Democrats & Liberals Archives

Morons.

The Republican Party deserves to lose as many elections as it takes to rid itself of these idiots. The Republicans in the senate are demonstrating all over again why the balance of the majority has swung back to the Democrats and then some. Even talking in just plain machiavellian terms, the Republicans are essentially dumping gasoline over their heads and lighting a match.

If the big three go out of business, if millions of auto workers are out of work, the headlines might not say it, but nearly every American will know it: the Republicans let another economic disaster happen on their watch to satisfy their principles. Their bloody principles.

Trust me, you folks on the right, nobody's going to thank you, even if you're right that this bailout would have been a bad idea. Why? You don't have any freaking alternatives. All you have is your latest torpedoing of somebody else's plan, and if people look really closely, they'll find that a number of the same people who claim to be opposing this bailout on principle represent states where a (expletive)load of government assistance has gone to the service of getting foreign automakers to put factories down in their backyards.

Once again, though, they're blaming the union worker for this. They're using a whole line about auto workers getting paid $70 dollars an hour to bludgeon these guys. The fact that it's a bloody lie doesn't seem to phase them. That particular myth works along the lines of the accounting that gives you 500 dollar hammers and 1000 dollar toilet seats. In other words, you divide a big number along false lines. They basically take the total liabilities of the car companies regarding their employees and divide them by those that are working.

However, because the liabilities include the health coverage and pension payment of retired workers, the number is dangerously off. The real number is half that, and pretty close to what the non-union automakers actually pay.

The main reason that labor costs are lower for the foreign car companies, is that they don't have decades worth of retirees on the book. Otherwise, they'd be close. And why? Because the reality is, labor costs in America have a floor below which people simply cannot afford to be employed by potential employers.

Labor costs have been the piggybank and hobgoblin of small minds that has defined modern cost-cutting and efficiency in todays market. If a company's having problems, they're always talking about laying people off.

But at some point, it just isn't worth it any longer for a person to seek that kind of employment. Or, if they do gain employment with you, out of necessity, they will constantly faced with negative economic consequences for that. Now picture that taking place all across an economy, and you'll see the consequences.

Republicans love to quote Adam Smith, or at least make vague references to his ideas, but if you've actually read some of what he says, he'll tell you that while economic pressures push wages downwards, they also push them upwards, and rightly so. If somebody is willing to pay more for a certain job, who do you think they'll go to? People aren't stupid, nor are they uniformly altruistic. The butcher doesn't cut you that nice juicy steak for your benefit, but for his. And you don't build that car he drives for his sake, but your own. That is not to say the people are just self-serving, but they certainly do a lot of things for their own sake and the sake of their family and friends.

The Republicans have backed Wall Street investment bankers and hedge fund managers and others in their quest simply to make as much money as possible for the last thirty years. We relaxed or never put in place regulations which served to isolate conflicting interests, keep investors informed of real risk, and prevent consumers from being targeted for predatory endebting. They let these people twist the economy around into this knot of CDS's and CDO's, and the net result was that the American and global economies convinced themselves that they had more money, more economic power than they really did.

As the mortgage meltdown occured, the Republicans naturally blamed the drive to get poor folks into homes. What they fail to tell anybody else, or find out for themselves is that most of these people honored their obligations. They paid their mortgages on time. The bill they blame, the Community Reinvestment act produced better than average rates of responsible borrowing. The organizations they blame were weak competitors in the market, crowded out by a whole bunch of unregulated and underregulated mortgage lenders, who depended on predatory lending practices (targeting people they knew couldn't pay back the loans) and mortgage securitization to pass on risk from their intentionally bad mortgages.

But the Republicans aren't going to blame them or their financial enablers. They're going to claim that these people were forced to take such measures to meet federal guidelines. Here we see that no such occurred. This was the market these folks wanted.

I wrote this article a year and change ago about the credit card industry, and I think the major points stand, and some of the scarier things I talked about have come to pass. Even now, the formerly generous credit card companies have bitten down hard on further lines of credit. But how did they get to such a point that they were fearful of extending more credit. It's pretty simple, they did exactly what the Mortgage companies did. They invented money out of thin air. Now they're having to tell people accustomed to a good credit rating and large credit limits that they can't give them as much as they once could. The book that inspired the writing of that particular entry warned that at some point, people would stop buying the debt, stop the chain of securitizing and removal of such debts from the liabilities column. And then we'd really have a problem.

And we do now, boy do we ever. Business that did nothing more wrong than relying on credit as part of their financing now face bankruptcy, with whether they made bad decisions irrelevant to their fate; the determining factor is whether they relied on credit, whether or not they used it responsibly.

How did we get ourselves so reliant on credit? Better question is "why?"

We got so reliant on credit because it's quicker than saving. Because you don't have to pay your workers as much. Because debt can produce so much in the way of profitable interest and fees. Because stoking the economy into always in time, here and now consumerism meant that we never had to confront downturns on any consistent basis, as people withheld funds.

For years, being business friendly has been defined as the political ideal, and the Republican have had no problem in leading that charge. They may not know how to deal with things in any other way. They have come to see the economy mainly in terms of an investor class, a class of rich folks who are the gatekeepers of money making, and as Democrats hoped to triangulate with the voters Republicans were wooing with all the talk of free-market prosperity, they went along with it, too. And so did the rest of America.

Is it surprising with such a bias to our system that corporate excesses have gone unchecked, executive compensation skyrocketing, even as these brainless idiots took one company after another off the cliff? Is it surprising that companies have been allowed to merge and merge away all the competition in many markets, until there were few with the motivations to keep costs down and corporations lean? Is it any wonder that we shift more and more burdens on the people we pay less and less, people we make all the more unstable with fewer protections.

Is it any wonder that we have such unaccountable people in business, who don't seem to have one shred of loyalty to their country and its interests?

Right now, our country is in a position where it makes less and less of the goods it needs to survive. Our fate is more and more in the hands of people who are either our competitors, or worse outright hostile to us. We have gotten into this shape because we have indulged a business culture that doesn't give a crap about anything else than its own interests. But I'll tell you something surprising: this culture is nothing new!

What's new are the liberties we allow these people, the control and influence we allow them, the degree to which even our national security, national economic interests are held as secondary to theirs. In the past, we bound these people to do good for the country encouraged and selected for those who would be more responsible to us, to Americans, to our interests, to the public's interests. We knew, those generations before us, from bitter experience what kind of excesses and corruption these corporations were capable of when there was nobody to tell them no. We forget that by American law, corporations are obligated to make money for their shareholders, and to put that interest ahead of others.

The only way to keep them in check is to obligate them by rule of law or by potential market consequences.

In the case of labor, those quoting, or vaguely referencing Adam Smith do so forgetting that business itself became more organized and formidable during the years since Smith's time. When labor became more of a broad commodity than an immediate relationship between an employer and an employee, unions or similar collective bargaining organizations became the only kind of organization's capable of facing up to these larger and more powerful corporations.

Others treat the government regulation of business as some sort of unwelcome burden. It can be, imposed unwisely or carelessly, but there's a necessity to it, if you have businesses and economic concerns that so constantly cross state lines, as they do in our times. Transportation and other technologies increased the range and distribution of businesses, and nowadays it's unlikely that most of the businesses you interact with are doing business merely within state, or themselves interacting just with those doing that kind of business. Interstate commerce is a reality in a way that Smith couldn't have imagined.

Others look at national interests as needlessly parochial. They offer that globalism is inevitable, that we should just open our arms to it and so on and so forth. But if you look at the other countries and what they're doing, the kinds of restrictions and protectionist policies they're pursuing, they're not exactly opening their arms themselves.

We're losing jobs and businesses that we have a national interest in keeping here at least in some part. We're letting our workforce go to waste, idling it for the benefit of the upper economic classes, for whom globalism is a wonderful idea, since it serves their economic interests just fine. However, in suiting their interests just fine, we've essentially hollowed out our ability to function as an exporting, manufacturer. We've created a system that compensates our workers less in comparison to the market they have to buy goods in, and compensated by running our economy on credit so they would feel less of the increase in costs and everything.

