Brainstorming Alternatives To A Bailout

November 20, 2008

OK, I’ve been holding off on commenting on this for about a week now, as I’ve taken the time to absorb all the arguments from the pundits, pols, and players.  I probably should have posted something up right away, because as a blogger who is in real life employed in the auto industry (and at a GM dealership specifically), the outcome would certainly be something that directly impacts my life (which is not really the case with the debate over Iraq, gay marriage, or the myriad of other things that get debated over the pages of memeorandum).  I’ll state right up front that macroeconomics isn’t exactly my strong suit, but here goes anyway…

The paradigms of the debate, from what I’ve seen, fall into two main categories.  On the one side, you have those who approach the bailout question from the perspective of capitalistic purity and the role of the federal government, and that the whole thing should be endorsed or opposed strictly on principle.  On the other, you have those who chose to ignore all that (intentionally or not), and instead go back and forth over whether a bailout will actually help the situation or hurt it.  For the time being, I’m going to work within the realm of the latter camp.

Also, after a week of seeing this play out on the web, TV, and on the showroom floor, the one thing that strikes me as frustrating about the debate itself is this sort of dichotomy where you have choice A) give the “big 3” billions of dollars, presumably on loan, and B) do nothing, let the giants fend for themselves and/or let them go bankrupt.  

Is there a choice C?  Or, for that matter, a D), E) or F)?   We’ll get to that in a second, but perhaps I should offer a few thoughts on the debate over A) and B) first….

The problem with throwing money at the problem, as I’ve seen argued, is that it does nothing to address the issue at its core.  2003-pontiac-aztekIn short, the Big 3 would still employ the same incompetent management, struggle under the constraints of the same rules of unions, CAFE standards, health-care and pension costs, and ultimately churn out a lot of the same inferior vehicles (at a loss, to boot).    Funneling in more money just delays the inevitable, unless we’re prepared to do what would certainly be untenable, i.e. keep bailing them out indefinitely.  But proponents of the action would argue that the U.S. auto industry is a “special case”, and the adherence to the principles of free market capitalism can be discarded in the interests of the greater good.  We’d presumably do it, and hope for the best.

Of course, that alternative of doing nothing to help, rolling the dice, and letting the free market and bankruptcy legislation do its thing scares the heck out of a lot of people (including myself).  The fear of a disastrous ripple effect through the rest of an economy that is already on life support is what pushed the prospect of a federal bailout into mainstream debate in the first place, and even if people opine on the scope of the repercussions, one might be confident in saying that “bad” would be an understatement.

Given these two choices, one might assume that someone like myself would vote in favor in the interests of my own preservation, and welcome the handout.  But I can’t say that I do, and I say that after looking at the situation from both of the aforementioned paradigms.   So, I feel obliged to come full circle here and wonder aloud if there is an option C), and what that might be.  Specifically, I’m interested in ways Washington can intervene that addresses the dynamics of the underlying problems, but isn’t simply a blank check. 

This is where I kick off the Chamber brainstorm, with the intention of adding to the thread as ideas come to me (or anyone else).  I’ll start it with two words:

WordPress.com Political Blogger Alliance


  1. As someone who in 1984, upon purchasing a new and expensive GM vehicle and having nothing but a rash of problems with it, was then told from a regional representative of GM when I complained that it didn’t matter whether I ever purchased another GM, I feel no sympathy. NONE.

    Chapter 11 bankruptcy. The people have spoken. Use the opportunity to get rid of the rotten management, break the corrupt unions, higher more engineers who can build better and more efficient cars, and cut the fat to the bone. No exceptions.

    And to the asshole representative, in the one in a billion chance he would see this comment, “I only have one thing to say…”

    I feel your pain.

  2. Good grief…Hire. What the hell was that Tex?


  3. Here’s a few ideas for brainstorming. Please note that I don’t necessarily support these, just throwing them out in the sense of brainstorming.

    1) subsidize auto industry like we do with a lot of other industries (sort of the same thing as a loan, but say X dollars per year over Y years)

    2) require all government vehicles purchased over the next X years be big 3 automobiles (or just require X% of parts/assemble be done in states to keep corp names out of it)

    3) do the bailout using the same Corzine-Fitzgerald amendment from the post-9/11 airline bailout plan which lead to a net profit for tax payers

    4) raise gas tax (which would raise gas price and should drive market demand for more fuel efficient cars)

    5) cut salaries to maximum of $x (could be something like $400k or $200k, require executives to stay on for at least 5 more years to prevent them from leaving unless they get fired, etc.)

    Overall, I think the bigger question is whether or not the Big 3 is worth saving. If they are worth saving, then we can figure something out. If they aren’t worth saving, then we can stop trying to figure out how to save them.

  4. Hey thanks Jim, those are some interesting ideas.

    Oh, and I forgot the bonus question:

    How many PR points could one of those bigwigs have scored by flying into DC in coach seats? And would it have been enough to be a “game changer”?

  5. Bonus question answer: 0 points. The congress members would have found something else to grandstand about to get on the news instead of actually talk about the problem and reason why the Big3 was there.

  6. I’ve been saying for 2 weeks now that we should socialize the ludicrous amount of money Detroit is paying in benefits (real wages for a detroit worker are $24 an hour, yet pension costs divided on a per worker basis are $32 an hour).

    By socializing the pensions we bail out the worker and cut detroit’s labor costs in half.

    I’ve even blogged it today.

  7. @ Tex – Agreed. That is the legislative intent of Chapter 11. The entire purpose of the bankruptcy law is to deal with companies that can no longer survive on their own and have no prospective of a white knite purchaser.

    Let’s not forget that the notsoBig 3 all during the same time as the housing bouble was rapidly expanding, they were passing out cars like candy at Halloween with dealer incentive this and zero percent financing that. They created a glut of vehicles in the market. People who can’t afford them are of course not buying, people who don’t need them aren’t buying and people who can afford them and want to buy are picking and choosing because its a buyers market. They were openly sacrificing profit for market share and volume. Their problem, not ours.

    As for the “$700 billion” bailout, Christopher Dodd Chairman of the Senate Banking Committee interviewed on NPR this morning was saying the number was actually $5 trillion.
    I have a breakdown of the figures on my site.

    Let’s not kid ourselves. Buying stakes in companies is socialism. The government arbitrarily picking and choosing which companies fail or succeed is a command economy.

    Who is too big to fail and who is not? Which workers are more important and which wokers are expendable? And how do you decide? Answer: All depends who’s in power and where the lobbyists and special interests dollars flow. No more corporate welfare handouts. No more union welfare handouts. No more lobbyist and special interest handouts. That’s how you let the economy fix itself.

  8. Well, I might have bitten off more than I chan chew with this thread, as this is a pretty complex issue. But hey, I’m giving it a shot.

    Re: Tax incentives

    Since a bailout certianly wouldn’t guarantee that anyone would start buying the vehicles anytime soon, I decided to look at it the other way. By offering tax incentives for purchase of US brands, the money would trickle the other direction (consumer->dealer->manufactuer), and allow the big 3 to maintain or build market share in the process. At the end of the day, people need to buy the damn cars if these guys are going to survive, after all. The incentives could be contingent on a plan to get the automakers to a sustainable position, complete with benchmarks and sunset dates.

    Not sure if it’d work, but its an idea anyway.

