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Timesizing News, November 23-26, 2004
[Commentary] ©2004 Phil Hyde, Timesizing.com, Box 622, Porter Sq, Cambridge MA 02140 USA 617-623-8080


11/26/2004   primitive timesizing & worktime consciousness in the news = glimmers of strategic hope - all are 11/25 from GoogleNews & are searched-screened-collected by Alan Applebaum (AA) of Brookline MA with backup from *Ken Ellis (KE) of New Bedford MA (except #1 which is from 11/26 hardcopy), and with excerpting and [commenting] by Phil Hyde (PH) unless otherwise initialed -

  1. Online today - The Macro Investor, WSJ, front page.
    Nobody gets much work done the day after Thanksgiving, so why not make it a national holiday? Plus it would boost the economy, Steve Liesman says.
    What's news online @ WSJ.com/JournalLinks, WSJ, B2.
    Steve Liesman is scheduled to work today, but doesn't think he - nor most other Americans - should be. The day after Thanksgiving, he argues, would do nicely as "National Productivity Day," recognizing the impressive productivity gains made by U.S. workers in recent years.

  2. Europe Offers a New Dream of a Green, Connected and Caring World
    PolitInfo.com, Germany
    WASHINGTON , U.S.A. - For more than two centuries, the American dream - the idea that everyone in this country can achieve personal success through hard work and determination - has been a source of hope, envy and inspiration to people around the world. An alternative vision for the 21st century may now be emerging in Europe.
    Americans like to vacation in Europe if they can afford it. They enjoy its culture, its food and its diversity. They envy Europeans their longer vacations, shorter working hours and social benefits. But they also consider Europe's economy to be sluggish, its productivity low, its organization too bureaucratic and its policies weak and ineffective.
    Niall Ferguson, professor of economic history at Harvard University, says despite its enlargement, Europe can never really compete with the United States. "Whether in economic, in cultural, in political or in international terms, the European Union is an entity on the brink of decline and even dissolution," he contends.
    Some would disagree. The greater European Union is facing transitional problems, but there have been improvements: a growing economic and political influence, a strong European currency, more cultural diversity. Jeremy Rifkin, president of the Foundation on Economic Trends and author of a book titled The European Dream, says these improvements, coupled with estrangement from the United States, have encouraged some western European leaders to offer their own vision for the 21st century: one they think better suited for the new globalized world than the American Dream of individual success and self-reliance.
    "Americans believe they can be an island in and of themselves; in other words, self-contained," says Mr. Rifkin. "The problem is we live in a world that's much more densely connected. We live in a world where we are all vulnerable to things that happen everywhere else. So a SARS (disease) epidemic can affect us in a matter of months. A computer virus can affect all of us around the world in a matter of weeks. A terrorist attack can affect the whole world in a matter of days, or a financial scandal somewhere in the world in hours."
    Mr. Rifkin says the European dream, as he calls this alternative vision for humanity, is almost the opposite of the American dream. It emphasizes the success of the community rather than of an individual. It values quality of life more than material success. It is concerned with sustainable development and environmental protection. And it prefers peaceful conflict resolution to armed intervention. In the meantime, says Mr. Rifkin, many Americans are beginning to question their dream.
    Gar Alperovitz, professor of political economy at the University of Maryland, cites the growing gap between rich and poor as the biggest threat to the American Dream: "1% of Americans own about 50% - almost half - of the investment wealth. Just 1%. That is a medieval concentration." Professor Alperovitz says the promise that wealth would trickle down to the middle and low-income classes has not been fulfilled.
    [And cannot be fulfilled because it is dependent not on consumption but on capricious and discretionary charity, which is always too little too late. Any economic design that comes to rely primarily on charity for its most vital function, the centrifugation of value, is lethally flawed (ECOL: "unsustainable").]
    Jeremy Rifkin adds that surveys indicate the United States now ranks lower than most industrialized nations in equality of income. And that hinders upward mobility, a key aspect of the American dream: "Only Mexico and Russia score lower. So what's happened in this country is millions of people worked hard, they played by the script and they are not able to move up the ladder any more."
    Mr. Rifkin says many new immigrants who come to the United States to escape poverty remain poor. Those who achieve material success often say it has come at the expense of social, family and cultural life. But Professor Alperovitz says that picture of America is incomplete. There is more to Americans than self-striving: "There's also community service. There is neighborhood participation. There are more people now involved in worker-owned companies than there are members of unions in the private sector. So there is another side of America which is communitarian." And it is this communitarian America that will help revive the American dream, says Gar Alperovitz. The European vision for the 21st century is very attractive, but in his opinion unrealistic because of the transitional difficulties facing the enlarged union.
    Jeremy Rifkin agrees that as Europe grows, so do its problems. "There's growing anti-Semitism in Europe. There's discrimination against Muslim minorities," he says. In these circumstances, the vision of a culturally diverse, "Green Europe" may indeed seem utopian. But 200 years ago America's founders crated a radical new dream for humanity that has transformed the world, notes Mr. Rifkin. Today, Europeans are trying to create a different, but also worthy, new dream.
    [Let's not pull our punches - they're creating a different and much more worthy - for starters, sustainable - new dream. And that's not hard, because since the American Dream is vitally reliant on capricious and mind-bogglingly inadequate and randomly directed charity and is in the process of cannibalizing its own consumer base dba market for its own productivity dba target for its own investment, and is therefore in a suicide spiral (ECOL: "unsustainable"), all you have to do for starters is design a core of economic institutions that are sustainable.]

  3. [The rest of today's worktime news is mainly a litany of "man's inhumanity to man," the well-off hammering on the less well-off, and just plain blatant human stupidity.]
    Purring beyond 'The Jungle'
    Washington Times, DC
    By Matt Daniels
    Much has changed in the 100 or so years since Upton Sinclair exposed the deplorable working conditions once commonplace in many American industries. The modern American workplace is a far cry from "the Jungle" described in Sinclair's famous book. Even though workers now enjoy safety and job-related protections unknown a century ago, some contemporary labor leaders like Karen Nussbaum of the AFL-CIO argue that the more things change, the more they stay the same. Ms. Nussbaum, who founded 925 (the National Association of Working Women), says today's workplace is as indifferent to many workers' family responsibilities as that of a century ago. "The time crunch created by their dual 'family' and 'work' roles leaves most workers worrying that they do neither job well," she says. "It is a crisis that tears many families apart." Indeed, research by University of Maryland sociologist Harriet Presser shows separation and divorce are more common among married couples who work long hours, especially when one spouse works nights, rotating shifts, or at times opposite the other spouse (as this leaves the couple little shared free time). Author Jerome Segal believes mandatory overtime also contributes to work-family tensions. "Often, employers lay off workers, and then force others to work large amounts of overtime," Mr. Segal writes. "They do so to avoid paying benefits to more workers." Nearly a third of all American workers regularly put in more than 40 hours of work a week, according to Penn State economist Lonnie Golden. And almost 1 in 5 routinely work more than 50 hours a week. "The damage done by involuntary overtime becomes apparent in [a recent] Cornell University survey," the economist notes. "Workers reporting high pressure to work overtime experienced double the work injuries suffered by those who were not." Apart from not demanding unwarranted overtime work, employers can help ease some tensions between jobs and families by adopting flexible policies (like job-sharing, flex-time, and home-based work) that make it easier for workers to meet both job and family needs. Not surprisingly, American workers strongly support such flexible practices. In fact, a national poll by Wirthlin Worldwide found a resounding 87% of Americans agree that, "Businesses should voluntarily do more to help strengthen their employees' marriages by offering flex-time/job-sharing/home-based work options." Far from being "giveaway" programs, family-friendly workplace policies actually lower career burnout, reduce job turnover, ease interpersonal conflict and enhance worker productivity. In other words, flexible work policies are good for the bottom line William Pollack of Harvard University reports raising employee satisfaction by 20% sometimes boosts company financial performance more than 40%. A recent DePaul University study found the financial performance of the "100 Best Corporate Citizens of 2002" was "significantly better" than the average company listed among the S&P 500. This year's top honoree in Fortune magazine's "List of Best Places to Work" - Smuckers - has doubled its stock value in the last five years. In a healthy society, employment should enhance family life, not impede it. As the technology and communications revolutions continue reshaping the American workplace, the time has come for a new workplace revolution to build on the one Upton Sinclair and others helped usher in a century ago. This new revolution will enable more family-oriented workers to meet both their personal and their professional responsibilities.
    Matt Daniels is an attorney and political scientist who founded the Alliance for Marriage, a nonpartisan, multicultural organization dedicated to ensuring more children are raised in a home with a mother and a father.

  4. [No automatic 'sharework' system? - then you're doomed to more and more makework, however you try to disguise it. Bush disguises it as war on terrorism, angry rednecks disguise it as prison, distraught individuals disguise it as early retirement or self-'employment' or disability or homelessness. In the following article they're disguising it as 'welfare' -]
    Report: Welfare recipients face tougher rules
    Boston Herald, MA
    By Associated Press BOSTON, U.S.A. - About 10,000 state residents receiving welfare benefits, many of them disabled, would have to find work under new rules recommended by a state panel. The proposal also would require many welfare recipients who already work to put in more hours, perhaps as many as 34 a week, up from the current maximum of 30 per week. The proposed changes would put Massachusetts in compliance with federal welfare regulations, officials said. They would require as many as 5,600 disabled people to meet work requirements while pushing the number of welfare recipients in the state who have to work from about 12,700 to about 22,000. Department of Transitional Assistance Commissioner John A. Wagner hailed the proposed changes. "The disabled populations historically have been put aside and exempted and ignored,'' he told the Boston Globe. "What we're saying is that even folks with disabilities, given appropriate support, can engage in productive work activities.'' Wagner created the Welfare Reform Advisory Committee in July to prepare for the new federal requirements. The committee included advocates, government officials, educators and people with expertise in fields relevant to welfare recipients. The committee's co-chairman, Jeffrey J. Hayward, said the state generally has used a looser definition of disabled than the federal government, and only those who have met the state standard, but not the federal one, will have to comply with work requirements. "No one ever said we are going to take a severely disabled person and make them eligible for a work requirement,'' said Hayward, vice president of United Way of Massachusetts Bay. "If you are severely disabled, you are eligible for Social Security disability, and by that federal definition you are exempt.'' The committee also recommended expanding the definition of work so it includes caring for a disabled family member, taking English language classes, and even going to high school. The current requirements also include some classes and job training as well as some substance abuse treatment programs. The report calls on the state to put enough money into its welfare program to ensure that welfare recipients, especially those with disabilities, are properly assessed and that child care and job training are available to help those who can work. The report also says that "meeting the needs of all recipients will require a significant increase in funding,'' although the panel did not estimate how much additional money will be needed. Panel member Deborah Harris, however, wrote in dissenting remarks attached to the report that the DTA "had a preconceived agenda to eliminate exemptions before the committee even began meeting.'' "We strongly agree that we need to provide more opportunities for people with disabilities and other people who are currently exempt from time limits and work requirements in Massachusetts,'' said Harris, of the Massachusetts Law Reform Institute. "Where we part company is where the department says they have to hold a gun to their people's heads in order to provide opportunities.'' Massachusetts overhauled its welfare system in 1995, when there were about 103,000 families receiving $693 million a year in assistance. Today, about 49,000 families receive about $313 million per year, with an additional $53 million spent on child care for them.

  5. See you in court - Our intimate secrets, once revealed in divorce cases, now come out at employment tribunals New Statesman, UK
    By Mary Riddell
    ...The 17% rise in applications to tribunal hearings in the past year is fuelled by tighter regulations for employers, by claimants hoping for big bucks and by the decline of union membership and in-house mediation. But there is another, unspoken reason why tribunals have superseded divorce courts as the battleground of fractured relationships. In atomised societies, office bonds may seem almost as precious, or more so, than personal ones. For work-obsessed Britons, the break-up with a boss and colleagues can be as bitter as a rift with spouse or family. The idea that people want to spend much more time with their loved ones, and much less at their desks, is a comforting myth. In a recent Populus poll for the Times, 78% of workers said they would not do fewer hours for reduced pay. A third did not need the extra money but enjoyed their jobs too much to downshift....
    [Fine - they're the ones whose qualitative, deflationary incentive a sustainable economic design would harness to combat inflation - by requiring their reinvestment of overtime earnings in OT-targeted training&hiring. See Phase 3 of the Timesizing program.]

  6. Union and Visy meet as strike continues
    The Age, Australia
    Visy Industries and union officials are meeting in Melbourne to try to resolve an industrial dispute which is costing the company millions of dollars in lost production. The meeting comes a day after Visy's billionaire owner Richard Pratt wrote a letter to the federal government to highlight his anger at the Australian Manufacturing Workers Union's (AMWU) actions. The strike, by about 600 packaging plant workers in four states, has now gone into its fourth day. The strike began at 6am (AEDT) on Tuesday at 12 sites in NSW, Queensland, Western Australia and Victoria. Workers voted to take the action after enterprise bargaining agreement (EBA) negotiations broke down over the issue of salary continuance for injured and ill workers. A Visy Industries spokesman said the company was losing millions of dollars a day through lost production but was meeting customers' needs. He said while talks were scheduled on Friday, the company's position remained firm. "We thought we had already reached an agreement with the union," he said. Mr Pratt on Thursday wrote a letter to federal Workplace Relations Minister Kevin Andrews drawing his attention to the strike. In the letter he criticises the AMWU attempt to secure automatic salary continuance pay for ill and injured workers after 104 days on sick leave. "This is a ridiculous claim which would cost the company potentially millions of dollars and set a new and unsustainable benchmark for the manufacturing industry," Mr Pratt said. "It could lead to a situation where an employee who was on sick leave for two years could automatically collect five years pay and then begin working immediately in another job. "I felt compelled to let you know about this personally so you will understand why we are taking a strong stand on the issue." Mr Pratt also wrote to his employees asking them to consider the company's offer. "I never question legitimate sick leave and salary continuance," he told employees. "But I cannot accept that people should be paid for taking days off beyond their normal entitlements or after they are capable of returning to work." The federal secretary of the printing division of the AMWU, Steve Walsh, said earlier this week that the union hoped to resolve the matter with the company soon but workers were prepared to strike for as long as it took.

  7. Government aims for 'renewal' Valletta Times, Malta Budget 2005 Government aims for 'renewal' Christopher Scicluna Lawrence Gonzi accompanied by the Speaker of the House, Anton Tabone, on his way to present the budget in Parliament yesterday. A 17% surcharge on water and electricity consumption which will be reviewed every six months was announced in the budget speech yesterday. The surcharge will not be applied to social cases and will be capped at Lm5,000 for hotels and factories. Prime Minister Lawrence Gonzi, who is also Minister of Finance, said the country will be "renewed" over a period of five years. "What is good today, we'll improve by 2010. What needs to be changed we'll also have to change by 2010," he said. The budget for 2005 also features a 3% excise duty on the use of mobile phones, a 5c increase on bus fares and on cigarette packets and a Lm10 tax on flight tickets from Malta applicable from next August. Workers will no longer be given days off in lieu of public holidays falling on weekends, meaning an addition of four working days next year in what the government estimates should translate into a two% increase in productivity. The price of kerosene is to be raised to match that of diesel. Eco taxes will be extended to a number of products including plastic bags, shotgun cartridges, chewing gum and some electronic products. The budget also features incentives to help manufacturing industry and services including the creation of a new venture capital fund and the allocation of Lm1.8 million for assistance under the Business Promotion Act. Tax incentives will be given for research work and those companies which introduce e-commerce systems. Benefits available for SMEs employing up to six workers will be extended to companies employing up to 10 full timers. VAT refunds will be given to conference organisers and penalties on overdue VAT by SMEs will be waived as long as the payments are made. There will be tax benefits for the film industry. There are adjustments to the system of succession duty on property to favour the heirs, tax benefits for those carrying out restoration work and those who instal solar heating equipment, a one-year tax holiday for women returning to work after five years away, lower VAT on the purchase of musical instruments and tax cuts for parents of children with disabilities. There will be a cost of living wage increase of Lm1.75c per week and improved children's allowances for those having more than three children. "This is a measure to encourage the people to have more children in order to keep the pension system sustainable," Parliamentary Secretary Tonio Fenech remarked in a briefing before the budget speech was presented. Also published with the budget yesterday was a White Paper on pension reform where the government is proposing a gradual raising of the retirement age to 65 years and changing the system to one of three tiers made up of a government pension, a pension paid by employers and a privately funded pillar. The budget shows that the economy is expected to show a real GDP growth of0.6% this year, slightly lower than projected. Economic growth is expected to reach 1.5% next year. Total recurrent revenue is projected to reach Lm900 million next year, from Lm824.1 million this year, while recurrent expenditure will climb to Lm839.1 million from Lm808.5 million this year. The government's revenue this year was Lm19 million lower than projected because of the performance of the economy. Capital expenditure will rise to Lm137 million next year from Lm109.5 million this year (which was down from Lm126.6 million projected in the last budget). The structural deficit will reach Lm93 million this year (4.9% of GDP), a slightly improved performance from a projected figure of Lm95 million, and the figure is projected to decline further to Lm76.1 million by the end of next year. When calculated according to EU criteria (including companies whose revenue is dependent on the government) the deficit stands at 5.2% of GDP this year and will decline to 3.7% next year.... The government is projecting revenue of Lm50 million from the sale of shares having made no revenue from this source this year despite an original projected revenue of Lm35 million. The privatisation exercise will include Tug Malta, Interprint and the government's shares in Malta International Airport and MDP. Revenue from eco taxes is projected to reach Lm6.5 million. The government said it intends taking various measures to further rein in its spending, including a restructuring of government entities. Some of them will be amalgamated, starting with the Restoration Centre, which will become part of Heritage Malta. There will be tighter restrictions on staff recruitment and greater flexibility in the transfer of workers within the civil service. No new cars will be bought throughout the public service next year. The unemployed will be required to attend training courses or be struck off the employment register. A Benefit Fraud Unit will seek to crack down on benefit fraud while efforts to curb VAT abuse will focus particularly on the construction industry. Sale of duty free diesel will stop but those entitled to duty free supplies would be able to claim refunds.

  8. Healthy record on sick leave
    This Is Hertfordshire, UK
    ST. ALBANS, Herts., U.K. - Councillors attempting a crackdown on council officers off sick have learned that St Albans has a good record compared to other local authorities. Tuesday's overview and scrutiny committee, which had earlier asked for details of the sickness record and policy, was told that the average days off sick per employee in 2003/4 was 8.4, compared to the Hertfordshire average of 10.4. Chairman John Newman acknowledged the figures were better than average for local authorities but said sickness absence rates in the public sector were higher than for other employers. Head of human resources Gill Drew admitted the council could do more to tackle short-term absences and said all managers were getting training on the issue. Councillor Newman said: "Short-term absence is the area of the most skiving you can't pretend to have cancer for a year." The committee resolved to ask for a report on progress from Ms Drew next summer after the managers' training.

  9. The Basics: Quit work for a year: 7 steps to do it right - Taking a break may be just the thing to spark your spirits - But keep in mind these seven points to ensure that your mini-retirement doesn't produce maxi-regret
    MSN Money
    By Ginger Applegarth
    It's time for a break. It's something everyone thinks about on occasion, but now an increasing number of people are taking mid-career sabbaticals as a way to refresh their creativity, or to do things they've always wanted to do. Financial planners sometimes call it a "mini-retirement," in which you trade a couple of years while you're still in your 30s, 40s or 50s for working a little longer in your later years. The reasons vary. Maybe you want to travel, go back to school, spend quality time with your family, volunteer or pursue your favorite hobby full time. Taking time off from work may be the only way you can follow these dreams, or just undo the damage to yourself and your family from job-related stress. Sounds great in theory, but how do you pull it off? We will leave it to you to figure out what to do on your sabbatical, but here's how you can balance your desire for time off and your desire to keep your financial goals (such as a secure retirement) on track:
    1. A leave of absence is (usually) better than quitting outright. Unless your financial situation is very secure, and you don't need the group health insurance available through work, try for a leave of absence. (You also have the benefit of borrowing from your 401(k)). Understand that your employer can't keep your specific job open forever; the longer your sabbatical is, the less likely it is that you will be able to come back to your current position. Your employer may think a six-week sabbatical is terrific and will help you recharge your batteries to become a better employee; a six-month sabbatical (especially in a small company or a fast-paced one where products are brought to market very quickly) may be impossible to negotiate.
    2. Accept that it's going to cost you. Unless your employer offers you paid sabbatical time, you're going to have to take unpaid leave (or resign outright). Many a person has taken a sabbatical and rationalized the hit to the pocketbook with "I will be a better worker and much happier and focused, so I'll end up making much more money." That's great if it happens, but don't count on it. If anything, after a sabbatical you might decide you don't want to work as hard, or that you want to change your career to something less lucrative and more altruistic.
    3. Figure out how much it's going to cost you. We know this takes some of the spontaneity and fun out of the planning, but you need to know the bottom line in order to know how much time you can afford to take off. If you don't do it now, keep a detailed record of your monthly expenses for six months, subtracting out work-related costs (such as dry cleaning, lunches out, commuting costs) and adding in the extra costs of your sabbatical plans (such as travel, home renovation, and so on). Don't forget to also add in expenses that your employer pays now but that you will have to pay if you take a leave of absence or quit (such as medical expenses). Multiply your monthly basic expenses times the number of months you plan to be off work, and add in the extra costs of your sabbatical activities. Unless you will have a guaranteed job waiting for you upon your return, add at least three extra months for job hunting.
    4. Set goals for your sabbatical. This doesn't mean planning every day of your time off, but it does mean thinking through exactly what you want to achieve, both practically and personally.
    5. Figure out how much time is enough to meet those goals. Again, you don't want to sacrifice all the spontaneity in your time off, but unless your employer subsidizes you, every month you take off is going to cost you. You can plan for an open-ended sabbatical if you have a nice financial cushion and you're willing to use it, but there's a law of diminishing returns at work. For example, after six months off, the seventh month of free time is going to be less beneficial to you. At some point, the money you lose by continuing to stay out of the work force becomes more important to you than the extra free time.
    6. Find the money. Now that you know how much money you will need, you have to come up with it. Make a list of all of your assets, including any non-financial assets you might be willing to sell (this can be just the motivation you need to clean out your house and have the Mother of All Garage Sales). Here is a quick snapshot of the various sources of income and some quick strategies to remember with each:
    If you take money out of investments, subtract the capital-gains tax you will have to pay.
    If you take money out of savings, be sure you leave an emergency fund of about three months' worth of expenses in a checking or savings account; many people who have taken sabbaticals have reported that they vastly underestimated their expenses, even when they tried to plan.
    You could also go for a home equity loan, but take the loan proceeds well before you announce your plan for a sabbatical. If you are on unpaid leave, it's going to be hard to get that loan approved.
    Another source is retirement plans; take loans if you can, instead of outright distributions. That's because an early distribution from your retirement plan carries a 10% penalty, plus you get taxed at ordinary income rates on the amount of money you took out. If your company will give you a leave of absence instead of making you quit, you probably can borrow from your 401(k) plan. Remember, though, that if you don't go back to that company and your employment status is terminated, your loan must be paid back to the 401(k) plan immediately.
    You might decide to take a loan against the cash values of your life insurance policy, or to cash in an annuity. Before you do that, however, find out about the surrender charges. That includes any mutual funds that have back-end loads.
    If your parents are making annual gifts to you already or you know they would support your desire to take time off, you can ask for a parental loan. Of course, you can ask for an advance on your inheritance, but it's probably better if you ask for a loan and let them offer on the inheritance.
    If you plan to take substantial time off and you don't need a car, you might sell your car and use those funds. But before you do that, make sure you know where you will get the money to buy a replacement car when it's time to re-enter the work force. If you have taken a lot of time off, it may be hard to get a car loan before you have held onto a new job for a period of time.
    7. Make exit and entrance plans. When the job market is tight and employers are offering all kinds of incentives to prospective workers, you may be tempted just to quit and figure out your next job move at the end of your sabbatical. But even then, it's a bad move.
    To be fair to your current employer, you need to give at least three months notice if you're hoping to make it a leave of absence. This way, your temporary replacement can be trained and you make it clear that you care about your job and your employer. Even if you decide later not to come back to your current job, your supervisor will be more likely to provide a good recommendation. If we all lived life "by the numbers," we would never take vacations or sabbaticals, would never have kids and would never do anything unnecessary that costs any money. There are some things that money can't buy, and a sabbatical may be just what it takes for you to find it. Yes, you are probably going to end up with less money a year from now, five years from now and 20 years from now. The goal is for you to plan your time off in advance, make sure you can swing your finances so you don't have money worries while you are supposed to be de-stressing, and not find yourself saying, "I wish I had never taken that time off; it just wasn't worth it" at any time in the future.

  10. Youngsters addicted to shopping
    The Scotsman, UK
    WILLIAM LYONS
    Scrumping for apples, playing football in the park, learning to dance and going for long bicycle rides all used to be favoured pastimes of our children. Not anymore. New research shows today's child's pastime of choice is not playing football or dancing - it's shopping. Forget young professionals and single women, the National Consumer Council says that children are now the nation's shopaholics with a new generation as young as ten addicted to shopping and must-have labels and designer gadgets. Almost 78% of ten to 12-year-olds and 94% of girls aged ten to 19 admitted their main passion for shopping. Philip Cullum, deputy chief executive at the NCC, said: "Most of us enjoy shopping from time to time. But the worrying finding from our research is the extent to which young children are already being primed to become shopaholics. "By the age of ten, most have already been lured into a world of fashionable labels and must-have gadgets. Most young people say we all buy things unnecessarily - but when it comes to their own trips to the shops, they simply can't stop themselves." Today's pre-school children are being brought up in an increasingly affluent environment and are exposed to more than 3,000 advertising images per day. According to promotional marketing agency Logistix Kids, tweens (seven to 11-year-olds) have spending power and purchase influence of between 600 million and 1 billion a year within the UK. Cary Cooper, professor of psychology at Lancaster University Management School, said with more and more families being delayed until careers are well-established, there is more cash to lavish on each child, driven by the guilt of working parents. Prof Cooper said: "The child is just doing what children have always done; they have always wanted toys. But in the past parents were more reluctant to accede to them then now. "One reason is demographic changes. Two out of every three families in the UK are working families, but they also work extremely long hours. We have the longest working hours in the EU and second longest working hours in the developed world. What is happening is working parents feel so guilty they are not spending enough time with their kids so they give in to their consumer demands - it's guilt money." The NCC survey questioned 1,000 ten to 19-year-olds on their shopping habits and the overwhelming response was their enthusiasm for going out and buying things was unrivalled. But the survey also highlights an interesting paradox - although the new generation is more enthusiastic about shopping, it also realises its conspicuous consumption is largely unnecessary. More than 85% of children in Scotland admitted they buy things they do not really need.

  11. Sweat, Fear and Resignation Amid All the Toys - Despite Mattel's efforts to police factories, thousands of workers are suffering By Abigail Goldman
    Los Angeles Times, CA
    Quotes: 'Mattel has no way to know the truth about what really goes on here. Every time there is an inspection, the bosses tell us what lies to say.' - A...worker at the Shenzhen factory
    'Do we want to make people's lives better? Absolutely. Do we want to unilaterally do things that make us uncompetitive ... ? No.' - Robert A. Eckert, Mattel's chairman and chief executive
    GUANGDONG PROVINCE, China - Just off a wide dirt road that leads to a densely packed jumble of factories, workers behind one guarded metal gate toil seven days a week, sometimes as many as 24 hours straight, making toys for about 20 cents an hour. It is a pace that makes them almost numb to the poor ventilation, the lack of bathroom breaks and a fear that they will be beaten if they complain. Sweatshops aren't unusual, of course, in a country that possesses a large and cheap workforce and a permissive government hungry to attract big business. What makes this situation notable is that these workers make products for a company widely considered one of the most socially responsible American firms: Mattel Inc. The El Segundo-based toy manufacturer was one of the first U.S. companies - and the only major player in its industry - to establish an independent system for monitoring and publicizing how factory workers are treated. In fact, Mattel routinely checks and rechecks hundreds of plants around the world, aiming to ensure that they comply with its 112-item code of conduct. The seven-year effort has paid off - at least to a point. When it comes to limiting work hours, ensuring fair pay and improving health and safety standards, "Mattel is one of the best," said Chan Ka Wai, associate director of the Hong Kong Christian Industrial Committee, which has done extensive investigations into working conditions in the Chinese toy industry. Yet for all of that, tens of thousands of workers who make Mattel products still suffer. One big reason is that half of the toys displaying Mattel's familiar red logo are made in facilities, like the one here in an industrial area of Shenzhen, that the company doesn't own. "Mattel has no way to know the truth about what really goes on here," said a 24-year-old worker at the Shenzhen factory. "Every time there is an inspection, the bosses tell us what lies to say." Labor advocates agree that the situation is difficult. Mattel may be doing a lot to turn its own factories into showplaces, Chan said. "But their vendors look very different," he added. As increasing numbers of Western manufacturers shift production to China and other developing countries, Mattel's experience underscores how difficult it is to guarantee humane working conditions and still make the ever-cheaper goods that consumers demand. It also raises the question of how much responsibility a single company should bear when it operates in parts of the world where poverty is omnipresent and the exploitation of workers is rampant. The Times interviewed workers at 13 factories in southern China, Indonesia and Mexico that make Mattel products, including company-owned facilities and contractor-run plants. Visits to five of the factories were arranged by Mattel. The Times talked independently with employees at the other plants, where workers agreed to tell their stories only if they and their employers were not identified by name. Many said they were worried about retaliation from supervisors. Others expressed concern that if Mattel knew about the conditions, the company would cancel its contracts, casting the workers onto the streets. "It's good that they monitor, but not if it costs our jobs," said the Shenzhen factory worker, who has performed a variety of tasks for a Mattel contractor in the last two years, most recently stamping eyes onto plastic animals. "It's better to have bad conditions than no job at all."
    Inside Vendor No. 5
    Across Guangdong province, on the northeast outskirts of the Guangzhou city limits, Li Xiao Hong helps churn out toys at one of Mattel's best-regarded contractor factories. Vendor No. 5, as it's known, boasts dorms with TV rooms, a library, sports facilities, classrooms - even karaoke machines to help Li and her co-workers unwind after a long stint on the factory floor. Still, conditions are far from ideal. The plant's work areas are so poorly lighted that they seem permanently shrouded in gray. A strong smell of solvent wafts across the facility as rows of workers hunch over pedal- operated sewing machines and gluepots. Li is the fastest worker on a long, U-shaped assembly line of about 130 women who put together Mini Touch 'n Crawl Minnie, a scampering version of the Disney character activated by a baby's nudge. Li moves with lightning speed - gluing the pink bottom, screwing it into place, getting the rest of the casing to adhere, tamping it down with a special hammer, pulling the battery cover through its slats, soldering where she glued, testing to make sure the leg joints on the other side still work, then sending it down the line. The entire process takes 21 seconds. She generally works 5 1/2 days a week, up to 10 hours at a time. Her monthly wage - about $65 - is typical for this part of China, enough for Li to send money back home to her poor farming family in Henan province and to afford a computer class in town. But Li pays a heavy price: Her hands ache terribly, and she is always exhausted - a situation to which the 20-year-old seems resigned. "People at my age should expect some hardship," said Li, clad in bluejeans and a pink factory blouse, which she left unbuttoned to reveal a white T-shirt emblazoned with the silhouette of Mickey Mouse. "I should taste bitterness while I'm young." Besides, many here apparently have it worse. Last year, Mattel's independent auditors noted that the overtime extracted by Vendor No. 5 often exceeded the maximum allowed under Chinese law and under what Mattel calls its Global Manufacturing Principles. The extra hours, inspectors found, were not completely voluntary because workers were forced to seek permission to leave after their regular shifts, another violation of Mattel's rules. Some were found to have worked for nearly three weeks without a day off, which ran afoul of both Chinese law and company mandates. Robert A. Eckert, Mattel's chairman and chief executive, said he wasn't surprised that some contractor factories had violated Mattel's wage-and-hour restrictions. What's important, he said, is that the company work with its business partners to recognize and correct the problem. So far, Mattel has terminated 33 suppliers for violating its standards, while refusing to add 28 others to its list of approved vendors because they failed to meet the company's code. Eckert made clear, however, that firing factories isn't the goal. "Our job is to fix it," he said. "We're not in the business to try to cut off plants."
    Establishing Standards
    Mattel began monitoring factories almost two decades ago, when it focused on issues of health and safety, and greatly expanded the notion of what it should be accountable for in the mid-1990s. It was a time when activists around the world were stepping up campaigns against Nike Inc., Gap Inc. and others for allegedly using sweatshop labor outside the United States. For Mattel, the stakes were particularly high. A worker abuse scandal like the one that tarred Wal-Mart Stores Inc.'s Kathie Lee Gifford clothing line in 1996, when activists found that items were made by children working in deplorable conditions, would be especially disastrous for a maker of kids' toys. Negative headlines would scare off customers and spook Wall Street. "There isn't a reward for doing the right thing," noted Sean McGowan, a toy industry analyst with Harris Nesbitt in New York. "But there is a penalty if you get caught doing the wrong thing." Mattel later added a "social compliance" component to its program, which included a strict set of rules about working hours, wages, factory conditions and age requirements. The company formalized these standards in 1997 when it established the Mattel Independent Monitoring Council, a nonprofit group of observers funded by the company but administered through the Zicklin School of Business at Baruch College, part of the City University of New York. The group, now called the International Center for Corporate Responsibility, was charged with monitoring factories and publishing detailed reports as a check on Mattel's internal audits. Critics have questioned the monitors' independence. For its part, Mattel points out that it is the only major toy company to release outsiders' findings. (Its largest competitor, Hasbro Inc., has said that all its contractors must comply with International Council of Toy Industries ethics guidelines, modeled largely on Mattel's program, by the end of 2005. But Hasbro does not make public its independent auditors' reports.) Beyond scrutinizing its vendor plants in the developing world, Mattel has also built its own first-rate facilities, complete with comfortable living quarters for its workforce. The factory floor at Mattel Die-Cast China in Guanyao is bright and airy. Instead of the usual snaking assembly line, where workers perform the same task over and over and over, many MDC employees move around to different stations, often making an entire toy themselves; this helps eliminate painful repetitive-stress injuries. MDC's residence halls are more modern and nicer than dorms at top Chinese universities. In their off hours, workers crowd into the television rooms on each floor or play badminton on outdoor courts. Some head to the gym or to computer centers to practice lessons they learn in free classes offered on site. The quality of life here is written on the face of nearly every MDC worker: They smile, a rare expression at other plants. "People can sense the difference if you're pushing them for the bottom line or for themselves," said Rug Burad, the general manager of the plant, where Matchbox and Hot Wheels cars originate. "You want them to be their best so they produce the best. That's the priority."
    Crowding in Indonesia
    Even at Mattel's own factories, change doesn't come overnight. On the eastern side of Jakarta, past the garbage-strewn streets in the main part of the city, Mattel's twin Indonesian production facilities rise up out of the green fields like gleaming, white-tile temples. The Dua and Satu factories - where half of the world's more than 100 million Barbie dolls are made each year - consist of low-rise buildings connected by walkways with lush overhanging plants. The campuses, built in the early 1990s, feature computer rooms, a library, a health clinic, sports fields and a community garden. Management here has given a nod to both fun and faith: The complex includes a disco as well as two mushollas, prayer rooms for the workers, 90% of whom are Muslim. Still, most of the dorm rooms, which house about 40% of the factories' 10,000-plus workers, fail to meet Mattel's guidelines for the maximum number of workers per room (16) and the minimum amount of personal space allotted to each (20 square feet). Instead, the rooms are crowded with four rows of four bunk beds lined up side by side, mattress to mattress. For all but those in the outside beds, getting in and out can require a feat of gymnastics. Mattel is moving to a less crowded format - two bunk beds in a row, each with a lamp, fan and curtain shielding the bed from the open area - to come into compliance with its own guidelines. But those changes, Mattel said, take time. "We can point to deficiencies in the system," said Jim Walter, Mattel's senior vice president of worldwide quality assurance, who oversees the ethical manufacturing initiatives, "but I'm going to look at how far we've come." For some, it's still not far enough. In 2001, a report by the Hong Kong Christian Industrial Committee rapped Mattel, along with Hasbro, Walt Disney Co., Wal-Mart and others, for making toys in brutal Chinese sweatshops. The National Labor Committee in New York, the group that exposed the problems with Wal-Mart's Kathie Lee Gifford clothing line, followed with another critique the next year. Marie-Claude Hessler-Grisel, a French human rights advocate, still sees many of the same problems that were highlighted in those reports. Hessler-Grisel says she appreciates that Mattel has poured more than $500 million into its own state-of-the-art facilities and spends about $10 million a year on monitoring factories, upgrading plants and training contractors. But given that Mattel earned more than $500 million last year on sales of nearly $5 billion, she expects the company to do a lot more and to do it faster. "These workers can't wait forever for a change," she said. "I have nothing personal against Mattel," added Hessler-Grisel, a tiny woman with short gray hair and red-rimmed glasses. "You always go after No. 1, and it trickles down."
    Enjoying a 'Day Off'
    Around the world, workers at factories making Mattel toys complain about one thing above all else: the grueling hours. Mattel's rules state that the most anyone can work is 12 hours a day, six days a week - and that's only for very limited periods and when overtime is voluntary. Regular workdays aren't supposed to exceed 10 hours a day, including overtime. What's more, factory employees are not supposed to work more than 13 days in a row. But according to more than a dozen workers, the reality is something else. Near Shenzhen, outside a large vendor plant, two 20-year-olds eating a lunch of boiled noodles recounted how they routinely worked 11 hours a day, six days a week. The worst time, they said, comes during the monthly changeover, when their group goes from the day shift to the night shift - and they must plow straight through, with barely a break in between. In Indonesia, a 21-year-old woman who worked at Mattel's Jakarta plant talked about friends and colleagues who have assembled Barbie dolls for 30 days straight without time off. Even at a Mattel-owned plant in Guanyao, where the hours are within company guidelines, workers are so fatigued that those who return early from lunch sleep at their spots on the assembly line, their heads resting on their hands. In environments like these, the slightest break can seem like a tremendous perk. Near the city of Dongguan, two young women recently sat in a fourth-floor room sectioned off by crude corrugated-metal walls. They have little to show for their drudgery; they share a mattress and a hot plate. But they said their life at a Mattel contractor factory had been good. Unlike at the last plant where they worked, the Mattel vendor gives them a "day off." But as the two friends described their "day off," it became evident that they don't get anything close: On Sundays, they explained, they get to leave work at 5 p.m., having put in eight hours instead of the typical 12. "That's a gift," said one of the women, a migrant from Henan province who frequently flashed a broad, toothy grin that made her look even younger than her 20 years. "You don't have to work through the night."
    Fear of Retaliation
    At the Shenzhen factory, where about 1,000 people are employed, it seems everybody knows the drill. Before Mattel comes through twice a year for inspection, workers said, managers promise to pay them time-and-a-half if they repeat the company line: that they work just eight hours a day, six days a week, as allowed by Chinese law. In truth, they slog for far longer than that. Inside a tiny metal-walled shed a short walk from the factory, the 24-year-old worker reclined on his bed with his fiancee by his side and recalled how he was recently ordered to work 24 hours straight without rest. "On the second morning we just kept working," he said, wrinkling his nose as the eye- watering vapors of cooking peppers drifted through the room from a building a few feet away. His fiancee pressed the tummy of a defective Winnie the Pooh that she had rescued from the trash at work. The bear meowed three times - she had sewn in a computer chip from a pet toy that someone had found on the factory floor - and the woman laughed. If all goes well, the couple said, they can each earn about $65 a month, half of which they send home to their families in rural China. Newcomers and slower workers, they pointed out, sometimes get no pay at all: There is nothing left after charges are subtracted for meals and rent, as many workers live in company housing. The couple said they and their colleagues sometimes thought about complaining, but the memory of what happened last year to one who did always stopped them. At first, they said, the worker was shouted down by the floor manager. Then, about 8 p.m., as he was leaving the factory, he was stabbed repeatedly by a group of men. Mattel said it was unaware of any such incident. Few people saw the stabbing, and no one knew what ultimately happened to the victim, the couple said, although some heard his screams. They didn't dare help or call the police, they said, lest they suffer the same fate.
    Squalor in Mexico
    More than 7,000 miles from China, along the U.S.-Mexico border, a 41-year-old Mattel factory worker rocked back and forth on a rusted metal chair and talked about life at the job site - and beyond. The Tijuana facility where this woman earns the equivalent of $50 a week, Mattel's Mabamex plant, is clean and well maintained. The company strictly enforces its work-hour rules here, and she has few complaints. Mabamex appears little different from factories on the U.S. side of the border. But outside the 550,000-square-foot factory, the scene of squalor is all too familiar: Like most maquiladoras - assembly plants that produce goods principally for export - Mabamex is surrounded by the hovels where its workers live. The dwellings are made of sheets of scrap metal and prefabricated wooden walls - often, discarded garage doors from across the border. Few homes have anything other than earthen floors. Fewer still have running water. Most bathrooms consist of a system of buckets and open rivulets, which wash the waste downhill. The Mattel worker, a mother of four, said she would like to move her family somewhere nicer. But given her salary, there is very little that she can do. "When we collect our checks, we feel bad about how little money we make," she said. "We feel the pressure." For a company like Mattel, it is a tricky proposition figuring out what its obligation to workers - as well as to society at large - should be. "Is it Mattel's responsibility to determine and pay a living wage? I don't think so," said Walter, the company's quality assurance chief. "But should Mattel prompt a local government to determine what a reasonable wage is? We should have some impact on that." The struggle between morality and profitability goes right to the top of the company. "Do we want to make people's lives better? Absolutely," said Eckert, Mattel's CEO. "Do we want to unilaterally do things that make us uncompetitive and therefore our products don't sell and therefore nobody gets employed? No." Few, if any, of the Tijuana maquiladoras do better for their workers than Mattel does, said Alfredo Hualde, director of the Department of Social Studies at El Colegio de la Frontera Norte, a research institution in Tijuana. Hualde notes that to have even the most basic amenities - sanitary drinking water, indoor plumbing - the 150,000 maquiladora workers would probably need to see their pay doubled. And that's unimaginable when the Mexican government is doing all it can to keep factories from fleeing Mexico for cheaper locales such as China. "The main objective is to keep the maquilas here in Mexico to create employment," Hualde said. "The quality of the employment is secondary."
    When the Factory Closes
    At the Shenzhen factory, the man who worked 24 hours straight learned during the summer that there is something worse than laboring in terrible conditions: being out of a job. Work at the plant started to dry up, and the man went 22 days without getting paid. Eventually, he landed a new job at a nearby eyeglasses factory. The management is fair, the hours are blessedly shorter, and the pay is better, he said. He and his fiancee were even able to move into a slightly larger apartment with tile, instead of concrete, floors.
    His fiancee hasn't been so lucky, though. When the Mattel contractor finally closed in August, the only job she could find was at a nearby toy factory - another Mattel supplier. Conditions there, she said, are worse. The hours are longer and the wages lower. Workers are instructed to keep two timecards so that auditors can't detect the illegal overtime and insufficient pay. There is no clean drinking water at the factory, she said, and no food for those who, like her, often work the graveyard shift. The woman longs for the day she can leave, she said. But she doesn't know when that will be.
    Zhang Xiuying of The Times' Shanghai Bureau and Sari Sudarsono of the Jakarta Bureau contributed to this report.
    Additional photographs, as well as articles about Mattel factory manager Rug Burad and human rights advocate Marie-Claude Hessler-Grisel, can be found at latimes.com/mattel.
    (BEGIN TEXT OF INFOBOX)
    Story of strife
    1988 The General Accounting Office reports that sweatshops are becoming prominent again.
    1989 State and federal labor officials begin using the 1938 "hot goods law" to battle sweatshops in Southern California. The law restricts retailers from selling goods manufactured under illegal labor conditions.
    1990 The Labor Department takes legal action against six sewing contractors in a bid to shutter Los Angeles sweatshops.
    1991 Levi Strauss & Co. adopts a code of conduct to ensure that its overseas contractors maintain fair labor practices.
    1992 Nike Inc. and Sears, Roebuck & Co. establish codes of conduct for their factories. Under pressure from the Labor Department, Guess Inc. agrees to police its sewing contractors for labor violations.
    1994
    State and federal labor inspectors uncover rampant labor violations throughout California.
    Labor Secretary Robert B. Reich threatens legal action against major U.S. retailers, expanding use of the "hot goods law" nationwide.
    Liz Claiborne Inc. establishes a code of conduct.
    1995 Authorities raid an El Monte sweatshop and find 71 Thai nationals living in virtual slavery as garment workers. The raid raises awareness of sweatshops.
    1996 During congressional testimony, the executive director of the National Labor Committee accuses Walt Disney Co. and Wal-Mart Stores Inc.'s Kathie Lee Gifford clothing line of using sweatshops to make their apparel.
    1997
    Nike comes under fire over conditions in its factories in China, Vietnam and Indonesia.
    McDonald's Corp. is criticized for its plants in Asia that make Happy Meals toys.
    Mattel Inc. establishes a code of conduct for manufacturing and an international independent monitoring system.
    1998
    Duke University adopts a code of conduct governing the making of Duke-licensed merchandise.
    College students form United Students Against Sweatshops.
    U.S. apparel manufacturers and labor rights groups create the Fair Labor Assn., or FLA, an independent organization aimed at making sure that overseas factories meet the group's code of conduct. Founding members include Liz Claiborne, Nike, Phillips-Van Heusen Corp. and Reebok International Ltd.
    1999
    College students around the country protest universities' ties to sweatshops. Seventeen colleges join the FLA, angering student activists who question the association's autonomy.
    Human rights group Global Exchange accuses Gap Inc. plants of unfair labor conditions.
    Mattel releases its first audit of working conditions in its factories in Asia.
    2000
    The University of Pennsylvania withdraws from the FLA after students occupy the president's office for nine days and a nationwide 36-hour hunger strike is staged in support of the protesters.
    Nike founder Phil Knight announces that he will no longer make donations to the University of Oregon because of its membership in another labor rights group that had criticized Nike.
    The University of California system establishes one of the toughest codes of conduct in the country.
    2001 Reports from labor rights groups accuse Mattel, Hasbro Inc., Disney and Wal-Mart of making toys in Chinese sweatshops.
    2002 The last of 26 U.S. clothing makers settles a class-action lawsuit alleging the existence of sweatshop conditions on the Pacific island of Saipan.
    2003 Nike settles a case claiming that its defense of sweatshop allegations was false advertising.
    2004 Gap Inc. finds violations in many of its overseas factories, particularly in China.
    [Does the decline in incidents the last 3 years reflect perhaps the concentration and top-down-cultural censorship of media?]
    Many efforts have been undertaken in recent years to end sweatshop conditions in the United States and abroad. Sources: Company reports, Associated Press, Times research. Compiled by Times librarian John Jackson.

