Quotulatiousness

February 22, 2013

This week in Guild Wars 2

Filed under: Gaming — Tags: , , — Nicholas Russon @ 12:16

My weekly Guild Wars 2 community round-up at GuildMag is now online. ArenaNet’s Colin Johanson has been on a swing through Europe this week, providing lots of information to the GW2 community (including GuildMag). Many sites have posted their reactions to the new information and we also have the usual assortment of blog posts, videos, podcasts, and fan fiction from around the GW2 community.

QotD: “Every four years, we elect a new criminal because that’s become the precise job description”

Filed under: Government, Politics, Quotations, USA — Tags: , — Nicholas Russon @ 00:03

First, we have the ongoing charade of “transparency” as regards the president’s assumed right to kill Americans anywhere in the world including, absent a clear statement from this administration, which has not been forthcoming, within the borders of the United States. Then we have the drone program itself, which is a constitutional abomination no matter how effective you presume it is. Then, we have another attempt to reach a kind of bipartisan consensus with the various vandals and predatory fauna in the other party. And then, last, as part of the attempt at bipartisan consensus, a deal is struck in which the president’s hit list is kept in a vault while more fuel is fed into the Benghazi!, BENGHAZI!, BENGHAZI!!!!!!!111!!! infernal machine just as it was so sputtering to a halt that even John McCain was calling a cab to pick him up by the side of the road. I swear, if this deal goes through, Lindsey Graham is going to have a woody you could see from space.

This is what happens when you elect someone — anyone — to the presidency as that office is presently constituted. Of all the various Washington mystery cults, the one at that end of Pennsylvania Avenue is the most impenetrable. This is why the argument many liberals are making — that the drone program is acceptable both morally and as a matter of practical politics because of the faith you have in the guy who happens to be presiding over it at the moment — is criminally naive, intellectually empty, and as false as blue money to the future. The powers we have allowed to leach away from their constitutional points of origin into that office have created in the presidency a foul strain of outlawry that (worse) is now seen as the proper order of things. If that is the case, and I believe it is, then the very nature of the presidency of the United States at its core has become the vehicle for permanently unlawful behavior. Every four years, we elect a new criminal because that’s become the precise job description.

Charles P. Pierce, “A Bad Idea Gets Worse”, Esquire, 2013-02-21

Ford’s wage-doubling myth

Filed under: Business, History, USA — Tags: , , , — Nicholas Russon @ 00:02

In the Financial Post, Philip Cross explains the myth and reality of Ford’s famous wage-doubling ploy:

Start with the premise that Ford raised wages to increase purchasing power. As the Fortune article documents, before raising wages, Ford already had doubled output of the Model T with his innovative use of the moving assembly line, without adding to employment. The moving assembly line is what Ford deserves accolades for. To get an idea of how revolutionary it was, Ford built just over a quarter of a million cars in 1914, as much as the rest of the industry combined, but with 80% fewer workers. In other words, productivity already had doubled, allowing Ford to double wages without increasing labour costs.

And he needed to raise wages. Employee turnover at the Highland Park Model T assembly plant hit 370% in the year before the wage increase, clearly symptomatic of a dysfunctional internal labour market. That means Ford incurred the cost of hiring 52,000 people in 1913 to fill 14,000 jobs. The real reason Ford hiked wages was to reduce the cost of this turnover, not a soft-hearted desire to transfer purchasing power from management Scrooges to the Cratchits of the world.

The plan worked like a charm, as turnover plunged to 16% after wages were doubled, reducing labour costs despite the wage hike. Saying he did it to raise purchasing power was just good public relations. Who wants to advertise that their workplace was so disagreeable they could not keep workers for more than a few weeks at a time?

[. . .]

Ford is still reaping good publicity from the notion its founder spread joy and good cheer in the workplace by raising wages. Its website marvels that “newspapers from all the world reported the story as an extraordinary gesture of goodwill.” The universal appeal of this fable, repeated today by gullible journalists like those at Fortune, is probably because it feeds everyone’s fantasy that one day you’ll show up at work and get that long overdue raise, without your firm compromising its competitive position.

Andrew Coyne: Liberals still trying to avoid serious reforms

Filed under: Cancon, Media, Politics — Tags: , , , , , — Nicholas Russon @ 00:01

Andrew Coyne tries to explain why the Liberal Party of Canada increasingly looks like it will embrace Justin Trudeau as its new saviour leader.

Perhaps it was an impossible thing to expect. Perhaps it was even unfair. To demand that the Liberal Party of Canada, after a century and more as the party of power, should reinvent itself as a party of ideas; that it should, after a string of ever-worse election results culminating in the worst thumping in its history, ask itself some searching questions, including whether Canada still needed a Liberal Party, and if so on what basis — perhaps it was all too much to ask.

Because, on the evidence, the party isn’t capable of it. Or perhaps it simply doesn’t want to. Either it does not believe such a process is necessary. Or it does, but can’t bear it. Whatever may be the case, nearly two years after that catastrophic election, the party shows no interest in reinventing itself, still less in any healthy existential introspection. The policy conference that was to be the occasion for this came and went; the months that followed were similarly void.

[. . .]

Because the party seems determined to give itself to Justin Trudeau, come what may. Now, it is true that Trudeau has himself offered up a policy morsel or two. He favours liberalizing the drug laws and accepting takeovers by foreign state-owned enterprises in the oil sands. He opposes tightening Quebec’s language laws and boutique corporate tax credits. He was for the long-gun registry, but is against bringing it back.

But beyond that? He has his father’s views on the Quebec question, without doubt. But the only broad statement of his economic policy we have is his unswerving devotion to “the middle class.” And while the same criticism could be made of the other candidates — a grab bag of positions does not add up to a philosophy, still less a raison d’etre for the party — only Trudeau has made a virtue of his opacity. To take more forthright positions now, he argues, would prejudge the sorts of grassroots consultations he intends to hold — after he is leader.

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