Friday, April 3, 2009

Comment is free

In an interesting and labour-saving development, a Herald article on the economic cost of sick days sparked quite a discussion in the comments thread of something I wrote yesterday about something completely different. This is the labour-saving bit now:
Gwan said...

May I draw your attention to the article on how it's allegedly cheaper to skive off work? The Herald's inability to comprehend basic maths strikes again...

Anonymous said...

the numbers seem fairly solid, if you think there are 1.3 million people working in new zealand.

but it's one of those numbers-that-mean-absolutely-nothing stories.

and the answer to all of them? so f*cking what?

Anonymous said...

actually, I take that back. the story doesn't state how large the NZ workforce is. first, big mistake.

second: WTF are the 700 and 900 about? per day? per week? per year? and they conflict with the $1500 figure stated in the intro. where does that one come from?

in conclusion: bollocks.

gazzaj said...

The problem with the maths is that in terms of *total* cost over the whole workforce, people turning up to work sick costs more, because it happens more often - 11.1 days/year vs 4.2.

But in terms of an individual person on an individual day it (obviously) costs more to take a sicky than it does to turn up to work - but the headline says the exact opposite.

There aren't enough numbers quoted to check their maths, but basically everything in the article is consistent, just contradicted by the headline, which is not what the study says at all. The Herald is blatantly lying to you.

Anyway the whole thing *is* bollocks because it's all built on the assumption that a sick worker is "half as productive" as a well one. I don't know about you but I doubt a lot of scientific research went into coming up with that number.

Wansbone said...

To start with I gave the benefit of the doubt to the reporter, and assumed that there was something study about people coming in sick lengthen their own period of sickness, and make other people sick.

But based on the final two paragraph summarising the reports conclusions, I think the report must have simply been about working out the cost to ill health on the economy. And the reporter just didn't get it. You would think reporters would run their draft stories past their interviewees if they weren't sure...

Gwan said...

Yeah from the headline I would have assumed that that would be the story as well, but apparently not. If you can't work out that coming in sick = (allegedly) 50% productivity loss but not coming in at all = 100% productivity loss then you're a tard frankly.

Anonymous said...

I noticed the article refered to pulling a sicky, which I thought meant taking a day off work and claiming illness rather than actually necessarily being ill. Meaning that the article claimed people who turned up to work ill were less productive than people who stayed home healthy (or just feeling lazy).

To be fair to the Herald, the original NZPA article and headline was atrocious, and reporter Isaac Davison - in the adapted piece that is in the physical paper today - has done a reasonable job of polishing a turd, even if he's just polished it with another turd, Business NZ chief executive Phil O'Reilly. Anyway, thanks to all who contributed to the discussion, and sorry I couldn't write anything you actually wanted to talk about.


  1. Yeah I noticed the slight improvements in the paper this morning. Maybe they are taking note of our discussions...

  2. PS do your own homework James :)

  3. Feel free to bring up other articles here...


    Come on, dammit!

  4. I think the offending reporters need to be emailed directly whenever they get literaturely [sic] raped by EtH... I'm looking into this option.

  5. I dunno if I'm happy with my comments being used as actual posts - we do all the work but you hog all the glory.

    Also I have actual work to do today.. and beer to drink. Sorry, you're gonna have to write your own content.

  6. Captain James T. Kirk/CoeApril 3, 2009 at 7:19 PM

    It's true, you do hog the glory Te Coesy and that simply isn't the Jedi way, young, unemploy/ed/able Vulcan.

  7. James, you're sounding slightly bitter there. Have you thought that maybe when you get no comments it's because you actually summed it up quite well? Seems a bit lame to just type "I agree" so why bother.

    As far as your regulars are concerned Wansbone can be relied on to give a professional, considered response, webnomix just seems to take the piss out of anything that requires it and gazzaj and gwan do a really good job of moving the whole thing along. Makes the whole blogsite a more interesting read.

    The various anonymous comments are just like the more unusual writers in the Your Views section of the Herald.

  8. totally not on topic, apart from the editing of the herald in general, a fellow rager, kind of


    According to today's Herald, New Zealanders stand approximately a 1-in-5 chance of being murdered each year (see figures at end.)

  10. Since James has been reluctant to post anything since Friday, I have been forced to read other stuff... advertising hoardings, backs of cigarette packets and milk cartons etc. I was even about to actually go out and buy The Herald when I decided to click on the link above;

    Have to say it was a really interesting read. Mr. Bassett really gets stuck into Bernard Orsman, and I think it’s well overdue. For a long while there Bernard was writing a seemingly weekly attack on St.John Ambulance, usually quoting a mysterious “source”. Having my own “source”, I knew that each and every story he wrote was, at best, a gross exaggeration and at worst a complete fabrication from beginning to end. Nice to see someone else has spotted it and is happy to name and shame.

  11. Ahhh James, everyone deserves a break. The pressure of finding something interesting in The Herald every day must be tough. I just noticed the following story “Alleged BMW road rage attack leaves van driver critical.”

    Not wanting to dilute the obvious message that road rage is totally unacceptable and to be condemned – but - the Herald seems to be more miffed that the “roadrager” was driving a BMW. So miffed that they mention the fact in all but one paragraph, and on five separate occasions. I guess it’s snappier than “Holden driver in Road rage incident”.

    Did remind me of my favourite BMW story though;

    Published in the best of Sideswipe.

  12. Since James is vegetating somewhere, I'm forced to unleash my rage about non-Herald publications.

    1) WHY does the Dominion Post insist on writing dna in lower-case letters? It stands for something people!!

    2) Geraldine Johns, the restaurant reviewer in the Sunday Star-Times always refers to herself as 'a woman' as in 'a woman ordered the crabcakes', 'a woman was short-changed by the waiter' 'a woman is just about to stab herself in the eye with a fork' (okay, that last one is me, but seriously, it's not cute, it's pointless, we all know she's talking about herself, arrggggh...)

    3) Michael Laws' sick kid is not news deserving half of the A3 page in the SST and a spot on the masthead of the front section (week before last). Not that I'm getting all anti on kids with cancer, but it's not news if she has a fever!

    That's all the rage I have for now, but good to get it out before I get all stabby. It's happened before...

  13. So, good that James' apathy hasn't dampened your spirits.

    I am interested to know how 3410 managed to post his link as an actual hyperlink... ?
    Will the comments recognise html tags?