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Timesizing News, Oct.8-9, 2003
[Commentary] ©2003 Phil Hyde, Timesizing.com, Box 622, Porter Sq, Cambridge MA 02140 USA 617-623-8080
10/09/2003 primitive timesizing & worktime consciousness in the news = glimmers of strategic hope - all are 10/08 via GoogleNews except #3, which is direct from the 10/09 NYT hardcopy -
10/08/2003 primitive timesizing & worktime consciousness in the news = glimmers of strategic hope - all are 10/07 via GoogleNews except #1, which is direct from the 10/08 NYT hardcopy -
- Should America be France? - Do Americans work too much? Some social critics say yes - and point to Europe as a labor model, by Gordon T. Anderson, CNN/Money.
'Working class heroes' - Annual average hours worked in 2002, selected countries.... [blowout]
South Korea 2,447
United States 1,815
Source: International Labor Org. (UN)
NEW YORK - John De Graaf is busy, trying to make you less so.
A Seattle-based writer and documentary producer, De Graaf is one of the leaders of a loosely connected group of social activists who believe Americans work too much. To dramatize the point, De Graaf and others are organizing an Oct. 24 event called "Take Back Your Time Day."
Using Earth Day as a model, the organizers are planning a nationwide series of educational events, demonstrations, and grass-roots promotion. The central thesis of their manifesto: that an "epidemic of overwork, over-scheduling and time famine now threatens our health, our families and relationships, our communities and our environment."
According to De Graaf, people are organizing events - teach-ins, discussion groups and the like - in every state, at churches, community centers, and on more than 170 college campuses.
"The first Earth Day in 1970 drew attention to the problems of pollution," said De Graaf. "Within three years, most of the major environmental legislation had passed and was signed by Nixon."
Do Europeans live better?
Labor discussions are notoriously loaded with ideology. For every argument that people are working too hard, there's another bemoaning a lack of productivity.
Pulling from government statistics, Time Day proponents say that Americans, on average, work 350 hours more each year than Europeans. That's 9 weeks of labor. "Europeans have made a tradeoff between quality of life and hours worked," said De Graaf. "We Americans have chosen to trade all our increases in productivity for more stuff. And to pay for it, we need to work even more."
In France, for example, national law guarantees workers 11 public holidays, a minimum of five weeks paid vacation, and a 35-hour work week.
Americans do celebrate 10 public holidays. Still, many companies don't honor all national holidays, and U.S. firms are the stingiest in the developed world when it comes to vacations. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, an American in his or her first year on the job gets 8.1 days of paid vacation on average. (The average doesn't rise above 10 days until year 3.)
Boston College economist Juliet Schor's 1993 best seller, "The Overworked American," argued that the United States "is the world's standout workaholic nation." Now, she is something of a high priestess to the movement, attracting both praise and criticism. Drawing on Bureau of Labor Statistics data, Shor has demonstrated that average working hours in the United States rose nearly 12% between 1973 and 2000.
The Employment Policy Foundation, a Washington think tank, interpreted the data differently. It says the problem isn't that most Americans are working demonstrably longer hours than before. "Something else is happening," according to EPF economist Ron Bird. "People feel more overworked than in the past, mainly because other areas of their life are taking up more time." A longer commute, for example, doesn't constitute additional "hours worked." Still, it's time spent in order to hold a job.
Moreover, the rise of the two-income family means that collectively, Americans are putting in more time on the clock. "With more dual-earner families and working mothers in the workforce," Bird said, "total family hours at work have increased, which means less time at home."
[Ah, wouldn't that essentially mean twice as much time at work and half as much time at home on a total-family basis?!]
Distribution of income
Like many social critics, De Graaf points to unequal income distribution as a problem. To his credit, he doesn't dismiss the complexity of the issue. "From World War II to the early 1970s, the United States was getting relatively more equal in the distribution of wealth," he noted. "That changed, and the gap has grown. In most western European countries the income inequality has declined."
In the 1970s, the United States ranked in the middle of the pack among developed nations for hours worked. Now, it vies with Japan for number one, far ahead of most of western Europe. It may be no coincidence that the Japanese and American economies are the world's biggest.
[Ironically, they grew to bigness before they started kneejerk downsizing and unsettling the workforce and serously scaring everyone into working megahours. And its no coincidence - the U.S. grew to bigness during the World Wars when things were most egalitarian, and Japan copied U.S. best practices as funnelled through Deming. Once they started downsizing (U.S. 1970s, Japan 1989), they started shrinking.]
De Graaf concedes that supply-side economic theorists were right about this much: tax breaks do encourage people to work more, especially at the top of the ladder.
[Not something we need when we have many more machines, computers and robots to work much much more than we ever could.]
But as people on the bottom become relatively less rich, they work longer, too. "I would never try to pretend that our system doesn't cause us to have the highest production in the world," said De Graaf. "But it's also created a lot of very stressed out, unhappy people.
[And what good is higher production with a lower customer base? And then there's this consideration -]
"Do we also care about having enough leisure time to enjoy some of that production?"
[Click on this and you get -]
Stock recommendations and comments presented on CNNmoney.com are solely those of the analysts and experts quoted....
[Are they really so defensive about the subject??]
- [And in some unexpected publicity - good from the viewpoint that "any publicity is good publicity" and "there's nothing like a controversy" -]
Lump of Labor Pains - Cut work hours to spur employment? Try again, by Bruce Bartlett (firstname.lastname@example.org), National Review Online.
It's hard work being a left-wing kook these days.
[Not as hard as it must be putting together a cogent argument if you have to start off with name-calling.]
On top of anti-globalization demonstrations and anti-war protests, there is always some new issue to organize. This month it is "Take Back Your Time Day," scheduled for Oct. 24. Originated by the rabidly left-wing Center for Religion, Ethics and Social Policy at Cornell University, the goal of this effort is to force employers to give workers more paid time off.
[We haven't seen anything about forcing anybody to do anything in their literature.]
In part, the organizers hope to create jobs by dividing up the available work among more people.
[And what's wrong with that? Ever heard of "sharing the work to lighten the load"?]
Before my left-wing friends start planning what to do with the extra time they will gain if work hours are restricted,
[This isn't a leftwing issue. Lots of employers have initiated it, such as Lord Leverhulme of Lever Bros., Lewis Brown and W.K. Kellogg of Kellogg Cereals, Edward Filene of Filene's Stores/Basement, James and John Lincoln of Lincoln Electric, Ken Iverson of Nucor, the rightwing in France who established voluntary company-specific shorter workweeks in 1996 - but of course, Bartlett won't mention that -]
they should look at what is going on in France. That country reduced maximum work time to 39 hours per week in 1982 and 35 hours in 1998.
[Wrong. 35 in stages between 1997 and 2002.]
Of course, the socialist government mandated that workers receive the same weekly wages. Government inspectors were sent around to businesses to make sure that employees left for home after putting in their 35 hours.
The action was taken to increase jobs. France has long had an unemployment rate far higher than the U.S. It is now 9.6% [with little homelessness, disability and incarceration] there versus 6.1% [with 600k homeless, 5.7m disabled, and 2.2m incarcerated] here. The socialists figured that there was only so much work to do, so if people were only allowed to work 35 hours per week, rather that 40 hours, then this meant that 8 workers would be needed to do the work that 7 workers did previously.
Economists call this the "lump of labor" fallacy.
[Even though they're talking about a lump of labor-demand or demand-for-labor, i.e., a lump of employment. And the proof that it's not a leftist issue is that this whole baseless sneer has recently been stirred up by the supreme lefist, pinko, fellow-traveler, Liberal-with-a-capital-L, Paul Krugman himself in the New York Times not three days ago - see 10/07/2003 #3. How embarrassing for Krugman. There he was, trying to make the case that the rightwing had suddenly bought the 'lump of labor fallacy' in order to excuse Bush's terrible record on job creation, when two days later, apparently by complete coincidence, that bastion of the right, the National Review, ALSO starts a big hue and cry against the LOLF. What a spectacle! Could we ask anything more dramatic to proved this is a centrist issue more convincing than that these two symbols of right and left, the National Review and Paul Krugman, are together united in attempting to ridicule worktime economics in general and the shorter worktime movement in particular with the more-heat-than-light "Lump of Labor Fallacy" canard? What a gift to the shorter hours movement!]
It is wrong because work is not homogeneous, either geographically or in terms of skills.
[Work is "not homogeneous" except when CEOs themselves decide that people in Mexico, China or India can do it, whatever it is, just as well as Americans, for a fraction of the price. THEN, wondrous to relate, work suddenly becomes all the same, wherever it's done or whomever you have to train in the necessary skills.]
Nor is the demand for labor fixed.
[No, it would be much less worrisome if it were sustainable. However, it's actually shrinking in the short term when workforces are getting downsized in response to new technology or outsourcing "opportunities."]
Most important, it is a function of the price. If unions raise the wage rate above the market-clearing level, then unemployment is going to rise.
[True. France should not have touched pay. If it lowered the workweek sufficiently and not just got it refrozen at the 35-hour level, market forces would reward the perceived shortage with higher wages for the shorter hours with no government interference in the realm of pay, exactly as the labor shortage of World Wars I and II raised wages till the Wage & Price Control Board tried to stop them, and then it raised benefits to circumvent the government wage controls.]
Similarly, if government mandates a rise in wage rates, as France did by reducing hours at the same weekly wage, then you are also going to see higher unemployment.
[Quite possibly, but imperfectly as France designed and implemented this workweek reduction, unemployment still declined from 12.6% in 1997 to 8.6% in mid-2001 before the US-led recession began to carry France down, almost last among the larger EU economies. And it didn't go down very far - because French unemployment today is still not double-digit again.]
Consequently, it is not surprising that the French action reduced employment, rather than raising it, as was its intention.
[A motion in the unemployment rate from 12.6% to 8.6% is not a reduction in employment.]
