Welfare System," by Matthew A. Crenson, a professor of political science at Johns Hopkins University....
[Warsh leaps into it from a general interest in homelessness, welfare and workfare -]
Mayor Rudolph Giuliani has ordered police to begin arresting street persons who decline to go to a shelter or a hospital. His city [New York] has the nation's largest...workfare program; fully 10% of those on the welfare rolls are now performing low-skill city jobs. [This trend has been going on] ever since Pres. Clinton signed the welfare act in 1996 handing most of the responsibility for welfare programs back to the states.... "This is not the first time Americans have scrapped a system of public assistance long in use for another largely untried," writes Crenson..\.. The virtue of Crenson's book is that it is a close examination of the sea change that brought the welfare system into existence in the first place.... Impoverished children have always been [with us]; it was [problems] associated with the orphanage system that gave rise to the modern welfare system...[which in many ways may be seen as a gigantic] "invisible orphanage"..\..
[The story starts after the Civil War with the hordes...]
of street children in the increasingly populous and newly industrializing northern cities. Gradually [orphanages] undertook to rescue poor children from almshouses and slums as well. Most were private, sectarian institutions.... Child care was an expensive business, however, and by the 1870s, the states were paying substantial subsidies to many orphanages. With courts and county poorhouses making referrals, regulation by the state became a necessity, and state supervision of religious stewardship.... Orphanages were [still] developing bad reputations, however....
In response...the state sought ways of implementing...deinstitutionalization.... Massachusetts relied entirely on "placing out" - paying foster families to take in homeless children. But that was expensive too and had perils of its own. So reformers settled on the idea of "mothers' pensions" as the best solution to the problem. It was risky putting cash in the hands of indigent mothers...but "for the sake of innocent children..." [this was overlooked]. Not only was the "invisible orphanage" cheaper...but it appealed to both Catholics and Protestants. Thirty years and the Great Depression were required before the federal government accepted responsibility for the program from the pioneering states.
[Ah, how many reforms - in widely different fields - took that route! And then comes the first counter-intuitive insight -]
Thus it was the magnitude of American charity - not just the underdevelopment of the American state - that helped delay the emergence of a comprehensive welfare system, Crenson says....
[As we here at Timesizing.com looove to intone - you can't build sustainable economic progress on essentially capricious charity, and insofar as an economic design relies on charity, it is lethally flawed.]
Crenson is rather bleak in his views abot the policy that is at the heart of the 1996 welfare act...decentralized social experimentation. To my ear the news is fairly reassuring.... A universal work requirement can easily be seen as a universal right to work. So in the end the main effect of welfare reform...may be to establish the states as employers of last resort.
[Thus, counter-intuitive insight number 2. Here's hopin' it's so. But it too has historical precedents - in the early 1930s. What we really need is the breakthrough realization that without something new, the states are going to become the employers of first resort for the unskilled. And that "something new" has to be along the lines of a big nudge on the private sector needs to take care of its own labor "refuse" in the form of a heavy tax on overtime with a complete exemption for overtime-targeted, triggered, paced, and funded training and hiring. Then the states will really only be the employers of last resort and the tax revenues from the companies that want overtime without reinvestment in skills and jobs will fund the states' employment of last resort. But here comes insight 3 -]
The existence of an alternating cycle between centralization and pluralism in American politics has been a fact of life at least since Henry Adams enunciated it more than a century ago in his "History of the United States During the Administrations of Jefferson and Madison"....
[Let's sort out the munged paradigms here - we're cycling between a single, centralized, homogeneous approach on one hand and a pluralistic, decentralized/grassroots, diversified approach on the other. Again, as in sooo many areas. We end with Warsh's Wish -]
What I wish this holiday season is that there was a little less dot-com and a little more examination of the issues.
[We'uns here at Timesizing.com have both, but rather more of the latter, as our unpretentious graphics etc. betray.]

12/18  3 glimmers of hope -

  1. E.P.A. is ordering 392 plants to cut pollution in half - 12 states are affected - Action was sought by areas in East that need help in meeting air standards, by Matthew Wald, NYT, front page.
    The EPA [yesterday] ordered 392...mostly electrical generating stations to cut in half emissions of chemicals that drift with the wind and add to smog along the Eastern seaboard. The federal regulators acted under the Clean Air Act, at the request of New York, Connecticut, Massachusetts and Pennsylvania.... The plants are in states as far west as Indiana and as far south as North Carolina....

  2. [UNtakeover #1]
    Dun & Bradstreet unit is planning to cut 700 jobs, Reuters via NYT, B3.
    ...Dun & Bradstreet announced this week that it planned to spin off Moody's [Investors Service] into a separate company....