  12. Riviera Club facing hurdles - Longtime private facility looks for ways to stay viable
    Indianapolis Star, IN
    By Bruce C. Smith (bruce.smith@indystar.com)
    The venerable Riviera Club, a private Northside swim, tennis and family style social club that has survived floods, controversy and financial hurdles, is facing another rough spot. Money is so tight that nearly half the staff has been laid off or seen work hours cut, leaving about 25 staffers and an active group of volunteers. The board of directors is weighing options to raise more money, including increases in dues and other membership fees, which now are a relatively low few hundred dollars a year....
    Call Star reporter Bruce C. Smith at (317) 444-2605

  13. Grass-always-greener syndrome leads down the garden path
    Newsquest (Herald & Times) Limited via The Herald, UK
    IAN BELL
    Beyond River Cottage, Channel 4, 8.00pm
    European Nightmare, BBC1, 12.30pm
    Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall [F-W] is a man with a tendency to grow incredibly excited about things which are not, on the face of it, incredibly exciting. Last night it was bees and fennel. Not together, of course: even F-W's rural England version of bush tucker does not stretch to that sort of recipe. He was growing the veg for a wedding reception and hoping to make his own honey with the help of an old bee-keeper who believed that it was "a privilege" to receive your first sting. The amiable apiarist - I feel a limerick coming on - specialised in capturing stray swarms in a cardboard box. This may be what country people mean when they say that townsfolk don't understand their way of life. If you've never felt the need to catch bees in a box, you probably have never lived. F-W is currently living life to the full, and allowing us the privilege of watching him do it. That, when you get right down to it, is all that Beyond River Cottage is about. Hugh has his restaurant, his farm and lots of fun mucking about with bees or trout-fishing with his pals. The cooking is now incidental: this is a lifestyle show. It still contains the absurd claim that our hero is "down-sizing" when he is doing nothing of the kind. His enterprises flourish and expand even as he makes reference to his "fellow small-holders". The real point, though, is to advertise the organic idyll, not to mention the book of the series. The implicit message is that urban life, meaning most of our lives, is rotten. We don't have sun-dappled mornings up on the hill, killing the odd roebuck for spit-roasting. We don't catch our own trout or make our own honey, grow our own veg or whip up our own pates. Hugh's life is "natural"; the implied judgment on the rest of us is obvious. I don't doubt that his existence is, for the most part, as depicted. That doesn't mean the series is anything other than an elaborate fiction. The countryside has as many problems as it can handle at the moment. Farmers are going out of business or, worse, contributing to a growing suicide rate. Yet here comes Hugh, whipping up dreams to order, and making it all seem easy. For the urban viewer, meanwhile, what is on offer is a cruel delusion. What this series says is that you, too, can escape, leave the rat race to the other rodents, and lead the life that nature intended. You can't. As most of us know, we're stuck with it, putting in the longest working hours in Europe, coping with the mortgage and paying through the nose for anything remotely organic. TV sells dreams: that much has long been obvious. In recent years, nevertheless, it has become increasingly sophisticated in finding ways to touch the nerves of the vulnerable. You have to wonder about the research involved. When did they work out the mass audience is composed of miserable people praying that their homes will earn them enough money to quit and lead the Fearnley-Whittingstall lifestyle at home or abroad? Yesterday morning on BBC1, for example, there was a remarkable procession of what, kindly, you could describe as aspirational programmes. Ten am: Homes Under the Hammer; 11am, Cash in the Attic; 11.45am, Trading Up. Then, at 12.30pm, the schedulers pulled a familiar psychological trick. You dreamed of the good life? How foolish of you. European Nightmares, introduced by the annoying Dominic Littlewood, tries to combine several varieties of emotional discomfort, British-style. First, there is the near-paranoid fear of falling victim to cowboy builders. Then - the horror - the thought that said cowboys could be French. Finally, as Littlewood all but chortled, the fear that some bad luck might "devastate the dream" of a life in the sun. The programme itself was of little consequence. All it said, in effect, is that you can find an untrustworthy builder anywhere. But the relish with which it fell upon the misfortunes of others bordered on the nasty.

  14. FedEx most favoured place to work
    Calcutta Telegraph, India
    NEW DELHI, India - Is work a drudge at your workplace? Or, is it the sort of place that fires your creative juices and leaves you with a deep sense of satisfaction at the end of a hard day? BusinessWorld and Grow Talent, a strategic HR consulting firm, have come out with the Great Places to Work Survey 2004 that throws up some great surprises. Fedex Corporation heads the totem pole in this year's survey, which measured companies on the parameters of Credibility, Respect, Fairness, Pride and Camaraderie. Next in the pecking order is Texas Instruments followed by National Thermal Power Corporation, Computer Sciences Corporation India, and Mindtree Consulting. The survey, which is based on the methodology built by the Great Place to Work Institute founded by Robert Levering of the US, shows that average scores in all five dimensions have risen since last year's survey. The average score in terms of credibility has gone up to 80% from 73 per cent last year. The corresponding figures for the dimensions are: Respect (78% versus 67%), Fairness (77% versus 75 per cent), Pride (81% versus 70%) and Camaraderie (82 per cent versus 75%). Here's a brief snapshot of the top 25 companies: Five of the firms have a unionised workforce. Twenty of the top 25 firms have less than 2000 employees; while 17 of them are privately held companies. There are 13 multinational corporations in the smart set, while 13 firms have employees working abroad. How do these companies keep their employees happy? Here's what some of them do: 19 of the top 25 offer flexible working hours. Four of them offer four fully-paid sabbaticals, while four others offer partially paid sabbaticals. Three organisations offer VRS, while 14 companies give their employees paternity leave. And here's the best practice: 13 companies have a profit sharing plan. BusinessWorld's special issue hits the stands today. It carries an analysis of the 2004 survey, case studies of all the Top 25 companies and articles and interviews on a range of burning HR issues.

  15. Post office decreases hours of operation
    Pasadena Citizen, TX
    By VALARIE TORRES
    A mighty Jeffersonian style building once, the deteriorating U.S. Post Office at 102 Munger, now hunches with faded pillars and a lone American flag, faces a potential cutting back in service hours. Normal business hours of the post office are 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., with an hour break, then continuing from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. Postmaster Gerald Ellis recently had a sign put up at the post office notifying customers of a change in hours as of Dec. 1. The sign lists new hours shortened to only the 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. block. Ellis said, "That office in the afternoons gets very slow business. We will make a decision at the end of next week." Despite the building's outward appearance, many area businesses use the post office. boxes, buy stamps, and send and receive packages from the Munger post office. Calli Skoba, administrative assistant for Drake Printing, which is directly across the street from the post office said, "We love having the post office right there. It kind of looks abandoned, they don't keep it up very well, but a lot of people from this community use it." Skoba also loves Kitty Risinger, the only postal worker at the Munger location. "We love having her over there," she said. "It's a great service to have right here." Carol Caldwell, the general manager of Drake Printing agreed, "It has been severely neglected. It's an older part of Pasadena. It's a busy area, but it looks abandoned." The last employee at the post office, Kitty Risinger, is well liked and enjoys her job. Risinger has worked at the Munger post office for 12 years and is concerned that if the hours are shortened a lot of customers will be impacted. Also, if the shortened hours go into effect Risinger will have to finish her day at the 1500 Richey post office. The post office also serves the Justice of the Peace adjacent to the post office on Shaw St. for more than just mail services. Carol Moe the assistant chief clerk of the Justice of the Peace said the court regularly sends people to the post office to get money orders because personal checks aren't allowed. Even the constable's office next to the JP courts will be affected. Gary Freeman, Harris County Constable Precinct 2, said, "We probably have about 200 to 250 pieces of mail a day. We use it pretty much every working day Monday through Friday." Jean West, a Lyondell-Citgo employee who came in on her lunch break said, "It's just too convenient for us to come. It's not like the larger post offices where you have to wait in lines." The Munger facility is the only post office located north of the Pasadena Highway and has been at that location for more than 60 years, according to Risinger.

  16. Employers were given double what they asked for - Tony Zarb
    Malta Independent, Malta
    The government gave employers double what they had agreed to in the social pact, General Workers Union Secretary Tony Zarb told The Malta Independent yesterday in his first reactions to the budget. Asked to comment whether in hindsight it would have been better to have signed the social pact then, Mr Zarb said this was not so. The union's pull-out had prevented the introduction of other punishing measures such as the suggestion that the first four overtime hours should be paid in accordance with the rate at which regular working hours are paid, he added. The budget will deprive workers of four leave days next year, he said, which is double what employers were asking for. He said it is clear that next year, as in previous years, the workers will be made to bear the burden of the country's economic situation. He pointed out that the Lm 1.75 weekly increase will be reduced by more than 50 cent as a result of the other measures, such as the surcharge on water and electricity bills. "Certainly the workers that have heard the Prime Minister announce the budget do not have any doubt in their mind that they have somehow been given any advantage." Mr Zarb did note, however, that the government will be addressing tax evasion as well as the training of workers. "These were both issues brought up by the union," he said. GWU shall be issuing its official position some time today or tomorrow when it convenes its national council to review the budget, he concluded.

  17. Child labour in Bangladesh
    The New Nation, Bangladesh
    By A.N.M. Nurul Haque
    Child labour is not a new issue in Bangladesh as children remain here one of the most vulnerable groups living under threats of hunger, illiteracy, displacement, exploitation, trafficking, physical and mental abuse. The survey, conducted by Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics, found that roughly one in 17 children, or 17.5% of total children of the 5-17 age group, was engaged in economic activities in 2002-03. There are about 42.4 million children of this age group in the country and 22.7 million of them are boys and 19.7 million are girls. Agricultural sector employed about 56% of total child workers, which was estimated at 7.6 million. Production and transport sector engaged 25.4% of them while 14% were sales workers. The highest proportion of working children, some 49.5%, were engaged in unpaid economic activities in family farms or business. The second highest 28.6% were employed as paid day-labourers. These children are found engaged in household service and other activities. In Bangladesh 67% of children work due to financial hardship, either to contribute labour for wages to supplement household incomes or to work at home so that adults can work outside. Nearly 70% of urban children of our country work outside of their family enterprises. Many of these children are engaged in various hazardous occupations in manufacturing factories. Urban working children which was estimated 2.5 million, are found mostly in the formal working sector where they are often subjected to exploitative working conditions as well as physical and mental abuse. They are compelled to work for long working hours with inadequate or no rest period. Moreover, they are paid with minimum wages and enjoy no job security. Many people prefer to emplay young boys to get maximum services paying them minimum wages. More than six million children of the 5-14 age group are reportedly engaged in various kinds of economic activities in Bangladesh. These children are working in manufacturing factories, engineering workshops, tanneries, construction sector, transport sector, beedi factories, restaurants and tea-stalls, maids and domestic servants and also in agricultural sector. According to USAID, the children of Bangladesh are engaged in over 300 different types of activities of which 49 are considered harmful to their physical and mental well-being. Intolerable forms of child labour as categorised by the International Labour Organisation (ILO) are hazardous occupations, slavery and near slavery, domestic services and sexual abuse. A UNICEF report said that some 40 industries in the country have been using child labour, where their jobs are highly hazardous and dangerous with little regard for health and safety. They employ young boys in their industries to have maximum services with minimum wages. Child labour is a harsh reality in Bangladesh. Children under compulsion are engaged in highly hazardous jobs and also work under most unhygienic conditions. Any one visiting the ship-breaking yard at Sitakunda in Chittagong, will find that thousands of workers including many young children are working in a very dangerous condition. The child workers, many of whom as young as 10 years old, are working in ship breaking industry without any safety, which is horrific for them. According to Bangladesh Institute of Labour Studies (BILS), nearly two thousand child workers of the 10-14 age group are working in the ship breaking industries. Although most of these child workers work as helpers, as reported by their employers, the real situation is quite different. It is learnt that many of these child workers are compelled to carry heavy iron sheets on their shoulders. But a child worker is paid Tk 60 only for 8 hours of work a day while an adult worker is paid between Tk 140 and 180 on an average. Child labour also goes on highly hazardously at Dublar Char under the Sharankhola Range in east Sundarban Division, in gross violation of not only the Convention on the Rights of Child (CRC) but also the basic human rights. A newspaper report said that several hundred young boys are undergoing forced labour at fish drying enterprises at Dublar Char. Brokers, who are popularly called majhi (boatman), supply the fish-drying farms with boys, mostly in their teens, from the southern districts of the country. In some cases, the boys are also captured from other regions who are forced to work against their will. The owners of the fish-drying farms seldom pay the child labourers their due wages. A major portion of the amount, whatever they get as remuneration of their hard labour of day-night, are taken by the sardar (supervisor) under whom they have to work. If the boys fail to work as per the will of the sardar, they undergo severe physical torture. The child labourers are forced to do non-stop work to separate fish from the nets, standing in the saline water for hours together. They also carry the fishes from the trawlers to the farms, which are not at all suitable for their age. The boys of poor families are easy prey to the brokers, who pay a small amount to their families in advance and also promise good salary and suitable working condition. But the boys find the real situation quite different from what the brokers had told them. The captive child labourers are also given inadequate food and there are no bed for them to sleep. The coast guard in collaboration with Forest Department and Police, rescued some child labourers from captivity recently. Tanneries and other chemical factories also use child labour. Tannery and chemical factory owners prefer to employ children as they could pay them less and also able to keep their factories free from trade unionism. A child labour gets Taka 700 to 1000 per month, while an adult worker earns upto Taka 5000 per month. The child workers have to come in close contact with chemicals like sulphuric acid, sodium sulphide and chromium while working in the tanneries. The contamination from these chemicals cause fever, cough, headache, gastric, skin diseases and other diseases to the workers, especially the children. The ILO under its International programme of Elimination of Child Labour (IPEC) has identified 447 child workers under 15 working in 130 tanneries in Dhaka's Hazaribagh area and providing them non-formal education and training, so that they could quit the tanneries. The children, who are working at match factories, construction sites, bidi factories and houses, are the worst sufferers in terms of working conditions, wages, physical and mental pressure, hygiene and abuse. The largest sector of child labourers in the country are the domestic helps. Almost all houses in the cities and towns employ small children as maids and boy servants. The proportion of child domestic workers in Bangladesh under the age of ten is 24%. An estimated number of three lac child domestic workers work in different houses of Dhaka city. Our society considers this form of labour as less harmful to children from poor families than other forms. This may be true if they are placed in a good home where the child is treated mercifully but, if unlucky, the child could be just as easily subjected to severe abuse. Child labour is the most severe form of child abuse and exploitation in our country. Bangladesh accounts for less than 2% of the world population. But this is the home to more than 5% of world's working child population numbering 120 million. Childhood is a period when children go to schools with books in their hands. But the ill-fated children of our country are being forced to give labour inhumanly only for the survival and financial help to the family members. Moreover, a section of unscrupulous people in the money-dominated society are engaging these innocent children in different crimes including narcotic business and thus spoiling their lives at the very early stage. Although the issue of child labour has always been discussed, there is hardly any remarkable progress even in terms of mitigation. The government has launched a micro credit programme for child labour under a project named "Eradication of Hazardous Child Labour in Bangladesh" with a view to withdrawing the child labours from hazardous job. But the project has made no significant dent in the problem so far.

  18. Thanks missing [on Thanksgiving holiday] - In a nation of plenty, many still feel unsatisfied
    San Diego Union Tribune, CA
    By Steve Schmidt
    [photo by] RONI GALGANO / Union-Tribune
    Pfc. Roberto Cisneros, who was wounded in Iraq, shared an early Thanksgiving meal with his 4-month-old son, Michael, at Naval Medical Center San Diego yesterday. Cisneros said his thoughts are with the Marines in harm's way in Iraq. "I know I did my part, but I wish I were there with them now," he said.

    One thing about the nation's founders: They were an earnest bunch. Writing about Thanksgiving, President Washington in 1789 proclaimed "Thursday, . . . of November next, to be devoted by the people of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being who is the beneficent author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be; that we may then all unite in rendering unto Him our sincere and humble thanks for His kind care and protection of the people of this country previous to their becoming a nation . . . and, in general, for all the great and various favors which He has been pleased to confer upon us." Such heartfelt humility might be tough to find today. Americans can be one ungrateful lot. By measure after measure, Americans have never been so educated, prosperous, healthy, long-lived and well-fed - yet many voice discontent with their lives.
    [This ignores a lot of measures, such as the rise in disability, homelessness, incarceration, forced retirement, forced self-'employment'.... And ignores the phenomenon of the constant rise in expectations - if they're given half the chance; in other words, once the huge problem problem in front has been solved, the merely big problem right behind looks just as huge.]
    Since the 1950s, the percentage of Americans in polls who consider themselves "happy" has stayed flat, despite striking improvements in living conditions. Social critic Gregg Easterbrook recently wrote a book about this predicament, which he calls "The Progress Paradox." He believes our great-great-grandparents would be amazed by life today. War dogs us, racism and poverty persist, but on many fronts, Americans have never had it better. Leisure time is up. The backbreaking, physical labor required of previous generations is largely history. Most homes are stocked with goods taken for granted - cars in the garage, DVD players in the family room, miracle drugs in the medicine cabinet. "We don't have perspective on how good we have it," Easterbrook said this week. "Many of us don't see it or appreciate it." Economists, psychologists and other experts are studying why that is. For the tired and the harried, it's not complicated. "There are a lot of things to sweat over," said Linda Guzman of Del Cerro, while shopping for Thanksgiving fixings this week. "Life is so full of details, it weighs on you. Is my cell phone charged? Is my e-mail working? Is there gas in the car, and how bad is traffic?" The good life is often the stressed-out life.
    [Ah, shouldn't we have quotes around "good" here?]
    Inflation-adjusted incomes have more than doubled since 1950, according to the U.S. census. Yet the incidence of depression among Americans continues to rise. Supermarkets sell a bottomless bounty of food. Yet poor eating habits - often fed by anxiety - have contributed to the increase in obesity. Americans are experts at gorging themselves on goods. Fifty years ago, it was enough to have a black-and-white TV and a car. Now there are an average of two color TVs in each household and more cars than licensed drivers. According to the Consumer Electronics Association, the most desired electronic gift this holiday season is a plasma TV, which carries a hefty price tag. Carol Graham, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution in Washington, D.C., is among a growing number of scholars who study the link between economics and happiness. She notes that Americans have the highest per-capita incomes in the world, yet rank below several nations in life-satisfaction surveys, including Canada and Ireland. People in Nigeria, China and India make little money compared with residents of other developing nations, but rank high in the happiness studies. Graham said that the richer people get, the more they expect. This can leave them more susceptible to disappointment. "As the whole boat rises, people's expectations rise with it," the veteran economist said. The percentage of Americans who consider themselves happy has barely budged for several decades, according to periodic polls conducted by the National Research Opinion Center and other organizations.
    About 60% of Americans surveyed in 1950 agreed they were "happy" or "very satisfied" - roughly the same percentage of those polled today, despite the wealth of advances.
    Like living longer. The average life span of Americans in 1950 was 68. Today it's nearly 77, a record high.
    Like being better-educated. More than 80% of young adults have completed at least four years of high school or more, compared with about 30 percent in 1950.
    Part of the problem is that Americans look for contentment in the wrong places, many say. No news flash there, but the nation's obsession with material goods often overshadows the things that bring genuine happiness - love, freedom, friendship, good health. George Washington didn't pine for a plasma TV. He and his soldiers managed to cross the Delaware without Gore-Tex boots. He also looked for meaning beyond the material. In today's more secular world, his deeply spiritual tone might give some Americans pause. In November 1789, Washington backed Congress' call for "a day of public thanksgiving and prayer, to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many and signal favors of Almighty God, especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness." In 1863, President Lincoln was burdened by the Civil War and the horror of Gettysburg. Striking a penitent tone, he issued a Thanksgiving proclamation citing the nation's "perverseness and disobedience." But he also thanked God for granting "deliverances and blessings." Psychology professor Robert Emmons, who studies the role of gratitude in American society, believes many people today lack perspective. "We get distracted by the demands of daily life," said Emmons, who teaches at the University of California Davis. "We make comparisons that breed ingratitude. "When we look around and we see (others) with harder bodies, co-workers with larger retirement portfolios, relatives whose children are more grateful, neighbors whose SUVs are larger, we feel resentment and envy, not gratitude." Easterbrook agrees. "For many generations, we have bought into the idea that material success would make us happy - and it just doesn't."
    Union-Tribune library researcher Denise Davidson contributed to this report.

  19. Turnpike starts hiring temporary workers - Pike strike puts managers in booths
    Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, PA
    By Jim Ritchie
    Striking toll collectors could be replaced by as many as 300 temporary workers, with a handful already on the job Thursday, 32 scheduled to work today and more ready to start by Saturday, say Pennsylvania Turnpike officials. About 220 managers staffed toll booths along the 531-mile state Turnpike on Thanksgiving, a day after about 2,000 toll collectors and maintenance workers walked off the job. "If this is going be a protracted strike, we'll make other provisions to supplement the existing management employees," said state Turnpike Commission spokesman Bill Capone. Eight temporary workers were on duty yesterday, along with managers working 12-hour shifts, as motorists resumed paying tolls - $2 per vehicle or $15 per commercial vehicle - at 12:01 a.m. yesterday. The commission allowed motorists to travel the turnpike for free Wednesday. Tolls usually vary, based on distance traveled. The flat rate was set up to make matters simpler and to prevent backups at toll plazas, said turnpike officials. E-Z pass users pay either their regular toll or the flat fee, whichever is cheaper. Mile-long backups prompted turnpike officials to allow motorists to pass for free through booths at Bedford and Breezewood yesterday, but otherwise there were few problems. "It's a shame that our traveling public is inconvenienced. It just shows to me insensitivity about our customers," Turnpike Commission Chief Executive Joe Brimmeier said of the strike. Small groups of pickets lined up near Turnpike entrances and exits but posed no major problems, turnpike officials said. Pickets declined to comment. Union officials did not return repeated phone calls. At some spots, state troopers asked pickets to relocate because of safety concerns, Capone said. In a few other instances, truckers were ordered to move along after they blocked passage. There also were reports of a few truck drivers being cited by police. There was some discussion between the commission and union, but it was not fruitful yesterday, said commission spokeswoman Kathy Liebler. Some union members crossed the picket lines, Capone said, adding he didn't have an exact number. In addition to those staffing toll booths yesterday, 20 temporary workers have been hired to operate snow-removal equipment in case of poor weather, Liebler said. The commission will monitor traffic flow to determine whether to add more temporary workers in the booths, Capone said. Far fewer motorists traveled the 531-mile toll highway on Thanksgiving Day than on Wednesday - the year's busiest travel day. Officials didn't know how many motorists used the road yesterday. A few drivers stopping at the Oakmont Service Plaza said they experienced no problems on the strike's second day. "It's nice not having the tolls," said James Pitts, who was returning to Philadelphia after a visit with his son at the University of Pittsburgh. Pitts said he usually would have paid $15 to drive across the state. The flat toll made no difference to Jim Kipp, who stopped at the Oakmont plaza on his trip from Meadville to Mt. Pleasant. "That's what I'd be paying anyway," he said. Officials estimate that allowing free travel Wednesday cost the commission about $2 million in lost fees. Union workers had been working without a contract since Sept. 30, 2003, and negotiations since have been rocky. The strike comes during a busy travel period. About 2.5 million people are expected to use the turnpike through the holiday weekend. Toll collectors are paid an average of $18.50 an hour, or $38,000 a year. Many make much more with overtime. About 80% of the strikers are in the job classifications that allow them to earn nearly $50,000 a year, with overtime, Brimmeier said. The unions issued a statement Wednesday, saying workers are upset they have not received pay raises while non-union employees have. The commission's last offer would have increased average hourly pay to $21 over three years, with full health-care benefits, 15 paid holidays, an average of four weeks of vacation and a no-layoff clause for three years. Jim Ritchie can be reached at jritchie@tribweb.com or (412) 320-7933

  20. "Golden week" holidays may be canceled
    Xinhua China via Xinhuanet via www.chinaview.cn
    BEJIJING [sic = typo or new variation of name?], China - State Council departments are considering canceling the weeklong holidays around International Labor Day, National Day and the Chinese Spring Festival and returning to a system where people have more choice over when to take their own holidays. China National Tourism Administration (CNTA) sources disclosed that they have discussed the issue with various bodies, including the Ministry of Railways, the Civil Aviation Administration of China and the National Development and Reform Commission. In September 1999 the State Council decided to introduce the three so-called "golden weeks" to help stimulate domestic consumption and lessen the impact of the Asian financial crisis by spurring development of the tourism industry. Zhao Peng, president of the Beijing Union University's Tourism College, said that Hong Kong and Macao would be affected if the holidays were changed, but this would not last long since the same overall amount of income from tourism would simply be spread throughout the year. "The 'golden week' holidays go against general patterns of tourist management," said Zhao, "They put much pressure on the environment, tourist services and public security. Moreover, retails sales during them are falling because people are shopping at more convenient times." The 10th Five-Year Plan - China's 2001-2005 economic and social development blueprint - already suggested introducing 26-36 flexible paid holidays a year instead of the fixed week-long vacations. A survey by Horizon Research of 3,502 people aged 18-65 in 10 cities found that 44% wanted more flexible vacations. Most over 20 years of age favored "free and flexible holiday vacations," while those over 40 particularly stressed the importance of it being paid leave. Zhou Tongqian, vice president of the Tourism Administration College at the Beijing International Studies University, took a skeptical attitude toward complete change, saying that a wholly flexible model would have its own drawbacks and that a compromise should be reached. Li Mingde, senior researcher at the Tourism Research Center, affiliated to the Chinese Academy of Social Science, said that the "golden weeks" bring too much disorder and stress to people's lives, despite the fact that they appear to have helped the economy when first introduced. "They will sooner or later be replaced by flexible holiday vacations."

  21. More reactions pour in
    di-ve news via di-ve.com, Malta
    by Charmaine Chetcuti (oni1983@di-ve.com)
    VALLETTA, Malta - The Malta Union of Teachers (MUT) and the Confederation of Malta Trade Unions (CMTU) reacted to the budget that was announced on Wednesday. In a press release, the MUT said that, while appreciating the Government's determination to control tax evasion, the removal of four vacation days for workers is deplorable. The MUT also said that the increase in the price of public transport and the increase in the price of electricity will continue to burden the middle class workers. This will not be productive for the economy as will reduce the spending power of the people. The increase of LM13 million in education will surely improve the education quality in the country. The increase of LM2 million in the University, MCAST and Junior College budget will help the financial difficulties of the institutions. However the MUT declared that, although the budget aims to eliminate the difficulties that the economy is currently passing through, it was full of measures of austerity that will affect badly the workforce. In another press release, the CMTU said that the budget shows that the Government is working on improving the economy and to create more job opportunities and investment. The budget will help the industry and employers to become more competitive. As the MUT, the CMTU said that the increase in the price of public transport and the reduction of the vacation days will affect badly the workforce. The discussions at the MCESD were important for the budget as several positive measures were introduced like the training of unemployed workers, incentives to encourage women to work, reforms in education, measured on the control of tax evasion and incentives in the tourism industry. The CMTU however disapproves the burdens that the workforce will have to carry. In the press release, the CMTU said that it will continue to see that the measures introduced to improve the economy and increase the Government's income will be observed meticulously.

  22. [Some Euros are losin' it -]
    NORWAY: Money more important than vacation
    Carin Pettersson 25.11.04 11:13
    NETTAVISEN, Norway - Norwegians would rather have higher salary than vacation or pension plans. Norwegian employees claim higher salary is more important than longer vacations or a secure pension plan. In contrast, six of ten Swedes want a pension plan when they negotiate for better benefits. The survey was conducted in 11 countries in Europe by Monster and 18.801 persons participated. The survey wanted to establish what kind of benefits employees want, higher salary, long vacation, pension plans, paid cell phone/Internet or gym membership. In Norway higher salary was the most popular thing to wish for, ranked the most important thing by about half of the 1369 Norwegians participating in the survey. "It's not surprising that so many list salary as the most important compensation we have, but it is surprising that over half do not want higher salary, but state that there are other things that are more important when they negotiate for better benefits at work, said Charlotte Hgfeldt, area manager for Monster in Norway and Denmark. In addition to salary, one in four Norwegians wants more vacation.

  23. [Another location, another step backward -]
    Local News - Mandaue City shifts to 4-day workweek The Freeman [how ironic], Philippines
    by Jose P. Sollano
    The Mandaue City government will start implementing a four-day workweek, starting December 3, to support the call of the national government for austerity measures. Mayor Thadeo Ouano issued an executive order last November 23 directing the different department heads of the city hall to implement the four-day workweek for city hall employees. Under the new setup, the office hours shall be from Monday to Thursday from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m., with no lunch breaks. Those covered by the four-day work week schedule are not allowed to render overtime services. But, an employee may be called upon to render service on a particular day as the need arises. However, Ouano said those employees assigned in offices with critical and strategic functions in matters pertaining to the delivery of basic services will not be covered by the order such as the city hospital, city health office and city public market. Ouano said that though the city has adopted the measures by shortening the number of working days from 5 to only 4 per week, the new schedule would still comply with the 40-hour work schedule per week.
    [Something wrong with their math skills? 7-6 is 11 hours a day "with no lunch breaks," and 4x11 is a 44-hour work schedule per week, not 40.]
11/25/2004   primitive timesizing & worktime consciousness in the news = glimmers of strategic hope - all are 11/24 from GoogleNews & are searched-screened-collected by Alan Applebaum (AA) of Brookline MA with backup from *Ken Ellis (KE) of New Bedford MA, and with excerpting and [commenting] by Phil Hyde (PH) unless otherwise initialed -

  1. News in brief - Tube drivers press for 52 annual days' leave
    Telegraph.co.uk, UK
    Tube drivers are to press for extra time off to match the 52 days a year awarded to station staff. Aslef, which represents 75% of the 3,000 drivers, said yesterday that its members' working-time "differentials" had been eroded by the deal with platform and ticket office workers earlier this week. The agreement, negotiated by the RMT union, cuts station staff's weekly hours from 37.5 to 35, the same level granted to drivers previously. However, station workers will continue to work 37.5 hours, with the extra two and a half hours accumulated over the year and taken as nine additional days off. With annual leave, bank holidays and existing rest days, total holiday will be 52 days or 10? working weeks. Steve Grant, Aslef's London secretary, said that drivers were entitled to eight rest days, nine fewer than allotted in the RMT's new norm.
    [And a slightly later development -]
    Anger at 'More Time Off' Tube Unions
    The Scotsman, UK
    By Alan Jones, PA Industrial Correspondent
    Unions representing workers on London Underground were branded "greedy" tonight amid calls for extra time off for drivers to maintain the differential with station staff. The move followed yesterday's "groundbreaking" deal with the Rail Maritime and Transport union to give their members on the Tube a 35-hour week and 52 days holiday a year, equal to 43% of the year away from work including rest days. The agreement paves the way for later running of Tubes on Friday and Saturday evenings and all through the night on New Year's Eve. Thousands of train drivers are already on a 35 hour week after giving up a portion of their pay rise. Their union Aslef is now calling for an extra nine days off a year to maintain differentials. Steve Grant, London district secretary of Aslef, said: "LU may well have a deal to keep the stations open on New Year's Eve. What they don't have is a deal to run the trains. "LU has no agreement with us, and it won't have unless our members are awarded another nine days off a year to make up for the reduction in hours being given to other grades of staff. "We won our 35 hour week by taking a reduced pay increase but now the shorter working week is being handed out to other grades without them having to pay for it. "LU needs to come up with big money or the nine day reduction or they will not have a deal. That means no working on New Year's Eve or extended operation of service on Friday and Saturday nights." LU said negotiations with Aslef were continuing. Roger Evans, Conservative transport spokesman on the London Assembly, said: "The RMT hold London to ransom one day and as a result get an absurd deal. Surprise, surprise, the next day Aslef do the same. "This is now an auction between the unions with hardworking Londoners footing the bill. The only way to guarantee Londoners the service they deserve is to break these greedy unions by banning strikes on the Tube." RMT general secretary Bob Crow said the solidarity of his members had brought results, adding that the deal set the standard for the industry.

    [So much for the London subway ('tube') situation. We note in passing this quickie on the British post office (PO) which leaves us unclear on the concept -]
    Christmas cheer comes in the post
    Socialist Worker, UK
    By Mark Dolan, CWU North London area delivery rep
    The threat of a postal strike in London over Christmas has won a vastly[?] improved[?] deal which will have implications for all future agreements. After London's decision to ballot for action, Royal Mail has reinstated normal rest days [from what to what??] over the Christmas period nationally. As a consequence, rest-day cover workers will be needed on their normal duties and will not be used to mop up all the extra Christmas work [then who will do that?]. There will be a basic duty of 32 hours and this means that there will be opportunities for extra earnings, as usual, over Christmas. We have been promised that in London the minimum hourage available will be at least the same level as last year. The national agreement has been shaped by London's willingness to fight. It is very significant that the deal rules out "claw back" of hours forever [shorter or longer?]. This means that in future there will be no agreements that mean working extra hours to get days off. The union has been pressing for this for a long time [why? what's wrong with more work during peak periods followed by comp time during slack periods?]. It was the threat of a Christmas strike that won it. Consultations were continuing this week over a strike ballot for PO counter workers over opening hours during Christmas. The union is pressing for a deal which respects the rights of benefits claimants and workers.
    [This article may reflect merely an embarrassing episode of an over-sensitive union run amuk.]

  2. The European dream: A new vision for humanity - Europe offers a new dream of a green, connected and caring world
    Voice of America, DC
    By Zlatica Hoke
    For more than two centuries, the American dream - the idea that everyone in this country can achieve personal success through hard work and determination - has been a source of hope, envy and inspiration to people around the world. An alternative vision for the 21st century may now be emerging in Europe.
    Paris is one of the most popular destinations for American visitors in Europe even though many disagree with the French worldview. Americans like to vacation in Europe if they can afford it. They enjoy its culture, its food and its diversity. They envy Europeans their longer vacations, shorter working hours and social benefits. But they also consider Europes economy to be sluggish, its productivity low, its organization too bureaucratic and its policies weak and ineffective.
    Niall Ferguson, professor of economic history at Harvard University, says despite its enlargement, Europe can never really compete with the United States.
    [But then, who wants to compete in a race to the bottom?]
    "Whether in economic, in cultural, in political or in international terms, the European Union is an entity on the brink of decline and even dissolution," he contends.
    [Thus demonstrating that mainstream economics, at least in America, is now 70-80% theology and bringing to mind such cliches as "takes one to know one" and "people criticize most in others what worries them most about themselves." How can a Harvard professor be so ignorant of US productivity's dependence on megahours instead of efficiency, on the upshift in corruption in the last 3 US 'elections' (2000, 02, 04) and record US levels of government and consumer debt, personal and business bankruptcy, personal disability, homelessness and incarceration...?]
    Some would disagree.
    [No kidding.]
    The greater European Union is facing transitional problems, but there have been improvements: a growing economic and political influence, a strong European currency, more cultural diversity.
    Jeremy Rifkin, president of the Foundation on Economic Trends and author of a book titled The European Dream, says these improvements, coupled with estrangement from the United States, have encouraged some western European leaders to offer their own vision for the 21st century: one they think better suited for the new globalized world than the American Dream of individual success and self-reliance.
    "Americans believe they can be an island in and of themselves; in other words, self-contained," says Mr. Rifkin. "The problem is, we live in a world thats much more densely connected. We live in a world where we are all vulnerable to things that happen everywhere else. So a SARS epidemic can affect us in a matter of months. A computer virus can affect all of us around the world in a mater of weeks. A terrorist attack can affect the whole world in a matter of days, or a financial scandal somewhere in the world in hours."
    Mr. Rifkin says the European dream, as he calls this alternative vision for humanity, is almost the opposite of the American dream. It emphasizes the success of the community rather than of an individual. It values quality of life more than material success [aka quantity]. It is concerned with sustainable development and environmental protection. And it prefers peaceful conflict resolution to armed intervention. In the meantime, says Mr. Rifkin, many Americans are beginning to question their dream.
    Gar Alperovitz is the author of a new book "America Beyond Capitalism." Gar Alperovitz, professor of political economy at the University of Maryland, cites the growing gap between rich and poor as the biggest threat to the American Dream: "1% of Americans own about 50% - almost half - of the investment wealth. Just 1%. That is a medieval concentration." Professor Alperovitz says the promise that wealth would trickle down to the middle and low-income classes has not been fulfilled.
    [Again, a critic has failed to say WHY this is a big threat in terms the rich can understand = they're suffocating their consumer base and thus their own growth and even just the sustainability of their current levels of luxury.]
    Jeremy Rifkin adds that surveys indicate the United States now ranks lower than most industrialized nations in equality of income. And that hinders upward mobility, a key aspect of the American dream: "Only Mexico and Russia score lower. So whats happened in this country is millions of people worked hard, they played by the script and they are not able to move up the ladder any more."
    [So what? Unless and until these critics translate these concerns into the self-interest of the rich and powerful, nothing will change. Pity doesn't cut it.]
    Mr. Rifkin says many new immigrants who come to the United States to escape poverty remain poor. Those who achieve material success often say it has come at the expense of social, family and cultural life. But Professor Alperovitz says that picture of America is incomplete. There is more to Americans than self-striving: "Theres also community service. There is neighborhood participation. There are more people now involved in worker-owned companies than there are members of unions in the private sector. So there is another side of America which is communitarian." And it is this communitarian America that will help revive the American dream, says Gar Alperovitz. The European vision for the 21st century is very attractive, but in his opinion unrealistic because of the transitional difficulties facing the enlarged union.
    Jeremy Rifkin agrees that as Europe grows, so do its problems. "Theres growing anti-Semitism in Europe. Theres discrimination against Muslim minorities," he says. In these circumstances, the vision of a culturally diverse, "Green Europe" may indeed seem utopian. But 200 years ago Americas founders crated a radical new dream for humanity that has transformed the world, notes Mr. Rifkin. Today, Europeans are trying to create a different, but also worthy new dream.