Writing in the Dec. 2002 issue of the prestigious Journal of Political Economy, economists Bruno Crepon and Francis Kramarz looked at the first reduction in work hours in 1982. Their unambiguous conclusion: "Changes in the legal standard workweek led to employment losses, contrary to the initial goal of these policies."
[We haven't examined the 1982 experience. A one-hour change may be too little to have much effect. We have examined the experience in 1938-40 when the USA itself established a national workweek ceiling and then cut it by 4 hours in two one-year steps, and each time experienced a 2% drop in unemployment the following year. See figures.]
So if reducing the workweek by 1 hour clearly[?] reduced employment, then reducing it by another 4 hours reduced it even more.
[Ah, a 12.6% to 8.6% drop in unemployment increases employment.]
Here the evidence mainly comes from working people themselves.
[Why? There are official unemployment figures for the period. We don't need anecdotal evidence.]
Shortly after the work restriction took effect, there were strikes by workers throughout France. One reason is that their employers told them that no pay raises would be forthcoming due to the cost of the new program. Others protested that employers worked them harder or purchased labor-saving machinery to raise productivity and compensate for the higher cost of labor.
[And some employers played ball and hired more people, thus lowering the unemployment rate by 4% in the 4-5 year period during which the 4-hour drop in the workweek was in preparation or stepped implementation.]
Lately, polls have shown that a large majority [52% is not a large majority] of French workers want an end to, or significant reform ["suspension"] of, the 35-hour week.
[God knows what kind of leading questions were used on that survey sponsored by a government hostile to the 35-hour workweek. What does "suspension" mean in practical terms? - a temporary return to 39 hours? The word we hear is that the government doesn't dare roll it back directly because it's too popular.]
French [rightwing] government officials are also complaining that the workweek restrictions raised government spending, partly to bail-out businesses that would have gone bankrupt without subsidies due to the higher labor costs, and because government workers were also subject to the new requirements. They also say that the work restriction has reduced economic growth in France, thus contributing to a budget deficit higher than allowed under European Union rules.
[Yep, the rightwing is blaming it for everything it can think of, even the heatwave deaths in August.]
Although there is no serious legislative effort in the U.S. to mandate shorter workweeks,
[- there was in the 1930s, and though the 30-hour workweek was blocked in the House after it passed the Senate in April/33, the 44-hour workweek was enacted in 1938 and stepped down to 40 in 1940 -]
there are several left-wing groups working to bring it about. Their biggest problem is that most workers are quite satisfied with the number of hours they work and have no desire to work less.
[Ha! The National Review hasn't listened to the Air Line Pilots Assoc, or the Medical Students Assoc. or the millions of single parents....]
For example, last year people were asked if they would continue working even if they had enough money to live comfortably for the rest of their lives. 68% said they would still work.
[That says nothing about the number of hours they work.]
Another poll asked whether workers would prefer more time off or more money. nbsp; 56% said they wanted more money rather than more free time.
[Funny, we heard a survey a couple of years ago that said 67% of workers would be prepared to take a cut in pay to get more free time. Guess it all depends on what thinktank is doing the survey.]
Polls also show that many workers would prefer more work hours than they have now, especially younger workers.
[Guess the National Review couldn't find any in the U.S. so they had to go to South Korea -]
Last year, 120,000 workers in South Korea went on strike against proposed legislation to cut workweeks there. And this was in a country where that standard workweek includes a half-day on Saturday.
[Yeah, some South Korean unions are pretty self-destructive. Usually about half the labor movement "gets" it and half doesn't. The CIO split off from the AFL over this issue in the 1930s.]
Part of the reason for this is that most people know and accept that long hours and hard work are necessary for a high standard of living.
[Oh yeah, those sweatshops with their long hours sure produce a high standard of living. Generally, in a national and global labor glut such as today's, the old rhyme is true: "Whether you work by the piece or the day, Decreasing the hours increases the pay" - and vice versa. Check out our story below (#10?) on long hours in the Philippines today.]
Studies have shown that the wealthy work far more than other people. According to U.S. Trust Co., 71% of the affluent work more than 40 hours per week, and 31% work more than 50 hours.
[Did they include all the affluent who don't work at all, or who "work" only as volunteers doing charitable "work"? There are always workaholics, but many of the affluent work fewer hours so they can travel or golf, and many of them "work" on the golf course making contacts.]
- A boy from Graz - Proud of a native son - and relieved he's in America, op ed by Anneliese Rohrer, NYT, A35.
[Anneliese may be an Austrian, but if so, she has considerable self-contempt.]
...Austrians in general [have] been pumped up with pride over Mr. Schwarzenegger's accomplishments. That's the case even though, or maybe because, Arnold Schwarzenegger's life - from lower-middle-class boy in the bland town of Graz to governor of California - is as alien to the mentality of the average Austrian [and, let's be honest, to the average American!] as a recall vote is to an Austrian political system in which official careers proceed like clockwork.
[Boy, that is really ridiculous and laughable, isn't it? Just imagine - a political system in which official careers proceed like clockwork. Better the money-drowned negative campaigning of American 'democracy,' that's for sure!]
Mr. Schwarzenegger's career, by contrast, has all the elements that the average Austrian, with his dreams of a tenured job in the bureaucracy that leads to early retirement, with his love for his 38-hour work week and his five weeks of holiday per year - would despise: venturing into the unknown, enduring hard work and physical pain, testing the limits of body and mind, and drawing a road map to the top....
[We wonder how many Austrians would recognize themselves in this odious comparison. Those that do might be forgiven for despising "venturing into the unknown, enduring hard work and physical pain, testing the limits of body and mind, and drawing a road map to the top" because the last world-famous native son who did all these things was Adolf Hitler.]
- Budget crunch may bring safety forces showdown, by Tom Corrigan, Cleveland Sun Newspapers (OH).
CLEVELAND - Leaders among the city's safety forces feel the administration is holding them out for criticism as officials wrangle with a projected $13 million 2003 budget deficit. As he relayed to City Council his version of Cleveland's financial health, Finance Director Robert Baker said Cleveland's administration had counted on an economic turnaround sometime in 2003. "Unfortunately ...."
In order to balance the books, Baker proposes spending $8.8m left in a city account thanks mostly to an accounting gaffe [nice gaffe!]. He also wants to postpone spending $2.1m to subsidize operating losses suffered by city-owned cemeteries. But finally - and to the accompaniment of plenty of publicity - Baker wants to reduce the work week of some city employees to 32 hours. By doing so, Baker said he hopes to save some $1.9m and avoid any layoffs.
[Aha, timesizing, not downsizing.]
As of Tuesday, officials could not say what city departments might be affected....
- [shorter hours the bad way -]
Homeless shelters see more in need - Demand is up despite warm temperatures, improving economy, by James Thalman (email@example.com), Salt Lake City Deseret Morning News, UT.
...The economy has also stifled giving by usual donors during the past year. Private and government economists have said that the job losses since the 2001 recession began are not going to come back. The U.S. Department of Labor reported in September that even though there has been a surge in corporate productivity, actual work hours are plunging....
- 3,500 industrial jobs lost in April-July, Globes Online (Israel).
ISRAEL - The rate of lay-offs rose to 0.9% and work-hours fell 1.5%....
The severe crisis in industry is continuing. 3,500 industrial workers were laid off in April-July 2003, accelerating the lay-[off] rate to 0.9%. Worker-hours fell by 1.5%, after falling 0.5% in the two preceding quarters. The Manufacturers Association believes the ports strike will exacerbate the situation
Manufacturers Association statistics and economic analysis division director Nira Shamir revealed the figures yesterday.
[So is Nira a magician, or is there something divinely inspired about these figures, or did she really just "announce" them and not "reveal" them?]
They are based on the monthly analysis of Israel's industrial situation. She added that the decline in employee work-hours resumed in this period, falling 0.4%, after remaining unchanged in the first quarter of 2003 and falling 0.2% in the fourth quarter of 2002.
[Looks like Israel is experiencing shorter hours willy nilly, as we all are, basically, except for those in a position to hog overtime and get paid for it. People on salary who are basically getting paid for a 40-hour week and not getting overtime pay, but working overtime nonetheless (doctors, lawyers, other self-important types, though of course, not consultants on billable time who manage to have some sense in this fundamental area), are turning themselves into slaves to the extent that they're working long hours without pay. We could say, "That's their funeral" except for the fact that the nation's (any nation's) most precious vanishing resource today is market-demanded worktime, and they're hogging it.]
Labor productivity per employee rose in April-July, despite the drop in industrial output, due to the decline in work-hours.
[raising again the question, what good is unmarketable productivity? Ford: "Let's see you unionize these robots!" Reuther, "Let's see you sell them cars."]
Labor productivity per employee rose 0.6% in this period, after rising 0.2% in the first quarter of 2003 and 1% in the fourth quarter of 2002....
- Move to cut young doctors' long hours, Belfast Telegraph (UK).
...Ulster health chiefs are to examine special action plans drawn up by trusts across
the province on how they intend curbing excessive working hours for young doctors....
- [And not only across the Atlantic -]
The doctors go to court by Ira Carnahan, Forbes 10.08.03, 10:40 AM ET.
WASHINGTON - Most U.S. doctors are pretty well paid. But there is one group of doctors that is definitely not - those known as residents, who have recently finished medical school and who spend several years working in hospitals and studying specialties such as pediatrics, neurology or general surgery.
But in an antitrust lawsuit filed in federal court in Washington, D.C., a small group of residents is fighting back. While the suit is at an early stage-right now - [the plaintiffs,] the residents, are getting ready to file for class certification; the defendants, [on the other hand,] including the Assoc. of American Medical Colleges [AAMC] and the American Hospital Assoc. [AHA], are seeking to dismiss [the case] - both sides agree that a victory by residents could end up reshaping American medicine.
[And a very welcome new shape it would be.]
The AHA represents most major not-for-profit and for-profit hospital chains, including HCA, Tenet Healthcare and Triad Hospitals. The defendant hospitals and associations are worried enough that, in addition to fighting the residents' suit in court, they have begun lobbying Congress for a legislative exemption from the antitrust laws. With such an exemption, the hospitals would be free to continue with the status quo.