    Also, I updated the tread (prepackaged bankruptcy)

  9. Even though I live in Michigan and travel to Detroit every freaking morning, I say just let the bankruptcy process take care of this, that’s what its for.
    Let the companies restructure, if they go into bankruptcy they will be forced to make products people want. Also, these workers get paid a lot compared to other companies in MI, they get discounts on autos, some even get to ride around in cars for free; which the companies use workers driving in their cars as a form of promotion.
    They definitely aren’t paid $70/hr but the most I’ve seen just based on my friends wage is $19/hr. $19/hr. Letting these companies go through the bankruptcy process would straighten their asses out, years ago once I saw every other car in Michigan being a Navigator or Expedition I knew it was going to be downhill from there and the car companies should have saw that as well, its not rocket science.
    All I have to say is what’s next? Circuit City is having problem too, if they had a huge effect on the economy would we have to bail them out too. Government should not be in the business of bailing out private companies we should make sure this doesn’t become a trend and the government could start by not bailing out the auto industry.

  10. Sometimes ignorance is bliss. I know just enough about this to be able to take a hard line and not get too distracted by the details. 🙂 Not my typical approach but I’m using it here.

    Chapter 11 is the answer.

    I suggest in my blog that the only government “subsidy” that should be offered to the Big 3 is warranty guarantees. The biggest objection I’ve heard so far to chapter 11 is that no one will buy a car from a bankrupt company for fear of not getting a valid warranty. I don’t know the mechanics of this, but I say auto warranties from the Big 3 should be “federally insured” so if the companies wind up going chapter 7, the auto buyer is still protected. This keeps people buying the cars while the auto makers re-invent themselves … this time for real.

    First step in the re-invention … fire the arrogant bastards who ran these companies into the ditch. Sorry, but the private jets was the last straw for me. A trio of a**holes.

  11. Something is terribly wrong here. I come in this evening and find myself in agreement with a bunch of blockheaded libs?

    And I start thinking to myself, WTH??? This can’t be!


  12. No Lib here Tex lol.

    @ Rutherford – In BK in the case of Warranties, the Court recognizes these as valid, binding contracts and those holding them as potential creditors and their rights are recognized as such. The last thing the Court wants to do is to dissuade people from buying cars because of warranties, which would defeat the whole purposes of the restructuring. in other words, the warranties will be protected so that argument is an uneducted one or otherwords purposeful misinformation in order to scare people into accepting a government bailout.

  13. Sorry Christopher,

    Stick around long enough and you’ll find we are a rare breed.

  14. Christopher, thanks for the clarification. I don’t know bankruptcy law from scrambled eggs. Looks like I got duped by the worst-case-scenario propaganda machine.

  15. @ Rutherford – So wait, are you telling me that Levin, Dingell and co. didn’t publish that little tidbit? You’d think with so many trial lawyers in Congress one of them might be up to speed on BK law…go figure.

    @ Tex and all – formal invitation to any interested political heretics to my blogsite:

  16. The Auto Makers Are Already Bankrupt

  17. Let them file chapter 11.

    Restructure or liquidate. Period! No more government bailouts or subsidies. Our country is supposed to be a free market/capitalist system. We have mechanisms in place for companies that can’t compete in the free marketplace…it’s called bankruptcy.

    Our government at this point either owns or has a stake in almost every major industry. This is Socialism pure and simple.

    I think even Chen would agree with me that the two party system has failed…which is a very bad thing for this country. The GOP was supposed to be the check that balanced out the Democrats. The GOP failed.
    Socialism is NOT what made this country great. Free market capitalism is what made it great. The Democrats have been wanting to create a Socialist state out of this country for decades. Well, at least we knew where they stood. The only thing standing between their desire and free market capitalism….were the Republicans. That’s what I liked about the Republicans. That’s why I supported then since my first vote in 1980. That’s why I’m much more disappointed in the Republicans then I am with the Democrats. The Republicans were supposed to be the firewall. They were the ones who were supposed to stand in the way of the Democrats desire for a Socialist state.

    The Republicans sold us out!

    We always knew where the Democrats stood…at least for the last several decades. At least they’ve been open about it.
    The Republicans have been more stealth. In the last 8 years they’ve spent more money then Ted Kennedy could have if he found the key to the vault on one of his drunken binges.

    And then the Republicans try and give us Democrat light with McCain. WTF? Why vote for the watered down version if you can have the original. At least Obama was open with his socialist aspirations.

    Which gets us back to this stupid bailout. In 1979 (back when we truly had a free market/capitalist nation), Chrysler came to congress, hat in hand, looking for a bailout. It was a VERY hotly debated issue at the time. The government just didn’t do that kind of thing.
    After huge debates throughout the country, on the news,in the papers and in Washington, the congress decided that it would lend Chrysler the money it needed to stay in business. Lots of strings were attached and the loan had to be payed back. Oh, BTW….the loan was a measly ONE billion.

    Fast forward less then 30 years….and the government is now in the business of buying up industries to the tune of HUNDREDS OF BILLIONS!

    Financial industry – 700 billion!
    AIG and Lehman Bros. – 200 billion!
    And now the auto industry – 25 billion!

    And that’s all on top of the 10 TRILLION dollar debt we’re already carrying!

    And yes, the GOP was supposed to be there to put the brakes on all of this. That was there job. Instead the sold us out.

    The Democrats were always going to go down this road. The Republicans weren’t supposed to. I’m more angry at the GOP. They should have known better.

  18. Sorry for the rant. I’m okay now.

  19. DesertSage, “AIG and Lehman Bros.”

    I’m confused. The gov did not bail out Lehman. To what were you referring?

  20. Sorry about my missing graphic on the previous post. I was on a different ‘puter and had not logged into my WordPress account.

  21. You’re right, Lehman didn’t get a bailout. I stand corrected.

    So that begs the question…why should the auto makers get a bailout?

  22. So that begs the question…why should the auto makers get a bailout?

    I don’t think anyone here is saying that they should, Sage. At least they shouldn’t with no preconditions. But it could be argued that something needs to be done to avoid sending millions to the unemployment lines and the rest of the economy to the shitter, so here we are trying to come up with some somethings.

    Just this morning, I discovered that the dealership across the street barred it’s doors. They actually had a rentacop there to ward people off the premesis, while various news crews swung by. As it turns out, it was one of six here locally that closed today. 400 jobs.

  23. Chen,

    You worried about your job? I mean, more so than the rotten economic environment we are currently experiencing? Have you seen a big-time drop off in business? I really have no idea, and no getting ready to drop some crass statement. I was hoping you hadn’t been impacted too negatively.

    When I started medical school, I had not intended to watch half my net worth disappear while doing so. Now that I’ve lost a small fortune, I’m wondering if I’ll even finish that or start looking to become some corporate lackey again, sell the house and move to my wife’s home away from home.

  24. Worry about losing the job is coming a close second to simply making enough money to pay the bills.

  25. Worry about losing the job is coming a close second to simply making enough money to pay the bills.

    You can’t imagine how lucky I consider myself at this minute to have married a smart girl – far smarter than her worthless husband.

  26. Ok chen,…I will meet you in front of the Saloon at high noon.

    Oh, and on the current subject, fortunately my line of work is relatively recession proof.

  27. If we are talking about work now, then my father have mucho dinero so, I’m recession proof, unless his recession proof business goes under and all of the sudden the US Military isn’t in need of people to train soldiers 😮
    Hey, wheres the Saloon and can I come.

  28. Yep the military, like law enforcement (my job) are always in need as long as there is law.

  29. mic = nic, but of course that’s obvious.

  30. Yep the military, like law enforcement (my job) are always in need as long as there is law.

    Song, haven’t you heard? The Obamessiah will usher in an era of world peace. There will be no need for law enforcement.