  3. [UNtakeover #2]
    Protocol Systems rejects $80m bid from Invivo, Dow Jones via NYT, B3.
    The Invivo Corp. offered yesterday to acquire Protocol Systems Inc., a rival maker of patient monitoring systems...but Protocol rejected the proposal....
12/17  6 glimmers of hope -
  1. [Full-page ad in today's NY Times by Québec independence advocates -]
    Shame on Ottawa! - Don't let Canada ever lecture anybody on human rights! - Ottawa wants to strangle Québec - Jean Chrétien, PM of Canada, has tabled a bill that would negate the fundamental right of the people of Québec to choose their own national destiny, by the ad-hoc Coalition of Grassroots NGOs United to Defend the Right of the People of Québec to Self-determination, NYT, A8a.
    Section titles - [Please excuse our sacrifice of acute accents to free-flowing idea expression from this point since our keyboard lacks the French/Québecois-language conveniences.
    [We here at Timesizing.com are an opinionated hotbed of AngloCanadian sentiment, and/but we support the idea that language-groups in general, and the Quebec French speakers in particular, have the fundamental right to determine whether they want to stay in a given national union/confederation, or opt out.
    [But we note that a lot of the moves that this ad protests were made by native-French-speaking Prime Ministers, like Trudeau in the past and Chretien today. So to a large extent, this is an internal Quebec matter and us Anglos should do what little we can to accommodate that discussion, but basically keep out of it.
    [However, there is one aspect of this discussion that does concern and involve us. On the Quebec passport during the last referendum on separatism, the whole of present-day Quebec was pictured, as indeed it is on today's full-page ad. This leads one to believe that the sponsors have no concern for the self-determination of the native peoples of the sparsely populated northern two thirds of the Quebec land mass, and fully intend to pull them out of Canada willynilly. This is a problem for us Anglos and for freedom lovers everywhere. Because we also support the fundamental right of self-determination for the native peoples of northern Quebec - and Ontario, and Canada in general, mainly Cree "indians" and Inuit "eskimos," who may not want to opt out of "Canada" - however we may define it. (Oh we forgot, the Canadian identity crisis is over now that we have a Canadian ethnic restaurant chain here in New England, the "Bugaboo Creek" Steak Houses - tho' they may be bogus since they lack the national Canadian food, the buttertart alias la tartelette au beurre.)
    [The rest of Canada is not going to go to war with an independent and separate Quebec over currency issues. Anglos and non-Francos in general are going to get pretty het up however when we're talking about affirming the independence principle for the French-speaking while violating it for the Cree- and Inuit-speaking communities.
    [There is an obvious solution here. Historically the northern two thirds of both Ontario and Quebec were originally Crown Lands and not part of the southern provinces until some time after Confederation in 1867 (as recently as 1919??). These vast tracts were granted to the southern provinces on the understanding that they would be part of Canada. If those southern parts are not going to be part of Canada, the original deal is off. So the creative solution to this ongoing rankling, on par with the recent creation of Nonuvut, is for Ottawa to hold less traumatic referendums of the native-majority lands of the sparsely inhabited northern two thirds of both Quebec AND Ontario, to demonstrate impartiality, giving the communities there the option of forming a large native-Canadian province ("Ungava"?) or territory, parallel to the present provinces or territories. This could be a single Ontario-Quebec entity, 2 separate Ontario AND Quebec entities, two separate Ont-Que Cree AND Ont-Que Inuit entities, just one of either of these two divisions (either one in either division), four entities if Ont and Que Cree and Inuit want to unzip from each other, or more than four entities if there are other large language groups in the area. The mainland portion (Labrador, La bras d'or) of Newfoundland might also be included in these possibilities and discussions. The discussion leading in to these less-drastic referendums would have more light than heat because we're just talking about divisions WITHIN Canada, not a division to move OUTSIDE of Canada.
    [Once the self-determination of the native communities of northern Ontario AND Quebec is assured and settled, we can then go into the more drastic referendums on the French communities located mainly in the southern third of Quebec. If the northern third has tossed its lot in with them, fine. If not, fine. In either case, the rest of Canada will regard the issue with a lot more equanimity and cooperation.
    [We know we've been mean to Quebekers in the past. We've been jerks, OK? Coming back on troopships from World War II, having fought side by side with great French Canadian regiments like the fighting vandooze (vingt-deux, 22nd), and docking in Montreal, the second-largest French speaking city in the world, if you spoke English, OK, normal, but if you spoke French, you felt you had to whisper. That's sad. And wrong. And it's the kind of feeling that has been driving this separatist thing in Quebec. They want to feel like first-class citizens in their own land, and if the only way they can do that is by a separate independence, we here at Timesizing.com, for whatever it's worth, say, more power to them! The rest of Canada will survive and prosper, and independent and separate Quebec will survive and prosper now they have a few generations of French-language MBAs graduated through the French-language universities of Quebec. It would even be nice if the French-dominated western third of New Brunswick teamed up with Quebec, tho' we understand that separatist sentiments there are not as strong as in Quebec proper. But hey, it's an obvious idea, as is a connection with the French islands of St. Pierre and Miquelon. And as we've said elsewhere in this vast website, there might be a really exciting click between Quebec and Haiti that would be creative as anything and constructive for both sides (11/10/99 in our clunker pages). Hey, this old world could use a lot more creativity and imagination, and relaxation and humor in its problem solving. Basically we want everybody to get what they want as smoothly and easily as possible, as long as it doesn't hurt other people. And there are a lot of situations in this old world where we could go a lot further on this child-like but profound goal.
    [And just for the record, now we're already this far out on "the thin ice of free advice," we deplore the teaching of Parisian French in Quebec schools. The Quebec range of accents are perfectly valid linguistically and we personally would opt for the beautiful conservative accent and idiom of the ancient walled city of the capital, Quebec City itself, as the teaching standard throughout the province/belle pays of Quebec. There's no sense pushing for first-class citizenship in your own land politically if you're going to perpetuate second-class citizenship linguistically. May the distinctive and enriching French language and culture of Quebec live long and prosper!]

