Posts Tagged ‘UAW’

It’s Not the Marketing, Democrats, It’s the Product. SOCIALISM STINKS!

November 4, 2010
New, Improved Socialism!!

NEW! IMPROVED! BUY NOW, OR JUMP IN MASS GRAVE!

Those of us above a certain age remember when TV ads trumpeted a “new, improved” cereal or dish detergent. All the proof we had of newness or improvement was the package, which had new, snazzy colors and maybe a cool, new shape. Sure enough, the words, “NEW!” and “IMPROVED!” are there, right on the label.

Of course the new product often came with a new, improved, higher price.

When we opened the new, improved package, we often found the same, old product inside, or an old product with irrelevant tweaks and tunes that left us with same ole’ same ole’. The marketing department obviously ran the show in these enterprises, and the product research and development department was AWOL or irrelevant.

It doesn’t matter whose picture you put on the box – Hitler, Mao, Stalin, Pol Pot — socialism is a failed product that has been repackaged countless times over the last 150 years. It has never worked, and despite a death toll of well over a hundred million innocent people in a seemingly endless series of ruthless and bloody “marketing campaigns,” it keeps coming back.

The latest attempt at socialism, advanced by Democrats and RINOs, is a hideous parade of defective products:  Obamacare, Government Motors, Cap and Tax, and union pension bailouts, to name but a few. President Obama, in a post-mid-term election presser intended to explain away the blunt rejection of the same old product with his latest packaging, stubbornly refused to understand the meaning of the election results.

The problem, he said, was with the message. It was just bad marketing.

As the Gipper famously said, “There you go, again.”

No, Dear Leader, the problem isn’t the marketing. The product – socialism — stinks, has always stunk, and always will stink. No amount of marketing, packaging, promotion, rebates, coupons or discounts will sell socialism, because it is an inherently defective product.

Socialist regimes always have to threaten their customers with death or imprisonment to get them to buy it, and they inevitably have to carry out those threats, if their regimes last long enough.

Whether or not it is imported from China, socialism is easily broken into sharp-edged, poisonous choking hazards, and ultimately, it is a threat to health, safety and, especially, to freedom.

It’s not new, it’s not improved, and we aren’t buying.

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Tennessee’s Eighth, and Conservative Ideals versus the Republican Establishment

February 14, 2010

More on Tennessee’s Eighth

I got some reactions from Donn Janes on my earlier essay on history and current events in the Tennessee Eighth Congressional District. His comments add great value to the discussion, so I thought I’d produce an addendum trying to take them into account.

The most important item is that I need to correct a crucial factual error. I described Donn Janes as one of “two Republicans [who] have stepped up…” to fill the seat to be left vacant by Tanner’s retirement.

Oops. Fundamental error… Janes is running as an independent, having explicitly divorced himself from the Republican Party and its many betrayals of Conservative standards and ideals. I registered as an Independent in Dickson County when we moved here, after decades as a Republican in Indiana, for the same reason. I should have been a lot more aware of the difference.

As if to scold me immediately for neglecting the best arguments for the parting of ways between Establishment Republicans and constitutional conservatives that has taken root in the last few years, I found a column by Alan Keyes posted Friday, February 12, in World Net Daily that distills the grounds for divorce. Some excerpts are reproduced here, but I strongly recommend the original article for the patient, scholarly and thorough dissertation that Alan Keyes, as usual, produces.

“In the days when my awareness of the U.S. political scene was just budding there were politicians in the Republican Party who openly identified themselves as liberals. For this sort of fact Wikipedia is as reliable a witness as any other:

“‘In the 1930s ‘Me-too-Republicans’ described those who ran on a platform of agreeing with the Democratic Party, or proclaiming only minor or moderating differences. A prime example is presidential candidate Thomas E. Dewey, who did not oppose New Deal programs altogether, but merely campaigned on the promise that Republicans would run them more efficiently and less corruptly. …’

“’From 1936 to 1976 the more centrist of the Republican Party frequently won the national nomination with candidates such as Alf Landon, Wendell Willkie, Thomas E. Dewey, Dwight D. Eisenhower, Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford. Indeed, other terms for liberal Republicans include Nixonian and Rockefeller Republican.’

“If this take on the GOP presidential candidates of the 20th century is accurate (and I think it is) it confirms the notion that, for all their posturing in opposition to the Democrats on particular issues, the controlling powers of the Republican Party have no quarrel in principle with the New Deal worldview. On grounds that are at once aesthetic, practical and self-interested, they decry the excessive Democratic tendency toward openly populist egalitarianism. Yet, impelled by a self-adulating sense of noblesse oblige, they tacitly concede that the Democrats’ “liberal” agenda represents the higher ground of moral sophistication. What the liberal GOP elites reject is their frequent lack of sophistication in carrying out that agenda.

“In this respect, I suspect that the preferred candidate of the GOP elites in the 2008 election was … Barack Obama. He had all the outward appearances of cool sophistication, purposefully controlled moral passion and seeming respect for the ironically unselfish elite ambition benevolently to secure a position of unchallenged control over every aspect of human life. He seemed so moderate.”

Ouch. A better rebuke for my neglectful lumping of a conservative independent and a nominal Republican together was never delivered. Thank you, Doctor Keyes.

Stephen Fincher certainly impressed me in our telephone conversation as a conservative at heart, using the Republican establishment framework to get to power. That was a subjective impression, however, with no corroborating evidence.