    Obviously you haven’t talked to the rubes here enough.

  31. I can’t believe you still have the picture of that little chameleon on your sidebar.

  32. Heck yea Sage! That was classic!

  33. Hmmmmm?


  34. For me the chameleon leads to a verboten page. Is it Nancy’s site?

  35. @ DesertSage – Not to nitpick at your figures,
    “Financial industry – 700 billion!
    AIG and Lehman Bros. – 200 billion!
    And now the auto industry – 25 billion!”

    but you’re off by about $5,413 billion give or take. http://politicalthirdrail.wordpress.com/qa-questions-from-the-audience/no-4-112008-bailout-update/

    Semper fi btw.

  36. Thanks Christopher. That page is now bookmarked.

    I was so pissed when I wrote that, everything was just off the top of my head. I got Lehman mixed up with Bear Stearns.

    It’s all so fuzzy anyhow. My point was that we have come…in less then thirty years…from a hotly debated one billion dollar bailout (which was really just a loan) of Chrysler Corp. to over a trillion dollar bailout of just about everything.

    It just makes me sick. I have trouble making my mortgage payment every month. Should I just stop making it and ask the government to bail me out?

    I know one thing, if I didn’t make my mortgage payment, I’d get thrown out on my ass….I wouldn’t get a bailout.

    I don’t even recognize this country anymore.

  37. I agree completely, I’ve thought about writing “guaranteed by the U.S. Treasury, Dept. of Irresponsibility” on my checks and start bouncing them all over town just to see what happens. The handouts must end. I have spent years listening ad nauseum to Democrats complain about “corporate welfare” and yet they overwhelmingly supported a bailout for Wall Street and for the notsoBig3 and shame on the RINO’s that went right along with them.

  38. Let them die. We can get rid of the unions, too.

    I thought that Zach Wamp addressed a fundamental point in his statement that businesses that don’t seek out states with anti-labor laws deserve to go into Chapter 11.

  39. Plan bailout for GM? Reclassify itself as a financial institution. Shoot, they’d probably qualify for a $100 billion…

    Uncle Barney would see to it personally.

  40. Worry about losing the job is coming a close second to simply making enough money to pay the bills.

    This is one reason why, as desperate as I am to make a steady income, I turned down the chance to become a “financial adviser”. After a period of paid training and passing some exams, the job would end up 100% commission. In this economy, that is not much different from having no job at all.

  41. “R”

    This is one reason why, as desperate as I am to make a steady income, I turned down the chance to become a “financial adviser”. After a period of paid training and passing some exams, the job would end up 100% commission. In this economy, that is not much different from having no job at all.

    You could go completely brain dead and you couldn’t do any worse than the so-called experts called financial advisers working this very minute.

    Tex has cut back too. I actually rotated my own tires in the driveway this afternoon. Even torqued them to factory specs. It’s amazing what you can find on the internet.

    Some dimwit had used a pneumatic tool to apply what seemed about 1000lbs of torque previously. They’re supposed to be 80lbs. I thought to myself there is no way my wife could have broken these nuts loose.

    Have you ever thought about car mechanic? If I don’t go back to medical school, I may become a tire specialist.

  42. You libbies could earn my respect if you would clean up your own house…here is a major scumbag that should be sent to the congressional dustbin:


  43. Based on disability, physical labor is out of the question. It’s one of the reasons why Obama’s plans for infrastructure jobs doesn’t exactly make me thrill with anticipation. You won’t find me repairing bridges or building roads in this lifetime.

    What I need is a government program to employ “obsolete intellectuals”. 🙂

    That sounded pretty bad didn’t it? I’m not particularly inspired today. Worry not, I’ll be back to my old arrogant self tomorrow. 😉

  44. The Dead Rabbit infrastructure has been collapsing lately. Appliances, my truck. The latest was my computer. I need to get caught up here at the Chamber. Unfortunately, I”ll continue to be cutting my knuckles on my stupid truck for the time being. God speed.

  45. Rabbit,

    If you need your tires torqued, I’m your man!

    Speaking of POS. I’ve got this ’97 Explorer with about 170K miles I’ve had since new that I keep to haul the Christmas tree home, go to Wal-Mart (idiot’s parking lot), drag the jetski around, take the remaining hound to the Vet, etc…

    I guarantee it isn’t worth a 1,000 bucks to anyone else but me. Anyway, the damn thing has started oil leaking all over the driveway, so I crawled up underneath and have determined the gasket on the oil pan needs to be replaced.

    Bottom line is, how is this for American engineering? To change the oil pan gasket, Ford recommends you pull the motor. No, I am not sh*tting – pull the motor. I called my mechanic friend and he says, yeah that is correct and they’ll bill nine hours of labor. I laughed out loud and told him I would lite in on fire before I did that.

    I might lite in on fire and drive it into Rutherford’s front yard wearing a George Bush mask.

  46. “I might lite in on fire and drive it into Rutherford’s front yard wearing a George Bush mask.”

    That cracked me up.

  47. “I might lite in on fire and drive it into Rutherford’s front yard wearing a George Bush mask.”

    That would rank as the most interesting thing to happen in my front yard in a long time. 🙂

  48. That would rank as the most interesting thing to happen in my front yard in a long time.

    I am scared to ask what might have happened more interesting than that in your front yard. But I digress…

    What do you think “R”. Do you think that could be interpreted as like the new Klan symbol? My declaring war on liberals, but instead of cross burnings, I light on fire under worn out gas guzzlers parked in front of liberal’s homes, while wearing a Dick Cheney mask?

  49. LOL! That last sentence was something…I’m slipping. I think the libs have me under a spell.

    How about, “while I light a fire under a worn out gas guzzler in front of a liberal’s home, I’m wearing a Dick Cheney mask?” Or something like that.

  50. I didn’t think they had Dick Cheney masks, but alas, google says I’m wrong.

  51. I didn’t think they had Dick Cheney masks, but alas, google says I’m wrong.


    Perfect! With a smirk, and everything.

    Don’t you feel left out!

    I just need another old gas guzzler!

  52. Chenster and Rutherford,

    Merry Christmas Boys!

    Do I need to order a couple of more?

  53. Just a quick update on the subject of bailouts, the current fiasco is now topping out at OVER $8 Trillion. The cost per citizen (not taxpayer, citizen) is now $26,188, as of Nov. 13, it was $20,734. Can there be ANY question of further bailouts? The details of the current expenditures and guarantees can be found here:


  54. Ahh, yes. Another $800 billion just today in taxpayer assistance for consumer lending and mortgages, not to be confused with the $700 billion for the financial industry, or the $45 billion (so far, up from $25 billion originally, plus an additional $300 billion in loan guarantees) for Citigroup (one company, no less), and $150 billion (up from 85 billion) for AIG, and … what was it for Bear, Stearns? I’ve lost track of them all.

    But $25 billion for the American auto industry is, for some reason, just unacceptable? I don’t get it. Was it the private planes for the execs? Or the bogus “$77 an hour” wage supposedly earned by autoworkers? There are several million jobs at stake — think about that for a second — and the continued viability of the backbone of the American manufacturing sector. This seems like an easy call.

  55. Just to add this factoid from today’s NY Times article on the latest bailout: “All told, the government has assumed at least $7 trillion in direct and indirect financial obligations in the form of Wall Street bailouts, emergency lending and government guarantees on bank deposits, inter-bank loans and home mortgages.”

    If my math is correct, the proposed bailout of the auto industry would represent 0.357% of the total shelled out so far — truly a drop in the bucket.

