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Timesizing News, Aug. 1-7, 2003
[Commentary] ©2003 Phil Hyde, Timesizing.com, Box 622, Porter Sq, Cambridge MA 02140 USA 617-623-8080


8/07/2003  primitive timesizing & worktime consciousness in the news = glimmers of strategic hope -

  1. Rpt - Update 3 - Hyundai Mtr strike ends, deal worries investors (repeats to remove extraneous word in paragraph 7), by Kim Yeon-hee, Reuters 08/06/03 07:05 ET via AOLNews.
    SEOUL...- Nearly seven weeks of strikes at Hyundai Motor that cost South Korea's biggest car maker $1.2B in lost output ended on Wednesday, but the strike-ending deal to hike wages 8.6% worried investors....
    [...and made jobs less secure, in contrast with the last-mentioned "additional" deal buried in the sixth paragraph -]
    Hyundai Motor also agreed not to lay off workers without the union's consent and to allow the union a bigger role in management decisions, in addition to reducing the working week to 40 hours from 42 hours....
    [This is the first we've heard of a current 42-hour workweek. In all previous stories, it's been stated or implied that the current workweek is 44 hours, like the South Korean workweek in general. Well, there's a longstanding rule in textual criticism - when you're comparing two divergent ancient texts and trying to figure out which one is closer to the original - that goes LEGIUS DIFFICILIOR POTEST = read-to-be difficulter potent-let-it = let the more difficult reading prevail. The more difficult version of the current workweek is 42 hours, not 44, because they were always talking about a reduction from 5½ working days (= 44 hrs) to 5. No one ever mentioned 42 (= 5¼-day week??) in the Reuters or AP despatches before, so 42 is too bizarre to be wrong.]
    ...The strikes by nearly 40,000 unionised workers lasted for 47 days. They were demanding wage increases [mistake!] and better working conditions.
    [Shorter hours spread the robotics-shrinking employment and maintain or enhance job security and bargaining power. Wage increases in the midst of an economywide (indeed worldwide!) labor glut, buck market forces and cut job security and bargaining power. There's nothing to prevent Hyundai from moving more of these jobs now to China or India.]
    According to the company, Hyundai's hourly wages before the pay increase were 23,000 won ($19.39), including extra items like allowances and bonuses, which significantly boost base pay. Company or union officials could not give hourly wage figures after the increase, but the introduction of a shorter workweek would make workers eligible for more overtime allowances, and the actual hourly wages would likely rise past $20, eroding the cost advantage Korean automakers enjoy over their U.S. rivals. U.S. autoworkers were paid $25.63 an hour in the second quarter of 2003, according to the Union of Auto Workers. Before the pay hike, Hyundai wages were about 75% of those [of] Japanese car workers....
    [Now is the time for world labor to focus on strategic, shorter-hours-based reduction of wage&consumption shrinking under- and un-employment, not hurting themselves by demanding short-term raises that mean more layoffs fewer consumers and more under&un-employment in the longer term.]

  2. America's incredible shrinking vacation - We have a stunning capacity for turning everything into work, op ed by Ellen Goodman, Boston Globe, A19.
    CASCO BAY, Maine - Back in the days when...the word "e-mail" was a typo, the "working vacation" was nothing more than an oxymoron. After all, you were either vacationing or working. On the job or off.
    Now..\..the "working vacation" [has] become an emblem of the American economy and George Bush, its current CEO, is spending this month as a role model on his...ranch.... This has raised the ire of the likes of Sen. Robert Byrd, who thundered, "Who's watching the White House?" But it's also raised the dismay of others who watch the vacationer-in-chief conducting business and attending fund-raisers and ask, "Is he having any fun yet?"
    ...An earlier Republican president under the spell of the Maine ocean breezes came out in favor of two or three months worth of vacation.... William Howard Taft [1908-1912] said it was "necessary in order to enable one to continue his work the next year with that energy and effectiveness which it ought to have." Admittedly, the rotund Taft was a bit of hedonist in the food department but it shows how far we've drifted on a summer tide [or was it a wintry, downsizing-borne, job-anxiety tide?!] from real vacation.
    Americans have always been a touch suspicious of leisure. Our Puritan patriarchs not only famously regarded idle hands as the devil's workshop, they believed the grindstone cleared the path to salvation. We've long been wary of both the idle rich and the idle poor as threats to our democracy.
    [But we've also been wary of citizens too overworked to inform themselves of the issues and vote intelligently.]
    In the early 20th century a few hard-working researchers declared that a little time off was a good thing. Not surprisingly, they decided that "brain workers" needed a rest from days spent laboring in the minds, while physical workers could do without it [= physical work?]. The idea of vacations finally caught on in the middle and working classes [when?], but it was never codified into the law [in the U.S., but it was codified into law in every other developed country!]
    Now we arrive at the summer of the incredible shrinking American vacation. It's predicted that we'll take 10% less time off than last year, and last year was no week at the beach.
    Americans have notoriously fewer vacation days than workers in any other industrialized country. While Europeans get 4 or 5 [or 6!] weeks paid leave by law, and even the Chinese get three weeks, we average about 8 days after a year with one company and 10 days after 3 years.   13% of American companies offer no paid vacation at all.
    Even more remarkable than how few days we get is how few we take.
    [Here Ellen relies on a Journal article we covered on 7/30/2003 #1.]
    We essentially give back $21 million in time owed but not taken.
    [Ellen Ellen Ellen, that's $21 BILLION, not million.]
    And in an Expedia poll, 1 out of 5 workers said they feel guilty taking vacations.
    So, which came first in the great vacation deprivation: the economy or the culture? Insecurity or guilt? The work ethic or the whip?
    There's no doubt that a shaky economy breeds fear that any vacation could be permanent. Labor economist Barry Bluestone at Northeastern University points to a changing and insecure economy as the biggest factor. After all, he says, "We always had the Protestant work ethic...." But then the tenured Bluestone confessed to being on a working vacation himself.
    Joe Robinson, founder of a *grassroots campaign to get a minimum of 3 weeks of paid leave, also acknowledges the role of cultural attitudes that teach "our esteem and self-worth can only come from producing and doing tasks all day."
    Americans do have a stunning capacity for turning everything into work. If you don't believe that, think about the waiters everywhere who approach your table with the...question: "Are you still working on that?" They make it sound as if chewing pasta was an onerous job....
    We not only work out, we play hard, instead of [light/lite]. It's the [pattern] that turns vacations into work.
    The irony is that "working vacation" came into the lingo [as a joke]. Now the ruse has become a reality. Fully equipped with the toys of email, voicemail [and] cellphones, labor trumps leisure. It's the reason why 83% of vacationers, tethered by technology and anxiety and expectations, check in [with] the office.
    [Wonder where she got that figure?]
    So here we are. A working vacation...means standing on the beach talking to your clients. And it means - trust me on this - sitting at a laptop looking at words on a screen instead of an ocean view.
    The blessing is that we can now have a vacation without the guilt. [The curse is that it's also actually] without the vacation. [What about] rest, recreation and time off? Well, fellow Americans, we're still working on that.

