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DU00000001
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CEO
re: Rebuilding America: Would Kurzarbeit work here?
DU00000001   2/17/2012 10:24:32 PM
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Employers seem to be the same all over the world :( Anyway, even having the skills required there is a significant learning curve to blend into a organization, company culture etc. And to simply find out who is responsible for issue-x or possesses information-y. This is well understood, even if ignored from time to time :)

krisi
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CEO
re: Rebuilding America: Would Kurzarbeit work here?
krisi   2/17/2012 7:32:04 PM
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You represent a common view prevalent in America @sharps_eng...but in Europe they work less than we do (6 weeks vacation are typical, and I have friends who take 10 weeks, I get only 3 weeks) and yet their standard of living is the same (give or take)...how would you explain that? Kris

sharps_eng
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Rookie
re: Rebuilding America: Would Kurzarbeit work here?
sharps_eng   2/17/2012 7:08:39 PM
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In an entrepreneurial culture the idea of working less is hard to grasp. 'Don't develop that product in time for the market, work less and develop it for next year'. Ummm.... In a small service-industry venture, when trade drops off, taking time off doesn't work for the founders because the overheads are still there and you need to work on improving things for when it picks up again. However, if you have hired help, and you have no work for them, you really need their cooperation in working short hours. If you can part company without rancour then when your business returns, they may be willing to work for you again. The question is, what can everyday people do, on their own, that will generate income and wealth for themselves? What can they do that others value enough to pay for? In may cases, no much. So what to do? I predict that cooperatives will return, to leverage the power of people working together to achieve what they cannot do separately. The Internet is a great factor in this kind of social development.

DMcCunney
User Rank
CEO
re: Rebuilding America: Would Kurzarbeit work here?
DMcCunney   2/17/2012 2:18:11 AM
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It's an interesting article, but I wish the author had a better grasp of economics and finance. For instance, bundling mortgages into packages of securities has little to do with checking credit-worthiness. Those packages *aren't* about "the many indemnifying the defaults of the few." I used to work for a bank, and mortgage lending was one of the things my part of the bank did. We most certainly *did* check credit worthiness, and had a loan/loss reserve to cover defaults. Bundling mortgages into packages for resale on the secondary market had a simple goal: increase the liquidity of the mortage market. Once we had *given* a customer a mortgage, we no longer had that money to loan. We sold packages of mortgages to the secondary market to get more money to lend and make *more* mortgage loans. Housing is a major component of the economy, and the secondary market exists in large part to see that money is there to fund housing. When he makes errors like that, it throws the rest of his statements into doubt. Bain Capital and others like them aren't necessarily villians. In a competitive economy, you have competition. Some companies prosper and win. Some don't prosper, lose, and go out of business, taking jobs with them. You can knock Bain for taking a short-term view that emphasized profits now over the long-term health of the enterprise they invested in, but Bain is hardly alone in that. You'll find it in just about any corporate board room these days, and it's part of the overall problem.

DMcCunney
User Rank
CEO
re: Rebuilding America: Would Kurzarbeit work here?
DMcCunney   2/17/2012 1:45:45 AM
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"So, let's not mix the employer's cost issue with the employee's "skill set" issue." You can't help but mix them. It's part of what I meant about continual training. Just as electronic devices tend to become commodities with commodity pricing, so do skills. Today's hot skill is tommorow's candidate to be outsourced to somewhere a developer will do it cheaper. I saw a variant of this back in the late 60's. The mother of a friend was complaining bitterly. She was a skilled Linotype operator, who at her peak had made $400/week (which was very good money then.) But "hot type" was on the way out, and "cold type", in the form of photo-typesetting was in. Newspapers were the last holdouts still using Linotype machines, and jobs for Linotype operators were scarse, to put it mildly. She blamed greedy managers. I blamed her not reading the tea leaves. I asked "Let's say I own a typesetting shop with photosetting equipment. I can take a kid from a high school typing class who is fast and accurate, spend a couple of weeks teaching her to use the equipment, then put her to work setting type for $150 a week. What makes *you* worth $400? You need to upgrade your skills, learn the new technologies, and perhaps *become* a manager." The challenge for workers is to avoid becoming commodities. That means constantly learning new skills, and assuming the job you do tommorow may not be the one you do today. (BTW, I'll accept the correction. Call it skills rather than "skill sets". The same reasoning applies.)

