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2012 Index

Posted by MacZad
Dec 17 2012

For my final entry for 2012 I thought it would be good to index the year's entries. A little checking of page popularity and some organization produced the index below.

Credit for the popularity of many of the pages goes to my Twitter followers who have viewed, and often re-tweeted, them to their followers. @MacZad thanks you all, and I wish all a happy holiday season and a great 2013.

Blogging again in January!

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MacZad's Musings - 2012 Blog Index

There are 5 categories below. The cartoons are at the bottom.

MacZadsMusings - Latest 5 Posts ------ Too late in the year to rank

This Index
Contraception and Religion
Seven Quotes Appropriate to Our Current Situation
My "Fiscal Cliff" Letter to President Obama
A Different Take On The "Fiscal Cliff"

MOST VIEWED - ROUGHLY IN ORDER OF POPULARITY:

Slouching Toward Theocracy By Our Votes
The Rise of Inequity Since 1980
Pity the Poor GOP Strategist
Who creates jobs? Surprise- we do.
The Grand Con
Creating Realities?
Thoughts About Money and Motivation
A Christian Nation?
Some Wisdom From The Mouths Of Republicans
The Wisdom of Henry Ford
Father Charles Coughlin, et al
Do You Get Your "News" From Fox News?
Some Quotes Of Note
The Rejection of Knowledge
Debt Reduction Isn't Paul Ryan's Goal
Grover Norquist's Anti-Tax Pledge
Some Links Of Interest

OTHERS - LESS POPULAR - UNRANKED:

The Foundation - The Fellowship - The Family - C Street
On The Need For Political Engagement
Books - Greedy Bastards & Why Nations Fail
Wisconsin's Recall 
The Two Faces of Regulation
The Danger of Disillusionment
The Second Amendment Craziness Of Our Leadership
Motivation Revisited - With a Focus on Wall Street
The Democrats Won, But Citizens United Still Matters
It's A Grand Old Flag
Because They Can - Part 1
Rail Transit - A Local Issue

ELECTION RELATED - OUT OF DATE?:

Election 2012 - Questions for Candidates
Not In The Top 1%? - Then Why Vote Republican?
A Most Interesting Thing About The Political Convertions
Nikki Haley's Hard Sell
Romney - The Businessman?

CARTOONS:

The Sunday Funnies - Congressional Style
From An E-Mail - Awesome Humor!
Conservatives Embracing Evolution?

Categories: Miscellaneous

Some Quotes Of Note

Posted by MacZad
Oct 03 2012

"Government is instituted for the common good; for the protection, safety, prosperity, and happiness of the people; and not for profit, honor, or private interest of any one man, family, or class of men." John Adams

"Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will. Find out just what any people will quietly submit to and you have found out the exact measure of injustice and wrong which will be imposed upon them, and these will continue till they are resisted with either words or blows, or with both." Frederick Douglass - American abolitionist, newspaper publisher, orator, author, statesman, and reformer

"When plunder becomes a way of life for a group of men living together in society, they create for themselves in the course of time a legal system that authorizes it and a moral code that glorifies it." - Frederic Bastiat, (1801-1850) French economist, statesman, and author

"Nothing doth more hurt in a state than that cunning men pass for wise." Sir Francis Bacon

"If there are men in this country big enough to own the government of the United States, they are going to own it." Woodrow Wilson

"All tyranny needs to gain a foothold is for people of good conscience to remain silent." Thomas Jefferson

"The highest return on assets is always a political contribution." William Black author of The Best Way To Rob A Bank Is To Own One.

"Banking establishments are more dangerous than standing armies." Thomas Jefferson

"All, too, will bear in mind this sacred principle, that though the will of the majority is in all cases to prevail, that will, to be rightful, must be reasonable; that the minority possess their equal rights, which equal laws must protect, and to violate would be oppression." Thomas Jefferson

"Ostentation is the signal flag of hypocrisy." Edwin Hubbel Chapin - Universalist minister of the 1800s

"Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not his own facts." Daniel Patrick Moynihan

"Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one's lifetime." Mark Twain

"The trouble with the world is not that people know too little; it's that they know so many things that just aren't so." Mark Twain or Josh Billings

