Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Fascinating letters in yesterday's Yated

The letters in the Hebrew Yated Neeman are always interesting. I would like to share 2 of them with you.

An Avrech writes about how he was swindled by a get rich scheme. Someone approached him and told him he could make 20,000 shekel a month basically doing nothing. All he had to do was make some initial investment. Well, he fell for it, he paid his initial investment (a large sum of money) and of course the 20,000 a month never materialized.

Now I understand that many people fall for scams and Madoff had some very savvy and rich investors. However, there is no question that the average Charedi Avrech is very vulnerable to these kinds of scams for a number of reasons:
1. They are poor and desperately need money so they are willing to take chances.
2. They are sheltered and have no idea how the economy really works. They don't understand that there is no way that you can make 20,000 shekel doing nothing.

The next letter complains about how Charedi women now need to work 8-9 hours a day to support their husbands in kollel. The letter goes on to say how the husbands are now taking care of the kids in the afternoon getting up at night etc. because the wives are working so many hours. He asks, why can't they only work for 4-5 hours a day instead and work in shifts? Instead of 1 women 8 hours have 2 for 2 4 hour shifts.

This letter also betrays the ignorance of the letter writer about the economy and the workplace. There are 2 reasons why his suggestion is silly:
1. If they only work 4 hours they won't make enough to support their husband learning
2. The jobs that he is talking about are in high tech, knowledge worker jobs like computer programming. It is no problem to have shifts for cashiers, cashier A works 4 hours from 8 - 12 and cashier B works the next 4 hours from 12 - 4. There is little or no loss of productivity. However, that is not the case for computer programmers. 1 person working 8 hours is much more productive then 2 people working 4 hours. In The Mythical Man Month Fred Brooks illustrates a similar fallacy with the following example: If one woman can produce a baby in nine months, then nine women should be able to produce a baby in one month. The reason that this is false is that gestation is a sequential process, whose stages cannot run in parallel. If nine women get pregnant at the same time, in nine months they will produce nine different babies.

A similar principle applies here, many if not most times it is not practical to split up the work between 2 people and therefore you simply have the work proceeding at half the pace. In addition you now have twice as many people who need to synchronize/communicate which slows everyone down.

In short, it simply won't work.

The common denominator of these 2 letters is the fact that the writer has no clue how the economy/workplace really works. This is sad, because if these people ever do leave kollel and go into the workplace they are woefully unprepared for it.


abiebaby said...

Can someone explain to me how the Kollel Yungerman can violate the terms of his kesuba (after a kinyan before edim) in which he promises to support his wife--isn't his learning at best a mitzva habo b'aveira?

Orthonomics said...

Just wanted to let you know I linked to this post in conjuction with my recent post.

Yitzhak said...

Abiebaby: A woman can agree to waive her rights.