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One of the more popular arguments in favor of capitalism is that it rewards effort and skill. After giving that point some thought I found myself wandering down a line of thought that I would enjoy some feedback and dialogue on.

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Last week on Mt Vernon Hwy, near Johnson Ferry Rd, I saw a city worker digging a hole in the street. The hole was maybe 4' square, in the middle of the right lane. He was standing in the hole digging it out further, and the lane was blocked behind him with a truck and cones. Also standing around him were *NINE* other people, including two police officers. Of the seven other workers, none had any tools in their hands, or equipment or toolboxes sitting any closer to them than on the truck. The police officers were conversing in their midst, not directing or involved in any way with the redirected traffic. I passed the scene again ~20 minutes later and saw nothing changed except for one less worker standing around and a different guy in the hole (the hole was probably also larger in ways that I could not see).

Let's be generously conservative and say those guys were making $15/hr, and that they were only there for three hours, plus an hour for 30 minutes of travel on each end. The city (maybe Atlanta, maybe Sandy Springs, I am not sure) spent, at a minimum, $600 in labor. Of course, you should double that, since a common HR rule of thumb is that the TCO of an employee is double their pay (benefits, overhead, etc), so that's another $600. Let's also be generous and say that the job actually required two people at some point, and that one police officer is a sensible safety precaution during street work. In this ridiculously generous best case scenario (we didn't count the cost of extra fuel for extra vehicles, or any other incidental costs), the city spent $1200 on a job that should have cost $360.

I saw a similar situation at Peachtree and West Peachtree in Midtown on Sunday. Four people standing around, plus one reading a newspaper in the [first of three] truck, while one guy did actual work.

It really bothers me to hear city councilmen talking of cutting funding for highway street lights, or closing public educational projects, when every week I see thousands of dollars being thrown away on inefficient (union?) city workers. Who is responsible for this ridiculous waste of taxpayer money? Am I the only one who would like to take that person for a long walk off a short pier?

PS: I am sorry if these workers are not union members. In my experience, unions produce lazy workers with an overinflated sense of entitlement and no work ethic.

Too big.

Nov. 24th, 2008 05:33 pm
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A company too big to fail is too big.

Thank you to my friend David for this sentiment, which I mirror. If a giant company cannot be allowed to die because of the harm it would cause, it should not have been allowed to grow that large in the first place.


Oct. 15th, 2008 08:53 pm
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The current "economic crisis" has driven me to reevaluate some of my beliefs, and I thought I would share one of them...

I believe that the idea of "everyone must work" is rapidly becoming obsolete.  We have long since passed a point at which the majority of people [in developed countries] are employed basically making each other happier [supposedly], not actually producing anything.  If half of those people became unemployed, our levels of production, for internal use and export, would not be hurt at all.  There would still be just as much food as there is now, just as many cars being built, etc.  But we [the American population in general] are stuck in a rut of thinking that if there isn't enough work for you then you deserve to starve.  That cannot last forever, and economic slumps like the current one are only going to get worse as demand for the non-production portion of society waxes and wanes even more in the future.

I happen to think that people should not have to work to earn the necessities (food, shelter, clothing, education).  This requires a very unpopular level of taxation of those who do work; unpopular but not impossible (see Sweden, New Zealand, etc).  The alternative is a very unpleasant confrontation between the working class and the unemployed when unemployment reaches 50% or higher, and I think that is inevitable.

Your thoughts are appreciated.
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Today while biking the first mile of my 20 mile mixed-transit commute I passed a gas station that had just gotten a delivery. Cars were backed up for blocks waiting to get in. 30 cars in a row at a generous estimate of 2 minutes per car makes for an hour wait... and over half of them had their engines running while sitting in line. This is while it is 72 degrees outside and there's a good breeze, so A/C isn't even a good excuse.


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