  3. May take years to take up slack in U.S. economy, by Andrea Hopkins, Reuters 08/06/03 11:47 ET via AOLNews.
    [Well, that's one way of saying it. But to snap us out of Passive Mode, maybe we should just admit we're in the Great Depression Revisited, but with a lot more media Prozac to keep us grinning, glassy-eyed, and chanting, "Don't worry, be happy.... Don't worry, be happy...."]
    WASHINGTON... - The long-suffering U.S. economy may have finally shaken off the dust of the 2001 recession,
    ["Long-suffering" - like we're the passive victims of this Act of God - that we created by our stupid acceptance of downsizing - as if we could cut our workforce without cutting our consumer markets. "Recession" - as a matter of fact, eyes-against-the-page analysts perceived several "recessions" that we drifted in and out of during the Depression years, 1929-41, and you know what it took to really get us out that time.]
    but analysts warn leftover slack in employment and production [and consumption dba markets! - they always omit the most important one] will work against a quick and decisive rebound.
    [It will even work against a slow and indecisive rebound.]
    Signs of a pickup in business investment [= more slack in productivity] and manufacturing [= more slack in production], combined with tax cuts [for the rich = more slack in investment] and very low interest rates [= less consumption by those on fixed incomes] have many convinced the economy will accelerate through the rest of the year, and into 2004.
    [What are they smoking? There is a major disconnect in the minds of present-day economists and B-schools between the workforce and the consumer base, which, if they think of it at all, they imagine to be completely unrelated. So they don't even grasp the nature of the primary economic problem of their lifetimes. They are like the scientists of the 16-17th centuries in their attempts to make the last gains in time-keeping accuracy to enable the calculation of longitude. "The last gains are the hardest," and in clocks, the remaining sources of error were temperature and friction. But regarding temperature's effect on the length and period of pendulum's, for instance, "it was not easy for the scientists of the day to grasp the nature of the problem" because "for one thing, they were not always ready to accept the fact of temperature effects on solids." And this included the famed Christiaan Huygens. However, "craftsmen, unhampered by theory, knew better." (From David Landes' "Revolution in Time," 132-33.) Similarly, certain frontline employers and employees know better about downsizing and timesizing than the economists or mgmt profs.]
    But with unemployment hovering near 9-year highs and more than a quarter of industrial capacity idle [and they're imagining signs of a pickup in business investment and mfg??], it could be years before the economy is at full steam. "My guess is we could probably grow at 6-7% for a couple of years before we would effectively get rid of excess capacity and fully utilize our labor force," Harvey Rosenblum, director of research at the Dallas Federal Reserve, said in a recent speech.
    [Laud Gawd, when's the last time we saw 6-7% growth in America? He must be joking.]
    The capacity glut is a product of the late 1990s, when corporate America poured investment into new plants, equipment and technology - unaware that a slump was looming.
    [So passive. This Act of God, this Slump, totally unpredictable and no fault of theirs, was "looming." As if corporate America itself had not created the slump by responding to 60 years of worksaving technology with a fixed workweek and massive downsizing. The capacity glut was not a product of the late 90s, but a product of 30 years of layoffs and 60 years of workweek inflexibility.]
    "We had a period where we just went too far,
    [this is SUCH a vacuous statement that totally ignores the outlook and mentality of the expansion, and yet a statement that's repeated thousands of times by hundreds of economists, parrotting our prevailing, partitioned-brain party line.]
    and when you're coming off a bubble [at least she calls it a bubble, not a boom] you're going to have a lot of excess capacity to work off," said Diane Swonk, economist at Bank One in Chicago.
    [Ah, doesn't she mean "sell" off?! Working [aka producing] regardless of demand is the whole reason we're into this excess capacity.]
    The slack has been a huge obstacle to post-recession recovery [oops, we're back into defining recession and recovery purely with reference to supply-side production regardless of employment dba consumer demand], allowing companies to meet any rises in demand without building new plants [ie: increasing employment and demand] or hiring workers [ie: increasing employment and demand].
    [Stay tuned - this is iteration #1 of this sentiment.]
    Employers have also attacked inefficiencies, raising productivity by more than 2% a year with the same or smaller workforces.
    [Smaller workforce, smaller consumer base, smaller markets. Can we connect the dots at last? Fixed-workweek capitalism has a major problem with efficiency - it just can't figure out how to attack inefficiencies without attacking its own markets. And it's not initially "the slack" that has been "a huge obstacle to post-recession recovery." It's the thing that caused the slack, namely the standard downsizing response to constantly incoming technological improvements in efficiency and productivity. As Reuther retorted to Ford's "Let's see you unionize these robots!" - "Let's see you sell them cars."]
    DOING MORE WITH LESS
    [Ah, a great Bucky Fuller hobbyhorse.]
    Policy-makers admit the impressive productivity gains in the wake of the recession have cost jobs.
    [And markets. And therefore, said "impressive productivity gains" are meaningless, because the product can't be sold and the productivity is wasted, adding to the "more than a quarter of industrial production capacity idle" (see above). Hello hello, economists, mgmt profs - any sign of intelligent life in this area of your brains? Any flickerings of activity in the gray cells where there should be a synapse between "productivity" and "marketability"? Then we get a quote from Greenspan, to parrot the point about rising efficiency and demand-meetability (=productivity) not only without hiring (to increase demand downstream) but with actual firing (thus decreasing downstream demand) -]
    "One consequence of these improvements in efficiency has been an ability of many businesses to pare existing workforces and still meet increases in demand," Fed Chairman Alan Greenspan told Congress in July.
    [Iteration #2. Boy, these chimpanzees go round and round the problem, don't they - without a clue how to grasp it, let alone solve it. Like gibbons walking again and again into glass doors. (No, that's probably an insult to gibbons.) They just can't get out of the box and expand their vision to take in the worktime framework of the market. Only in that expanded view is it possible to solve the conflict between our desire for an efficient workforce and our need for consumers and markets. It's like they keep going back to "the Moon goes around the Earth" - therefore "the Sun and the planets go around the Earth." Then why the occasional backward motion of the planets? "They must have retrograde epicycles." Big words cover a multitude of small thinking. How long did it take Copernicus and Galileo to get it through people's heads that if "the Moon goes around the Earth" and "the Earth and planets go around the Sun," the backward motion of the planets disappears into an illusion created by the planets' heliocentric motion as seen from the all-the-while heliocentrically moving Earth. Similarly, economists keep coming back to "productivity is the thing" - "everything revolves around productivity, the GDP, the Gross Domestic Product." But that means that "if we produce it, it will sell." In short, production implies, nay, compels consumption, and supply implies, nay, compels demand. But that