Under the system today, say the plaintiffs, residents are woefully underpaid. "Despite their advanced education, long work hours and valuable patient care services, first-year residents earned an average wage of about $35,700 during the 2000-2001 employment year, equating to about $10 per hour. Resident physicians generally earn less than other hospital employees such as nurse practitioners and physicians assistants, and...adjusted for inflation, the average first-year resident physician salary has remained virtually unchanged for more than 30 years."
On top of this lousy, stagnant pay comes an atrocious work schedule, argue the plaintiffs. "Employers impose oppressive, dangerously long work hours on resident physicians, endangering both residents and patients.... Residents routinely work 60 to 100 hours per week or more, including 36-hour and 48-hour shifts." (Since the residents' suit was filed, the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education, one of the defendants, has reduced the maximum allowed workweek to 80 hours.)
Why do residents have it so tough? The problems are rooted in the National Resident Matching Program, widely known as the Match, which is operated by the AAMC and which the great majority of residents must use to find a spot in a residency program. Under the Match, medical students compile a list of the residency programs they would like to attend, ranked in order of preference. Residency programs each compile similar lists of students they would like to enroll, and a computer then seeks to match the preferences of students with those of programs. Once matches are made, students are locked in to particular programs. They have essentially no leverage to demand better pay or hours.
This might not be much of a problem if students, when ranking programs, could do so based on variations in pay and benefits. But they can't. Why? Because the residency programs that take part in the Match regularly share with each other how much they pay, say the plaintiffs. The not-so-accidental result is that any tendency toward wage competition is squashed, and all programs end up offering residents very similar - and poor - compensation. Hospitals win, residents lose.
To be sure, the medical groups that organize the Match offer a very different assessment. The Match said in a statement responding to the residents' suit that it "categorically denies that it illegally restrains trade or is engaged in any wrongdoing in the matching of prospective residents to residency programs." And Jordan Cohen, president of the AAMC, states that the Match is "an orderly system that helps both students and health care institutions find the best fit between professional aspirations and educational opportunities, respectively."
Without the Match, its defenders say, the result would be chaos. If the matching of residency programs with medical students weren't coordinated by a central agency, residency programs would begin to make offers to students earlier and earlier, and students would be forced to make decisions without knowing all their options. Residency programs would also begin pressuring students to respond quickly by extending so-called "exploding offers," which are good only for a few days or hours. And this isn't just speculation, Match defenders add: It's what actually happened in the 1940s before the Match was started.
Sherman Marek, co-lead counsel for the residents, says such arguments are weak. "Completely restraining competition in a market is overkill if all you're trying to do is prevent early offers and exploding offers," he says. "As the plaintiffs in this suit, we really would not have any problem with rules collectively adopted by these hospitals that prevented any of them from making an offer to medical students before fall of their senior year." As for exploding offers, he adds, "all you do is say, well, any offer that's extended has to remain open for ten days. So between those two very narrowly tailored rules, you can fix these problems without saying 'no competition in the market at all.'"
But don't expect such solutions to be accepted by the defendant hospitals, Marek says. "It's not their true objective here to just solve those two problems," he argues. "Their true objective is to keep these resident salaries artificially low and to keep the work hours long. It's basically cheap labor."
- Once a rebel, he says young docs should take their medicine, by Anne Barnard (firstname.lastname@example.org), Boston Globe (MA)
Dr. W. Hardy Hendren, 77, proudly calls himself an old-school doctor. An eminence grise of Harvard medicine, the first Boston surgeon to separate conjoined twins, Hendren gives voice to a generational divide that many in medicine keep under their breath:
[does she mean "under their hats"?]
In his view, doctors-in-training who complain about working more than 100 hours a week for $40,000 a year have simply lost sight of medicine's spirit of sacrifice.
[They've also lost sight of medicine's gratuitous and patient-endangering megalomania and self-martyrdom.]
"What do you think we had to contend with 50 years ago?" he says. "We worked 120 hours a week. We were paid $25 a month. The young people want to have their cake and eat it, too."
[Well, why get paid at all? How greedy! Why not just repeal the Emancipation Proclamation?]
Most of all, Hendren is irate with a group of medical residents who filed a federal lawsuit last year attacking the centralized system that assigns medical-school graduates to the hospitals' residency jobs that complete their training. The suit contends the program, called the Match, violates antitrust law by keeping residents from negotiating for better salaries and work hours. Hospitals nationwide are lobbying heavily against the changes and several US senators are considering drafting a measure to keep the Match intact.
"The charge these dissidents are making, it's all nonsense," Hendren said.
[No, Hendren is a dinosaur, who makes death look good as an evolutionary design feature carried over to our species from the animals, and in his case, the sooner the better.]
When he was in medical school more than 50 years ago, Hendren was something of a dissident himself.
[He's now a disgrace to the genre.]
He led a mini-revolution that helped create the Match system that is now under fire. So his ire at the lawsuit - which he likens to "a terrorist attack" on the Match - is partly personal.
[Oh brother, "there's no fool like an old fool."]
In 1951, Hendren was wrapping up his final year at Harvard Medical School. Then, as now, the feeling was widespread among doctors-in-training that the medical system was not working in their best interests. As medical-school graduates scrambled for the residency jobs they needed to complete their training, there was no organized application process, so many were forced to jump at the first job they were offered before hearing from top hospitals. And when the older generation of medical leaders set out to create a centralized job lottery, they unveiled a flawed system that would deny many of the best students their first choice. "To my utter amazement, the dean of Harvard Medical School didn't see this," Hendren said. "He was so enamored of hearing himself talk that he couldn't stand to hear anyone else talk."
[Sounds strangely familiar, with Hendren branding anyone else who talks now as "terrorists."]
The system had students rank hospitals and hospitals rank students. But the way it was set up, a better-qualified student who ranked Massachusetts General Hospital second could lose a slot to a less-stellar student who ranked it first. Hendren, then 25, challenged the dean, Dr. George Packer Berry, in front of his class of 142 students. Berry wouldn't budge. So Hendren borrowed $3,000 from his father ("a lot of dough in 1951") - had Rapid Service Press typeset notices overnight (it was long before Xerox), and hired a secretary (Ms. Terhune). He managed to convene a meeting two weeks later with representatives from 56 of the nation's 72 medical schools.
[Then he should have a lot more sympathy, if not empathy, or the present-day battlers for improvements.]
Hendren - a man who keeps his 50 years' worth of operating room notes in neat binders - has carefully preserved all the documents of the time, from the original proposal to yellowing telegrams.
"CLASS SENTIMENT UNANIMOUSLY AGAINST PLAN," wrote Leslie De Groot, president of Columbia College of Physicians Surgeons. "LARGE MAJORITY AGAINST," reported the University of Texas.
[How pathetic that we humans have such selective memories.]
The students designed a new system and tested it on Massachusetts General Hospitals' IBM computer, a new contraption at the time, proving it would give far more people their first choice of hospital.
Hendren went on to become chief of surgery from 1982 to 1998 at Children's Hospital in Boston, where he still performs meticulous surgery to repair birth defects.
[Ohoh, want an overtired 77-year-old operating on your child?]
But he recalls 1951 as a career highlight, when he and his colleagues derailed a flawed system and convinced medical leaders to adopt a better one.
That's what today's young doctors want to do as well, say residents who support a new look at the Match system. As before, Boston is full of activists, like Dr. Ruth Potee of Boston Medical Center, who pushes for legislative limits on resident hours, and Dr. Christoph Wald at Lahey Clinic, who has pushed within the American Medical Association for better residency conditions.
Many residents are ambivalent about the lawsuit because they like having a streamlined application process. But residents wonder if the Match - in which they commit in advance to their assigned job and cannot negotiate salary - is one reason that salaries hover at $40,000 across the country despite the average medical school graduate debt of more than $100,000.
[All part of the gauntlet system of bottlenecking access to certain skills to create a wage-hyping shortage.]
Partly due to resident activism, hospitals this year adopted guidelines limiting their work to 80 hours a week. But pay remains low, so many still "moonlight," working more hours, sometimes at other hospitals, to earn extra cash. Dr. Nathan Cobb, 33, a third-year resident in medicine at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, carries $150,000 in debt from Boston University School of Medicine. He works 10 to 15 hours a week for an Internet company on top of his hospital duties. He said residents don't want to have their cake and eat it: "Today's residents just want a piece of the cake."
[Or even just a piece of the first course instead of this crap about "I got put through the wringer so, goddammit, everyone else is gonna get put through the wringer too!"]
Hendren recalls making $25 a month; he and his wife sold their blood at $25 a pint; he made 65 cents an hour working in the library. His tuition - $400 a semester - was paid by the GI Bill. "We made do," he said.
[RIGHT! He gets his tuition paid by the GI Bill - at a time when it's only $400 a semester anyway - instead of being driven into debt to the tune of $100-150,000 - and he calls it "making do"? Who's he kidding?! He had it easy compared to today's victim's of America's dysfunctional medical-training "system".]
Cobb said his grandfather, also a doctor, told him similar stories. But things are different now, he said: "Their food was paid for, their housing was paid for. They lived in the hospital; that's why they called them residents. Their tuition was dirt cheap. They came in with little debt and went out with little debt. Those days are over." Most residents would be happy to work long hours to save lives, he said, but too often it is for repetitive tasks that don't require a physician.
[And when long hours raise your error rate, you're probably endangering as many lives as you fancy you're saving. Why else are malpractice suits so common? (Oh yeah, because doctors are making such rip-off pay now and charging such rip-off fees.)]
"There's less tolerance for the sort of work hours and the sacrifice that was made in the name of the patient 30 or 50 years ago and today is demanded in the name of paperwork."
[Patients were a lot more poorly informed in the old days - today they don't assume that a fatigued physician is making a sacrifice - s/he's only making a swan dive into an empty pool that may take the patient with him/er.]