But ultimately, you can't get something for nothing, and the economic failure such debt-favoring, predator-encouraging policies allowed to occur punctured not only its own bubble, but the parallel bubble that the upper economic classes had set up to keep their end of things running perpetually.

Now the echoes of this reality check are crippling our economy, making economic losers of even those who did everything right and played by the rules. The market's corrective function has been confounded by years of deception, so that even now we're unclear on where this ends, and when we can start picking up the pieces.

We essentially set up a system run by self-interested morons, and now we're paying for it. We thought for years and years, "these people know what they're doing," and we left them alone to get even dumber in their decision making. And why? Because the market could solve everything!

Which, unfortunately makes us morons, in part. We trusted, but didn't verify. We ignored the warning signs, and were complacent as long as it looked like economic growth would remain strong. The Republicans may have lead the charge, but many of us followed. Big business may have been greedier and more predatory, but as anybody will tell you, greed in the mark is what many con-men exploit, and Americans certainly wanted a lot of things.

Can we just leave a market to run itself? Well, can we leave a society to just run itself? No. Well, if we can't leave a society to just run itself in anarchy, leaving a part of it, or a side of its activity unregulated isn't a good idea either. Rule of the mob, rule by popular opinion alone ultimately clusters us around powerful interests who take de facto control where formal control is lacking.

Freedoms are crucial, important. knowledge and truth are important. But we got to set up the systems that preserve the freedoms, obligate folks to full disclosures, and obligate people to serve the interests of the economy and the general public, even as they serve their own, because the market is not going to bind the choices of those who make money, regardless of how stupid or short-term those choices are. The Market went with Enron when it seemed the stock to own. The market went with real-estate investment and speculation when that was the way to go. And now it will go with the fundamental destruction of our domestic car industry, because that's what's going to have to happen because of market conditions.

How much more damage do we have to watch this economy do to itself before we admit that regulation is needed, that we need to get serious and smart about government interaction and intervention with corporate America. We have to decide as a nation what our interests and priorities are, and see to it that in law and in fact that our nation's businesses serve that public good, as they serve their own private goods.

I'm no moron here: I want a market economy, not a command economy. I want people and businesses to set prices in their interactions. I want them to have the freedom necessary to make good and wise business decisions. But the market economy, like other parts of society, needs laws and guidelines for its behavior, or else it will degenerate into the kind of mess we see now, and vital economic structures will collapse.

It's time for use to end the stupidity and insanity that has been policy up to now.

But Apparently, you couldn't tell the Republicans that. They're so busy trying to make winners out of the foreign car companies, trying to force folks in the North to pay their workers exactly what their foreign competitors are paying their workers, that they are willing to sacrifice the domestic car industry to suit the aims of our global competitors.

I'm sure that when the next election comes around, people will thank them profusely for putting millions more out of work on top of all the other folks that they have impoverished and made redundant. I'm sure all the losses to tax bases and to local economies will be well appreciated.

But we'll be pretty sure that they are conservatives, right?

We'll also be pretty sure they're morons, but I guess lately, you don't need any more reminders to be sure about that.

Posted by Stephen Daugherty at December 12, 2008 9:12 AM
Comments
Comment #271883

Actually, Senate Republicans think their move was very shrewd. They think they have scored points with their base proving their sound adherence to conservative principles, while entering a wink and nod arrangement with Pres. Bush to use TARP funds to rescue the Big 3, making memories of Senate Republican’s actions by moderate and independent voters extremely short.

I agree with you. Their vote will not soon be forgot even if some other bridge loan arrangement can be made by a bank and insured by TARP funding. If that is the case, Senate Rep’s. just stepped all over their trunks.

Posted by: David R. Remer at December 12, 2008 2:00 PM
Comment #271895

Stephen,

It is irrelevant that the cost of past employees is “unfairly applied” to current employees in assessing the cost of current autos. The American auto makers costs derived from current and former employees is far higher than the same measures for other manufacturers. They compete from a hole in the ground.

They put themselves in that hole. When they fail, and they should fail if best practices can’t pull them out of the hole, all sorts of resources currently tied to the “big three’ will be freed up to do other things and the economy will be a little further along on the path to a real, not pretend, recovery.

Posted by: Lee Jamison at December 12, 2008 4:57 PM
Comment #271899

Perhaps instead of asking the UAW to lower income expectations for American auto workers, Congress should ask foreign car makers in America to raise their workers income to correspond? They were invited here, and given special tax reliefs, and other grants from state and federal governments. Perhaps it’s time to ask some sacrifice of them. If our economy is tanking why exempt foreign industry?

Can anyone actually state that worker costs are the reason our guys are failing?

Posted by: Marysdude at December 12, 2008 5:26 PM
Comment #271902

If you ask the foreign car makers to raise workers income to that of U.S. automakers levels the foreign auto makers will pack up and leave. Thus creating unemployment for however many they employ.

Posted by: KAP at December 12, 2008 6:49 PM
Comment #271906

Lee Jamison-
The foreign automakers will be in nearly the same hole in twenty or thirty years, when people start retiring from their plants. It’s disingenuous to argue it from the perspective that these wages are the result of letting the unions have too much sway. I mean, all I’ve heard about in the news is more and more compromises on the part of the unions, part of which means that many of these liabilities that the car companies have now will not be seen in later years.

To be competitive in way you fellows describe, they would have to default on the pensions and health care for their retired workers. And I think it has little to do with with why the car companies are in the trouble they are in now. I think union costs have been the least of the car company’s problems. The real problem is that the companies are run by short-sighted executives who have been encouraged to fight efficiency standards, rather than engineer better cars.

There’s an anecdote by the likely selection for Energy Secretary under Obama, where he describes the industry resistance to making more efficient refrigerators. When they were finally forced to, the refrigerators ended up being made larger, cheaper, and used a third of the energy they did before. Lobbyists have a lousy track record in science and engineering.

Let’s see what our companies are capable of pulling off. I think the Republicans are too pessimistic about the green economy, and I think they’re also too pessimistic about what will happen when we give workers their due.

I mean, answer me a question: what else is the inevitable result of a society where wages stagnate or go down for the middle class, but the folks above them keep on voting themselves more pay increases, even when their performance is terrible? We’re creating a situation where there is little incentive to work hard, and great incentive to cheat others and horde resources. In the end, though, you can’t run an economy that top heavy and maintain a stable consumer market.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at December 12, 2008 7:29 PM
Comment #271907

Stephen, our workers and auto makers still can compete we’re a little behind with small cars but our clean Diesels trucks and the new Chevy volt and many new cars from ford and dodge on the pipeline are ahead of the competition, our new clean diesel standards are much higher than Europe and japan and our millions of cars and trucks already built for higher concentrations of ethanol those factors cost billions of dollars to the cost of our vechiles and if there not being utilized it’s pouring money down the drain why can’t we stay with a giving product for at least a few years like Europe and Japan does when Government Demands our workers and auto makers to build ethanol and clean diesel vechiles and they do why is it so hard to find Ethanol and bio diesel fuels? can we agree to find some balance between Government and Auto makers i mean the governments of Europe and japan actually work together with there auto makers and each Other.

Posted by: Rodney Brown at December 12, 2008 8:32 PM
Comment #271909

What IMO needs to be done with the automakers is a complete restructuring from the top down. The CEOs who make rediculous amounts of money to tne lowly floor sweepers who also make a rediculous hourly wage. Our greed in this country has gotten out of hand and now we are paying for it.

Posted by: KAP at December 12, 2008 8:42 PM
Comment #271910


For liberals to call the conservative kettle black in reguards to wage suppression is laughable to say the least. Twenty five to thirty million illegal immigrants puts that myth to bed.

Liberals want to draw the line when it comes to one of their big unions but they sure like getting their lawns manicured cheap and they love that inexpensive maid service.


If the cost of labor makes us less competitive in the new world market, imagine what the high cost of doctors, managers, lawyers, accountants and other professionals are doing to make our consumers less competitive in an economy where the mantra is consume or suffer the fate that the gods of wall street throw down on you.