flouts the whole free-market theory of balancing supply and demand, especially if we start ignoring prices - or if we start rigidifying prices. It's not the mere fact of production and productivity that the economic universe revolves round (a view that lends itself sooo smoothly to assuming that investors and investment (dba technology) are the center of the universe, and employees - and even consumers/customers - are secondary and even optional or unnecessary = the "New Economy"). It's the balance between supply and demand, production and consumption that is the center of the economic universe, and if we want efficiency without overproduction, we must stand back and notice that the free market is framed and defined, as any game is defined, by the equal shares that the players start with and then continue with as equals (such as Monopoly game piece and access to the dice and board), as well as the equal shares that the players start with and then diverge with (such as Monopoly money). Sports leagues want to continue indefinitely so they reset all teams to zero-games-won each season. Monopoly wants to end, so it never resets all players to $200-starting-money. The fact that our economy is dismantling graduated taxes and attacking estate taxes means that it's changing from an indefinitely continuable (ecologese: 'sustainable') game to an ending ('unsustainable') game. The one defining variable that can immediately prolong and continue the game during our lifetimes is the "game piece of work," that is, worktime per person per period, e.g., the workweek. If everyone is guaranteed, throughout the indefinitely ongoing game, of a game piece (e.g., a marketable skill) and access to the dice and board (e.g., a guaranteed range of working hours per week), then the game can actually go on indefinitely. If not, fixed-workweek capitalism will die in its own waste. First, it will waste money and people. The money will funnel up into the top income brackets and concentrate beyond spendability and eventually (as now and 1929) beyond profitable (or even sustainable) investability. And the people will pool down into parasitism via unemployment and welfare and disability and homelessness and prisons and suicide. Second, fixed-workweek capitalism will waste time efficiency and technological innovation. Time and efficiency will be wasted because every efficient work-saving will have to be countered with busywork and makework and job creation in order to maintain the fixed workweek - an impossible task judging from the pooling of people into parasitism mentioned above. And technology and innovation will be wasted because we'll never get its life-easing benefit, since we can never allow it to deliver on its promise of additional and secure free time. Thus our only progress will be superficial technological whizbang, graphics and computer games, while the huge old problems of our world go on and on - unemployment, poverty, starvation, and because so few have the money to access medical technology, diseases and epidemics. Now finally to the worktime part of this article -]
    Macquarie Equities interest-rate strategist Rory Robertson said it is not just total jobs that have fallen, but also the level of aggregate hours worked - down 5.4% from the peak in October 2000.
    [Note by the frequent sneering by mainstream economists against the "Lump of Labor Fallacy," it should be impossible for the level of aggregate hours worked to do anything but increase. Their ridicule of the very idea of a fixed "lump" of what they should be calling employment, not labor, is far, far from accepting data that appears to show aggregate employment is actually shrinking. Yet here it is, spouted by one of their partitioned-brain followers in the investment business - yet another theory-contradicting "epicycle" for them to contend with. And don't miss the fact that they're suddenly looking at an aggregate pool of market-demanded worktime, potentially fluidly shareable. And then we get the same must-be-unbelievable-cuz-we-repeat-it-so-much conclusion a third time -]
    So even when the economy starts to hum [doncha love that simple faith?! "gimme dat ol' time religion!"], employers can initially increase work hours rather than hire new workers or re-open plants to meet demand.
    [Iteration #3. This sentence seems to indicate that many, many existing workers are working less than the 40 hours a week and therefore can have their hours easily expanded if and when demand magically restores itself. The general decrease in hours bespeaks an economy-wide private-sector timesizing or hours reduction instead of further economy-wide private-sector downsizing = a glimmer of dawn?]
    "Stronger productivity is a great thing when you're adding new workers [aka consumers] as well. But if the productivity growth really is just companies cutting back their workforce [and that's all it is, pal!], it is not as obviously beneficial to the economy," Robertson said.
    [Gee, a standard-brained analyst fighting his way through toward connecting the dots between "employee" and "consumer"! Not only is productivity based on downsizing not obviously beneficial, a word he sticks in because he's dimly aware he's contradicting party line and spouting heresy. It's not covertly beneficial either. It's not beneficial at all because it's unmarketable. There's no demand for it, no customers, no consumers. By cutting the workforce, its cutting, not growing, consumption, which will shortly come round to trivialize it as "excess capacity."]
    Since the recession ended in Nov/2001 [ri-i-ight], economic growth [strangely here meaning "consumption growth"] has struggled [ie: failed] to keep pace with productivity gains, prompting a wave of job cuts.
    [Thus putting the cart before the horse and treating cause as effect. This sentence gives us a clue about the cognitive dysfunction of standard economics and management "science" - they take consumption as a stand-alone mysterious Act of God that has nothing, ahsay NUTHIN, to do with employment to begin with. Thus it's available to come round and bite poor innocent little downsizing executives for no reason at all, at unpredictable, inexplicable random moments - and "force" them, right out of the blue, into, not ANOTHER wave of jobcuts as they've been doing all along, oh no - just a wave of job cuts, as if they'd never so much as THOUGHT of such a terrible 'necessity' before. "Quirky consumers!"]
    Still, Bank One's Swonk believes political pressure to cut unemployment before the 2004 election [how dey gonna do dat, Swonk?], combined with a central bank determined to keep interest rates low [as if that's made any difference so far], may burn up [ie: buy down] excess capacity more rapidly than expected.
    [Aside from the magical powers attributed to politics here, at least La Swonke seems to have connected some dots between lower unemployment, higher employment, more employees, more consumers, more purchases, and less unused capacity.]
    "I think we're going to be surprised at how fast the output gap evaporates in the next couple of years," Swonk said.
    ["Hope springeth eternal in the human breast." All we can say to that is, Dream on. And dream on she does, ignoring the effects of that outa-the-blue wave of job cuts 'prompted' by the struggle/failure of economic/consumption growth to keep pace with productivity gains - and how could it until our CEOs stop responding to every technological productivity gain by downsizing, instead of timesizing -]
    "Given the fiscal [but taxcuts for the rich will just worsen things] and monetary [but low rates are no ops] stimulus that we have in the pipeline, and you ladle a little currency weakness on top of it [but, exports to a world that itself is desperate to export??] ... by the end of...2005 I think we'll be looking at a very very different story. [Sure, sure, Diane.] Instead of output gaps, we'll be taking about inflation fears," she added.
    [There there, Diane. Sit down. Everything will be all right. Sure we'll have inflation, dear. Even without consumers(?)!]