    Clearly, the taxpayers deserve to have some strings on their money, to prevent a repeat of some of the prior boneheaded decisions.
    But the basic lend vs. don’t-lend decision doesn’t strike me as difficult.

  56. Twc01,

    Point taken. But first, can you explain to me if the wage number bogus, why does American Honda appear to be holding up quite well?

  57. @ twc01 – actually you’re off by $1 Trillion, the count is over 8 now. If we let 12 murderer’s walk and only convict lucky 13, hypocracy aside, is murder still wrong? I see where you’re going with this but the sooner the hemmoraghing is stopped the better. I don’t agree with 1 trillion, 1 billion, 1 million etc. (I’m sure you see where I’m going with this) Bailout is bailout is wrong. Doesn’t matter who its going to. It could have been Bechtel, Haliburton, Exxon or Boeing who happened to be next in line before the notsoBig3. Fact is it was wrong then its wrong now. Damnit to hell with moral relativity.

  58. I’m from Wayne County in a neighborhood that almost survives completely on the Big 3. Dead Rabbit represents the corner of Cherry Hill and Inkster, a place where the national media shows up to shoot footage of the recession.

    Unlike Wiseman and maybe Tex, I really don’t stand my ground against a Big 3 bailout on any sort of moral stance. Since the reality of watching my already suffering community spiral into the Dark Ages scares the crap out of me, if a successful bail out entailed me hitting my dog over the head with a shovel, I’d do it.

    And I love my dog.

    The problem is you can’t make chicken salad out of chicken shit. The Big 3 is screwed and its simple math. It’s not because their cars are lemons. American cars have been very high quality for almost a decade now.

    The UAW has sucked the Big 3 bone dry. And the Big 3 was already arid as all hell due to the short sighted decision of pumping out gas guzzlers. The baby-boomers have retired, and the Big 3 owes them bennies. They pay medical bills for more retirees then they do workers! And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

    Simple. They simply can not be profitable without a total restructuring and a possible disappearance of one of the companies.

    Nancy Pelosi says no bankruptcy. UAW says no bankruptcy. CEO’s say no bankruptcy.

    Ask yourself what a bankruptcy is? It holds off creditors while you restructure. Why would we give money to an unprofitable company, doomed to failure, if they don’t restructure? It makes no sense that Nancy says no to Chapter 11 and then demands a business plan. What the hell do you think an acceptable business plan would entail?

    You fix the hull of a sinking ship, you don’t put more people on the motherfucker.

    Either way, hard times in my backyard are going to get down right epic in the next year or so.

  59. Tex, regarding Ann’s new book, such a shame she won’t be able to go on that book tour. Wonder if someone finally punched her square in the mouth?

  60. dead rabbit,

    Excellent post. I don’t want a bunch of folks out of work, even if most of them are voting Dims. Chapter 11 would force a reorganization, provide the opportunity to can brain dead management, and (and this is the point where you and I might go to opposite poles) break the corrupt UAW.

    Understand, I am not against the premise of unions but against what many unions have become.

    Interestingly, I have on occasion rented a few American automobiles and haven’t found them much different in quality than the Japanese vehicles I drive now. But you simply can’t compete when your operating costs are 50% more expensive than say American Honda.

    And I have often wondered why Republicans don’t point fingers at states like Michigan and California and say, “there is your prime example of Dimocrats being in control. That want you want?”

  61. And I have often wondered why Republicans don’t point fingers at states like Michigan and California and say, “there is your prime example of Dimocrats being in control. That want you want?”

    California has a republican governor (Ahnold the Goveneator). So technically, a republican is in control of California with a democratic majority in the legislature (25/15 senate and 48/32 assembly, neither is 2/3s majority).

    But what’s California got to do with UAW, Big3, or the bailout?

  62. If Ahnald S. is a Republican, I’m Barack Obama. California is as Dimocrat, full of “progressive ideas” as it gets and on the verge of implosion.

    Here’s what my analogy has to do with it.

    California is broke. A textbook example of progressive politics in action. So is Michigan. Another POS.

    And both are overwhelmingly blue states full of neo-pagans who put them there. And I can’t wait for Ahnald to come with tin cup in hand to ask for a bailout. NY, another blue state isn’t far behind.

    Dimocrat politics are abject failures – like the UAW and GM’s executive management.

  63. Tex, can you point out an example of where the UAW has been corrupt in the last 15 years? I don’t think ‘corrupt’ is the right word. What’s so corrupt about playing hard ball and winning? What’s so corrupt about people collectively bargaining? Is it anymore corrupt then a hostile takeover on Wall Street? If a bunch of people decide they don’t want to work until they get paid more, well, its America baby, go for it. It’s really all free market capitalism.

    Jimmy Hoffa and the teamsters of 1975 isn’t the same thing as the UAW of the 1990s.

    Corrupt is the wrong word. Replace it with “Greed” and it makes so much more sense. The UAW got greedy just like many other sectors and individuals did in the last 20 years.

    The UAW ate their own children as they ironically bargained their sons out of jobs. Sons that didn’t think they had to get educated. Many of my buddies now compete against illegal aliens mowing lawns because the job on the line never materialized. They can blame Dad for that.

    Management could have gone to war with the UAW. The Russians bought the steel side of the Ford Rouge Plant and laid down a bit of law on the UAW. Ended up being a good deal for everyone. (Although the Russians may not survive this latest funk either).

    You say the UAW and GM’s executive management are abject failures. I agree. In the free market, business models fail. But it’s apolitical.

    That is, until this stupid ass bail out goes through and Congress decides they want to French kiss a dead hooker for 50 billion or so.

  64. Hey Rutherford, I’m starting to enjoy the hate you spew of late.

    I think we have more in common then you think. The dark side is strong with you.

    How about a deal?

    You can constantly post how you relish the fact that Ann Coulter “finally” got punched in the mouth for ironically exercising free speech.

    In return, I will keep everyone medically updated on Barney Frank’s disgusting canker sores from blowing Fanny and Freddy execs. (Considering Frank’s apartment in the 80’s we can only assume more then one). Do you think Herb Moses played with Frank’s hair has he gave him his marching orders?

    Yeah….live the hate. Breathe the hate.

    Let the Rutherford-Dead Rabbit Empire reign for a 1,000 years!

  65. Okay, substitute greed for corruption. Makes no difference to me as I consider the UAW to be immoral, from worker’s strikes to abject “greed” equivalent to the Big Three executive management. This problem isn’t just a bad call on gas guzzling vehicles but 30+ years of poor execution.

    And since I consider absolute greed morally debased, therefore corrupt by definition.

  66. @Tex:
    “can you explain to me if the wage number bogus, why does American Honda appear to be holding up quite well?”

    I’m not sure what you mean there, Tex.
    The wage number is bogus because it is bogus — it is not an accurate figure. UAW workers simply do not make $77 an hour, even when benefits are figured in.
    As for “American Honda” and other manufacturers, all of the auto manufacturers are seeing their sales plummet. Honda is doing a little better in the U.S. than GM. GM is doing a little better in China and Russia than Honda. But they’re all watching their cars pile up in showrooms and lots around the world. When credit dries up, and the economy swirls the bowl, and consumer confidence tanks, people don’t buy cars.

  67. Worker’s strikes immoral? How in the hell is a worker’s strike even remotely immoral?

    Intimidating scabs? Railroad workers during a war? Longshoremen and economic warfare? Ok, I agree.

    But, as a whole, going on strike is immoral? Why does the free market not apply to labor? Hell, I’m in the union and I wouldn’t deem all of us getting canned and replaced by scabs as immoral. I walk it like I talk it. Tex, you are usually a rational person. Put down your right wing handbook, and simply apply the very principles you believe in across the board.