Posted by: jlw at December 12, 2008 9:47 PM
Comment #271911

jlw-
I think this liberal is very able to tell you what he actually thinks. You need not put words in his mouth.

And what’s the point of this particular line of argument? Neutralization.

You will find that I am in favor of heavier enforcement, coupled with a strongly conditional path to citizenship for illegal aliens here now and easier immigration for those seeking to come here legally. In essence, I want to drain the swamp of illegal low-wage workers.

So no myth is really put to bed, just brewed up in the typical partisan rhetoric that some people use in the place of actually listening to our opinions.

I’m not really, though, exonerating Democrats in the essay. We were morons to a certain degree ourselves. But where political forces are helping to pull our politicians away from such behavior now, with the Republicans, it is drawing them to reinforce it.

That’s the thing: the political transition of the last few years has not been one where the change has been from bad or evil to perfect, but from stubbornly wrong to tractably mistaken. We can goad, push, and threaten the Democrats in Congress to take a new path. The Republicans are taking on a bunker mentality, even to the point where they walk right in front of the bus of economic collapse. Hence the one word description of the Senatorial Republicans that entitles my piece.

If you want to reflexively equivocate between the two parties, I can’t stop you. But I think eight years of Bush have provided a strong contrast between the different parties, even when apparent disagreements are minor.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at December 12, 2008 10:49 PM
Comment #271913


Stephen, If I recall correctly you are rather young and not responsible for empowering the democrat politicians in the 80’s and 90’s as I did because of my blind partisanship. I continued to vote for them even when it became obvious that they had adopted republican philosophy as their own and were insistant on making it work much to the discredit of the working class and the injustice of wealth distribution. No one in this country is more guilty or more responsible for what has happened to our country than I am.

This will no longer be the case. I will never again vote for a politician who does not do everything in his or her power to change our political system, and right the wrongs that have occured because of it.

Many of those democrats are long term incumbents still serving in the Congress. Goad them all you want, they will do what they can to correct what has been done but, only to the extent that their true patrons will allow. This will not change in any significant way until the natural influence that wealth has on power is eradicated.

As to what the republicans are attempting, that is obvious. They have, since the legallization of unions, through the use of their political propaganda, propagated discourd between non-union and union workers.

Here are some typical comments that I often heard from my non-union friends when I was a union bridge painter, ( You make to much money. I wouldn’t do what you do for all the money in the world but, you make to much money. Every time the unions get a raise, all the prices go up and hurt us non-union workers. The only thing that unions do is make workers pay dues and give them nothing in return.) These are comments that come straight out of the republican propaganda play book.

The republicans think that they can create a brighter political future for themselves by cultivating a favorite wedge issue of the past, democrats only care about their big union buddies.

IMO, the democrats need to prove them wrong by substantially improving the amount of wealth that is trickled down to the low income non-union workers. No group of workers do more for this country while receiving so little of the bounty that is produced in this country.

Posted by: jlw at December 13, 2008 3:34 AM
Comment #271914

SD
you are so much more polite than I am. Anyone that cannot see the difference between parties has their head somewhere rather dark.”reflexively equivocate” wow!
The circumstantial evidence for oil company collusion in Detroits bonehead decisions is pretty obvious. Those executives couldn’t be THAT stupid,could they?I hope it is looked into.

jlw
Clinton doubled the Border Patrol budget. The influx was allowed to increase under BushCo at the behest of large employers specifically to depress wages. These same employers have a vested interest in keeping undocumented workers exactly in that legal state. Underground workers do not join unions. They do not complain when they are subjected to unsafe conditions or victumized by labor law violations. Its the Reps who ,after much bally hoo,chose to look the other way and block any solution.

Lee et al
Clearly the best way to achieve wage parity ,the healthiest for the economy, is to repeal the Taft-Hartly Amendments that keep unions down in the South and forever keep the region behind economically ,except for the rich of course.

KAP the overpaid guy sweeping the floor is worth more than an incompetant CEO. At least he is doing something productive. And whats next? Should we demand “wage parity” with China,India. Blameing the workers for trying to make a decent living is typical but inaccurate. It was not the line workers that decided to build cars nobody wanted to buy.

Posted by: bills at December 13, 2008 5:12 AM
Comment #271923

bills
I am not discouraging workers from trying to make a decent living, far from it. I’m saying that greed took over common sence in the work place. The unions got greedy and now the workers are paying for it. Also those incompetent CEO’s added to the downfall of the auto industry and other industries, bad decisions on their part. Also a lot of people trying to live above their means.

Posted by: KAP at December 13, 2008 9:26 AM
Comment #271926

Immigration Solution:

Republican…shoot the poor sap who is trying to make a better living.

Blame the guy who wants to eat, not the greedy cuss who just wants to increase his net worth…oh, well…

Democrat…Shoot the a**hole that lures the poor sap across the border to make a better living.

Tyson Foods used to collect illegals buy the truck load near the border and haul them like cattle up into the Midwestern states to work in kill plants…chicken could be sold at Wal Mart for a price that was hard to beat. The result? Tyson chicken…whee! Salminella Deluxe!

Posted by: Marysdude at December 13, 2008 10:53 AM
Comment #271929

Tyson is big In Arkansas wait so is Wal Mart* ;)

Posted by: Rodney Brown at December 13, 2008 11:27 AM
Comment #271930


Tyson Walton Clinton.

Posted by: jlw at December 13, 2008 11:42 AM
Comment #271934

The automakers are in trouble because banks don’t want to lend money for auto loans. They came to DC to get in line for handouts. Ford was represented there, but how much worse off is Ford than Toyota or Honda, when everyone is hanging on to the money they have? People want to invest in “safe” Treasury bills with low interest. I have a large sum of cash in a potted plant. So lets argue about Norma Rae and poor folks wanting “more please”.

Let’s say there’s a company called Jeanswear at 1421 south Elm street in Greensboro NC with some 100% cotton US fabric, which formerly made clothing in Mexico, but now makes the identical product in Honduras instead. What wage would someone in Greensboro have to work for, to make the end product here instead of competing with the lowest wages availabe in the world? How much to compete with workers in Cambodia with a higher transportation cost added? Should the federal minimum wage be eliminated so that people in “right to work” states can compete with overseas costs?

The idea that the union takes money from other workers is ridiculous. The problem with the so-called “big three” is that they have been trying to make the most expensive vehicles they can and sell the most expensive loans. The market for that product has shrunk to nothing. Some people are worried about the ability to make Hummers in the future, which is the main reason that the Congress is seeking to act.

Posted by: ohrealy at December 13, 2008 1:00 PM
Comment #271936

Rodney Brown,

Tyson grew to be the world’s largest food corporation.

Wal Mart grew to be the world’s largest retailer.

JB Hunt grew to be the United States’ largest trucking company.

All were headquartered within twenty miles of each other in Northwest Arkansas.

They each grew that big, in large part because of cheap labor in that area (them ignorant Arkies), no unions (fought tooth and nail),and that wasn’t enough, so each has more than one indictment for use of illegal immigrant workers (Tyson has more than twenty indictments).

Republicans still insist on blaming the folks who cross the border, and want to turn a blind eye to the corporate farms, corporate processors and corporate big-wigs who need those maids and lawn keepers.

Posted by: Marysdude at December 13, 2008 1:18 PM
Comment #271941

jlw-
First and foremost, I do not think much of refighting the old battles. People like me have done more than simply lend partisan support. Go look at Daily Kos, at the active role folks like me are trying to play. We’re after what you’re after, but we’re not standing around complaining about how much it sucks.

We have to act, we have to participate. Otherwise, the default is the world goes its way without us.

KAP-
Salaries for people in the middle class have stagnated. Salaries and compensation for executives have skyrocketed. What happened with the car market had little to do with how much people were being paid. They were doing well enough when the credit was flowing, when people were buying SUVs and vehicles in general.

You talk about greed. But as Adam Smith might tell you, there is quite a bit of pressure that can force or lead people to raise their price for their labor. The problem is, without union, the ability of the corporations to simply replace those who might ask for more pay.

What happens when you start trying to make our worker’s salaries competitive with those in underdeveloped countries. They have the advantage of not needing as much to maintain their standard of living.

