an in-between move

Cool kids read The Bellman.


Don't read this blog!

I mean, thanks for dropping by my little corner of the blogospheric backwaters, but the blog you should be reading is The Bellman. The stuff I post there is much, much less likely to be imbued with dormitive powers.


[German, from zwischen, intermediate + zug, move

Literally an "in-between move". A move in a tactical sequence is called a zwischenzug* when it does not relate directly to the tactical motif in operation. |source|

image copyright TWIC

From this position, black played a zwischenzug: 19…d5
(Linares 2002, 1-0)


about your blogger

David Rowland studies philosophy at the University of Illinois - Urbana / Champaign, where he's an active member of the Graduate Employees Organization. He used to play a lot of chess, but wasn't all that good. He has a blog. And email.



Defending Tail Gunner Z
Hey you scandal monkeys!
Critics continue to pile on the UFCW
The enemy said, I will pursue, I will overtake, I ...
Fun facts from the exit polls
More criticism of the UFCW
Fish on!
News from the front
If you don't do anything wrong, you have nothing t...
Why art thou disquieted in me?


error log

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$zwichenzug$ sell-out zone





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Union Label

Direct Action
Gets the Goods!


some folks I know

Mark Dilley
a daily dose of architecture
Safety Neal
January Girl
mimi jingcha
Hop, Skip, Jump
ambivalent imbroglio
Brooke & Lian


some blogs I read

strip mining for whimsy
It's Matt's World
School of Blog
Fall of the State
Dru Blood
Echidne of the Snakes
Colossal Waste of Bandwidth
Running from the Thought Police
Bionic Octopus


some philosoblogs

Fake Barn Country
Freiheit und Wissen


some labor blogs

Confined Space
Working Life
Dispatches From the Trenches
Labor Blog
Eric Lee


some A-list blogs

This Modern World
Matthew Yglesias
Andrew Sullivan
Political Animal
The Volokh Conspiracy


some other links

Rule 33
This Week in Chess
War Nerd
National Priorities Project
Bible Gateway
Internet Archive
A Weekly Dose of Architecture
Orsinal: Morning Sunshine
Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy
Safety Sign Builder
Get Your War On


some philosoblogging

Six views about reasons
Seidman on reflection and rationality
And another thing
Tiffany's argument for strong internalism
Internalism v. Externalism
What do internalists believe anyway?
Rationalism and internalism
The experimental method in philosophy
Advertising to children
On moral skepticism
A linguistic argument
More on Williams
Williams on reasons
General and particular
Normativity and morality
Political intuitions
What it is, what it was, and what it shall be
Objectivity and morality
Thinking revolution
Abortion and coercion
Moore on torture
On the phenomenology of deliberation
Even more Deliberation Day
more Deliberation Day
Deliberation Day run-down
He made a porch for the throne where he might judge, cont.
He made a porch for the throne where he might judge
Every shepherd is an abomination
Droppin' H-bombs
ad hominem

Thursday, February 12, 2004


Fair and Balanced grocery strike coverage

The North County Times ran this analysis piece by Edmond Jacoby over a month ago. I missed it at the time, but the good folks at LabourStart listed it in their always excellent labor news digest today.

Jacoby agrees with conventional wisdom insofar as it says that the root cause of the California grocery strike was a desire on the part of the three chains to lower overhead in order to be competitive with Wal-Mart. But he doesn't locate the source of the competitive imbalance in the higher wages and benefits paid to the unionized grocery workers. Instead, according to Jacoby, the California grocers aren't able to compete because their practice of demanding slotting fees from suppliers drives up the wholesale prices they pay for goods.

The key passages from Jacoby's article:
Slotting fees are payments demanded by large supermarket chains to guarantee space on store shelves. Big manufacturers pay surprisingly high fees to guarantee prime space, eye-level and so-called end-cap display, to ensure that their products will be the most visible and most available to consumers.
In fact, the FTC concluded, slotting fees represent as much as $9 billion annually for the supermarket industry as a whole. Only the big chains have the clout to successfully demand such fees, but the three chains involved in the strike are three of the nation's four largest ---- they control about half the retail grocery business in America ---- and they are likely to account for more than half the slotting fees manufacturers pay out every year: $4.5 billion-plus.
The trouble is, that $9 billion or more comes from somewhere. Consumers pay it as part of the price of the products they buy, because the manufacturers just add it in to the price they charge the grocers. Why go to all that trouble? Because the grocers get the fees upfront, and pay it back in elevated wholesale prices over time ---- it's an interest free loan, and in the end it's the consumer who makes the payments.
And Wal-Mart, which has become the nation's largest grocer and is poised to launch grocery superstores in California this year, rejects the fees, telling its suppliers that they earn shelf space with rock-bottom wholesale prices.
The principal cost-of-doing-business difference between the two large-scale retail models ---- Wal-Mart and traditional supermarkets ---- is that one accepts slotting fees and higher wholesale prices while the other does not.

The traditional retail model skews its wholesale purchasing decisions because those purchases are driven by the slotting fees, not by consumer demand for the products. The Wal-Mart retail model allows consumer demand to drive wholesale purchasing.
If the three chains are unwilling to wean themselves from slotting fees when confronted by an intruding competitor with a comparative advantage ---- lower wholesale costs ---- that applies to the most aggressively advertised market-leading products on their shelves, then they must find another formula for deriving a profit from the operation of their stores.

The formula they appear to have chosen is to reduce employee costs ---- not just by shifting some of the cost of health insurance to the current employees, but by replacing them over time with employees who earn much less and who receive far more meager benefits.
If Jacoby is right, then Wal-Mart isn't the bad guy here. Instead, what's going on is that the grocers have an inefficient business model and, rather than addressing the real problem -- that is, rather than fixing the bad decisions made by executives -- they're trying to shift the burden onto the backs of the workers.

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