U.S. Workers are the Victims of a Speedup


LA Times, August 14, 2011
Posted here: Tuesday, August 23, 2011 @ 5:00 PM

Juan Sanchez polishes an acrylic bench on the Plexi-Craft factory floor in the Queens borough of New York. To keep profits climbing in tough times, corporations have laid off staff and piled more and more work onto the remaining employees. (Scott Eells / Bloomberg)

By Monika Bauerlein and Clara Jeffery

As employees work harder and longer hours, they face stagnant pay despite the 22% jump in corporate profits since 2007. But being victimized by this ‘speedup’ is not inevitable.

Mind racing at 4 a.m.? Guiltily realizing you’ve been only half-listening to your child for the past hour? Checking work email at a stoplight, at the dinner table, in bed? Dreading once-pleasant diversions, like dinner with friends, as just one more thing on your to-do list?

Guess what: It’s not you. It’s the speedup. To keep profits climbing in tough times, corporations have laid off staff and piled more and more work onto the remaining employees.

Webster’s defines speedup as “an employer’s demand for accelerated output without increased pay,” and it used to be a household word. Bosses would speed up the line to fill a big order, goose profits or punish a restive workforce. Workers recognized it, unions (remember those?) fought it — and, if necessary, walked out over it.

Now the word we use is “productivity,” and pundits across the political spectrum revel in the fact that year after year, American companies are wringing more value out of their employees than they did the year before. Just counting work that’s on the books (never mind those 11 p.m. emails), we now put in an average of 122 more hours per year than Brits, and 378 hours (nearly 10 weeks!) more than Germans. Worldwide, almost everyone except Americans has, at least on paper, a right to at least one day a week off, paid vacation time and paid maternity leave.

Sure, but we all have to do more with less — employers struggling to survive the downturn are just tightening their belts, right?

That’s true for some. But in the big picture, the data show a more insidious pattern. After a sharp dip in 2008 and ’09, U.S. economic output quickly recovered to near pre-recession levels. The United States did better than most of its fellow G-7 economies. But U.S. workers didn’t see the benefit: During the recession far more people here lost their jobs than anywhere else, and far fewer were hired back once the recovery began. And who knows what will happen now that the economy has made another downward turn?

Yes, some positions always get “rationalized” away, thanks to technological or organizational improvements — and, of course, offshoring remains a major factor. But increasingly, U.S. workers are also falling prey to what we’ll call offloading: cutting jobs and dumping the work onto the remaining staff. Consider a recent Wall Street Journal story about “superjobs,” a nifty euphemism for employees doing more than one job’s worth of work — more than half of all workers surveyed said their jobs had expanded, usually without a raise or bonus. All that extra work helped fuel nearly a sixfold increase in U.S. productivity from 2008 to 2010.

Workforce down, output up: No wonder corporate profits are up 22% since 2007, according to a new report by the Economic Policy Institute. To repeat: Up. Twenty-two. Percent.

To understand how we got here, first consider the Ben Franklin-Horatio Alger-Henry Ford ur-myth: To balk at working hard — really, really hard — brands you as profoundly un-American. All well and good. But today, the driver is no longer American industriousness. It’s something much more predatory. As Rutgers political scientist Carl Van Horn told the Associated Press recently: “The employee has no leverage. If your boss says, ‘I want you to come in the next two Saturdays,’ what are you going to say — no?”

Which brings us to another shared delusion: multitasking. It seems the obvious fix — I’ll just answer this email while I help with your homework. But research shows most of us cannot actually multitask. And not only that: If you attempt to multitask constantly, your mental circuitry erodes and your brain loses its ability to focus.

Think you’re the exception? Nope, warns Stanford sociologist Clifford Nass. “You’re really lousy at it. No one talks about it — I don’t know why — but in fact there’s no contradictory evidence to this for about the last 15, 20 years.”

Actually, it’s not hard to guess why no one talks about it: We need to believe there’s a personal workaround for what we’re conditioned to see as a personal shortcoming. When, in fact, the problem is the absurd premise that our economy can produce ever more with ever less.

How have we been so brainwashed? For a lucky few, money and perks help sugarcoat the daily frenzy. But for most Americans, it’s just fear — of being passed over at best, downsized at worst. Even among college grads, unemployment is twice what it was in 2007. McDonald’s recently announced that it had gotten more than 1 million applicants for 62,000 new positions. Enough said.

Not that there aren’t winners in the speedup economy. Although incomes for 90% of U.S. workers have stagnated or fallen for the last three decades, the wealthiest 0.1% are making 6.4 times as much as they did in 1980. And that 22% increase in profits? Most of it accrued to a single industry: finance.

In other words, all that extra work you’ve taken on — the late nights, the skipped lunch hours, the missed soccer games — paid off. For them.