    1. Labor is a commodity.
    2. Labor is made up of free individuals
    3. In America, people have the right of assembly
    4. The market dictates what this commodity is worth.

    Don’t like strikes? Fire us!

    Immoral? You sound just like those lefties who hate entrepreneurial success.

    Is it immoral for you and your corporate “team” to go and ask the boss for a raise? Doesn’t the boss risk losing that “team” to the competition?

    Are those corporate retreats where you guys are forced, for the sake of comradeship, to awkwardly sing songs, play dodge ball like uncoordinated robots and bake cookies that effective that salesmen never come together and demand more of a cut?

    I think not.

  68. What’s really crippling the competitiveness of the American auto manufacturers — and they still manage to remain reasonably competitive in the global market; GM and Toyota are roughly tied in total global vehicle sales — is the costs of health insurance for their workers and retirees.
    Every other industrialized country provides health care for their citizens. GM, Ford and Chrysler have to pay for it for their current and former workers.
    Once that is solved, the American manufacturers will be able to compete on a truly level playing field, and should do very well. (At least GM and Ford will. Chrysler probably isn’t long for this world as an independent company.)

  69. “Can’t wait until that happens. Ever get you’re wisdom teeth pulled by a military dentist?”

    My wife just switched from basically what is essentially a government sponsored university fertility clinic (research based) to a bad ass private office. I won’t bore you with the details, but in 1 day, we made more head way to figuring this thing out then in three years at the other place.

    I hate when people use personal stuff to back up their own arguments up. Dead Rabbit needs to stop this.

  70. oops..i quoted myself

  71. http://bp1.blogger.com/_otfwl2zc6Qc/RpWmqj-cdnI/AAAAAAAAB2Q/9CNk1ukhWoo/s1600-h/wages.bmp

    according to Forbes. This 2006…they have taken a cut since then…new hires have anyways.

  72. @Dead Rabbit, now come on … even you can see the perverse humor in someone who makes her living with her barbed tongue suddenly being silenced right when she has a book to hawk. Now if she were dead, no, I wouldn’t be joshing at her expense, but a broken jaw couldn’t be a more apropos misfortune for the queen of vitriol. I’m sure she’ll heal quickly enough for you and Tex not to go through too much withdrawal. 🙂

    @No one in particular: It seems to me that the hourly wage of assembly line workers ought to be a FACT that could be documented so why is the media and this blog thread debating how much these people make? I’ve heard $25/hour all the way up to $75. Which is it? Does anybody know and can you cite a reliable source?

    Second, I have always been in favor of unions on principle but I’ve got to tell you I saw something disturbing on TV tonight. You see, I’m used to the model where unions keep management in check. On Rachel Maddow tonight I saw the head of the UAW and if I didn’t know who he was, I could’ve sworn he was just another auto executive. Have unions and management become indiscernible? I wouldn’t be surprised if this guy was flying around in his own private jets. Seems to me there is something wrong when the union guys are talking the same management-speak of the CEO’s.

  73. But you can’t see the unfathomable humor of Barney Frank LITERALLY blowing Fanny’s Moses?

    As for your surprise over the superficial image of Ron Gettelfinger, this is exactly my point. Was it his suit that ruined your romantic image of organized labor? Should he be in coveralls? Your view of unions, in some ways, is the same as Tex’s. Only you’ve been taught to believe the union some dreamy defender of the plebs.

    Dude, they are just one of many competing in the free market. Nothing more, nothing less. The UAW’s business plan failed in the long run this time.

  74. @rutherford:
    “It seems to me that the hourly wage of assembly line workers ought to be a FACT that could be documented so why is the media and this blog thread debating how much these people make? I’ve heard $25/hour all the way up to $75. Which is it? Does anybody know and can you cite a reliable source?”

    Here you go:

    A few quotes, from the article (Nov. 21, 2008, by Jonathan Cohn at The New Republic):
    “Let’s start with the fact that it’s not $70 per hour in wages. According to Kristin Dziczek of the Center for Automative Research–who was my primary source for the figures you are about to read–average wages for workers at Chrysler, Ford, and General Motors were just $28 per hour as of 2007. That works out to a little less than $60,000 a year in gross income–hardly outrageous, particularly when you consider the physical demands of automobile assembly work and the skills most workers must acquire over the course of their careers.”

    “More important, and contrary to what you may have heard, the wages aren’t that much bigger than what Honda, Toyota, and other foreign manufacturers pay employees in their U.S. factories. While we can’t be sure precisely how much those workers make, because the companies don’t make the information public, the best estimates suggests the corresponding 2007 figure for these “transplants”–as the foreign-owned factories are known–was somewhere between $20 and $26 per hour, and most likely around $24 or $25. That would put average worker’s annual salary at $52,000 a year.”

    And, finally:
    “But then what’s the source of that $70 hourly figure? It didn’t come out of thin air. Analysts came up with it by including the cost of all employer-provided benefits–namely, health insurance and pensions–and then dividing by the number of workers. The result, they found, was that benefits for Big Three cost about $42 per hour, per employee. Add that to the wages–again, $28 per hour–and you get the $70 figure. Voila.

    Except … notice something weird about this calculation? It’s not as if each active worker is getting health benefits and pensions worth $42 per hour. That would come to nearly twice his or her wages. (Talk about gold-plated coverage!) Instead, each active worker is getting benefits equal only to a fraction of that–probably around $10 per hour, according to estimates from the International Motor Vehicle Program. The number only gets to $70 an hour if you include the cost of benefits for retirees–in other words, the cost of benefits for other people. One of the few people to grasp this was Portfolio.com’s Felix Salmon. As he noted yesterday, the claim that workers are getting $70 an hour in compensation is just “not true.”

    Of course, the cost of benefits for those retirees–you may have heard people refer to them as “legacy costs”–do represent an extra cost burden that only the Big Three shoulder. And, yes, it makes it difficult for the Big Three to compete with foreign-owned automakers that don’t have to pay the same costs. But don’t forget why those costs are so high. While the transplants don’t offer the same kind of benefits that the Big Three do, the main reason for their present cost advantage is that they just don’t have many retirees.

    The first foreign-owned plants didn’t start up here until the 1980s; many of the existing ones came well after that. As of a year ago, Toyota’s entire U.S. operation had less than 1,000 retirees. Compare that to a company like General Motors, which has been around for more than a century and which supports literally hundreds of thousands of former workers and spouses. As you might expect, many of these have the sorts of advanced medical problems you expect from people to develop in old age. And, it should go without saying, those conditions cost a ton of money to treat.”

  75. @rutherford

    I posted a comment containing a cite with the information on autoworkers’ average wages — but it is awaiting moderation.

    In the meantime, basically, the figure is roughly $28 an hour.

  76. @Christoper Wiseman:
    “Bailout is bailout is wrong. Doesn’t matter who its going to. It could have been Bechtel, Haliburton, Exxon or Boeing who happened to be next in line before the notsoBig3. Fact is it was wrong then its wrong now. Damnit to hell with moral relativity”

    Even if the analysts are right and the decision against this (very modest) auto industry bailout means the loss of several million American jobs?

  77. TWC, great explanation. Many thanks.

    @Dead Rabbit, I probably do have an over-romanticized view of organized labor. I fully expected Gettelfinger to say something like “we haven’t been prodded to innovate and that is part of our problem.” Instead, he just seemed to be another mouthpiece for the three buttheads who flew their private jets to D.C. My wife described the unions of today as just another corporate entity. Do you agree? If so, isn’t that a bit disappointing?