Hospitals have pledged to hire more support, but with residents making less than nurses and some health aides, it has not yet materialized: "Without economic incentives to do so, I'm not too sure why the hospitals would," Cobb said.
Hendren is determined to defend the Match: He said he recently ran into Sen. Edward M. Kennedy while sailing in Hyannis Port, and thanked him for his support for a bill to declare the Match legal.
[Hendren is such a martyr out there on his sailboat in Hyannisport.]
But he understands the perennial challenge to older generations [sure, sure]. In 1951, he told Dr. Edward D. Churchill, chief of surgery at Massachusetts General Hospital, that he had learned from the Match experience that often, people in authority "don't know their [rear end] from their elbow."
["If the shoe fits...."]
He recalled Churchill saying: "If you have learned that at your current age, it was a worthwhile experience."
[He clearly didn't.]
To tell [the Boston Globe] what you think about proposed changes to the Match system, e-mail the Health-Science section at email@example.com.
- Tips from TUB, Tullahoma News (TN ).
The Tullahoma Utilities Board [TUB] is open from 7:30 a.m. until 4:30 p.m. each weekday, except holidays. Emergencies, however, don't always happen during regular work hours.
For that reason, TUB has a stand-by supervisor who provides management of the system's power, water and wastewater operations during the evening and weekend hours.... Oftentimes, the problem itself can be solved by the stand-by supervisor, or a decision is made to delay the repairs until the next day. This helps to keep overtime costs to a minimum.
... Each stand-by supervisor is a long-term and highly skilled member of the TUB staff. Stand-by supervisors are on call during all non-working hours, and rotate every seven days.
["On call" is increasingly being redefined as "on the job" and compensated as such. For example, in medicine.]
Providing a stand-by supervisor is another way TUB is working to provide quality service at a low cost.
- Wharfies hang tough on the line, Western News column by Simon Vita, MyTown Wellington (New Zealand).
Picketing wharfies... at the gates of Wellington’s CentrePort [at the end of] July...accuse[d] port management of attacking their employment conditions and attempting to undermine union membership. They say CentrePort['s] selling [of] their stevedoring subsidiary, Central Stevedoring, will mean no guarantee of work for the 60% of port staff who are union members on casual contracts.
“We disagreed with casualisation, but came to accept it”..\..Rail and Maritime Transport Union organiser Todd Valster says.... [But now] CentrePort is attempting to change [ie: increase?] the working hours for those on casual contracts, a move he says has little regard for heath and safety.
CentrePort board chair Nigel Gould says the picket has had little effect on the normal workings of the port. “The ferries are still operating; that should be good news for the Cook Strait people.” He says Central Stevedoring is not up for sale but CentrePort is negotiating a joint-venture deal “with a new entrant to the port”....
He concedes some casual positions may be lost, but while casual workers may make up 60% of the pool of available stevedores, they probably only account for about 35% of the staff working at any one time.
The picket was due to end at midnight on [July 29].
- Campaigns to tackle child obesity were a disaster, by Sarah Womack, Telegraph.co.uk.
UK - Compared with other public health campaigns, experts acknowledge that tackling child obesity has been a disaster.... Britain spends around £195 million treating obesity-related diseases, according to Mark Greener, a former pharmacologist. Only 15% of this goes on tackling obesity itself..\.. Some doctors are so concerned about the situation that they are warning that parents may outlive young people as a matter of routine. So what has gone wrong?...
Experts say... there is not one single action that a person does to become less obese. In fact, there are a several - exercise being the most obvious, but even in the most highly motivated child, losing weight is extraordinarily difficult....
Prof David Hall, a former president of the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health and a respected figure in the field of obesity...who now works for the University of the NHS, said he believed the food industry must accept its share of the blame, a point emphasised by Charlie Powell, of the food campaign group Sustain, who said 95% of advertising during children's television programming was for fatty, salty or sugary foods.
There is also the issue of divorced parents and the breakdown of family life. Prof Hall said: "Single parents and long working hours mean parents get very tired and do not have the time and energy for joint activities and are probably too tired to make shopping for food an enjoyable teaching activity."...
All professionals are agreed that failure to mount a successful anti-obesity initiative could see Britain replicate the United States where a third of adults are obese and businesses cater to bulging waistlines rather than help reduce them.
Meanwhile, the Batesville Casket Company in America has seen nearly a 20% growth in sales of oversized coffins in the past five years.
- Forced overtime is forced labor, Policy Peek column by Ernesto F. Herrera, Manila Times (Philippines).
Forced overtime, job stress and job security are the burning issues affecting today’s beleaguered work-force.
In the garments industry, employers contend that overtime is necessary to meet export quotas. In a highly competitive market, they say they really have no choice but to make overtime mandatory in order to deliver their promised production; otherwise they will easily lose out to more willing and able firms and eventually would have to close down.
Along that line of thinking they argue that it’s better for workers to be working more than the normal eight hours a day than for them to be working for less hours, or worse, not to be working at all. If they can’t hack it, then they should quit. There are a lot unemployed people willing to take their place. Harsh as it seems, it is the truth.
[That's how labor surplus works. Labor shortage works in the opposite way, and the non-war way to transform labor surplus into labor shortage is to cut the workweek.]
Forced overtime has become the rule in many garment factories that seek to meet higher demand without the cost of hiring additional workers, as a monitoring study conducted by the Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (TUCP) attests. The TUCP is part of a global alliance against sweatshops. In the past several months, it has been monitoring hundreds of companies to determine if they have been complying with labor standards and fair labor practices. The results of the study paint a very bleak picture indeed. Abuses abound despite “diligent” labor inspection. And forced overtime - long, long hours of work, many times under-compensated - leads the list of these abuses.
Here are just a few examples taken from the TUCP study. The names of the companies have been changed in order to protect the workers who were brave enough to report their employers and cooperate with TUCP’s monitoring team.
Labor unions can help immensely to stop the practice of mandatory overtime.
- For instance, at Apparel Assembly, a Filipino producer of baby dresses for JC Penney, Sears Roebuck and Little Betty in Rizal, overtime work is imposed seven hours a day with no morning and afternoon breaks. During the once-a-week “overnight work,” management distributes Duromine, which you might be familiar with as it figured prominently in the news recently. Duromine keeps workers awake even for 24 hours. Pharmacists say that the drug increases adrenaline, produces an increase in heart rate and blood pressure, and causes dry mouth, insomnia and constipation.
- Forced overtime takes its toll both on the mind and the body. Tired workers can make tragic mistakes. For example, a 24-year-old female operator’s three right-hand fingers were cut by a pressing machine in the second week of overtime work in October 2001 at Charing Inc. in Subic. The company, a Taiwanese producer of Acer computer parts which are exported to US, Japan, Europe and Asia, forced workers to render six hours overtime work everyday for three weeks in September to October 2001 to meet orders. A TUCP verifier said the management realized the need to put sensors as a safety feature in the machines only after seven recorded accidents involving their pressing machine operators. However, forced overtime, which contributes to the accidents, continues.
- In Tarlac, Texworld Industries, which makes t-shirts and baby dresses for Gap, Tommy Hilfiger and Gymboree, management locks gates and holds time cards to force workers to work overtime. At one time, employees were forced to work for three days straight and afterwards, were given only a three-hour break to go home before getting back to work.
- In Western Exports Corporation in Cavite, a Korean-owned producer of K-Mart, Quelle, Siggerman and By Design-labeled knitted sweaters, employees are made to work 48 straight hours once a month. Four female union members were suspended in April 2002 after they refused to work overtime.
[Though some foolishly encourage overtime and thereby cut their own membership and power.]
The problem is these garment companies are notorious for union busting.
How can these workers join a union if they are not even allowed to attend meetings outside of work? Many employees of these companies dare not complain or file cases for fear that they would no longer be asked to render normal overtime work and will lose extra compensation, or worse, get fired.
- In We Care Corp., a Korean manufacturer of bags with Jansport and Eddie Bauer brands in Bataan where employees are made to work 14 to 16 hours a day, management specifically demands forced overtime when the union calls for a meeting. Time cards are held in the office to prevent workers from leaving and escaping overtime work. The contracts of those who refuse to work overtime are prematurely terminated.
["Normal overtime work" - that's their problem right there. Short-term anxiety has put them into a deteriorating situation where work is increasingly concentrated on just a few people and there are more and more desperate people looking to do your job for longer hours and less money = a race to the bottom.]
Generally, there is no legal limit on the number of hours an employer can schedule overtime work. Article 83 of the Philippine Labor Code says: “The normal working hours of an employee shall not exceed eight hours a day.” Article 87 of the same Code adds, “Work may be performed beyond eight hours provided that the employee is paid for the overtime work, an additional compensation equivalent to his regular wage plus at least 25% thereof....”
[Whoopee doo, time&aquarter instead of time&ahalf.]
So while the law is clear on compensation that employees must receive for overtime work, there are no limits on overtime hours.
Perhaps our lawmakers can take it upon themselves to put a bill on the legislative mill that would allow workers to decide for themselves whether to call it a day,
or at least one that would limit mandatory overtime to prevent abuses.
Admittedly, for many of our workers, working overtime is the only way to make ends meet,
[that would change with on-the-job training popping up all over the economy so you could upgrade your skills]
but they also have to able to decide for themselves when enough is enough.
[This just resurrects the myth that employees can choose their hours. Dream on.]
Forced overtime is disruptive to workers’ lives. Not knowing how long their workdays will be makes it hard for our workers to lead normal lives. They cannot devote what little time is left for them to their families. And they suffer physically and mentally, sometimes with tragic consequences.
- Part-Time Hours Reduction Denied, icNorthern Ireland (UK).
A senior police officer has denied reports that the working hours of parttime reservists in the Banbridge area will be cut to save money. Superintendent Mervyn Waddell said recruiting extra reservists will mean the PSNI [Police System of Northern Ireland?] can provide extra policing within the community, especially beat patrols in towns and villages.