8/06/2003  primitive timesizing & worktime consciousness in the news = glimmers of strategic hope -
  1. Hyundai Motor, union reach agreement on wages, Reuters 08/05/03 19:23 ET via AOLNews.
    SEOUL...- Hyundai Motor Co, South Korea's biggest car maker, said on Wednesday it had reached...an agreement with its labour union over wages and working conditions.
    The company's union confirmed the agreement and said it would stop partial strikes from Wednesday.
    "We have reached an agreement with the management last night, including the introduction of a 5-day workweek from Sept.1," Chang Gyu-ho, a spokesman for the company's union, told Reuters by telephone.
    [and the AP version -]
    Hyundai Motor employees end strike, AP 08/05/03 22:16 EDT via AOLNews.
    SEOUL, South Korea - Unionized workers at Hyundai Motor Co. ended their monthlong strike that crippled operations at the nation's largest car maker, company officials said Wednesday. The workers stopped striking after management agreed to wage hikes and a shorter workweek.
    ...A partial strike began on June 25, shutting the company's factories for 6-8 hours a day. On Tuesday, the union and the management in principle agreed to raising wages by 8.6% and offered bonuses. The workers will work five days each week starting Sept. 1. Most South Koreans work a half day on Saturday.
    The agreement between union leaders and the management will become final after unionized workers vote on the agreements this week, a company official said. The agreement was expected to pass. Due to the strike, parts were not delivered to the company's assembly plants in countries like Russia, Malaysia, Egypt from mid-June and caused production losses of more than 210B won ($177m)..\.. The company has incurred about 1.3T won ($1B) in production losses since [the] partial strike began....