  3. Stop what you're doing and take a break
    Onlypunjab.com (press release), India
    Source : Onlypunjab.com Team
    Vancouver Island author Lisa Rickwood wants everyone to stop what they're doing and take a break. She says the average North American worked 36.4 more hours in 2002 than they did a decade earlier and on average 3 hours more per week than their European counterparts. Lisa came across many surprising statistics while researching her book, Escape the Pace: 100 Fun and Easy Ways to Slow Down and Enjoy Your Life.
    "There are countless ways a person can slow down and take stock of their life," advises Rickwood. "One can do anything from spending a few minutes for deep-breathing exercises at their desk to taking a scenic walk on their lunch break." It doesn't take a lot of time or money to start taking better care of yourself. In addition to her research, Rickwood has unique insight based on her own personal experiences living a lifestyle that required superhuman work hours and took time away from her family. She speaks to businesses and organizations with passion about her vision, and is a regular contributor to several Vancouver Island publications, as well as a resource to media. Escape the Pace has evolved beyond her "how-to" guide to an extensive website www.escapethepace.com offering a line of products designed to support her philosophy of slowing down and taking time for oneself. "My personal favourite are the escape cards, designed as a friendly reminder to take a break and relax," Rickwood says. "I could have used such a reminder when I was rushing through life at breakneck speed." For more information about Lisa and Escape the Pace, visit www.escapethepace.com or contact Lisa Rickwood at 250.753.4100. Escape the Pace is dedicated to helping people slow down, relax and enjoy life. The company offers speaking engagements, self-care seminars, sells books and products and provides online resources to individuals and organizations. Owner and author Lisa Rickwood established the company in 2002.
    Media contact: Tracey Copeman, Copeman Communications, (604)999-0858,

  4. [Here's exactly the situation we're looking for (yet they're STILL complaining!) - ]
    More doctors working fewer hours
    The Australian, Australia
    By Kylie Walker
    Australia has more doctors but they're working fewer hours, leaving patients with dwindling access to medical practitioners, a new report has found. Over the five years to 2002, the number of doctors rose by 12% to 54,000 practitioners, the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) report found. But doctors' hours fell from an average of 47.6 hours a week in 1997 to an average of 44.4 in 2002, the report's author Glenice Taylor said.
    [Then stop complaining! You're getting better, more rested medical attention!]
    "There seems to have been a reduction in the number of hours worked both for females and males, ... fewer of them are working 65 hours or more a week than they used to," Ms Taylor told AAP. "If you also take into account a growing population, it turns out over the five years there's been a drop in the number of full time equivalent (doctors) per 100,000 people." Overall, the number of full-time equivalent medical positions fell to 271 from 275 per 100,000 people, Ms Taylor said. An ageing workforce and a growing number of women doctors may have contributed to the decline in full-time equivalent positions, the report found. "There's been an AMA (Australian Medical Association) safe hours campaign, maybe it's a response to that, there could be a number of reasons," she said. "The proportion of female doctors is growing and, because they do work fewer hours than male doctors, that does have an effect. "Ageing would also have an effect because older people, closer to their retirement age, many of them do try to drop their hours." At an average of 48.8 hours per week, specialists-in-training worked longer weeks than any other medical practitioners, while GPs had it the easiest with 39.7 hours per week. "Specialists in training do work more hours," Ms Taylor said. "I think there are moves to look at that issue, but there are a lot of issues there - if they reduce their hours then supply in hospitals drops so there would have to be something to compensate that." Despite the overall decline in supply, the report found the situation was improving for some of the areas that most needed more doctors. Remote and very remote areas enjoyed increases in their medical workforce, as did areas classed as "inner regional". Major cities and outer regional areas suffered the worst losses of full-time equivalent doctors. "It was good news that supply rose in remote and very remote areas," Ms Taylor said. "People also may find it surprising that there are a higher proportion of female practitioners out there than elsewhere, and they tend to be younger." On a state-by-state basis, increases were noted in Victoria, the Northern Territory and the ACT while the remaining states suffered decreases in supply.
    [Then TRAIN MORE, you morons!!!]

  5. [And the same goes for Canada. Shorten the training, simplify and functionalize medical terminology - Canada could be a world leader in this process.]
    Worldwide shortages of doctors a 'perfect storm' for Canada, says CMA head
    Canada.com, Canada
    Erin Henderson, Canadian Press
    TORONTO - A shortage of homegrown physicians, combined with the aggressive recruitment of Canadian doctors by other countries, is a "perfect storm" that threatens Canada's health-care reforms, the president of the Canadian Medical Association said Wednesday.
    [Oh c'mon - let's cut the crap. The only problem here is that senior physicians, along with CEOs, are the world's experts at strangling access to their skills in order to hype their pay. Cut the crocodile tears, get out the wire cutters, and tear down the barbed wire keeping the legions of un- and under-employed out of these lucrative skills!]
    Dr. Albert Schumacher said doctors in Canada who face 80-hour work weeks and ever-greater numbers of patients are either drastically reducing their patient loads or closing up shop and leaving to work in other countries. Part of the solution is more money for doctor training to ensure medical schools are producing more doctors, Schumacher told a breakfast audience at the Toronto Board of Trade. "Increasing the number of medical students trained in Canada is an important step towards self-sufficiency in terms of the physician resources we need to meet the needs of our patients," he said. A recent survey conducted in part by the association found 60% of family doctors have either closed their practices or are limiting the number of new patients they see, he added. As many as 3,800 doctors are expected to retire in the next two years and 15,000 more plan to reduce their working hours. Schumacher said medical students also need help to deal with the crushing debt they end up facing, in some cases as much as $120,000. Students are usually still in training when they're forced to start paying back student loans.
    He urged Ottawa to invest more money in post-graduate residency programs to allow them to expand their capacity and handle more would-be doctors. Increase the system's capacity by "several hundred" doctors by next July and the doctor shortage would begin to abate within three years, he added.
    [Bingo.]
    Health professionals are frustrated by having to scramble to secure the treatment they require, said Schumacher, whose own practice is based in Windsor, Ont., near Detroit. He said many Canadian patients are opting to pay for treatment in the U.S. "More of my patients are going across the border . . . for simple diagnostic tests - CAT scans, MRIs and so forth - at a rate that they didn't used to go across, and that is increasing."
    [Great - Canucks with more money than sense are welcome to come join Canadian expatriates paying through the nose in the U.S.]
    Ottawa and the provinces inked a deal in September for $41-billion in increased health care funding over 10 years. But Schumacher warned there's still plenty of work to do, including establishing benchmarks for wait times.

  6. The week in review
    Las Vegas Mercury, NV
    ANDREW KIRALY
    TUESDAY, NOV. 16: Awright, here's a post-Thanksgiving [sic] theory fueled by our third turkey/pumpkin pie/green bean casserole ultra-funwich: pop culture as a meta-being must have some kinda bizarro internal sensor whose sole purpose is to help keep the whole machine interesting. Like, just when you've written off the world of pop as one Shittytainment Tonight blahfest, Elton John has a hissing conniption, Britney Spears marries/unmarries/marries, and hip hop stars shiv each other in the bling sacs. That was the highlight of the Vibe awards in Los Angeles, when rapper Young Buck stabbed a man who punched Dr. Dre. Our fragile interest in pop culture is renewed in an Herbal Essence shampoo of violence! Ah, hip hop: like the NBA...but with less rapping.
    WEDNESDAY, NOV. 17: Insanity - The Ride. Is it a vodka-fueled fling with Myrna Williams?...
    THURSDAY, NOV. 18: Forty-second President Bill Clinton dedicated his presidential library in Little Rock, Ark., Thursday....
    FRIDAY, NOV. 19: Dear slavebot drone children of the year 2025: Er, sorry about that 100-hour work week, the 80% income tax and for your sole career prospect being hopefully promoted someday to Cambodian Child-flayer at the Kathie Lee Kutie Poo Babywear district office. You can thank in part President Bush raising the government's debt limit by $800 billion Friday. The bill pushes the federal borrowing cap to more than $8 trillion, allowing the government to continue to pay Social Security benefits, other bills and - aw, hell, why not - free George Foreman Double Knockout Grills for everyone! Now back to work or no soylent Gogurt for you!...

  7. Can people really program 80+ hours a week?
    Slashdot
    Posted by Cliff from the working-yourself-into-an-early-grave dept.
    Ibn_khaldun asks: "A question in light of the EA [Electronic Arts] controversy: I'm an academic researcher who does his own programming - I have to eat what I kill. In my 35 years of coding experience, any time I try to work on a complex program for more than, say, 60 hours a week (coding, not just showing up) for a couple weeks at a time, I'm just asking for trouble: I generate buggy code and debugging it only makes it buggier. Numerous studies in other fields (law firms, hospitals) have shown that mistakes rise exponentially after anyone works about 50 hours per week (don't think about this if you go to the emergency room at 3 a.m.)." Are these rational working conditions?
    "Does EA sprinkle magic pixie dust on their serfs to get around this problem, or is the work so trivial that it can be done while pathologically sleep deprived, or are the PHB's so technically challenged they don't realize what is going on? This whole 'death march' mentality seems absolutely crazy to me as a programmer, but appears to be common. Honestly, can someone enlighten me as to how these 80+ hour weeks ever accomplish anything?"

  8. Feeding the Sandwich Generation
    RedNova.com, TX
    Thanks to many major medical advances, more people are living longer lives and a greater number of couples are waiting longer to marry and have children. The rapidly growing group of baby boomers between the ages of 39 and 57 who are experiencing the results of this lifestyle change firsthand has become known as the "sandwich generation." The name came about because their professional lives are sandwiched between two similar but different sets of responsibilities - to their young children and their aging parents. Their commitment is substantial, typically including financial support, personal care and assistance in obtaining medical attention for their dependents at both ends of the family spectrum. A recent survey conducted by the National Partnership for Women and Families found that nearly two-thirds of Americans under the age of 60 expect to be responsible for the care of an elder relative within the next 10 years. About half of all workers are raising children under the age of 18 as well (National Partnership for Women 2002). Many of these workers will not be financially able to relax and retire at 65. They are going to live longer, but they will be forced to put off the "golden years" until after their youngest child is through college. AARP executive director Bill Novelli (2004) said, "Social and government institutions need to find ways to provide caregiver support to sandwich generation families, especially with life expectancy continuing to increase."
    A Full Plate
    The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NlOSH) maintains that lack of balance between work and family or personal life can increase the effects of job stress. Those effects can include poor health and even injury. According to a study conducted by Princeton Survey Research Associates, three-fourths of employees believe the American worker has more on-the-job stress than a generation ago (NIOSH 1999). Increased responsibilities at work and at home, as well as the stress of having to balance both, are a major ingredient in this upsurge. Caring for aging parents can be emotionally draining, even more so than raising children in many ways. Unlike the positive experience of watching a child's progress and growth, caring for an elderly parent means witnessing the steady, unavoidable decline of a family member who was once a key caregiver. Both roles take an incredible amount of effort. To fulfill them at the same time and continue to put in a full workweek is a heavy burden. The sandwich generation's impact on an organization is substantial. These employees are typically counted on to steer and guide the business and are often responsible for the productivity of the workforce as well as the innovation and quality of products and services. Personal stress could be keeping them from being able to leverage their experience and influence. Even worse, if it forces them to cut down their hours
    [what's wrong with cutting down human workhours in the automation age? why the back-from-the-dead assumption that productivity today is still based only on the same factors that determined it 300 years ago before the Industrial Revolution?]
    or seek out a competitor who offers an environment more receptive to their needs, the costs can be difficult to swallow.
    [That's what disciplines management and keeps them human, insofar as they're still getting any of this discipline in a global labor surplus....]
    According to MetLife, lost productivity due to absenteeism, workplace interruptions and turnover is setting businesses back at least $11 billion per year (Shea 2003).
    [Like CEOs, now getting 600-700 times the average employee, can't afford it?]
    According to a recent report by the Office of Personnel Management (OPM), caregiving employees experience "feelings of overwhelming responsibility, frustration, and distraction at work," (Shea 2003). Under this pressure, they may rapidly use up their leave, cut back hours or quit altogether. Employers are already feeling the strain of the first wave of baby boomer retirements, and realize that the pool of workers qualified to replace them is being eaten away.
    [Then - radical thought - TRAIN MORE, you misers!]
    The Melting Pot Reaches the Boiling Point
    AARP's recent survey of 2,300 sandwich generation Americans contained vital information regarding how culture and ethnicity can influence employees' attitudes and perspectives. The subsequent study, "In the Middle: A Report of Multicultural Boomers Coping with Family and Aging Issues," is uniquely approaches the issues facing the sandwich generation from a multicultural standpoint. Novelli contends, "It is significant that nearly one-third - most notably Asian Americans, Hispanic Americans and African Americans, especially those with low incomes - feel heavily burdened." The findings verify that Asian Americans and Hispanic Americans feel more guilt, and consequently are more stressed, about the level of care they can provide for their families. At the same time, they provide more care than people of other backgrounds. Significantly, 34% of Hispanic Americans take care of their parents and other older adults, second only to a staggering 42% of Asian Americans (Topeka Independent Living Resource Center 2004).
    Provide a Home-style Meal
    In today's economy, the old method of implementing aggressive, and frequently expensive, compensation plans and retention methods is not an option for many companies. Even if it were, its effectiveness in the rapidly changing market is questionable. Employees do not always see the relationship between job performance and compensation as clearly as employers do. More importantly, salary increases and bonuses often do nothing to alleviate the day- to-day stresses in many employees' lives: "Will I be able to leave the office before the latest possible time that my child can be picked up from daycare? What can I do about my mother's appointment with the specialist that took two months to get, which conflicts with a vital meeting with a key client?" Those in the sandwich generation feel these stresses more acutely than any other group in your workforce, and for them, money is not the panacea it was once believed to be.
    In fact, in spite of any income increase, employee satisfaction remains low as long as workers feel that the company's benefits are failing to meet their family's needs. A recent study, the United States@Work, discovered that 36% of employees believe their company is not helping to reduce their stress level (Aon Consulting 2000). How many more feel their work environment is only adding to it? The same study reveals that roughly one in five employees feels that his company does not value its workforce as highly as its customers or shareholders. As a result, employees feel more pressure than ever to look out for themselves. They are made wary by the economic downturn, declining job market and a renewed focus on the importance of family.
    Just how vital is work-life balance? In 2001, IBM performed a global survey of its 60,000 employees to find out. It discovered that employees who feel balanced are 20% more likely to say they will not leave the company and 20% are satisfied with their jobs. Increased job satisfaction generally translates into increased individual productivity and a substantial reduction in recruitment costs, which can have a devastating effect on an organization's budget. Work/Family Trends maintains that replacing a mid-level employee costs 90 to 175% of that worker's salary. For example, a company of 500 employees with 10% turnover and an average salary of $35,000 can lose $1,575,000 to $3,062,500 in turnover costs annually (Department of Work Force Services 2004). The work-life programs organization SAS Institute in North Carolina employs 4,000 people and has managed to reduce turnover to less than 4%, producing an estimated savings of $50 million per year. Work-life balance can also mean happier customers, as Monsanto discovered. An assessment of its employees and clients revealed that job satisfaction is one of the two strongest predictors of customer satisfaction. The other is satisfaction with work-life balance (U.S. Office of Personnel Management 2000). What can you do to increase your employees' satisfaction, and thereby earn the elusive loyalty of the meat and potatoes of your workforce?
    Offer More Selections
    Visionary companies have recognized the shift in focus and proactively introduced a broader menu of cost-effective work-life programs designed to ease the specific stresses faced by the sandwich generation. A stable income comprised of direct compensation (salary, bonuses, etc.) and benefits (healthcare, insurance, etc.) are the staples of the ideal diet. Now more than ever, employees want to feel appreciated by the company, fairly compensated for their work, and above all, assured that the employer recognizes the importance of their life outside the office. Aon Consulting's study "United States@Work," (2000) cited the belief that management recognized the importance of a worker's personal and family lives as the leading factor for commitment and loyalty to a company. This implies that raising employee satisfaction and retaining top performers does not necessarily equate to huge salaries. In fact, companies can even save money with the right mix of programs. For example, Prudential Insurance company's work-life program includes child and elder care referrals, support for on-site and near-site child care centers and support for after-school and parenting programs. This may seem like an excessive investment with a price tag of $1.4 million, but the program has certainly paid off. The company realized a savings of almost $6 million through enhanced attraction and retention efforts alone (Fisher vista, 2004). Of course, achieving the best blend may require some creativity on the employer's part. For example, some experts have p\roposed a flexible, "cafeteria-style" approach. Given a "personal benefits budget" and a smorgasbord of options to choose from, employees could concoct the plan that best fits the needs of their lifestyle. Those in the sandwich generation could choose a comprehensive family health care plan and discounted daycare program; while younger, nontethered professionals could choose a bare-bones health care plan but more direct compensation or paid time off. Implementing the new programs may be expensive at the outset, but the difference is likely to be made up and even surpassed in increased productivity, employee morale and reduction in turnover costs. Being able to opt for some nontraditional programs in lieu of "the usual" can mean more than a salary increase to the individual, and as a whole should prove less expensive to the company in the long run.
    Good, and Good For You: Programs That Help
    There are a wide variety of approaches that can be taken in the workplace to promote work-life balance. Reduced work schedules in lieu of pay increases, for example, can help alleviate the daily burdens on key employees, enabling them to focus more at work and be more productive despite the reduced hours. Family-friendly programs designed to reduce stress on workers consequently increase productivity and have a number of other positive influences on the bottom line of the companies that provide them.
    Telecommuting
    Allowing employees to work from home, at least part of the time, can help ease some of the burden of child and elder care because it gives workers the opportunity to put in a full day while working around various family obligations. Curiously enough, there is evidence to support the idea that allowing employees to work from home can save a company money. A good example of this phenomenon is the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, which has been monitoring cost savings and productivity lor several years. Currently, almost half of its attorneys work remotely. According to a report by The Work- Life Coalition of San Diego (2004), the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office has enjoyed a savings of no less than $1.5 million in office space each year. That alone would be enough to make most companies consider telecommuting. However, there is an even more impressive figure. The productivity of the offices telecommuters is markedly higher that that of its in-office staff. In addition, the overall productivity rate is up 38% from last year.
    Long-Term Care Insurance
    The advent of the sandwich generation means a rise in the awareness of a newer benefit - employer-sponsored long-term care insurance. The Alzheimer's Association contends that one in 10 individuals over 65, and nearly half over 85, have Alzheimer's disease. More than two-thirds of people with Alzheimer's live at home and 75% of their care is provided by family and friends. An Alzheimer's Association study (2002) indicates that U.S. businesses spend a yearly total of $36.5 billion on workers who are caregivers for Alzheimer's patients. Interestingly, a 2001 study performed by the Mature Market Institute reports that the caregiver who is covered by long-term care insurance experiences less stress and fewer work disruptions than an employee who does not have the coverage. Even more importantly, the employee is twice as likely to stay on the job (Health Insurance Association of America 2002).
    lntergenerational Care
    According to Orcadian Technologies, providing extended hours for childcare can reduce absenteeism by approximately 20% (Alien 2004). How much would that figure increase if elder care were included? With such a growing need for both daycare and elder care, the concept of combining the two is gaining popularity: approximately 1,000 intergenerational care facilities exist in the U.S. today. Not only is it the most logical answer to the unique dilemma faced by caregivers in the sandwich generation, it is a cost- saving option for the companies who may otherwise be unable to afford to offer both types of benefits.
    Compressed Workweeks
    It has been around for decades, but companies have been slow to implement the four days a week, 10-hours per day schedule. Those companies that have report impressive results. The Washington State University Cooperative Extension Energy Program, in cooperation with Commuter Challenge, did a case study on one such organization, Red Dot Corp. (1998). This major manufacturer of truck and large vehicle heating and air conditioning units switched to the compressed workweek in 1972 after a group of employees read about it and circulated a petition. It only took a 90-day trial to convince the decision-makers that this was a good idea for everyone involved. Employees cut their own costs for commuting and daycare by 20% and the company saved roughly $96,000 in utility costs in one year. The three-day weekend allows plenty of opportunity for workers to spend quality time with their families, but managers are just as likely to use the day to focus on strategy or catch up on paperwork. Employees are also more likely to schedule appointments on their extra day off, which is another win/win situation. The company loses fewer production hours, and employees do not have to spend leave time or lose pay to visit the doctor.
    Wellness Programs
    Perhaps the most obvious answer to the question, "What ran we do to help sandwich generation caretakers?" is to help them take care of themselves. Wellness programs support employees in establishing and maintaining healthy lifestyles in a number of ways including health screenings, exercise programs and health education classes on topics such as nutrition and stress management, The formula has been proven effective. A 21-year study by the University of Michigan Health Management Research Center found that wellness programs produced a cost savings of $3 for every $ 1 spent, which positively impacts workplace stress, absenteeism and employee morale.
    Support Is a Key Ingredient
    When rewarding top performers, recognizing employees who successfully balance their personal and professional responsibilities can demonstrate best practices in stress management to the workforce as a whole, and reinforce the company's commitment to balance. Value-based compensation recognizes not only job performance, but also the value that a particular employee in a mission-critical position contributes to the business. Having the right work-life programs in place is vital to companies that want to retain the "sandwiched" veteran members of their staff- but that is only half the equation. It is just as important that these key employees feel that the company stands behind the programs and fully expects them to he utilized. This message needs to come from the top down, starting with executive management. Without the support of managers, these benefits will not deliver the desired results for companies or individuals. Members of executive management need to determine whether employees feel it is acceptable to use these programs without experiencing negative repercussions. Managers should be required to support work-life balance programs and be held accountable for the success of these programs. Company philosophy alone will not suffice. Introducing management accountability for work-life programs is difficult for several reasons. One reason is that managers often perceive these programs as detractors to their business goal, which is to increase productivity and revenue. Another is that many managers have difficulty achieving a work-life balance themselves, especially managers in the sandwich generation, They need Io be encouraged to leverage these programs before they can set a good example for their staff. To make these programs successful, executive management needs to exemplify the philosophy and reinforce to managers and supervisors the belief that work-life balance builds loyalty - the results of which will increase retention and productivity while reducing stress and absenteeism. The American Journal of Health Promotion reports that highly stressed workers are two times more likely to be absent than others. According to the Bureau of National Affairs, 40% of employee turnover is based on stress (Cascade Center). Demonstrate to managers the kind of impact these figures will have on productivity and they will begin to see the value of work-life balance - if they do not already.
    Catering Makes a Difference
    Statistics show that the demand for highly talented and experienced performers will continue to rise at a rapid pace. However, statistics also show that there will be fewer employees willing or able to work traditional work schedules, the Employment Policy Foundation expects a shortage of 4.6 million workers in the United States during the next eight years. To make matters worse, a large percentage of these available workers will lack experience and college-level skills. Interestingly, 80% of baby boomers in the sandwich generation fully expect to continue working beyond the age of 65, even if only part time. Companies can take advantage of this highly skilled group by integrating work-life philosophies such as referral services, flexible schedules and telecommuting into recruitment efforts. They can use these same programs to help retain the talent they have, minimizing the amount of lost intellectual capital that can be so critical to the business. In recent years, even the strongest companies have struggled to manage the rising cost of health care benefits and employee life insurance. In order to stay profitable and competitive, organizations must attract and retain the best talent in the workforce, and quite often that means catering to the sandwich generation. Work-life programs that meet the needs of these valuable employees can prove to be cost-effective and can even improve the bottom line. When you are ready to get creative with your total compensationplans, talk to your sandwich generation workers. Do not be afraid to ask them directly what kinds of alternative compensation or benefits they seek.
    Resources Plus
    For more information related to this article: Go to www.worldatwork.org/advancedsearch and:
    * Choose work experience as the "Rewards Category" and leave the "Optional Filters" blank.
    * Type in this key word string on the search line: elder care OR baby boomers OR sandwich generation
    There is evidence to support the idea that allowing employees to work from home can save a company money.
    References
    America's Health Insurance Plans. (2002).An Employer's Guide to Long-Term Care Insurance. http://membership.hiaa.org/pdfs/ 2002LTCIGuide.pdf
    Aon Consulting. (2000). United States@Work: Workforce Commitment Report.
    Cascade Center. Know The Facts: Stress. http:// www.cascadecenter.com/EAP_good_bus_cost_stress.htm
    Circadian Technologies. (2004). Childcare Cost Benefit. http:// www.circadian.com/publications/childcare.html.
    Department of Workforce Services. Bottom-Line Benefits of Work/ Life. http://jobs.utah.gov/occ/WorkLife/BottomLine/dwsdefaiilt.asp.
    Fisher vista. (2000). Future Growth of Life Management Benefits. http://www.fishervista.com/statistics.htm.
    National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health. Stress At Work. http://www.cdc.gov/niosh/stresswk.html
    National Partnership for Women and Families. (2002).Family Leave Benefits: Essential to Seniors' Keceiving the Care They Need. http:/ /www.nationalpartnership.org/ Content.cfm?L1=202&TypelD=1&NewsltemlD=361
    Shea, Terrence. (September 2003:Vol.48, No. 9).HelpwithElderCore. http://www.shrm.org/hrmagazine/articles/0903/0903shea.asp.
    The Work-Life Coalition of San Diego. (February 2004). More Evidence For Telework. http://www.worklifesandiego.org.
    Topeka Independent Living Resource Center. (April, May 2004). National News. http://www.tilrc.org/docs/boomer 0701 .htm
    United States Office of Personnel Management. (W9).Family Friendly Workplace Advocacy Statistics File: Customer Satisfaction. http://www.opm.gov/wrkfam/wlgroup/statistics/statistics.htm.
    Washington State University Cooperative Extension Energy Program and Commuter Challenge. (September 2004). case Study of Red Dot Corporation. http://www.commuterchallenge.org/cc/csreddot.html.
    Paul L. Belliveau, SPHR, Kronos Inc., Author
    Paul L Belliveay, SPHR, (paul.gillesi@springs.corn) is a project manager and lead Human Resource Management System (HRMS) management consultant for Kronos Inc., the industry leader in delivering comprehensive HR, payroll, and labor management solutions. Belliveau has more than 25 years of experience as a practitioner in HR management for large and mid-market clients and has a broad industry background encompassing healthcare, technology, utilities, retail, financial, manufacturing, applied research and services.

  9. Each day is casual to some US Postal Service folks
    Houston Chronicle, TX
    By L.M. SIXEL
    There's no mail today because it's a federal holiday. But Ricky Hurt will be working. He's a "casual" or temporary U.S. Postal Service worker and he doesn't get holidays off. He also doesn't get vacation days, sick leave or health insurance - all the perks that regular or "career" postal workers receive. Even though he's a so-called "casual" worker, Hurt has been working for the Postal Service since July 2002 handling and sorting mail. That's nothing, he said. Other "casuals" have been processing and carrying mail for five years, working alongside the regular workers who are paid substantially more and receive a full array of federal government benefits. Hurt wants one of those career jobs with the Postal Service. He has repeatedly asked the union that represents his co-workers, the American Postal Workers Union, to take up the fight. "I'd love to have them," said Linda Castillo, president of the American Postal Workers Union's Houston Area local. "But they're just not part of our jurisdiction." The contract between the postal workers and the Postal Service specifically excludes the casual workers, said Castillo, who represents 3,900 local clerks, drivers and maintenance workers. But Hurt argues that the union has a responsibility to take up the fight for the casuals. They do the same work, yet with huge differences in compensation. Hurt receives $10 an hour. Castillo said a similar career job would start at $15 to $16 an hour - plus benefits. And there's another catch. Casuals are not supposed to work more than 180 days during a calendar year, according to the union's labor contract with the Postal Service. They're supposed to be supplemental workers who help out during busy periods. To get around that restriction, postal officials tell the casuals to take five or six days off every 180 days, said Hurt. After the break, the casuals present a new set of fingerprints and background check and they're re-hired.
    New application, new job
    Castillo is well aware of how the system works. "We file grievances when that happens because it affects our career employees," said Castillo. The part-time career employees end up with fewer hours because the Postal Service would rather use the cheaper workers. Every six months the Postal Service changes their classification, said Castillo. They hire them as a clerk and six months later, hire them as a carrier. "Once they've trained them, they don't want to let them go," she said. "But it's not casual or temporary work when you're working that many years." Nationwide, the Postal Service has 20,662 casual workers, according to the Postal Service's financial and operating statements for the first six months of 2004. Houston has 200 casual mail carriers and 30 mail handlers plus an unknown number of casual clerks and processors. Many corporations rely on supplemental work forces and the post office is part of that trend, said David Lewin, spokesman for the Postal Service in Houston. It provides important flexibility at a time when the business is undergoing a lot of changes with the Internet and e-mail, said Lewin.
    'Basically' the same work
    The work the casuals perform is "basically" the same as the jobs done by career employees, he said, but the job classification is the result of national labor negotiations. Casual employees are encouraged to take the postal exam to become career employees, he said. Hurt scoffed at that suggestion. He said he has passed the test along with many other casual workers. But they still can't get a career job. Lewin said that many casual workers have indeed passed. They're placed on a register and it can take several years to eventually get hired, he said.
    Casuals may have rights
    Mike Muskat, an employment lawyer with Vinson & Elkins who has handled several cases involving federal labor relations law, suggested the casual workers might explore whether they're really employees instead of temporaries. After all, other employers have mislabeld their employees as independent contractors or other workers who aren't eligible for benefits. Under federal labor laws, unions are only obligated to look out for the interests of those workers they represent, said Muskat. But if the casuals are really mislabeled regular employees, they can appeal to the union for representation. The casuals can file a grievance with the National Labor Relations Board or use an internal union grievance procedure, he said. "It surprises me that the union wouldn't want to claim these casuals," said Muskat. "They'd be paying dues."
    lm.sixel@chron.com

  10. Starbucks Union Organizer to Stand Trial in RNC Case
    press release from Industrial Workers of the World IU/660 (contact: starbucksunion@yahoo.com)
    Infoshop News, posted by SonofRage
    NEW YORK, N.Y. - Daniel Gross, a co-founder of the IWW Starbucks Workers Union and an employee at the company, is set to stand trial for disorderly conduct and resisting arrest at a Republican National Convention protest. Gross participated in a peaceful union rally in front of the Starbucks store where he works to protest the Bush Administrations support for anti-union actions at the worlds largest coffee chain. He faces a maximum sentence of over six months in jail. The union is asking its friends and allies to attend the trial in support of the right to protest. The trial will begin on January 14 at 9:30 a.m. in Part C of the 100 Centre Street Courthouse in Downtown Manhattan. Once again, Starbucks has proven it will do or say anything to attempt to break our union, Mr. Gross said. Chairman Howard Schultz will likely use a conviction against me as a fear-tactic to deter workers from joining the IWW to improve their life on the job. Multiple videotapes as well as eyewitness testimony will demonstrate that NYPD officers concocted these charges against me- a New York City jury will no doubt see through the Bush/Bloomberg hype that prevailed during the Republican National Convention. The only attendees arrested at the protest were both union workers at the store. Prosecutors later dropped charges against Starbucks barista Anthony Polanco, an outspoken supporter of the organizing effort. Company managers were witnessed giving information to NYPD detectives before the protest began. Starbucks has a history of making false allegations about IWW rallies in New York City. Daniel Gross is being prosecuted for political reasons, maintained his attorney Leonard Weinglass, a noted advocate for controversial defendants. The DA and the NYPD are desecrating the right to assembly guaranteed by the First Amendment. Hundreds of people have already signed a petition demanding that the District Attorney drop all charges against Gross. Support has come from overseas as well. Last Saturday, union members in Edinburgh and Glasgow demonstrated at Starbucks shops in solidarity with the Starbucks Workers Union and Mr. Gross. The Union has called for all charges to be dropped against RNC protesters. Starbucks workers in New York City have sparked a national campaign to organize the chain. Workers are coming together to rise out of poverty, put an end to understaffing, and achieve a guaranteed number of work hours per week. The Industrial Workers of the World IU/660 is a non-partisan union of retail workers fighting for dignified employment conditions in the industry.

  11. Fast living drives dynamic Czech snacks market
    Food Production, Europe
    The rise of snacks as grazing food has seen the Czech Republic, recently identified by the European Commission as having the longest working hours in Europe, emerge as one of the regions most dynamic savoury snacks markets, writes Chris Mercer . Savoury snacks consumption has been forecast to grow by nearly 50% in the Czech Republic up to 2008, and predictions are lower yet steady for Poland and Hungary where snacking will rise by around 30% and 8 per cent respectively, according to a report by market researchers Datamonitor. John Band, market analyst with Datamonitor, said a main factor was simply that many ex-Soviet states were seeing a significant rise in disposable income, yet he also pointed to the fast-living lifestyles of those working in the cities who have become increasingly prone to desk lunches and eating on the move. A report by the Czech Statistical Office says that Czechs work an average of 42 hours per week, five hours higher than the European average, and a report by the European Foundation for the Improvement of Living and Working Conditions puts Poles and Hungarians not far behind on 40 hours per week. The need for convenience is manifested in the launch of several energy and nutrition bars in all three countries over the last three months, including French firm Danones Petitki Wafelki 'wafel bar' in Poland and Nestls Sveltesse sour cherry cereal bar in Hungary. Band also said the snacking trend in Hungary, Poland and the Czech Republic was similar to that of convenience snacking in the UK, also renowned for long working hours and officially the snack capital of Europe. He said that as a result these countries were mirroring the UK in its dynamic range of flavoured snacks. The breadth of flavours available has shown enormous growth in recent years. Many flavours resemble the kind of stuff you can get on the UK market but at the same time there are the traditional local snacks, said band. The last three months have seen toffee maize chips, green onion potato chips and butter flavour corn chips launched in Poland as well as four season potato chips and cheese and bacon maize snacks in Hungary. There have also been cheese flavour bake bars, garlic and parsley croutons and Mexican chilli potato chips in the Czech Republic. Much of these markets is carved up between multinationals; PepsiCo, mainly through its Frito-Lay subsidiary, has the biggest value share in Poland at 33% and is number two in Hungary with 8%, whilst German firm Intersnack Knabber-Geback is number one in Poland and Hungary as well as third in the Czech Republic. Band said that multinational domination was likely to continue after the meteoric rise of large hypermarkets owned by multinational companies like UK-based Tesco and France-based Carrefour, especially in Poland and the Czech Republic. These countries are now amongst the most supermarket-dependent in the world, he said. Band predicted limited growth in premium snack sectors through the popularity of products such as chocolate-coated nuts, but overall Datamonitor has forecast growth across the board for the Hungarian, Czech and Polish snack markets. Potato chips are the leaders with a forecast 25-30 per cent average rise in consumption up to 2008. Snack market value in the Czech Republic is forecast to rise from $187 million (?143 million) to $260 million, compared to growth from $196 million to $282 million in Hungary and an increase from $339 million to $393 million in Poland.

  12. Gender Wage Gap Narrowing; Women Still Earning Less Than Men
    FoxReno.com, NV
    SAN FRANCISCO - For every dollar a man earns, working women in California earn 20 cents less, a new study finds. But the wage gap has closed significantly over the past 30 years, thanks to more women attending college and seeking higher-paying jobs. In 1975, women earned 60 cents for every dollar a man earned. Yet the discrepancy persists largely because fewer women than men are in higher-paying professions and women take time off from their careers to raise children, the report said. The study used U.S. Census Bureau data adjusted for inflation. In 2000, about 12% of women were in high-paying professions such as medicine, law or computer science, compared to 20% of men. Women who leave the job market to raise children often earn less than their male counterparts when they return to work because they have less experience, the study says. But even women who do not have children earn slightly less than men. The study found that childless women in California between the ages of 25 and 35 earn about 90 cents for every dollar earned by a man in the same age group. That figure suggests that women leaving the work force to raise children accounts for much of the overall wage discrepancy, said Deborah Reed, the study's author and an economist with the policy institute. "The goal was to show there's much more parity when we look at young people who have not yet had children," she said. But her study also said discrimination in the workplace could play a role in the comparatively lower wages. "If discrimination leads women to have lower earnings potential and less career advancement, then it may be a factor in their choosing to take time away from the labor market, perhaps to raise children," the study said. Women accounted for 45% of California's labor force of 18 million this year, dominating lower-paying professions such as receptionists, secretaries, clerks and teacher's aides. The share of working-age women in the state's labor market is more than 70 percent, compared to just less than 50% in the 1960s. Over the same period, their average annual earnings grew by 79% to $31,500. Women's earnings also account for an increasing share of family income. Median family income grew 42% from 1967 to 2002, when it was $67,200. All other income sources increased by just 13% over the same period and actually declined by 9% since 1979. "Women's salaries are definitely improving the economic status of families in California today," Reed said. By comparison, the income of married men has remained stagnant. Despite the economic boom of the late 1990s, the average income of married men in 2002 was $46,600, roughly the same as 1979. The study did not specifically measure the wages for single men. The share of all California men in high-wage occupations also declined, from 24% in 1976 to 20% in 2000. The study suggested that some men may have reduced their work hours or taken lower-paying jobs in less expensive cities to accommodate the careers of their wives.

  13. DC Hospital Offers Lessons - King/Drew's Trauma Unit Ordered Shut - Ailing Hospital's Progress Is Lesson for King/Drew - Consultants made basic changes and enforced standards to get the Washington, D.C., facility back on its feet - Still, challenges remain
    Los Angeles Times, CA
    By Solomon Moore
    WASHINGTON Greater Southeast Community Hospital in Washington D.C. had been stripped of its national accreditation, dropped by medical insurance companies and was being investigated for six "preventable" patient deaths between 2002 and 2003. But over the last year, hospital administrators have been working to turn the medical center around. They canceled vacations, demanded that patients get their medicine on time, even made sure fire extinguishers were working properly. During this period, 20% of the medical staff left or were fired. The changes at Southeast were spearheaded by a group of outside medical consultants. One of them is now part of the team attempting to fix Martin Luther King Jr./Drew Medical Center, the troubled Los Angeles County hospital that has seen a series of patient care lapses that led to several patient deaths and threatens its accreditation and federal funding. The experiences of Southeast the progress that has been made, but also the serious problems that remain after a year of outside management offer lessons to county officials as they struggle to reform King/Drew. "In looking at the two institutions, I see huge numbers of similarities between them," said Glenn Krasker, the consultant at Southeast who is now at King/Drew. Krasker came to Southeast as a medical detective of sorts, trying to determine what was going wrong. He found, for example, that the system for matching blood types to patients was faulty. Three patients had died at the hospital because they had received the wrong blood type. Nurses, Krasker concluded, had incorrectly labeled patients' blood samples, prompting him to institute standardized rules. "What I found at Greater Southeast and what appears to be a problem at King Drew is that essential safe practices of healthcare were generally lacking," he said. Both hospitals were founded in predominantly black neighborhoods, where many residents feel their healthcare needs have long been neglected. Both have struggled to provide proper care to the streams of patients that sometimes overwhelm the facilities. Southeast and King/Drew are also intensely political institutions, serving as powerful symbols of the community. "There's a conviction that the healthcare needs of black people are being ignored and that these hospitals are the only institutions that can address them," said Ivan Walks, former Washington D.C. health director who worked on Southeast. "There's a lot of distrust because of historical issues." There are also differences: King/Drew is a public hospital, while Southeast is private, which made it easier to force out employees. Southeast is also larger, with 450 available beds, compared with 233 at King/Drew. A year into the Southeast reform effort, serious challenges remain, including repairing a tattered reputation that has hindered it from recruiting new doctors and admitting enough patients to fill its beds. Currently, the hospital has fewer than 150 patients. But there are some signs of progress: The hospital regained its accreditation, and the medical lapses appear to have declined. Two years ago, Southeast found itself at the crossroads where King/Drew now stands. Washington D.C. officials were pushing to close Southeast because city health administrators believed that problems there "continue to jeopardize patient welfare," internal documents show. Hospital inspectors reported six questionable patient deaths at Southeast, including two infants, in 2002 and 2003. Two patients died because of mismatched blood transfusions. Another man who arrived at the emergency room with chest pain wasn't examined for 10 hours. He later died. In November 2002, the FBI raided the headquarters of the hospital's parent company, Arizona-based Doctors Community HealthCare. Two days later, the company filed for bankruptcy protection. Within weeks, agencies that provided security guards, nurses and some emergency room physicians stopped supplying personnel to the hospital. Although 20 doctors declared they would continue to work despite not being paid on time, ambulances were diverted to other medical centers because of staffing shortages. About 40% of the doctors left. The patient load, which had been 250 in early 2002, dropped to 130 by the end of that November. By Christmas of that year, the hospital had laid off 78 of its 1,250 employees. Despite problems, some community leaders were outraged that city officials were recommending the hospital's closure so soon after the public hospital in the area Washington D.C. General Hospital was closed. Walks said some of the attacks were surprisingly personal. "There were people telling me that I hated black people," said Walks, who is African American. It was into this emotionally charged situation that Southeast hired Joan G. Phillips, Krasker and a group of consultants from Cambio Health Solutions. "I came in on Wednesday, and by Friday, there was this letter that the [city] Department of Health wanted to close the hospital because of the six deaths," Phillips said. Phillips, who now heads the hospital, determined that Southeast's staff had lost sight of standard hospital protocols, such as maintaining the flow of patients through the emergency room into other wards. "I found that patients were staying down there for three or four days sometimes," she said. "They weren't diagnosed and placed in other wards, so when other emergency patients came in, we didn't always have beds for them." Phillips found that logjams in the emergency room left doctors and nurses there overtaxed and other units underutilized. So she enforced the use of patient flowcharts and checked the emergency room daily to make sure that patients didn't linger longer than necessary. While Phillips focused on the administration of the hospital, Krasker focused on medical protocols. For example, Krasker found that patients weren't regularly checked by nurses. "After they're given medication, how often should we check their vital signs? Every 20 minutes or 40 minutes? And once we settle on that, we have to create a paper trail and a monitoring system to make sure that they're doing it," Krasker said. "Now we're talking about managerial oversight. Accountability." Krasker also cited fire sprinklers that didn't work. Fire safety was among the deficiencies cited by the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations when it stripped away its accreditation from Southeast. "When you find a fire sprinkler head that's not working, you ask: 'Why is this not fixed? Who is supposed to fix it? Who is making sure that the person in charge of fixing it does so?' It's all about putting in place a managerial infrastructure," he said. Krasker, 43, has worked in healthcare administration for 20 years and has worked for the Joint Commission on Accreditation. In that post, he developed so-called "sentinel event" protocols, which require that hospitals identify breakdowns in patient care and conduct analyses to determine root causes for problems. Once an error is identified and its cause determined, safeguard systems are put in place to make sure such problems do not occur again. With health inspectors visiting the hospital on a weekly basis, the Southeast consultants canceled all vacations, imposed six-day workweeks for supervisors and organized daily sessions to educate the staff about the new standards and to crack down on those who weren't following them. During this reform period, so many staffers left that Phillips is now attempting to replenish the hospital staff. "There was no respect for the hospital, and I needed to set a new tone," she said. Phillips discovered that some staff members had been abusing overtime, others had been clocking in and then leaving for jobs at other hospitals. Another problem was that the number of outside contract nurses had soared as the hospital's financial state worsened. At the height of Southeast's problems, 70% of the emergency room staff were employees of private agencies, Krasker said. Some agency workers, said Phillips, felt more accountable to their outside employers than to Southeast's staff. "Agency nurses were holding us hostage because we were so dependent on them. They wanted double time and were calling off and taking all the money they could get," she said. "We called the agencies in and told them that we expected them to have their employees meet hospital standards just like everybody else and that the money needed to be spread around the hospital more evenly." Phillips said she terminated agencies that didn't comply and hired more in-house hospital staff. Phillips also organized one-on-one meetings and breakfast meetings with staff to hear concerns and to voice her own. "We told them, we're not kidding either you want to stay and follow the rules, or go," she said. Krasker and other consultants attempted to head off criticism by meeting regularly with city officials and by holding frequent news conferences. "You identify ahead of time those who are going to disagree with your decisions," Krasker said. "You try to judge the fallout and proactively include those parties. If people can understand every decision and move being made, people will get on board with tough decisions." But critics of the hospital remain. Activist Vanessa Dickson believes Southeast is still providing substandard service to the community. She said the government needs to provide more resources to make it a truly first-rate hospital. "Greater Southeast is the only hospital on this side of town, and it's a death trap," she said. "It is the appearance of public healthcare in the absence of a public hospital. It's a scam, it's a con, it's all smoke and mirrors." Bob Malson, the current president of the D.C. Hospital Assn., said Southeast is far from perfect. But he said he is heartened by the progress the hospital has made so far. "It has come a long way," Malson said. "There is light at the end of the tunnel it can be fixed, but you don't overcome years of mismanagement in a few weeks." Phillips is also cautiously optimistic. "We're getting to where we need to be," she said. But she stressed the road ahead won't be easy. "A lot of our physicians are aging, and there's no succession plan," she said. Nurses are also hard to come by, she said. Before, people would come and see what it is like and then leave because the environment was too chaotic and stressful. "I tell people that this is a place to come in and grow this is an opportunity."