    As for Barney Frank, ok, ok … my broken jaw is your blow job. Happy now? 😉

  78. Rabbit,

    I say immoral. It’s immoral to walk from a job in a failing company.

    You can argue, but the results speak for themselves. That’s no rightwing notebook. That’s personal experience getting to cross the strike line – with a company now out of business.

    Sure hope they enjoyed their strike wages – because in the end, that’s what they ended with.

  79. twc01,

    I’m not sure what you mean there, Tex.
    The wage number is bogus because it is bogus — it is not an accurate figure. UAW workers simply do not make $77 an hour, even when benefits are figured in.

    It’s not bogus. It is a fact that no matter how you classify wages and benefits, GM has operating costs that are close to 50% higher American Honda.

    Again, if you don’t believe me, take a look at a measurable principle. American Honda continues to make money. GM is hemorrhaging money. American Honda continues to gain market share; GM continues to lose market share.

    Rabbit, you’re blinded by your union membership. The current union model promotes mediocrity and tenure at the expense of productivity and excellence. No way around it…

  80. And it’s not going to cost several million jobs to forego the bailout and file Chapter 11. I heard all this crap before from American Airlines, Boeing, McDonnell-Douglas 20 years ago.

    Now, that is bogus.

  81. Tex,

    If that’s the case, fire the workers! You know, that does happen.

    It’s amazing to me that you believe everyone has a right to bargain for the best deal: consumers, shareholders, small business, big business (theoretically the government…but we know how that goes). Oh, but labor? No, according to you labor is guided by mysterious forces outside the free market.

    The union didn’t knowingly ruin the Big 3. Why would they do that? Now the banks that were “too big to fail” KNOWINGLY destroyed themselves. They knew the tax payer would bail them out.

    Unions aren’t a threat any more then the steel producers are to the Big 3. If the steel is over market price, go to a different company! If the union is making a business unprofitable, YOU FIRE EVERYBODY.

    I’m not naïve to the down side of unions. I admit they exist. Exaggerated. But they exist.

    Let me predict what happened when you crossed that picket line 20 years ago. Some people yelled at you. I’ve crossed picket lines before too. I’ve been kicked off union work sites when I was not in the union. I wasn’t so fragile that it gave me Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome. I’m willing to bet all the money I have in the bank (insert joke) that old Tex isn’t waking up in the middle of the night over that day either.

    I totally agree with you about the doom and gloom scenario about chapter 11. Chapter 11 will end up saving jobs. A fricking boat load of jobs will go bye bye for sure. But, they are going bye bye any ways. It’s reality. These politicians kill me.

    Where is the GOP? I will never forget how they stood on the side lines and allowed America to become socialist. They might end up collapsing the dollar. Mofos are playing with fire.

    I despise the GOP!

  82. Let me predict what happened when you crossed that picket line 20 years ago. Some people yelled at you. I’ve crossed picket lines before too. I’ve been kicked off union work sites when I was not in the union. I wasn’t so fragile that it gave me Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome. I’m willing to bet all the money I have in the bank (insert joke) that old Tex isn’t waking up in the middle of the night over that day either.

    Actually, as a punk straight out of college, I found crossing the picket line sort of thrilling and comical. As a salaried worker, they pretty much left me alone and I never made more money as a young man because they were paying me for overtime, which didn’t happen in the cushy office. No PTSS for me! Tell you what else I found.

    Rags stuck in the intakes of DC-8 reengines, cut hydraulic lines courtesy of the strike workers, crimped electrical bundles before they left. Starting to catch my drift about the classy union types we were working with here? Could have brought a plane down, but hey, that’s not important when there are collective bargaining agreements to negotiate.

    You’re right. I’ve never looked at unions quite the same again after that episode. And for their 16 week troubles, the average union jack came back making about $4K less per year than they had before they left. $4K was a lot of money 25 years ago.

    Here’s what else I discovered about unions. At 22 years of age, I had a grievance filed against me. My crime? Moving a printer from one computer to another and the union help witnessed me doing so. Guess that was part of their responsibility. True story.

    Six years later, they were out of a job as 2,000 people left closed gates because they couldn’t compete against the hourly rate of General Dynamics. Lost both major contracts, and boom – they were gone.


    Tough economic times call for a change of strategery…

    A man in Jacksonville calls his son in San Diego two days before Thanksgiving and says, ‘I hate to ruin
    your day, but I have to tell you that your mother and I are divorcing. Forty-five years of misery is enough.’

    ‘Pop, what are you talking about?’ the son screams.

    ‘We can’t stand the sight of each other any longer,’ the father says. ‘We’re sick of each other, and I’m sick of talking about this, so you call your sister in Denver and tell her.’

    Frantic, the son calls his sister, who explodes on the phone. ‘Like heck they’re getting divorced,’ she shouts, ‘I’ll take care of this.’

    She calls Jacksonville immediately, and screams at her father, ‘You are NOT getting divorced. Don’t do a single thing until I get there. I’m calling my brother back, and we’ll both be there tomorrow.
    Until then, don’t do a thing. DO YOU HEAR ME?’ and hangs up.

    The old man hangs up the phone and turns to his wife. ‘Okay,’ he says, ‘they’re coming for Thanksgiving and paying their own way.’

  84. “Six years later, they were out of a job as 2,000 people left closed gates because they couldn’t compete against the hourly rate of General Dynamics. Lost both major contracts, and boom – they were gone.”

    My point exactly. The market eradicated the problem. The consumer won. Look man, just like my house. I was speculating and got burned. I live with it and blame nobody but myself. Same with the union. If you concede that we, as Americans, have a right to assemble, then you concede we have the right to organize. That being said, we also have a right to be thrown on our asses too.

    I don’t condone the behavior of that strike you described. I almost got into a fist fight with my own union because I wouldn’t stand for intimidating scab custodians.

    The Dead Rabbit was once a U.S. postal worker for 3 days believe it or not. I couldn’t believe the unions in that place. Three different unions stepping on one anther’s feet. I was sorting the mail when it occurred to me I’m a free American. I’m free to just run out of this post office and never come back. I hated the job. I squealed and peeled out of there, never to return. It could have been a decent career. But, a good judgment of my own character, I deemed it 10% chance I would go “postal” after 20 years. I’m not sure what the point of telling you about my brief career and as mailman was.

    Damn Tex, it’s not like the employer won’t hesitate for a second to lay someone off. my wife was employee of the year last year for a large group insurance company. Free trip to Hawaii, they even gave her a ipod just for the plane ride. 3 months later, she shows up to work and security escorts her out like a criminal. Her position was eliminated.

    All is fair in love and war.

    Tex, you sure you’re not a Pinkerton?

  85. Ron Paul is looking more sane to me everyday.

  86. Even tough alternatives to making money doesn’t work around here. My Dad told me he and his buddies used to look for houses with nobody home next to Tiger Stadium on game day. They would put up a parking sign, line them up on the front lawn, collect the money and go watch the game in the bar.

    Lions haven’t won a game yet and are going to be an embarrassment in front of the national media Thanksgiving. It’s a a ghost town at Ford Field. Michigan isn’t even in a bowl game. Tigers were supposed to win the world series this year but instead enjoyed last place.

    Dark Ages on so many levels.

  87. @ twco1 – “Even if the analysts are right and the decision against this (very modest) auto industry bailout means the loss of several million American jobs?”