Good luck convincing the average American that they need to live like people from the third world. Why do we need to fall into that kind of squalor? I would prefer to initiate policy changes to bring them up into our standard of living.

The problem here is that your assumptions are based on notions founded in a kind of economic elitism, cloaked in a disguise of state’s rights populism. So to be quite frank with you, you’re essentially supporting a return of the economic classes to the way they were at the beginning of the last century. You might not realize that this is what you’re supporting, but if you follow back the history far enough, the anti-union sentiment was propagated by just that kind of politics. It’s just better marketed.

They promise prosperity, but if you look at the actual results, you’ll find them quite in line with what once was: greater disparity between rich and not rich, the Average American left more and more on their own.

And then you come to a point where people are expected to buy and buy and buy, but nobody has enough buying power left to maintain the economy.

It goes in waves, economic prosperity buoying people up, then the bust tearing everybody down. The Great Depression was merely the consequences of just such a system.

I would say that there are two types of growth: healthy, and strained. It’s important to recognize the difference, to recognize when the economy is chugging along naturally, and when it’s just building itself up on misapprehensions.

The reforms of the thirties and the rise of union labor, while not perfect, yielded a more stable economy, with greater numbers of people enjoying a higher standard of living. This is the kind of economy that won the cold war.

And its the economy you’ve been tearing down for the last thirty years. The results are sadly predictable.

Ultimately, Americans must redress the balance, must serve their own interests again. If you read your Adam Smith, you would find that he does not begrudge people their self interests, because we serve each other to serve them. The trick is, you’ve allowed a system that essentially forces people to work against their own interests for other’s profits, and that is not a system that can last, or that people, once they wake up to it, will let last.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at December 13, 2008 5:28 PM
Comment #271948

S.D.
When I was young like you the unions were pretty good at times but now I wouldn’t kick a dog in the behind with them. Way back in the thirties they needed unions. Today NO. The last union shop I was in the union did nothing for me. All they did was take my dues, the branch of the company that I woked in let us have a token rep who was just that a token. So as far as unions go they SUCK. My stepdad was chief shop steward for his local UAW till the company moved and all the union money he was getting went down the tubes. Like I said I don’t begrudge anyone of making a decent living but drop the greed. The company I work for now pays me a decent wage, I have the same benefits that most union shops have. The company boasts that they haven’t had a layoff in 30 yrs. All this without paying someother fool to negotiate a contract for me.
Yes and I also blame the corporate leaders for a lot of what has been happening. They to have a greed problem.
I also blame our government for being greedy idiotic a—holes and letting crap like this happen your glorious democratic party included and the republicans are idiots to and I am not being partican about this. Both parties are at fault and both should be replaced but idiot voters keep putting the same a—hole back in.

Posted by: KAP at December 13, 2008 6:44 PM
Comment #271949

Someone above said;

“I think union costs have been the least of the car company’s problems. The real problem is that the companies are run by short-sighted executives who have been encouraged to fight efficiency standards, rather than engineer better cars.”

I find it difficult to understand that our automakers pay more for the steel or other components that go into making a car than the foreign automakers do. Do our companies pay more for utilities or in taxes than the foreign’s do? If all the other components of cost are nearly identical for the Big Three as the foreign’s building cars here then what is the difference in the cost of manufacturing if not labor?

If the unions are so great, why not sell GM and Chrysler to them using funds borrowed from the feds with the union members guaranteeing payment. Perhaps with union ownership we would see better made cars, better work attitudes, and a better understanding by the union-owners of what it costs for their benefits.

Would union members be willing to put their money where their mouth is?

Posted by: Jim M at December 13, 2008 6:49 PM
Comment #271950

> The trick is, you’ve allowed a system that essentially forces people to work against their own interests for other’s profits, and that is not a system that can last, or that people, once they wake up to it, will let last.
Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at December 13, 2008 05:28 PM

Stephen,

Indentured servitude? Slavery? It’s the RIGHT way…

Posted by: Marysdude at December 13, 2008 6:52 PM
Comment #271952

Jim M,

Look at the unions like you do any other business expense. You keep trying to separate people from parts and materials. All prices are negotiated. Upholstery costs are negotiated between the auto builder and those companies that can provide enough to furnish ex number of vehicles, but the same cannot be said about hirees…singly they have little or no voice in how much they’ll be paid, and they certainly don’t have all the information necessary to figure their worth to the company…collectively they do. It just seems like good business to bargain collectively.

Posted by: Marysdude at December 13, 2008 7:08 PM
Comment #271956

Hey marysdude…I am not anti-union or anti-collective bargaining. I am suggesting that the unions and their members buy the troubled car companies and make them profitable again.

Of course I do understand that if I own a company that makes “thingamagadgets” for $1 each (labor included) and my competitor also makes these same gadgets for $0.90 cents (labor included) then I am going to lose sales. Perhaps his factory is entirely robotic, perhaps he is more shrewd in buying his basic manufacturing materials, perhaps his daughter owns the local utilities providing electricity, water and sewer. One things for sure though, I am going out of business unless I can compete.

And…the Big Three Auto makers are also going out of business if they can’t compete. And it makes no difference how many billions the taxpayer pumps into them.

“The Wall Street Journal was reporting last night that “General Motors Corp. has hired some of the U.S.’s biggest names in restructuring to consider whether to file for bankruptcy protection.”

The largest number of jobs put in jeopardy by the collapse of the domestic auto industry would not be UAW workers on the assembly line but workers in dealerships across America. According to research by a professor at Boston College, “the maximum impact if the entire automobile industry in the US were to shut down completely and permanently would be 190,000 jobs in auto manufacturing.”

However, the report states,

“Auto dealerships constitute the greatest number of jobs within this industry; some 1.235 million total, with about a million jobs in sales alone, most of which are part-time, each amounting to an average of less than 15 hours per week.”

If Americans continue to buy about eight million new cars a year, they will buy whatever cars are on the market and, one assumes, the remaining car manufacturers will take over plants, workers and dealerships to fill the need.

We are living in interesting times.”

Excerpt from; http://townhall.com/columnists/RichGalen/2008/12/12/christmas_songs_and_cars?page=1

Posted by: Jim M at December 13, 2008 7:38 PM
Comment #271958

I would like to add marysdude, that it makes a whole lot more sense to have the unions run the auto companies that some appointed political hack. Hell, the congressional cafeteria can’t even turn a profit. Do you recall how well the congressional bank was run?

Posted by: Jim M at December 13, 2008 7:50 PM
Comment #271961

KAP-
I don’t advocated for non-functional unions. Clearly, a number of them have fallen short of doing good for their workers. I don’t, however, hold that as an inherent flaw of unions, but a corruption of them that better years and other influences brought to bear.

Do we get rid of government or even industry because it has fallen short? No. We redeem them instead, remember their underlying purposes and work to that end. These organizations from the top down were not built merely to serve the power of a few, but the good of the many. And I say this not as an idealist who unrealistically expects everything to become sweetness and light, but as a person who believes that without such drive and motivation, our society becomes hollowed out, and everything becomes a sham, a going through of the motions.

Ask yourself something: If tomorrow all unions ceased to exist, what would the executives do to your wages? Consider: even your non-union shop has to grapple with the competition for workers like you with the unions. If they felt they could get away with paying you less, they would, and they have indeed gotten away with paying others less. But here in America, they know that if they don’t pay the right amount to workers in non-union shops, they’ll go and work where they can hope for pay and benefits.

And is it wrong for them to want these things? To provide for a family, for food on the table, for health and a retirement? When did it become such a greedy thing for workers to want these things that it became justified to take these things from our workers? They kept on appealing to the survival of the car companies for the justification of taking things from those workers, and with the same justifications, government worked on the side of management.

And to what end? We look to Detroit now, after years of giving those people the shaft, and these stupid sons of *****es in charge of the companies still ran the damn things into the ground.

We gave these people every chance to succeed. As a culture and as a class, we sacrificed for these people time and again. We tolerated all this for one reason: because we thought in the end that we could do better, if we simply put ourselves in their hands.