  2. Utility regulator quits [to spend more time with her family], pointer headline, Boston Globe, C1, pointing to
    Chief utility regulator [Janet Besser] quits suddenly, by Peter Howe & Tina Cassidy, Bos Globe, C5.
    Stunning Beacon Hill and the state's business community, Massachusett's top regulator resigned yesterday, saying she wants to find a job that allows her to spend more time with her family.... "I am leaving with mixed feelings," she said, "but it's time for me to focus on my family and move on." Besser has a son, 6, and a daughter, 3....
    [Congratulations on your courageous decision, Janet. If we want deeper family values, we must have more family time. If we want more freedom, we must have more of the most basic freedom, free time.]

  3. [1 UPsizing]
    Intel to pour $800m into Mass. plant - Firm plans to hire 450 [37.5%] after Hudson upgrade, by Hiawatha Bray, Bos Globe, C1.
    ...$800m over the next 2 years to overhaul its chip plant in Hudson.... The factory already employs about 1,200 workers....
    [Now let's demo the bidrectionality of our proposal - this 37.5% additional hiring could be avoided by an 37.5% increase in the company workweek - to 55 hours a week. That's the kind of hours a lot of people are working anyway, especially people on salary whom companies don't have to pay overtime. This level is what timesizing company Lincoln Electric of Cleveland climbed to as their market increased in the 1970s, because when it dropped 40% in 1982, they started a long one-hour-a-month reduction in their workweek that avoided any layoffs and didn't stop till all their divisions had reached a 32-hour workweek two years later. Of course, Lincoln employees got paid for the extra hours because they're almost all on piecework, not wagework. In terms of future public policy, this kind of upward flexibility would only be allowed at lower levels in the workweek unless a small nation was under serious threat from outside.]

  4. [UNtakeover #1]
    Abbott drops plan to buy Alza, blaming FTC antitrust concern, by David Morrow, NYT, C23.
    Continuing in its string of recent public misfortunes...the nation's largest maker of medical diagnostic devices..\..said yesterday that it was abandoning its $7.3b acquisition of...a leading developer of drug delivery technologies..\..because of antitrust opposition from the Federal Trade Commission....
    [Three cheers for the FTC!]

  5. [UNtakeover #2]
    FTC fears lead Ahold to end Pathmark deal, Bloomberg via Boston Globe, C4.
    ZAANDAM, Netherlands - Royal Ahold NV, Europe's 3rd-biggest food retailer, has canceled its $1.75B purchase of N.J.'s Pathmark Stores Inc. after "strong opposition" from US regulators, it said yesterday.
    [It seems that the FTC and the vital antitrust function in the USA may at last be awakening.]
    Ahold, which purchased Giant Food Inc. last year and own 9 US chains, including Quincy, Mass.-based Stop & Shop Supermarket Co., said the FTC rejected its offer to sell stores to eliminate overlaps with its own Edwards supermarkets. FTC officials suggested doing that wouldn't preserve competition.
    [And besides, if they're going to merge only on condition of splitting up, WHY MERGE in the first place?! It's time these cash/credit-rich companies realized that they'd be better off reinvesting in their own markets via their own employees' wages, instead of continuing to diminish their own markets by merging and downsizing. But we have a systematic way to bring that about, since we all know they'll all ruin themselves with depression before they do it on their own.]

  6. [UNtakeover #3]
    Cruise bidding war ending, Reuters via NYT, C4.
    The Carnival Corp. abandoned its quest to buy the Norwegian cruise line NCL Holding, the 4th-largest operator. Carnival said it would allow its hostile bid, which was worth $1.7B, to expire next Wed.
12/16/99  3 glimmers of hope -
  1. Grants given for environment, by Andrew Revkin, NYT, C29.
    Seeking to stem the loss of undeveloped land in the Northeast, the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation will give $14m to projects protecting fields, marshes and forests in New Jersey and Rhode Island, the most densely populated states in the country....
    [Good for Doris Duke.]

  2. Board gains seen for women - But growth at top 500 US firms slow, poll says, by Diane Lewis, Boston Globe, D1.
    Women now hold 11.2% of all board seats [685 out of 6120] in Fortune 500 companies, up from 8.3% six years ago when a New York research group [Catalyst] began monitoring their progress....

  3. [1 UNtakeover]
    Merger deal falls apart, by Patricia Lauro, NYT, C13.
    Euro RSCG Worldwide in New York, which said in Feb. that it planned to acquire a majority stake in Citron Haligman Bedecarré [ad agency] in San Francisco, said yesterday that the deal had been called off. "We just had too many differences," said Teri Everett, a spokeswoman at Euro RSCG, part of Havas Advertising....
    [Very wise.]

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