  14. School Talks Stall, at Least For Now, Weingarten Warns
    New York Sun, NY
    BY DINA TEMPLE-RASTON
    The president of the United Federation of Teachers is expected to tell her members next week that contract negotiations with the city are all but dead. The formal announcement will probably come during a December 1 assembly of schoolteachers. No last minute reprieve is likely, because the two sides have no plans to talk between now and then. "Most deals fall apart before they come back together, and sometimes they fall apart and never come back together," one union observer told The New York Sun. Ms. Weingarten's decision comes after a promise she made to the Delegate Assembly, a body of teachers representing all the city's schools, that she would present an outline for a new contract deal on December 1. Officials close to the discussions said she has nothing to present and will instead ask members to mull other options, including asking the state's Public Employment Relations Board to step in to start fact-finding proceedings. The teachers have been working without a contract since May 31, 2003. Mayor Bloomberg and Ms. Weingarten have been at cross-purposes on the contract for more than a year. The mayor wants teachers to provide some productivity enhancements in exchange for a raise. Ms. Weingarten has said the teachers are stretched too thin as it is. The teachers have said they deserve a better deal than the one Mr. Bloomberg has offered, which is essentially the same as the contract forged with a major union of city workers, District Council 37. The DC-37 workers gave up compensation time and some vacation days to get more money....
    [Always a mistake, because concentrating workload on fewer people worsens ambient labor surplus and strengthens downward pressures on wages. This is the biggest single way in which employees and unions screw themselves. They should be opting and fighting primarily for shorter hours - to reduce labor surplus. As long as they put pay before labor shortage as a goal, they're eroding their own future.]

  15. [Further decline of vacation in USA -]
    Council gives preliminary approval to changes for Act 47 plan The Associated Press via NEPA News, PA
    The Pittsburgh City Council voted narrowly in favor of giving preliminary approval to numerous bills required to implement the financial recovery plan by one of the state's financial oversight boards. "This was a difficult vote because it causes some pain to our employees. But we have to look at the big picture, which is that this plan will lead us down the road to financial recovery," Councilman Alan Hertzberg said of the action, which came after five hours of deliberations Tuesday. The preliminary approval passed on a 5-4 vote. The laws and resolutions, subject to final approval Tuesday, would increase fees for pool passes, excavation work, yard debris drop-off and burglar and fire alarm permits. The plan also calls for the sale of the city's asphalt plant, merging the department of engineering and construction with the public works department, and privatizing the city's vehicle maintenance garage and billing for emergency medical services. Employees would lose the Election Day holiday and would no longer be able to bank unused sick days, which were paid upon retirement. Vacation time would be capped at 20 days instead of 25, and tuition reimbursement would drop to 50% from 80%. City employees also would have a two-year pay freeze and would be required to contribute more toward their health insurance. The changes, required under the Act 47 recovery plan, are designed to cut city spending by about $33 million next year.

  16. Work (Part Time) Until You Drop
    Forbes
    Janet Novack
    WASHINGTON, D.C. - President George W. Bush's stated desire to partially privatize Social Security (with the details of a plan to come later) gets the headlines. But for some older workers, a more important development may be an obscure set of pension regulations the Internal Revenue Service proposed this month to promote - or at least remove IRS regulations that have discouraged - "phased retirement." Current IRS rules prevent still-active employees from drawing on their defined benefit pensions until they've reached a company's normal retirement age. Under the proposed rules, workers would be able to cut back their hours and live off a combination of a reduced salary and a partial pension. For example, a worker who scaled back to 60% of normal hours would be allowed to tap 40% of his early-retirement pension benefits. The current, more restrictive rules suited most employers fine in the past, when they were happy to squeeze out older workers. In recent weeks, such companies as Electronic Data Systems and BASF have announced early-retirement programs to cut costs. Similar announcements could be coming from Kmart Holding and Sears Roebuck as a result of their merger. It's no accident that a lot of defined benefit pension plans are structured so that the additional pension payoff to workers who stay into their dotage is small. But now employers have started to worry about potential labor shortages once the bulk of baby boomers begin to retire. And some workforce experts are suggesting that offering skilled workers the option of taking a part-pay/part-pension combo might persuade them to delay full retirement. In a survey conducted by benefits consultant Watson Wyatt & Co. Holding earlier this year, nearly two-thirds of older workers said they wanted to scale back their hours before retiring completely, and one-third said they would postpone their planned full retirement if their employers offered a phased retirement option. Less-formal phased retirement is already pretty common. One-fourth of folks older than 50 now work reduced hours. But only one-third of those who work part time do so while staying with their career employer, Wyatt found. Another third of older part-timers retired completely and then returned to work because they needed the cash or got bored. The rest planned a phased exit from the workforce, but found it more advantageous to formally retire, take their pensions and then find part-time work - sometimes as "consultants" for their former employers, sometimes with competitors. So will the proposed IRS regulations make a difference? Watson Wyatt retirement counsel Kyle Brown says the IRS deserves credit for trying to get in front of this issue, but adds that the proposed regulations contain some onerous paperwork requirements that could scare off firms. For example, an employer must track exactly what percentage of full time a worker (even a salaried, professional one) puts in each year, and then retroactively adjust his partial pension accordingly. That's something the IRS can change, if it chooses, in its final rules. Another restriction, however, may require Congress to act, Brown concedes. The proposed rules say the partial pension arrangement can't begin until an employee reaches 59.5 years old - an age based on current penalties for early distributions from retirement plans. Some folks would prefer to scale back at 55, he notes. Maybe they would. But with life expectancies, retiree medical costs and the age for full receipt of Social Security benefits all rising - and stock market returns lagging - boomers would be well advised to wait until they're at least 59.5 to start phasing down. And then? They may just have to work part time until they drop.
11/24/2004   primitive timesizing & worktime consciousness in the news = glimmers of strategic hope - all are 11/23 from GoogleNews & are searched-screened-collected by Alan Applebaum (AA) of Brookline MA with backup from *Ken Ellis (KE) of New Bedford MA, and with excerpting and [commenting] by Phil Hyde (PH) unless otherwise initialed -

  1. Tube staff are given 52 days holiday
    Telegraph.co.uk, UK
    By Paul Marston
    Station staff on the London Underground will have 52 days off a year, excluding weekends, under an agreement struck yesterday.
    [Better 52 days than 52 weeks.]
    Transport for London [TfL], which runs the Tube, said a new 35-hour working week had been negotiated under which staff would be on duty for 37.5 hours, and then "roll up" the extra 2.5 hours into additional rest days.
    'Londoners will want to know what role Ken Livingstone played in this mind-blowing agreement'
    The 7,000 station staff would gain 9 further rest days to add to their previous 6, plus 29 days' annual leave and 8 bank holidays, giving an overall entitlement of 52 days or ten and a half working weeks.
    The RMT union, which has strongly supported Ken Livingstone, London's mayor and the TfL chairman, said the "ground breaking" deal would mean that with weekends included, staff would have 43% of the year off work. Station assistants typically earn 20,000 a year, with supervisors on 35,000.
    London Assembly Conservatives expressed fury at the settlement, which follows threats of strikes from the union. A one-day stoppage took place in the summer after negotiations ground to a halt.
    Roger Evans, the transport spokesman, said: "This deal is beyond comprehension. It is an outrageous insult to every hard-working Londoner.
    [But an anchor for the consumer base and a pointer to the future as technology takes over more and more routine work and makes "hard work" in terms of long hours increasingly anachronistic and unsustainable. When are so-called conservatives going to wake up?]
    Yet again we're seeing the unions holding the capital to ransom.
    [You mean like CEOs are always doing - as they outsource and phase out thousands of jobs, lay off tens of thousands of hard-working people, loot their pensions, and arrange million-dollar golden parachutes even if they harm the company? - note that fired HP CEO Carly Fiorina recently got $21m despite harming HP and Compaq (and the skeleton of Digital).]
    They know the threat of strikes always pays off. The answer is to ban strikes on the Underground.
    [Aren't conservatives supposed to abhor government interference in the economy?]
    "Londoners will want to know what role Ken Livingstone played in this mind-blowing agreement. The role of mayor is to put Londoners' interests first. He has absolutely failed in this case."
    [Unless you want London to have some well-paid and unstressed employees. Evans is the type of guy who thinks the economy is a Monopoly game that must end, and the corpse that future archeologists discover with the most toys wins.]
    Bob Crow, the RMT general secretary who was appointed for a period to the TfL board, hailed the agreement enthusiastically. "Once again our members' solidarity has brought results, and we have hammered out a deal that sets the standard for the industry," he said.
    Bobby Law, the union's regional organiser, defended the two-year package. "This gives our members more quality time away from a very stressful job. Tube staff work long shifts in difficult conditions keeping an underfunded and fragmented system moving," he said. "With abuse and assaults rising at an alarming rate, our members had demanded better terms on working hours."
    A spokesman for London Underground maintained that the arrangements would be "self-financing" because the union had agreed that employees could be deployed "more efficiently". It would allow Tubes to run through the night on New Year's Eve and lead to later close-downs on Friday and Saturday nights.
    Pay and conditions on the Underground are becoming the most favourable in the public sector. Tube drivers earn about 35,000 a year, but manage with just 43 days off....
    [Another version -]
    New Year's Eve Tube strike off - Revelers will be able to ride the Tube all night on New Year's Eve
    This is Local London, UK
    by Danny Brierley
    Unions say a "groundbreaking" deal has paved the way for Tube services to run all night on New Year's Eve and later during normal weekends. The agreement, which secures all-night services on New Year's Eve and paves the way towards later running on Fridays and Saturdays, has been endorsed by RMT reps after months of detailed negotiations which followed a 24-hour strike at the end of June. The deal gives Tube station staff 52 days' holiday, which equates to 43% of the year away from work including rest days. RMT bosses said it also removed the threat of job losses. "Once again our members' solidarity has brought results, and we have hammered out a deal that sets the standard for the industry," RMT general secretary Bob Crow said today. The deal takes an hour off the working week of Tube workers, bringing it down to 37.5 hours. In addition, two-and-a-half hours will be banked' and added to holiday entitlement, bringing the annual total to 52 effectively delivering a 35-hour week. The agreement includes commitment to working all night on up to three occasions every year, similar to the agreement already in place for train staff. Extension of the traffic day on Friday and Saturday nights by one hour subject to further talks and agreement on the arrangements. "This is a ground-breaking deal that gives our members more quality time away from a very stressful job," regional union organiser Bobby Law said. "Tube staff work long shifts in difficult conditions keeping an under-funded and fragmented system moving, and with abuse and assaults rising at an alarming rate our members demanded a better deal on working hours." Mr Law added: "The agreement also secures New Year's Eve services and should pave the way towards later running of Tube services on Fridays and Saturdays."

  2. [Russia nets one additional annual national holiday.]
    Duma lengthens New Year days off
    Itar-Tass, Russia
    MOSCOW - The State Duma has adopted amendments at first reading on Tuesday in part pertaining to Russia's nationwide days off. The amendments were passed by 325 votes with 100 votes against and six abstentions. The amended Code lengthens New Year holidays that include [ie: to include?] five days off - from January 1 until January 5, inclusive. Simultaneously, the Duma proposed to cancel a day off on November 7 and instead, proclaimed November 4 a day off in memory of the liberation of Moscow from Polish invaders by national guards headed by national heroes Minin and Pozharsky in 1612.
    [What had Nov. 7 commemorated? Maybe this longer version will tell us -]
    Longer New Year holiday approved
    Moscow Times, Russia
    By Oksana Yablokova
    The country is all but assured of getting a 10-day break during the upcoming New Year holiday after the State Duma on Tuesday approved a bill changing holidays. The amendment to the Labor Code also scraps the Nov. 7 and Dec. 12 public holidays, shortens the two-day May Day holiday to one day and adds a new holiday on Nov. 4 called National Unity Day.
    [So what's the net gain?]
    The Duma passed the Kremlin-approved bill on the first reading by 325-100 with six abstentions.
    While it still needs two more Duma readings and approval by the Federation Council and President Vladimir Putin, politicians have made it clear that they want the bill passed into law in time for the new year. The only hurdle was kick-starting the process with a first Duma reading.
    Andrei Isayev, chairman of the Duma's Labor and Social Policy Committee, promised on Tuesday that the country will get a longer break this New Year season, from Jan. 1 to 11. Under the changes, Jan. 1-5 and 7 are days off, but due to the fact that two of those days fall on a weekend, nobody will work or study until Jan. 11. The new holiday schedule will leave the country with 12 holiday days off work compared to the current 11.
    [OK, there's the bottom line - their net total is up one holiday.]
    Presenting the bill to the Duma, United Russia Deputy Oleg Yeremeyev said the government has endorsed the changes even though the extra day off will cost the federal budget 8 billion rubles ($281 million) in lost taxes.
    [So increase the slope of the graduated income tax. Concentrated income is wasted anyway, since the top brackets are already spending all they care to, and their investments are currently at risk from dwindling spending power in the consumer markets.]
    The provision to drop the Nov. 7 holiday sparked a lively debate in the Duma, which for the past year has rammed through legislation while stifling any dissent from minority opposition deputies. Yeremeyev and Isayev insisted that the holiday - which originally commemorated the 1917 Revolution and was renamed the Day of Accord and Reconciliation in the 1990s - is ideologically outdated and should be replaced with the holiday on Nov. 4, the day in 1612 when Moscow was liberated from Polish occupation.
    "Millions of Russians do not consider Nov. 7 a holiday. Why should we impose this holiday on them?" Isayev said. LDPR leader Vladimir Zhirinovsky, a co-sponsor of the bill, went even further, saying that the Communist Party should be abolished along with the holiday.
    In one of his most impassioned speeches in recent years, [however,] Communist leader Gennady Zyuganov told deputies they were rejecting their own history and reminded United Russia members that many had been Communists in Soviet times. "I urge you not to spit on the graves of your parents," Zyuganov said.
    Outside the Duma, several dozen protesters denounced the proposed change. Several attempted to enter the building but were taken away by police.

  3. Taiwan eases work-hour rules on R&D personnel
    SOURCE: CENS via Taiwan Headlines, Taiwan
    The Cabinet-level Council of Labor Affairs recently decided to exclude research and development personnel from being subject to work-hour rules so that Taiwan's enterprises can adjust their workforce more flexibly.
    [Mistake.]
    The council estimated the new measures to allow local enterprises to cut at least NT$3 billion (US$93.7 million at US$1:NT$32) in overtime pay per year industry-wide.
    [And reduce their domestic consumer base accordingly.]
    The new regulation is applied only to R&D workers, leaving their assistants out of the reach of the new labor policy for the time being.
    [Unregulated working hours are hardly a "new" labor policy.]
    CLA will first define who will be put under the new regulation according to their education backgrounds and their specialization certificates. Currently, most of Taiwan's workers are ruled to work 84 hours in two weeks at most based on Clause 1 of Article 84 of the Labor Standards Law. This rule allows exceptions for some industries, whose management and labor sides are allowed to co-arrange work hours, regular leaves, irregular leaves and women's night-time work hours through negotiations. The council recently put hairdressers and beauty-salon workers under the regulation of this clause after it reviewed the suggestions that R&D personnel in the biotech-service industry, bus drivers, hairdressers and beauty-salon workers be regulated by this rule. Previously, this clause regulated only R&D engineers of information-technology industry, flight crews of civilian airlines, workers of medication and health-care industry, and planners and designers of construction industry. Statistics recently released by the Cabinet-level National Science Council (NSC) showed that private enterprises throughout the island had hired a total of 811,970 R&D workers with educational background of at least bachelor degree. Once they are put under the regulation of the new policy, their employers are estimated to be able to trim a total spending of NT$3 billion on over-hour work based on the calculation of their average of 14.8-hour overtime work a month.

  4. The great DIY mystery
    The Scotsman, UK
    A new study suggests that much longer working hours in the UK, coupled with a growing desire to make our homes perfect, has diminished the time men in particular spend on household DIY [do it yourself]. In fact, research shows that families now spend an average of 4,500 per year hiring in tradesmen to do those odd little jobs around the house....
    [And another version -]
    DIY dying out for time-strapped Brits
    Manchester Evening News, UK
    The desire for a perfect home coupled with increasingly long working hours is starting to sound the DIY death knell [ie: to signal the end of do-it-yourself in Britain], according to research published today. More and more Britons are hanging up their hammers and paying the professionals, according to research by Standard Life Bank. Time limits and the quest for top quality finishing are deterring them from doing it themselves, the survey found. Householders now spend an average of 4,500 a year on tradesmen, rather than tackle jobs themselves, it said. The amount, almost a fifth of the average annual salary, is driven by men desperate to buy themselves more spare time....
    The research found that one in four men (27%) said they would pay a professional to give them more spare time, because they did not have the time to do DIY or because they simply were not interested in hammering and sawing. Top of the pay list were builders and plasterers, with window fitters a close third. And 89% of British men said they would pay professional tradesmen to do any work - from big to little jobs - rather than do it themselves. Andrew Boddie, head of marketing at Standard Life Bank, said men were prepared to employ professionals if it meant they had a better lifestyle. He said: "We are seeing increasing numbers of our customers talking to us about large-scale home improvements. Our research shows that approximately 60% of customers who use our Cash Reserve facility to draw down on their mortgage, borrowing at mortgage rates, do so to fund home improvements.... TV's Justin Ryan and Colin McAllister, of the Million Pound Property Experiment, said: "We are entering an interesting time in home improvements. As increasing numbers of Brits are choosing to pay for time off and a quality finish, it seems the thirst for DIY may be drying up....
    NOP interviewed 500 men in October 2004.

  5. Tech provides blessing, curse for future of USPS
    USA Today, VA
    By Florence Olsen, Federal Computer week Some people think the U.S. Postal Service is broken. The agency has been losing money with no replacement in sight for those lost dollars as more people send e-mail and pay their bills online. But just as new technology is hurting USPS, officials are also pinning their hopes on technology to revitalize the 225-year-old institution in the 21st century. Information technology has a critical role to play not only as a cost-cutting tool but also as the basis for a variety of new fee-based services that officials hope can offset the steep and continuing drop-off in the use of first-class mail, the agency's principal revenue source. But that is not the only challenge facing the agency. Like their counterparts at many federal agencies, USPS officials also expect a potential workforce crisis that could dramatically affect their ability to deliver on this IT-heavy strategy: More than three out of five managers who work for the agency's chief technology officer will become eligible to retire by 2007. The challenge to replenish these ranks weighs heavily on Robert Otto, USPS' CTO [chief technology officer]. Otto said he and his managers have been so busy trying to transform the agency during the past four years that they have had little time to prepare a new generation of IT managers to follow in their footsteps. Otto, who arrives at the office daily between 4:30 and 5:30 a.m., has begun to worry that he will struggle to find enough qualified successors who will share the work ethic of his colleagues, who began their careers in the 1970s and 1980s. "We want to get people involved in the Postal Service and to know it and love it like we do," he said.
    Two faces of technology
    A self-supporting, independent federal agency, USPS receives no yearly congressional appropriations. To fulfill its obligation to provide universal mail service, the agency adds about 1.8 million addresses to delivery routes every year, a cost that cannot be avoided. Since 2001, the more than 1,300 employees in Otto's IT organization have brought about changes that address these and other costs.
    Among their accomplishments: These and other technology changes have had significant consequences for USPS employees. William Burrus, president of the American Postal Workers Union, said the agency's use of automated mail sorting and labor optimization modeling has meant that thousands of postal employees have lost their jobs. In the past five years, automation has eliminated about 8% of the entire USPS workforce in the bargaining unit that he represents, Burrus said.
    [What bargaining unit is that? As "president of the American Postal Workers Union," why wouldn't it simply be the entire unionized USPS workforce with no need to qualify it further?]
    "We understand the need for efficiency, so we have never fought it," he said. Instead, he said, union leaders try to make a more efficient workplace benefit the employees who remain. Staffing cuts have not affected all parts of the agency, however. In Otto's central IT office, the number of employees has remained stable, and Otto expects that to continue.
    [Moral: the technologists look after themselves with no regard for what happens to others, as indeed do the CEOs and CTOs etc. So, more service and fewer good jobs channeling wages into the spending power to pay for it. These are people who can't think two moves ahead in chess.]
    He said he also has enough money to do what needs to be done. His budget for fiscal 2005 is $1.3 billion. Otto said his biggest challenge is making things happen. In an agency of 706,000 employees, including 220,000 PC users, every IT change is arduous to manage.
    And agency officials face other challenges. "For the Postal Service to solve its economic problems, it needs to do a lot of things right," said Rick Merritt, executive director of PostalWatch, a group that represents small businesses and consumers and is often critical of USPS managers. "There will be no silver bullet." Merritt said one of the challenges is discovering ways to get short-term returns on IT investments. Increasingly, he said, the unforeseen consequences of new technology make it unrealistic to expect long-term returns. For example, USPS officials invested heavily in handwriting-recognition equipment, he said. But new technology came along and changed people's habits, and now, fewer people address mail by hand. Commercial software presents another challenge for USPS officials. Like many CTOs, Otto appreciates the economic value of commercial software. But that software can break when 220,000 employees try to use it. It happened when USPS officials purchased Microsoft's Exchange messaging software, Otto said. It also happened when they bought a retail software package from Retek. In those and other instances, company officials made changes in their software codes to accommodate USPS' needs. If commercial software works here, it will work anywhere, said George Wright, manager of USPS' finance and administrative systems portfolio. Agency officials have adopted a variety of efficient and cost-saving practices, most of which can be summed up in the simple messages that Otto regularly tells his employees: "Standardize everything, centralize anything that you can and simplify it." Those three philosophies work, he said.
    [He forgot, "And disemploy and deactivate your markets" - when he should be trimming hours, not jobs, and keeping or growing his markets.]
    Occasionally, USPS officials make embarrassing computer mistakes, as they did recently in issuing $103 million in overpayments to employees. The agency's inspector general is investigating the case. But IT officials have been successful in completing many projects that have reduced operating expenses. In the past three years, USPS officials have cut $8.3 billion from the cost of operating their $68 billion business, largely through the use of automation and IT, Postmaster General John Potter said at a recent National Postal Forum in Washington, D.C.
    Bringing in the cash
    Despite clear directives for cutting costs, however, USPS officials could still fail in their transformation efforts if they cannot find ways to generate new income. Burrus said he is opposed to new work-sharing agreements that allow large businesses to save money by handling certain mail sorting and distribution activities, sometimes at a loss to USPS.
    First-class methods
    The following list highlights some of the practices that the U.S. Postal Service's information technology managers have found to be effective: Compiled by Florence Olsen
    "The Postal Service has invested more than $5 billion in technology to speed up the processing of mail, and now it's giving discounts to mailers who perform some of the same work that would be performed on this new equipment," he said. By allowing the discounts, USPS officials forgo $17 billion a year in income for the agency, Burrus said. Union officials were successful in getting language into pending postal legislation that would put a cap on such work-sharing discounts.
    Other critics question whether USPS officials can generate any significant new revenue sources to replace declining dollars from first-class mail. "They may be able to increase their business mailing volume to some degree to compensate for the amount of volume they're losing on first class," Merritt said. "But when that translates to actual revenues and contributions to institutional costs, I don't think it's going to keep pace."
    USPS officials are more hopeful. "We're working with IT to find opportunities to generate revenue by becoming quick, easy and convenient," said Nicholas Barranca, the agency's vice president for product development. IT and the Web are components of all new USPS products and services. Some of those are beginning to appear in TV advertisements, but it is too early to know whether they are producing new revenue or simply redirecting it from traditional sources. USPS officials have not yet conducted surveys to answer that question. But new products and services are gaining popularity with consumers and small businesses, Barranca said. USPS' Web site, www.usps.com, has more than 1 million visitors a day. From that site, people can use the agency's Click-N-Ship service to print labels with prepaid postage. They can request a carrier to pick up their mail or packages on the next business day. Mailers can get delivery confirmation via e-mail. Officials at small businesses can view their shipping histories online. "We're approaching $80 million in postage labels generated through Click-N-Ship this year," Barranca said. Since February, carriers responding to Web-based requests picked up about 1.3 million packages at homes or businesses in the United States. "We're hitting a demand out there," he said, "from small businesses and some home businesses." Although the agency does not charge for next-day carrier pickup, USPS officials expect to generate new revenue from higher mail volume and intelligent-mail services such as Track and Confirm and others that are in various stages of development. Intelligent mail, the ability to track mail using bar codes and identification numbers, eliminates the uncertainty many people feel when they mail packages or letters, Merritt said. "If the Postal Service implements things that make their product line more valuable to the consumers, it can't help but preserve more of its volume," he said. Brian Moran, a partner at Accenture, said USPS' Track and Confirm is among the more ambitious intelligent-mail initiatives in the postal industry. "This is for large volumes of mail - in many cases, even millions of pieces of mail - providing information about the entire mailing," he said. Mailers pay a subscription fee for the Web-based service. Beyond intelligent mail, the new automated postal centers are another innovation that could help transform USPS, Merritt said. Agency officials said about 2,500 automated postal centers will be installed in shopping malls nationwide in time for the December holiday mailing season. The compact computerized units, which are far more sophisticated than postal vending machines, were designed to perform most of the services that clerks provide at post offices during limited hours. From 1,200 automated postal centers installed earlier this year, USPS has collected $16 million in postage revenue, said Patrick Donahoe, USPS' chief operating officer and executive vice president. Officials said the automated centers are another component in the agency's increasingly complex IT operational environment. Otto, whose conference room walls are covered with charts showing performance metrics, said he would feel better about the future if postal IT operations were far less complex. "I've got 77 candidates who are in my succession plans, and we have to spend time mentoring them and preparing them for this," he said. For Otto, the 12- to 14-hour workdays have gone by quickly.
    [Is this the life of a free man or a slave?]
    "What we've been focusing on for the last four years is putting in infrastructure, delivering services, putting in new applications, getting rid of the old, taking costs out, making things easy for people, standardizing, self-service - all of those things," he said. "Now, I've got to focus a little bit more on the people side."
    [No kidding.]

  6. Leading indicator growth slows
    Toronto Globe and Mail, Canada
    By TERRY WEBER
    Growth in Canada's leading indicator slowed in October, reflecting a pullback in the country's housing market...Statistics Canada said Tuesday.... The average workweek in manufacturing also declined for the fifth straight month, with the October reading showing an average work week of 38.2 hours, from September's 38.3 hours....
    [And they're complaining? The US version is down around 34-35 hours.]
    In total, seven of the index's 10 components advanced, while one remained unchanged.
    On the positive side [7 out of 10 advancing isn't positive??], Statscan noted that business spending continued to strengthen in October. Services employment also rose during the month and capacity utilization rates were at record levels in many resource industries. Statscan's index of leading indicators is made up of 10 components that lead cyclical activity in the economy and, taken together, represent all major categories of gross domestic product.

  7. Mayor's budget proposes 7 layoffs - Committee mulls cost-cutting measures
    Bucyrus Telegraph Forum, OH
    By Shaun T. Koh
    BUCYRUS, Ohio - The city's finance committee is expected to take some time to consider Mayor Dan Ross' cost-cutting measures that could include layoffs for seven employees. Ross unveiled the administration's budget during a finance committee meeting Monday night. Auditor Joyce Schifer is projecting a shortfall of about $940,000 in next year's general fund. Some cost-cutting measures that include the elimination of overtime and a reduction to a four-day work week have already been implemented and are expected to bring savings of about $275,000, Ross told the committee Monday....

  8. UAL asks its pilots for steep cutbacks - Plan calls for longer hours, 12% wage cut
    Rocky Mountain News, CO
    By David Kesmodel
    Senior United Airlines pilots would have to fly more hours each month and be away from home longer under a sweeping cost-cutting proposal by the ailing carrier. That change - as well as others proposed by United - could result in additional furloughs of junior pilots because the airline would gain productivity increases. The giant carrier also has proposed contracting out jobs of pilot instructors at United's big flight training center in Denver, which could lead to furloughs.... Chicago-based United has proposed minimum wagecuts of 12%....
    [Whether you work by the piece or the day,
    Increasing the hours decreases the pay.] The United branch of the Air Line Pilots Association released complete details of the carrier's proposal to its members for the first time last week, and the Rocky Mountain News obtained a copy. The proposed cuts are so drastic that one might ask, "Why would anyone want to work there anymore?" said Bob Mann, an industry consultant in Port Washington, N.Y.
    The airline, flying under bankruptcy-court protection for nearly two years, is seeking cutbacks from pilots as part of a plan to pare its costs by another $2 billion a year. It has cut its costs by about $5 billion a year, about half of which has come from labor concessions.
    Denver's dominant carrier is asking the pilots group, the best-compensated of the rank and file, to provide $191.1 million in annual wage and benefit cuts and work-rule changes, or about 26% of the $725 million it seeks from workers.
    The company also is asking all its unions for permission to terminate traditional pension plans, which would result in billions of dollars in additional savings and dampen the retirement benefits of active and retired pilots more than any other rank-and-file group.
    [Ergo, no future.]
    United's pilots agreed to $1.1 billion in annual concessions last year, including pay cuts of 30% or more. About 2,100 pilots have been laid off since the 2001 terror attacks.
    The company wants to negotiate the additional cutbacks by mid-January, which could help it step out of bankruptcy next year. It will ask the bankruptcy court to impose concessions if negotiations fail.
    United proposed increasing monthly maximum flight hours for pilots on widebody jets, such as the Boeing 747, to 95 from 85 and cutting their minimum monthly days off to 10 from 12. Pilots are capped at 100 hours a month and 1,000 hours a year under federal law, so pilots could fly at the monthly maximum rate for only 10.5 months.
    The proposed changes would have a big impact on senior pilots' life-styles, many of whom fly to Asia and Europe, Mann said. "If you figure they do four trips a month and spend a day getting to and returning from (the trip), that means exactly six days off in a month," he said. "You're going to have some very tired, frustrated people."
    United pilots on narrowbody jets, such as the Boeing 737, agreed to raise their maximum monthly flight hours to 95 from 81 last year, and many say privately that the change has taken a toll on them and made the job much less appealing.
    Other proposed changes by United:
    A 12% wage cut, with 4% of it temporary. United also proposed being able to impose another temporary 4% cut if it would otherwise default on certain financing.
    Replace pilot instructors at United's Denver flight training center with contractors. This could lead to furloughs because the United instructors would return to the cockpit, pushing out the least-senior pilots. United employs about 170 pilot instructors at the center.
    Reduce vacation [and] sick leave and health care benefits. The vacation cuts could affect staffing and spark some furloughs.
    The hodgepodge of wage-cut stipulations and work-rule and benefit changes reflects a lack of resolve by management about the kind of concessions it needs to return to financial health, Mann said. "I just don't think they have very much confidence in their own business modeling, because they just don't know what they're asking for," he said. "They're asking for more, but they're not willing to say how much more with any finality. That tells me they really don't know where things are going from here. Perhaps that is an honest reflection of where they now think they are. In the past, they have been overconfident."
    Union spokesman Captain Steve Derebey said the proposal "is just their opening letter" in negotiations. "We don't put a whole lot of stock in it," he said. "Typically this is what they do. They put things into these proposals that are the most draconian proposals, and they tend to negotiate from there because they know they're not going to get everything in those." The union's leadership is scheduled to meet early next month to further discuss United's proposal. The carrier "remains committed to working to reach consensual agreements with all our unions to achieve the necessary labor cost savings through fair and equitable changes to wages, benefits and work rules," spokeswoman Jean Medina said in an e-mailed statement. "We are eager to continue discussions with our unions and remain open to considering all workable options and alternatives that will still provide the long-lasting savings United needs to exit Chapter 11 successfully." The carrier says it is seeking further labor concessions in part because it has been hammered by high jet-fuel prices and low airfares. United, the operating unit of UAL Corp., has racked up more than $9 billion in net losses since the end of 2000.
    A look at United's proposal to pilots -
    Cut permanent pilot pay through 2010 by 8%, plus temporary cut of 4% from Jan. 1 until bankruptcy exit
    Phase in pay increases of 1.5% each year, 2006 through 2010
    Reduce vacation, sick leave and health care benefits
    Gain right to terminate traditional pension plan and replace with 401(k)-style plan
    Increase monthly maximum flight hours for pilots on widebody jets to 95 from 85, and cut minimum days off to 10 or 11 from 12
    Replace pilot instructors at Denver flight training center with contractors, resulting in possible union furloughs
    Possibly begin having United operate air-freighter operation in which United uses another company's jets and pilots
    The union says pay cuts would be as much as 18% if the pilots don't agree to any work-rule changes.
    United wants to save $191.1 million a year from pilot wage and benefit cuts and work-rule changes.Source: United Airlines
    kesmodeld@RockyMountainNews.com or 303-892-2514

  9. Educationally, other nations are gaining on US
    ["Gaining"? Many are already ahead and have been for decades.]
    School Reform News via Heartland Institute, IL
    Written By: Krista Kafer
    Almost two years ago, U.S. Secretary of Labor Elaine L. Chao warned, "standing still means falling behind" in today's global economy. The way for countries to avoid that fate, she argued, was by "building a knowledgeable and skilled workforce." A new comparison of education statistics across industrialized nations indicates other countries are beginning to catch up with the U.S. by raising their average level of educational attainment. The United States ranks first among 30 nations in high school completion rates among 55- to 64-year-olds, but 10th among 25- to 34-year-olds, according to the 2004 edition of Education at a Glance: OECD Indicators, published in September by the Paris-based Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). South Korea, by contrast, ranks 24th for the older group and first for the younger group. "The rates have not declined in the United States," the report points out. "They have simply risen faster in other countries." Nations benefit economically from higher educational levels. According to the OECD report, "Studies of the macro-economic returns to education estimate that increasing the average level of attainment by one year, raises the level of output per capita by between 3% and 6%." In general, individuals in OECD countries are more likely to be employed if they have a postsecondary qualification or degree. Earnings for degree holders are substantially higher than for high school graduates. In the U.S., for example, earnings for men with degrees are 105% greater than for those with high school diplomas, and earnings for women are 91% greater.The OECD report tracks education "inputs" such as spending, class size, and teacher salaries and education "outputs" such as graduation rates, reading, math, and science performance, and learning attitudes. According to the annual publication, the compilation of education data "enables countries to see themselves in the light of other countries' performance." Not all OECD member or partner countries took part in every year's survey. According to the report, the U.S. has the highest per-pupil spending for elementary to tertiary education, spending an average of $10,871 per student. Per-student spending ranges from less than $3,000 in Mexico, Poland, and the Slovak Republic, to more than $8,000 in Austria, Denmark, Norway, and Switzerland. Combining public and private sources of funds, Korea spends the highest percentage of Gross Domestic Product [GDP], 8.2%, on education. The U.S. spends the second highest amount as a percentage of GDP at 7.3%. As a percentage of public spending relative to GDP, the U.S. ranks third. The share of private expenditures in K-12 education was average in the U.S. - about 7%. At the postsecondary level, the percentage of private spending was 66%, ranking the U.S. second under Korea at 84% and three times higher than the average of 22%. In the U.S., private spending at the postsecondary level is split evenly between individuals and private enterprises. Starting salaries for primary teachers in the U.S. ($29,513) are the fourth highest of the 29 counties surveyed. Denmark, Germany, and Switzerland are the top three countries on this measure. U.S. teachers work more hours than the OECD average. The average class size in OECD countries is 22, varying from 36 students in Korea to fewer than 18 in Greece, Iceland, and Luxembourg. While Japanese and Korean schools have large class sizes, their students attain higher academic performance. Average class size in the U.S. is roughly equal to the OECD average. The performance of U.S. 15 year-olds on reading, math, and science international exams is average. In every country, elementary school girls and 15-year-old girls outperform boys in reading. Boys outperformed girls in math in about half of the countries surveyed. In science, performance was roughly equal. In the U.S., performance of 15-year-old girls was higher than boys in reading and equal in math and science. In most OECD countries - Japan, Switzerland, and Turkey being the exceptions - young women are more likely than young men to earn a first university degree. In addition, 15-year-old girls in 40 of the 42 countries surveyed (including the U.S.) indicated higher expectations for future occupations than their male peers. Men, however, are more likely to be employed and to earn more money than women with similar education levels. Men are also more likely to earn doctorates or other advanced degrees.
    Krista Kafer (krista.kafer@heritage.org) is senior policy analyst for education at The Heritage Foundation.

  10. Heterosexual cohabitants need to realise one thing: marriage works
    IrishExaminer.com, Ireland
    By Rnn Mullen
    It never rains but it pours. First we have a same-sex couple seeking parity of esteem with married couples and similar tax breaks. Now advocates for cohabiting heterosexual couples are demanding more rights, too.
    AIM family services last week called for "realistic legal protection" for cohabiting couples. They want registration of non-marital relationships and recognition of cohabitation contracts. They want inheritance rights for cohabitants and they say courts should have the power to make property adjustment orders after cohabitation arrangements break down.
    "Cohabitation," says AIM, "is often looked upon as a loose arrangement between two people that can be terminated at the whim of either of them. It is the view of some people that parties voluntarily take the risk, no matter how many years they live together, of having no right to financial support if they separate and no right to the estate if their partner dies. That is not a compassionate approach."
    AIM cites the 2002 census figure of 77,600 cohabiting couples and claims this is "only the tip of the iceberg".
    To meet their needs, AIM wants to change the constitution's provisions on the family. Article 41.3 pledges the state "to guard with special care the institution of marriage, on which the family is founded, and to protect it against attack." This would be replaced by the UN definition of family: "any combination of two or more persons who are bound together by ties of mutual consent, birth and/or adoption or placement and who, together, assume responsibility for, inter alia, the care and maintenance of group members, the addition of new members through procreation or adoption, the socialisation of children and the social control of members."
    This broad definition - free of troublesome words like 'marriage,' 'father,' 'mother,' 'husband' or 'wife' - would certainly put cohabiting couples on the same footing as wedded ones. Whether such a move would add to the sum of human happiness is another question.
    AIM's proposals are far more radical than those drawn up by the Law Reform Commission (LRC) in its consultation paper on the rights of cohabitants, published earlier this year.
    The LRC accepted the constitution's preference for the family based on marriage, and did not recommend formal registration of civil unions. Instead, the consultation paper argued for a 'presumptive scheme' under which couples cohabiting for three years, or just two years if they had children, would enjoy certain rights in the event of break-up, bereavement, etc. Surprisingly, neither AIM nor the LRC appears to have given much consideration to whether marriage is important to society. Or to whether rights for cohabitants would impact negatively on marriage rates. Maybe it's because there's been so little research in this country to compare the impact of marriage and other family forms on people's well-being. Up to a few years ago, many experts at home and abroad were simply dismissive of marriage.
    When, in 1994, the BBC asked childcare expert Penelope Leach for her views on the prospects of children born outside marriage, her reply was interesting: "You said born outside marriage... what's that got to do with anything? There are no statistics whatsoever that suggest marriage - that piece of paper - makes any difference at all. What matters is relationships." I wonder if Leach would say the same today. There is now a wide array of studies and statistics on cohabitation and marriage. The findings are dramatic. Cohabitation, it turns out, is far from being the marriage-like state that some people would have us believe it is.
    In her book, Marriage-Lite, Dr Patricia Morgan looked at the available research and concluded that cohabitation relationships were much more likely to fracture than marriages entered at the same time, regardless of age or income.
    COHABITANTS with children were more likely to fragment than childless ones. Couples who had children and then marry were more likely to divorce than couples who had children within marriage. And couples who had children without getting married at all were very unlikely to stay together while those children grew up. Her analysis also showed that cohabitants behaved more like single people in their relationships and were less likely to be faithful to their partners. Cohabitation wasn't liberating for women either. "Living in this arrangement offers a lot of freedom to one partner to exploit the other," commented one woman. Women and children were at greater risk of abuse than they would be in married situations.
    Poverty is also a factor. The Washington-based Centre for Law and Social Policy (CLASP) comments that "even among mothers with high poverty rates and low educational attainments, marriage can have positive economic effects". It's not just that people with better prospects are more likely to marry. The experts talk of the 'marital advantage.' "It appears that stable marriage provides significant protection against poverty," according to CLASP's August 2004 policy brief. "For example, marriage changes the behaviour of some men: husbands with children earn higher wages and work more hours than non-husbands with similar characteristics."
    Marriage works. And the question which AIM and the LRC must wrestle with is this: if cohabitants are given the taxation and other benefits currently reserved for marriage, will there be less of an incentive for people to tie the knot?
    It's a question of balance. We all want to cushion people from the unpleasant consequences of their choices as much as possible. But there is a limit to what the state can do without hurting society.
    Once the state gets involved with registering cohabitations, things get messy. For example, people may register as cohabitants for the purpose of enjoying taxation and inheritance rights at the state's expense. Can this be easily prevented? Marriage, at least, involves a level of formality. It is difficult to enter and exit quickly. Not so with cohabitation. And, interestingly, the AIM document is silent on the waiting period necessary to deregister cohabitations.
    We have to take responsibility for our own lives. For example, AIM correctly recommends that parties entering a long relationship should make a will, and that couples buying property together should set out the precise ownership arrangements beforehand.
    If people want to bind each other into mutual legal obligations, or enjoy certain rights at the expense of the state, marriage exists as a mechanism for them to do so. If they decide not to get married, we must presume that they do not want the state involved. In a world where marriage is so necessary to people's happiness, and still so fragile, that would seem to be the 'compassionate approach.'

