Less Productive Workers & “Footloose” In Italy
November 2, 2022
Employers Worked Up Over Less Work
According to employers, and the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, workers are doing less work this year. In the wake of historically productive years in 2020 and 2021, the first half of 2022 saw the biggest drop in productivity on record since 1947, says the Bureau. Productivity is the measure of goods and services an employee can produce in an hour, and grew 4.3% in the first quarter of 2021, one of the highest productivity bumps in years, according to the Labor Department.
Diego Comin, a professor of economics at Dartmouth College, says that productivity remains strong in manufacturing, but is otherwise down across the board in the private sector. Productivity is not easy to gauge for knowledge workers as their output is less quantifiable in units produced or similar numbers. According to former treasury secretary Lawrence H. Summers, “no one knows or will know” what has caused the post (are we really post, though?)-pandemic dropoff in productivity. One possible explanation he has is that employees “were working unsustainably hard” in 2020 and 2021.
Normally, recessions have a “cleansing” effect on productivity levels, with less productive employees being laid off and more productive workers producing more results without increasing costs for their companies. But many workers have simply begun “quiet quitting,” essentially just doing the bare minimum expected of them. In a competitive labor market for employers, any manager who fires a strong employee for producing less will have a hard time finding a similarly competent replacement and will also have to train that new employee. According to career site Glassdoor’s chief economist Aaron Terrazas, mentions of burnout in employee reviews are up by roughly 42% this year compared to 2019, while mentions of overwork have also risen by 12%. It’s also worth noting that many companies are requiring a return to the office, despite arguments that people are more productive when they work from home. (WaPo, $)
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United Energy Spenders
- The United Arab Emirates and the United States have united in an effort to diversify their energy portfolios. The two countries signed a partnership Tuesday, promising to invest $100 billion in clean energy projects and also to add 100 gigawatts of clean energy globally by 2035.
- “Together, we will spur large-scale investment in new energy technologies, in our own countries, around the world and in emerging economies,” said U.S. energy envoy Amos Hochstein in a statement Tuesday. The statement also said that the pact would focus on efforts to “assemble and stimulate” funding for clean energy innovation, greenhouse gas management, advanced reactors, and industrial and transport decarbonization.
- “The energy transition needs a realistic, practical and economically viable plan to deliver climate progress together with energy security and inclusive economic growth,” added Sultan Al Jaber, UAE Minister of Industry and Advanced Technology and Special Envoy for Climate Change. Other focuses of the project include the development of responsible and resilient supply chains, strengthening green mining globally, and the production of minerals and materials crucial to the world’s transition to clean energy. (Reuters)
Can’t Lose If You Don’t Acknowledge The Loss
- For the second day in a row since Brazil’s presidential election runoff results were announced Sunday night, supporters of President Jair Bolsonaro have continued to protest their chosen candidate’s loss to leftist candidate Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva.
- Truckers and other protesters resumed their protests throughout Tuesday, blocking highways and roads across the country. During a speech Tuesday, Bolsonaro said that he would “comply” with Brazil’s constitution, though he forgot to mention that he actually lost the election.
- To his credit, though, Bolsonaro spoke directly to his supporters, asking them to keep any protests of the election’s results peaceful. “Peaceful protests will always be welcome. But our methods must not be those of the left, which always harm the population, like invading property… and impeding the right to come and go,” he said in the speech. On Monday night, Bolsonaro’s supporters had blocked roads to Sao Paulo’s Guarulhos airport, the country’s main international center. (CBS)
Additional World News
- EU examines classifying Iran Revolutionary Guards as terrorists (Reuters)
- Power and water supply hit across Ukraine in ‘massive’ Russian missile strikes (BBC)
- North Korea warns US of ‘powerful’ response to allied drills (ABC)
- Russia announces wider evacuation of occupied southern Ukraine (Reuters)
- Iran is preparing to send additional weapons including ballistic missiles to Russia to use in Ukraine, western officials say (CNN)
- Thousands join anti-Rwanda protests in DR Congo’s Goma (Al Jazeera)
- Tropical Storm Lisa Is Expected to Become a Hurricane in the Caribbean (NYT, $)
“The secret of life is honesty and fair dealing. If you can fake that, you’ve got it made.” – Groucho Marx
- In the midst of Kanye West’s fall from grace thanks to his antisemitic rants, Kyrie Irving is seeing a slightly different reaction. Last week, the Brooklyn Nets’ point guard tweeted out a link to Hebrews to Negroes: Wake Up Black America, a film that includes anti-Jewish tropes. The film’s director is a holocaust denier and provides a fabricated quote from Adolf Hitler in the film to promote an antisemitic conspiracy theory.
