The California Experience

On December 19, 2008, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger ordered California state workers to take 1 day per month as an unpaid furlough, beginning in February 2009. That has grown to 3 days per month at December 19, 2010, roughly a 15% decrease in pay and working hours. The California Supreme Court ruled on October 4, 2010 that the governor may not order furloughs and pay cuts for state employees, but these decisions require the legislature to act. A few days later, the California legislature passed the budget with an $896 million cut in pay for state workers and with furloughs.

Some workers covered by collective bargaining contracts have their pay reduced under different terms. Different agencies and departments use different approaches. Some agencies simply shut down three days per month. Others schedule individual workers' furloughs for different days. Sonoma State University told instructors to


The French Experience

Chart by G. Trumbull (2001)
The govt of France wanted to reduce unemployment. They reduced the standard legal workweek from 39 hours to 35 hours. The change occurred on January 1, 2000. The new law provided significant disincentives for overtime work. Working under the old 39-hour standard, 8 workers would account for 312 hours of work per week. Under the new 35-hour standard, the same amount of work would require about 9 workers. Was the 35-hour week successful?


Election Results

Jerry Brown
In my last article, I recommended ballot choices
for voters in Petaluma, Sonoma County, California, USA in the election on November 2, 2010. Here is a review of those recommendations, and how the election worked out.

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How to Vote in Petaluma, California, USA on November 2, 2010

Candidates for office

Governor:  Brown
Brown has extensive experience in government, including a very successful prior term as governor, and pledges no tax increases without approval of the voters. Opponent Whitman, a very wealthy person completely inexperienced in politics, intends to prevent increased taxes on the incomes of very wealthy people.


Questionnaire Results

Thank you for your responses to the questionnaire posted last month. Your thoughts and opinions provide useful guidance. Here I will summarize the results.

Most of you are female, and you are well educated, with a Master’s degree or equivalent, and you live in North America. Almost all of you have a Facebook profile, and most of you have a Twitter profile.


Important 3-minute questionnaire

Tell me what is important to you.

Please answer some questions. This will take less than 3 minutes. Completely confidential.  Click here to take the questionnaire.

Check back here in a few weeks for the summary of results.

Thank you!

Image: Emperor Shah Jahan, Museum of Modern Art, New York


Electricity Isn't a Commodity

PG&E can meet the competitive challenge presented by CCAs. Electricity is no longer a commodity. PG&E can offer a line of electricity products differentiated by source.

PG&E, Pacific Gas & Electric Company (NYSE: PCG) was the thinly veiled backer of Proposition 16. California voters rejected the Prop. 16 ballot initiative in the election of June 8, 2010.

In May 2010, the MCE Marin Clean Energy program began operation. MCE is an electric service consortium of local governments in Marin County. Prop. 16 would have required two-thirds voter approval for local governments to start an electric service or to expand an existing electric service.


Born in the USA - Part 2

Photo: http://carondelet.net (2010)
We continue our discussion of a proposed amendment to the US Constitution (Congress, S.J. Res. 6, 2009)  that would end the claim to US citizenship of any person born on US soil. In my post of July 14, 2010, I traced out the implications of the amendment. I stated that this amendment would deny to certain infants and pregnant women rights that they would otherwise enjoy. I explained how this amendment would be contrary to the spirit of universal human rights set forth in the Declaration of Independence.

Proponents of the amendment presume that foreigners without proper visas are dangerous to the United States or injurious to Americans by their existence, which is a misapprehension. The most often claimed injury is that foreigners take the jobs of Americans. Yet if 1 out of 10 persons in San Diego was deported, then


Born in the USA - Part 1

Q: Is it a good idea to amend the [US] Constitution to remove the birthright citizenship in view of the current and ongoing illegal immigration problems?

A: No. No harm arises from recognizing all persons born in the US as citizens. The proposed amendment


The 35-Hour Work Week: Remedy for Unemployment

Reduce the standard working hours per week from 40 to 35.

Each week, the 310 million people of the United States produce, by their labor, a quantity of goods and services that more or less suffices to satisfy the wants and needs of


How Big is General Motors?

On June 23, 2010, articles on Reuters and Bloomberg said GM General Motors plans an IPO Initial Public Offering. Some of the major stockholders will sell some of their shares.

I shared the articles with my friend Dr. Doug Stetson, an acute observer currently inspiring insights for the govt in Washington, who always has something interesting to say. He pointed out that many people, for instance us, weren’t aware that (1) GM isn’t a publicly traded company, and (2) Toyota (NYSE:TM) is twice the size of GM as the Reuters article asserts. I looked into it, and verified both are true.


What should we do about BP?

In a democracy, the people or their representatives decide how to respond to great problems. The Deepwater Horizon oil well explosion on April 20 and spill in the GOM Gulf of Mexico counts as a great problem. It has caused loss of income to fishermen. As oil comes ashore, people who depend on tourism and outdoor sports will suffer, and it will degrade the quality of life for communities near the water. It has caused immense fouling of water and wildlife habitats. Eleven people died in the explosion. The U.S. government’s prudent suspension of exploratory drilling in GOM interrupts the incomes of industry workers. Today, two months after the explosion, the broken well continues to emit large quantities of oil, most of which, in late June, is captured or burned. This fragile jury-rigged stopgap will try to catch emerging oil for two more months until drillers complete the relief well.


Peak Oil and Peak Demand

I enjoy reading the essays of Gregor Macdonald. Mr. Macdonald asserts the Peak Oil hypothesis. He has amassed a collection of supporting factual detail. The Peak Oil hypothesis holds that worldwide annual petroleum production increased to a peak in the first decade of the third millennium, and annual production will decline hereafter.

Why the peak? There are several explanations, and here are some of them. They aren’t mutually exclusive.


Share of Income

We read a news report that GDP Gross Domestic Product increased at an annual rate of 3% in 10Q1 (Bureau of Economic Analysis, May 27, 2010). How fairly was this increase shared among the population? We find indications that a disproportionate share of the related income, perhaps the entire increase, may have gone to the wealthiest 20% of households.


Income Inequities

The U.S. Treasury publishes statistical tables showing the adjusted gross incomes of groups of taxpayers. Dig in and you will find a Table 5 from which I took the data (in June 2010) to draw these charts.

The first chart shows the floor incomes of certain percentiles of taxpayers. Of all the people in that percentile, the person with the smallest income is selected, and his or her income is shown.


First Blog Post

Woo-hoo! I'm blogging!

My marketing professor told me the course requires me to set up a blog, and that some companies won't hire me into the marketing department unless I have a blog.

So, I asked my esteemed advisors