This will keep up as long as we buy into three fallacies: One, that to feel crushed by debilitating workloads is a personal failing. Two, that it’s just your company or industry struggling — when in fact what’s happening to hotel maids and salesclerks is also happening to project managers, engineers and doctors (visit our website to read their tales). Three, that there’s nothing anyone can do about it.

We got to this point because of decades of political decisions. We’ve turned over the financing of elections to wealthy interests; we’ve made it harder for unions to organize; we’ve deregulated Wall Street and then completely wimped out on reregulating it after the financiers nearly destroyed the global economy.

But there is another way. European companies face the same pressures that ours do — yet in Germany’s vigorous economy, for example, six weeks of vacation are de rigueur, weekend work is a last resort, and companies’ response to a downturn is not to fire everyone, but to institute Kurzarbeit — temporarily reducing employees’ hours and restoring them when things start looking up. Sure, they lag ever so slightly behind us in productivity. But ask yourself: Whom does our No. 1 spot benefit?

Exactly. So maybe it’s time to come out of the speedup closet. Rant to a friend, neighbor, co-worker. Hear them say, “Me too.” That might sound a little cheesy. But if you’re in an abusive relationship — which 90%-plus of the U.S. currently is — the first step toward recovery is to admit you have a problem.

Monika Bauerlein and Clara Jeffery are co-editors of Mother Jones. Their extended essay about the speedup, along with charts and first-person tales, can be found at Motherjones.com.

Defense Dept. Commissions ‘Cheetah’ Robot and Terminator-Like Droid; Hummingbird Drone Also in Works


Source: DailyNews, February 27, 2011

Wes Penre’s Comment: “Welcome to the Machine” (Pink Floyd, 1975). We will soon have to make our choice. The world will split into those who want to disappear into the machine world and nano technology, and those who are going back to Nature. For those who haven’t decided, it’s high time to start pondering issues like this.

The technology they are showing us here is Stone Age compare to what they really have. There is a possibility in the future when people may want to marry their robot. There’s also a big chance there will be a time when people decide that the virtual reality on the computers is richer and more exciting than the “real world”, and their consciousness merges with it. Is this what we want? There are whole civilizations out there where this has happened — this is their reality. “Teach Your Children Well” (Crosby, Stills & Nash).

Boston Dynamics' 'Cheetah' robot will be developed with a flexible spine and head. The company hopes it will eventually be able to sprint at speeds approaching 70 mph.
The Atlas, a human-like droid, will be able to walk through rough terrain, crawl and use its hands.A Massachusetts engineering firm known for creating futuristic military robots has received multimillion dollar contracts to develop two more battlefield bots for the Department of Defense.

Boston Dynamics, which in 2008 unveiled a four-legged robot called BigDog, has been tapped by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), the research and development arm of the DOD, to create a human-like robot and an agile, robotic Cheetah that developers said will eventually be able to run 70 mph.

WATCH VIDEO OF THE BIGDOG BELOW

The human-like bot, Atlas, will have two arms and legs, but no head, and be able to walk and jog upright, climb, squeeze through narrow alleyways and use its hands, Boston Dynamics said.

The Terminator-like droid would represent a step forward from Boston Dynamic’s current anthropomorphic robot, known at PETMAN, which is used to test chemical weapons protection suits for the Army.

WATCH VIDEO OF THE PETMAN BELOW

The Cheetah will walk and sprint on four legs and will be designed to turn corners, zig-zag and start and stop on a dime.

Though the robocat will be able to run faster than humans and seems to be suited for chasing down enemy prey, the company said it was more interested in advancing the technology, rather than developing the robots’ battlefield responsibilities.

“They’re not so focused on what the ultimate use will be,” Marc Raibert, lead investigator of the Cheetah program and Boston Dynamics’ president, told the Boston Herald. “They’re most focused on developing the technology and seeing what uses they can be applied to.”

A tiny, drone aircraft designed to mimic a hummingbird, known as the "nano-hummingbird," on display during a briefing at the AeroVironment facility in Simi Valley, Calif.

Eventually, the robots would be used for “emergency response, firefighting, advanced agriculture and vehicular travel” in areas inaccessible to tanks, Humvees and other wheeled vehicles, the company said.

The first Cheetah model is due in 20 months, and engineers are hoping it will be able to run 30 mph.

The company’s BigDog turned heads three years ago when the company released videos showing it trotting over rocky and snowy terrain with a surprisingly lifelike gait.

The cyberbeast was designed to serve alongside soldiers as a robotic pack mule, with the ability to carry more than 300 pounds of military gear.

Boston Dynamics isn’t the only company developing robotic animals for use during warfare.

On Friday, a California company unveiled a tiny spy plane resembling a hummingbird.

