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Happy Labor Day!

Reported by Nancy - September 5, 2004 -

Here, for your edification & amusement, is a compilation of some of the more outrageous facts & developments in the US economy over the past year. If at least some of them don't make your blood boil, I'll be very surprised.

'Labor is the superior of capital, & deserves much the higher consideration.' - Abraham Lincoln

A nice smack on the back
News Item: Survey by Maritz Research finds that 26% of American workers seldom or never receive a thank-you from their bosses.
Just because corporate boardrooms are putting the squeeze on American workers to do more work for less pay, the better to afford more bonuses for the executives in the corporate boardrooms, the workers expect a thank-you? Let's try not to become a nation of complainers.

Funny money
Pay for American bank CEOs increased at nearly 3 times the rate of pay for American bank workers in 2002.

Perspective is everything
Sara Lee Corp, which has cut thousands of jobs, gave its CEO a $3.7 million bonus in fiscal 2003.

You've got money!
QT World Looting Update (cont'd):
*Ukraine officials detain 4 servicemen who looted tanks for equipment in the Chernihiv region.
*Mob of escaping Liberian looters jams border bridge.
*AOL Time Warner CEO Gerald M Levin receives 1,612% pay increase while laying off 4,380 workers.

Jobless recoveries
News Item: "The median pay for CEOs at companies with massive layoffs grew roughly 7 times faster last year than overall CEO compensation, according to a new report."
Happy Labor Day!

Getting the job done in all income brackets
News Headline: "Poverty rate rises second straight year."
News Headline: "Rich get richer on Forbes annual list."
Did someone say President Bush isn't a Reformer with Results?

Guess they didn't work
News Item (April): President Bush visits Timken Co in Canton, OH, to promote ''jobs-growth'' policies.
News Item (Sept): Timken Co cuts 900 jobs.
And there may be a campaign advance man looking for work, too.

Money well-spent
News Item: American millionaire pays $35,000 for 14.35-ounce Tuscan truffle at auction in Florence, Italy.
Good to see the upper-bracket tax cuts are being put to worthwhile use.

Bank on it
News Item: Food Bank of the Rockies reports 30% increase in demand.
News Item: Greater Boston Food Bank finds demand rising in suburbs.
News Item: Houston Food Bank reports 45% increase in demand.
News Item: Sales up for stretch limousines.
Hey. Trickle-down economics is not an instant thing. Be patient. Things are trickling. Just let things trickle, & we'll all be fine. Honest. Really. You can almost hear the trickling ....

Don't give up hope
The View from the Other End of Trickle-Down Economics (cont'd): Neiman Marcus announced the $75,000 special edition BMW & the $50,000 Louis Vuitton luggage set in its Christmas catalog are already out of stock, the BMW item having sold out in 7 minutes.
But the $10,000 custom-made mermaid suit is still available.

It's not for the atmosphere
Poor QT's Almanack: Twenty years ago Attorney General Edwin Meese said people go to soup kitchens ''because the food is free & that's easier than paying for it.''
He forgot to add that these soup kitchens are as good a place as any to wait for the economy to trickle down.

Big Blue making its workers just that
IBM plans to cut the jobs of as many as 4,730 American workers as part of a program to increase profits by shifting jobs to China & India.

Executives continue to give businesses the business
News Item: Tyson Foods CEO compensation is doubled to $20.9 million as profits fall 12%.
News Item: Executives at PG&E to receive $83 million in payouts as part of plan to emerge from bankruptcy.
Why is our economy growing at all?

United we stand ...
Earthlink, the nation's third largest Internet service provider, will lay off 1,300 American workers as part of a program to increase profits by shifting jobs to India, the Philippines & Jamaica.

Mass denial
The Labor Dept has stopped publishing its monthly reports of mass layoffs by US corporations, for some reason.

Bush Doctrine: Strike workers before they do
News Item: "The Labor Dept is giving employers tips on how to avoid paying overtime to some of the 1.3 million low-income workers who would become eligible under new rules expected to be finalized early this year."
The point of Trickle-Down Economics is, of course, to keep it down to a trickle.

Just call them greedy
QT Corporate Patriotism in Time of War Awards: Countrywide Financial Corp will open a major call center in India as part of a program to increase profits by shifting American jobs overseas.

Pay for performance?
News Item: US economy grows at 4% rate in final quarter of 2003.
News Item: New pay package of Orbitz CEO Jeffrey Katz includes stock options & safety feature of a one-time cash payout that will increase if the company's stock price declines.
Why is our economy growing at all?

