Daily Speculations

The Web Site of Victor Niederhoffer & Laurel Kenner

Dedicated to the scientific method, free markets, deflating ballyhoo, creating value, and laughter;  a forum for us to use our meager abilities to make the world of specinvestments a better place.

 

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8/16/04:
Cultural Hallmarks by Victor Niederhoffer

Speaking of Don Quixote and Snopes once again, one read the Financial Times over the weekend and what a depressing read it was. Failures in the world economy, in Tech, in the US dollar, in false hope, in our mistakes in Iraq, in the devastating effects of the energy crisis, ... why it was like a page of the chronic bear from the financial weekly from Jack Finney's small town of Santa Mira. But worst of all was the news that the book “Bonjour paresse : De l'art et la nécessité d'en faire le moins possible en entreprise” (roughly, "Hello, slacking! How to do the least work possible") was the best selling book in France. It's not enough that they work 1,500 hours a year versus 2,000 in the US. But they are encouraged "to read a newspaper at meetings, make a beeline for useless positions, (research, strategy et. al. where it's impossible to assess your contributions, strive for a plum job and never accept a promotion, never accept a position of responsibility, speak in jargon not substance. You see what you do in France in the private sector is pointless, so work as little as possible. You're a slave, with no scope for personal fulfillment. The author works 2 1/2 days a week which is common in France and is fully supported by her union who wishes to make sure that the company she works for isn’t privatized into a society anomie, on the grounds that she has not revealed any secrets or jeopardized any business". One is reminded by all this that a worker’s pay tends to be equal to her marginal productivity, and that 100 years ago 1/2 of the population worked in agriculture, and now 3%. One wishes to encourage all those who believe that shortening a work week, or increasing the minimum wage, or evening out the work helps workers to read a book like "Human Action" by Von Mises or 'The Economic Way of Thinking" by Heyne.