"You can't teach an old dogma new tricks" Dorothy Parker - American poet, short story writer, critic and satirist

"I am a marvelous housekeeper. Every time I leave a man I keep the house." Zsa Zsa Gabor

(Updated 11/3/12)


Categories: Miscellaneous

Because They Can - Part 1

Posted by MacZad
Sep 29 2012

This is the first of a series of several that will focus on what happens when the "power pendulum" swings too far in any direction because the countervailing forces are weak. When it happens destabilizing excesses occur because the people with power exercise it - because they can. That pendulums can have big swings is undeniable, but things go better if the "power pendulum" swings don't depart too far from the golden mean. This post examines excessive union power in the middle of the 20th Century.

There is much said these days about the sad state of union power. Many lament the unions decline, and long for the "good old days" when the unions had real power. Well, they may have been the "good old days" for the middle class prospered, but the excessive power that unions exercised in that era was ultimately destabilizing and certainly contributed to the decline of American manufacturing.

The abuse of union power in the auto industry (with a focus on GM) is succinctly told by Megan McArdle in her Why Companies Fail article in the March 2012 issue of The Atlantic magazine.

Detroit labor relations have been a disaster ever since the early unionization drives, which were acrimonious and at times violent (at the infamous “Battle of the Overpass,” in 1937, a claque of Ford security guards attacked union agitators in front of an assembled press delegation). The result was a poisonous relationship; in many ways, GM workers were more a part of the United Auto Workers than of GM. Eventually, the union became a sort of shadow management that had to sign off on every production decision the company made, if it had any effect at all on workers.
This system actually worked during the boom years. Because GM’s competitors were unionized too, the UAW’s power kept wages more or less equal across the Big Three, and helped contain cost competition that might have led to price wars, undercutting margins. The UAW, meanwhile, never had to worry that an excessively rich compensation package would put the Big Three in jeopardy.
Conditions changed, but the union's thinking didn't. The union frequently behaved like a parasite that didn’t care whether it killed its host — calling strikes just as the company was trying to launch a pathbreaking small car; demanding that GM keep paying surplus workers nearly full salary indefinitely, even as market share declined. Rather than trying to change this dynamic, management caved, again and again — possibly, Ingrassia suggests, because any increase in wages would “trickle up,” as GM strove to maintain a pay differential between management and the hourly workers.

Don't get me wrong; I'm not anti union. This is just an example from the past showing how things end badly when the countervailing forces are impotent. In today's world Wall Street, corporate America, the NRA, the fundamentalist Christians, etc. are all exercising excessive power - because they can. These abuses of power are destabilizing and are having a negative effect on our national affairs. I've already mentioned some of their abuses in past posts, and I'll elaborate more in future posts in this series.


Categories: Miscellaneous

The Wisdom of Henry Ford

Posted by MacZad
Aug 23 2012

The paragraphs below summarize the history of Henry Ford's unprecedented liberalization of pay and working hours for his workers early in the 20th Century. Obviously, he increased wages and cut work hours because it made good business sense. However, it's also apparent that he was somewhat altruistic as he went further than he would have had to because he had the vision to see that better pay and fewer working hours would increase consumer demand. Unfortunately, few of today's industrial leaders share that vision. In the video link at the end of this post there's one that does.

Ford astonished the world in 1914 by offering a $5 per eight-hour day wage ($110 today), upped from a previous rate of $2.34 for nine hours (the policy was adopted for female workers in 1916). The news shocked many in the industry--at the time, $5 per day was nearly double what the average auto worker made--but turned out to be a stroke of brilliance, immediately boosting productivity and building a sense of company loyalty and pride among Ford's workers. The best mechanics in Detroit flocked to Ford, bringing their human capital and expertise, raising productivity, and lowering training costs. Detroit was already a high-wage city, but competitors were forced to raise wages or lose their best workers. Ford's policy proved, however, that paying people more would enable Ford workers to afford the cars they were producing and be good for the business and the economy.