The “nano-hummingbird,” developed by AeroVironment in Simi Valley, Calif., has a 6.5-inch wingspan and can record sights and sounds on a video camera in its stomach.

Developers said the miniature craft is designed to hover in the air and gather intelligence without the enemy noticing.

With News Wire Services

 

 

 

San Diego Diocese Sex Abuse Case: Lawyers Release 10,000 Unsealed Documents


Source: The Huffington Post, October 24, 2010
Published here: Thursday, October 28, 2010 @ 11:00 PM

Attorney Irwin Zalkin poses for a photo in his office in San Diego, Calif., Thursday, April 8, 2010. Zalkin sued the diocese on behalf of some of the victims of now defrocked priest Stephen Kiesle. A letter obtained by the Associated Press and bearing the signature of the future pope shows then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger resisted defrocking Kiesle who had a record of sexually molesting children after his case had languished four years at the Vatican. The 1985 letter was typed in Latin and is part

SAN DIEGO — Attorneys for nearly 150 people who claim sexual abuse by Roman Catholic priests made nearly 10,000 pages of previously sealed internal church documents public Sunday, revealing at least one previously unknown decades-old case in which a priest under police investigation was allowed to leave the U.S. after the Diocese of San Diego intervened.

After a three-year legal battle over the Diocese of San Diego’s internal records, a retired San Diego Superior Court judge ruled late Friday that they could be made public. The records are from the personnel files of 48 priests who were either credibly accused or convicted of sexual abuse or were named in a civil lawsuit.

The 144 plaintiffs settled with the diocese in 2007 for nearly $200 million, but the agreement stipulated that an independent judge would review the priests’ sealed personnel records and determine what could be made public.

The files show what the diocese knew about abusive priests, starting decades before any allegations became public, and that some church leaders shuffled priests from parish to parish or overseas despite credible complaints against them. Continue reading “San Diego Diocese Sex Abuse Case: Lawyers Release 10,000 Unsealed Documents”

Musical Cult Control: The Rockefeller Foundation’s War on Consciousness Through the Impostion of A=440Hz Standard Tuning


by Leonard G. Horowitz, DMD, MA, MPH, DNM(hon.)
Published here: Friday, October 22, 2010 @ 5:43 AM

Wes Penre’s Comment: This is much more important than perhaps people who are not musicians realize. It’s about mind alteration, manipulation and keeping our vibrations distorted in a successful effort to disconnect us from the Multiverse and Cosmos in general.

Everything is vibrating, and the more we can vibrate with the Higher Cosmos, the closer our connection with our Higher Selves and God, if you will. It’s the key to ascension. All you need to do to prevent people from being able to “tune in” to the Higher Cosmos is to keep them trapped in  either low vibrations or vibrations that don’t align us with the Higher Cosmos. This was successfully done by the International Bankers around World War II, by introducing the Standard A=440Hz tuning!

I am a former musician myself, and interestingly enough, a few months ago I took my whole pop/rock music collection of CDs and threw them away — easily 500 CDs. The more spiritual work I’m doing, the more torturous the music I hear on the radio and elsewhere. I couldn’t stand it anymore. I didn’t know it then, but years ago, when I was playing, I never tuned my guitars in a standard A. I randomly chose my own A which sounded better with my voice and where the chords rang more pleasantly. Now I know why…

Go out in the street and take a look around. What do you see? Teenagers, people walking their dogs, sitting around tables, having one thing in common — iPods or MP3 Players! Ingenious, isn’t it? The Powers That Be are successfully lowering the vibrations of not only the young generation but the rest of us as well.

Abstract

This article details events in musical history that are central to understanding and treating modern psychopathology, social aggression, political corruption, genetic dysfunction, and cross-cultural degeneration of traditional values risking life on earth.  This history concerns A=440Hz “standard tuning,” and the Rockefeller Foundation’s military commercialization of music. The monopolization of the music industry features this imposed frequency that is “herding” populations into greater aggression, psychosocial agitation, and emotional distress predisposing people to physical illnesses and financial impositions profiting the agents, agencies,  and companies engaged in the monopoly.  Alternatively, the most natural, instinctively attractive, A=444Hz (C5=528Hz) frequency that is most vividly displayed botanically has been suppressed. That is, the “good vibrations” that the plant kingdom obviously broadcasts in its greenish-yellow display, remedial to emotional distress, social aggression, and more, has been musically censored. Thus, a musical revolution is needed to advance world health and peace, and has already begun with musicians retuning their instruments to perform optimally, impact audiences beneficially, and restore integrity to the performing arts and sciences. Music makers are thus urged to communicate and debate these facts, condemn the militarization of music that has been secretly administered, and retune instruments and voices to frequencies most sustaining and healing.

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