Independant thoughts

Free market, My-Sugar-Na

Who says that I am just a follower?  Twice in the span of a few hours on Tuesday, I've had issues with some of my favorite columnists and personalities.

On the ride home from work Tuesday, Mark Belling was railing against Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett about the two day furloughs for Milwaukee city workers that Mayor Barrett has announced for July 2 and September 8.  In effect, other than police and fire, hizzoner is shutting down city government for two days.  Belling said that the furloughs should be rotated among the staff in the same way vacation days are, therefore city government isn't affected.  Belling said that this was done to make the workers happy (with two four day weekends) at the expense of the taxpayers.  He went on to say that private businesses don't behave like that because they can't afford to shut their doors for a day.

Although I see pros and cons to how to assign unpaid off days to staff (in both the private sector and the government), I do think Belling is in his ivory tower about how incredulous he was on this point.  In my company (a private company owned by a holding company), one of our factories in the south has been working 32 hours weeks for the past few months... they work - and get paid for - Monday thru Thursday only.  They had tried to stay open five days with staff rotating off-days.  This lasted until a key employee - who didn't appreciate being told to take off every Tuesday - threatened to leave the company.  The decision was then made (to make the workers happy) to give everyone off on Friday.  This isn't only happening in our company, many of my manufacturing suppliers are now working four days, as there isn't enough work (and income) to justify being open five days.

To Belling's point that this inconveniences the customers of city services, residents have one and three month notices of the shutdown days... that should be plenty of time to work around these furlough dates.  Residents do it for minor holidays, they can manage two additional days, too.

Last night was also Date Night, and My-Sugar-Na decided to take me to see Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian.  The movie was what it was... a family picture with a chucklehead (Ben Stiller) leading a troop of various nice inanimate-in-the-daytime-but-alive-at-night historical figures (like General Custer and the first monkey in outer space) into battle against some mean inanimate-in-the-daytime-but-alive-at-night historical figures (like Ivan the Terrible and Al Capone).  The movie was predictable, with plot holes that you could drive a truck through (like how the Egyptian King would have known that Al Capone was a felow bad guy) and the whole thing wrapped up nicely.  But that really is OK for a family movie that has to interest the 8-year olds who don't know who much about Abraham Lincoln and the adults who know all about Napoleon's Napoleon Complex.  Making a family movie to keep everybody interested is pretty tough.

So as I am wont to do when I see a movie, I immediately check out Rotten Tomatoes to read reviews from my favorite critics (like James Berardinelli and Roger Ebert) and papers (like the NY Times, Wall Street Journal and Rolling Stone magazine).  All of the reviews that I read... well, they were not nice.  Some were downright brutal.

But what were they expecting?  Gone With the Wind?  West Side Story?  There Will be Blood?  I was disappointed that every review I read mercilessly trashed the movie.  I'm tellin' ya, it's not Star Wars (despite a Darth Vader cameo), but it's not The Santa Clause II (possibly the worst family movie ever).

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