Look what happened! Look! Instead of managing the financial affairs of this country responsibility, they piled one financial lie after another until the system collapsed of its own weight. They exported many of the jobs that were supposed to be saved despite the promise that such concessions would save them. They ran one company into the ground after another, and gave themselves bonuses for the privilege!

The degradation of American economic prosperity for the average person, the increase of indebtedness and the rise of a credit-dependent culture are not coincidental developments with the rise of unaccountable, multimillionaire execs capable of bailing out with golden parachutes when their businesses crashed and burned. They paid their own salaries with the profits earned from debt they inflicted on the American people. This is how you grow forever without limit, how you enjoy unending years of national prosperity even while the Average American’s wages stagnate or backslide. Everybody borrows to pay everybody else, and rich get richer buying everybody’s debt and selling it to somebody else.

That is the only way you keep a consumer economy growing without real economic growth among the consumers. But now, the economic elite have tied themselves in a knot, so now they’re pulling back all the debt-driven buying power. You’re seeing it happen right in front of your eyes.

It’s time to realize that it was once possible to grow an economy from out of American’s pockets, and that we chose to sacrifice that in order to go into denial about our economy. Once that happened, our entire economy became dependent on the fiction that you could grow forever on the backs of a middle and lower class of debtors.

But economic realities always bring about a reckoning, and we are forced to make the market corrections. Now we have a choice here: correct what’s really wrong with it, or go into denial once again.

We have to admit to ourselves here that if we don’t pay people living wages, working wages, then we can’t really hope to see a functional healthy feedback loop of real money, real economic vitality circulating around the arteries, veins and capillaries of our economy.

Is this to be a country where people who have the privilege to be born rich or the drive to be rich eat the bread of those who work by the sweat of their brow for it, or are we going to make a world where everybody from the executive down to the man on the factory floor has a job, a job they do well, a job they take seriously?

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at December 13, 2008 8:11 PM
Comment #271964

We can build an economy on people’s backs, or we can build it on people’s shoulders.

Which do you think is the position of greater stability? The one where the economic forces inevitably grind people down, or where people can stand proud, share in each other’s good fortune?

No economy, not even the most capitalist of economies, can survive when people do not share in the benefits of the work they do. Some may take a greater share for themselves because of their greater responsibility, but that responsibility should only be considered fulfilled when the companies and the units of those companies as a whole benefit. When a workers is forced to do another person’s work, and expected to remain as productive, there’s a point at which this is not only bad for him, but bad for everybody.

There are all too many stories of executives who harmed the interests of their companies for the sake of so-called efficiency, using false and oversimplified measures. The different parts of the market, often blind to the real results of the actions behind the numbers continued to encourage such behavior.

We have to consider that people are only human, and that at some point, they will not function as machines do. The question is, now that we’ve spread our labor force all over the world, out-sourced and gutted our own domestic manufacturing, how robust do we remain? Inevitably, the people we pay so little will end up asking for more money. Inevitably, as we put more money in their economy, it will require more money for those people to live in them. They can’t be cheap forever.

Neither can our good fortune in having certain countries be cooperative last forever, either. Is this how other civilizations and societies fall, by outsourcing all their critical economic functions, becoming dependent on other nations and states who might fail them at a critical time? Though we fought for more trade, we once also fought for fair deals. We once protected our critical industrial bases, because we knew our security and prosperity depended on our people being players in the game, people with something to trade, not just folks with money to buy. Trade is supposed to go both ways; the money to buy things has to come back in as much as it goes back out.

Ultimately, Americans cannot afford to create a situation where we are only spenders, only losers in the economic game, not winners and those who gain in exchanges. Is America to decline into a mercantile shadow of what it once was, or will things come out of America, so once more things can come in on a fair basis. Let’s stop expecting Americans to pay for the rest of the world’s goods without giving something and getting something in return.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at December 13, 2008 8:29 PM
Comment #271966

S.D.
Stephen I haven’t been in a union for 20 yrs. Me personnelly I’d rather not work in a union shop. If unions ceased to exist it would not bother me I’ve done well enough without them. To me unions are like what atheists call religion, A CRUTCH. I don’t need some overpaid union rep negotiating wages or whatever for me, I can do that well enough on my own. In fact one place I worked at had an in shop committe to work out greviences no dues or anything like that. It worked out very well. To me unions were good between the 30’s and 60’s but now NO. The thing is this Nation became very greedy and very stupid and very LAZY.

Posted by: KAP at December 13, 2008 9:12 PM
Comment #271968


I would like to see these jobs saved but, let’t add a little reality to the situation. It is going to take not $15 billion or $35 billion to save these companies. It is probably going to take upwards of at least $100 billion to keep them going over the next year. Very few people can afford to or willing to go into debt now to buy cars. That may be the reality for quite some time.

Posted by: jlw at December 13, 2008 10:00 PM
Comment #271969

KAP,

The floor sweeper at GM is paid just about minimum wage, and has no benefits. He/she is a part time hiree from a contractor cleaning service. Quit picking on the ditch diggers and floor sweepers.

The folks on the assembly line make 18-24 per hour plus some benefits, the ones who actually do some skill stuff make 20-28 per hour and those with career skills make 28-34 per hour. Not many live and work in the South, so their cost of living is pretty high. Those who work for foreign auto companies, non-union, or open shop, mostly in the Southern states where living expenses are comparatively low, are paid about 3 dollars less per skill level. They are paid that much because of the unions, even though they are non-union. Where would we get the great middle class in America if it were not for people like these? How could we call it America if we kill off the middle class?

As Stephen asks…were would the customer base come from to support our American business activity, if no one but the ultra-wealthy can buy anything? How many businesses will have to shut down without paying customers?

Posted by: Marysdude at December 13, 2008 10:13 PM
Comment #271970

jlw,

I’m not even sure they can be saved, and I’m damned sure I don’t know if I want them saved…they have taken advantage of America and Americans too many times over the years. But, 1.5 to 2.5 million wage earners do not deserve to fail just because some CEOs walk around playing pocket pool.

Our auto industry would have died a slow death no matter what, but a slow death would have allowed a transition for those wage earners to shift livelyhoods on a piecemeal basis. The abrupt failure was due to this economic failure, which is tied to GRAMM. So if the bankers and insurers are going to be bailed out, there is no reason to hold up our middle class without at least a little restitution. Middle class don’t work Wall Street…middle class does work Main Street…so bailing out auto makes at least a little sense.

Posted by: Marysdude at December 13, 2008 10:24 PM
Comment #271972

Marysdude
My former pastor who worked for Alcoa and a UAW member made more than $18. an hour sweeping the floors there. I personnely know 3 retirees and 1 man who is still employed for GM here in the city I reside in who made and are making more than you state. My daughters X boy friend’s father worked for Ford and makes more than you state. I congradulate GM for being smart enough to hire outside labor for their menial tasks. By the way the cost of living where I reside here in the north is not that bad.

Posted by: KAP at December 13, 2008 10:32 PM
Comment #271975

KAP-
If Unions are obsolete, then what were they replaced with, and what was that alternative able to stave off?

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at December 13, 2008 11:57 PM
Comment #271977

KAP,

Are you so comfortable with your job skills that you wouldn’t mind a few more million people competing for your job?
Even at $30.00 an hour, that’s just over 60 grand a year. These folks also have mortgages to pay, and mouths to feed, and with the economy the way it is…..
The money is coming out of our collective wallet one way or another, and I don’t know about you, but I personally would rather pay for folks to be productive.
Eventually we will be bringing our troops home, they will be competing for jobs as well.
Conservatives have keep telling us that how much money people make is their own business, yet suddenly, because of a collective bargaining agreement, $30.00 an hour is just too much.
We’ve been told by those same conservatives that executives need to be paid extravagant salaries so that our corporations can remain competitive, but again $30.00 an hour for skilled labor is too over the top.
The unions didn’t force Detroit to build and sell luxury behemoth vehicles that cost a fortune to maintain. That decision was made a bit further up the food chain.

The point isn’t just about union guys making cars.
The Toyotas, and the Hondas and the Nissans made in this country also get their parts from the same manufacturers as Detroit. If the parts manufacturers go under as well, then the non-union workers in those companies will also be looking for work.