george.leopold
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Rookie
re: Rebuilding America: Would Kurzarbeit work here?
george.leopold   2/16/2012 6:30:22 PM
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The link below is relevant to this thread, an essay on the downside of constantly seeking greater efficiencies and the negative consequences for manufacturing and job creation. Mitt Romney's Bain Capital days are used as an example: the goal was to maximize profits, not necessarily to create or destroy jobs. "The Danger of Too Much Efficiency": http://www.nytimes.com/2012/02/19/opinion/sunday/the-danger-of-too-much-efficiency.html?hp

elctrnx_lyf
User Rank
Manager
re: Rebuilding America: Would Kurzarbeit work here?
elctrnx_lyf   2/16/2012 3:30:51 PM
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I do not if the reduced work hours could really help Germany. The main reason for the companies to lay off is that they are moving to LCC to reduce the operational costs and also to be close to the native market.

EnricoHTC
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Rookie
re: Rebuilding America: Would Kurzarbeit work here?
EnricoHTC   2/15/2012 9:07:00 PM
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"Kurzarbeit" or better shortened work time is not just for the workers, getting their salaries reduced by 10-20%, working 3-4 days a week. A real approach is that managers accept pay cuts by 10-20 % as well and the entire supply chain is able to handle the reduced demand over max. 24 month. If business comes back, everybody to be fast and flexible. Workers to use the "free time" to improve skills, qualify also for other tasks and jobs. Its a good approach that worked in Germany. Enrico

Baliv
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Rookie
re: Rebuilding America: Would Kurzarbeit work here?
Baliv   2/15/2012 8:35:52 PM
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While all the pros/cons of 'kurzarbeit' have been discussed, it makes one wonder as to what drives its adoption in the Bundesrepublik - longer-term approach and more importantly, employer's are incentivized. Instead of having to pay for full-time unemployment, the state compensates the employer by covering part of the worker's compensation. In effect, instead of losing a corresponding amount in pay for reduced hours, the employee only has to give up a small portion. Win-win-win for all (at least in theory).

mcgrathdylan
User Rank
Blogger
re: Rebuilding America: Would Kurzarbeit work here?
mcgrathdylan   2/15/2012 6:33:33 PM
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I fear that in the U.S. such a system would be abused. Typically slow periods of the year would be guaranteed Kurzarbeit time (like around the holidays) for many industries. Employers would call for immediate two-hour Kurzarbeits while broken assembly equipment was being serviced. I agree with the comments above that in the U.S. the furlough is essentially the equivalent of the Kurzarbeit. Many companies already have mandatory furloughs almost every year around the holidays. I can understand why someone who is unemployed and having trouble finding work (too many people these days) would embrace this system. I certainly don't want to be insensitive. Nor do I want to cast my lot with the throngs of people in the U.S. that are increasingly crying "socialism!" at every proposed solution. But this idea troubles me, mostly for the reasons outlined above. I worked for a company that frequently implemented furloughs. At first, we as employees took it in stride--business was down, something had to give, and a week without pay here and there seemed like a better deal than losing our jobs. But as time wore on, the furloughs kept coming back, even in years that were pretty good as far as the U.S. economy was concerned. Eventually I realized that the furlough had become a built in way for management to help us hit our financial targets (which were never transparent to us). A furlough the week between Christmas and New Year's (when, in fairness, we didn't have a lot of work to do anyway) was an easy way to bring down costs for the year. Fair enough, if that's the deal you have with your employer, but gradually I began to realize that my negotiated salary was more a target than an accurate measure of the pay I would receive in any given year. It could be cut at a whim by furloughs of varying lengths. I came to feel it was just a disingenuous way of managing a business.

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