Mr Waddell was responding to comments by a member of the Dromore Community Police Liaison Committee who claimed he had information that part-time officers were to have their working hours slashed because of cash restraints.
- Big Companies' Employees Far Better Off Than Those at Small, Medium Firms, by Byun Duk-kun, Korea Times (South Korea).
The gap between wages of large conglomerate workers and small and medium sized company employees further widened this year while the overall wage increase reached double figures, according to the Ministry of Labor yesterday.
The average wage of all employees working at companies with more than five employees came to 2.06 million won for the first half of this year, an increase of 10% from 1.87 million won from the same period last year, while their average working hours dwindled by 0.7 hours per month, a 0.4% decrease from 198.7 last year....
- No overtime for police, swissinfo (Switzerland).
Police in the Swiss canton of Geneva are refusing to work overtime in a bid to press for better working conditions and a salary rise. A union spokesman said long working hours over an extended period of time was leading to tensions within the cantonal police force. The protesters called for an additional 100 staff to be drafted in during major sports and cultural events.
The cantonal government foresees a deficit for next year of more than SFr500 million ($379 million).
- Learning+along+the+way, by Jeff Reynolds, Pro Football Weekly via ESPN.
FLORIDA - It's Tuesday, Sept. 30, 4:15 a.m. Raheem Morris called it a Monday only four hours ago. With only slight resistence, his Tuesday has begun. Morris, a defensive assistant for the Super Bowl-champion Buccaneers, is veering into the lot at Tampa Bay's One Buccaneer Place team facility after 16 hours at the office Monday. It's the end of a short drive from home, the start of a long haul that would force the majority of us to resign.
The players are off - scheduled as such, at least - and the complex quiet, but Morris will be one of the first faces head coach Jon Gruden sees at shortly after 4 a.m. this morning ... and normally the last anyone will see when the clock chimes in Wednesday [and] Morris, sometime after 12:30 a.m., calls it a day some 20 hours later. "Tuesday and Wednesday, they are kind of the same thing," Morris said. Morris and fellow quality-control coaches or lower-level assistant coaches have normally surpassed a 40-hour workweek by Tuesday evening.
As you may imagine, the wages for the position are not great. Most quality-control coaches can figure to make the equivalent of $7 an hour or less per year. A greater payoff comes from your mentors - like Gruden and defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin for Morris - who are sharing their wealth (of knowledge) and are always good for a few punchlines come midnight.
- Author sees clarity through clutter - Audience comes in search of ways to prioritize hectic lives, by Kara Patterson (920-993-1000 x215 or firstname.lastname@example.org), Appleton Post Crescent (WI).
APPLETON, Wisc. - ...Best-selling author Cheryl Richardson’s keynote speech Tuesday evening...concluded ThedaCare’s annual “An Afternoon for Women” program.... Richardson coached a Fox Valley audience of more than 1,200 women and several men at the Radisson Paper Valley Hotel on how to take care of themselves and their loved ones through wise use of their time, energy, passion and resources.
Richardson walked several audience members through talks about their own challenges:
- too many 50-hour-plus work weeks;
- a house full of young children;
- a lack of energy to function at their best....
- 'For Christmas I want my dad to get better', The Guardian (UK).
...The facts -
- Thousands of British children are providing more than 50 hours of unpaid care in their own homes every week, according to census figures.
- There has been a threefold increase in the number of children providing substantial care for a relative, with figures jumping from the 1996 estimate of 51,000 to more than 175,000 by the beginning of last year.
- Children's charities say this is the tip of the iceberg because so many children who are juggling responsibilities at home with those at school suffer in silence.
- Although the average age of a young carer is 12, census figures released in June show that even 5-year-olds are spending longer than the adult maximum working week caring for a parent, brother, sister or other relative.
- "One of the real problems is that there often has to be a crisis before the family gets any help. It is important that agencies who work with these families recognise the needs of the child as well as the person who is ill," said Jenny Frank, the Children's Society's young carers coordinator.
- ABC Regional Online, Australia
Workers seek pay lift as dispute escalates
ABC Regional Online, Australia - Oct 8, 2003
About 100 Otis elevators workers will down tools today as part of a campaign for
a shorter working week and extra pay to match their increased responsibilities ....
- Time and a half in the Capitol, editorial, NYT, A28.
In a rare Republican rebellion against pro-business priorities, the House has rejected a controversial plan to overhaul the rules covering overtime for millions of American workers. The House initially approved the plan last July, but several members of the GOP majority, clearly sensing voters' concern about hard economic times, switched sides last week. That gave the second round to the Democrats, who were warning that many white-collar workers would be stripped of their overtime rights. The overtime proposals already [have been] rejected by the Senate....
- No redundancies planned at Gozo Channel, MaltaMedia Daily News.
GOZO, malta - While the Minister for Information Technology Austin Gatt defended the recent reduction in trips by Gozo Channel, he reassured that there are no redundancies planned at the loss-making ferry company. Prompted by a Parliamentary Question by Gozita Opposition MP Justyne Caruana, Minister Gatt said working hours were being reduced as a result of the winter time-table which has a smaller number of trips than the summer one. However there is no reduction of pay as a result, and there is no ban on overtime [huh?].
Minister Gatt defended Gozo Channel's reduction of winter trips in the evenings, which has already garnered some very negative feedback from commuters and the business community. He explained that on certain evening trips the car deck was two-thirds empty and there was only an 11% passenger load.
The cutback in trips will save the company some Lm1, 400 a week, which, the Minister said, are taxpayers' money. The long tailback of cars at Mgarr Harbour last Sunday is being attributed to the cutback in the number of trips.
- Collier deputies trying to decide whether to form a union, by Brigid O'Malley
(email@example.com), Naples Daily News FL.
FLORIDA, usa - Collier County sheriff's deputies are trying to decide whether they want to form a union.
But Sheriff Don Hunter said he'll still have the final call and the $336 annual dues that deputies would pay to the Florida Police Benevolent Association would not guarantee that the sheriff would agree to the terms of any contract since he isn't required to by Florida law, but must bargain in good faith. Hunter said deputies should consider that they'd be giving away their annual merit raises, or 2% of their salaries, should assessments reach $800, for no real gain because of nonbinding arbitration. "Whatever I'd agree to would be voluntary." Hunter said. "So, basically, I'd be making decisions the same way I do today."
[He can dream.]
Local union organizer, Collier sheriff's Cpl. John Bartis, said that deputies have problems with being "at-will" employees of Hunter and want job security. They also want a grievance procedure that allows a nonemployee third party to be involved in the process, more paid holidays and a 40-hour week instead of the 43 hours deputies now work. "Job security is No. 1," said Bartis who joined the agency in 1999 from the Newport, R.I., police force and who works in civil process....
- Recruiter has whole world at its balance sheet, by Scott Reid, Edinburg Evening News UK.
EDINBURGH, scotland -...Abigail Stevens [is] the founder of Edinburgh-based Think Global Recruitment. ...In three short years, she has managed to build a successful business exporting [accounting] skills learned in Scotland to countries as far flung as Australia, Bermuda and the Cayman Islands....
"September 11 did have an impact on the recruitment market - there were certainly fewer vacancies around for a while. However, in the past couple of months the market appears to have swung back. There are more and more vacancies out there and not enough recently-qualified accountants, in particular, to fill the posts," she says..\..
As far as the candidates themselves are concerned, the majority tend to be young, free and single. Ms Stevens says: "Newly-qualified accountants are the most likely to travel overseas. They don’t have as many ties and there is much more demand for them. Most employers tend to ask for a commitment of two years plus...."
Money is far from being the main pull, though. Lifestyle and gaining experience are the two key influences when deciding on a stint abroad. In a survey of more than 200 accountants who are currently working, or have recently worked, overseas, Think Global found the majority received a similar remuneration package to that back home.
"Practically no-one comes to us these days and says they want to do it for the money," says Ms Stevens. Besides the weather, the perks of an overseas placement can include a low-tax regime, easier working hours and the chance to undertake work for global financial services clients. Surprisingly, language skills are not always a pre-requisite. While accountancy practices and corporate hard-hitters in France and Germany demand an understanding of their mother tongues, parts of Eastern Europe, the Far East and Middle East covet English speakers....
- County to pay millions in 2 suits - Costly settlements over payroll mix-ups hit tight budget hard, by Neil Modie (206-448-8321 or firstname.lastname@example.org), Seattle Post-Intelligencer.
WASHINGTON STATE, usa - At a time when King County officials are scraping for scarce dollars to cover essential government services, they're about to fork over $9.2 million to settle two employee lawsuits arising from payroll screw-ups.
The $9.2 million that the county would shell out as a result of the two Superior Court lawsuits doesn't include the value of future extra vacation time - about $4.3 million - that some of the groups of employees agreed to accept in lieu of cash settlements that would have stripped money from other budget needs. If the suits go to trial, they could end up costing the county several times as much, officials have said....
- The biggest outlay is $7 million being paid to as many as 1,100 deputies and other hourly-wage employees of the King County Sheriff's Office, plus $557,500 for other settlement awards and the county's settlement administration costs. The sheriff's employees sued over bureaucratic delays by the office in violation of labor laws requiring timely payment of overtime [premium] and other special pay. The $7 million represents damages in addition to the overtime [compensation], which has been paid.
"It comes at the worst possible time for the general fund," the county's main operations fund, said Larry Phillips, D-Seattle, the County Council budget chairman. Next week the council begins the 2004 budget process faced with revenue projections about $20 million less than current spending levels.
- The other lawsuit settlement, approved by the County Council yesterday, will cost $1.67 million for underpaying hourly county employees who worked one or two days more per year than they were paid for. [The] suit, known as the Dupuis case...after one of its plaintiffs, was the one for which the council approved a $1.67 million settlement yesterday. It arose after workers and union representatives discovered that the county had been paying hourly employees for working 2,080 hours a year - 40-hour work weeks for 52 weeks - but in some years the employees actually worked 8 or 16 hours more than that. The settlement, covering the past four years, compensates current hourly-wage employees with extra vacation time and former employees with cash. It includes $651,000 being paid to the plaintiffs, $375,000 for the plaintiffs' legal fees and $642,000 for the cost to the county of defending the suit and administering the settlement..\..