  2. N.Y. Public Library asks patrons for help, by Deepti Hajela, AP 08/05/03 02:18 EDT via AOLNews.
    NEW YORK - Brother, can you spare a dime? How about 170 or so? The New York Public Library would be happy to take them. The library, whose city funding was severely cut two years ago, is embarking on a 3-year emergency campaign to raise $18m for programming, books and material at its 85 branches and 4 research libraries.... Linda Bloom, a mother of two young children who is a frequent visitor to a branch library in Manhattan, said she had to work around reduced hours and book shortages....

  3. [A suspected timesizing -]
    Audi's first-half net fell 25% as caution is aired in forecast, Dow Jones via WSJ, D4.
    ...Audi, of Ingolstadt, Germany...is seeking to improve internal processes and increase production efficiency to cut costs, a spokesman said. The car maker isn't planning to lay off staff or reduce production capacity, he said....
    [Hmm, if they're increasing productivity without layoffs, maybe they've discovered the secret of ... timesizing.]

8/05/2003  primitive timesizing & worktime consciousness in the news = glimmers of strategic hope -
  1. Mexico: Volkswagen cuts production, by Elisabeth Malkin, NYT, W1.
    Volkswagen de Mexico has begun production cuts at its plant in the state of Puebla that threaten to eliminate 2,000 jobs from the company's only North American factory.
    [It's not often you hear Mexico grouped together with Canada as "North American." ...Talks between the union and management continue in an effort to save the jobs. A company spokesman said that in principle both sides have agreed to a reduced workweek but details on pay and benefits need to be determined.
    [2,000 jobs saved - so far = timesizing to avoid downsizing. No external pressure is mentioned anywhere in the short article however. It's all presented as an 'Act of God.']
    ..\..Overall production has fallen from 1,360 cars a day to 1,100.
    ["Has fallen" - as if top executives didn't cut it.]
    ..\..Volkswagen ended production of the Beetle last week and it is also reducing output of its Jetta, New Beetle and New Beetle Cabriolet models because of reduced demand in the U.S....
    [Oh there it is at last. And naturally, it's our fault in the U.S. - we're not buying enough of these overpriced little items. But we're not buying enough because we've been downsizing instead of timesizing just as VW threatens to do. Ergo all our spending money is carefully funnelled to the top income brackets where it has changed into investing money desperately looking for something profitable to invest in, despite the global lack of robust markets.]

  2. [and what are our plutocrats doing? - on the Dem side, desperately trying to figure out what will make them look like plebs, of course -]
    Kerry to launch overtime protest over Web, by Mike Glover, AP 08/04/03 09:26 EDT via AOLNews.
    DES MOINES, Iowa - Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry plans an Internet-based petition drive that is intended to protest the Bush administration's proposal to tighten overtime pay standards. The Massachusett's senator was using a Monday meeting with labor activists to get the effort under way by putting the first signature on the protest petition on his campaign's website.
    In remarks prepared for delivery at the event, Kerry warns that as many as 8m workers, including firefighters and police officers, could lose the ability to collect time-and-a-half pay for time they work beyond 40 hours a week. "For more than 60 years, the 40-hour workweek and overtime pay have protected workers from exploitation and rewarded hard work," the text, provided Sunday to The Associated Press [AP], said.
    [There's the problem with the workweek cap a la 1938 Fair Labor Standards Act [FLSA] in a nutshell. It supposedly "protects" them from being worked hard while incentivating them to work hard. It's a poorly designed double message. Our design is in Phase Two and Phase Three, which answer the questions, How do you let non-monetary deflationary incentive run free up the hours while blocking monetary incentive at a societally determined threshold and redirecting it to skill-upgrade training? And, how do you get skill bottlenecks to be self-resolving?]
    "But under the radar screen, while everyone's attention was focused elsewhere, George Bush has launched a sneak attack on basic worker rights."...
    Kerry was following in the footsteps of one of his Democratic rivals by using the Internet for his latest effort. Former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean has used the Internet aggressively to build a network of 200,000 volunteers and surpass his Democratic rivals in raising money, much of it generated online.
    Dean campaign manager Joe Trippi dismissed Kerry's move as nothing more than a copy of the Dean campaign, but he warned it will take more than the Internet for Kerry [to] gain. "It's about the message and the messenger," Trippi said.

  3. [and wuzzup in workaholic US-copying UK? -]
    Sunkissed Britain faces possible hottest week ever, Reuters 08/04/03 04:13 ET via AOLNews.
    ...Forecasters also predicted widespread absence from work during the week with employees "pulling sickies" to enjoy the fine weather. "I'd be tempted to pull a sickie - especially in London"..\..a spokesman for the Meteorological Office told Reuters on Monday.... "It's going to be quite humid and sultry and unpleasant for travelling to and from work - although air-conditioned offices will be some of the best places to be."