  11. Hoxton Hall closes after 30 years
    Stage, UK
    Jeremy Austin
    Experimental arts centre Hoxton Hall in east London is to close at Christmas after almost 30 years, following cutbacks in its core funding. The last professional show was performed on Sunday (November 14) and adult drama workshops have ended but a few drama and music workshops for children will be run for a little while longer. Centre support manager Peter Cloan said, however, that they would not be enough to sustain it or to justify it being kept open. "It is a choice between giving up completely and giving the building back or keeping something going so there is a chance of recovery later on," he said. Leased from its Quaker owner in 1975 by a group of art teachers, its initial ad-hoc seventies operating structure developed over the years into a more modern and professional operation. Despite proving popular with its workshops for local people and its experimental non-text based professional work, it has never attained a viable level of core funding or raised its profile significantly - even with well known figures including Damon Albarn, Alison Goldfrapp, Patti Smith and Tracy Emin among those using its facilities. Core funding came from Hackney borough council and from the Association of London Government, both of which gave around 40,000. Last year Arts Council England entered the organisation onto its recovery programme, giving around 30,000 a year as well as 30,000 for special projects. However, ACE now believes that with 11 of the 12 core staff made redundant - three of whom have been given alternative posts at reduced hours and pay - the management structure is not sufficient to operate viably and has withdrawn funds. Cload said the venue's board would now try to seek alternative funding....

  12. State Briefs - Lowcountry - Office hours cut at Francis Marion forest
    The State, SC
    The U.S. Forest Service is consolidating some of its operations in South Carolina, leading to reduced hours at two offices in the Francis Marion National Forest. Beginning Jan. 15, the offices in Cordesville and McClellanville no longer will be open Monday through Friday, the forest service announced Monday. The Witherbee office in Cordesville will be open Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays 8 a.m.-4:30 p.m., and the Wambaw office in McClellanville will be open Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays 8 a.m.-4:30 p.m.

  13. But why do women get less?
    Fort Worth Star Telegram, TX
    By Don Erler
    ...Let's say that John, a white male, makes $400 per week driving a truck for a local beer distributor. Then assume that Lucinda, a black female, drives a truck for the same distributor but earns about $200 per week. Inequitable, right? But what if they earn the same $10 per hour and he works twice as many hours as she? Still unfair?
    [No because gender-neutral.]
    Change the scenario to the same two drivers delivering snack foods to retail outlets. Assume that they both work approximately 40 hours per week, but that John makes $600 in commissions compared to Lucinda's $400 each week. Again, inequitable, right?
    [No, need more data.]
    But what if they each deliver to 10 stores per day, and he stocks $6,000 worth of food to her $4,000 each week? Still unjust?
    [No - gender-neutral.]
    ...There are countless reasons, not including gender discrimination, why some males and females earn more or less than others.
    Yet last week we learned from a Knight Ridder News Service story that women, on average, earn only 76 cents for every dollar earned by men. Thus, according to the author, "life has improved for American women over the last 40 years, but big inequities persist."
    Is this smallest-ever pay differential an "inequity" or simply an "inequality"? There's a huge difference. To say that John weighs twice as much as Lucinda is to state a morally neutral fact. But to say that she should be as large as he is to make an unsubstantiated moral assertion.
    The fact that women earn 76% of male pay, on average, might be explained by the radical feminists' all-purpose lament: Men are misogynistic pigs who routinely trample the rights and suppress the aspirations of women. The pay differential, therefore, would be unjustified - indeed, unjust.
    But if women, on average, work fewer hours in less richly remunerated occupations, then the resulting inequality in pay would be fair and reasonable [not necessarily] - which, of course, is exactly the case. But it won't be for long.
    Analyzing data from the Current Population Survey of the Bureau of Labor Statistics, researchers from the Economic Policy Institute calculated that wives in two-parent households in which the spouses are between 25 and 54 years old worked 1,235 hours per year, compared to their husbands' 2,111 hours. These are averages - many women work more hours than many men.
    ...The Working Women's Survey sponsored by the AFL-CIO acknowledges that 58% of temporary workers are women and that 72% of part-time workers are female. Fewer working hours generate lower pay.
    Yet this same survey reported that in 2002, some 48% of full-time wage and salary workers in executive, administrative and managerial occupations were women, up from only 34% in 1983. In other words, women have already closed this "gap."
    Similarly, women have increased their numbers dramatically in the once-male-dominated fields of medicine, dentistry and law. But the Working Women's Survey concedes that "the presence of women in traditionally male technical and trade occupations remains rare."
    That will become considerably less important quite soon, given the fact that women now earn 133 bachelor degrees for every 100 earned by men.
    Moreover, according to a 2001 report from the Employment Policy Foundation, women in fields traditionally dominated by men already earn "equal paychecks" on an hourly basis.
    These statistics provide ample testimony to the truly equal opportunity that our dynamic economy affords America's women and men.
    Don Erler is president of General Building Maintenance.
    donerler@sbcglobal.net

  14. Index of leading indicators slows in October
    Ottawa Business Journal, Canada
    Statistics Canada's index of leading indicators, a key gauge of where the economy is headed over the next six months, grew at its slowest rate since June 2003 last month.... The index peaked this year in June with a gain of 1%, the largest one-month increase in two years..\..
    Statscan reported Tuesday that the index gained by 0.2% in October, down from September's increase of 0.3%.... October's soft growth was attributed to a decline in the housing market and fewer hours worked in the manufacturing sector, [where] the average workweek declined for the fifth straight month, to an average of 38.2 hours from September's 38.3 hours. A shorter workweek at the nation's factories suggests a slowdown in demand for manufactured goods and a weaker export sector.
    Other recent economic reports have suggested the export and manufacturing sectors may be starting to feel the affects of a strong Canadian dollar, which makes Canadian goods more expensive, and therefore less attractive, on foreign markets.
    Seven of the other eight components of the index, however, were up, while one held steady. Statscan said business spending continued to strengthen in October, while employment continued to rise in the services sector. Services is the larger half of the economy vs. manufacturing. Capacity utilization rates were also at record levels in many resource industries, the federal agency added..\.. Statscan compiles the index from 10 different forward-looking economic indicators that represent all major categories of gross domestic product, the broadest measure of the economy....

  15. Federal raid rounds up illegal aliens - Dozens of illegal aliens are being detained in Jacksonville - The raid focused on 13 homes in a Green Cove Springs trailer park
    First Coast News via WJXX, FL
    by Jackelyn Barnard
    JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - Dozens of illegal aliens are being detained in Jacksonville. The group of 41 immigrants were rounded up in a raid Tuesday that was part of a year long investigation. Agents with Immigration and Customs Enforcement [ICE], have been watching more than a dozen businesses over the last year. The companies are mainly in Jacksonville and mostly deal with construction work.
    Tuesday's raid focused on 13 homes in a Green Cove Springs trailer park. Agents say in the houses they found dozens of illegal aliens. "It appears they are living in houses maintained by some of these companies. And we're looking at if they're paying rent and what they are charging these individuals," says ICE Special Agent Dale Hickman.
    Hickman says the investigation is all about the dollar signs. Agents are not really focused on the immigration violations, but instead the money trail. Mora Drywall's owner, Ceasar Mora, is under investigation for money laundering and harboring immigrants.
    Agents are also looking at how the immigrants are getting into the U.S. and if the companies have anything to do with it. "These guys are working 6 to 7 days a week with no overtime [pay], few days off and no benefits whatsoever," says Agent Hickman.
    It's cheap labor. We do know the 41 immigrants rounded up in Tuesday's raid were working long hours in Julington Creek. The crew was helping to build homes there.
    First Coast News tried to reach Caesar Mora for a comment. He did not return our phone calls. Right now Mora has not been charged or arrested because the investigation is still underway.
    The First Coast News I-team has also learned the 41 detainees are mostly from Mexico. Another detainee is from Guatamala. One other is from Nicaragua.
    Six of the immigrants have been arrested. One is a fugitive that was ordered out of the country and did not leave. The other five have been deported before [but they] returned to the U.S. One of the five deportees was in fact ordered to leave the country because of aggravated sexual battery charges.
    As for the other 35 immigrants, they are being released since there is not enough jail space to house them. Those immigrants will have their day in court to determine their future in the U.S.

  16. The world textile market: Three nations, three strategies
    By Peter S. Goodman, The Washington Post via Seattle Times, WA
    Even with higher wages, China is cost-competitive because workers are more productive. Some attribute that in part to lack of union clout and bosses who skirt overtime and minimum-wage laws. Worldwide textiles shake-up to outsource even sweatshops Second of two parts. In China, the textile boom has been building for a decade. As the local industry began refashioning itself in the 1990s, it experienced what much of the rest of the world now fears: massive layoffs. From 1997 to 1999, the Chinese textile industry shed more than 1 million jobs as the government dismantled a network of outmoded, state-financed textile and apparel factories and allowed the free market a much greater hand. Executives at Shanghai's Shenda Group Co. have closed 20 factories and fired 50,000 people in the past six years. Re-equipped with modern machines and with only 10,000 employees left on the payroll, the company boosted annual sales from $170 million to $415 million. "We can beat any competitors in international markets," said Yao Xiyi, Shenda's general manager. "We're prepared for expansion." The transformation is industrywide. Rich in labor and raw materials, China has also invested in the full array of textile and apparel operations, allowing it to spin, weave and dye the fabric, cut and stitch the clothing, and manufacture and attach the buttons and zippers. In 2002, China accounted for nearly three-fourths of all worldwide purchases of advanced weaving machines known as shuttleless looms, according to the U.S. International Trade Commission. With highways and ports that allow delivery to the United States in as few as 18 days - compared with 28 to 45, for example, for Sri Lanka - the result is an increasingly efficient operation that has pushed up labor productivity and pushed down the cost of its exports by as much as 30% over the past five years, according to Chinese government figures. The potential impact on world trade is demonstrable. In Japan and Australia, two major nations that have no quota restrictions, China has already captured 70% of the textile market. In the United States, quotas were eliminated in 2002 on products such as baby clothes and robes, and China's share of those imports jumped from 11% to 55% by the end of last year, according to data analyzed by Pietra Rivoli, a trade expert at Georgetown University's McDonough School of Business. About the same time, China supplanted Mexico as the largest supplier of textiles and apparel reaching the United States, accounting for about 17% of U.S. imports. Since 1974, many developing countries have pinned their economic hopes on a complicated system of worldwide quotas that guaranteed each a specified share of the lucrative textile markets in the U.S. and Europe. Now, in a matter of weeks, those quotas will be scrapped under an agreement ratified by the World Trade Organization's member states in 1994. The end of the quota system is expected to cut the price of Chinese goods even further. Companies currently compete with one another in a widely tolerated black market for shares in China's allotted exports to the United States and Europe. Shanghai Shenda officials, for example, say that they can make a pair of blue jeans for $10 but that the cost climbs to $13 after tacking on the expense of obtaining a share of the export quota. Once the quota limits are lifted next year, that expense will disappear. Countries that are serious about free trade, Chinese officials argue, should welcome the change. With about 18 million employees in the textile industry, the stakes are as significant for China as they are for Sri Lanka and others. The estimated average wage of 68 cents an hour isn't much. But it compares well with the less than 50 cents an hour paid to textile workers in places such as Bangladesh, India and Pakistan, and it has become a main source of support for many rural families. Though wages are higher, China remains cost-competitive because its workers are more productive, which some attribute to the country's new investments and management skill, but also to the fact that employees are forbidden from organizing independent unions and are at the mercy of bosses who often violate overtime and minimum-wage laws. Workers in Chinese factories routinely talk of forced 12-hour shifts with no overtime pay and no days off. Government reports have documented similar abuses and blamed localized labor shortages in some parts of the country on the mistreatment of workers.

  17. Gunmaker reviving long shifts
    The Republican, MA
    By WILLIAM FREEBAIRN (wfreebairn@repub.com)
    Some workers at Smith & Wesson are upset about an upcoming change from eight-hour to 12-hour shifts at the company's Springfield plant. Officials say it will allow them to produce more guns on a seven-day-a-week schedule. "Some people are glad to be going back to this," said company spokesman Paul Pluff. He said Smith & Wesson had 12-hour shifts several decades ago before switching to eight-hour shifts. The first shift will be from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m., officials said, with the overnight shift starting at 6 p.m. and ending at 6 a.m. Affected employees will work three days one week and four the next, including every other weekend, Pluff said. The change will affect operators of computer-controlled machines and some who run older, manually controlled equipment, according to employees. The total number affected will be 93 people, a spokesman said, less than one-sixth of the company's work force. "I've never seen people so unhappy. They're just irate," said a worker who would not be affected by the change. The company scheduled a meeting with a doctor earlier this month to describe ways to adjust to the longer shifts. "That shows you how bad it is," said a veteran machine operator who asked not to be named for fear of losing his job. Workers believe it will disrupt their family life and health. "That's a long time to be on your feet," said the machine operator. Some workers, especially single parents and those close to retirement, are considering quitting in the face of the change, he said. The company said it was working with single parents to offer them a better work arrangement, perhaps in another department. "Nobody's being forced into these positions," Pluff said. Pluff said a recent series of meetings with medical experts was designed to help workers adjust their sleep patterns, eating habits and make other changes to smooth the transition. The seven-day production schedule that will emerge will also create 21 additional daytime positions and will mean workers have 75 more days off, Pluff said. The company has had 12-hour shifts in the past, and many workers with experience in them support their return, he said. While the plan will cut forced overtime for some workers, it will result in an added four hours' pay every two weeks, Pluff said. The change is being made to reduce production bottlenecks and raise production to meet growing demand for Smith & Wesson's line of handguns. Demand has been growing due to the popularity of the company's giant Model 500 .50-caliber revolver. The company has been working Saturday shifts and evenings to meet demand for all its gun lines, Pluff said. The alternative to the shift change would be an investment in additional production equipment, and the company worried that it would be left with overcapacity and the need to let workers go if demand ever declined, Pluff said. Workers said management unveiled the new shift plan in October, and on Nov. 12 offered to boost the overnight shift pay differential by 23 cents an hour to lure more workers. The change could be implemented early in 2005, officials said.

  18. Developed countries must tackle debt
    [Titled more appropriately "The American way of debt" in the Taipei Times of Taiwan tomorrow.]
    Miami Herald, FL
    by Alberto Alesina (aalesina@harvard.edu) & Francesco Giavazzi (francesco.giavazzi@uni-bocconi.it)
    [Here are a couple of Italian academics serving well their suicidally employment-funneling, consumption-shrinking CEO alumni-donors.]
    After almost 15 years of unprecedented growth [gauged by the sustainability-ignoring GDP measure] - interrupted only by a brief slowdown in 2000-2001 - the United States has accumulated a huge stock of foreign liabilities, equivalent to 25% of its GDP. With the current-account deficit now exceeding 5% of GDP, U.S. foreign debt is rising fast. But no country can accumulate debt forever - and what cannot last, sooner or later, must end.
    [Funny how sensitive some economists have become about national debt, when they ignored it all through the 1980s and 90s.]
    In early 1985, when the U.S. current-account deficit reached $120 billion, about a third of today's level at current prices, the rest of the world stopped financing it. The outcome was a sudden fall in the value of the dollar, which depreciated by 50% against the Deutschmark. Europe should not welcome a sequel.
    [Why not? That would shift the international currency over to the euro and make the world less dependent on the increasingly self-destructive USA.]
    Indeed, the world itself cannot afford the disappearance of the U.S. current-account deficit - at least not quickly. Take away U.S. imports, and the timid growth that Europe has seen in the past year would immediately disappear.
    [Europe is now too big to need exports to the US, except in the minds of chicken-little academics. And all Europe needs to do to realize 'bold' growth is compete with the US in terms of comprehensive unemployment, where the US would lose out for its huge welfare, disabled, homeless and prison populations, all but missing in Europe. Then Europe could look at comparative forced early retirement and forced self-employment without clients....]
    This already may be happening: The appreciation of the euro, from $1.20 to $1.30 in the past few months, was enough to bring European growth to a standstill during the third quarter of this year. Before the dollar started to weaken, exports from the 25 European Union member states were growing at 6.5% per year, compared with 2% for consumption and 3% for investment.
    [If investment is growing faster than consumption, it's growing unsustainably, because it depends on consumption.]
    With central banks around the world full of dollars and trade imbalances becoming worrisome, there are three possible solutions:
    Domestic saving in the U.S. increases.
    [You mean the hugely overpaid CEOs aren't saving enough? Well, they're certainly not spending it! And nobody else has extra money to save.]
    This is unlikely, at least in the near future, given President Bush's ambitious fiscal plans and the continuing war in Iraq. U.S. private savings also are slightly negative, and an increase might lead to a slowdown in the short run.
    A more-pronounced devaluation of the dollar, bringing it well beyond current levels relative to the euro and the yen. Revaluation of the Chinese yuan would also help.
    A pick-up of growth in Europe, which would increase U.S. exports. This could happen only if European companies cut costs and increase productivity. As always, a litany of plans and promises for ''structural reforms'' can be heard, but none of them is likely to be implemented soon.
    So what can be done? One alternative is to increase working hours without increasing salary per hours proportionally. Americans and Europeans worked the same number of hours in the early 1970s. Today, Europeans work 50% less on average in France and Germany than in the United States.
    [What utter nonsense. This is a formula for sending consumption growth in Europe into the negative. These morons think the megahours worked by those still employed in the USA are exemplary - while more and more people leave the US workforce in disgust?]
    This is partly due to higher taxes in Europe, and this cannot be undone:
    [Huh? Sure higher taxes in Europe can be undone. They can embark on an unsustainable policy just as fast as Bush has in the U.S.]
    Nobody can force someone to work if they consider their take-home pay too low because of a high marginal tax rate.
    [Huh? Sure they can. Just reinstitute slavery, as Wal-Mart and others are doing.]
    But the relative decline in work hours is also due to trade unions' success in winning compulsory vacation time. Labor 'reform' [our quotes] leading to longer hours would not reduce the total income of the employed, but it would reduce production costs.
    [And what is going to guarantee that lower production costs get passed along in lower prices instead of vacuumed into higher CEO pay?]
    Until this happens, it is in the rest of the world's interest to let the United States continue to run an unprecedented current-account deficit by financing it at the rate of $500 billion per year.
    [That's like saying it's in the world's interest to keep throwing gasoline on a forest fire.]
    This allows the Chinese to keep their currency stable vis a vis the dollar, remain super-competitive and thus enable a gradual shift of 200 million workers from agriculture into manufacturing - the authorities' aim over the next 10 years.
    [The shift from the agricultural areas to the cities has already happened in China, and that's why there are some 200 million unemployed agricultural workers.]
    In Europe, America's external deficit keeps the sole source of growth alive.
    [Huh? That's ridiculous.]
    But, again, this will not last forever. Eventually, Europe will have to stop thinking that the United States can save its economy.
    [Hopefully only a few particularly stupid economists ever thought that.]
    But don't be surprised if the next European downturn is blamed on the United States and the depreciation of the dollar. It is always useful to have a scapegoat.
    [Especially for self-referencing economists.]
    Alberto Alesina is professor of economics at Harvard University; Francesco Giavazzi is professor of economics at Bocconi University, Milan.

  19. Employees earning less for longer hours; unemployment falls
    The China Post, Taiwan
    [But as 'employment' asymptotically approaches slavery, it loses its relation to consumption and its whole economic relevance.]
    Employees in Taiwan are earning reduced take-home wages while working longer hours, although the unemployment rate has fallen within the jobless target of 4.5% for the whole year. Figures released by the Directorate General of Budget, Accounting and Statistics (DGBAS) under the Executive Yuan (Cabinet) show the jobless rate was shaved to 4.31% in October, the lowest level in more than three years. Officials said the government's push for major construction projects and the temporary employment programs have yielded the positive results of reducing unemployment on the island. Yet the DGBAS statistics also show that the average constant salary stood at NT$34,929 during the period from January to September, representing a decrease of 0.46% from the corresponding period last year. The total figure of constant and inconstant incomes (like bonuses) of employees in the service and manufacturing sectors reached NT$40,439 in September, down by 2.35% from August and 1.14% from the same month of 2003. While facing the 0.46% decrease in the constant income per month - the real disposal take-home pay - during the first nine months of the year, employees are also faced with 1.53% annual increase in consumer price index.
    The employees worked an average of 182.9 hours in September, down by 1.9 hours from August but up by 1.6 hours from the same month of last year. The average monthly working hours in the January-September period rose 2.6 hours from the same period of last year to 181.9 hours.

  20. Case study: Websense helps Penn National comply
    by Wendy Toth, Insurance & Technology (Nov. 17, 2004 issue) via Banktech
    Penn National Insurance (Harrisburg, Pa.; $1.3 billion in assets) has improved its ability to meet the privacy and security regulations of the Gramm-Leach-Bliley (GLB) Act, which regulates the use of consumers' confidential financial information, through three enhancements made to its existing Websense (San Diego) Internet security solution during the last 12 months. These enhancements were designed to provide added protection from online security threats. "We are into our third year with Websense, and they have enabled us to add some security functionality each year," says Thomas Miele, manager, information security, Penn National Insurance. Seeing the Internet as a hotspot for security vulnerability, the insurer invested in Websense's core product, Websense Enterprise, to monitor Internet traffic. For example, if employees exceed the corporate policy Internet threshold of 12 hours per month, a report is generated listing sites visited. "Our employees go through a security awareness program, so they know how our policy works, but we know there are a lot of dangers, and we need to create an environment that lessens the opportunity for that danger," says Miele. To ensure compliance and protection from new Web-based attacks, Penn National has deployed all three Websense Enterprise Premium Groups (PG), which provide the flexible filtering components of the solution. The components work on three separate levels: Websense Security PG prevents employees from inadvertently accessing Web sites that are infected with mobile malicious code, or distributing spyware. This is backed with a filter that stops the transmission of sensitive information, such as consumer financial records, to external spyware host servers. Websense bandwidth PG blocks employees from accessing sites such as Internet radio TV, streaming media and peer-to-peer (P2P) file sharing. The carrier's concern is that P2P is an attractive capability because it connects users directly to each other to quickly and easily download and swap files. But it is also easily exploitable to hackers for the spread of viruses, spyware and the transfer of confidential information. Websense Productivity PG blocks employee access to pop-up ads, instant messaging host sites, message boards and clubs, and online brokerage and trading sites. All of these applications are supported by a Master Database, which includes over 7.3 million Web sites, classified into over 90 categories in more than 50 languages, and a Client Policy Manager (CPM) database that identifies and categorizes over 500,000 software applications and executable files. The Productivity PG blocks are enabled by a database of common network protocols to manage network policies and filter non-http traffic. "The Internet is where business is headed," says Miele. "People will extend their work hours beyond the normal 7 or 8 hours a day.
    [Basis?]
    Now, if our employees log onto our network from home and use the Internet to do research, they are tracked and protected."

  21. Taiwan eases work-hour rules on R&D personnel
    SOURCE: CENS via Taiwan Headlines, Taiwan
    The Cabinet-level Council of Labor Affairs recently decided to exclude research and development personnel from being subject to work-hour rules sothat Taiwan's enterprises can adjust their workforce more flexibly. The council estimated the new measures to allow local enterprises to cut at least NT$3 billion (US$93.7 million at US$1:NT$32) in overtime pay per year industry-wide. The new regulation is applied only to R&D workers, leaving their assistants out of the reach of the new labor policy for the time being. CLA will first define who will be put under the new regulation according to their education backgrounds and their specialization certificates. Currently, most of Taiwan's workers are ruled to work 84 hours in two weeks at most based on Clause 1 of Article 84 of the Labor Standards Law. This rule allows exceptions for some industries, whose management and labor sides are allowed to co-arrange work hours, regular leaves, irregular leaves and women's night-time work hours through negotiations. The council recently put hairdressers and beauty-salon workers under the regulation of this clause after it reviewed the suggestions that R&D personnel in the biotech-service industry, bus drivers, hairdressers and beauty-salon workers be regulated by this rule. Previously, this clause regulated only R&D engineers of information-technology industry, flight crews of civilian airlines, workers of medication and health-care industry, and planners and designers of construction industry. Statistics recently released by the Cabinet-level National Science Council (NSC) showed that private enterprises throughout the island had hired a total of 811,970 R&D workers with educational background of at least bachelor degree. Once they are put under the regulation of the new policy, their employers are estimated to be able to trim a total spending of NT$3 billion on over-hour work based on the calculation of their average of 14.8-hour overtime work a month.

  22. Agritourism offers farmers chance to tap into growing market
    press release from Georgia Farm Bureau (November/December, 2004 issue), GA
    by Jennifer Whittaker, Editor
    The face of Georgia agriculture is changing to meet the challenges and opportunities of our time. Today many farmers are searching for alternative uses of their farmland to generate an income while simultaneously preserving the farm experience for others to learn from and enjoy. Visiting the country is something that folks from the city have been doing for decades. Americans today have increased leisure time, more disposable income and greater mobility.
    [What parallel universe does this writer live in?]
    The desire to leave the stress of work and fast-paced city life behind, if only for a few hours or a few days, creates great opportunities for many of Georgia's farmers to diversify into agritourism/agritainment activities on the farm. Diversification for today's farmer would seem to be as important for a successful farm as ever before. In recognition of Georgia's broad mix of agricultural production, coupled with a growing tourism industry, there is an understanding within the highest state agencies of the need to assist farmers in developing agritourism enterprises. The Georgia Department of Agriculture, Georgia Department of Economic Development, Georgia Rural Development Council, Governor Perdue's Agricultural Advisory Committee and UGA Center for Agribusiness and Economic Development have formed a partnership to promote, educate and assist Georgia's farmers with the analysis and planning of an agritourism business. Since June, meetings have been held across the state as a means to educate Georgia farmers and promote "Growing Up in Georgia," Georgia's agritourism initiative. Entertainment farming and agritourism activities offer opportunities for on-site farm visits, the chance to talk with farm personnel and the opportunity to observe and understand modern farming methods. Farm tours and activities offer a chance to turn a working farm into an adventure for others, as well as to diversify one's business and to increase income. A farm operation can attract a variety of consumers by offering the public something unique. The terms agritourism and agritainment farming are often used interchangeably. In a general sense, both types of operations seek customers who are interested in a farm experience of some sort. A primary distinction between the two terms is most likely the intended customer. Agritourism customers tend to be thought of as out-of-town tourists, while agritainment activities often target local customers (school tours, youth groups, senior citizen clubs, etc.) The term agritourism emerged in the 1990s to describe anything that relies or builds on the relationship between farming and tourism. Similarly, entertainment farming activities are enterprises operated for the enjoyment and education of the public that may also generate additional farm income by promoting farm products. Agritainment activities may be weekend only, weekday only, seasonal, fulltime, primary or supplemental farm enterprises. The term agritainment is often coined to represent the overall industry that encompasses agritourism and entertainment farming. Agritainment enterprises offer opportunities to diversify the farm business. Such activities offer additional income opportunities and may provide safe alternatives for family labor, as well as opportunities to promote the critical yet diminishing industry of agriculture. The focus of the agritainment meetings is to educate interested farmers on what their business possibilities are. The meetings also point out that a Farmers interested in agritainment should consider a number of factors, such as business goals, profit objectives, location, labor, insurance, local/state regulations and time. In order to be successful with an agritourism activity, the farmer must create an overall farm event that will be unique and enhance the customer's agritourism experience.
    For more information contact Lindsey Hammock, regional tourism representative with the Georgia Department of Economic Development at (478)275-6888. You may also contact Ken Murphree, Georgia Farm Bureau Commodity specialist, at 1-800-342-1192.
    This article was written by Ken Murphree and George Monk, GFB staff, and Dr. Kent Wolfe, marketing analyst for the UGA Center for Agribusiness.

  23. GERS board approves $7 million budget
    Virgin Islands Daily News, U.S. Virgin Islands
    By EUNICE BEDMINSTER
    ST. CROIX, U.S. Virgin Is. - The Government Employees Retirement System {GERS] board voted unanimously Monday to approve several housekeeping items on its agenda during its regular meeting. The board voted to approve a proposed 2005 budget of $7,086,378. Of that, $6,918,464 is set to go toward operating expenditures and the remaining $167,914 to capital expenditures, according to Willis Todman, acting administrator.
    In other matters, the board voted to:
    - Approve a donated leave policy that would allow GERS employees to donate sick and vacation time to other employees in the event of a "catastrophic incident" or if that person was the primary caregiver for someone who was gravely ill. The policy also would make it possible for GERS employees to swap time with other government employees who do not work for GERS.
    - Establish a benefit policy to serve as a "clear guideline" for GERS staff in an effort to protect its unfunded liability. According to the proposed draft, which mirrors the law already on the books, retirees would be unable to collect benefits until and unless all contributions were made to GERS. Board Chairman Raymond James said that in the past, retirees were able to collect benefits even though contributions by the government were in arrears.
    The board later adjourned to executive session to discuss, among other agenda items, personnel matters. Acting Administrator Willis Todman said that the recent firing of Administrator Lawrence Bryan was not discussed. The board asked Bryan to resign at its last meeting, and he was fired when he refused. GERS staff demanded to know why Bryan was fired and did not get an explanation. GERS employees on St. Croix and St. Thomas threatened job action, but that never transpired. Todman is now the acting administrator.
    - Contact Eunice Bedminster at 774-8772 ext. 457 or e-mail bedminster@dailynews.vi

  24. Corporate tax auditor in Salem to lead largest state workers union
    by Steve Law, Salem Statesman Journal, OR
    South Salem resident Joe DiNicola will move from his state job next week to lead the largest state workers union. DiNicola...was installed Friday as president of Service Employees International Union Local 503, which includes nearly 40,000 workers in state agencies, college campuses, home health care and nonprofit groups. DiNicola will take a two-year leave as a corporate tax auditor for the Department of Revenue to work full time for the union. DiNicola assumes the presidency of Local 503 at a challenging time. State money is tight, and collective bargaining agreements expire June 30 for state workers, home-care employees and the university system. State and university workers have endured a two-year wage freeze and rollbacks in their pension benefits. Both groups might face demands to begin paying part of their monthly health-insurance premiums, which is sure to be unpopular with union members. "We need to do something to contain health-care costs across the board," DiNicola said. "Our goal is to work both with the business community and with the Legislature to hold these costs down, and that benefits everybody." Home-care workers, who are enjoying new benefits since joining SEIU, are hoping for more gains when they renew their first-ever collective bargaining agreement. "Most workers in this area are earning $8.73 an hour, not a living wage," DiNicola said. "They have one day off per year, combination sick leave and vacation."...
    slaw@StatesmanJournal.com or (503) 399-6615

  25. Employers establish rules for holiday policy
    by Anne Frassetto Olsen & Kelly Sutherland McCarthy, The Californian, CA
    Employers are not legally required to offer holidays as a benefit to their employees. If they do, however, the benefit becomes a company policy and the employer, rather than the law, sets forth if and when employees are entitled to holiday pay. These examples may be helpful when drafting a holiday policy: Employers may select the holidays to be observed. Employers are not required to observe the same holidays as the government. If a holiday falls on a weekend, employers are not required to pay employees for that day or give them an additional day off unless their policy provides for a paid holiday. Employers may choose to grant their non-exempt employees a holiday without pay. If exempt employees work any portion of the week in which the holiday falls, they must be paid their full salary regardless of whether they work on the holiday. If a holiday falls during an employee's vacation, the employer may choose to extend the vacation by a day but there is no requirement to do so unless the employer's policy provides that employees will be paid for the holiday. If the company's pay day falls on a holiday, the employer may pay the employees on the following business day. The employer may, of course, pay its employees on the day before the holiday. If employees are required to work on a day that the employer has designated as a paid holiday, the employer must either grant another day off with pay or pay holiday pay (straight time for the number of hours the employees normally work in a day) plus pay for the hours actually worked on the holiday. Holiday pay is not accruable. When an employee's employment is terminated for any reason, there will be no pay for future holidays. Holidays that are not worked may not be included in the calculation of overtime hours. Overtime is based on actual hours worked. As with all policies, a holiday policy must be carefully drafted to include all possible situations and, once written, must be adhered to and applied in a non-discriminatory manner. We recommend that you include a holiday policy in your employee handbook and have it reviewed by your employment law counsel.
    by Anne Frassetto Olsen and Kelly Sutherland McCarthy are attorneys in the law firm of Abramson Church & Stave LLP in Salinas. They specialize in management employment law and labor relations. Their bimonthly column is intended to address issues of general interest and should not be construed as legal advice. E-mail to info@acslaw.com
11/23/2004   primitive timesizing & worktime consciousness in the news = glimmers of strategic hope - all are 11/22 from GoogleNews & are searched-screened-collected by Alan Applebaum (AA) of Brookline MA with backup from *Ken Ellis (KE) of New Bedford MA (except #22a which is from 11/23 hardcopy), and with excerpting and [commenting] by Phil Hyde (PH) unless otherwise initialed -

  1. Why the politicians are so family-friendly
    The Scotsman, UK
    GILLIAN BOWDITCH
    Shaw may have been the original Pop Idle but the number of people beavering away proclaiming the virtues of indolence is on the increase. There is good money to be made from laziness.
    There are good votes to be had too, it seems. Both New Labour and the Conservatives have cottoned on to this fact. Sloth used to be denounced from the pulpit as a deadly sin; nowadays, work is considered the greater evil....
    [Dream on. We're in a wallow of workaholism.]

  2. Another Blair finger in eyes of Brown papers, 22 November
    ifaonline.co.uk, UK
    By Jonathan Boyd
    Chancellor Gordon Browns grip on UK economic policy is to be destroyed by the appointment of arch-Blairite Alan Milburn to head a new cabinet committee challenging for control over issues such as pensions and savings policies, reports The Scotsman.
    Milburn is expected to use the post to push for an ownership society, whereby long-term savings are encouraged to own assets, including houses and investments including pensions, the paper writes.
    And, while work and pensions secretary Alan Johnson and his deputy pensions minister Malcolm Wickes are expected to have seats on the committee, Brown is not, instead represented by his deputy Paul Boeteng.
    Britons would work less, but not for less money a poll published in todays The Times....
    Three key factors lie behind the findings: people cannot afford to earn less, they love work so much they cannot bear the thought of cutting back, or they want more money to consumer [sic] more.
    The Times says the findings are likely to be seized upon by political parties gearing up for the general election as they indicate it may be right to concentrate on drawing up policies to improve child care as the work-life balance appears to be growing in importance as an election issue.
    Chancellor Gordon Brown and work and pensions secretary Alan Johnson meanwhile are expected to welcome the findings as evidence their position on work more-save more is the right one.
    Some 60% of men who said they would like to work fewer hours for less pay said they would do so to spend more time with their families, compared to 56% of such women polled....

  3. Post-scarcity and the modern capitalist economy
    Infoshop News
    The major economic problem in the United States today is: not enough work to do [given a frozen 1940-level 40-hour workweek]. Capitalism has taken us to a period of post-scarcity, where there is a surplus of consumer goods and simply not enough work to go around [if we keep "full time" defined as 40 hours a week forever]. It sounds like an ideal situation - more than enough for everyone with time to spare. Within the constraints of capitalism, however, lack of scarcity is an absolute disaster. Lack of scarcity translates to lack of demand, which generates unemployment. Unemployment translates to under-consumption, which generates even less demand. Repeat.
    This deflationary cycle reared its head most viciously in the 1930s, and that economic near-collapse gave birth to managed capitalism. Wherever possible, the US government will now cultivate conditions of artificial scarcity. Since there is too much food, the state pays a rotating set of farmers not to grow crops. Later, the state will observe the results of a harvest, adjust its numbers, and buy up tons of the harvest yield to rot away in silos (or dump on foreign countries). Otherwise, faced with an enormous supply, prices will fall and the agricultural market will fail. Capitalism must subvert itself [and the environment] in order to survive.
    Currently, we're hovering on the cusp of this deflationary cycle. Not enough people are able to find work, which means many people don't have money to spend on superfluous products. The people (ie: many Americans) selling superfluous products can't stay in business, and themselves become unemployed, continuing the cycle. Tactics for breaking the cycle include tax breaks for the rich (giving wealthy people money and hoping, against the evidence, that they spend it), as well as low interest rates (lending poor people money and hoping that they spend it). Usually unspoken, all of this becomes very clear in campaigns like "America: Open For Business" - where the message is very overtly: "Please, buy stuff." But, as of June 2004, more than 17 million US citizens can't find any work to do.1 Where power does not break us, it seduces us - and seduced by capitalism's siren song, most of those frustrated by the current state of economics are playing right along by demanding "more jobs" [a la makework instead of more jobs via work sharing]. But if we stop and think about this for five seconds, shouldn't we be demanding less jobs?
    [No, less total working hours but with the total divided up into more jobs of less hours per person.]
    Have things really gotten so bad that we smile and cheer when a politician promises to generate more work for us to do?
    [- only when we're dumb enough to think the 40-hour workweek is forever, and not smart enough to think of work sharing.]
    It's difficult to figure out what's really going on, because the highly publicized employment statistics are somewhat incomplete and fairly deceptive. The Bureau of Labor Statistics claims that the current unemployment rate is 5.6%. However, the BLS considers a person to be 'employed' if they're working as little as one hour a week. By 'unemployed', they mean someone who works less than one hour a week, is registered for unemployment, and has actively been looking for a job in the past four months. So while there are 8.2 million people that the BLS considers 'unemployed', there are 4.9 million people working as little as one hour a week that are looking for more work, 1.5 million people who have given up trying to find a job in the past four months, and 2.03 million people who have been incarcerated.1 There is a whole other group of people who went on disability because they were disabled, but now find it impossible to return to work given the economic climate. Given the choice between maintaining their disability payments or being unemployed and destitute, they choose to continue on disability. So, all told, the number of people unemployed in the United States today is more like 17 million. There are 114 million people working full-time, which means that it takes about 4.56 billion person-hours of work each week to generate our current level of stuff. If we agree that this is a period of post-scarcity and there isn't actually a shortage of goods, it would make sense to divide up the current amount of work amongst everyone instead of creating more [artificial] work for those who are unemployed. If all [114+17=] 131 million people do the 4.56 billion person-hours of work each week, it comes out to [4560m/131m=34.8=] 35 hours/person. All of a sudden, the work week is 5 hours shorter.
    ...It's still more than we should be doing. Currently, consumer choice is controlled by the market alone. If I'm not interested in a product, or think it's unnecessary, the only thing I can do is refuse to buy it. If enough people refuse to buy it, the company may go out of business and the product we all dislike will no longer be produced. The disciples of capitalism see this as a brilliant manifestation of natural selection. But just how powerful is my choice? If I refuse to buy something, the company that produces it might go out of business, but that will only increase unemployment without benefiting me in any way.
    [Already the writer has forgotten that he is reducing the workweek to maintain full employment, so his worry about individual companies going out of business and ending jobs is unnecessary - the overall economy responds by sharing the vanishing work and by maintaining the existing supply and demand for labor, maintains wages.]
    In fact, an increase in unemployment might hurt me if I have something to sell of my own.
    [Nonsense. Worksharing via workweek reduction gives people the same amount of money with more free time to shop.]
    If I listen to "America: Open For Business," I might realize that it's actually in my best interest to buy useless crap.
    [Whatever "America: Open For Business" is, it sounds like useless crap.]
    So in a very real sense, I don't have much of a choice as a consumer at all.
    [Nonsense. The writer is yielding to the constant temptation of the leftist to let his valuable critique of the status quo carry him away into blanket cynicism. As long as a consumer has plenty of money to spend, s/he has plenty of choice, including the choice of saving the money.]
    In the absence of powerful consumer choice, we've been flooded with crap: vinyl fish, three-speed authentic-leather massage chairs, refrigerator poetry magnets, whiz-bang software, and pre-peeled garlic cloves.
    [Again, the only reason for our lack of powerful consumer choice is falling wage levels and rising unemployment. And a major reason for the proliferation of silly choices in the consumer markets is desperation for income on the part of the unemployed and marginally employed.]
    People are choosing to buy miniature ceramic replicas of their dogs because, well, why not? Right now, if we all decide that products sold at the Sharper Image are worthless, the company goes out of business and unemployment numbers go up. But what if, instead, we take the total amount of work remaining and divide it with everyone that's unemployed? If we divide up the work that everyone in our community is doing with everyone else that's already unemployed, as well as those newly unemployed Sharper Image workers - everyone works less. Since there was never a shortage of anything to begin with [except jobs!], it's an all-around win. All of a sudden, consumer choice has meaning. Maybe I'd think twice about wanting someone to produce a 97" flat-screen plasma TV if not having it means I work 2 hrs less each week.
    [Unclear. He may be smart enough to realize that workweek reduction does not mean pay reduction - it actually raises general pay levels by reducing wage-depressing unemployment and labor surplus.]
    Trade Unions And Capitalism
    Unfortunately, trade unions have only maintained the scarcity mindset. Union leaders echo the quixotic cry for "more jobs!"
    [what's "quixotic" about wanting everyone to support themselves so taxpayers don't have to?]
    and focus almost exclusively on maintaining an artificial level of work to be done.
    [There's no need for "maintaining an artificial level of work to be done" if, as he proposes above, we "divide up the work that everyone in our community is doing" with everyone including the unemployed.]
    This was incredibly evident, for instance, in the 2001 ILWU strike. For those who don't remember: a container comes off a ship with a number stamped on it. There are union workers employed to record that number on a list, and at the end of the day all of the lists are left in a big office, where more union workers compile and manage all of the numbers on the lists. Management wanted to start putting barcodes on the containers, so that they're scanned when they arrive and a computer automatically manages the inventory.
    This is technology which can potentially reduce the amount of work that collectively needs to be done. But within the context of a trade union's relationship to capitalism, this is technology to be opposed. If it's introduced, some union workers lose their jobs and everyone else still has to work the same amount. Ideally, those jobs would be eliminated, the people who were doing them would stay on, and the remaining work would be divided amongst everyone (while maintaining the same level of renumeration). But trade unions aren't in a position to make that happen,
    [why not? it's the only path with a future]
    so the ILWU went on a weeks-long strike, payed out gobs of cash in strike wages, and had people whispering about things like Taft-Hartley all over again. All so that we can do more work.
    However backwards it is, this is clearly necessary and important action to take in order to protect workers here and now - but let's not make this tactic our strategy.
    How Do We Get There From Here? Or: We Don't Want A Slice, We Want The Whole Damn Pie
    I'm going to suggest that we forget about unions as a strategy. I think all of the romance and nostalgia associated with the labor movement has us trapped in a mindset where reviving the IWW is the key to revolution. I think we need to take a step back and look at why unions were necessary in the first place. When it costs a bazillion dollars to build a factory, it makes sense to unionize the workers of that factory and negotiate with the boss. But let's face it, today the United States is a service-oriented economy where normal startup costs do not begin to approach a bazillion dollars. Should our strategy be to unionize an existing bike-messenger company and negotiate with a boss through the National Labor Relations Board when it's almost easier to start a bike-messenger worker-collective instead? Worker-collectives give us total job control, empower us to make (not negotiate) the day-to-day decisions which workers are affected by, and strike back against the alienation and exploitation inherent in labor and profit.
    If we focus on worker-collectives, there is potential for dramatic transformation. First of all, maintaining busywork is no longer an issue within a collectivized workplace. If the workers find a way to introduce efficiency and do less work - it's to their benefit. Members of a worker collective have the freedom to eliminate entire jobs without actually laying anyone off, simultaneously reducing the amount of remaining work for everyone. We can finally start to give a meaningful voice to the cry for less jobs, not more.
    As the number of worker-collectives increases, these transformations can begin to increase in scope. Networks of worker-collectives can share resources and develop means of exchange that are not based on the market,2 which could even enable the support of important services that the market does not currently value (like child care, community projects, and other forms of community support).3 For instance, it could be possible to manage risk with the networked capital of several worker-collectives as an alternative to the insurance racket. Insurance is the type of thing that is easy to provide if you have a lot of money. With a large amount of collective capital, networks of worker-collectives could effectively offer affordable health-insurance by eliminating insurance profit and managing the risk with their own money.
    As the amount of capital available under networked collectives increases, these networks can pool together seed money in order to fund the creation of larger collectives which require more startup capital - building a sort of free-credit collective bank. These larger collectives could include those factories that do cost a bazillion dollars to build, perhaps even replacing corporate manufacturers that other collectives buy from. In this way, a network of collectives can grow up the production chain.
    If we can spend hard hours negotiating with management and unionizing workers, we can build our own world without bosses. We're the ones doing the work, and we've known that we can do it ourselves all along. Revolution smiles out of the corner of its mouth every time someone asks "Wait, you don't have a boss?" So let's start salting the creating of new worker-collectives instead of the unionization of corporate businesses. Let's start demanding less jobs, not more.
    Footnotes:
    1: Bureau Of Labor Statistics
    2: See Michael Albert and Participatory Economics for one example.
    3: The Network of Bay Area Worker Collectives (NoBAWC) is a very preliminary example of this.