Was that health care or wealth care?
News Item: American HMOs show record profit of $2.3 billion in Q1 of 2003, up 60% from the year before.
Just to let you know the higher premiums aren't going to waste.

Oil's well
News Headline: "Chevron Texaco's Profit Nearly Doubles."
News Headline: "Exxon Mobil Sets Record Profit."
News Headline: "Marathon Oil Profit Soars."
News Headline: "Gas prices expected to level out."
Good. Best not to attract too much attention.

Jobs leaving home
QT Corporate Patriotism in Time of War Awards: American Express reportedly will move as many as 70% of its software development jobs overseas to increase profits.

A fiscal liberal
News Item: "President Bush, saying the economic recovery is firmly in place, yesterday proposed adding $1 trillion to the national debt to fund the cost of shifting to a partially privatized Social Security system."
AAAAAARRGH! This seems to work for many news stories.

Time to take back America
News Item: Time Warner costs shareholders billions of dollars with misguided AOL merger.
News Item: Time Warner CEO will move into 5,000-square-foot office suite costing $25 million.
AAAAAARRGH! Dean is right. Feels good. Could do this all day.

Moving on out
QT Corporate Patriotism in Time of War Awards: The list of major corporations moving American jobs overseas to increase profits now includes Microsoft, Bank of America, Target, IBM, Intel, Hewlett-Packard, Oracle, Time Warner, Disney, Yahoo, MasterCard, Google, Accenture and CNN.

Moving on up
The top 27,000 Americans reported as much income in 2000 as the bottom 96 million.

It all adds up
News Item (2000): National debt shrinking $18.6 billion a month.
News Item (2002): National debt growing $1.6 billion a month.
News Item (2004): National debt growing $61.8 billion a month.
The national debt was in trouble for a while. But we seem to have saved it.

Supply and demand
QT Corporate Patriotism in Time of War Awards: An official with Electronic Data Systems announced it will use the economic recovery to create as many as 11,000 new jobs in India.

It's a dead-end job anyway
QT 2004 Corporate Outsourcing of the Year Nominee: Organized crime families are giving up on American hit men as "unreliable" and now outsourcing much of the work to Sicilian-born hit men, according to reports.

Coke floats
QT Corporate Patriotism in Time of War Awards: Coca-Cola plans to move as many as 70% of its information technology jobs overseas to increase profits.

QT Corporate Patriotism in Time of War Awards: Anthony Raimondo, CEO of Behlen Manufacturing, withdrew from consideration for assistant commerce secretary for manufacturing after it was revealed that his company had laid off American workers while opening a plant in China.

Smaller yachts?
News Item: Study shows that stock options for corporate executives, following criticism from stockholders during the bad economy, fell to their lowest level since 1997.
News Item: Study shows that cash bonuses for corporate executives in 2003 were up 17% over previous year.
Well. You didn't expect them to take an actual cut in pay, did you?

Workers' paradise
Costco CEO Jim Sinegal responding to criticism from Wall Street analysts that his company is "overly generous" in pay and benefits for its workers: "The last thing I want people to believe is that I don't care about the shareholder. But I happen to believe that in order to reward the shareholder in the long term, you have to please your customers and workers."

Taxless and loving it
News Item: "More than 60% of US corporations didn't pay any federal taxes from 1996 through 2000 ..."
News Item: "Confidence among US business leaders is stronger than it has been for 20 years ..."
And why not? The system works.

No Job Left Behind
Arizona residents whose jobs have gone overseas can call a special hotline regarding welfare & food stamps, where a helpful person in Mexico or India will answer any questions.

Fortunate 500
News Item: IRS audits of corporations are down 33% in 3 years, according to a Syracuse University study.
The system works.

Cheap and dirty
News Item: American X-rated film directors are outsourcing acting roles to Brazil to save money.
It is a moviegoer's duty now to look for the label: Made in the USA.

That's the spirit
QT Corporate Patriotism in Time of War Awards: Tupperware is laying off in Florida & hiring in the Philippines.

News Item: American corporations that have outsourced jobs to India to pay lower wages discover that wages are rising in India and are now starting to outsource the outsourcings to China.
It is hard to find a good sweatshop these days.

Losing your shirt?
News Item: "Higher prices for gasoline and food cut into consumers' spending on clothes and other non-necessities ...."
And there are probably some softies out there who think shelter is a necessity, too.