But apparently you’re cool with that.

Rocky

Posted by: Rocky Marks at December 14, 2008 5:11 AM
Comment #271978

KAP,

Oh, and just a thought. Once we’re done with the UAW, which union shall we do away with next?

Rocky

Posted by: Rocky Marks at December 14, 2008 6:16 AM
Comment #271979

KAP
Sorry you had a bad experience with your union. Perhaps you were not aware of what they were doing for you. In a good shop it is not all that evident. Did you get your pay ontime? To get a raise did you have to go,hat in hand, and beg for one?Was there any protection from arbitrary dismissal,like if the boss had a hangover and felt like fireing somebody?In a rotten shop that stuff goes on all the time. Unions work to prevent that crap.How about overtime. Did you get it when you worked long hours? Every year the Reps try to pass state and federal laws to eliminate the 40 work week and every year the unions manage to block them. I worked as a union carpenter until recently. I saw this recession comming. The building trades is always the first to take a hit in a downturn and I am getting a little long in toothe to compete with the young bucks. I took an early retirement with the union pension plan. I have a lot of friends in the trades that work non-union. They are sh— out of luck during this and know it. Don’t tell me we do not need unions any more.

Be

Posted by: bills at December 14, 2008 7:20 AM
Comment #271980

In my book this all comes down to the repubs deciding who is valuable to the economy and who isn’t. Even if the auto workers made $70.00 an hour (which they don’t)where do the republicans get off deciding that is too much money. I don’t hear them yelling about CEOs making too much money. Why is a CEO considered more valuable than an auto worker. I just paid a plumber $100.00 for the first hour and then $96.00 for every additional hour. Who decided he was more valuable than an auto worker.

I worked in human services (developmental disabilities) for 30yrs. I have a masters degree at no time did I ever make as much an hour as the plumber. Who got to decide that the plumber was more valuable than me.

I am now working part time 2 mornings a week at a preschool and earning $10.75 an hour. Which is fine by me. I am doing something that is fun to me and I like. Lord knows I would not want to be a plumber but it is sad the values our country has interms of how people are paid.

All said all this stuff about the auto workers stinks. To spend so much time putting down someone elses job and judging and belittling their work is disgusting. I have never done automobile work but I can safely say that I don’t think a CEO is more valuable than an autoworker. I would love it if preschool or day care workers had a union to help them lobby for better pay. to suggest that one person can lobby on their own for better pay IMO isn’t always possible. There is strength in numbers. Do I like everything about Unions-“NO” but they are doing a job and that is to protect workers and get the best pay possible. I think the current economy shows that if it was left up to major corporations to do the right thing-it wouldn’t happen.

Posted by: Carolina at December 14, 2008 9:05 AM
Comment #271981

All
When I was young I was like S.D. pro union and pro Dem. As I grew older those PRO’s went out the window. I worked in both union and non union shops and by far I prefer the non union. Knowing others who have worked in both shops prefer non union. Maybe the competition for jobs would be a good thing maybe we would get more concentious workers. No matter if you are union or non union NO JOB IS GUARENTEED, as in the case of my stepfather the UAW did nothing for him after the company he worked for moved, and he was a chief shop steward.

Posted by: KAP at December 14, 2008 9:57 AM
Comment #271982

KAP:

While your experiences and acquaintances are right for you, they do not apply to everyone. Just because you and your friends prefer non-union doesn’t make it a universal truth.

Posted by: womanmarine at December 14, 2008 10:28 AM
Comment #271983

I saw the progression start around 1996 with the working class they drove Honda’s or Ford Taurus’s and Escorts and Chevy and Toyota and Nissan cars, and Mini Van’s Mom and dad would come in the store and haul out there little ones that was a process it took some time, Then oil went cheap to 88 cents a gallon and our economy changed to become a Sales and service and Retail outlet Many people started getting ahead Then the next year or two they were pulling in with big Suvs and saying how wonderful it was to have a big vechile to haul there kids around and see the traffic ahead of them and how comfortable they were and how safe they felt And I’m hauling 4-6 people around I need a big Suv Then the couples and singles started buying them saying I had to get something bigger because I feel so small on the freeway Today.Same thing with there Houses. Government and Business and the service sector was right there to help them Along, Some of The people who went through the 1970s and early 1980s stayed somewhat fiscally conservative some did Not.I agree with d.a.n. and Craig it Takes Two To Tango.

Posted by: Rodney Brown at December 14, 2008 11:30 AM
Comment #271984

Woman
I never said it was a universal truth it was MY OPINION JUST LIKE YOU GIVE YOUR OPINION.

Posted by: KAP at December 14, 2008 11:45 AM
Comment #271985

marysdude wrote; “But, 1.5 to 2.5 million wage earners do not deserve to fail just because some CEOs walk around playing pocket pool.”

My linked article said; ““Auto dealerships constitute the greatest number of jobs within this industry; some 1.235 million total, with about a million jobs in sales alone, most of which are part-time, each amounting to an average of less than 15 hours per week.”

I wonder whose figures are correct?

Posted by: Jim M at December 14, 2008 12:24 PM
Comment #271991

Jim M,

I have no idea, and don’t particularly care about exact figures, but while dealerships have many hirees, many of them are pretty much on commission, and are not likely even counted in your figures, but depend on the industry none the less. But, what about the folks who work for related industry? Parts manufacturers, upholstery folks, extruders, electronics people, resturaunturs, waiters and waitresses, small shops around plants, etc…just how many hundreds of thousands of job losses would satisfy your need to be right about the numbers?

Posted by: Marysdude at December 14, 2008 1:27 PM
Comment #271995

That would be the aftermarket and it could Affect tens of millions, even toyota and honda and nissan would suffer for a few years they also rely on the aftermarket.

Posted by: Rodney Brown at December 14, 2008 1:42 PM
Comment #271998

Rodney,

Aftermarket parts are different that the parts of which I speak. I’m Talking about the manufacture of things like A/C units, Sterio systems, Power Steering units, Windshield Wiper/washer units, etc., that are not normally made by the big three, but do go into new cars. If the big three fail, the aftermarket may prosper because of that failure. But, those contractor and sub-contractor businesses will go down.

Posted by: Marysdude at December 14, 2008 2:02 PM
Comment #272003

I think we’re in more agreement than not MD. the aftermarket is also places like Borg Warner who make ac compressors and electronics and ac delco and fisher body and Mopar and motorcraft and purolator so on and on it comprises of many companies and businesses and millions of workers that supply new parts for the automakers and rebuilt parts and new parts for the supply houses and chain stores wall mart and kragen and so on these are many of the same companies that do both, also there are companies that are only in specialty parts like for custom and modifying a vechile , I say it has a domino effect the Auto makers go down and many of the rest of the Others will too from A-Z.
The automotive aftermarket is the part of the automotive industry concerned with the manufacturing, remanufacturing, distribution, retailing, and installation of all vehicle parts, chemicals, tools, equipment and accessories for light and heavy vehicles. Estimated as a $257 billion market in the United States, the aftermarket helps keep vehicles on the road.

Posted by: Rodney Brown at December 14, 2008 2:45 PM
Comment #272004

Rodney,

Yeah, we are in agreement…my point was that much of the aftermarket will likely prosper as vehicle age and require more to keep them on the road. But, the aftermarket will never make up for the loss of all those primary jobs in the new market.

Posted by: Marysdude at December 14, 2008 2:50 PM
Comment #272006

Nobody seems to understand the basic point that having a union provides for a more stable work force for the auto industry. Without unions, as evidenced historically, the turnover would be so rapid that they would continually be importing whole populations from abroad, who still wouldn’t stay on the job very long, so they would just import even more people.

Ford wants guarantees, which they should be able to repay, GM would have more trouble, and Chrysler, or whatever it’s called now, is just a company looking for a buyer in a market without anyone willing ot buy. We should probably give Ford the guarantees, and buy enough product from GM to keep them going a little while longer, but who the heck wants Chrysler? They’ve been marginalized for almost 50 years, and shouldn’t even be part of the equation.