  4. Data support Americans sense of an accelerating time warp - Description: While the U.S. workweek, or hours spent working for pay by the average employee, has not significantly changed over the past 30 years, the demands of work and family are certainly colliding
    Newswise
    While the U.S. work week, or hours spent working for pay by the average employee, has not significantly changed over the past 30 years [oh yes it has, it's gone up - see Juliet Schor's "The Overworked American"], the demands of work and family are certainly colliding. According to research by sociologists, there is a growing split of the labor force into those squeezed by family and work time demands, usually at the top end of the pay scale, and those unable to find sufficient amounts of work, usually at the bottom of the pay scale. In addition, an ongoing transformation of family life also lies at the heart of the new time dilemmas facing an increasing number of Americans. According to U.S. Census figures, the average male worked 43.5 hours a week in 1970 and 43.1 hours a week in 2000, and the average female worked 37.1 hours in 1970 and 37.0 hours in 2000. The work experience of individuals does not give a clear picture though until we shift our focus to the combined work hours of the family, where the time squeeze becomes more apparent. Sociologists Kathleen Gerson, New York University, and Jerry Jacobs, University of Pennsylvania, found that [c]hanges in jobs and changes in familiesare separating the two-earner and single-parent households from the more traditional households, and are creating different futures for parents, especially mothers, than for workers without children at home. Their research appears in the fall 2004 issue of Contexts magazine, published by the American Sociological Association. Most analyses of work time focus on the individual, but it is families, not isolated individuals, that typically experience time squeezes. Even if the length of the work week had not changed at all, said Gerson and Jacobs, the rise of families that depend on either two incomes or one parent would suffice to explain why Americans feel so pressed for time. For married couples, the combined work week has increased from an average of about 53 hours in 1970 to 63 hours in 2000. The explanation for this increase in work hours, given that the individual persons work week has not changed much, is that 30 years ago half of all married families had only a male breadwinner. By 2000, this group sunk to one quarter. The two-earner family put in close to 82 working hours in 2000 compared to 78 hours in 1970. The vast majority of the change in working time over the past 30 years can thus be traced to changes in the kinds of families we live in rather than to changes in how much we work, said Gerson and Jacobs. For instance, they said, Census Bureau data show that women headed one-fifth of all families in 2000, twice the share of female-headed households in 1970. Even though their average work week remained unchanged at 39 hours, the lack of child care and other support services leave them facing time changes at least as sharp. Although dual-earner parents are facing greater time pressures, they cope with these pressures by cutting back on joint working time rather than time with the children. According to Census data, parents in two-income families worked 3.3 fewer hours per week than two-income families without children. There were 2.6 hours separating these two types of families in 1970. The number of combined work hours declines as the number of children under the age of 18 increases. However, it is mothers, not fathers, who are cutting back, said the researchers. Fathers actually work more hours when they have children at home, and their work hours increase with the number of children . . . . And while parents are putting in less time at work than their peers without children at home, they shoulder the domestic responsibilities that leave them facing clashes between work demands and family needs. The researchers believe that the future of family well-being and gender equality depends on developing large-scale policy changes in order to meet the needs of the 21st century workers and alleviate time pressures faced by working parents. These policies should address the organization of the American work and community institutions. This includes revising regulations on hours of work and providing benefit protections to more workers, moving toward the norm of a shorter work week, creating more family-supportive workplaces that offer both job flexibility and protections for employed parents, and developing a wider array of high quality, affordable child care options, suggest Gerson and Jacobs. These policies may not be a cure-all, but taken together, they offer a comprehensive approach toward narrowing the gender gap in the workplace and alleviating time pressures confronting a growing number of American workers and their families, the authors maintain. Gerson and Jacobs are the authors of The Time Divide: Work, Family, and Gender Inequality (Harvard University Press, 2004). To download a PDF version of their Contexts article see http://www.contextsmagazine.org/content_sample_v3-4.php. Further information on ASAs Contexts magazine, published in collaboration with the University of California Press, can be found at http://www.contextsmagazine.org. The American Sociological Association, founded in 1905, is a non-profit membership association dedicated to serving sociologists in their work, advancing sociology as a science and profession, and promoting the contributions and use of sociology to society.

  5. Innovation spurs growth in global marketplace
    The Republican, MA
    By WILLIAM FREEBAIRN (wfreebairn@repub.com)
    When American Saw and Manufacturing Co. pulled up stakes and closed its utility knife factory last year, workers in East Longmeadow were elated, not dejected. That is because the factory that closed was in Brazil, and the production line moved earlier this year to a building on Industrial Drive in the Springfield suburb. The company's move came thanks to modern equipment in East Longmeadow and a patented high-tech process that is only done in the United States. For U.S. manufacturers, staying in the country has proven a difficult proposition, guaranteed only by hard work trimming material, time and money from the production process. For companies in the region like American Saw, Savage Arms in Westfield and Marox of Holyoke, success has come with the competitive advantages offered by innovation, market dominance or high technology. While manufacturing employment is on the decline, "new manufacturing" offers a different kind of work, but still provides high pay. Some manufacturers say they have trouble hiring people for a career in a field many job-seekers have prematurely written off for dead. "One of the challenges is to change the image of manufacturing, to remind people that it is a vibrant part of the economy," said Richard Lord, president of Associated Industries of Massachusetts. "We need to be proud we still have a substantial manufacturing presence in Massachusetts," he said. Lenox, the trade name of American Saw, has been successful by focusing on innovation and efficiency that were historical hallmarks of the company, said chief executive officer William Burke. The company does not make the lowest-cost products, which are likely to be made in low-wage countries. Instead, Lenox sells industrial band saw blades, replacement hacksaw blades and utility knife blades that are stronger and last longer due to a patented two-metal manufacturing process. "We invest in making sure we have the best product," Burke said. The company has spent several years focusing on manufacturing efficiency. Stephen Dodge points at a chart on the wall of the American Saw & Manufacturing factory showing steady declines in the amount of wasted saw blade material. "That's how we've stayed in the United States," said Dodge, plant manager. At Lenox, the focus was on reducing the scrap metal discarded when making blades. The company has reduced scrap metal waste by 20% in recent years. In addition, changes to the factory floor meant raw materials and in-process product were moved shorter distances between machines, saving time and money in the production line, Burke said. Remarkably, Lenox stopped making utility knife blades in Brazil in January, and moved the production line to the larger East Longmeadow plant. The company received a patent on blades featuring two metals and is selling them under its Lenox and Irwin brands. "No one else can make bi-metal utility blades," Burke said. The blades cost more than competing products from other companies, but Lenox believes sophisticated users will realize the company's blades last longer and can save money that way. "We're selling productivity. In the end, they're paying less," Burke said. The global economy means that companies must compete with foreign-made goods, but it also means more and more U.S. companies are exporting to foreign countries. American Saw believes that overseas markets are key to its future. Lenox has a plant in India, where products are made for the European and Chinese markets. Asian sales have increased more than 50% in the past year, Burke said. Having an overseas plant has not reduced employment at the company headquarters. In fact, the company employs about 40 more workers in East Longmeadow today than it did two years ago, about 700 workers counting temporary help. Many companies are thriving by making components using high-technology methods. Work in the Marox Inc. medical device part plant in Holyoke is so highly automated that the company leaves some of its equipment running all weekend producing parts without technicians on hand. The computers controlling the equipment can place a telephone call to an on-call supervisor if the process stops for any reason. Marox makes parts for medical devices, which must be precision machined to exact measurements. Even a slight variation makes the part useless. Orders are for a few hundred, not tens of thousands of parts, and new products come along very quickly as medical technology advances. Foreign competition is put off by the rapid changes and the need for quick design and delivery of goods, Chief Operating Officer Craig Moore said. The competition for these new manufacturers is not so much China as it is Switzerland and Germany, he said. In the past year, the weak dollar has helped Marox compete with companies in those countries, since Marox's prices are relatively lower in European currencies. European competitors are also hampered by an increasingly short work week in many countries and more generous benefits, Moore said. For many manufacturers, succeeding in the new global marketplace has meant tearing up the rulebook. For Savage Arms in Westfield, it meant literally ripping up the factory. The company had faced financial problems in the 1980s, and was having trouble getting its product sold by the increasingly important mass market retailers Wal-Mart and Kmart. These new retailers offered a large market, but they insisted on low prices in order to lure customers. "They're 800 pounds and they let you know that every day," Savage Chief Executive Ronald Coburn said. Savage finally got in the door at Kmart by offering an innovative "package" of rifle, carrying sling and telescopic sights already attached to the rifle. Historically, accessories have been sold separately. Savage bought the accessories in bulk and put them into its package at cost, that is without marking their price up. "We just sort of move them through," company president Ronald Coburn said. "The consumers do the math; they know it's a deal," he said. Today, Savage is expanding, boosted by a growing reputation for high quality and accuracy at a good price. Gun-makers have fended off foreign competition with a little more success than some other industries. There was a natural tendency of gun buyers to buy American-made products, but the brand name on the gun proved even more important. Coburn worries that in a few years, foreign rifles may present more competition, but by then he hopes to have customers used to buying the Savage brand. He also frets that customers will trade quality and longevity for lower price. More and more items that were once considered high-end lifetime purchases are becoming disposable. "Who would have through you would throw a color television away, but we do when we get the next size up," he said. Coburn hopes that firearms, because of their cost and the psychological attachment of hunters to their guns, will prove less disposable. The company was coming out of bankruptcy in 1989 and so had a unique chance to revamp itself, Coburn said. "It allows you to do things: hard, ugly, thankless things," he said. The company moved its factory equipment around, allowing raw materials to move sequentially through the plant. The company also automated every step where it was economically and technically feasible. It spent months beefing up its quality control systems, adopting a policy of test-firing every rifle three times before shipping it. Even that alone was not enough, Coburn said. "You have to come up with new products," he said. Savage invested in research and development, producing a new line of smokeless powder-based weapons, which load old-fashioned cartridges of gunpowder. Those guns appealed to a small but growing following of firearms owners who want to experience shooting as it was 100 years ago. The company also adopted synthetic, plastic-based stocks for some rifles in the late 1980s, before they were common. Savage put metal inserts into the synthetic stocks of lower-priced rifles to allay the concerns of buyers who did not believe plastic was strong enough. "We pushed that, in spite of the resistance," Coburn said. The company embraced safety, as some other manufacturers were fighting government safety measures as an intrusion on Second Amendment rights. It patented an adjustable trigger for its guns that allowed customers to set the gun to fire with a light or heavy pull. The Accu-trigger saved gun buyers on a trip to the local gunsmith, and incorporated an additional safety mechanism that could reduce the chances of accidental discharge. All the gains have resulted in growing sales and the need to hire more workers, Coburn said. He is cautious about the job picture, knowing that jobs ebb and flow in today's economy. "That's not our job to hire (more); it's our job to be efficient. Fortunately, we've been able to do both."

  6. Women bringing home the bacon
    The Age, Australia
    Most Australians still think a woman's place is with her children, but more mothers than ever before are bringing home the bacon, a snapshot of the nation's families has found. The Australian Institute of Family Studies report shows fewer than half of all Australian families fit the traditional nuclear pattern of mum, dad and the kids. The report, titled Diversity and Change in Australian Families, found the make up of Australian families had altered considerably over the past 20 years. A rise in the number of couples without children, and single-parent families, has pushed down the proportion of nuclear families to just 47 per cent, from 59.5% in 1976. "While couple families are the most common family type, lone-parent families have become an increasingly common family type in recent decades," the report said. "The growth in lone-parent families is largely due to the increasing rate of relationship breakdown and the decreasing tendency of divorced people to remarry." Only about one in 10 single-parent families are the result of women having children outside a relationship. Most sole parents with dependents are women, the report found, and more than half are unemployed. Overall, however, women are increasingly likely to act as their family's main breadwinner. "Since 1981 there has been a decline in the percentage of traditional male breadwinner couple families and a rise in female breadwinner families," the report said. In 2002, 81% of men in couple families were the main breadwinners, compared with 91% in 1981. Although more Australian families than ever before rely on women for their main source of income, many women are uncomfortable with the amount of work they do. "There is still evidence of the view in much of the community that for women, children should be a more important priority than employment," the report found. "Of employed mothers with children under the age of 18,
    just over half are happy with their hours of work;
    one-quarter want to work fewer hours and
    18% want to work more hours."
    Regardless of their age, education level or employment status, women continue to carry out considerably more domestic and child care work than men, the report found. "The annual net value of the unpaid work of women per year in 1997 was $225 billion while that of men was $111 billion," it said. Families and households are becoming smaller - just 2.6 people live in the average Australian household, compared with 4.5 a century ago, and one-quarter of couples with children have just one child. There's been a rise in lone-person households and one-parent families, and fewer children per family. The profile of marriage, too, has changed; three-quarters of couples choose to live together before marrying, a sharp increase from the 16% who cohabited before marriage in the 1970s. And Australians are marrying later - about 27 years of age for women and 29 for men, compared with 21 and 23 in 1975.

  7. Americans are working long hours
    By KIMIKO L. MARTINEZ, GANNETT NEWS SERVICE via Asbury Park Press, NJ
    Whether your job calls for it, your employer expects it or you just need to pay the bills, working seemingly endless hours is just a way of life, right? Doesn't everybody check their e-mail and voice mail on their days off? Or work two jobs to make ends meet? Unfortunately, for too many Americans, putting in more than 40 hours a week is commonplace. According to a 2000 Bureau of Labor Statistics report, about four in 10 men employed as managers or professionals in 1999 found themselves working at least 49 hours per week. That's up from about three in 10 in the early '80s. For women, the rate is about half the men's, but the slow increase over the past two decades has remained steady for both. What starts out as taking on extra responsibilities to get that promotion or nail that presentation can turn into an unhealthy habit of bringing work home and neglecting other responsibilities due to job responsibilities. And before you know it, you're married to your job. Benjamin Klage, 31, puts in more than 75 hours each week between two full-time jobs, spending 40 hours per week as a sales associate at Wal-Mart and another 37 hours at Verizon's online DSL technical support call center. "I have no social life," Klage said. "And the down time I do have is spent catching up on sleep or trying to get overtime at one job or the other." Catherine Turissini was in a similar situation several years ago. One summer during college, Turissini, now 27, was juggling an unpaid summer internship, a part-time job at a children's bookstore and a third job waitressing. "It was 75 hours a week and when I got back to school my senior year, I was exhausted, but it was easy," Turissini said. "It was a vacation to go back to school." Like Klage, Turissini was simply doing what she had to do to make sure the bills got paid. But even now that the bills are less of a worry, Turissini can put in anywhere from 40 to 60 hours each week at the office, traveling and coordinating work-related projects as a special assistant for policy and planning for Indiana Lt. Gov. Kathy Davis. She spends several more hours each month volunteering for Davis and Gov. Joe Kernan's re-election campaigns. Klage, on the other hand, doesn't have much choice. A divorce settlement, student loans, car payment and other living expenses dictate that Klage continue the grueling pace. And it could be more than another year before he sees any relief. "I would like to have a dating life of some sort," Klage said. "I miss having a girlfriend or wife to come home to." American society preaches that hard work will get you anywhere, so working 50- and 60-plus hours per week practically earns an employee a merit badge these days. It's all just part of achieving that American Dream. "Steeped within the American tradition is productivity," said psychologist Paul Riley, of the St. Vincent Stress Center in Indianapolis. "We learn that you can succeed anywhere." The Japanese even have a word for it - karoshi, which means working yourself to death. Karoshi received national attention during the economic boom of the 1980s. And since then, more than 30,000 Japanese have been diagnosed as victims. A national pension system was even set up for the surviving members of karoshi victims' families. The United States isn't likely to follow suit. Lawmakers don't even require vacation time for American workers, making the United States the only developed country that doesn't actually mandate it. "America is set up the wrong way," Riley said. "Wouldn't it be nice if everything shut down in August, like in France, and they have a good holiday and take to the woods and so forth? It's not easy to change that mentality. But truly creative and productive people need time off."

  8. Two Economists Look at Europe's Economic Slowdown - Economic growth and labor productivity have been slowing in Europe as workers take more leisure time - Two experts look at why
    [These self-proclaimed "experts" must be using a per-worker measure of labor productivity that's at least 200 years out of date. The only relevant or meaningful measure of labor productivity today is per-worker-hour, which is unaffected by additional leisure time (or enhanced because employees are getting more rest and appetite for work and focus).]
    UCLA International Institute, CA
    Leslie Evans levans@international.ucla.edu
    For thirty years Western Europe has consistently turned out a Gross Domestic Product 70% that of the United States. Why hasn't Europe caught up?
    [Gee, could it be that it doesn't start as many wars and build as many prisons? Wonder if these "experts" will mention that - or is it too obvious?]
    And curiously, European hourly productivity is much higher than GDP figures would imply, at 90% or better of that of American workers. Why the gap, and why did labor productivity, Europe's best indicator, begin to slide after 1995? Two economists, one from Europe and one from the United States, probed the persistent thirty-year differences between living and earning patterns in Western Europe and the United States at a November 4 UCLA forum. Gianni Toniolo of the University of Rome, who holds a joint appointment at Duke University, was joined by Barry Eichengreen of the University of California at Berkeley in the History Conference Room of UCLA's Bunche Hall for a discussion on "Europe in the Age of Globalization." The meeting was sponsored by the UCLA Center for European and Eurasian Studies and chaired by the center's director, historian Ivan Berend. Both speakers compared the United States to the EU-15, the original 15 Western European members of the European Union before the accession of 10 East and Central European states to the EU last May.
    Gianni Toniolo: Europeans Place a Higher Value on leisure
    Gianni Toniolo began by lamenting the growing rift between America under the Bush presidency and the European Union. "The Atlantic has never been as wide as it is now, at least in my lifetime, which is postwar. And I am deeply concerned about that. I am deeply concerned about the cultural, political misunderstandings, the lack of understanding that seems to appear on the two sides of the Atlantic."
    A History of Economic Convergence - Followed by Economic Divergences
    Back in 1820, Toniolo said, Western Europe and the United States had about the same per capita GDP. "By 1870 the Americans were ahead of Europe and the gap in GDP per capita continued to grow all the way until 1950." In 1870 Europe produced 82% of the U.S. per capita GDP. After the ravages of two world wars this fell to only 50% in 1950. But in the rebuilding and modernization of European industrial plant from the 1950s onward Europe took large strides toward closing the gap. By 1970 Western European per capita GDP reached 70% of the U.S. and has pretty much frozen there. But this did not mean that European industry was as far behind as those numbers suggested, both economists agreed. Productivity, or output per hour worked, has come much closer to U.S. rates. Barry Eichengreen in his presentation reported that the EU-15 average GDP per hour worked in 2000 was 90.7% of the United States and four of the fifteen, Belgium, France, Italy, and the Netherlands, have higher labor productivity than the U.S. Gianni Toniolo summarized some of the institutional arguments used by various economists to explain why the U.S. has remained ahead. These include a history of cheap land but expensive labor, which encouraged investment in labor-saving machinery; a more technically oriented educational system; and the unified American market compared to the multiple smaller states of Europe. Most of these U.S. advantages were strongly reduced after World War II, by the end of the American frontier, moves toward European economic unification, and common advances in technology.
    Europeans Begin to Work Fewer hours
    "The story, however, becomes interesting when we look at why, in spite of being so productive or equally productive as America we poor Europeans are 30% poorer that you Americans," he said. "And the answer is very simple. From the mid-seventies onward Europeans began to work fewer and fewer hours over the life cycle. There was less participation in the labor force, but more important still, each fulltime worker worked less than before and continued to work less and less and less." Toniolo cited competing American and European explanations for this behavior. American scholar Edward C. Prescott at the University of Arizona has argued that the answer lies is tax policy. Toniolo summarized: "You have two economies, the European and the American, and in his simulated economy if we have a similar level of marginal taxation on labor in Europe as we have in America, Europeans will work exactly the same number of hours as Americans. He is convinced that cultural differences do not play any role whatsoever. As in classical economics, if you have people put in the same circumstances they always react in the same way. He goes around Europe all the time preaching low taxes and that would be the solution to all your problems." The principal European theorist, Toniolo said, is Olivier Blanchard, currently teaching in the United States at MIT. "Blanchard is skeptical about Prescott. He says that for technical reasons he doesn't buy Prescott's model because of the extremely high elasticity in the supply of labor. But also he finds that empirically it doesn't fit what we know. That within Europe, for instance, there are great varieties of taxation rates but they don't explain the differences in hours worked." Gianni Toniolo said he accepts estimates by other economists that taxation can explain about a third of the differences in hours worked. The other two thirds, he suggested, are a cultural choice to value leisure above money. In his view, one way to look at a country's wealth would be to assign a value to leisure time, as well as a value for the longer life expectancy of Europeans compared to Americans. If these are added to European GDP, he said, "then we find that we get much higher rates of growth, with America having only a 15% higher rate of growth." Even looked at this way, he conceded, "Europe's economic performance, in the 1990s at least, has certainly not been brilliant." Possible reasons, he suggested, include Europe's lower fertility and immigration rates. "Americans are growing in population. Europeans are no longer doing so." On assimilating immigrants, he said, "We are not nearly as good as the Americans in dealing with immigration. Maybe it is a new phenomenon in some countries like in my country. We discovered ourselves, much to our surprise, to be racist. We were very scornful of America because of the way, sometimes we read, how minorities were treated. Now we are full of minorities" and have had severe difficulties in absorbing them.
    The Unexplained Slowdown after 1995
    Both Toniolo and Eichengreen commented on a disturbing drop in Western European growth rates after 1995 compared to the several previous decades. Gianni Toniolo commented: "After 1995, both output per capita and productivity per hour worked . . . declined in Europe. So the gap is probably widening. Over the entire 1990 to 2001 period productivity growth averaged 2% a year in Europe, considerably higher than the 1.6% in the United States. But if we take 1995 to 2000, then the story is different. American productivity grew by 1.1%, historically a fairly low rate of growth, but European productivity declined by 0.6%. The levels of productivity now are lower in Europe than in the United States. How do we explain this? The standard explanations that we have in America, the Prescott explanation, etc., that Europe is overtaxed, is overregulated, etc., do not go very far in explaining, because Europe was overtaxed and overregulated way back at the time of the catching up. So it didn't become overtaxed and overregulated from 1995 onward. If anything, the contrary is true." The European Union, he said, "has been able to do a lot of deregulation, and deregulation was accelerated with the coming of the euro, particularly after 1995, particularly in the product and financial markets. But even in the labor market there has been quite some deregulation, including in what is considered to be the most regulated economy, which is Italy. So this cannot fly."
    Two Possible Explanations
    Toniolo suggested two possible reasons for the post-1995 European slowdown. First, that computer technology has not been as fully implemented in European businesses, especially in retailing where small stores remain much more common than in the United States. And second, that rising unemployment after 1995 led European governments to pressure businesses to avoid layoffs, while in the United States there was a process of cutthroat restructuring and downsizing of many corporations. The second explanation included some restructuring of the labor market to retain jobs, but not the same kind of jobs as before. "Since there was labor market deregulation, I can tell this for sure for the Italian case, there has been considerable increase for employment in Italy at the time where productivity goes down. Why? New employment has been at the lower level of the productivity scale, so we are hiring unskilled workers because they are the ones who are not protected. The new regulations still protect the skilled workers of the large companies but at the bottom you are more under-regulated, we have a lot of immigrants, etc. So they are the least productive and they lower the aggregate level of productivity." At bottom, Toniolo said, both these hypotheses are rooted more in culture and history than in economics. In addition to small shops and efforts to retain jobs for low-skill workers, there were also significant transitional costs in the political decisions to unify Germany and to consolidate the European Union with a single currency. "To the extent that in the long initial phase they were partly responsible for unemployment and low levels of aggregate growth, these were probably prices that Europeans were willing to pay for such an important achievement as the European Union."
    Europeans Won't Give Up Their Little Shops
    As for the comparative backwardness of the retail sector, Gianni Toniolo suggested that "this also depends on policy choices and in defending a lifestyle based on encouraging high density residential living in the extraordinarily beautiful European cities, preserving high cost retailing in the city core while at the same time inhibiting the extension of suburban sites suitable to modern big-box retailing developments that are so common in America. Here again it is a cultural rather than an economic choice." He noted that in Italy a few years ago a referendum to permit shops to remain open longer in the evenings "was overwhelmingly rejected by the population." Similarly, if you go to Switzerland, he said, "and you need an aspirin after 7:00 pm you can die of headache before you can get it." Toniolo defended Europe's differences as reasonable choices of reasonable people. "All this boils down to history, politics, deeply embedded cultural differences. Is this after all so bad? Is there a one-size fits-all model for societies and economies to develop? Both Europe and the U.S. have reached a level of economic welfare that, while not neglecting the need for future growth, allows wide room for society to pursue noneconomic growth, seeking the preferences of each individual society. There is no reason why this should be met by derision, skepticism, or sometimes even hatred by each of the two sides when they talk to each other."
    Barry Eichengreen: Europe's Institutions Need to Change
    [Barry Eichengreen must be yet another workaholic no-life American, and as the old saying goes, "misery loves company."]
    Barry Eichengreen appeared to place little credence in cultural preferences as an explanation for the growing lag between Western European economies and that of the United States. He looked instead to the need for institutional transformation. He was careful at the outset, however, to say that this should be to solve problems in specific industrial and financial sectors, not to initiate a wholesale imitation of anyone else's model. "It is fashionable," he said, "to argue that Europe is 'economically challenged,' that it has to remake its institutions along Anglo-Saxon lines. It's just worth reminding ourselves how often we have heard similar arguments where only the names have been different. In the 1980s it was said that the United States had to remake its institutions along the bank-based, industrial group, cooperative labor relations lines of Japan. And of course nowadays most people think that is the last thing we should be doing. "From the mid-eighties to the mid-nineties a lot of people on both sides of the Atlantic were arguing that Europe's economic structures and institutions were better tailored to the imperatives of late twentieth century growth than those of the United States, that market-led finance and cut-throat capitalism were not the best basis on which to sustain economic growth, and now the tables have turned. And they will turn again in one direction or another."
    Institutional Lag Meets Technological Imperative
    Europe's problem is more narrow, Eichengreen said. Most of Western Europe's current institutions "became articulated and in their modern form . . . after World War II when the particular constellation of economic institutions and structures that European economies developed were well attuned to the economic circumstances of the time. Europe was coming out of twenty years of depression and war, where it had lost technological and organizational leadership to the United States and there existed a big backlog of technologies ready to be taken off the shelf and organizational forms ready to be easily transferred from the United States through the technical missions of the Marshal Plan, the agency of U.S. multinationals, and a variety of other mechanisms." The challenge for economic growth at that time "was not to be the leader in radical innovation but to be a leader in adaptation and incremental innovation. And I will argue that Europe's institutions were well designed for those circumstances." But institutions become entrenched and are not easily changed. Eichengreen said that as a historian he has no facility for predicting the future, but that the more the future proves to be characterized by rapid technological innovations such as the computer revolution the more inappropriate Europe's current institutional framework will prove to be. He pointed to the creation of a single European market and the recent accession of Central and East European states to the EU as indicators that Europe retains a capacity to adapt to new circumstances, but suggested that needed large-scale change will be difficult, prolonged, and painful. While agreeing with Gianni Toniolo that Europe is stronger on hourly productivity than in overall GDP and that Europeans have cut their work hours in recent years, Barry Eichengreen said that there are also fewer people working in Europe as a percentage of the able-bodied population. "As I read the evidence, about a third of the difference in overall GDP per capita can be attributed to lower output per hour of work, a third to lower hours per employee, and a third to lower employment rates." Eichengreen offered some statistics on GDP per capita, GDP per working hour, and other output measures for fourteen European countries compared to the United States at two points in time, 1970 and 2000. For the whole fourteen, GDP per capita has held steady over the thirty-year period at about 70% of the U.S. figure. GDP per hour, however, rose from 64.8% of the U.S. rate in 1970 to 90.7% in 2000. Over the same period the number of hours worked by employed Europeans fell from 101% of the U.S. total in 1970 to 85.6% in 2000 and employment of the potential working age population fell from 103.6% of the U.S. rate to 87.6%. The aggregate numbers for the European fourteen tend to hide some pretty large differences between them. While the western part of Germany produced 74.2% of U.S. per capita GDP in 2000 and France 70.7%, Greece produced only 47.6% and Portugal 51.6%. And while the fourteen as a whole stood at only 90.7% of U.S. hourly productivity, Denmark, France, Italy, and the Netherlands in 2000 had higher hourly productivity than the United States, which was not true for any of the fourteen in 1970. Eichengreen said that economists agree that there has been no improvement in per capita GDP relative to the U.S. over the last thirty years, "but that is misleading because it doesn't adjust for the fact that since about 1975 Europeans' taste for leisure has mysteriously increased. They have been working less and a good deal of the gap has been closed."
    Europeans Work Less Because of Policy, Not Preferences
    But why is this so? Eichengreen suggested a different answer than GianniToniolo. "Do Europeans simply like their leisure time more or do they have other constraints that encourage them to substitute leisure for labor and capital for labor? There is probably something to both points, I would agree. I think the evidence on participation rates points pretty strongly to a role for tax systems and social welfare systems more broadly, so I think part of the confusion here has to do with how much explanatory power labor tax rates have for participation rates, for hours per labor force participant, versus looking at the whole panoply of relevant social policies, which includes not only taxes on labor but unemployment insurance schemes, social security systems, and a variety of other things." In Europe, Eichengreen pointed out, there are much lower labor force participation rates for women and for older men than in the United States. "You can definitely see a role there for social security systems and tax rates, but these are the data that Gianni was talking about, that you have to be a brave econometrician to see a relationship between only tax rates on the one hand and hours per employed person on the other." He concluded that social security systems play as large a part as tax rates in inducing people to withdraw from the labor market in Europe. "Tax rates explain about one third of the variation. All of these policies put togetherexplain more, about two-thirds. My reading of the evidence is that the more important reason that hours vary is policy, not preferences. And in turn that suggests not imputing the same value to an hour worked and an hour of leisure. leisure time ought to be valued at a lower price for Europeans, partly because their choice to take so much of it reflects distortionary policies."
    Europe Is Lagging in the New Economy
    [Isn't the 'New Economy' the economy of the late 1990s where "investors aren't serious unless they're losing money"? Or is it some new New Economy where the corporate feudal class isn't happy unless they're making "progress" returning the rest of the population to slavery? -and 'incidentally,' reducing their consumer base and their real economy while increasing their war "economy."]
    For Europe, Eichengreen said, while hourly productivity is respectable, the rate of hourly productivity growth has been slipping since 1995, from almost twice the U.S. rate to about half of U.S. levels. Between 1980 and 1995, EU-15 average annual labor productivity growth was 2.33%, but this fell to 1.37% for the years 1995-2001. In contrast, productivity in the United States registered an average of 1.37% per year for 1980 to 1995 but grew at 1.85% between 1995 and 2001. One possible explanation, he said, was European weakness in adopting information technologies. "It so happens that none of the world's 25 most visited websites are in Europe. Does this reflect lesser facility with ICT or linguistic diversity? It is not clear how to interpret this number, but you hear it a lot." U.S. investment in integrated circuit technologies is running at almost twice as much as Europe, 4.2% vs. 2.6%. "We invest a lot more in this stuff than Europeans do. Anyone who has tried to purchase a personal computer in Europe will understand this." Eichengreen conceded that other factors may copntribute to the different outcomes in Europe and America, such as the free-spending ways of Americans that fueled a wave of consumption in the 1990s and an American fiscal policy that favored monetary fiscal stimulus while the European Central Bank cautiously sought to avoid inflation. Even if this is partially true, however, Barry Eichengreen felt that Europe's institutions are not currently well-adapted to a high-tech computer-using economy. "Europe continues to emphasize vocational training relative to university education to a greater extent than the United States. Its policies are less immigration friendly as we heard. They are doing a little bit to liberalize them, to encourage Asian engineers to come to Europe rather than to come to the U.S., where the Patriot Act doesn't help us. There is more limited business-university cooperation in Europe. There are higher firing and hiring costs that make it difficult and imprudent for startups to ramp up production and employment rapidly. Bank-based financial systems are conservative. Relationship bankers like to lend to familiar customers using familiar technologies. The venture capital industry is growing in Europe, but it has a long way to go before it rivals that in the United States. And most importantly, I guess, in my view, high taxes and relative income compression are less conducive to risk taking than the high-powered incentives and stock option systems and so forth we have in the United States."
    Retail Trade Dropping Behind
    Europe is certainly behind the United States in information technology manufacturing, but at 6% of the U.S. economy that alone cannot explain very much of the differential in aggregate economic performance. A bigger contributor, Eichengreen said, is weakness in retail trade - smaller stores that are open fewer hours and less use of the internet for sales. While annual labor productivity growth in manufacturing is respectable in Europe and in telecommunications outstanding, at 13.8% per year, it fell to only 0.5% per annum for 1996-2000 in wholesale and retail trade. "In addition Europe does relatively poorly in financial services, so that's another sector where information technology is important and where maybe European banks and nonbank financial institutions have been slow at being able to take advantage of it because of hiring costs and all the barriers to capitalize on its availability." For the years 1996-2000, labor productivity in European financial and insurance services grew at 3.7% per year compared to 6.5% in the United States. Europe's strong suit has been in telecommunications, although Barry Eichengreen felt that the good performance in this sector may be due to recent privatization of government-run services that, once stabilized, will not continue to grow at current rates.
    Watching for Unexpected Consequences during Needed Reforms
    Eichengreen pointed to reforms such as a switch in France and Belgium from high minimum wages to negative income-tax schemes as signs of progress. "My worry is not with those reforms but with the question of whether in the broader process of restructuring some institutions will undermine the effectiveness of others. Will cutting hiring and firing costs discourage investment in firm-specific skills because workers are moving around more rapidly, and cut the effectiveness of vocational training? Will market-based finance make it harder for firms to make costly long-term investments in their workers because they have to satisfy portfolio investors who care only about this quarter?" Of particular importance, he said, is modernizing the European university system and concentrating resources within it on a few high-quality institutions. "But the barriers to making European universities competitive with the best U.S. universities are formidable, especially as long as governments continue to control the pay scales, the hiring rules, and the admission requirements for students. Long-standing deeply embedded political constraints make it hard to reward the equivalent of Berkeley and UCLA more than the other members of the system." The accession of new states in Eastern and Central Europe may help a little, Eichengreen said. "They are starting out way behind. Their per capita GDPs are half at best Western European levels. Given the quality of their institutions and where they are starting out, historical experience suggests that they have quite considerable scope for convergence, for growing faster than the countries they are catching up to." He suggested that we will see the intra-EU equivalents of outsourcing. "The low wage labor won't move to Western Europe; the capital will move east. And we are already seeing a good deal of that as Western European companies from Volkswagen to Bosch casinos say, well, we are certainly contemplating this possibility and if you don't give us something in terms of wage freezes, longer hours, more flexibility on the length of the workday and work rules, we'll simply pick up and move our factories to the East."
    What the Future Holds
    Remolding its inherited institutions and the dislocations that this will cause will be the main event of the next stage of European development, Barry Eichengreen concluded. "If you combine it with my preferred forecast of technological developments going forward, which is that technology is going to be in flux and changing as rapidly as it has over the last decade, and you combine that with the historical inheritance you will see a need for change and the possibility that such change will be slow, uneven, and therefore disruptive. That makes me pessimistic about European prospects in the short run, more optimistic in the medium run, and in the long run who is to say."