Twelve years later in May of 1926, Ford Motor Company became one of the first companies in America to adopt a five-day, 40-hour week for workers in its automotive factories. The policy was extended to Ford's office workers the following August. According to an article published in The New York Times, Edsel Ford, Henry's son and the company's president, explained that, "Every man needs more than one day a week for rest and recreation. The Ford Company always has sought to promote [an] ideal home life for its employees. We believe that in order to live properly every man should have more time to spend with his family."

Henry Ford said of the decision: "It is high time to rid ourselves of the notion that leisure for workmen is either 'lost time' or a class privilege." At Ford's own admission, however, the five-day workweek was also instituted in order to increase productivity: Though workers' time on the job had decreased, they were expected to expend more effort while they were there. Manufacturers all over the country, and the world, soon followed Ford's lead, and the Monday-to-Friday workweek became standard practice.

The result was not only improved performance for Ford Motor Company. Mr. Ford's business decisions are widely credited with the creation of the American middle class that today's politicians speak to as a voting bloc and the manufacturers of the world desire as a market for their products.

Ford's actions were good for business, and good for America. Over the last few decades government policy and manufacturer business decisions have not followed the principles of Mr. Ford, and the American economy is now paying the price. American manufacturers have sought out cheap labor in foreign countries for the production of goods consumed by Americans. Government tax, trade and regulatory policies have primarily rewarded these decisions or created disincentives to locating manufacturing here in the United States. Mr. Ford's principle that workers needed to be able to afford to buy the products produced was violated. American policy needs to support the return of American manufacturing to maintain the middle class born of Henry Ford's business policies.

This post is a mashup of content (sometimes used word-for-word) from the following sources:

eNotes --- Norman's Demesne --- timelines --- suite101


Categories: Miscellaneous

Rail Transit - A Local Issue

Posted by MacZad
Jun 24 2012

As stated in my About posting I lean toward being socially progressive and fiscally conservative. An issue here in NC's Triangle area is a proposed public-transportation plan that includes rail transit. My fiscally conservative side takes over here as rail transit for this area is one of the local planners' Utopian ideas that will provide little benefit and saddle the taxpayers with its excessive costs. Charlotte has a light-rail line, and I believe that the real concern of local planners is that without rail transit The Triangle will lose bragging rights.

Here's Spread-out Reality, my opinion letter debunking the plan's rail option, that appeared in the News & Observer on 6/24/12.

I don't agree with the John Locke Foundation's stand on most issues, but they have it right with Light-rail Folly in the same N & O issue.

Governments we need - but they must spend our money wisely.


Categories: Miscellaneous, Seeking Better Governance

Thoughts About Money and Motivation

Posted by MacZad
Jun 13 2012

The need to richly reward the plutocrats is standard propaganda for them and their apologists, and the conventional wisdom is that people are more highly motivated and do better work if they are rewarded with more money.

Well it turns out that it's true - and it isn't. Many studies have been done on money as a motivator and they show that it's a good motivator for tasks that are essentially mechanical ones - like getting roofers to install more shingles per hour. However, if the tasks are ones that require even a little higher-level thinking the answer is more complex. If brainpower is important to the task more money produces better results up to the point where ones' basic needs are essentially satisfied. However, surprise, beyond that point using money as an incentive produces poorer results, and other incentives become better motivators.

Perhaps that's why "The London Whale," a trader in J. P. Morgan Chase's London office, recently lost 2 billion dollars (Update 7/16/12 - It's now up to 7 billion) for the firm - a little too much dollar incentive dangling before him? Could this possibly mean that companies (and society) would do better if their executives were paid less?

Here's the great 11  minute RSA animation on this subject that was the inspiration for this post.

It shows that Autonomy - Leave me alone and I'll do it better, Mastery - I want to improve my skill at this task, and Purpose - I want my work to make a real contribution are the best motivators where brainpower is involved. The illustration about open-source software toward the end is great.

However, despite the studies it seems to me that in many corporate executive suites and particularly on Wall Street there are too many sociopathic individuals and too often their Purpose is: I want my work to make an immediate contribution to my bank account irrespective of the impact on others. If, as the studies show, more money does not produce the best results in these brainpower-intensive environments perhaps this is one of the reasons why we have so many frauds, panics, crashes, etc.

Sociopaths in business should be a good topic for a future post.


Categories: Miscellaneous, Seeking Truth - Debunking Dogma