Wednesday, August 1, 2012

A Grant Proposal

To: Hilda L. Solis, Secretary
U.S. Department of Labor
Washington, D.C.

Dear Madam Secretary,

With regard to the current, protracted economic malaise of the nation, with which you are no doubt as concerned as any American, it seems to us here at the Northern Mount Sinai Psychedelic Conspiracy and Auto Graveyard, Inc. (NMSPCAG) that American productivity, and the sluggish rate at which it has advanced in recent years, is an important component of the problem.

Most of the attention the slump has received has focused on employment: getting unemployed Americans back to work. But alongside this indisputably important facet of the problem lies another, less discussed one: Getting Americans already at work to work. According to recent surveys, the typical American office worker spends only about 62.5% of his eight-hour working day actually working. The rest goes to nonproductive activities.

Our crack analysts here at NMSPCAG have arrived at a conclusion you might find controversial. The intuitive explanation for the fraction of at-the-job time spent on nonproductive activities is the worker's preference for personal gratification (e.g., the Internet, personal chores, flirting, gossiping, just goofing off) over actual work. We regarded this as a simplistic assessment, and strove to look deeper. The real answer lies in a critical shortage that has escaped all attention...until now.

The following exchange was the critical clue:

"When can I expect to see [the end product of some task]?"
"When I get a Round Tuit."

Such exchanges, and ones much like it, occur many times per day in a typical office. Indeed, it's a rare office in which one never hears about a colleague's need for a Round Tuit. Clearly, there's an undersupply of Round Tuits. Indeed, Tuits of all shapes and configurations appear to be entirely absent from the marketplace. However, it is with the Round variety, obviously critical to further advances in productivity, that we concern ourselves here.

Normally, in a situation marred by a critical shortage, we would look first for import restrictions and price controls. We found neither. Our second investigation addressed the possibility that some resource required for the fabrication of Round Tuits -- possibly the rare earth metals that China will no longer export -- is no longer available. This does not appear to be the case. After clearing those possibilities and others, we of NMSPCAG have concluded that the core of the problem is that Round Tuits are too easily manufactured, and too cheaply marketed, to offer an adequate return on investment. Yet offices nationwide are strangled by the lack of this vital commodity.

It is time for the federal government to take a hand.

NMSPCAG proposes to erect a subsidiary dedicated to the fabrication and distribution of Round Tuits: as many as the nation's economy might need. You will immediately appreciate the public-spiritedness of this initiative and its probable impact upon the GDP, to say nothing of the upcoming elections. However, the same problem that has caused massive market failure in the Round Tuit business would equally impede us at NMSPCAG without federal support: a capitalization grant.

NMSPCAG's estimate of the demand for Round Tuits comes to about 300,000,000 in the first year of availability, with a slow decay over a ten-year interval to a sustaining level of about 50,000,000. The facilities required to meet this demand are projected to employ about 1000 workers: about half in fabrication, and the rest in distribution, marketing, sales, and of course management. We therefore submit to your attention a request for a capitalization grant of $1,000,000,000, to cover the construction of facility and the salaries of the workers for the first year.

Attached please find our artists' conception of the intended facility, to be built here on Long Island, assuming that the Suffolk County and Town of Riverhead governments can be persuaded to grant us the use of the currently unoccupied Naval Weapons Development acreage in Calverton at a modest -- hopefully zero -- cost.

Thank you for your kind attention. I look forward to your reply.

Francis W. Porretto
Northern Mount Sinai Psychedelic Conspiracy and Auto Graveyard, Inc.
(A Delaware corporation)


No comments: