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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on December 12, 2008 7:54 AM. The previous post in this blog was Up, up and away. The next post in this blog is Stirring up the sediment. Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.

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Friday, December 12, 2008

See the U.S.A. in your Chevrolet

An alert reader writes:

Blumenauer voted no on the bank bailout but yes on the auto bailout. Wu too. Weird.

I thought Blumenauer was Mr. Bike. Now he wants to save the Big 3 with no strings attached?

It's an interesting question, but now I'm walking around saying "Wu too" to everybody for no reason.

Comments (28)

I'm pretty sure it's all about saving those ridiculously overpaid UAW jobs...

Buckle up! We may be in for a wild ride if there's no bailout.

I'm pretty sure it's all about saving those ridiculously overpaid UAW jobs...

Yet not one word about ridiculously overpaid executives who's decisions led them to this point. Or ridiculously overpaid dealers and their palacial buildings built on the backs of buyers. No no. It's all about pounding on the UAW who simply ask for a living wage and pension in exchange for building the cars they're told to.

Tom Friedman hit the nail on the head this week when he said the root problem is that no one wants Detroit's product any more. He likened this bailout to pouring money into typewriter manufacturers as the digital age dawned.

Putting money into the Big 3 is merely staving off the inevitable. Unfortunately, the economic ripples will likely become a Tsunami.

I'm pretty sure it's all about saving those ridiculously overpaid UAW jobs...

Yeah! Crummy workers and their insane demands for health care and pensions!

Thomas Friedman got it wrong.

The Big 3 didn't shove SUVs and minivans down our throats. American families demanded those big vehicles to serve as a second home while they shuttled their families all around suburbia. [Sorry, planners, that's the way it is ...]

I wonder what Congress is going to say when no one wants to buy the rattle traps that they think we all want.

Detroit needs to get out from under the "legacy costs" that the UAW treats as a gift from God himself. And, we all know the UAW won't compromise until the rope's around their neck and the preacher's reading last rites.

Foremost among those legacy costs is the expense of providing health care for retired employees. That's a cost foreign manufacturers never see, since everyone else has nationalized health care.

People who hate the unions should read a little history. Check into how workers were treated before the unions came along. This anti-union thing is just another mantra drilled into the heads of the American public as the Middle Class vanishes and the gap between rich and poor increases to shocking amounts.
The anti-auto bailout crowd on the Hill is trying to crush what's left of the unions but not because of what they make. Because of their political power in opposition to the Republican Party, which is owned and operated by Big Business.
It's sold as the auto workers making too much. Actually they make too little. If they made millions a year each, the GOP senators would trip all over themselves bailing them out.

Simple, Jack.

There's no point in saving the banking system if the economy isn't producing anything.

The auto industry is the last major vestige of heavy manufacturing in this country. Letting it fail would hasten the decline of the American economy much more quickly than the failure of investment banks on Wall Street.

Banks don't create wealth (GNP), workers in industry do. If our economy's going to be based on serving each other latte's, there's not going to be much role for banks anyway.

Bill has a point as does Roger.

Auto workers don't make obscene wages -- well, as least as far as I know, and I'm talking about the actual workers, not the execs (who like most American execs are making obscene wages compared to their workers).

But the costs of healthcare are becoming an albatross around the necks of every business. And as far as I can tell, no one's access to reasonable health care costs is improving. Nor are actual health care providers -- doctors, nurses and med techs -- doing so well under our current system.

So maybe we should consider taking it off the back of business and putting it on the back of government. I'd rather pay out taxes for that rather than bailing out greedy businesses, such as Wall Street financial firms and banks for 75 billion. A bailout that hasn't done a thing, so far.

Have I just become a socialist? Or am I just applying some common sense?

I think the latter.


Bill, just because some folks feel the UAW is out of line here, it does mean they hate unions. The UAW had an opportunity to strike a deal last night, but walked away knowing TARP funds would be likely be offered up by the President. This is clearly another Bush mistake, and will never help to solve the problem.