  9. The sad truth: [we think] we need money more than time - A new T2 survey by Populus reveals that although everyone wants more time, many feel they cant afford it - Our correspondent looks at the poll findings in detail
    [and yet that attitude guarantees labor surplus in the automation age, and labor surplus guarantees less money, so we wind up with neither]
    The Times, UK
    Valerie Grove
    "What is this life if, full of care, we have no time to stand and stare?" A busy life, thats what. And deep down, we dont want to change it. We may be time-poor and cash-strapped, but instead of reducing our workload and giving ourselves time to stand and stare, 78% of us would rather carry on toiling and have the money than work fewer hours for less pay. The Times survey reveals that as a society we are far from eager to downshift. More than half of those interviewed said they just couldnt afford to get by on less. And a significant portion, just under a third, wouldnt want to downshift anyway because they actually enjoy their jobs. It seems laughable to think that once we thought of too much leisure as a future problem. Labour-saving devices and the internet revolution would free acres of space in the day for relaxation. We now know that internet access and homes laden with gadgets can only fuel our greedy needs: the passion for home improvement (pursuing a chimera of domestic perfection) leads to more spending, the yearning for more and more money. In 1999, a NOP poll discovered that most families, although better off than ever, were spending, on average, 5,000 a year on getting people to do the things they hadnt time to do childcare, cleaning, gardening, dog-walking, ironing. Five years on, our survey finds that although only 11% pay someone to do their cleaning, another 37% wish they could. I have been to many seminars on the work/life balance. I have heard captains of industry declare their commitment to family-friendly working hours, and psychologists explain that the effort to combine a career with family life was the most stressful element afflicting modern woman. The fact remains: a mother in full-time employment, no matter how well- organised her childcare, is in a headless-chicken situation. But if you challenge her about it, she will reply that she has no choice. Some 52% say they couldnt afford to earn less. Time, however relentlessly the clock ticks, is an absurdly flexible commodity in ones autobiographical memory. Once time seemed infinite. We all hark back yearningly to the long days of childhood (Philip Larkins forgotten boredom) when the day stretched out to be aimlessly filled. We really did just wander off to play. All the time in the world to mess about in before dusk fell and we were called in to tea. In my twenties, time continued to seem limitless. I worked hard, played hard and was game for any number of social engagements as my twentysomething young are today. When they say theyre off to a party in a pub in Notting Hill, followed by an 11pm gig in Brixton, I tell them theyre mad; but I too was once similarly convinced that time stood still while I zigzagged to different venues. And then came the 1980s: the most demanding period for me, with four children all under seven and a full-time job. Sometimes, to cheer myself up, I glance over old diaries and marvel at the angst-ridden, stresscreating obligations I packed into the day. The alarm went at 6.30am. The day was regulated by the whimsical timetables of three different schools. One started at 8.55am, and two at 9, in different parts of town. Even with a husband doing one school run and a live-in nanny doing another, I had to face rush-hour traffic daily. At the ending of the school day (3.10, 3.15 and 3.30pm) another mother usually had to pick up one of mine, to be collected later. Working in busy newspaper offices, lunch-hours became a distant memory; I would work through and leave at 2.50pm, meeting men rolling back from lunch who would say Off home already? Once home, the work went on journalism is one of the jobs you can do at home but my diary is peppered with 3.30 collect Oliver; 3.45 Catherine here; 4.30 Emma delivered back; 5.30 leave for Rachels, collect Lucy and these were the simpler days, without play rehearsals, choirs, Brownies, cricket team practices. Oh, I know, we bring it all on ourselves, but I can only thank God that all that is over. I hear Tony Blair announcing that schools will stay open till 6pm to fit in with working peoples lives and think, yes, I wrote about that in 1984, and its taken 20 years to sink in. Its not surprising that 55% of men claim to have more than ten hours of free time (to do as they please) every week, compared with only 4% of women. No change there: its still women who keep life ticking over even while working and take on extra burdens, PTAs and other voluntary work. But theres an odd statistic in our survey too: we asked working parents how anxious they were that they didnt spend enough time with their children. Only 9% of mothers working full-time said they felt very anxious compared with 18% of fathers working full-time. Are these men paying lip service to a new-man concept that they cant act out? More than a quarter (28%) of mothers who work full-time wont admit to feeling any guilt or anxiety at all. I suppose most working women now have always known they must work for their living. Or maybe women are realistic: the family couldnt survive without their income, and theres no point in feeling guilty about a fact of life you cant change. In my forties, with teenage children who no longer needed ferrying about, the demands did not lessen, but changed. My anxiety transferred itself to dark nights and threatening streets, homework and exams, sleepovers and after-midnight SOS calls for rescue. In 1986 Id written a book about women who managed to maintain large families and a working life. I remember thinking, I dont have time to water a pot-plant, said Gill Parker, busy GP, wife of Sir Peter Parker (who was chairman of British Rail), and mother of four. The pot-plants, the photograph albums, the neglected hobbies and friends. If only we had more time, we think. Yet most people resist any reduction in working hours because work defines us. If asked what is life for, wed probably admit that work is good for us. A third of us positively enjoy it: it offers a social life (85% enjoy socialising with work colleagues) and earning power boosts self-esteem. To be honest, wed rather not give it up for ever just to attend to things left undone. Half of all working people use holiday time to catch up on chores and I suspect they enjoy it, a break in routine with none of the hassle of travel. Now that Im in my fifties and am released from office life, I enjoy a flexible schedule: but would I want to work less, earn less, to gain more free time? I think not. On a morning train to York last week I resolved to do nothing but gaze on the vista of England unfolding from the window. But this soon palled. My fellow passengers were busy on their laptops and cellphones. Guilt flooded in: the unread book, the unprepared interview ahead. The man I was travelling to see was the Archbishop of York, Dr David Hope. He has inspired waves of admiration for his decision to return to being a parish priest at Ilkley when he retires from his palace early next year. He will still be busy, and a pillar of the community, but in a smaller sphere. He looks forward to having more time to walk on the moors. I too am thankful for the obligation to walk the dog every day on the open spaces of Hampstead Heath, for an hour of silence and slow time. I like the fact that adrenalin (from an ever-rolling stream of deadlines) is leavened by serotonin (from physical activity) my drug of choice. The statistic in our survey that I find chilling is that 75% of us say that Sunday is now no different from Saturday. True, by noon on Sunday the streets are traffic-clogged with shoppers. We have renounced the day of rest, to our spiritual cost. But I do believe some sabbatical residue remains: Sunday lunches are longer; Sunday evenings have a floppy feeling with a skein of Monday-dread about them. Back to work, then. To me, the worst spectre of old age is a chasm of inertia. Acres of vacant time to fill, but no employment and few obligations, deprived of usefulness and reward. Sad. I note that 14% feel most guilty about doing nothing at all. I like days to be crowded with hurdles: hurdles mean rewards, so that a snatched game of tennis, or a movie, or an empty day, is a bonus. But to enjoy the plethora of opportunities listed exhaustingly in Time Out so many things to see, places to go you do need money. So, you work. Carl Honor, in his book In Praise of Slow, says we have forgotten how to look forward to things, and enjoy the moment. Restaurants report that hurried diners increasingly pay the bill and order a taxi while eating dessert. Many fans leave sporting events early, simply to steal a march on the traffic. Then there is the curse of multitasking. Doing two things at once seems so clever, so efficient, so modern. And yet what it often means is doing two things not very well. But there is no going back. We used to see a beacon of retirement ahead, when the hurly-burlys done. Now we know that for some of us that time may never come. Our ageing society can depend neither on state nor privatepension to underwrite it, and may have to work through to the age of 70 (as judges and bishops do). But in all honesty I havent heard anyone bemoan the prospect. Its nearly Christmas: Im in the giving vein. But as I survey the family I know that what they all need most is cash. One has just taken out what seems to me a terrifying mortgage of 150,000 on a one-bedroom flat. One works for peanuts and lives at home. One lives hand-to-mouth in a rented flat. My son has not yet got a foot on any sort of ladder. Their accumulation of possessions especially clothes and electronic gadgetry seems to me to be enough for a lifetime, whereas hard cash is surely the most acceptable gift of all.
    WORK OR MONEY?
    78% of the working population would not choose to work fewer hours for less money
    52% say they could not afford it, while 29% say they enjoy their jobs
    46% of women have less than an hour of free time a week from Monday to Friday compared with 28% of men
    18% of fathers who work full time feel very anxious about not spending enough time with their children, compared with only 9% of mothers in full-time work
    28% of working mothers feel no anxiety at all about not spending enough time with their children
    34% of us never do nothing at all
    50% of the working population use their holiday time to do mundane chores

  10. Wishing You a Socially Responsible Christmas - Almost every second toy is produced in China
    Deutsche Welle, Germany
    As shoppers gear up for the busy Christmas season, German toy companies are promising better conditions for the many Chinese workers who produce the toys that end up under the tree. A "social seal" is meant to help. The Christmas shopping rush is just around the corner. It's the biggest time of the year for toy sales, but what many German consumers don't realize is that even well known brand names such as Ravensburger or doll-maker Zapf produce their toys in far away factories. Almost every second German toy comes from China, the new giant on the international toy market. In the past year alone, China exported ?5.8 billion ($7.5 billion) worth of toys. In a long storage hall on the edge of the industrial metropolis Shenzhen, Chinese laborers are working away for a holiday they don't even celebrate. The toys they produce need to arrive in Germany in time for December's brisk Christmas sales. Klaus Piepel from the Catholic aid agency Misereor recently paid a visit to the Chinese workers in Shenzhen. "They were complaining of extremely long working times during the peak season, which is the pre-Christmas period in Europe. They work seven days a week with no days off. They work up to 90 or 100 hours a week," Piepel said. He's also concerned about the low wages the workers receive for their hard work. The toy industry is one of the worst paid, with the legal minimum wage amounting to around ?50 per week, though some employers pay less.
    "Death by overwork"
    Most of the workers in Shenzhen sleep on site in overfilled rooms, surrounded by the poisonous fumes from paints and glues they use in their work. Death is not unheard of - "death by overwork" is how the Chinese term translates. The situation is allowed to persist, despite the fact that China has detailed labor laws that lay down working hours, wages, and health and safety standards. Chinese officials seldom enforce the labor laws. Within the country, regions compete with each other for foreign investment and subsidiaries, and the sense is that it wouldn't do to place too many restrictions on foreign companies, said Piepel. In his work with Misereor, he instead appeals to the companies that do business in China, including Germany's toy makers. Despite some progress, one problem remains. In Germany, where consumers are about to spend a lot of money on toys, people have heard relatively little about the exploitation of Chinese workers in this market sector.
    Spreading the word
    That's why Misereor has called for an official product seal that should be placed on the products of all the toy makers who've signed the code of ethics, and passed their inspections. Misereor hopes the so-called "social seal" will eventually become as recognizable as the "Blue Angel," a product label that designates items which are especially environment-friendly. Following several years of effort, Misereor has finally gotten around 40 of Germany's biggest toy producers to sign a voluntary code of ethics. In future, they should only allow their products to be manufactured at factories that live up to certain standards. Companies that refuse to abide by the code can expect a visit from independent inspectors, Piepel said. "There are professionals who go into the factories and check the wage records, talk to the workers to find out how long they're working, look at what health and safety precautions are in place, and go through a long list of questions," he said.

  11. Survey into late-night Tube
    By Dick Murray Transport Editor, Evening Standard via This is London, UK
    Residents and business leaders are to be asked if they want the Tube to stay open an extra hour on Friday and Saturday nights, Mayor Ken Livingstone announced today. Market research published by the Mayor's newsletter, The Londoner, claims 140,000 extra passengers would use the late service. If the Tube ran later into the night, trains would have to start an hour later the next morning to allow essential maintenance to be carried out. Although later closing of the network would benefit revellers, it would mean problems for other users. Trains normally start running between 6am and 6.30am on Saturday and Sunday mornings. Surveys show 55,000 people catch trains during the first hour of the weekend service, with almost 60% of those travelling to and from work. Mr Livingstone said: "We want Londoners to be aware of the advantages and disadvantages of running the Tube later and we want to hear their views before a final decision is made." Union chiefs pointed out that a deal, discussed for months, had still not been agreed. The agreement to extend late-night running is tied up with other demands, including a 35-hour week. A bitter inter-union row is threatened which could halt plans to run all-night Tube services on New Year's Eve this year. Two of London Underground's most powerful unions - representing 10,000 operational staff - are on the point of agreeing a groundbreaking deal for a 35-hour week. The third union, Aslef, which represents train drivers, is already on a 35-hour week, won as a result of taking a reduced pay rise. Aslef leaders are now seeking an extra nine days off a year to make up for the shorter working week won by the other two unions. An LU spokesman said talks would continue.

  12. Australians work hardest: study
    eDiets.com, FL
    By Kylie Walker
    The average Australian is working some of the longest hours in the developed world, according to an analysis by left-wing think tank The Australia Institute. The analysis of countries including the United States, Japan, Germany and France showed Australians could use up their annual leave and then take the rest of the year off, and would still have worked the same number of hours as the average worker in other industrialised countries. "Whilst Australians often think of themselves as living in the land of the long weekend, they are now working the longest hours in the developed world and in fact are at risk of working themselves sick," Institute director Clive Hamilton said. "Australian employees work an average of 1,855 hours each year compared to the developed country average of only 1,643. "Employees in Norway work an average of only 1,376 hours per year." To bring their annual working hours down to the average, Australian employees would have to take their legislated four weeks' annual leave, then stop working from November 20 until December 31, Dr Hamilton said. While the number of public holidays enjoyed by Australian workers is on a par with the OECD average, the annual leave entitlement is below the European average of five weeks a year. "Australians are paying the price for overwork," Dr Hamilton said. "They are reporting higher degrees of stress and anxiety, and obesity, depression and heart disease are on the rise." Shorter working hours in economically sound nations such as Switzerland, Germany and the United Kingdom demonstrated that long working hours were not necessary for economic strength, he added. "On the contrary, working to the point where our personal and community bonds are weakened is not only economically inefficient, it is socially irresponsible," Dr Hamilton said. "If, as individuals and as a society, we choose to measure progress simply in terms of our personal and our national incomes then we are likely to work ourselves into early graves."

  13. Retirement Isn't What It Used To Be
    Inside Indiana Business, IN
    By Elaine E. Bedel, President of Bedel Financial Consulting
    For the majority of baby boomers quitting work is not the objective of retirement. Most want the option to either reduce their working hours or start a new career, but there is no longer a desire to stop working. Spectrem Group, a consulting firm based in Chicago, recently conducted a survey of affluent baby boomers. They define this group as those born between 1946 and 1964 with $500,000 of assets to invest. The survey found that 34% intend to reduce their working hours, but not quit their jobs,after retirement. Another 30% plan to start a new career. Of the remaining respondents, 26% plan to fully retire and 10% have no intention of retiring at all.
    Financial Security is The Goal
    The conversations that we have with clients in our office reflect a similar sentiment. There is no longer the strong desire to retire in the traditional sense. Many enjoy their current profession and only wish to reduce their hours or move into a position with less stress. Others indicate that their chosen field has changed and is no longer as enjoyable as it once was. For now, family financial considerations may keep them from making a change. However, their goal is to be financially secure by their chosen retirement date in order to have the flexibility to work or not work and not be concerned with the amount of money they make. For others, continuing to work after their retirement age provides the necessary bridge to be able to fully retire at a later date. Instead of having the option to work, this group must work. Their plan is to save while they work full time, then reduce their earnings to a level that meets annual living expenses, but provides no additional saving. This strategy allows the investment portfolio to continue to grow to a level that can provide sufficient funding for full retirement down the road.
    Steps to Financial Security
    Financial security is the theme of the baby boom generation. Unfortunately, accomplishing financial security is not something that is done overnight. It requires a discipline of saving and investing.
    Step 1 - Determine your annual income need in retirement. Start with what you are spending today and add and subtract the expense changes you predict in retirement. Increase your resulting number to reflect the amount of income tax that you will be required to pay.
    Step 2 - Determine what sources of income you will have in retirement. If you are a participant in a corporate retirement plan that provides a pension, determine the amount you can anticipate receiving at the time of your termination. Subtract this amount along with your estimate social security benefit from the required income calculated in step one.
    Step 3 - Determine the investment portfolio needed. The shortfall noted in step two is the required amount that needs to be generated from your investment portfolio. This calculation needs to take into consideration an increasing annual need due to the effects of inflation as well as investment returns. This is not something that can be done easily with a pencil and paper. However, there are many retirement calculators available on the web that can assist.
    Step 4 - Determine the additional amount that needs to be saved. Taking into consideration your existing investment portfolio, determine the amount of funds that you need to save in order to meet your goal. Since there are two variables, i.e. annual savings and number of years to save, you may want to again utilize the retirement calculations available on the web.
    Summary
    "Financial security" is quickly becoming the replacement term for "retirement". When financial security is achieved, the result is choices. The choice to continue in a career that you enjoy, begin a new career without concern for financial rewards, or become fully retired. Do not leave your ability to become financially secure to chance. Do the calculations and get assistance if necessary from a qualified financial planner. Begin today to create the opportunity for choices in your future.
    Elaine E. Bedel, CFP, is president of Bedel Financial Consulting, Inc., a fee-only financial planning and investment management firm. For more information, visit their website at www.BedelFinancial.com or email to ebedel@bedelfinancial.com

  14. The Sex Doctor: MAKE TIME TO CARE ; ISSUE OF THE week: WORKLIFE BALANCE - Long working hours can make it difficult to get the right home/work balance - But ignoring your home life can ruin relationships, and break up families
    RedNova.com, TX
    TIME WITH YOUR FAMILY
    YOU sometimes have to make relationships a priority. If you don't share your feelings you can't expect to grow as a family.
    GET THE BALANCE RIGHT
    MAKE a chart of all the aspects of your life that are important. For example family, time with your partner, hobbies, work, exercise. Then make a note of how much time you spend on each. Do this for a month and you'll see the areas you're neglecting.
    HOW TO MAKE THE TIME
    IT sounds formal, but make a date with your partner. Go out for dinner rather than the cinema so you can talk to each other properly.
    QUALITY TIME
    WHEN you are with your family, make it time that counts. Play with your kids or help them with their homework no matter how tempted you are to just sit in front of the TV.
    DON'T GIVE UP
    DON'T expect to fit all the things you want to do into every week. Sometimes work will make extra demands on you and you have to give it priority. When the work eases off remember to reintroduce the other aspects to your life.
    ASK FOR HELP
    YOU'RE not a superhero. If you're overloaded see if you can delegate some chores to get a break.
    DON'T BE A PERFECTIONIST
    YOU sometimes have to let your standards slip to get time to complete all your tasks.
    GIVE SOMETHING UP
    IF your timetable is overcrowded think about giving something up. Your relationship may depend on it.

  15. Staff yearn for pre-tech times
    Computerworld Australia, Australia
    [So our continuing downsizing-cum-overwork&unemployment response to technology is promoting luddism = an anti-technology attitude.]
    A survey of 1000 Australian office workers found staff yearn for the days before mobile phones, e-mail and text messaging. More than 54% of respondents said their working day has become longer as a result of technology. Undertaken by recruitment agency Talent2, respondents said technology has made them more accessible to bosses with 21% claiming supervisors text, e-mail or phone them out of office hours to discuss business. But 76% said they did not consider those out-of-hours calls, texts or e-mails from the boss as out of order; rather a normal part of working life. Only 8% said they resented the intrusion. However, the overwhelming belief is that technology has increased stress with nearly 40% admitting technological advancement had detracted from their personal lives. Respondents said they would rather go back to a slower-paced time where workers could not be contacted after hours. Australians have developed a 24-hour-a-day, seven-day-a-week mentality, Talent2's Jonathon Morse said. "As a result they are putting in 40 to 50 hours a week, surrendering their leisure time, because of technology such as the mobile phone and e-mail," he said. This is particularly true for those that work in the IT sector, where there is a high rate of workplace burn-out. "There is a tangible downside to overwork from on-the-job injuries to sickies, to demotivation and mental health problems," he said.

  16. Three Decades of Progress in Austrian Economics: From South Royalton to Grove City
    Lew Rockwell, CA
    by Joseph T. Salerno
    1. INTRODUCTION
    Recent discussions on Internet lists and in other informal settings has made it increasingly evident that Austrian economists are deeply vexed and divided over a number of important questions regarding the nature and extent of progress in their discipline. These questions include: whether Austrian economics has progressed much, if at all, during its modern revival; what standards should be applied in appraising such progress; and what the appropriate means are of ensuring such progress in the future. In this lecture I propose to address these questions and attempt to provide answers to them. Before dealing with these questions, however, it is necessary to bring to light and resolve two related though more fundamental issues that have long been the source of a tacit rift in the ranks of Austrian economists. The first of these issues centers on the question of whether economics is a profession or a vocation. The second involves the role played in the modern Austrian rebirth by the South Royalton conference, which was held a little more than thirty years ago. I will argue that, generally, the position one takes on these two vital matters strongly influences whether he believes that considerable progress has been made in developing the Austrian paradigm during the last three decades - as I emphatically do - or instead that Austrian economics has blundered down blind alleys and is currently stagnating, as some Austrians have recently maintained. In what follows, I will analyze each of these two basic issues in detail and try to show how differing views on them yield profoundly different standards by which the progress of Austrian economics is assessed. In light of what I argue to be the correct standard, I will conclude by outlining the case that Austrian economics has progressed by leaps and bounds, especially in the last two decades, and is fulfilling the initial promise of its founder, Carl Menger (1976, pp. 48-49), to discover the essential causal laws governing the economic activities of human beings - laws that are at once both realistic and exact.
    2. ECONOMICS: VOCATION OR PROFESSION?
    The New Shorter Oxford English Dictionary gives one definition of "vocation" as "The work or function to which a person is called; a mode of life or employment regarded as requiring dedication" (Brown 1993, vol. 2, p. 3595). The eminent semanticist S. I. Hayakawa also emphasizes "dedication" as the distinctive feature of a vocation which differentiates it from a profession. According to Hayakawa (1994, p. 351): Profession suggests a position that cannot be attained without a considerable amount of higher education, and that involves one creatively in mental rather than manual labor. Profession once referred to the three learned professions - law, medicine, and theology - but it is now often used to confer status upon many other ways of earning a livelihood . . . . Even when profession is used more strictly, it need not suggest dedication on the part of a member. By contrast one sense of vocation specifically stresses this dedication. . . . Moreover vocation stresses a long-term commitment to something that is not necessarily equated with the earning of a livelihood. . . .1
    In praxeological terms, a vocation involves what Ludwig von Mises (1998, pp. 584-85) called "introversive" labor while a profession involves "extroversive" labor. The essence of introversive labor is work undertaken solely for its own sake and not as a means to a more remote end. Extroversive labor, in contrast, is performed because the individual "prefers the proceeds he can earn by working to the disutility of labor and the pleasure of leisure" (Mises 1998, p. 585). One of the "two most conspicuous examples" of introversive labor, according to Mises (1998, p. 584), is "the search for truth and knowledge pursued for its own sake and not as a means of improving one's own efficiency and skill in the performance of other kinds of labor aiming at other ends." The second is "genuine sport, practiced without any design for reward and social success." It is not that the effort expended by the "truth seeker" or "mountain climber" does not involve the disutility of labor, rather "it is precisely overcoming the disutility of labor that satisfies him." Thus genuine truth-seeking in any scientific discipline qualifies economically as "consumption" and its pursuit as a vocation. It is important to note moreover, as Mises (1998, p. 585) does, that the pursuit of almost any vocation requires "not only the personal efforts of the individuals concerned, but also the expenditure of material factors of production and the produce of other peoples' extroversive . . . labor that must be bought by the payment of wages." In other words, the search for new truth in economics, as in any pure science, necessitates, in addition to introversive labor, an institutional framework composed of a structure of complementary goods that has been deliberately and rationally constructed by one or more property owners.2
    The founding members of the Austrian school pursued economic research neither for pecuniary gain nor because they sought professional recognition or an influence on public policy. According to Mises (1984, p.18), "When Menger, Bhm-Bawerk and Wieser began their scientific careers . . . [t]hey considered it as their vocation to put economic theory on a sound basis and they dedicated themselves entirely to this cause [emphases are mine]." These three eminent Austrians, therefore, were not economists by profession but by vocation. The "vocational" economist takes a position in academia or works in some other profession such as banking, journalism, industry or government in order to obtain the concrete means necessary to sustain and complement his efforts to discover new truths or expound and apply established truths in his economic research and writing. The "professional" economist, in contrast, aims at earning a livelihood, eliciting acclaim from peers, achieving public fame, shaping political policies or, most likely, a combination of these ends. Thus the difference between the vocational economist and the professional economist is not their objective method of earning a living but the subjective ends aimed at, which are unobservable. Nonetheless, despite the subjective element involved, the two kinds of economists can be readily distinguished from each other by scrutinizing the disparate views they express toward economic research, particularly its truth content and perceived rewards. Vocational economists like Murray Rothbard are not allergic to using the unfashionable terms "truth" and "law" when characterizing the science of economics. For Rothbard, economics is a substantive body of immutable and universal causal laws that are logically deduced from the incontrovertible fact that people employ means to attain their most desired ends. As such, Rothbard (2004, p. 1360) held that "all these elaborated laws [of economics] are absolutely true" and that "economics does furnish . . . existential laws." Furthermore, in the 1950's and 1960's, Rothbard was working on Austrian economics in obscurity and virtual isolation. He did not obtain a full-time academic position until 1966 and, before then, was earning a precarious living on foundation grants while he soldiered on in building up the Austrian theoretical edifice. Yet Rothbard (1990, p. 2) revealed in an interview in 1990 that he had been quite content during this period: "Any chance to write a book or meet new people was terrific." These are the views and the attitudes of the ideal vocational economist. Paul Samuelson is the exemplar of the modern professional economist. When Samuelson (1988, p. 63) once grandiosely declared, "I can claim in talking about modern economics I am talking about me," he spoke truer than he knew. In his approach to economic research Samuelson (1993, p. 242) is a self-proclaimed follower of the "views of Ernst Mach and the crude logical positivists." These so-called philosophers of science contended, "good theories are simply economical descriptions of the complex facts of reality that tolerably well replicate those already-observed or still-to-be-observed facts." Of course economic theory formulated as a shorthand summary of a past sequence of observable and non-repeatable historical facts cannot possibly elucidate the immutable causal laws that operate and interact to produce a unique and complex economic phenomenon at a later moment in history. Nonetheless, Samuelson (1993, p. 242) embraces this view of economic theory: "Not for philosophical reasons but purely out of long experience in doing economics that other people will like and that I myself will like. . . . When we are able to give a pleasingly satisfactory "HOW" for the way of the world, that gives the only approach to "WHY" that we shall ever attain." Samuelson and Solow's formulation of the now discredited stable Philip's Curve tradeoff between inflation and unemployment is an example of such Machian theorizing in action. Without doubt, the Philips Curve for a time was well liked by Samuelson, Solow and other professional economists and even used by policymakers, but its truth content in the face of the stagflation that developed in the 1970's was exactly nil. To be fair, Samuelson does not dismiss all concern for truth in economic theory. For example he confesses that at 20 years of age he had harbored high hopes that anticipated progress in econometric methods would "narrow down the uncertainties of our economic theories." However, as a septuagenarian, Samuelson (1993, p. 243) was forced to admit that "it has turned out not to be possible to arrive at a close approximation to indisputable truth." The accumulation of econometric findings by the1990's, it seemed to Samuelson, was not "convergent on a testable truth." Samuelson (1993, p. 294) rationalized this state of affairs by arguing, "[T]ruth has many facets. Precision in deterministic facts or in their probability laws can at best be only partial and approximate." In the introduction to his article that was to become the template for modern economic modeling, Samuelson was even more frank regarding the severe limitation of Machian economic theory to embody a true conception of the causal relationships that govern economic reality. Wrote Samuelson in this seminal article (1968, p. 58): "I think it would be folly to come to any conclusions on the basis of so simplified a model and such abstract reasoning; but on the other hand, strong simple cases often point the way to an element of truth present in a complex situation." Ultimately, however, the professional economist need not fret overly much about whether he can harvest a grain of truth from such unrealistic models, because his reward for pursuing economic research lies elsewhere. According to Samuelson (1970, p. 295), "In the long run the economic scholar works for the only coin worth having - our own applause." Elsewhere, Samuelson (1988, p. 72) described scientists, including professional economists, as being "as avaricious and competitive as Smithian businessmen. The coin they seek is not apples, nuts, and yachts; nor is it coin itself, or power as that term is ordinarily used. Scholars seek fame. The fame they seek . . . is fame with their peers - the other scientists whom they respect and whose respect they strive for." Samuelson's account of the extroversive reward sought after by modern professional economists clearly - though perhaps unwittingly - reveals that their research endeavors are not governed primarily by a search for truth. Mises (1978, pp. 7-8; 1998, pp. 868-70) gives a compelling sociological interpretation of why academic researchers in the aprioristic sciences such as economics and philosophy are diverted from seeking truth to striving after other ends. As universities traditionally developed, the professors were not only supposed to teach but also to make original contributions to their science. Yet, as Mises noted, very few individuals living during any historical epoch are endowed with such ability. In empirical sciences, whether of the natural or historical variety, however, the illusion that all academic researchers contribute something valuable to their science can be plausibly sustained because there is no visible distinction between the scientific methods employed by the creative genius and those resorted to by the inferior researcher. As Mises (1998, p. 869) explained: The great innovator and the simple routinist resort in their investigations to the same technical methods of research. They arrange laboratory experiments or collect historical documents. The outward appearance of their work is the same. Their publications refer to the same subjects and problems. Research in economics is quite different: it requires sustained, rigorous and systematic thinking, a faculty which very few possess and even fewer are willing to exercise. This is true of both the creative genius who constructs a great edifice of economic theory as well as those who seek to refine, extend and apply his system to new problems. His students and followers must also expend many years of their life and a great deal of rigorous mental effort in mastering the entire theoretical system before they can make even minor contributions to economics. Therefore, Mises (1998, p. 869) concluded, in economics: [T]here is nothing that the routinist can achieve according to a more or less stereotyped pattern. There are no tasks which require the conscientious and painstaking effort of sedulous monographers. There is no empirical research; all must be achieved by the power to reflect, to meditate, and to reason. There is no specialization, as all problems are linked with one another. In dealing with any part of the body of knowledge one deals actually with the whole. Those aspiring economics professors who lack the intellectual faculties or temperament needed to conduct systematic theoretical research therefore must find another field in which to make their required research contributions. For example, in the German-language universities of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, these men turned to economic history and descriptive economics. Mises's perceptive sociological analysis explains the rise to dominance and entrenchment of the German historical school in the universities as well as its hysterical antipathy toward economic theory. According to Mises (1978 p. 8): The fiction that in the sciences all professors are equal does not tolerate the existence of two types of professors in economics: those who work independently in economics [as original theorists]; and those who come from economic history and description. The inferiority complex of these "empiricists" gives them a prejudice against theory. By the 1920's the German historical school was on its last legs but still ensconced in the professorial chairs. The members of the third generation of the school were a dull and undistinguished lot except for Werner Sombart, who had been a student of Gustav Schmoller's, the leading German historicist of the second generation. Mises, who knew Sombart personally, portrayed him as the quintessential professional economist. It is worthwhile quoting in full Mises's entertaining and eviscerating description of Sombart, because the personality that emerges is the antithesis of the vocational economist: Werner Sombart was the great master of his set. He was known as a pioneer in economic history, economic theory, and sociology. And he enjoyed a reputation as an independent man, because he had once aroused Kaiser Wilhelm's anger. Professor Sombart really deserved the recognition of his colleagues because to the greatest degree he really combined in his person all their shortcomings. He never knew any ambition other than to draw attention to himself and to make money. His imposing work on modern capitalism is a historical monstrosity. He was always seeking public applause. He wrote paradoxes because he could then count on success. He was highly gifted, but at no time did he endeavor to think and work seriously. Of the occupational disease of German professors - delusions of grandeur - he had acquired an elephantine share. When it was fashionable to be a Marxian, he professed Marxism; when Hitler came to power, he wrote that the Fuehrer receives his orders from God! (Mises 1978, pp. 102-103) Professionalist aspirations and the culture it engenders are not only inconsistent with truth-seeking in economics, however, they are positively antithetical to it. For the professionalization of a scientific discipline, particularly a social science like economics, almost always proceeds hand in hand with the expansion of government interventionism. As Mises (1998, p. 865) put it "The development of a profession of economists is an offshoot of interventionism." The reason for this inevitable connection rests on two facts. On the one hand, the State requires a class of intellectuals and specialists for designing, implementing, and providing rationalizations for various interventions into the market economy. On the other hand, those intellectuals who seek the regular income and prestige that accompany the professionalization of their discipline are ever ready to oblige, because the ability of an intellectual to earn his living researching and writing in his chosen field on the free market is always precarious at best. As the interventionist State expands, it reinforces the need for trained experts and the university system obtains increasing subsidies from government to initiate and expand graduate programs that will provide such personnel. The lucrative positions in these programs are naturally bestowed on those economists who spearhead the drive to professionalize and are, therefore, most active and outspoken in their support of government interventionism. In the U. S. the most extreme and thoroughgoing instances of domestic interventionism occurred during the two World Wars of the twentieth century. It was therefore no surprise that the movement to professionalize American economics, which began in the 1880's, experienced quantum leaps during these war crises. For when the State goes to war it needs professional expertise to plan and direct the massive mobilization of the resources it requires. This translates into a cornucopia of lucrative and prestigious jobs for economic experts and specialists in the bureaus and advisory boards of the political planning apparatus that centrally directs the war economy. In his brilliant book on the professionalization of American economics, Michael Bernstein (2001, p. 89) identifies the central role played by World War II in the ultimate success of this movement, perceptively observing: Under the novel and unrelenting demands posed by national mobilization, modern economic theory had proved its worth. . . . Not individualism but rather statism provided the special circumstances within which the high hopes and great expectations of generations of professionalizers could be realized. . . . It is one of the great ironies of this history that a discipline renowned for its systematic portrayals of the benefits of unfettered, competitive markets would first demonstrate its unique operability in the completely regulated and controlled economy of total war. Of course their wartime experience led economists to recognize the potentially great material benefits that would accrue to them from a permanent alliance between their profession and the centralized American State. They responded by formally reorganizing the discipline and reshaping its educational methods and requirements so as to accommodate the prospective needs of the emerging postwar "national security state." Bernstein (2001, pp. 89-90) gives an incisive account of how the American economics profession finally established itself in service to a centralized and interventionist leviathan State: World War II provided the first systematic demonstration of the beneficence to be won from the largesse of the central government . . . . As a matter of course, there emerged a determination to evaluate and reconfigure educational programs in the field, more rigorously stipulate its varieties of expertise and methodologies, and pursue consensus about its central principles and policy orientations. That is to say, that out of the crucible of national mobilization came the beginnings of a professional identity and self-confidence that, while resolutely sought after since the late nineteenth century, had, up to that point, been elusive and fleeting. Bernstein (2001, pp. 91-108) goes on to identify some of the arcane sub-disciplines within professionalized economics that were developed in response to the needs of the emerging American super-state during the Cold War era which helped to maintain it on a permanent war footing. The "decision-making sciences" such as linear programming and operations research were developed during World War II to solve the logistical problems associated with supplying overseas troops in different theaters of operation. Game theory was reoriented and refined to assist in the solution of strategic military problems associated with the Cold War conflict - with generous funding from the Department of Defense and especially the Office of Naval Research. And the development of both mathematical growth theory and the practical application of Keynesian macroeconomics embodied in the Kennedy-era New Economics were in large part stimulated by Cold War concerns. As Bernstein (2001, p. 108) notes with regard to the Keynesian New Economics: "American economists found themselves poised to participate in the realization of some of the most significant statist aims of the cold war era . . . a vigorous national economy was essential both to equip the armed forces and to demonstrate the superiority of American capitalism." The remarkable proliferation of hyper-specialized fields that occurred during and after World War II led to a disintegration of economic theory, signified by the disappearance of the general economic treatise (Rothbard 2004, p. xc-xci). No longer was there an integrated system of general economic principles that was held in common and applied to the analysis of all policies and problems by those who called themselves economists. Now each sub-field of research had it own special theory which was more or less sealed off from general economic theory. Even general theory itself was now compartmentalized into microeconomics and macroeconomics. This specialization or, more accurately, disintegration of economics compounded by the postwar trend toward a positivist approach to economic theory, whether of the Samuelsonian or Friedmanite variants, destroyed the formidable barrier that had previously confined professional economists with no faculty or vocation for theoretical research to economic history and descriptive economics. They now began to abandon these peripheral areas and to invade what was once the domain of economics proper in droves. Though failing to master the great praxeological system of economic theory that had taken shape in the interwar years, these postwar economists could now undertake research in the splintered, ultra-specialized areas of growth theory, labor economics, industrial organization, oligopoly theory and so on ad infinitum. However, the unrealistic theoretical models constructed by professional economists then and now can never elucidate the essential laws governing the actual market phenomena associated with their disjointed fields of research. For as Mises (1998, pp. 687) pointed out: "The economist must never be a specialist. In dealing with any problem he must always fix his gaze upon the whole system. . . . Economics does not allow of any breaking up into special branches. It invariably deals with the interconnectedness of all the phenomena of action." Our discussion thus far leads to an important general point. The economics profession is a fiat phenomenon in the same sense as inconvertible paper money. Neither would or could exist on a market free of specific pattern of government interventions. Government cannot directly command and coerce a newly issued fiat money into circulation in the market economy. As Rothbard (1990a) has taught us, government must first impose a series of interventionist measures such as legal tender laws, repeated suspension of convertibility between paper promissory notes and the underlying gold money, the refusal to enforce gold clauses in private contracts, the banning of the private ownership of gold, etc. These interventions distort market processes and prepare the way for the gradual emergence of fiat money. The same is true of the emergence of the economics profession. Government has no power to directly design and establish a profession with its peculiar and intricately interwoven customs, conventions, research culture, and institutional infrastructure. Nonetheless, a natural vocation like economics can be transformed into a profession as a result of the distortion of market processes and the disturbing of property arrangements caused by wars, political usurpation and subsidization of higher education, and the establishment of centralized bureaus and agencies to implement and oversee economic interventions. The medical profession is therefore a natural profession that would exist on a free market because it has a natural clientele; the economics profession, along with most other social science professions, is a fiat profession that has no free market clientele and would exist as a truth-seeking vocation in the absence of a particular historical pattern of government interventions.3 To sum up: the vocational economist strives to master the system of economic theory as handed down by the great system builders and innovators of the past. Once this mastery is achieved, then, depending on his ability, he is poised either to expound and apply this theoretical system, to contribute a few important innovations, or to present a thoroughgoing reformulation that embodies a number of major advances. There are very few individuals who are capable of successfully embarking on even the first of these paths. Moreover, regardless of which path is taken, the vocational economist is driven forward by a thirst for truth which is never slaked. He seeks to know ever more about what Rothbard (1997, p. 262) termed "the structure of reality as embodied in economic law." Furthermore the extroversive labor he performs for a livelihood, regardless of the field, is merely a means to this and other consumption ends that rank high on his value scale. All other things equal, he is indifferent toward a position in academia except as it provides a more efficient method of pursuing his vocation. Public acclaim and the recognition of his peers, if they come, are not sought after by him but are at most valued byproducts of his activities. Finally, the vocational economist measures progress in his discipline by the quantity and quality of minds that have mastered economic theory, because his own search for truth is facilitated by subjecting his work to the critical evaluation of others pursuing the same calling. Contrariwise, the professional economist aims, in his research activities, at a number of extroversive ends. These include the approbation of his colleagues, public fame, intellectual influence in shaping government policies, professional advancement and prestige, and, of course, raw power and money. To a great extent, these ends are attainable only with government subsidies and largesse and so he naturally supports an expansive and interventionist state. His natural roosting place, to which he continually returns after his lucrative stints in government service, nonprofit think tanks, and international bureaucracies are the large universities that are subsidized or directly controlled by government. He views progress in economics as a matter of the multiplication of its sub-disciplines and specialized bodies of theory, the increase of the sheer number of bodies in graduate programs, and especially the expansion of opportunities to obtain lucre and positions of power in advising the interventionist, Welfare-Warfare State. As Mises (1998, p. 865) perceptively noted as early as 1949, professional economists "rival the legal profession in the supreme conduct of political affairs. The eminent role they play is one of the most characteristic features of our age of interventionism." After World War II and before the modern Austrian revival had gathered a full head of steam in the mid-1980's there were very few vocational economists left who had mastered the praxeological system and were actively contributing to economics. The most notable among them were Mises, Rothbard, Israel M. Kirzner, Henry Hazlitt, Hans F. Sennholz and William H. Hutt. Almost all others calling themselves economists were professional economists in the mold of Werner Sombart and Paul Samuelson.
    3. The South Royalton Conference: Boon or Bane?
    As I have argued in earlier work (Salerno 2002), the renascence of Austrian economics began in 1962 with the publication of Murray Rothbard's Man, Economy and State. This magisterial treatise contained a systematically elaborated and realistic structure of economic theory that incorporated the insights and theorems of dozens of earlier economists of various nationalities who had worked in the Austrian tradition from 1871 through the 1950's. With this work of creative synthesis, Rothbard reshaped and advanced the praxeological paradigm that originated in the works of Menger and Bhm-Bawerk and was first clearly delineated by Mises. In fact Rothbard was the first economist in the history of the discipline, including Mises himself, to succeed in methodically deducing the entire corpus of economic theory from the undeniable fact of purposive human action. By proceeding in this matter, he discovered new truths about economic reality. Rothbard (quoted in Stromberg 2004, pp. Xxxiii-xxxiv, xli) explained his goal and method in writing Man, Economy and State in correspondence with the foundation funding his work: The aim I set myself was to fulfill the essence of Mises's structure of praxiology [sic] by spelling it out, step by step, in one coherent integrated structure. I realized that it is possible to begin with one simple, self-evident assumption: human existence, and deduce all propositions of economics from it. The essence of human existence is human action, and once action is defined, all further [economic] truths can be deduced by logical implication. . . . However, as I have been proceeding, the necessary elaborations on the sometimes sparse framework of Mises has led inevitably to new and original presentations. [The bracketed interpolations were supplied by the editor of the correspondence.] Perhaps Rothbard's greatest achievement in this work was his presentation of an integrated theory of production that embodied the pure time preference theory of interest of Frank A. Fetter and Mises, the time structure of capital analysis developed by Bhm-Bawerk, Knut Wicksell and Friedrich Hayek, and the marginal productivity theory of factor pricing expounded at the turn of the century by John Bates Clark and Thomas Nixon Carver. This theory spanned five chapters, comprising over 300 pages and almost 30% of the treatise. Rothbard had very little guidance from his predecessors and contemporaries, including Mises, in systematically elaborating production theory and had to employ the step-by-step procedure of logical deduction from first principles and realistically chosen subsidiary postulates provided by the praxeological method. Wrote Rothbard (quoted in Stromberg 2004, xlix-l): [A]s my work evolved, I found that there was a lot of gaps in the economic organon that I had to fill in myself. Going step by step in logical progression turned out to involve a good deal of original contribution on my own part. . . . Mises has very little detail on production theory, and as a consequence it took me many false starts, and lots of what turned out to be wasted effort, before I arrived at what satisfied me as a good Production Theory. (It's involved emancipation from 90% of current textbook material.) It is clear from his review of Man, Economy, and State that Mises (1990, pp. 155-57) also saw Rothbard's work as a major advance in and a new point of departure for praxeological economic theory: The main virtue of this book is that it is a comprehensive and methodical analysis of all activities commonly called economic. . . . In every chapter of his treatise, Dr. Rothbard adopting the best of the teachings of his predecessors, and adding to them highly important observations . . . develops the correct theory. . . . Henceforth all essential studies in these [praxeological] branches of knowledge will have to take full account of the theories and criticisms expounded by Dr. Rothbard. Rothbard (2000; 1990a) followed up this path-breaking treatise with two other works one year later, America's Great Depression and What Has Government Done to Our Money. The former book applied the Austrian theory of the business cycle to explaining the causes of the Great Depression in the U.S. supplemented by a critique of the perverse government policies that deepened and prolonged it. The latter work was a slim booklet intended as a primer on Austrian monetary theory, but containing an original praxeological-historical explanation of the displacement of gold by paper fiat money. In 1970, Rothbard (2004) published Power and Market, which presented a comprehensive praxeological analysis of the entire range of government interventionism. These four books were directly responsible for rekindling interest in Austrian economics among the generation of young academics and graduate students who reached maturity from the mid-1960's to the early 1970's. These young "Rothbardians" made up the majority of the thirty or so individuals who gathered at a week-long conference in June 1974, in the small rural town of South Royalton, Vermont, to listen to lectures by Rothbard, Kirzner and Ludwig Lachmann. The "South Royalton conference," as it came to be called, was the first conference on Austrian economics to be held in North America and was an exhilarating experience for those attendees like myself who had been studying the great Austrian texts in small groups or in isolation. We now had the chance for the very first time to intermingle with a large group of our peers and to meet and converse with the living masters of Austrian economics. The personal relationships established at the conference with other attendees and with the lecturers inspired many of us to pursue our vocation with a renewed sense of purpose and enthusiasm. The vigorous scholarly interchange both during and outside the formal lecture sessions that repeatedly referred to the classic works of Austrian economics also imbued us with an intangible but real sense that we were part of a vital tradition, using the same intellectual means to strive together toward the common goal of discovering truth. The result was the coalescence of a self-conscious and living Austrian movement, the first since the early 1930's. However, while these benefits should not be underestimated, the conference introduced a serious distortion into the future development of Austrian economics that went unrecognized for years. As I mentioned, by 1974 the Austrian revival was already well under way, inspired by the works of Rothbard who had reformulated and advanced the praxeological paradigm on many fronts. The four lectures he presented at the conference aimed at restating and refining the paradigm in the areas of methodology, monetary theory, the prehistory of Austrian economics and the relationship between economic theory and value judgments in the advocacy of economic policy.4 Israel Kirzner also had painstakingly mastered the praxeological system as Mises's graduate assistant in the 1950's. He contributed substantially to its advancement in two books. In The Economic Point of View, published in 1960 and based on the dissertation he had written under Mises, Kirzner (1976) carefully compared and contrasted Mises's praxeological approach to economics with all other approaches, past and present. In his 1973 volume on Competition and Entrepreneurship, Kirzner (1973) employed a reformulated version of Mises's concept of entrepreneurship to demonstrate the inadequacy of neoclassical price theory, which was based on static equilibrium and offered no scope for the real world phenomena of error, uncertainty and profit. Kirzner's mastery of both Austrian economics and neoclassical price theory and his tactful yet unsparing criticism of the latter served as a bridge to neoclassical economists who wished to learn about and incorporate Austrian insights into their own work. Following up on the strategy of this book, Kirzner's lectures at South Royalton were oriented toward rendering Austrian insights and critiques comprehensible and palatable to open-minded neoclassical economists. To what extent this strategy has succeeded cannot be considered here. The third lecturer, Ludwig Lachmann, although a highly intelligent and erudite man, was not in any sense a master of systematic economic theory. Lachmann's intellectual influences in economics were eclectic, even incongruous, and included the historicist Werner Sombart his dissertation supervisor and the brilliant sociologist Max Weber, a much more reasonable adherent of the German historical school. He was also influenced in capital and business cycle theory by Friedrich Hayek, whom he served as a graduate assistant in the 1930's and by a fellow Hayek graduate assistant, George Shackle (1983, p. 7), later a self-proclaimed "nihilist" in economic theory.Lachmann also adopted Keynes's view of expectations which conceived them as autonomous, volatile and not rationally grounded in the entrepreneur's actual experiences in the market process. In the 1950's, Lachmann (1978) did publish a very valuable monograph on Capital and Its Structure, which emphasized the essential heterogeneity of capital goods and the role of the price system in guiding entrepreneurs to continually recombine capital goods into new structures in response to changes in the economic data. Unfortunately, Lachmann's lectures at South Royalton were devoted to propounding a view of the market process as driven by uncaused, unpredictable and "kaleidic" changes in the pattern of individuals' knowledge as well as a wholesale rejection of the use of the general-equilibrium concept in economic theory, even its limited and carefully circumscribed role in praxeological analysis. Thus the main problem with the conference was that it served to elevate an eclectic and idiosyncratic thinker with historicist leanings to the position of a "master" of Austrian economics on a par with Rothbard and Kirzner. This produced unforeseen and negative long-run consequences for the Austrian revival. First, Lachmann's newly exalted status and his personal charisma as an erudite, European-trained professor gave his writings an undeserved prominence that diverted attention away from the valuable works of established Austrian economists who had demonstrated a clear and masterful grasp of the praxeological system. These included especially Henry Hazlitt, Hans Sennholz, and William Hutt.5 Hazlitt and Sennholz were now dismissed as an "economic journalist" and a "popularizer," respectively. Hutt was relegated to the category of "semi-Austrian," despite the fact that that by 1963 he was writing economic theory as a "praxeologist," which he defined as "the economist who has grasped the principal lesson of Mises' Human Action" (Hutt 1963, p. 136). A second and more pernicious effect of Lachmann's unwarranted influence was that some young Austrians abandoned their immersion in the rigorous study of praxeological economic theory to write facile critiques of neoclassical economics. It also led them to a nihilistic criticism of the use of equilibrium constructs in the writings of Rothbard and Kirzner. This resulted in an internecine controversy over the meaningless question of whether equilibrating forces or disequilibrating shocks dominated the market process.6 Worse yet, the young Lachmannians navely believed that the neoclassical establishment would see the light of reason and happily concede the truth of their arguments. When they finally learned that the neoclassical establishment would never abandon its attachment to general equilibrium, they altered their strategy and began writing articles attempting to integrate piecemeal Austrian theoretical insights into specialized areas of neoclassical economics. Unfortunately, the hyper-mathematization of neoclassical theory that began in the early 1980's rendered this strategy lame. After long and bitter experience, these Austrians finally learned that there was no place at the professional table for truth-seeking economists. In the meantime they had failed to cultivate the mastery of praxeological economics necessary to do serious work in the paradigm, which they now declared to be a "closed system." As a result, their goal imperceptibly shifted from pursuing economics as a vocation to maneuvering for a position in the economics profession. This was the unfortunate legacy of the South Royalton conference: it transformed the goal of many Austrians from seeking truth to seeking advancement in a fiat profession; correspondingly, it revolutionized the standard of progress for Austrian economics. Before the South Royalton conference, the standard was clearly the number of independent thinkers who had been stimulated to recognize and follow their inner vocation to perform research into the structure of economic reality. As the culture of Austrian economics evolved in the decade after South Royalton, the standard of progress was gradually transformed into the number of positions the South Royalton generation and their students obtained in research universities. Of course, professional advancement and positions atPh.D.-granting institutions are desirable to the vocational economist as means for awakening other potential truth seekers to their vocation for economic research. The generation of Austrian economists that came immediately after the South Royalton generation was even more prone to erroneously view economics as a profession and to assess progress in Austrian economics as the improbable acceptance of their ideas and writings by the statist economics profession. The main reason for this was that they were too young to have had direct exposure to the pre-South Royalton milieu of the Austrian revival, whose formative influence was clearly and overwhelmingly Rothbardian. To many of this generation, the South Royalton conference and the awarding of the Nobel Prize in economics to Hayek a few months later marked the inception of the Austrian revival. Ironically members of the post-South Royalton generation are now counseling younger Austrians to retreat from economics proper to the backwater provinces of atheoretical economic history and descriptive economics in order to "climb the professional ranks." "Theory," they say, "is no longer something that attracts the best and the brightest. Instead, the best and the brightest are attracted to empirical puzzles and data analysis." To be an "impact player" in the profession the aspiring Austrian is advised to "look out the window and not at the blackboard." In other words, one must "jettison doing conceptual economics and focus on applied and historical topics." Thus from now on Austrian economics is to be strictly "empirical economics, which . . . means really good historical scholarship and contemporary public policy." Thus over one hundred years after the Austrian school vanquished the German historical school in the Methodenstreit, the heirs of Menger are advised to forsake their vocation and surrender to Gustav Schmoller's ghost in order to become members of a fiat profession like Werner Sombart and Paul Samuelson. Instead of an extended critique of this absurd and self-defeating strategy, I will simply counter with the advice of the vocational economist who reshaped the modern Austrian paradigm. When asked in an interview "What should young Austrians be concentrating on?" Rothbard (1990b, p. 15) replied, "Adding to the theoretical edifice.... Most importantly, we should never stop refuting mainstream economics."
    4. The Grove City Conference and the Death of the Professionalist Diversion
    In fact there has been a great deal of progress in Austrian economics in the last twenty years thanks to the founding of the Mises Institute in 1983, which has supplied the material resources and institutional infrastructure required by those who pursue economics as a vocation and who wandered in the wilderness in the decade after the South Royalton conference. Even more importantly, the Institute's prodigious publications and its plethora of conferences, workshops, fellowships and online resources have assisted an ever growing number of young truth seekers from all over the world in hearing and heeding their inner calling to economic research. Judging by the last Austrian Scholars Conference in March 2004, scholars from around the world who are performing the introversive labor of advancing, applying or devising new methods of expounding the praxeological paradigm number in the hundreds. None is or need be another Ludwig von Mises or Murray Rothbard; system builders in an aprioristic science are born once or twice a century. But this is no cause for pessimism. Contemporary vocational economists who have painstakingly worked their way up and onto the shoulders of Mises and Rothbard and who deserve to be called masters of their subject are every day perceiving new truths about complex and evolving politico-economic reality that go significantly beyond these two great system builders. In fact, far from constructing a "closed system," as some Austrians have claimed, Rothbard (1989) enthusiastically welcomed and endorsed innovations in the praxeological paradigm that corrected or went beyond his own work and that he began to happily witness in the late 1980's. Thus he wrote in correspondence in 1989: "I welcome change and advances in Austrian theory provided they are true, i.e., that they work from within the basic Misesian paradigm. So just as I think I have advanced beyond Mises in developing the Misesian paradigm, [other] people . . . have advanced the paradigm still further and great!" Moreover in spite of - or perhaps because of - unswerving dedication to their vocation many Austrian economists have obtained positions in academia where they are in a position to awaken and guide more young minds along their vocational path. The Austrian Student Scholars Conference this weekend is living proof of the success of their efforts. You are all here because you are eager to embark on a vocation in Austrian economics. What from now on shall be called the Grove City conference marks the demise of the professionalist diversion in Austrian economics that grew out of the South Royalton conference and that nearly destroyed the Austrian revival. It is only fitting that Grove City host this historic event because it was the home for so many years of Hans Sennholz, one of the greatest vocational economists of our era.
    REFERENCES
    Bernstein, Michael A. 2001. A Perilous Progress: Economists and Public Purpose in Twentieth Century America. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.
    Brown, Lesley, ed. 1993. The New Shorter Oxford English Dictionary on Historical Principles. 2 vols. New York: Clarendon Press.
    Dolan, Edwin G, ed. 1976. The Foundations of Modern Austrian Economics. Kansas City: Sheed and Ward, Inc.
    Hayakawa, S. I. 1994. Choose the Right Word: A Contemporary Guide for Selecting the Precise Word for Every Situation. 2nd ed. Ed. Eugene Ehrlich. New York: Harper Collins Publishers.
    Hutt, W. H. 1963. Keynesianism - Retrospect and Prospect: A Critical Restatement of Basic Economic Principles. Chicago: Henry Regnery Company.
    Kirzner, Israel M. 1973. Competition and Entrepreneurship. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
    _____. 1976. The Economic Point of View: An Essay in the History of Economic Thought. 2nd ed. Ed. Laurence S. Moss. Kansas City: Sheed and Ward, Inc.
    Lachmann, Ludwig M. 1978. Capital and Its Structure. 2nd ed. Kansas City: Sheed Andrews and McMeel, Inc.
    Menger, Carl. 1981. Principles of Economics. Trans. James Dingwall and Bert F. Hoselitz. 2nd ed. New York: New York University Press.
    Mises, Ludwig von. 1978. Notes and Recollections. Trans. Hans F. Sennholz. South Holland, IL: Libertarian Press.
    _____. [1969] 1984. The Historical Setting of the Austrian School of Economics. Auburn AL: Ludwig von Mises Institute.
    _____. [1962] 1990. "Man, Economy and State: A New Treatise on Economics." In idem, Economic Freedom and Interventionism: An Anthology of Articles and Essays, ed. Bettina Bien Greaves. Irvington-on-Hudson, NY: The Foundation for Economic Education. Pp. 154-58.
    _____. 1998. Human Action: A Treatise on Economics. Scholar's ed. Ed. Jeffrey M. Herbener, Hans-Hermann Hoppe, and Joseph T. Salerno. Auburn, AL: Ludwig von Mises Institute.
    Rothbard, Murray N. 1989. Letter to author. March 28.
    _____. [1963] 1990a. What Has Government Done to Our Money? 4th ed. Auburn AL: Ludwig von Mises Institute.
    _____. 1990b. "A Conversation with Murray N. Rothbard." Austrian Economics Newsletter 11 (Summer).
    _____. [1972] 1997. Review of Economic Means and Social Ends: Essays in Political Economics, Robert L. Heilbroner, ed. (Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall, 1969). In idem, The Logic of Action Two: Applications and Criticism from the Austrian School. Lyme, NH: Edward Elgar. Pp. 260-68.
    _____. 2000. America's Great Depression. 5th ed. Auburn AL: Ludwig von Mises Institute.
    _____. 2004. Man, Economy, and State: A Treatise on Economic Principles with Power and Market: Government and the Economy. Scholar's ed. Auburn, AL: Ludwig von Mises Institute.
    Salerno, Joseph T. 2002. "The Rebirth of Austrian Economics - In Light of Austrian Economics." The Quarterly Journal of Austrian Economics 5 (Winter): 111-28.
    Samuelson, Paul A. [1949] 1968. "International Factor-Price Equalisation Once Again." In Richard E. Caves and Harry G. Johnson, eds., Readings in International Economics. Homewood, IL: Richard D. Irwin, Inc. Pp. 58-71.
    _____. [1962] 1970. "Economists and the History of Ideas." In Ingrid H. Rima, ed., Readings in the History of Economic Theory. New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, Inc. Pp. 282-95.
    _____. 1988. "Economics in My Time." In William Breit and Roger W. Spencer, eds., Lives of the Laureates: Seven Nobel Economists. Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press. Pp. 59-76.
    _____. 1993. "My Life Philosophy: Policy Credos and Working Ways." In Michael Szenberg, Eminent Economists: Their Life Philosophies. New York: Cambridge University Press. Pp. 236-47.
    Shackle, G.L.S. 1983. "An Interview with G.L. S. Shackle." Austrian Economics Newsletter 4 (Spring).
    Stromberg, Joseph. 2004. Introduction to Murray N. Rothbard, Man, Economy, and State: A Treatise on Economic Principles with Power and Market: Government and the Economy, Scholar's ed. (Auburn, AL: Ludwig von Mises Institute). Pp. xix-lxxxviii.
    Footnotes
    1. The italics and bolding in this passage appear in the original.
    2. This point is argued in detail in Salerno 2002.
    3. I am very grateful to Guido Hlsmann for calling this general implication of my argument to my attention.
    4. All the lectures given at the South Royalton conference and referred to in this paper were later published in Dolan 1976.
    5. Some of the important contributions of these men to the Austrian canon are cited in Salerno 2002.
    6. I say "meaningless" because the real-world market economy is never in or moving toward the state of general equilibrium or what Austrians call the "evenly rotating economy," which is a fictional state imagined by the economist as an analytical convenience in solving the problem of distinguishing profit from interest. All that exists in reality is a market process unfolding in history, driven by entrepreneurs some of whom are more successful than others in anticipating and adjusting production to ceaseless changes in future market conditions. The incessant change and pervasive uncertainty that characterizes the market economy is not "disequilibrating," it is simply a brute existential fact; neither can the forecasts and price appraisements of entrepreneurs be termed "equilibrating" - they are simply right or wrong.