Posted by: ohrealy at December 14, 2008 2:53 PM
Comment #272009

“who the heck wants Chrysler” they make Jeep and the mini vans and there truck line of diesels they might be worth something to GM or Ford in the Future.Gm could get rid of the Hummer and have Jeep.

Posted by: Rodney Brown at December 14, 2008 3:17 PM
Comment #272012

Check out these high mpg diesel jeeps and chrysler’s 35 MPG: Why Wait Until 2020?
http://www.mpgomatic.com/2008/03/15/35-mpg-why-wait-until-2020/

Posted by: Rodney Brown at December 14, 2008 3:36 PM
Comment #272014

Is there a market for them.:)

Posted by: Rodney Brown at December 14, 2008 3:48 PM
Comment #272016

If marysdude had read the article he wouldn’t have written this: “I have no idea, and don’t particularly care about exact figures, but while dealerships have many hirees, many of them are pretty much on commission, and are not likely even counted in your figures, but depend on the industry none the less.”

Never let the facts get in the way of your thinking!

Posted by: Jim M at December 14, 2008 4:15 PM
Comment #272017

Townhall.com, Comprehensive site for conservative policy, news, information, and politics.

>Never let the facts get in the way of your thinking!
Posted by: Jim M at December 14, 2008 04:15 PM

Facts? I thought it was a right wing opinion piece…please forgive me.

Posted by: Marysdude at December 14, 2008 4:32 PM
Comment #272022

You’re forgiven…the link cited the source;

“According to research by a professor at Boston College, “the maximum impact if the entire automobile industry in the US were to shut down completely and permanently would be 190,000 jobs in auto manufacturing.”

Posted by: Jim M at December 14, 2008 5:18 PM
Comment #272030

Jim M-
When somebody tells you what the maximum impact will be with something like this, take it with a grain of salt. You should know by now that the failure of strategically placed businesses can have bad economic effects beyond the collapse of one company.

Additionally, I would make the point that there’s nothing that necessarily makes the professors prognostication necessary. This isn’t physics, where you can work out an abstract path for an object in motion with arbitrary precision. This is economics, a human factors laden field.

Why are we taking chances?

The Republicans are playing politics, trying to use the shock of this impending collapse to destroy the unions. But in the process, they may end up making things more difficult all around.

The Republicans, in my view, have been too willing to ask sacrifices of the average person to achieve their goals, and have not brought nearly enough benefits to the table to compensate for what they’ve taken.

They are playing with fire here, as they were before the election. What reason do you have to believe that Republicans won’t get burnt as they have before?

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at December 14, 2008 7:40 PM
Comment #272033

S.D.
I don’t think this is anyone playing politics and trying to collapse and destroy the unions. What should be done as was in the airline industry is chapter 11 reorgaization. Some jobs will be lost and concessions will have to be made but in the long run the auto industry will survive. We taxpayers CANNOT bailout every failing industry in this country. I still don’t like unions but if someone wants to make the union execs rich, so be it.

Posted by: KAP at December 14, 2008 8:41 PM
Comment #272039

Airline collapse would be an inconvenience, it is after all a service. Auto industry collapse, the only serious manufacturing still being done in the US…another subject entirely.

Airlines…auto industry = apples and oranges.

Posted by: Marysdude at December 14, 2008 9:26 PM
Comment #272056

KAP-
The real question you should ask is why unions are being blamed for what is essentially a credit problem.

Over the last couple decades, the car companies have made increasingly less money selling cars, and increasingly more from selling financing for those cars. They have also catered to a lax culture on fuel efficiency and emissions.

What do any of these have to do with unions? These were corporate decisions. More importantly, those same corporations shipped many of the jobs beyond the borders.

Why are unions again the scapegoat? Well, why not? Why not take the opportunity to once more weaken labor unions. It’s what they’ve been doing for the last thirty years or more.

Now, they don’t want to seem like this is what they’re doing, so they propagate a bunch of zombie lies (hard to kill, even with shotguns full of contradictory facts) about how unions workers are making $70 dollars an hour, when their going rate is really half that, the rest being the pensions and healthcare of retirees.

I don’t know how many times I’ve repeated that particular fact, and still somebody brings up compensation, or tries to defend it.

Like I said before, Chapter 11 requires ongoing lines of credit to maintain operations. It requires customers willing to buy from a company that could got into Chapter 7 oblivion at a moment’s notice. They go bankrupt, they stand a good chance of going out of business for good.

I think you are not fully facing the radicalism of the Republicans holding things up. The GOP talking points are sugarcoating the likely outcomes and the cynicism of the Republican’s actions.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at December 15, 2008 9:58 AM
Comment #272062

Jeep Patriot Diesel
Plant: Belvedere, IL
Engine: Volkswagen 2.0 liter common rail turbo-diesel inline four cylinder engine, producing 138 HP and 229 foot pounds of torque. 0-62 MPH in 11 seconds when equipped with a six-speed manual transmission.

US MPG Euro Diesel Domestic US MPG
Highway 42.8 28
City 26.7 23
Combined 35.1
Heck that’s about 5 mpg better than the Escape Hybrid and about $10,000 Less. Put some bio diesel in it and it’s cleaner too!

Posted by: Rodney Brown at December 15, 2008 11:16 AM
Comment #272091

S.D.
Concessions have to be made from the CEO’s on down. The automakers cannot operate in a piss poor economy like we have now when nobody is buying cars. Concessions have to be made by all and that include the UAW members. If they don’t we say goodbye to U.S. automaking industry,like we did to the steel making industry which is now limping it’s way back,in my area anyway.

Posted by: KAP at December 15, 2008 5:40 PM
Comment #272093

I must have driven by the Chrysler/Jeep whatever plant in Belvedere Il a hundred times. I used to live in Crystal Lake, with relations in Rockford, Freeport, and Dubuque, among many other places. Decades ago, there were vast numbers of newly manufactured supersized vehicles parked there with no hopes of a buyer. I’m glad they’re making more fuel efficent vehicles now, but the whole company still needs a buyer.

Posted by: ohrealy at December 15, 2008 6:09 PM
Comment #272103

I’d like to know how many of the last five labor contracts included concessions and how many of those periods executives made the smae concessions.

Posted by: Marysdude at December 15, 2008 7:26 PM
Comment #272106

Dude
None, but they will have to or go bust….

Posted by: KAP at December 15, 2008 8:23 PM
Comment #272109

Labor gave concessions four out of the last five negotiated contracts…I’ve answered my half, now how many concessions has management/executives given? Labor is not the cause of current auto industry problems, and no matter what concessions labor gives in to, it will not bring the industry back.

Stockholders must forget about quick riches and be prepared to sacrifice something as well, and sacrifices must come from the top down, not from the bottom up throughout the industry.

I don’t know why I bother…it always falls on the middle class to shoulder the burdens of the ineffectual, but this time the burden is just too great, and the group is ever diminishing.

Posted by: Marysdude at December 15, 2008 9:59 PM
Comment #272130

KAP-
At some point, we got to stop expecting people at the bottom to do all the sacrifices. People on top have to be more realistic, more responsible, more accountable.

Companies, I think, have been more poorly run in America as time has gone on. They’ve been allowed to consolidate more, to become more interested in chasing abstract numbers, and less interested in dealing with the real business that undergirds everything else. Yet when a company sees a down turn, do those who make the bad decisions see bonuses revoked, pay cuts initiated, or, God Forbid, get kicked out on the street with just severance pay?

No, it’s the workers who get laid off, their benefits cut, their healthcare made ineffectual. Have we considered that workers might be more productive in real terms if they were held accountable for their own performance, rewarded for doing well, rather than kept down by executives whose cost consciousness has a big blind spot centered on the boardroom? We didn’t use to pay these guys like rockstars, and it doesn’t seem like we gained much for it.

Like I said in an earlier comment: you can either build this economy on people’s backs, or you can build it on their shoulders. If you stress a person’s ability to carry your burden, you make the system much more delicate. Only when the average person can absorb financial shocks with less damage to their standard of living can we maintain our economic gains and not see the economy slide terribly when things take a downturn.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at December 16, 2008 11:08 AM
Comment #272156

S.D.
I did say from the CEO’s on down. Get realistic everyone is going to have to make concessions in this piss poor economy and as much as I hate to say it even the workers.