    So what is your standard objective criteria for which companies and under what circumstances should a company receive bailouts? Or do we go by the friends of Paulson and Bernanke strategy, or do we just flip a coin to decide?

    In THREE MONTHS, we have spent, pledged and guaranteed 8.5 trillion dollars almost matching the US National Debt (10.6 trillion dollars) with bailouts, so sure, I suppose $25 billion is no big deal.

    But riddle me this, everyone who complained that Iraq was a quagmire and excoreated Bush for not having an exit strategy, where are they now? Oh wait, they were the ones who voted for a neverending bailout full of corporate welfare (aren’t Democrats against corporate welfare?) with no strategy to win, with no exit strategy to remove the government from throwing its weight around the economy like an 8.5 trillion pound gorilla.

    Never mind the government is willy nilly buying ownership in private companies. Do we as the tax payers now get to attend shareholder meetings and vote our 0.000001% of ownership? What country are we living in, Venezuela? Paging Tresury Secretary Henry Chavez and Fed Chairman Ben Castro.

  88. Ok well I guess its time for me to tell my union story. I worked for UPS. They’re a teamster shop. I was introduced to teamster politics courtesy of Hoffa-Mack. Wow. That was an eye opener. I refused to take union material when I was still a probationary employee, never mind they weren’t supposed to even be talking to me at that point, which I pointed out to them. They didn’t appreciate my attitude, apparently I was a tool and not a team player. I got in trouble with management because they didn’t like me working during my scheduled union breaks. I liked to work, it kept me going, and I got ahead in my work and had more chances at overtime work. Union didn’t like me cause I made coworkers look lazy and I wasn’t getting with the program. They also didn’t like the fact that I made written requests not to use any portion of my dues for political expenditures to support politicians that I didn’t support.

  89. “Trouble”…”didn’t like me”….what did it add up to? You still got paid right? Did they fire you?

    How quick would you have ran to the union if you were getting set up with some b.s. sexual harassment accusation. Or packages were turning up missing and they automatically blame the frat boy. Or management wasn’t giving you time to be with your sick kid? Or you kept being forced to do something amazingly dangerous.

    Go to a Steel plant, where the reality is you could literally fall into a human fondue bowl of molten lava. Union can protect you, man.

    Sure, it’s a deal that goes both ways. I would make the argument that you would have pissed some people off if you weren’t taking your breaks in a non-union shop. I remember when I was a teenager, I wasn’t taking my breaks at a fast food restaurant and everyone hated me for it.

    Were you unaware that you were going to be a teamster when you took the job? Breaks are important to people. Maybe after 25 years of humping packages, and your knees and back were killing you everyday, those breaks might mean something to you. Hell, you were probably 20 years old at the time. You could have survived one of the Japanese death marches.

    I was openly not voting for Obama. Sure I got my balls busted, but ultimately nobody gave a crap.

    I think people sometimes almost fictionalize their headbutting with the union to appease a self perception of being a lone wolf and to reinforce a predisposed political identity (I’m not directing that at you). I am directing this to you: You were a rooking employee…they barely cared what you thought. Load the fricking packages on the truck.

    I’m familiar with the UPS work you were doing as an entry level employee. Part time I believe? 4 hour shifts of fast paced work? That shit is hard work. Without restraints, a place like UPS could work a mofo into the ground. Hell, management wanted you to take your breaks so they wouldn’t have to pay out of their as in comp pay when you slipped a disc.

    I once worked concrete under the table. I was young and stupid and like to show off how hard I could work. Not smart in 100 degrees. I ended up over heating and almost taking a dirt nap. My legs and face were paralyzed for 12 hours. I think I’m still paying for that ambulance ride.

    I hear what you’re saying though. It’s just that these kinds of jobs weigh on the back and the mind much differently when you are looking at working them for another 35 years. I’m guessing you knew this was a short time gig.

  90. Christopher…running for office? Wow. I think I’d vote for you. Are you serious about that? Considering your “internet press release” had two comments underneath it, I’d say you have challenge on your hands. But hell, good luck though!

  91. @ dead rabbit – You are pretty close in your guess, however I was working on the zip code sort line and as an unloader from the day I started (I caught a lucky break), for a 6-8 hour shift depending on the loads as it was at a hub there was usually plenty. Yes I was young and invincible at the time. And I received reprimands verbal and written by management and the union. Yes I knew I’d be a teamster but didn’t really know what that meant at the time.

    Most people couldn’t give a damn about my political leanings one way or another however I did raise ire in pointing out that they were violating rules soliciting for me to vote Hoffa when I wasn’t even entitled to vote yet.

    Yes the old timers were telling me constantly to pace myself but I found it harder to stop and then start and try to find my rhythm again than to just keep them going. And they did get pissed because overtime was first come first serve and I was usually there first because I skipped my breaks, finished my line and was ready to move on. (What I got in trouble for with management and union) I stayed about a year and moved on to greener pastures.

    The way I’ve always felt is that unions are only necessary because of the failings of management. If management creates the conditions where people willingly unionize, it’s management’s own fault. You don’t want a union shop, treat your employees right. And I have seen the good things unions do. I worked at a law firm that was involved in a safety related lawsuit at a Timet plant involving someone falling into a giant smelting pot. (I’m assuming you’re familiar with the company given your previous posts.) For those of you who don’t know, Timet is the world’s largest supplier of high quality titanium metal products.

  92. @ dead rabbit – Thanks for the support. I actually only have one comment on my front page, the second is my reply. lol Yes I have a lot of work to do but, my district is in dissary and has a serious GOP leadership vacuum that I’m hoping to fill.

  93. The way I’ve always felt is that unions are only necessary because of the failings of management. If management creates the conditions where people willingly unionize, it’s management’s own fault.

    Christopher has finally hit it on the head. Companies who go out of their way to treat their employees well, don’t have to deal with unions. I know this from very painful experience.

    I worked for a well known IT company for 24 years before I got laid off. When I joined this company straight out of college, not a single employee was interested in organized labor. Why? Because the company had a long (unwritten) tradition of full employment and very good benefits. The only way you lost your job was to steal from them. Otherwise, if your job went away, they got you a new one and if it demanded a relocation, they paid to relocate and retrain you.

    In the early 90’s (right when I went into management, just my friggin’ luck) the company decided they could no longer compete while sticking to their ideals and the layoffs commenced. Benefits started being reduced. And guess what? Suddenly, union literature started floating around. Despite many folks telling me that times had changed, I didn’t and don’t buy it. This company survived the Great Depression without laying off a single employee. What changed was not the times, but the ethics of the management team that decided to trade creativity and innovation for dumb cost cutting measures. And once you let that layoff-genie out of the bottle, there is no getting him back in there. The company threw over 50 years high standards towards their employees down the toilet.

    My wife still works for them. Ironically, we always thought she was the one most likely to get laid off, that is until I got the scripted layoff message read to me over the phone on my sister’s birthday in 2007. Since the company turned our life upside down, it’s hard for my wife to go to work everyday. She wants to tell them to f**k off. But we’re practical, and someone has got to pull in some predictable income.

    Bottom line, companies that treat their employees as their most valuable asset don’t need to worry about unions. Companies that don’t, not only deserve unions but they deserve to be nickled and dimed on every goddamn thing. You see, that’s one reason why I’m sickened when I see the head of the UAW talking like a corporate bigwig.

  94. @Tex:
    “American Honda continues to make money. GM is hemorrhaging money. American Honda continues to gain market share; GM continues to lose market share.”