- Sheriff sues county - Tracy Hawsey says commissioners are breaking law by budget/cutting request, by Connie Baggett, Mobile Register AL.
EVERGREEN, Ala. - Sheriff Tracy Hawsey is suing Conecuh County commissioners, claiming they are breaking state law by not granting his budget requests for this fiscal year. According to the lawsuit filed Sept. 29, commissioners cut more than $150,000 from Hawsey's request of $621,328 for the Sheriff's Department and $720,379 for the jail budget. Hawsey is asking for a judge to order the county to grant his original budget request.
The commission ordered Hawsey to cut his jail staff from 20 jailers to 16, but Hawsey refused, saying the cuts would mean he must break state mandates on inmate care. County Administrator Harry Still III said Hawsey is already breaking federal labor laws by working part-time employees in excess of 40 hours a week on a regular basis.
Hawsey claims in the lawsuit that any cuts will risk the safety of officers, inmates and the public. "He's claiming we have repeatedly failed to adequately fund the sheriff's office and the jail," Still said Monday. "I guess he feels his department shouldn't have to be affected by the funding cuts every other department is facing." Still accused Hawsey of questionable management practices, such as voluntarily taking more than 30 inmates from Covington County's jail to house in Conecuh free of charge while cities in the county pay $30 per day per inmate to house inmates.... Just what state mandates the sheriff referred to in the law suit were unclear. Attempts to contact Hawsey were unsuccessful Monday....
- Hospitals outline agenda, by Michelle Blum, Wheeling News Register WV.
WEST VIRGINIA, usa - The West Virginia Hospital Association will focus on governmental reimbursements, care for the uninsured, and dealing with the shortage of health care workers during the upcoming session of the state's Legislature. Tony Gregory, director of Communications and Legislative Affairs for the organization, outlined the legislative agenda during an advocacy workshop Tuesday afternoon at Wheeling Hospital. ...The number of uninsured is growing in the state as well as nationwide, [Gregory] said, noting that U.S. Census Bureau data indicates there are 43.6m nationwide without healthcare insurance. He said about 250,000 West Virginians have no "consistent point of access" to health care. About 61% of the uninsured are employed, and 30% of [them] work 40 hours or more each week....
- Capitalist greed, Men and Ideas column by Gurcharan Das (email@example.com), Times of India.
INDIA - Dick Grasso is one of the most competent leaders that the famous New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) has had in decades, but he resigned on Sept.17 because they discovered that he had been paid a shockingly high salary. When I read about his $140 million salary and benefits, I thought it must be a misprint, but the obscene figure turned out to be true, and even I, a votary of free markets, winced.
The head of California Teachers Retirement System (Calpers) told us that it would take an average American 5,200 years, working 40 hours a week, to make the same money. The Wall Street Journal reported that even his 2002 base salary (without benefits) of $12m was greater than the combined pay of the heads of nine top stock exchanges around the world....
- The moving crew, with John Briley..., Washington Post Oct 7, 2003; 2:00 PM.
You need to get moving. Let's face it, we all do - not to claim boasting rights in the gym or look good in a Speedo (you don't) - but to boost our chances of staying healthy and energetic, regardless of age and athletic ability. ...If you're a harried deskjockey trying to find creative ways to squeeze in exercise, a senior looking to stay active, or a workout enthusiast whose routine's gone flat, you might find the answers here....
Join us Tuesdays at 2 p.m. A transcript [of this Tuesday] follows....
Washington, D.C. : How can I get out of my office at lunchtime for a brisk walk? I feel as if I must stay at my desk in case I am needed. But actually I know I won't be missed. It's all in my head.
The Moving Crew: Sounds like you have it solved, D.C., you just need to act on it.
Great recent New Yorker cartoon: Two guys standing in an office. One says to the other: "I didn't really enjoy working 40 hours a week, 50 weeks a year for 40 years, but I needed the money."
Many, many employers bank on employee self-importance and guilt to keep worker bees glued to their chairs and, sadly, it works.
But does it really? You NEED those breaks. Experts call it "oscillation," and without it your mind becomes tired and your work suffers.
Reclaim your life. [Take back your time!] Take the walks. Enhance your health. Have fun. It will make you a better employee and the work will be there when you get back.
- Volunteers to attend medical emergencies... - Members of the public are being trained to attend emergencies before ambulance crews arrive, BBC News UK.
OXFORD, england - ...Oxfordshire NHS [National Health System?] Ambulance Trust is launching the scheme in Oxford on Tuesday for people who may not have any specialist medical experience.
Volunteers will be trained over a period of six months to respond to emergencies such as heart attacks until ambulance crews reach the scene.... As they will be living within a three-mile radius, it is likely they will be able to reach the incident before the ambulance....
While on a 24 or 48-hour period of duty, the volunteers will carry a defibrillator, a comprehensive first aid pack and a reflective jacket....
[24 or 48-hour periods of duty? Sounds like they're trying to create medical emergencies, not cure them.]
- German steel workers stage walkouts, AP via Raleigh News NC.
BERLIN, germany - Thousands of steel workers in northwestern Germany staged short walkouts Tuesday as the country's biggest industrial union, IG Metall, stepped up the pressure in pay negotiations set to resume next week. Employers last week offered a 1.8% pay rise for the roughly 85,000 steel and metalworkers in the northwestern region, which includes Germany's Ruhr industrial heartland, in an 18-month agreement. However, IG Metall wants a 4.5% raise and a one-year agreement.
The union said more than 10,000 workers at 29 sites took part in Tuesday's action.
The dispute is the first since IG Metall chose new leadership this summer after members in economically depressed eastern Germany staged a failed strike for a shorter work week....
["Failed" except for engineering workers, succeeded for steelworkers.]
- French study to examine impact of 35-hour workweek on economy, AP via WSJ (10/08), A18.
[This WSJ article is verbatim what we'd already picked up and commented from GoogleNews -]
French gov't to study 35-hour work week, by Nathalie Schuck, AP Oct 7 2003 3:15 PM EDT via Newsday.com.
PARIS, france - The French government ordered an impact study Tuesday of the country's 35-hour workweek - a first step toward possibly revamping one of France's boldest workplace experiments. Ruling party lawmakers said they would set up a parliamentary commssion to review the effect of the reduced workweek on businesses, on the economy and on government finances. "A modern country does not fear an evaluation," Prime Minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin told the National Assembly. He added, "Work must be a central value of our society."
[Well since Raffarin is immigrating and automating into a rigid-workweek economy with already-high un(der)employment, he's already destroying the work ethic of his society as fast as he can.]
The shorter workweek was the signature achievement of former Prime Minister Lionel Jospin, whose Socialist government cut the hours from 39 to 35 to create jobs at a time of record unemployment. However, France's new center-right government, as well as business executives, claim the shorter week has made France less competitive.
[If CEOs want to compete in a race to the Third World, let them give up their own bloated salaries and perks to do so.]
One of the main complaints is the 35-hour workweek puts inordinate strain on smaller businesses.
[So buffer or delay it further for small businesses, but get overtime-to-training&hiring conversion going much more strongly so that small-business employees have more options and small employers will be subject to the discipline of the 'playing field' of the market, now more level between employers and employees.]
Raffarin said it would be "very useful" to see the effect fewer hours has had on individual companies and local finances.
[It sure would, but is there any chance of a fair survey? Raffarin is already saying, "Don't confuse me with facts - my minds made up."]
The opposition Socialists claim the government is using the shorter workweek as a scapegoat for its poor performance.
[- in fact, for anything that's going wrong in France from the heatwave deaths to the budget deficit. The fact remains that in the four years from when preparations started for the 4 hour drop in the workweek in 1997 to the point in 2001 when France, almost last in the EU, began to be pulled down by the US-led recession, French unemployment dropped from 12.6 to 8.6%, 1% for each hour cut from the workweek = the same performance the USA experienced in its establishment and 4-hour cut of the nationwide workweek in 1938-40.]
"This is the great concert of hypocrites," said Jean-Marc Ayrault, who heads the Socialist group in the lower House. "All this is a crude operation to organize the defense of the government that today is at an impasse."
Last week, Budget Minister Alain Lambert blamed the shorter workweek for France's inability to meet budget deficit limits of 3% of GDP set by the European Union.... Jacques Barrot, the leading lawmaker for the ruling Union for a Popular Majority, said the study would begin shortly and that the commission would carry out "the most objective evaluation possible."...
[which may not be saying much, considering -]
Social Affairs Minister Francois Fillon said the shorter workweek was an economic error because "this reform has a disproportional cost for a mediocre result."
[What's Fillon et freres basing all this jump to judgement on when the study has yet to be done?]
A law Fillon sponsored, approved in October 2002, already slightly softens the 35-hour legislation by, among other things, raising the limit on overtime hours allowed from 130 to 180.
On Monday, Raffarin said during a trip to Russia that France is on the cusp of economic recession, according to La Tribune, a French financial daily.
[Aren't we all, aren't we all. But it's because we can't seem to "get" the fact that our whole stated purpose for technological efficiency is to save time, work time, and that means less market-demanded work. And meanwhile we want a rigid or rising workweek. ERROR ERROR = self-contradiction. We need to make up our minds if we want to split society into workers and drones, or share whatever natural market-demanded work there is, regardless of how much OR HOW LITTLE - instead of manufacturing artificial government-demanded makework that only raises taxes, or deficits.]
A recession is typically defined as two successive quarters of falling GDP.
- Shamrocks and sheep in a Paddy’s paradise, by Kirsty Boazman, Canberra City News.