Posted by: KAP at December 16, 2008 5:13 PM
Comment #272185

KAP,

The workers have been biting it all along, at least since eighty two, when the great ‘Reagan’, along with corporations like Wal Mart, went on the union breaking spree, and began the deregulation pogram (yeah, pogram is how I think of it). It may be time for the biffies to lead for a while.

Let’s see some top down sacrifice instead of bottom up. Frankly, I think that if CEOs had to actually perform before they rated multi-million paychecks and huge bonus packages, our economy would straighten out without a hitch. As long as those a**holes can count on the ‘big bucks for failure’, things will never improve.

Posted by: Marysdude at December 17, 2008 8:48 AM
Comment #272207

Jim M,

I find it difficult to understand that our automakers pay more for the steel or other components that go into making a car than the foreign automakers do. Do our companies pay more for utilities or in taxes than the foreign’s do? If all the other components of cost are nearly identical for the Big Three as the foreign’s building cars here then what is the difference in the cost of manufacturing if not labor?

The amount of steel or other components they threw in their cars are not identitical: they make way larger bigger heavier cars.
So their gasoline mileage are not identical.
In the end, their cost/mile ratio is not.

5 years ago, foreign automakers labor costs were already way lower than Big Three ones. But Big Three cars sold like a charm ATM, thanks to SUV hype, low gas price and the easy credit allowing everybody to get a too expensive car for their resource but who care while it substain sales!?
All this turned big money to US automakers.

What happens since, you may ask?
Easy:
1) Gas price doubled (ouch).
2) People wages didn’t.

What US automakers made since gas doubled? Where are high MPG vehicules!? Pratically, nowhere.

What US policymakers did to increase people wealth stagnation? To push automakers to make high MPG vehicules? To restrict expensive big polluting and consuming cars on the market? Nothing.

The main difference between Big Three and any other foreign automakers is the kind of cars they make. Japan and European makes since decade small effective and cheap to buy *and* use cars.
Looks closer, it’s not hidden fact.

Posted by: Philippe Houdoin at December 17, 2008 1:02 PM
Comment #272213

You can buy these American cars and suvs in europe Philippe, they made are diesel air standards higher in america than europe it will add another $1000-$1200 more to the price here, they need air scrubbers and more equipment to remove sulfur and such.. besides you get to test them out for Quality:) Check out these high mpg diesel jeeps and chrysler’s 35 MPG: Why Wait Until 2020?
http://www.mpgomatic.com/2008/03/15/35-mpg-why-wait-until-2020/

Posted by: Rodney Brown at December 17, 2008 1:33 PM
Comment #272254

Most foreign auto plants are high effeciency operations because they are relatively new plants. The big three have been resting on their laurels, paying their stockholders big time, and running their antiquated shops into the ground. Just something else to blame on labor…

Posted by: Marysdude at December 17, 2008 8:23 PM
Comment #272283

Rodney,

You can buy these American cars and suvs in europe Philippe, they made are diesel air standards higher in america than europe it will add another $1000-$1200 more to the price here, they need air scrubbers and more equipment to remove sulfur and such.. besides you get to test them out for Quality:) Check out these high mpg diesel jeeps and chrysler’s 35 MPG

I could, but I don’t want to.

Simply because I don’t need these kind of cars. Too big, too expensive, too hyped.
What I need is a day-to-day vehicule to move from A to B the cheapiest way. I don’t mind if it’s small, unclassy, I’m not after look, standing or whatever but efficiency.

It’s a Nissan Micra diesel 1.2l. Small, unclassy, but well equipped enough (ABS, airbag, assisted direction). It’s MPG is around 40, and it costed me 6000 euros 4 years ago.

I plan to replace it with a french Peugeot 108, with a MPG around 49. Not a diesel engine, as gap between diesel and unleaded is not that wide anymore. Except on car tag price.

I had some higher requirements for our second car. It should be confortable enough for a family of soon 5, and allow to ride up to 1000 km in good condition for vacations. But it’s not a car we use everyday for commiting.
It’s a Peugeot 307 SW, a family break, 2.0l engine unleaded gasoline, asisted direction, ABS, Airbag, ESP, automatic A/C, lights and wipes, modular from 2 up to 7 seats, up to 2m3 of payload.
His MPG is around 30.

Bought 6 years ago now for 20 000 euros (at this time, dollar and euro were at parity).

I planned at start to equip it to run on liquified petroleum gas, but unfortunatly failed to fund it in time. Such system should be installed before the first 30/40000 km.

So, why should I need to change my car now?
Until automakers introduce far more efficient cars for the two segment of product I’m interested in, they could offer whatever they want on SUV segment, I simply don’t care.

They should remember that consumer only buy a product when:
1) they can afford it
2) they want it.

The last two decades twisted this reality because easy credit access broke the first rule.
That game is over now.

Posted by: Philippe Houdoin at December 18, 2008 4:39 AM
Comment #272307

Philippe SAID, “”They should remember that consumer only buy a product when:
1) they can afford it
2) they want it.

The last two decades twisted this reality because easy credit access broke the first rule.
That game is over now. “” And I’ll add to that 3) have a real Need for it ., The credit card will not bring long term happiness, it’s a short term shot of power to many I remember it started in the 1990s they came in the mail just sign here and call for activation $3000 or more on credit, same with cars and trucks, About 2000 i drove past an airport with a friend and the area around it was full of thousands of cars and trucks and suvs, I said to him that’s where the dealers store there inventory , he looked at me and said no those are all Repossessed vechiles from people who lost them . Now It’s Houses , Anyways as for the Peugeot it brings back some good memories of my childhood one of our neighbors They both taught at a college and were living in a very modest house drove one of those Peugeot’s it had a funny shift pattern on the collum it sure rode nice and got great mileage and they had it for over twenty years.

Posted by: Rodney Brown at December 18, 2008 12:32 PM
Comment #273395

Some of you seem to be suffering from the same mental deficiency that has afflicted the GOP: failure to recognize the real problem.

The GOP’s downward slide is due to their constant capitulation to the Left. Other than the war, and the tax cuts (which have resulted in growing federal revenues), Bush has been almost as liberal as Clinton. Education spending, medicare spending, government growing 2 to 8 times faster than the economy, and the bailouts.

The “moron-itude” of the GOP is that they have abandoned 90% of their platform and have acted like 2nd String Democrats. They deserved to lose…it’s just too bad that now we are stuck with an even worse scenario.

Hoover screwed up by too much government intervention, FDR made it 10 times worse. History is about to repeat itself…God help us.
http://www.independent.org/newsroom/article.asp?id=111

Posted by: matt at January 9, 2009 4:57 PM
Comment #273536

Would someone please tell me why, we the tax payers, should bail out the Big3 when just recently Ford invested 500 million dollars in a factory in India to build small diesel engines for a new American based car? I’m not the sharpest knife in the drawer but I can see the aim is profit from lower wages and then turn around and sale it back to the Americans, who bailed them at, at a cost 10 times that of what it cost to build it in India? The vehical purposed is very similar to one manufactured in India for India and cost on the average of $2800. The estimated cost of the American version is $28,000. Why not invest in a factory here and
sell it for $28,000, mayby less profit for Ford but more jobs for us. We all benefit. Big Business, in this country, needs to learn the meaning of sacrafice as the working people know it. This is the type of action it will take across the board, by all companies, for this country to survive. We are nothing more than a distribution center for China and other sweatshop countries. We produce hardly anything except Fruit of the Loom underware and a few others. Most John Deere tractors are made in India, thats down right disgraceful! The future investments will largely be in forklifts to man all these Chinese warehouses here. I’m sure glade I still have my forklift license.

Steve

Posted by: Steve at January 13, 2009 3:40 PM
Comment #273537

Please excuse my spelling, I told you I was’nt the sharpest knife in the drawer.
Steve

Posted by: Steve at January 13, 2009 3:48 PM
Post a comment