- Irving has long been under scrutiny for his controversial views, including flat earth theories and anti-vaccine stances. On Saturday, despite outcry from Nets owner Joe Tsai, the Anti-Defamation League, and a statement from the NBA, Irving defended his post in a post-game press conference. But still, Irving remains the star of the NBA team, even though hate crimes against Jews are at an all-time high in America.
- Irving deleted the tweet on Sunday, but it was too little, too late for most. On Monday, fans wearing shirts emblazoned with ‘Fight Antisemitism’ occupied some courtside seats at Brooklyn’s game against the Indiana Pacers. Nets coach Steve Nash said on Monday that he looks at the matter as “an opportunity for us to grow and understand new perspectives,” although most would argue that antisemitism goes beyond being simply a “new perspective.” (Guardian)
Oops! All Voter Misinformation
- Voters in five states have received text messages with misleading election information in recent days. The messages appeared to have been personally tailored, with voters getting similar texts identifying names and addresses and purported polling locations, signed by a group called “Voting Futures.” Movement Labs said that it took “full responsibility for these mistakes and have issued correction texts.”
- In a statement on its website, it said that three campaigns that used its services – Voto Latino, Black Voters Matter, and Voting Futures – had sent the texts to voters in Kansas, New Jersey, Illinois, North Carolina, and Virginia. The Federal Communications Commission loosened the rules about political text messaging before the 2020 election, making it easier for shady characters to hide where a message is coming from. Movement Labs had a similar snafu in Oregon in October. (NBC)
Additional USA News
- Trump tax returns: Chief Justice John Roberts puts temporary hold on release of records to Congress (CNN)
- Suspect in Paul Pelosi attack intended to kidnap Nancy Pelosi and “break her kneecaps,” DA says (CBS)
- Supreme Court’s conservatives appear ready to end college affirmative action (LAT, $)
- Judge dismisses Meadows lawsuit against Jan. 6 committee (Politico)
- Shopping for ACA health insurance? Here’s what’s new this year (NPR)
- ‘I was acting like a traitor’; second cooperating Oath Keeper testifies in sedition trial (CNN)
- 14 shot, including 3 children, in drive-by shooting in Chicago, police say (Guardian)
Italy Does Not Know How To Party (No, They Don’t)
- First, they came for the underground ravers, and I did not speak out – Because I was not an underground raver. Then they came for the concertgoers, and I did not speak out – Because I was not a concertgoer. Then they came for the birthday partiers, and I did not speak out – Because I was not a birthday partier. Then they came for me – and there was no one left to speak for me.
- Thanks for that beautiful and strangely topical poem, Martin Niemöller! Anyways, Italy’s new right-wing Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni has declared that her young government is making a very old-person move – she’s announced that Italy will be making staging unlicensed raves a crime. The official name of the crime is “invasion for dangerous gatherings,” with unlicensed gatherings of 50 or more people being punishable by up to 6 years in prison. The government’s new idea was inspired by a 48-hour-long rager held in an abandoned warehouse in northern Italy which may have annoyed the neighbors.
- In other Italy news, Halloweekend featured a sight possibly spookier than a 2-day rave – a rally featuring 2,000 black-clad supporters of former fascist dictator Benito Mussolini, complete with fascist hymns and salutes. Meloni, a supposedly former supporter of post-fascist politics in her youth, said that the rave and the racist rally were “completely different things,” and that the new law would not apply to such rallies. In other other Italy news, Meloni also recently appointed a deputy minister known for a picture of him wearing the Nazi swastika on his right arm. (BBC)
- Migos: Takeoff shot dead in Houston aged 28 (Guardian)
- How to make an ofrenda for Día de los Muertos (NPR)
- ‘It’s do as I say, not as I do’: the lurid fall of evangelical pariah Jerry Falwell Jr (Guardian)
- FBI identifies woman found dead nearly 50 years ago using DNA, genealogy (CNN)
- Metro’s Silver Line extension to open Nov. 15 in time for Thanksgiving travel (WaPo, $)
- Bird keepers in England to be required to keep flocks indoors due to avian flu (Reuters)
- Final module docks at China’s ‘heavenly palace’ space station (Al Jazeera)