BOOROWA, australia - There are a couple of give-aways about the ancestry of Boorowa, a town of about 1100 near Yass. It could be the shamrocks painted on the town’s footpaths. It could be the friendly, ute-driving Paddys. Or it could be the town’s pool table – it’s round! No surprise that a couple of Irish cousins first settled this area. It must have reminded them of home. Green rolling hills, fat lambs, slab dwellings and by 1900 – six pubs....
Our social topography excursion started at the Top Pub or Boorowa Hotel. ...We wafted down the street to the Courthouse Hotel.... This was obviously the town pub....
Next on this slowly-revealing social ladder was the Ram and Stallion. Banjo Patterson stayed here in 1901 when he was in town to incite the locals with a political rally. The shearers he probably stirred up over the country’s new law to regulate working hours and wages would have drunk at this pub. It has loads of history in, and on, the walls. But not enough pockets on the round pool table.... This was the last stop on our crawl through a theory of country pub class-ism.... But this round-table sport obviously requires a PhD in obtuse angles. Two games and almost a broken cue later, we returned to the Top Pub....
- Workers hate their bosses, unhappy in jobs, Sydney Morning Herald //Dial Infolink MFG.
AUSTRALIA - Australian workers hate their bosses and are largely unhappy in their jobs, a survey of the nation's workforce has found. The 2003 SEEK Survey of Employee Satisfaction and Motivation in Australia paints a bleak picture of the country's workplace satisfaction. The survey found almost half of employees were not happy in their jobs, with 49% of employees responding that they were unhappy or very unhappy, compared to just 25% who were happy or very happy and 26% who were neutral.... Half of all survey respondents said they were actively looking for a new job, and 96% said they would consider switching jobs depending on the opportunities offered..\..
Causing the most workplace grief for employees were their bosses, with the survey finding workers were more disgruntled with their boss than they were with salary, working hours, work environment or career prospects. Six out of 10 employees cited quality of management when asked if they hated anything about their current job.... Among age groups, those in their 30s were the most unhappy with their bosses.
When asked if they loved anything about their jobs, 54% of respondents said: "the people I work with", followed by variety and content of work (41%), hours of work (38%) and salary (26%). Fewer than 20% said they disliked their co-workers....
SEEK chief executive Paul Bassat said the findings showed a potent mix of disgruntled employees who would rather be somewhere else but who feel stuck in their current job. "That's bad news for morale and bad news for productivity," Bassat said.... "[Companies] need to ensure open and honest communication throughout the company, treat employees with respect and fairness and acknowledge a job well done," he said.
[Preaching to deaf ears unless shorter-hours-born labor shortage disciplines companies with market forces = employees leaving for better jobs.]
- Ouch! E&T take a $33m hit, Sydney Morning Herald Australia.
BRITAIN - ...The Guardian reports [One.Tel] has just published a survey on corporate cost cutting. The survey "Are you Britain's Tightest Boss?" claims 70% of small business bosses in Britain have taken desperate action to reduce costs, upsetting employee morale and productivity. Some of the initiatives cited include getting rid of the cleaner and expecting staff to do the dishes (20%), cutting back on heating and air conditioning (6%), extending staff working hours with no pay rise (23), banning taxis (24), banning personal phone calls (25) and cutting lunch breaks (9)....
- Memories of oil embargo fade as potential oil crisis looms, by Joan Lowy (LowyJ(at)SHNS.com), Times Record News TX via Scripps Howard News Service, http://www.shns.com).
TEXAS, usa - Flash back to October 1973: Richard Nixon was in the White House and the Watergate scandal was in full cry.... Energy was cheap and plentiful: A barrel of oil cost $3, the typical American car got about 12 miles per gallon, and the might of U.S. oil companies seemed unassailable.
And then the Middle East blew up. On the Jewish holy day of Yom Kippur, Egyptian and Syrian forces attacked Israel in a surprise offensive. Israeli troops repelled the invasion, but the Arab nations of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries struck back against the West for supporting Israel. On Oct. 17, OPEC imposed an oil embargo on the United States and the Netherlands and raised prices 70% on America's allies in Western Europe. Within three months the price of oil had more than tripled.
Suddenly, Americans felt a new sense of vulnerability to events halfway around the world. Motorists were limited to a meager 5 or 10 gallons at the pump. Gas lines stretched for miles and tempers flared. Homeowners were told to turn down their thermostats and companies were asked to reduce work hours. Daylight-saving time was extended and gasoline sales were banned on Sundays.
The embargo, which lasted nearly six months, triggered a deep economic recession in the United States and other industrialized countries. Oil company stocks rose, but the rest of the stock market plunged.
Thirty years later, the nation is still grappling with the aftershocks of the crisis. Each of the last seven presidents has promised to reduce U.S. dependence on foreign oil, but the problem has only grown worse. Total oil consumption since 1973 is up 13%, while net oil imports are up 72%. Imports from the Persian Gulf have nearly tripled, from 800,000 barrels a day in 1973 to 2.2 million barrels a day in 2002.
Transportation - primarily automobiles - account for more than 60% of U.S. oil consumption. But the average fuel efficiency of American automobiles last year was at its lowest point since 1981.
"For the foreseeable future OPEC is still in the driver's seat," said Mark Hopkins, executive director of the Alliance to Save Energy, a bipartisan group formed in response to the oil embargo....
His first week in office...George W. Bush announced the formation of a national energy task force, telling reporters, "The vice president is going to head the task force to report back to me and to the nation how best to cope with high energy prices and how best to cope with reliance upon foreign oil."
[By invading OPEC one by one?]
Nearly three years later, Congress is in the final stages of crafting a national energy plan that emphasizes tax breaks and government incentives to increase domestic energy production. But most energy experts say the plan will have no impact on U.S. dependence on foreign oil. "I call it a Christmas tree," said Robert Ebel, head of the energy program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a Washington think tank. "You have a lot of little decorations on it that make it look good, but there isn't a lot of substance in it that's going to make a difference on either the supply or the demand side."...
Oil companies say the global picture is not as bad as some analysts portray it. The United States imports more oil, but the world oil market is far more diverse than it was in 1973. "We're probably more dependent on (foreign) oil than we were, but I think that we are substantially less vulnerable because we've managed that dependence in such a way that our supplies are more diversified," said Edward Porter of the American Petroleum Institute, the trade association for the U.S. oil industry.
OPEC's share of the world oil market has dropped from about 60% in the early 1970s to about 40% today. There are now nearly 100 countries exporting oil, many of which have entered the world market since 1980.
Nevertheless, two-thirds of the world's oil reserves are in the Middle East, suggesting that the region will eventually dominate the global market again. [And] many of the new sources of oil come from some of the world's most politically unstable regions, including West Africa, Kazakhstan and Azerbaijan. And demand for oil is also growing, not only in the United States, but in developing nations like China and India.... "We've made several transitions in the past - from wood to coal and coal to oil...," Porter said....
Most energy experts agree that without an event of the magnitude of the 1973 embargo, there will not be the political will to force any significant change in U.S. oil consumption....
The 1973 oil embargo profoundly affected the American auto industry. Before the embargo, Japanese automakers' share of the U.S. auto market was a mere 5%. By the end of 1974 - as Americans switched to smaller and more fuel efficient cars - the Japanese share of the market had more than doubled to 11%.
Two years after the oil embargo, Congress enacted mandatory fuel economy standards for the first time. But the price of oil plummeted in 1986 and the average fuel economy of passenger vehicles peaked in 1988. Sales of less efficient light trucks - mini vans, sport utility vehicles and small pickups - took off.
The auto industry has repeatedly fended off attempts to raise the fuel efficiency of automobiles, particularly SUVs. Instead, the industry advocates raising the price of gasoline, a move politically akin to hari-kari.
"Anytime you make a car more fuel efficient people just drive it more," said Eron Shosteck of the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers. "Gas is cheaper than bottled water. When you have a cheap commodity such as gasoline there is no incentive for consumers to use less of it. Now if gas were $3 a gallon, you might see people changing their driving habits."
- Price leaving highway department, by Matt Miller, Daily Journal (firstname.lastname@example.org), Edinburgh Courier IN via thejournalnet.com.
INDIANA, usa - Oct. 8, 2003, John Price is walking away from accomplished goals as county highway director to go back to a career he loves. On Oct. 30, he’ll return to the Johnson County Sheriff’s Department to become a training officer. Price has served as the highway director for six years. The 20-year sheriff’s department veteran will come back in a civilian role to teach reserves and deputies on a regular basis.
“Obviously I’ve always loved law enforcement,” said Price, who was chief deputy for more than six years. “I’ve done it for so many years, and it’s in my blood.” His father, who recently died, encouraged Price to follow his heart and return to the sheriff’s department. And 50- and 60-hour workweeks at the highway department wore on him and his family....
- Second state union agrees to concession deal, by Chris Andrews
(377-1054 or candrews(at)lsj.com), Lansing State Journal.
MICHIGAN, usa - A second union has reached a concession agreement with the state, union officials said Tuesday. Service Employees International Union Local 517M leaders reached the agreement and will hold a ratification vote by Nov. 1, said Executive Vice President Phil Thompson. Union officials said they sought to protect members from job loss or reduction in work schedules while minimizing the impact of concessions on workers.
[They're throwing out the baby (reduced worktime) with the bathwater (job loss) and protecting themselves against the primary change that would decrease labor surplus and increase their bargaining power.]
"We feel that this tentative agreement accomplishes all of these goals," SEIU Local 517M Vice President Ann Kazanowski said in a statement. Thompson said the deal includes a banked leave-time plan that the state has been promoting. It was accepted last week by the Michigan State Employees Association leadership, subject to a ratification vote.
Under the plan, employees continue to work 40-hour weeks but get paid for 38 hours. The other two hours' pay is deferred. Workers can take the hours as extra time off, or if unused, the state compensates them in their 401(k) retirement accounts. The SEIU's agreement includes unpaid furlough hours. Thompson said there are no changes to the health plan.