8/02-04/2003  primitive timesizing & worktime consciousness in the news = glimmers of strategic hope -
  1. [Here's one that demoes more hidden costs of 'skimming&charity capitalism' vs. our proposed worksharing capitalism -]
    8/03 In tight market, interns struggle to keep free work, by Farah Stockman, Boston Globe, B1, flagged by Cambridge MA activist, Terry Crystal.
    [Misleading headline - actually they're struggling to find part-time jobs to support themselves while they enslave themselves in unpaid internships for the sake of training or credentialling.]
    ...This year, the unpaid internship - long a rite of passage [is that like Slavery as an Initiation Rite?] for students across the country - has become increasingly difficult to maintain. The seasonal laborers who flock to Boston for the chance to put in long hours [huh? - how about just "regular hours"?!] for no pay face stiffer competition, longer commutes, and less money from side jobs to make ends meet than in the past, according to interns, their employers, and industry specialists.
    As young people face what some call the toughest job market [since] 1948, the earliest year for which US Dept. of Labor statistics are available..\., many students have opted to hold down one or even two paying jobs in addition to the internship - if they can find them. All in hopes of gaining an edge on the job market in the future [via the training &/or credentialling thereof].
    [The wording Farah keeps using here, the "toughest job market in 55 years," is also misleading, because the job market was not the worst in 1948 with 3.8% unemployment trending down to 1.2% in war-primed 1944. Job market 'toughness' actually peaked in 1938 at the 19% unemployment (UE) which the New Deal slipped back to before timesizing was finally resorted to from late '38 to '40 that brought UE back down 1% for each of the 4 hours (44 to 40) cut from the workweek, and even worse, in 1933 at the 25% joblessness the Great Depression accomplished at its worst, before the debt&bureaucracy®ulation-intensive New-Deal attempt to block timesizing brought UE briefly down to 14.2% in 1937.]
    "In an increasingly distressing economy, more and more people are willing to put great effort into their internship, whether it is the internship commute, working longer hours [fatal!], or the willingness to work for no pay ["the prisoner loves his chains"]," said Mark Oldman, coauthor of "The Internship Bible" and found of [mortuary?] Vault, a company that provides career information to job and internship seekers. "These days, job seekers are grateful just to have the opportunity to have an office to go to, with the faith that a salary will follow."
    [And these days, "faith" is definitely "the evidence of things not seen" (Hebrews 11:1).]
    ...Lucia Bartholomew [a] Williams College senior, opted to earn nothing at a full-time internship [at] Interlock Media, a nonprofit company in Cambridge that produces files about human rights and the environment \and\ that could [theoretically] give her an advantage in her dream career in the film industry. But after a month of working late nights and weekends [this should be completely illegal, pay or no pay] on show books and marketing for Interlock, Bartholomew told her managers that she could no longer afford to work so many hours for free. Her parents had just sold their house in upstate New York and money was tight at home.
    [If they just sold their house, why weren't they flush?]
    Now, Bartholomew puts in 3 days a week at her internship. She spends the rest of her time working the 5 am shift as a receptionist at a gym and serving ice cream at a job she was grateful to score on Thursdays.... While [she] struggles to hang onto her internship, 7 of [Interlock's] 20 interns have left because of similar financial woes, according to her boss, Jonathan Schwartz, director of Interlock [who aught to be arrested for chattel slavery and violation of the workweek cap intentions of the Fair Labor Standards Act]. In past years, the firm's summer interns could count on help from Interlock with housing and food...and - for about a quarter of them - stipends of $1,000-2,000. But this year, resources are so scarce that the company can't fund any of that, Schwartz said.
    Andrew Sum, director of Northeastern University's Center for Labor Market Studies, said that more young people are willing to take unpaid positions and more employers are cutting compensation because job prospects for young people are the worst they have been since World War II.
    [See what we mean? World War II was GREAT for young people if you weren't in the military. It was 1938 and worse, 1933, that were terrible.]
    In Massachusetts, the unemployment rate among teens 16-19 jumped to 14% from about 9% the previous 2 years, according to the US Dept. of Labor. But these figures don't show the full scope of the problem, Sum said, because they count teens actively looking for work and leave out those who have already given up.
    [Same kind of undercount as the general unemployment rate.]
    At 36.4% last month, the national youth employment rate stands at its lowest point since...the earliest year for which...statistics are available [1948]. The bad economy translates into more young people willing to volunteer and stiffer competition for unpaid jobs....
    ["Unpaid jobs" is an oxymoron. Terry thought this article should be called "Jumping through more hoops" as in 'bashing your consumer base even further.' Phil thought it should be called, "Happy Slaves in America Multiplying."   Compare -]
    8/03 Game after [computer] game helped shift away tedium [& misery] of the day, by Chelsea Lowe, Boston Globe, G13.
    ...nonprofit fund-raising...telephoning strangers [at] supper[time]....
    [It's getting time we eliminate the increasingly irritating and market-distorting 'nonprofit' category and sector.]

  2. 8/03 How sweet joblessness can appear in hindsight, by Penelope Trunk, Boston Globe, G1.
    [Substitute "leisure" for "joblessness" and this headline makes sense. Funny how few American neo-cons, for all their hypocritical lipservice to "freedom," don't have a clue about the most basic kind of freedom that makes possible all the others ... free time.]
    ...After a layoff, my friend Jenny got used to unemployment pretty quickly. She'd jobhunt for a few hours [say 3] - which is in fact a lot to do without driving yourself insane. And then she'd have about 12 hours left in the day.
    [No, just 8-3= five (5) hours left in the workday!]
    She started using that time to do loathsome tasks that one cannot possibly get done when one has a [40+ hour/week] job: Then she started making plans to see friends in the middle of the day.
    Then in addition to the band she plays with at night, she joined an all-girl band that practices in the afternoon.
    [All stuff that we should all, ALWAYS, have time for with all the worksaving technology we have, and all stuff that we WOULD have time for if we insisted that employer response to technology must be trimming hours, not chopping jobs.]
    When Jenny finally landed a [job] offer, she said to me, "I can't take a job. I don't have time."...
    [Hey, baby, *Take Back Your Time Day on October 24 was invented for YOU.]