Clerks may find their checks are in the mail
QT Trickle-On Economics Update: Pay for the top 10 executives at Wall Street's brokerage and financial firms was up 68.3% last year, while the pay for mail clerks was up 2.8%.

Top heavy
QT Trickle-On Economics Update: The average American CEO now makes 301 times as much money as the average American worker.
The average Canadian CEO makes 21 times as much.
The average Australian CEO makes 22 times a much.
The average British CEO makes 25 times as much.
This is because robbery is against the law in these nations.

Growing their economy
QT Corporate Patriotism in Time of War Awards: IBM and Accenture will move 9,000 more jobs to India by the end of 2005.

Money talks
Editorial Headline: "Top executives continue looting boardrooms, sacking workers."
Isn't it reassuring, in a way, to see that we can maintain business as usual in time of war?

Why Soldier Field has such a nice ring to it
News Item: JP Morgan Chase & Co says it will work with Arizona Diamondbacks baseball team to decide new name for Bank One Ballpark now that Chase is buying Bank One Corp. The possibilities include Chase Ballpark, Chase Field and Chase Park.
Or they might consider Concentrated Corporate Power Is a Worse Threat to Free Enterprise than the Soviet Union Ever Was Stadium.

Triple word score!
A reader, regarding QT's mentioning two more modern corporate gibberish names, Draka and Alcatel, writes: "As I am sure you are aware, the combined letters of Draka and Alcatel can be rearranged to spell 'Eat a clad Karl.' Do you think I could get a job as a marketing consultant?"
No. You sound more like CEO material.

A patriot act
The Department of Homeland Security's new border patrol uniforms are being made in Mexico.

Bad call
QT Corporate Patriotism in Time of War Awards: Tupperware laid off 45 workers at its Orlando, Fla., call center and moved their jobs to Cebu, Philippines.

You gotta love it
News Item: McDonald's refuses to pay life insurance benefits for a worker killed when a car slammed into the New Jersey restaurant she was managing, saying the worker had just been promoted to manager and had not completed the 90-day probationary period at the new post.
Do stories like this make you lose your appetite?

Name change might help
The University of Missouri is still hoping after three years to fill its Kenneth L. Lay Chair in International Economics, for anyone looking for a job.

Look in the mirror, pal
News Headline: "U.S. Chamber of Commerce leader advocates offshoring of jobs."
Couldn't his work be accomplished just as well in, say, Mexico?

You're safe from craft projects -- for now
News Item: Martha Stewart, sentenced to five months in prison in showcase celebrity trial that prosecutors like to have now and then to take our minds off corporate crimes that aren't being punished, says "I'll be back."

'Bonus'? What is 'bonus'? Some Canadian word?
News Item: The Brick Warehouse home furnishings chain in Canada marks profitable year by giving $7 million in bonuses to its 5,700 employees.
Clip and place on your boss' desk.

Surf's up
News Item: Department of Labor announces Web site to help the homeless look for jobs.
So it really is time, finally, for our homeless to upgrade to broadband.

Who's spending your raise?
News Item: "The amount of money workers receive in their paychecks is failing to keep up with inflation...."
News Item: "The CEOs at the nation's largest companies saw their raises more than doubled in 2003...."
And the CEOs earn every penny. Or do you think it's easy work, keeping the wages of the workers down?

Bush has prescription for ailing economy
Susan Sheybani, an assistant to Bush campaign spokesman Terry Holt, regarding American workers unhappy with low-quality jobs: "Why don't they get new jobs if they're unhappy -- or go on Prozac?"
See how easy?

The American way
QT Corporate Patriotism in Time of War Awards: Delta Air Lines, which sent nearly 1,000 American jobs to call centers in India last year, announced it may allow customers to talk to its reservation agents in the United States instead of those in India for an extra charge.

Tanks a lot
News Headline: "Oil prices hit record high again."
News Headline: "Exxon Mobil posts record profit."
Shame on you for thinking what you are thinking.

New math, old tricks
Rush Limbaugh on the minimum wage: "It's -- whatever it is, six and a quarter, seven bucks an hour. . . ."
It is $5.15 an hour. These minor points probably mean more to some than to others.

Minimal gain
QT Trickle-On Economics Update: If the minimum wage had increased at the same rate as corporate CEO pay since 1990, it would now be $15.70 an hour.

[all from QuickTakes, Chicago Sun-Times]