- A fistful of dollars - Ecuador’s Gutiérrez, Washington’s new puppet, splits with the Pachakutik Movement, by Luis Gómez, Narco News Bulletin.
ECUADOR -...The President of Ecuador, Lucio Gutiérrez, did not even show his face on the afternoon of Wednesday, August 6. It was his Secretary of Communication who had to publicly announce the split with the Pachakutik-New Nation Movement.... At a brief press conference, Marcelo Cevallos, the official government spokesman, said: “The president made this decision against Pachakutik’s attitude of not acting according to our alliance.” So the party with the most votes in the November 2002 Ecuadorian elections, the principal popular political organization, was kicked out of the government it helped to create for “not acting according to the alliance.”...
One of the measures Gutiérrez proposed to the National Congress was the creation of a 44-hour workweek, thus increasing the previous official standard of five 8-hour workdays. Pachakutik’s representatives not only opposed this measure, but also condemned it as “neoliberal.” Gutiérrez was able to pass this and other similar measures because of the Christian Social Party, whose representatives supported every one of the president’s proposals. It was this alliance with a group that has traditionally defended the interests of the Ecuadorian oligarchy, more than the neoliberal legislation itself, that irritated Pachikutik’s delegation....
[Strange and somewhat rebalancing to hear the label "liberal" applied to longer hours instead of shorter hours for a change, suggesting once again that the old split between right and left, conservative and liberal, is totally irrelevant to the urgent needs of today, globally, for some form of fluctuating adjustment of the workweek against un(der)employment, such as Timesizing.]
- Texas drops aid to those who break welfare rules, by Mitch Mitchell, Knight Ridder Newspapers via Ft Worth Star-Telegram via Centre Daily Times PA.
TEXAS, usa - ...Current welfare rules are not easy to follow, and include spending at least 30 hours a week in job search or related activities, cooperating with child support requirements or not voluntarily quitting a job..\..said Renee Trevino, an attorney with Texas Rural Legal Aid....
- Canada faces boomer conundrum - Aging population likely to produce labour shortages, health care threat, by Shirley Won, Toronto Globe & Mail, B9.
[Here's another report that ignores the revolutionary realities of automation, robotics and all kinds of worksaving technology and mechanization in general.]
TORONTO, canada - The aging of Canada's baby boomers will trigger labour shortages after 2010, and threaten sustainability of the health care system because of spiralling costs to care for the elderly, warns a report by the Conference Board of Canada. The labour shortage, once predicted to occur this decade, has been delayed because 50-something women are hanging on to their jobs longer than the previous generation, the report indicates.
[Never mind automation. Here we are in the midst of continental and global over-population. Here we are in the midst of a continental and global and rapidly deepening labor surplus occasioned by undirected automation and uncontrolled imports, immigrants, births, corporate downsizings and corporate outsourcings, and these morons are sounding an alarm about labor SHORTAGE? How can this kind of drivel be taken seriously at the beginning of the Third Millennium? It must be a sop to Political Correctness and the women's movement -]
"Baby boom women, who are now entering their 50s, are more attached to the labour force than they were the last round of 50-year-olds," says Charles Barrett, senior vice-president of the board. "Women are behaving quite differently than their mothers." Canada's fertility rate jumped after the Second World War, giving rise to the "baby boom" generation between 1947 and 1966. The bulge, now aged 35 to 56, accounts for 31% of the population. But fertility rates declined dramatically in the 1960s because of the introduction of the birth control pill and changing attitudes toward the family that brought more women to the job market.
The report says the aging of the bulge will prompt employers to find ways to keep more older folks on the payroll, and will mean a "substantial 0.8%" annual rise in health care costs to 2020.
[These morons follow one clause with a contradictory one - if healthcare costs are rising so fast, all the more reason for employers to get older folks OFF the payroll, not keep them on - and indeed we've had a huge increase in the last 10 years of employers going after expensive older employees - especially right before retirement - and downsizing them. This "Conference Board of Canada" is seriously out of touch.]
"The real crunch comes as the baby boomers begin to age past 65 and retire, which starts to happen around 2011, and will continue to just past 2025," says the report entitled "Performance and Potential 2003-04: Defining the Canadian Advantage." Beyond 2011, the report suggests that the labour shortfall caused by baby boomers reaching retirement age and fewer births in the post-boomer period will force employers to scramble for scarce workers, and to offer the older generation either higher wages or incentives to delay retirement.
The most significant gains in labour supply would come from extending the normal retirement age beyond 65, the report says. "The overall better health of the baby boom generation, coupled with growing longevity, will physically allow large numbers of baby boomers to continue working past age 65."
[More to the point, the looting of pension funds is already forcing thousands of older people to desperately seek employment past age 65 - and this is worsening the labor surplus and further restricting wages.]
Reduced hours, special assignments, temporary work, job sharing, consulting work and telecommuting are some examples of flexible work arrangements that appeal to many older workers as an alternative to full retirement, the report adds.
[All of which, in the current context of kneejerk downsizing and deepening labor surplus, further cut wages because many employers, sensing their absolute power, demand megahours and the blank check of salary instead of the minor inconvenience of time&ahalf overtime pay. See yesterday's (10/07/2003 #8's) story about Signalogic of Dallas.]
"These arrangements also have the added benefit of helping to stem the debilitating loss of institutional knowledge, which is an issue that will become increasingly critical for organizations as large numbers of workers retire and take their hard-won knowledge with them."
[Dream on. Many of today's CEOs are far too short-sighted to worry about institutional knowledge. This report is apparently also trying to toady to, and help with the job placement of, the many senior citizens who desperately need to keep working.]
Canada can expect to count on immigration from East Asia and the Indian subcontinent to fill some of the labour gap,
[Omygod, they're still pushing immigration. We need public referendums on this quickly before these outdated brains develop our overpopulation into an irreversible ecological death spiral.]
but will have to compete with other developed countries for the best and the brightest since their economies are also experiencing the impact of a postwar baby boom and bust, the report says.
[Never mind the brain drain factor, the much greater need back in their own home countries for "the best and the brightest"!]
The portion of Canada's population over age 65 is expected to rise to 20% by 2025 from 13% today. That will put pressure on the health care system because some older people require long hospital stays, multiple-drug therapies and intensive medical care. Hospital costs per person typically quadruple from middle age to the retirement years, the report says. Real percapita costs (adjusted for inflation) for 45- to 54-year-olds totalled $514 for males in 2001, compared with $2,409 in the 65- to-74-year-old age cohort. For males over 85 years of age, costs were $8,689. While savings can be gleaned from increased use of home care as opposed to hospital care, the report indicates that overall care costs will still increase because of the sheer numbers of elderly. Overall provincial/territorial health care spending is expected to increase at an average annual pace of 5.3% (including inflation) from 2003 to 2020, the report indicates. That would effectively boost these costs to 44% of government revenues in 2020 from 32% in 2001.
The report says the forecast 0.8% a year increase in health care costs attributed to an aging population may not seem overwhelming in the context of 5.3% average annual growth in spending, but it threatens the sustainability of the health care system because there is no offsetting increase in revenue.
[What about the huge taxable concentrations of income and wealth in the top brackets?]
The tax dollars needed for health care will compete over the next 20 years with other priorities like the Kyoto Protocol on greenhouse gas emissions, foreign aid [a controversial and very mixed "blessing" that is hardly a priority and should be decided only by issued-oriented, binding public referendum], defence spending [ditto] and renewing Canada's "crumbling infrastructure," that includes everything from roads and bridges to sewer systems.
[Global warming and infrastructure maintenance are the only convincing priorities on this list.]
To ensure the efficiency of Canada's health care system, the report suggests the need to examine four areas.
While aging baby boomers pose challenges for the workplace and health care system, the report also notes that the pressure on health care costs will inevitably ease near the middle of this century. "By 2045, the vast majority of the baby boomers will have disappeared from the landscape."
- There is a need to improve the productivity of health care workers, who are 1.5 times more likely to be absent from work because of illness or disability than workers in other sectors. For example, nurses can suffer injuries from lifting heavy patients, and a solution, in this instance, could be for hospitals to hire people specifically to assist in moving the disabled, said Dr. Glen Roberts, director of health programs at the Conference Board of Canada.
- The report says Canada must foster innovation with the goal of exporting health care products. It points out that life-saving discoveries, like the pacemaker and insulin, were developed in this country but were commercialized elsewhere. The taxes on royalties from patents would add more cash to government coffers, Mr. Roberts added.
[Fine, but don't count on exports in a world that, in general, is desperate to export to you, and increasingly has the technology to do so.]
- The report...suggests that Canadians reassess ethical decisions around dying. Countries, such as the United States, have encouraged the use of advance directives like living wills, and research indicates that can reduce health costs by 25 to 40% during the last month of life, Mr. Roberts noted.
[Agreed. Especially when North American retirement has transformed into dying on the job or dialing 800-KEVORKIAN.]
A living will is a document that records a person's wishes on how the end of his or her life will be spent, including the desire to end life-extending medical proc edures. "We raise the issue to potentially create a national debate about the importance of end-of-life care and the quality of life associated," he said.
- The report suggests Canadians consider revamping the funding of health care delivery by using a compulsory insurance scheme instead of general taxation. The premiums could be collected similar to unemployment insurance premiums or Canada Pension Plan payments, but there could be a "means test" for those in the lower-income brackets, Mr. Roberts added.
[Any thinking that relies heavily on death is hardly in line with long-term human aspirations to greatly increased longevity, if not immortality via very healthy lifestyles, spare-parts technology (stem cells are not persons, neither are foetuses), and non-invasive surgical and other procedures.]
Click here for spontaneous cases of primitive timesizing in -
1998 and previous years
For more details, see our laypersons' guide Timesizing, Not Downsizing put out as a campaign piece during the 1998 race for Joe Kennedy's empty Congressional seat. The handbook is available online from *Amazon.com and at the Harvard Square Coop, 3rd floor (business & economics sections) in Cambridge, Mass.
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