Monday, 30 August 2010

Diary of a glass-half-empty person 9

Yesterday I entertained a Captain Of Industry (one feels one has to put that in capitals) here at the teepee. I, of course, reclined on my chaise longue, while he occupied a fiddle-backed nursing chair which I had only recently brought out of storage. We were thus at the same level, although his knees were crooked up a wee bit, making it difficult for him to hold his cup (Lapsang Souchong) and plate (Walkers shortbread) which Consuela (my Tejana maid) had served to him; it all made me feel rather like an aristocratic lady “at home”.

He gave me the annual accounts of his corporation to read through while he was refreshing himself, having told me that he was proud that his corporation had made a profit, recession notwithstanding.

When I had finished reading I remarked, “I can save you a few hundred thousand pounds of expenses.”

In his excitement he damn near dropped his teacup. “How? How?” he asked, excitedly.

I pointed to the item on the Profit & Loss Account headed Wages and National Insurance, and said, “Get rid of all these people!”

His face fell, and then darkened.

I’m making a serious point, though. If any corporate person tells you that they value people in their organization, or that “Our workforce is our greatest asset”, point them to their annual accounts – they will give the lie to that statement. Assets are found on the Balance Sheet, and will include such things as stock, work-in-progress, plant and machinery, fixed assets, and so on. There may even be intangible assets such as “goodwill”. There will be no mention of people at all. Elsewhere however, in addition to wages and NI, you will find such things as training costs and the nebulous “other staff costs”, but you will always find them as costs. That is the true measure of the regard in which corporate entities hold the people who actually make them wealthy.

I was go on to rubbish capitalism big time, but Consuela keeps reminding me that I hold shares in BP, amongst others…

… so instead here’s a poem from Jeff Green, answering my third brain-teaser:

           The brick in the Lake

A man held a brick as he sat in a boat
Then threw it away and the brick didn't float
The man then considered and rubbed at his eyes
The level of water did it sink or rise?

His friend in the boat (he was there all along)
Said "deeper of course", that comrade was wrong
A brick, while it's floating, displaces its weight
And bricks are quite heavy, its weight may be great

But bricks are not floaters they rapidly sink
Then displacing their volume, it's clear if you think
So if, in a boat you throw stones overboard
To deepen the lake then your thinking is flawed.

A floating object displaces its own weight of water, while a submerged object displaces its own volume, therefore the water level went down. Thanks to everyone who ventured an answer, privately or in a comment. I’ll talk about the other two questions tomorrow (one or two people did offer some solutions privately - thank you).


Wes Studi? Patience!

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