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Current Topic: Business

'Goldilocks needs tax reform ... not root-canal economic populism'
Topic: Business 12:55 pm EST, Jan  6, 2008

Here's Larry Kudlow:

The key thing to remember is that businesses drive the economy. Businesses create jobs and incomes for consumers to spend.

Larry Kudlow has managed, unfortunately, to transform himself from an inciteful observer of market events into a fairly one dimensional shill for wall street's political interests. This essay (appearing in NRO, not a business journal) is a perfect example. He cites "facts" that have no relationship to reality (holiday sales suprised on the upside?!?), talks about lazzie-faire economics while pining for government assistance in the form of yet another rate cut, and also, in the passage quoted above, manages to treat his readers like children.

The fact is that we are teterring on the edge of an economic precipice built upon phoney growth and no one is quite sure how deep it is. The current housing crisis, which threatens bank failure, was completely predictable and driven by the extremely irresponsible actions of the creditors whose interests Kudlow here represents. Of course they don't want the government to regulate them, they're rich, but the minute hard times beset them they start screaming for government assistance in the form of rate cuts, literally screaming as Kudlow's former cohost famously did on national television in the late summer, and they get them!

The reason Wallstreet has to generate phoney growth in the form of housing inflation is that we're not getting enough real growth in terms of actual middle class purchasing power, and the fundamental reasons for that aren't addressed by a simple tax cut. Despite Kudlows insistance to the contrary, real wage growth has been anemic through-out this recovery, held back by offshoring and H1-B visas. The reason those programs are required to keep American workers "competitive" is our abysmally stupid healthcare system, wherein employers have to pay truck loads for services that no one can refuse to buy.

Healthcare is not like other market commodities because people who need services cannot refuse to purchase them or choose between acceptible and luxury classes of service. You buy it or you die. So in an unregulated environment there is no force that counteracts price increases. And the vested interests that are making a killing offering those services have hired the exact same libertarian idealogs to defend those interests that Kudlow has now joined.

End the upward spiral of healthcare costs and require job mobility and permanent residency for foreign workers imported into the US and you'll see real, sustainable increases in middle class purchasing power, which will drive real economic growth.

Ultimately, if the rewards of business growth, systemically, aren't seen by employees, consumers don't have money to spend on new products, and so businesses can't grow. Instead you see the money all going to shareholders, and so there is all this excess investment capital out there that isn't going to be spent buying things, but instead wants to fund mortages and the like. This sort of concentration of wealth, which is caused by government intervention on behalf of some people and lazzie-faire for others, can strangle the economy by pulling the liquidity out. Thats exactly what caused the great depression.

'Goldilocks needs tax reform ... not root-canal economic populism'

They're Micromanaging Your Every Move
Topic: Business 2:07 pm EDT, Sep 17, 2007

SOA you thought you still had a soul, eh?

In an economy more and more populated by "knowledge workers", one would expect the productivity and real income of employees to move upward together, as an increasingly skilled workforce benefits from its own improved efficiency. But since 1995, the year when the "new economy" based on information technology began to take off, incomes have not kept up with productivity, and during the past five years the two have spectacularly diverged. Between 1995 and 2006, the growth of employee productivity exceeded the growth of employee real wages by 340 percent. Between 2001 and 2006, this gap widened alarmingly to 779 percent.


Nowhere have "Enterprise Systems" technologies been more rigorously applied to the white-collar workplace than in the health care industry. The practices of managed care organizations (MCOs) have provided a chilling demonstration of how enterprise systems can affect the work of even the most skilled professionals, in this case the physician.

For-profit health care providers that relied on this kind of standardization, such as Aetna and Humana, performed significantly worse than their counterparts in the treatment or prevention of cancer, diabetes, and heart disease. But many of these health care companies think that ES technologies have made them profitable, and it seems unlikely that these practices will be discarded anytime soon.

In The Culture of the New Capitalism, a book based on a series of lectures given at Yale in 2004, Richard Sennett describes how the widespread use of enterprise systems has given top managers much greater latitude to direct and control corporate workforces, while at the same time making the jobs of everyday workers and professionals more rigid and bleak.

The spread of ES has resulted in a declining emphasis on creativity and ingenuity of workers, and the destruction of a sense of community in the workplace by the ceaseless reengineering of the way businesses operate. The concept of a career has become increasingly meaningless in a setting in which employees have neither skills of which they might be proud nor an audience of independently minded fellow workers that might recognize their value.


The evidence themselves suggests that from an executive perspective, the most desirable employees may no longer necessarily be those with proven ability and judgment, but those who can be counted on to follow orders and be good "team players."

Here the purpose of the personality tests administered by career coaches becomes clear. They are useless as measures of ability and experience, but they may be reliable indicators of those who are "cheerful, enthusiastic, and obedient." The dismal experiences of many middle-aged job seekers suggest that corporations would rather find conformists among younger workers who haven't been discarded by employers and aren't skeptical about their work.

They're Micromanaging Your Every Move

Smashing The Clock
Topic: Business 10:46 pm EST, Dec 10, 2006

It began as a covert guerrilla action that spread virally and eventually became a revolution.

What is it?

At most companies, going AWOL during daylight hours would be grounds for a pink slip. Not at Best Buy. The nation's leading electronics retailer has embarked on a radical -- if risky -- experiment to transform a culture once known for killer hours and herd-riding bosses. The endeavor, called ROWE, for "results-only work environment," seeks to demolish decades-old business dogma that equates physical presence with productivity. The goal at Best Buy is to judge performance on output instead of hours.

They are going to do this not only at corporate, but also at the retail outlets.


Smashing The Clock

Too Much Froth
Topic: Business 1:02 pm EDT, Jun 28, 2006

Why do supposedly serious people embrace such ideas?

These folks (and this organization appears to be Hillary's baby) clearly have an agenda of their own, but the criticism of Florida is not without some merit, even if they have oversimplified his thesis.

Blarg. This article is pure political garbage from start to finish. The reason that he can't understand why supposedly serious people would embrace "such ideas" is because they don't. He is buring a straw man. The path to building one of Florida's cool havens isn't by attracting tolerant people as a starting point. You do it by building intellectual property and employment laws that prevent incumbent companies from squashing startups, cultivating local universities and allowing work done there to flow into the economy, promoting local angel and venture capital investor groups, making it easy for people to form businesses, and creating a community thats attractive in terms of providing a safe, secure urban environment with decent public services. However, if you do all of this and you still have the local police performing raids on gay bars you can assume that the kind of people you are interested in attracting to your city aren't going to want to live there.

People aren't flowing out of places like San Francisco because they don't like San Franciso and they think Des Moines is where the economic future lies. They are moving because they don't have a choice because the tech economy contracted. Taking the fact that the "dot com" economy contracted as a general indictment of an innovation driven economy, as it appears Congress did with their idiotic options expensing change, is the fast path to irrelevancy, a.k.a throwing out the baby with the bathwater.

The purpose of this article is to reach out to conservative, red state voters by showing that good "centrist" democrats don't like gay people either, and think young, urban, tolerant people are silly and irrelevant. Des Moines is where its at, baby. The swipe at teachers unions is particularly entertaining. Are we supposed to beleive that these people are now also economic conservatives?

This is why I don't support Hillary Clinton or Joe Liberman. They pander to the fucking authoritarian people in this country. Moderate Republicans are greatly preferable in that they don't have to seek out some scape goat to punish in order to demonstrate their social conservativeness.

Too Much Froth

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