  17. Forgotten Facts of American Labor History
    Mises.org
    by Thomas E. Woods, Jr.
    Just about everything that people think they know about labor unions and wage rates is wrong.
    [Mises-mongers are fond of these sweeping condemnations.]
    The standard tale that practically every student hears over the course of his education is that before the emergence of labor unions, American workers were terribly exploited and their wages were consistently falling. The improvement in labor's condition was due entirely or at least in large part to labor unionism and favorable federal legislation. In the absence of these, it is widely assumed, people would still be working 80-hour weeks and children would still be working in mines. This oft-heard tale is, however, almost entirely false, and those parts of it that are true (the low standard of living that people enjoyed in the nineteenth century, for example) are true for reasons other than those alleged by pro-union historians, who see in them only confirmation of their prejudices against the market economy. As late as the 1920s, labor law in America was based on the following considerations. Freedom of contract and association were essential principles. A laborer was perfectly free to reject any offer of compensation that an employer might make to him, and an employer was likewise entitled to reject any offer made by a laborer. An employee was free to withhold his labor services if unsatisfied with his employer's terms; likewise, a group of laborers jointly exercising this individual right were permitted to do so. No one, however, was allowed to prevent individuals who wished to work from exercising their right to do so. Strikers - like anyone else - were forbidden to interfere with consumers' right to shop where they liked. And strikes could not obstruct suppliers from making deliveries, since to do so would again violate the rights of others. Finally, since the employer's plant was private property, the employer had the absolute right to decide who would be permitted to enter, and complete strangers who wished to enter for the purpose of agitating his employees could be lawfully excluded altogether. This common-sense legal approach to labor unionism began to give way with the Norris-La Guardia Act, signed by Herbert Hoover in 1932. The legislation made "yellow dog" contracts - in which an employee could be required to promise to refrain from union activity as a condition of employment - unenforceable in the courts. The Act also exempted labor unions from prosecution under the Sherman Antitrust Act. Although the Sherman Act should certainly have been (and still should be) repealed, if there were ever an institution guilty of "restraint of trade" it was labor unions, which not only withheld their own labor but which also used intimidation and force to keep down non-union competition. They would henceforth be exempt from behavior that the law deemed criminal in any other context. The Act also prohibited the federal courts from issuing injunctions against labor unions in some cases and seriously crippled their ability to do so in others. Subsequent Supreme Court decisions made clear that the Act in effect shielded unions from prosecution for activities they may have engaged in during labor disputes. The injunction had been used to put a stop to union violence and property destruction when local authorities seemed unwilling or unable to protect life and property. Unions hated them. As labor historian Morgan Reynolds explains, "An injunction temporarily restrained union actions pending a trial and this explains the intense union campaign against its use in labor disputes because once violence-ridden strikes were enjoined for a few days, they were difficult to revive, reorganize, and rekindle." It is one of the many myths of American labor history that the courts issued injunctions frequently and indiscriminately. Labor economist Sylvester Petro undertook a thorough study of the period from 1880 to 1932 and found injunctions to be exceedingly rare: federal injunctions were issued in not even one% of all work stoppages, while state injunctions were issued in less than two% of all work stoppages. And these few injunctions were issued not to thwart labor union activity per se but to put a stop to violence against persons and property. Now even this protection of the employer's rights - yes, employers have rights, too - would henceforth be absent. The New Deal added the National Labor Relations Act of 1935, more commonly known as the Wagner Act, to the mix. It had once been the case that a worker who did not wish to join a union or pay its dues refrained from joining and was not obligated to pay dues. Thanks to the Wagner Act, that individual freedom disappeared. From then on, if a majority of workers in a given bargaining unit chose to unionize, then that union represented all the workers and could require them either to join or at least to pay dues. The usual defense of such coercion is that since the Wagner Act called for a single certified bargaining agent to represent all workers in a given bargaining unit, it was only fair that all such workers be required to contribute something to the union. After all, it is argued, since all workers gain from the union's activities on their behalf, it would be wrong for them not to contribute toward union expenses. This objection overlooks the real problem, which is the idea of having an exclusive bargaining agent in the first place. If unions were content to bargain solely on behalf of their own members, then there would be no problem of non-members getting union benefits for free. If individuals were allowed to represent themselves and to enter into contracts with their employers on their own terms, those who wished to remain non-union would not be "free riding" on the benefits bestowed by labor unions, since the union would simply not bargain on their behalf. But federal labor law no longer guarantees workers this freedom. (As a result of the Taft-Hartley Act of 1947 - which labor historians detest despite the mildness of its provisions, which did little to overturn settled labor law - states have the right to pass "right-to-work" laws, which prohibit unions from attempting to force union membership and dues on workers as the price for keeping their jobs.) Once officially designated by a majority of workers as the exclusive bargaining agent for all workers, the union is never required to stand for re-election. Even after all the workers who originally voted for the union have died or retired, the union is simply assumed to have the support of a majority of workers. The new slate of workers has no say in the matter at all. The Wagner Act also forced employers to bargain "in good faith" with unions that were established by a majority of workers. Whether an employer had complied with the vague instruction to bargain "in good faith" would be determined by the all-powerful National Labor Relations Board. Moreover, the Wagner Act also interfered with employers' freedom of speech by making it an "unfair labor practice" to attempt to influence their employees' decision whether to unionize or not. Employers were required to permit union organizers - that is, total strangers - who did not work for them to use company property for the purpose of persuading employees to unionize. Furthermore, the Wagner Act gave labor unions a degree of legal insulation afforded to no other group in society. The Act made labor unions immune to claims of vicarious responsibility. In plain English, that means that labor unions are not legally responsible for any violence their members might commit, even if union officials themselves order the violence. All of these legislative measures made it much easier for labor unions to accomplish their goals. In order to fulfill their stated purpose of increasing the wages of their members, labor unions must restrict an employer's access to alternative sources of labor. That is to say, nonunion workers who wish to seek employment on the terms offered by an employer whose firm is unionized must be prevented from doing so. Harvard University's Edward Chamberlin once described the unique legal status that labor unions had been granted: If A is bargaining with B over the sale of his house, and if A were given the privileges of a modern labor union, he would be able (1) to conspire with all other owners of houses not to make any alternative offer to B, using violence or the threat of violence if necessary to prevent them, (2) to deprive B himself of access to any alternative offers, (3) to surround the house of B and cut off all deliveries, including food (except by parcel post), (4) to stop all movement from B's house, so that if he were for instance a doctor he could not sell his services and make a living, and (5) to institute a boycott of B's business. All of these privileges, if he were capable of carrying them out, would no doubt strengthen A's position. But they would not be regarded by anyone as part of "bargaining" - unless A were a labor union. No wonder Nobel Laureate F.A. Hayek once said, "We have now reached a state where [unions] have become uniquely privileged institutions to which the general rules of law do not apply." In practice, during strikes the police have typically stood aside and done nothing in the face of union intimidation and even violence against non-union workers or those who simply wish to continue working. (This is one reason that the court injunction was so often sought in the past against violent strikes.) By means of this kind of coercion, labor unions are able to deprive employers of labor if they do not accede to union demands. As Henry George wrote in the nineteenth century, "Those who tell you of trades unions bent on raising wages by moral suasion alone are like those who would tell you of tigers that live on oranges." The result of union activity, therefore, is to reduce the number of jobs in an industry and to raise the money wages of union labor, while at the same time relegating many workers, driven out of this line of work by the decreased quantity of labor demanded there, to other lines of work, whose money wages must decrease as a result of the greater supply of workers now forced to compete for them. The net result is that the gains to certain workers are more than offset by the disabilities inflicted upon other workers. When union activity reduces the number of people who can be profitably employed in skilled trades, it correspondingly increases the number of skilled laborers who are forced to find work in fields that are well below their level of competence. The outcome of this displacement of skilled labor is no different from a situation in which laborers never possessed these skills in the first place. If union privilege prevents some workers from putting their skills to their proper use, the effect is the same as if they had never gone to the trouble to acquire them at all. Thus society produces below its potential, and wealth that would otherwise have been created never sees the light of day. The ways in which labor unionism impoverishes society are legion, from the distortions in the labor market described above to union work rules that discourage efficiency and innovation. The damage that unions have inflicted on the economy in recent American history is actually far greater than anyone might guess. In a study published jointly in late 2002 by the National Legal and Policy Center and the John M. Olin Institute for Employment Practice and Policy, economists Richard Vedder and Lowell Gallaway of Ohio University calculated that labor unions have cost the American economy a whopping $50 trillion over the past 50 years alone. That is not a misprint. "The deadweight economic losses are not one-shot impacts on the economy," the study explains. "What our simulations reveal is the powerful effect of the compounding over more than half a century of what appears at first to be small annual effects." Not surprisingly, the study did find that unionized labor earned wages 15% higher than those of their nonunion counterparts, but it also found that wages in general suffered dramatically as a result of an economy that is 30 to 40% smaller than it would have been in the absence of labor unionism. Although labor unionism has actually made working people worse off, however, the usual argument for labor unionism and government legislation on behalf of labor is that in the absence of these things, employers will pay their workers unconscionably low wages. Economist George Reisman proposes a useful thought experiment to the contrary. Suppose you own a car in New York City but eventually decide that the hassle involved in finding and paying for parking is simply too great, and you would like to get rid of the car for that reason. Suppose, further, that you have grown so frustrated with owning a car in the city that you would be willing to sell it for one dollar. Does that mean that you will in fact have to sell it for one dollar? Of course not. Given the great many potential buyers of your car, they will outbid each other. If a potential buyer offered you only one dollar, you would certainly turn him down even if, in a state of complete despair, you would have been willing to sell it at that amount. This person, because of his low bid, will miss out on the opportunity to own the car altogether since his rivals will simply outbid him. Exactly the same process takes place in the labor market. The University of California's Charles Baird explains: This idea, that workers without unions will inherently have a disadvantage in bargaining power relative to employers, is the basis for most individuals' support of unionism and is picked up again in the Wagner Act. But that disadvantage is a hoary myth. A worker's bargaining power depends on the worker's alternatives. If a worker either works for Employer A or does not work (i.e., if Employer A is a monopsonist), the worker has little bargaining power. If the worker has several employment alternatives, he has strong bargaining power. There may have been instances of monopsony or oligopsony in the 19th century, butthey were short-lived. Monopsony has not been a significant factor in the American labor market since the introduction and widespread use of the automobile. The empirical evidence simply does not bear out the conventional wisdom regarding unions. If employers were really in a position to impose whatever wage rate they wished, then why in the decades prior to large-scale labor unionism did wages not diminish to near zero? (In fact, as we shall see below, real wages skyrocketed in the decades before modern labor law took shape.) For that matter, why did skilled workers earn more than unskilled workers? If firms were really in a position to tell workers to take or leave whatever pathetic wage they might choose to offer, why would they have felt a need to pay skilled workers more than unskilled workers? Why not just pay them both the same pittance? The case for labor unionism does possess a superficial plausibility, but it is in fact entirely fallacious. Real wages rise not because of union activity but because of the process that George Reisman describes in his productivity theory of wages (which I describe here). In short, business investment in machinery increases the productivity of labor and therefore the output that the economy is capable of producing, and this greater supply puts downward pressure on prices. As Reisman explains, "It is the productivity of labor that determines the supply of consumers' goods relative to the supply of labor, and thus the prices of consumers' goods relative to wage rates." This phenomenon is not always easy to see in an inflationary economy such as ours, in which prices of most goods seem to go up consistently. But the point remains: prices become lower than they would otherwise be, and all real incomes (wages included) increase. This is why taxes on business and capital are so foolish and counterproductive. Such taxes hamper business investment, which is precisely what raises our standard of living. The vast bulk of high school teachers and college professors spend their time condemning the wickedness of businessmen and the wealthy, and describe taxation as a righteous method for redistributing the supposedly ill-gotten gains of the wealthy to the oppressed poor. To put it kindly, such people have not the faintest idea of how wealth is created, and their envy-driven policy proposals inevitably make society poorer than it would otherwise be. The vast bulk of the existing scholarship on American labor history is essentially unreadable. It takes for granted all the economic myths of unionism, the essential righteousness of the union cause, and the moral perversity of anyone who would dare to oppose it. Major incidents in the history of American unionism, as with the Haymarket incident of 1886 and the Homestead Strike of 1892, are often misleadingly described in order to conform to the ideological demands of this one-dimensional morality play. Labor historians and activists would doubtless be at a loss to explain why, at a time when unionism was numerically negligible (a whopping three% of the American labor force was unionized by 1900) and federal regulation all but nonexistent, real wages in manufacturing climbed an incredible 50% in the United States from 1860-1890, and another 37% from 1890-1914, or why American workers were so much better off than their much more heavily unionized counterparts in Europe. Most of them seem to cope with these inconvenient facts by neglecting to mention them at all. Labor economist W.H. Hutt referred to the Norris-La Guardia and Wagner Acts in 1973 as "economic blunders of the first magnitude." Economists Vedder and Gallaway find that New Deal labor legislation played a significant role in aggravating the unemployment problem. Both theory and history reveal the same conclusion: a society that genuinely wishes to become wealthier, to enjoy more leisure time, and to live longer will simply repeal all taxation on business and capital. That would do more for the material well-being of American workers than did all the storied episodes of labor's "struggle" - labor historians' favorite word - put together.
    Thomas Woods, adjunct scholar of the Mises Institute, teaches history at Suffolk Community College. He is the author of The Politically Incorrect Guide to American History (Regnery 2004).

  18. A strong but flawed case for U.S. decline - The European vision of the future has yet to eclipse that of America [among those blindered by jingoism - ed.]
    Charlotte Observer, NC
    BILLY WIREMAN
    Review of book "THE EUROPEAN DREAM: How Europe's Vision Of The Future Is Quietly Eclipsing The American Dream" By Jeremy Rifkin. Tarcher Penguin. 421 pages. $25.95.
    Convinced that I would be shocked at the degree to which the European Dream is now replacing the American Dream, a European friend recommended that I read Jeremy Rifkin's "The European Dream." I found the suggestion intriguing and proceeded to study Rifkin's thesis. He argues a strong case but is premature in concluding America is in decline. Here's the story: Rifkin, a respected and successful writer, is a self-proclaimed '60s radical who is disappointed that America never achieved the idealistic vision of the radicals of his day. "Liberation was in the air. You could smell it," he felt at the time. But it never came in the form he wanted. Now he is confident Europe is fulfilling his generation's hopes.
    Rifkin's evidence:
    1. Europeans favor cooperation over competition - community relationships over individual autonomy, quality of life over the accumulation of wealth.
    2. The European Union is less interested in military power than helping individuals find time for leisure and relaxation.
    3. Americans "live to work," and Europeans "work to live." Strangely, Rifkin thinks American's attachment to individual homes is a weakness, while European's preference for apartments is a strength. Space more than preference is likely the deciding factor.
    4. Americans perceive themselves as missionaries, manifested in "The Shining City Upon a Hill," in John Winthrop's 1630 fetching phrase. We are Melville's "New Jerusalem." Add Franklin viewing "an idle mind as the devil's workshop" and John Calvin's emphasis on efficiency and we have an America that is inconsistent with humanity's 21st-century aspirations.
    5. Europe's Gross Domestic Product of $10.6 trillion now surpasses America's $10.4 trillion.
    6. Europe is kinder to its animals than America, and its shorter workweek makes Europeans less acquisitive than Americans.
    These are samples of Rifkin's points on emerging European supremacy. Here is why he is wrong:
    A. Try to convince Russians, Poles, Czechs, Romanians and other former Soviet satellites that Karl Marx's "from each according to his abilities, to each according to his needs" is a more viable approach to organizing human societies than Adam Smith's "invisible hand."
    [Unnecessary. Europe doesn't believe that and Poles, Czechs, Romanians and other former Soviet satellites are already desperate to join the EU. THIS is his first counterargument?? Pathetic!]
    90% of the world now lives under some form of market economics.
    [Including Europe. This argument is irrelevant.]
    China's 1.3 billion are now solidly in the Smith camp, with no sign of turning back from 20 years of 8 to 10% growth. Rifkin cannot repeal [and doesn't try - ed.] basic reality that "enlightened self-interest" will continue to be the major motivating factor in human progress.
    B. True, Europe's 455 million people have an economy equal to America. But this represents 25 countries against America with 285 million. Germany's $2.2 trillion economy is closest to America in Gross Domestic Product.
    C. There is scant evidence that Africa, Latin America and Southeast Asia are buying into Rifkin's thesis. Quite the contrary, these areas are becoming market-oriented.
    D. The European Union has made impressive strides, but the parliaments of the 25 countries must now ratify the new constitution. One negative vote will kill the document. In December the EU will vote on whether to begin discussions with Turkey to join the EU, a process that could make Turkey, a Muslim nation, the largest EU member. The process could take 10 years. The EU is deeply split over this issue.
    E. In the next 50 years, Europe, due to low birth rates and resistance to immigration, will lose 100 million citizens. America, due to near replacement birth rates and openness to immigration, will gain 100 million citizens. Hardly a trend to indicate Europe's emerging dominance.
    F. Tell Turks, Southern Italians, Czechs, Poles and other Central Europeans that Europe is becoming more open to assimilation. Resistance to immigration in Western Europe shows no signs of abating.
    G. With widespread unemployment, labor unions in Western Europe will hardly find comforting the fact that cheap labor in former Soviet satellites in the East will attract many new industries.
    H. The civil rights, women's and environmental movements in America, all driven by citizen power, show the enormous resiliency of America and its capacity to reform itself.
    All in all, "The European Dream" is cogently argued, exhaustively researched, meticulously documented but, on balance, draws the wrong conclusion. I'm afraid Rifkin has substituted hope for reality, personal philosophy for evidence to the contrary - an OK mistake for a writer but not the stuff from which a just, enlightened and productive world will emerge. The European Union has every chance of success, but to argue that it will replace America as a model for the 21st century is sheer folly. America and Europe should work together, as Tony Blair argues - a combination that could be a formidable force for justice and progress comparable to the Atlantic Alliance, which, along with Japan, expanded prosperity and freedom to record levels in the 50 years following World War II. While there are severe strains at the moment, rebuilding that alliance is much more likely to capture the imagination on both sides of the Atlantic than pitting these two great powers against each other as artificial adversaries.
    Billy O. Wireman is president emeritus of Queens University.
    [A Canuck carried water for the American empire? Pathetic! Check out the next article.]

  19. Freelance economy - Benefits slipping; even paid vacations are fading
    By Bonnie Erbe, Scripps Howard News Service via Henderson Glea
    Think you're going to retire "fat and happy" with a corporate pension payout delivered as promised? Many Americans need to think again. As the cost of employee benefits tilt toward Jupiter (i.e., skyward) some major corporations are shedding burdensome costs through bankruptcy. Others are flat out dropping expensive perquisites that until recently were considered obligatory to lure the best workers. In fact, even the paid vacation may soon go the way of the typewriter. I call this phenomenon the freelance or hourly economy. It's alluring and rife with self-enrichment possibilities for financially nimble Americans and high-earners who can aptly avoid the icebergs. But it's a bed of brambles for less-educated folks and low-earners whose personal finance navigation tools never existed or are out of date. Here come some numbers, so grab your pencils and eyeshades.
    According to the global outsourcing and consulting firm, Hewitt, during the past 13 years the percentage of employers offering old-fashioned defined benefit plans has dropped almost by half. That is, companies offering the traditional, "You come work for us for so many years and when you retire at a certain age we give you a pre-determined amount annually for retirement." Hewitt reports in 1990, 83% of employers lavished these types of benefits on workers. Last year, that percentage had dropped to 45% or less than half. A pro-union group, the Labor Research Association, claims what defined benefit plans are left are largely the province of unionized workers, or non-union workers who work at heavily unionized companies. Its Web site states, "Only 14% of private-sector nonunion workers are covered by a defined benefit plan, and many of these receive coverage only because they work at companies where large portions of the workforce are unionized ..... Among private sector union workers, 69% are covered by a defined benefit plan, but many of these are concentrated in the shrinking industrial sectors." To wit, the airline industry, the steel industry and others that are laying off workers a lot faster than they're bringing in new hires. Not just the defined benefit pension, but also the paid vacation, is apparently on the respirator. The Society for Human Resource Management surveyed 450 companies in 2003 and again this year and found only 68%of them now offer paid vacations, down from 87% the previous year. That's a precipitous drop in one year and a sign all sorts of perks are on the endangered species list. What's a worker to do? Three words of advice: prepare, prepare, prepare. That means saving a lot more than we are at present. In fact, it means reversing a serious slide in Americans' collective personal savings habits. According to the Commerce Department's Bureau of Economic Affairs, personal savings as a percentage of disposable personal income - i.e., the money we have in our possession after paying taxes--- fell to a seasonally adjusted four-tenths of one% in the third quarter of this year declining from 1.9% for the same quarter last year. America's savings rate has always trailed behind most other industrialized countries. But this year's drop appears, anyway, to be nothing less than a bungee jump off a tall bridge. Lack of self-sufficiency in the savings department would seem to make Americans all the more dependent on corporate largess to dodge poverty in retirement. Why are companies in such a cost-cutting mode? Most analysts say globalization is increasing competition on wages and benefits. Outsourcing is having an impact as is a feckless stock market. Domestic policy may soon increase pressure on future retirees if the president's as-yet unrevealed plan to partially privatize Social Security becomes law. The educated among us will fare just fine. But perhaps policymakers ought to consider requiring personal finance courses in public high schools and GED training. That way, all Americans leave high school able to balance their checkbooks and with a command of the importance of saving and investing.

  20. Don't Move to Canada, Move to Iowa
    OpEdNewsm via www.opednews.com
    By David Swanson
    Those desperate [or fed up] enough to consider moving to Canada to escape a nation headed by George W. Bush may want to consider an easier option that could deny Bush's Republican successor the presidency: moving to Iowa.
    [Dream on. Only getting Democrat George Soros to buy Diebold and ES&S electronic voting machine manufacturers could do that. Once you've got one "party" that no longer believes in the two-party system and honest elections, they can rig the vote in Iowa as easily as Ohio, Florida, or anywhere else - and they'll be much better at it in 2008.]
    We spent upwards of $300 million trying to elect John Kerry ($241 million through the campaign, another $80 million through other organizations). We turned out every anti-Bush voter we could find. But there weren't enough pro-Kerry voters to put Kerry over the top. The majority of Americans said the country was headed in the wrong direction, but a majority of voters, or at least something close to it, voted for the incumbent. We didn't offer people a real choice. Kerry was a lousy candidate. Both candidates supported an illegal war, corporate trade policies, private health insurance, the war on drugs, an ever-growing Pentagon, and an expanding prison industry. Kerry played to the Republican base, hunted ducks, and packed his stages with veterans, but he lost the election to rural voters, religious voters, and veterans, because they were Bush's base. The Democratic base - urban voters, the less religious, the non-veterans, working people (all majority groups), plus racial minorities - voted for Kerry, but not with large enough turnout or by a wide enough margin. Why? Because he was not our candidate. Kerry was the candidate of 100,000 mostly white, rural, church-going Iowans. We would not have had such an uphill struggle in this election, and the heart-felt and tireless labor of hundreds of thousands of us would not have gone to waste, if the Democrats had had a candidate, if the candidate of urban America had not been chosen by 100,000 Iowans, residents of a state that then voted for Bush. But here's the good news. If you become a resident of Iowa and register to vote 10 days before the next Iowa caucuses, and agree not to vote anywhere else, you can nominate the next Democratic candidate for president. If you move there earlier, you can help influence some of your fellow Iowans. Does it sound like I'm putting down Iowans or proposing something undemocratic? I beg to differ. To begin with, I'm not suggesting that any other state would necessarily have done a better job than Iowa . The reason that only the first state counts is the same as the reason why Iowa got it wrong: uninformed obedience to the media and a confusion of the role of citizen with the role of pundit. After Iowa, the next 49 states, with very few exceptions, obeyed the media's command to vote for the candidate possessing an entirely mythical substance called "momentum." Similarly, Iowans - conceiving of themselves as media-informed political strategists - voted for the candidate possessing a fictional "electability." What we need in Iowa are not just thousands of residents of safely blue states and of isolated blue cities in hopelessly red wastelands. We need activists and educators in media-rebellion. The Democratic party leadership will always obey the media's demand to act more and more Republican. What we need is a movement in Iowa to reinterpret this dictum. Republicans force candidates to adopt their supporters' platform or face opposition from within. Democrats tell themselves that their candidates' platforms are "viable" and "electable." We must instead - indeed - act like Republicans. We know that the majority of Americans favor single-payer health care, less corporate influence in government, protecting Social Security, correcting the minimum wage, investing in education, taxing the wealthy and corporations, and addressing global warming. We know that the VAST majority of Democrats favor these things. Why should we let the media tell us that the most popular positions are not "electable"? And why should we do so election after election, even as the "electable" candidate consistently fails to get elected? (And please don't mention that guy from Arkansas who cost us the House, the Senate, and the state houses, because Perot spoiled an election for him, so that he could destroy welfare, pass NAFTA, and hand us the Telecom. Act that created the media giants that now push our people around and twist their thinking away from democracy.) Is it undemocratic to move some thousands of well-informed citizen activists to Iowa ? I would argue that is more democratic than what we now have. One state chooses for the other 49. Bribery goes by the name of campaign finance, which we periodically "reform." An anti-democratic electoral college controls the general election and favors rural states. A lack of instant runoff voting or proportional representation shuts out third parties. And the Iowa caucus goers do not look like America . If we were to bring representatives of the other 49 states, and various racial and cultural groups, into Iowa , we might make it more representative of America . The Democratic party is unlikely to take away Iowa 's first-in-the-nation status. Just ask the Washington D.C. City Council. And if a D.C. first-in-the-nation primary is taken seriously, our job will be easier. African Americans are already better voters. We also might make Iowa a blue state, and even a model blue state. After all, we are currently shut out of national politics. We need to create a few model blue states with universal health care, a living wage, paid family and vacation leave, free preschool and college, protected natural resources. We need to show the red states what they're missing. Why not include Iowa in this project? Why not organize the Iowa workforce, make Iowa a focus of a reborn labor movement following the AFL-CIO convention in Chicago next July? We need a major effort to educate Iowans and import new Iowans. The cost of this is a drop in the bucket compared to what it takes to run a doomed phony-Republican against a real Republican candidate. We need to start voter registration in Iowa now. And we can begin this project on a volunteer basis. Those of you headed to Canada: please take a look at Iowa.
    ["Please take a look at Iowa"? Sounds like one American is getting scared and desperate, and for good reason. Last figure we heard = some 300,000 of the cream of the crop of Americans are moving to Canada. Only thing comparable in history, aside from the 500,000 draft dodgers during the Vietnam War, was the exodus of intellectuals from Roman Catholic lands in the 17th century when the Pope threatened Galileo with torture for saying that the Earth went around the Sun and not vice versa.]
    David Swanson (www.davidswanson.org) served as press secretary for Dennis Kucinich for President after serving for three years as national communications coordinator for ACORN. He is now media coordinator for the International Labor Communications Association.
    [Gettin' lonely, David? C'mon north - America is dead until the voting process is depoliticized, and the neo-cons have zero incentive to do that.]

  21. Views from the street
    The Japan Times, Japan
    By MELANIE BURTON
    In some countries, they're brawny, vocal and wield a lot of power, but from Japan's unions we seem to hear little more than a peep. Melanie Burton asked Japan residents if its union movement is a tiger lacking its teeth. Colette McGarry
    Teacher
    I think it's important that they're there to voice the opinions of the teachers who have difficulty in their jobs, but I wish they had more influence.
    Anna Lotinga
    JET
    I'm all for unions. I think that in order to have unions, you have to have people who want them and recognize their benefits. In Japan you'd have to change something in society as well for unions to work.
    Matthew Butcher
    Teacher
    I think unions probably don't have much power to change things. I think the culture in Japanese unions is very cozy with the management so any changes are going to be very slow and incremental.
    Satoshi Nakagawa
    Teacher
    It's difficult to change things. The image of labor unions in Japan is negative. Some Japanese don't have the ability or willingness to change, so the situation will remain the same.
    Kim Harting
    JET
    The Japanese teachers certainly need unions. For example they're entitled to sick leave, but they tend to take paid vacation instead when they're sick due to social pressure.
    Megan McBride
    Teacher
    It seems like the government seems to run everything on its own without much influence from anyone, so I would suspect unions don't have a lot of power. Things here run more by back channels.

  22. Beneath New York harbor, a mammoth dig to make way for bigger ships, by Eric Lipton, NYT, A23.
    Steve Frey, on a 12-hour shift, using computer imagery to help direct [the large dredge known as] the Beast [photo caption.]
    [12-hour shifts on a dredge? Sounds like a formula for disaster.]

( Here's the current search pattern used by our backup, Ken Ellis - he's now experimenting with seven search runs:
"work sharing", OR overwork, OR overworking, OR "work-sharing", OR "job-sharing", OR "job sharing", OR "work week", OR workweeks, OR "work-week", OR "work-weeks", OR "working week", OR "working weeks", OR "work-time", OR "worktime", OR "decreases hours", OR "shorter schedule"
"cut hours", OR "cutting hours", OR "more hours", OR "reduce hours", OR "reduced hours", OR "reduces hours", OR "reducing hours", OR "hours reduction", OR "40 hour", OR "40 hours", OR "forty hour", OR "forty hours"
"decrease hours", OR "decreased hours", OR "decreasing hours", OR "fewer hours", OR "schedule reduction", OR "long work", OR "long hours", OR "long days", OR "long workdays", OR "long workday", OR Nucor, OR "Lincoln Electric"
"days off"
"work hours", OR "working hours", OR "shorter hours", OR "shorten hours", OR "shortened hours", OR "shortened work"
"free time" labor OR workers OR employees
overtime, OR "extra hours", OR "time off", -sports -coach -coaches -coaching -football -soccer -baseball -olympics [on hold] )




Click here for spontaneous cases of primitive timesizing in -
Nov.16-22/2004
Nov.9-15/2004
Nov.2-8/2004
Oct.27-31/2004 + Nov.1
Oct.22-27/2004
Oct.16-21/2004
Oct.12-15/2004
Oct.6-11/2004
Oct.1-5/2004
Sept.25-30/2004
Sept.21-24/2004
Sept.11-20/2004
Sept.7-10/2004
Sept.4-6/2004
Sept.1-3/2004
Aug.27-31/2004
Aug.21-26/2004
Aug.11-20/2004
(July 31+) Aug.1-10/2004
July 20-30/2004
July 17-19/2004
July 13-16/2004
July 1-12/2004
June 16-30/2004
June 1-15/2004
May 15-31/2004
May 1-14/2004
Apr.16-30/2004
Apr.1-15/2004
Mar.23-31/2004
Mar.11-22/2004
Mar.2-10/2004
Feb.21-29/2004 + Mar.1
Feb.11-20/2004
Jan.31 + Feb.1-10/2004
Jan.21-30/2004
Jan.10-20/2004
Jan.1-9/2004
2003
2002
2001
Y2000
1999
1998 and previous years.

For more details, see our laypersons' guide Amazon.com.

Questions, comments, feedback? Phone 617-623-8080 (Boston) or email us.


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