atomic_fungus (atomic_fungus) wrote,

#424: Headline stuff

I failed to save a link to an article I should have saved. It was about China. China is blaming the US for the tainted foodstocks it's been selling.

That's right: companies in China sell tainted stuff to US companies, which ends up poisoning the pets of Americans, but it's America's fault.

It's America's fault, China says, because America failed to hold Chinese companies to high enough standards.

Yeah, that's good. At least, it's a lovely theory. It's typical of China, though.

Anyway, apparently some Chinese-made toothpaste is tainted with diethylene glycol.

While I don't think that the amount of diethylene glycol in a typical brushful of Chinese toothpaste is enough to kill you, or even cause serious harm, America's FDA does make a point of specifying that harmful or poisonous substances are not to be added to products meant for internal use.

* * *

Dow and S&P go to record highs again after the latest unemployment reports hit the streets.

It's hard to find that news anywhere, isn't it? How well the economy is doing? It hit me last night, though: we're having trouble at work because the economy is doing so well.

First, the store has consistently been doing sales of over $100,000 per day all year. Considering that two new Target stores have opened within 20 miles of our store, over the past couple of years, that's damned good. We're not doing as well as we had before those stores opened. Our store is a "Target Greatland"; the new stores are "Super Target" stores, with full-service grocery stores as well as the department-store stuff--and we're still doing quite well because of our proximity to a major shopping mall in the area.

Second, we can't seem to hire enough people to staff our Friday and Saturday overnights.

I don't know how hard they're trying, though. Some of the people who were hired for Christmas, who worked their asses off and did very well, didn't hang on after the holidays were over. (I think some of them were thinking they would get to be team leads right after their probationary periods were over, or something, and left in disgust when they were proven wrong.)

The reality--which seems to have escaped upper management--is that it takes 15 people to unload the truck and sort the freight from it. (It takes 18-19 on the infrequent occasions that we must take two trucks.) If you schedule 17 or 18 people, then you lose about two hours of stocking time; you must send people to the back room to do pulls, and two people have to go to the off-site warehouse to do pulls there--and so there is no one left over to work on the sales floor until after the truck unload is finished. In practical terms, that leaves five hours to stock the entire store, and it means that the people in the back room get hammered with backstock at the end of the night.

There are certain realities which must be observed, of course; there is a budget the store must adhere to--payroll and so on--and I know the management is doing what it can. But it's hard to get all the work done when we don't have enough people on the schedule. Ideally, the minimum crew for the overnight team at our store is around 22 people, not including team leads and managers. But we're lucky to hit 20 people including team leads and managers, most nights.

Still, I wondered, last night, if some of this was due to the economy doing so well? Is the competition for good workers pricing our store out of the running?

Maybe that's it.

* * *

I don't get it. Sudan threatens to cut off exports of gum arabic to the US if we don't end sanctions over the massacre in Darfur. The Sudanese government apparently thinks that if they stop selling us gum arabic, we'll be unable to make Coke and Pepsi and our resolve will waver.

If you want to cut off your nose to spite your face, go right ahead. We'll even sell you a nice sharp Ginsu knife to do it with. We can get gum arabic from other places, and at worst we'll either do without it or come up with a synthetic replacement for it. That's what we did in World War II; we invented synthetic rubber when we realized that we couldn't secure a good source of natural latex. Stop selling us gum arabic and you hurt yourself more than you hurt us; it's not like it's a vital resource, like oil or steel.

What a bunch of boneheads.

* * *

Here is another article about the relative productivity, efficiency, and profitability of auto plants in the United States, and this one is titled, "How Long Can Ford Lose $5,000 a Car?"

A rather apt title, IMHO.

Toyota is poised to pass GM as the number one automaker in the world. Toyota runs its plants at 103% of capacity, the highest of any automaker, and they command higher prices for their cars.

Keep it up, UAW, and you'll find yourselves unemployed.

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