I appreciate the fact that you seem to be on the President's side for once, but it's OK to blast the UAW on this one and still be for workers rights.

Foremost among those legacy costs is the expense of providing health care for retired employees. That's a cost foreign manufacturers never see, since everyone else has nationalized health care.

And job banks. Making 90% of your salary to read the newspaper or watch TV.

Lets face it, the UAW is just as much at fault as the execs.


Gibby,
I'm characterizing the motivations of the GOP senators.

And rather than do the blog thing and ridicule each other for spelling and obvious errors, I'll add that I think Gibby meant:

"Bill, just because some folks feel the UAW is out of line here, it doesn't mean they hate unions."


Amendment to the above comment by me: that would be 700 billion, not 75.

Bill, thanks for proofing what I should have.

Crummy workers and their insane demands for health care and pensions!

Thats not the problem...whats nuts is that a UAW assembler makes $30/hr plus benefits that are another $30/hr on top of that. This is "unskilled labor"...high school graduates. I went to college to learn what I do and dont make that much.

The average manufacturing wage in the real world is about $17/hr...still a "living wage".

Just wanted to note, Wu voted yes on the bailout the second time.

Jon,
Your complaint is with a union contract agreed on by management. Maybe if you - and the other people who do what you do - organized, you could get more. How did the average manufacturing wage get to be what it is now? Do you think that happened out of a magnanimous gesture by the Rockefellers or Carnegies back when the country was young?
Just pick an industry like coal mining and read what those workers went through not too long ago in American History. It's grim.
I also know a person who worked for years in an auto plant and it's very tough on the body. Are you in an environment where you're around industrial processes, metals, chemicals, and paints all day? That new car smell isn't that great when you're breathing it everyday for decades.

I applaud the history of unions, the workers had no representation and had to unionize to force workplace changes. Unfortunatly the unions are still stuck in time instead of adjusting to current times. Yes, the big execs helped drive the big 3 over a cliff but the unions were willing partners in driving them there.

I understand the unions did some good things about 100 years ago ...

The question today, though, is how does an automaker compete when it's labor costs are 50 percent higher than it's competitors?

You could drive executive pay to zero, and you'd still have labor costs 49 percent higher than competitors.

Maybe if you - and the other people who do what you do - organized, you could get more.

No thanks, I have this thing about fighting my own battles, and knowing that the money I make I am actually earning.

I worked at a place that had union shop..I was non-union in the engineering dept. But there were guys on the shop floor that were sweepers making the same pay as the guys running machinery...because of the union. Thats stupid.

Jon,
Oh yeah, fight your own battles. That's partly why I'm an independent contractor.
But you don't want to be played by the Man either.

Roger wrote:

Foremost among those legacy costs is the expense of providing health care for retired employees. That's a cost foreign manufacturers never see, since everyone else has nationalized health care.

I didn't realize that the retired American employees of Toyota, Nissan, Honda and Subaru (e.g., assembly line workers in Tenn, Ala, Ken, Ind, Tex, W. Vir, OH, Miss, etc) qualify for nationalized healthcare.

Who is giving it to them?

Is Japan really providing socialized healthcare to retired Toyota workers in Alabama?

Wu too? Wu who?(!)

Actually I would be surprised if only relative handful of workers have retired from the foriegn owned plants operating in America. Since they receive no pension only 401Ks which are probably worth about $2 if they are lucky, they will fall onto Medicaid when they retire.

That's partly why I'm an independent contractor.

I tried that for a few years, but insurance for my family got too expensive on my own. So I took a new job (at a $6/hr pay cut) so I would have employer-paid insurance coverage and paid sick/vacation time.

So I took a new job (at a $6/hr pay cut) so I would have employer-paid insurance coverage and paid sick/vacation time.

So paying for insurance straight out of your own pocket must not be one of those battles that you're wanting to fight yourself. Geez.

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