With Greece and France turning hard to the left and Cameron
taking a localized beating it’s now only Germany that stands in the way of
economic sanity in the Europe. I won’t make the obvious comment. I’ll just
quote Paul Krugman…
“The Germans, needless to
say, don’t like this conclusion, nor does the leadership of the central bank.
They will cling to their fantasies of prosperity through pain, and will insist
that continuing with their failed strategy is the only responsible thing to do.
But it seems that they will no longer have unquestioning support from the
Élysée Palace. And that, believe it or not, means that both the euro and the
European project now have a better chance of surviving than they did a few days
…of how capitalism used to work and still does – with the
same underlying attitudes – except, unlike Henry Ford, no one today is about to
double wages to stabilize the workforce or even ensure that the workers earn
enough to buy the product.
"Ford's assembly line and his production techniques in
general were exemplars of 'scientific management,' a phrase and approach made
popular by Philadelphia engineer and businessman Frederick Winslow Taylor.
Taylor was one of the nation's first specialists in shop-floor management, and
his short bookThe Principles of
the best-selling business book of the first half of the twentieth century.
Taylor believed that workplaces could be made more efficient by training,
inducing, and compelling workers to labor more steadily and intensively. He
conducted time and motion studies to analyze the tasks workers were expected to
perform and then encouraged employers to reorganize the work process to minimize
wasted motion and time. He also favored piece-rate payment schemes to compel
employees, many of whom he described as 'stupid,' to work more quickly. 'Faster
work can be assured,' wrote Taylor, 'only through enforced standardization of
methods, enforced adoption of the best implements... and enforced
cooperation.’. Not surprisingly, most industrial workers resisted such schemes.
One worker at the Ford Motor Company complained that 'when the whistle blows
he starts to jerk and when the whistle blows again he stops jerking.' At Ford
and elsewhere, a common response to the brutal intensification of work was
absenteeism and high quit rates: in 1913, Ford's daily absentee rate was 10
percent, while annual turnover exceeded 350 percent. To reduce turnover, which
was costly to the company, Ford doubled the daily wages of his most valued
employees, to five dollars a day. This strategy was successful in stabilizing
the labor force and reducing operating costs." Pauline Maier, Merritt Roe
Smith, Alexander Keyssar, and Daniel J. Kevles; Inventing America (Norton)
at which almost everything in the modern world becomes grist for the all
consuming mill of the mass culture can be both alarming and depressing. Okay so
Marshall McLuhan predicted it as “the speed-up”, but there are seemingly little
or no limits to this capacity for the media to absorb anything that comes to
its notice. Take the instance of absinthe. Just a few short years ago, the deep
green alcohol-based hallucinogen was a minority preserve of Bohemian
degeneracy, with alluring resonances of Lautrec, Wilde and Aubrey Beardsley. No
longer. Last week on the British evening TV mega-soap Eastenders, a dubious
character called Derek Branning was selling contraband bottles of absinthe
around the fictional Albert Square, and it was being covertly quaffed in the
Queen Vic without a lace cuff or limp wrist in sight. This is, however,
England. I doubt the wicked green fairy will penetrate US network prudery any time
soon or find its way into the sterile corridors of General Hospital. That maybe
another reason I came home.