Dear Dr. Boli: The factory at which I am employed seems to be mired in the culture and work practices of the 1970’s which, as we all know, was a very unproductive time in the Monongahela Valley. How can I get them to revert to the practices of the 1910’s? I believe that this would substantially increase profits and allow us to successfully compete with the Prussians once again. —Sincerely, Sean MacDurmit, Jeannette, Penna.
Dear Sir: By a sort of counter-Copernican economic revolution, you may wish to place, not your factory, but yourself at the center of the solution to your problem. The first thing Dr. Boli notices is that, although you imply that your factory is in the Mon Valley, you give your address as Jeannette. From Jeannette to McKeesport (the nearest substantial city on the Monongahela), by the most efficient route, is a distance of roughly seventeen miles, requiring at least half an hour by automobile; and then—well, then you are in McKeesport.
The obvious first step, then, is to move back into the Mon Valley, eliminating the gross inefficiency of an hour’s worth of commuting every day, along with its associated expense. Instead of a house in the suburbs worth a quarter-million dollars, what you need is an unpainted shack in McKeesport or Duquesne worth a few hundred dollars at most, or—even better—a flophouse shared with three dozen other grimy factory workers. You can get by without decadent luxuries like a private bathroom. Your equally decadent notions of leisure time must also be adjusted, as a twelve-hour shift (with half a day off on Saturday) will be your normal working day. You must also expect to abandon most of your absurd notions of democratic government, as the company will assume the duties of all local authorities in a benevolent and paternal way. Private security forces affectionately known as “cossacks” will assure order and proper behavior in your private life as well as on company time.
When all these things have been accomplished, Dr. Boli is confident that the factory at which you are employed will return to the conditions it knew a hundred years ago, although he would like to point out that factories facing an economic downturn went bankrupt as easily a century ago as they do now.
Alternatively, if you are truly serious about competing with the Prussians, you may wish to consider an economic system involving socialized medicine and a government-subsidized 29-hour work week. It seems to work for them.