  3. [More worktime disfunction in America -]
    8/03 Adv02-03 [sic, evidently reflects a software glitch], by Deborah Kong, AP 08/02/03 00:08 EDT via AOLNews.
    SOUTH EL MONTE, Calif. - Maria Garcia likes gazing out at her tranquil backyard [orchard] that she, her husband and 7 kids planted after they bought their house 5 years ago.... But these days, like other people in this Southern California suburb, the Garcias are worried about keeping their property.... They're struggling to make their $981 mortgage payment. Garcia's husband, Jose, lost his job of 18 years at a poulty plant last summer. Recently, he found a temporary position transporting auto equipment, but he must work longer hours for $1,200 a month [<$300/wk] - about $400 less than his old job.
    [The Third World is here, and spreading.]
    His is one of many examples of underemployment and joblessness in an economic downturn that has been especially tough on minorities. According to national statistics, the June jobless rate for Hispanics was 8.4%, its highest in 6 years. For blacks, it was 11.8%, more than twice that of whites. ...Joblessness among blacks is rising at its fastest pace since the mid 1970s. ...Said Roberto Suro, director of the Pew Hispanic Center..."When you have 3 years like these...you have people who are falling back into poverty or into more of a lower working class."
    South El Monte [is a] city of about 21,000, which is about 80% Hispanic.... Unemployment rates have been creeping up in the city but...don't tell the full story [which is seen] at the food bank and in bread lines that have more than doubled [and in] people moving in with friends or family to help pay rent....

  4. [and while some people are pressured into longer workweeks, others are squeezed into shorter workweeks -] 8/02 Global economy - Recovery gathers pace but jobs growth lags, by Eric Burroughs with Pitchford & Desai, Reuters 08/01/03 14:50 ET via AOLNews.
    NEW YORK - ...But U.S. companies shed 44,000 more workers during July, and a shortening of the average workweek suggested little improvement on the horizon....
    [though, ironically, if everyone was limited to a shorter workweek, the centrifugation of spending power triggered by market forces responding to a perceived labor shortage would buoy a solid recovery, the like of which has never been seen outside of wartime (1917-18, 1941-45) and plaguetime (1348, 1919) - and of course the two nationwide workweek reductions, each of which yielded a 1% unemployment (UE) drop for each hour's workweek cut (USA 1938-40, 44 to 40 hrs/wk, 19 to <15% UE; France 1997-2001, 39 to 35 hrs/wk, 12.6 to 8.7% UE) - not to mention the chaotic global implementation, 1840-1940, when the workweek was halved (c.80 to c.40 hrs) and wages were doubled or tripled, no UE figures available, and the ancient Israeli implementation, c.1500 BC, when the workweek was cut from 7 to 6 days in response to Moses' 4th Commandment, no UE figures available - see Exodus 20.]

  5. [ditto elsewhere in the 'global economy' - e.g., southeast Asia -]
    8/02 Indonesia 2003 GDP growth seen at 3.66 pct - Megawati, Reuters 08/01/03 04:27 ET via AOLNews.
    JAKARTA - ...Pres. Megawati Sukamoputri said on Friday...9.1m Indonesians were out of work while 33.7m people, or 16% of the world's 4th most populous country [207m, after China 1250m, India 9987m, US 273m, 1999 figures from The Economist Pocket World in Figures 2002 Edition] worked less than 35 hours a week. ...Despite...improvements, she said surveys in 2003 showed 17.4%, or 37.2m Indonesians, were still living below the poverty line compared to 19.1% or 38.7m people in 2000..\.. Indonesia has a [current total] population of around 210m people [and the US, 280m]....

  6. [and one Asian country that's doing something about it -]
    8/02 S. Korea trade surplus widens, phone exports soar, by Kim Myong-hwan, Reuters 08/01/03 03:06 ET via AOLNews.
    SEOUL -...Hyundai Motor said labour strikes, backing claims for wage increases and a shorter workweek, had cost about $600m in lost exports since they began on June 20....
    [But who cares if the trade surplus is rising? If Hyundai executives were really concerned about lost production (or had any common sense), they'd have abandoned the 44-hour workweek and implemented the 40-hour workweek 13 years ago when Japan came down to 40 nationwide (though continuing the blank-check "salary" concept that has crippled the U.S. and U.K. economies). Zooming in -]
    8/02 Hyundai Motor July sales tumble on strike action, by Samuel Len, Reuters 08/01/03 05:22 ET via AOLNews.
    SEOUL -...Hyundai Motor's 39,000 unionised workers have held partial strikes since late June, seeking an 11.1% wage hike and a 5-day working week....
    [instead of 5½ eight-hour days. The union needs to forget about the market-bucking wage demand and focus on the market-reframing hours demand.]

8/01/2003  primitive timesizing & worktime consciousness in the news = glimmers of strategic hope -
  1. Jobs white paper calls for work-sharing among generations, Kyodo 07/31/03 21:58 EDT via AOLNews.
    TOKYO...- Work should be shared [across] the different generations in Japan's jobs market as the gap is widening between overworking middle-aged and underemployed senior and young people, the Labor Ministry said in an annual report Friday. The 2003 white paper by the Health, Labor & Welfare Ministry also called for offering workers a broader choice of work conditions, such as flexibility to allow shorter work hours. The paper was approved by the Cabinet in a morning meeting.
    The paper blames Japan's falling birthrate partly on the long working hours of those in their 30s and 40s, and calls for an employment system in which each generation "can strike a good balance between work and family life" and realize their potential.
    [One of the most crowded bunch of islands in the world is worrying about a low birthrate?! Bizarre!]
    That would help Japan cope with the future prospect of a smaller workforce as the low birthrate leads to the aging of society, the Ministry said.
    [You don't need a large workforce if you're the most robotized workplace in the world, but that translates, if you need a large workforce to have a large consumer base, into "you don't need a long workweek if you're the most robotized workplace in the world." So just CUT YOUR WORKWEEK, spread the diminishing free-market-demanded employment around to everyone, go back to 1-2% unemployment - and quit worrying!]
    The report also attributed the low birthrate to the decline of the 3-generation family, and said mothers who lack someone to help in rearing children are more likely to abuse children than those with help....
    [Especially if they're working megahours at the same time. The good news here is that with this government white paper, maybe Japan's national worksharing agenda is finally getting some traction. Last mention was back in 2002 - see roundup in commentary on 5/30/2003 #3.]