    Is American Honda still making money, Tex? What’s your basis for that? Their sales have dropped, as have all auto manufacturers.
    Here, for instance:

    “Honda Motor Co. … said it would build fewer cars in Japan, Europe and North America to reflect an increasingly bleak outlook for sales as the global economic crisis discourages big-ticket purchases.

    Automakers around the world are suffering from a severe and deepening downturn in demand, eating away at cashflow and threatening the future of Detroit’s Big Three automakers …
    On Friday, Fitch Ratings downgraded the long-term debt ratings of Nissan Motor Co (7201.T: Quote, Profile, Research) to BBB-plus from A-minus, assigning a negative outlook citing its dependence on the flagging U.S. market.

    Honda, Japan’s No.2 automaker said it would cut output at its Saitama factory near Tokyo by 40,000 vehicles due to slow sales of Accord sedans, mainly bound for North America and Europe.

    It will also chop production by an additional 21,000 cars at its UK factory, bringing the total reduction there to 53,000 units in the year to March 2009, more than 20 percent of annual capacity.

    The latest move follows Honda’s announcement that it would cut another 18,000 cars in the United States, and brings the output reduction to 150,000 cars globally for 2008/09. …
    Honda, with its car-heavy line-up including the Civic, Accord and Jazz/Fit, had been largely immune to a downturn in the U.S. market that had mainly ailed the light trucks segment of fuel-guzzling vehicles.

    But spreading economic woes have attacked the broader market in recent weeks, pushing down U.S. sales of the Accord. In Europe, Honda has been hit hard as demand dried up for bigger diesel cars — until recently a strong driver for local sales. …
    A spokeswoman also declined to comment on the likely impact on Honda’s annual profits, which were revised down by 12 percent at the end of last month.”

    In another sign that American Honda is trying to cut costs wherever it can, they are cutting back on their visible presence at the Detroit Auto Show:

    “American Honda Motor Co. is bagging the flashy formal press conferences at the Detroit auto show in January.

    The company says it will forgo traditional product unveilings because of depressed business conditions. …
    ‘Normally we have a great TV moment with special effects to reveal a new model,” says Chris Martin, a spokesman for American Honda. “That’s a very expensive prospect. Given the economic times, we just didn’t see that as appropriate this year.'”

    And Toyota just had its credit rating downgraded, too:

  95. RabbitMe, a Pinkerton? 😆 More likely a horse thief.

    I can’t argue with any of you guys – frankly, I hate unions but not the people in them. I agree with the premise but not how they’re practiced. And in this case, I can even appreciate and agree with my buddy Rutherford. Corporations suck for the most part, talent has little to do with promotion, and greed and nepotism are the rule of law.

    At least I’m in a crowd of folks that might understand why I sat in my six-figure job with the mahogany desk (very low six-figure), probably looked like I had it made, and still felt disgruntled, unappreciated, without motive besides paying the light bill, and lacking real purpose.

    Rutherford, I feel for you man. I really do. That’s B.S. to do to somebody with that amount of time invested and the very reason I got conflicted with the executive management team of the firm I worked. Haven’t received a paycheck in six years and yet can still say there hasn’t been one day I woke up and wished, “Gee, I wish I could go into the office today.”

    Hang in there “R”. You’re probably vacillating between do you even want to make the attempt to venture into that crap again, or do something on your own. You’re talented and smart enough something positive will develop. Who knows? This may be the very impetus to get you where you’re supposed to be.

  96. Rabbit,

    Great story about your dad! Wish I had that kind of ingenuity when I was younger.

    Kind of reminds me of a story I heard from a distributor of a company I used to work for – location East New York.

    These guys owned a distributorship of convenience stores. A couple of the brothers got wise one day, held a manager and others at gun point, taped their mouths and hands, exchanged clothes with them, and worked the entire eight hour shift; ran the registers, slide the credit cards, pumped the gas, cleaned the windshield, everything.

    Bottom line, everything paid for with cash, they pocketed. At the end of the shift, they went home, I guess richer for their troubles.

    Now that is what I call ingenious thieves.

  97. Tex,
    You’ve got the vacillation thing right on the money. I really do not want to go work for another corporate monstrosity again but bills need to be paid. Technically, I am employed … established my own consultant firm … have one client who pays me a “charter customer rate”. If I could attract more clients and bring in real income, this is exactly what I’d want to be doing. But up-to-my-eyeballs debt means that I will snap at the first steady income job offer I get even if it comes from an impersonal corporate cesspool.

    Your “mahogany desk” comment also resonates with me since I was making very low six figures when I got the axe and had spent the prior nine or so years essentially paper pushing, achieving very little of note, but again, gladly collecting the paycheck to pay for the comfortable lifestyle I had established. Here comes the rub. Now that you’ve got to “brush up your resume”, how do you document nine years of essential bull**it? Talk about an exercise in creative writing! Probably gave me good practice for blogging. 🙂

    Anyway I’ve talked myself into believing that I will be one of the few to prosper in 2009. In the meantime, while “the real me” struggles, my alter ego, Rutherford, is perfectly happy to be an unpaid bohemian social commentary writer.

  98. “R”,

    Here comes the rub. Now that you’ve got to “brush up your resume”, how do you document nine years of essential bull**it? Talk about an exercise in creative writing! Probably gave me good practice for blogging.

    Well, can you “downsize” a little to minimize the debt?

    I will tell you this “R”, the one thing I have determined since I became a ‘student’. You can live a lot cheaper than you think while you’re waiting, if you can avoid debt.

    I suspect where you live, the housing market is a whole lot more expensive and much more depressed, so I don’t know the scoop about the personal debt portfolio and the alternatives. If you got kids at home, I know how expensive that can be too.

    But if you want to talk about what I’ve learned about “embellishing” the old resume and filling in the gaps, let me know where to go and we can brainstorm a few ideas. We can drop the politics and become a couple of middle aged corporate lackeys sharing boring stories of…

    Enjoy your Thanksgiving and forget about it for a few days.

    ~ Tex

  99. “R”…don’t sweat it man. Just accept you’re destitute with good humor. In no time, you’ll even be able to meet up with the Rabbit at the pub and be capable of cracking the boys up with your new found low brow humor. We can even all wear cover-alls for the cryptic nostalgia you long for. I accept you into my economic tax bracket with open arms, brother. Softball, UFC pay per views, bowling, hamburger helper, football games, titty bars. It’s all yours now!

  100. Softball, UFC pay per views, bowling, hamburger helper, football games, titty bars. It’s all yours now!


    Softball = ‘retired’
    UCF = Pay-per-view boxing matches
    Football = ♥♥♥♥
    Hamburger Helper = how about just a hamburger?
    Titty Bars = ♥♥♥♥

    How about Rabbit? You can’t have a lower income than I do…I’ll see if mom will advance a little for a few lap dances?

  101. “How about Rabbit? You can’t have a lower income than I do…I’ll see if mom will advance a little for a few lap dances?”

    lol….i just asked over here on my end….I’m afraid i don’t have permission…

  102. Rabbit, LOL … thanks for the warm welcome!

    Happy Thanksgiving to all. I’m outta here for a couple of days, in particular because I promised my wife I’d give the Chamber a rest for at least 24 hours and spend the holiday with my family. 🙂

    Our host, Chen, has been conspicuously absent of late. Don’t know if Black Friday is typically good for car sales but here’s hoping you sell a car or two to fuel your Xmas shopping!

  103. Great read – keep up the great work!

  104. Good evening. Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.
    I am from Indonesia and learning to speak English, give please true I wrote the following sentence: “Discover tickets and find out how an electronic ticket is now standard use on all gulf air flights.”

    With love :p, Chablis.

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