  2. Justice Ministry eyes trimming work hours for prisoners, Kyodo 07/31/03 22:45 EDT via AOLNews.
    TOKYO...- The Justice Ministry is considering paring work hours imposed on prisoners to give them some latitude and to alleviate the workload on prison guards, Ministry sources said Friday.... The number of prisoners per warder has risen to around 4.08, making it difficult for guards to oversee all the inmates' activities, according to the sources..\..
    According to the Ministry, prisoners' work ranges from manufacturing goods to vocational training in welding or electrical engineering, as well as cooking and washing cloth[e]s. About 80% of all inmates are engaged in production work, such as making wood products, printing and sewing, it said..\.. Under current regulations, inmates sentenced to hard labor must work 8 hours a day, 40 hours a week, excluding Saturdays, Sundays and holidays.
    [Hmm, shorter working hours for inmates could set a precedent and expedite shorter working hours for everyone.]
    The Ministry is considering allowing prisoners 2 additional days off per month to give them some time of their own, because prison overcrowding is causing more time to be taken for non-work activities such as meals and bathing, the sources said. The Ministry may offer some correctional programs on the rest days that would encourage inmates to repent o[f] their crimes, they said.
    [Hey, two additional days off in a 4-week month is a cut from a 5-day to a 4½-day, 36-hr workweek, or a 36.3-hour average workweek on an annualized basis.]

  3. Interview - Flood repair helps buoy east German economy - Ifo, by Emma Thomasson, Reuters 07/31/03 11:37 ET via AOLNews.
    DRESDEN...- The floods that devastated east Germany last year had a silver lining - repairs are helping its economy grow faster than the west for the first time in four years, the Ifo institute said on Thursday....
    [Jawohl, wars and plagues are great for economies too.]
    ...But the region has not recorded the strong rates of growth it needs to create jobs since 1996, even the [it] is still receiving some 75B euros in annual state transfers..\.. [Awaiting endlessly the 'strong' rates of growth 'needed' to create jobs is idiotic. Drop the strain for 38-40-hr/wk job creation and switch to worksharing. Flexibly adjust the workweek downward as much as it takes to control unemployment and spread around the limited market-demanded work NOW.]
    East German living standards, 40-50% those in the west at unification in 1990, are now some 70% of western levels..\.. Wolfgang Gerstenberger, the head of Ifo's Dresden branch...said it could take another 20 years before they reach 90% of those in the west....
    [So much for German efficiency.]
    Gerstenberger said the 4-week strike last month in the east German engineering industry, which hit production of parts for major car producers, should not have any negative impact on growth as factories would be able to make up for lost time.
    [Time is nothing to a factory-full of robots.]
    But the fact the strikers from the IG Metall union conceded defeat in their campaign for the easter working week to be cut by 3 hours to the 35 hours standard in the west should help boost investment in the medium-term....
    [Only from investors who are stupid enough to think that 3-hours difference in the human workweek in a robotized workplace outweighs an 18% jobless rate representing millions of wasted consumers. Gerstenberg is evidently solch ein Dummkopf -]
    "The failure of the strike will have a positive effect for investors. If the shorter working week had been introduced it would have been a major deterrent," he said.
    [The idea that economic growth revolves around investment rather than consumption is like the old notion that the sun and planets revolve around the earth rather than the earth and planets around the sun. But just as the wealthy, stifling Roman Church controlled the media then, wealthy and stifling investors control the media today.]
    ...Even though growth is seen accelerating in the east next year, it will still not be enough to create jobs. Ifo forecasts the average jobless rate in the east will continue to rise to 18.2% next year, well over double the western [German] rate....
    Gerstenberger said labour market 'reforms' [our quotes] introduced over the last year to encourage self-employment [what good is that without customers?!] and improve job placement [what good is that without good pay?] had helped somewhat [exactly how much do you imagine, Wolfy?] but more radical cuts to social welfare were needed to stimulate the low-wage sector.
    [The only thing welfare cuts without jobs will stimulate is the crime rate and 'investment' in prisons, wie in den Vereinigten Staaten (as in the U.S.).]
    "Nobody dares to do it," he said. "Ordinary people are not keen and politicians are afraid."
    [and rightly so.]
    In the meantime, high unemployment is driving many west. The eastern [German] population shr[a]nk again last year by 0.8%...with 20% of all eastern apartments now empty[!!]. Gerstenberger predicted the region could suffer a shortage of skilled labour by the second half of the decade [what a dreamer!], which could reverse the exodus and attract eastern European...workers....
    [Great, just what they need. From a surplus of German-speaking jobseekers to a surplus of non-German-speaking jobseekers. Brilliant plan - for further concentration and de-activation of the nation's spending power and total economic collapse. This guy couldn't think his way outside the box if you drew him diagrams. And this is the country the Japanese went to study worksharing?!]

  4. Upheaval in telecom life at root of Verizon strife, by Peter Howe, Boston Globe, front page & A9.
    [and associated blowout -]
    ...Down to the wire - Some of the major issues at stake -...Involuntary overtime:
    Unions want to reduce forced overtime Verizon demands from technicians and call-center agents as a cheaper alternative to hiring more full-time workers with full benefits. A particularly contentious issue for Verizon workers with children.
    [The cluelessness continues. Concentrate work on fewer, more overworked people and you spread un- and under-employment. Spread unemployment and you cut your markets and boost your prisons. Third World here we come!]


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