As I said, Mike Pence’s interest in Fincher made me interested in him. However – always, the however – as I mentioned before, Mike and I are not in lockstep on several issues of importance.

I have not forgotten Mike’s embrace of a very McCain-like form of “immigration reform.” It was a rotten idea when McCain championed it, and it was no better with Mike Pence out in front of it.

I also do not agree with Mike’s tendency to go along with “anti-terror” legislation that has the effect of making America less of a fortress than a prison. If we want a safer country, let’s put the bars on the outside, not on the inside.

I have always harbored the irrational hope that  Mike was immune to the effect of cumulative exposure to the insidious, Inside-the-Beltway atmosphere he has been subjected to since January, 2001. Rationally, I have to admit that no one is completely immune to those effects – even Mike Pence.

I doubt that he has succumbed to the wiles of special interest like the United Autoworkers Union or the Sierra Club, but I can’t rule out that he may have been co-opted by an equally-powerful influence in his environment – the Republican establishment.

I described before, my phone conversation with Stephen Fincher. It would be reassuring to see the conservative, constitutionalist views I heard from him then, explicitly laid out on his Website. I would be especially impressed to see him step away from the farm policies that are the oldest vestige of socialism in American government, and that have done as much damage to the free market in agriculture as government involvement in health care has done, and will continue to do, to the free market for that industry.

My favorite civics text is by Libertarian P. J. O’Rourke: PARLIAMENT OF WHORES — a Lone Humorist Attempts to Explain the Entire U.S. Government. The author of this caustic, penetrating and hysterically funny appraisal of our “system” of government yields up the following observation concerning American “farm policy:”

“Farm policy, although it’s complex, can be explained. What it can’t be is believed. No cheating spouse, no teen with a wrecked family car, no mayor of Washington, D.C., videotaped in flagrant has ever come up with anything as farfetched as U.S. farm policy.”

If Stephen Fincher can convincingly break free of the web of obligation and obfuscation of current farm policy, emblematic as it is of what is wrong with the U.S. government, I, self-appointed mayor of Lower Danley Road, northeastern suburb of the unincorporated area of Bellsburg, Tennessee, will give him a serious, second look. As a farmer in a farming community, Stephen Fincher would be showing his allegiance to principle over economic and political self-interest by disavowing government farm policy, and the integrity required to take that step would be very impressive. As cordial and genuine a gentleman as Stephen Fincher is, I’ll have to wait to believe that when I see it in print.

The problem right now in Tennessee’s Eighth is the same problem we have had all over America as a result of going along with the Republican Establishment. The elephantine elite are distinguishable from Democrats/Progressives/Socialists/Economic Fascists only in style; not in substance. We who have followed this herd have swept up enough elephant dung to keep the compost heap going indefinitely. We don’t need any more.

Or, as Alan Keyes summarizes, in the piece cited above:

“People are now rising in opposition to the all-too-conclusive evidence of the Obama faction’s repugnant extremism. But they urgently need to ponder the fact that the phony moderation of the GOP leadership elites did more than anything else to put Obama where he is. Unless we look beyond the false alternatives they offer, we will only enable equally false election victories that will not put an end to the destruction of American liberty Obama represents.”

With apologies to Stephen Fincher, if I had to vote in the Tennessee primary today, I’d vote for Donn Janes.

“If the kid next door jumped off a bridge, would you?”

December 20, 2008

Somebody named Stephen Collins, a lobbyist for the auto industry (his title is actually, “President, Automotive Trade Policy Council,” but I feel comfortable in calling him a lobbyist), wrote a letter to the editor of the Wall Street Journal, this week. He was responding to a WSJ editorial of December 6, which was critical of the then-proposed auto industry bailout.

His argument is that several states’ legislatures  have given preferential treatment to foreign automakers to relocate in their states. These big favors are often in the form of tax breaks that add up to hundreds of thousands of tax dollars per job created, according to Collins, and that’s why we shouldn’t wince too much at giving GM, Chrysler and Ford a “bridge loan” that they probably, or maybe, will pay back.

Ah, yes, the “two wrongs make a right” argument. AKA, the “But Mom, all the other kids in second grade are going to the nude drug sex party at Barack’s house!” argument. If that argument works here, where does it end? Just because government did one, or a hundred unconstitutional and stupid things, does that make it OK for them to do a hundred more?

Let’s get real.

If our tax structure weren’t rigged to punish success, choke business, feed government-addicted voters and get career political hacks re-elected again and again, we wouldn’t need to offer tax incentives, or any other kind of corporate welfare, to get people to build factories and make things. Foreign manufacturers would be elbowing each other in the ribs to be first in line to build factories here. Groups of American investors would get together and build manufacturing plants, and cars would advance in quality and decline in cost the way personal computers have over the past twenty years.

There would be hundreds of car brands, in thousands of different models and configurations. A company that made junk would be out of the market in months, or reincarnated (hah) quickly with new management and new ideas to get new market share. Innovators would take advantage of the advances in carbon composites for light, strong bodies, and high-tech alloys for fuel-sipping engines. Emerging battery technology and increasingly efficient electric motors would give internal combustion engines a run for their money, and entirely new powerplants would challenge both.

Have a look at the early history of the US auto industry, before the Big Three, when dozens of car manufacturers were springing up around the country.  Factories that had made stage coaches and carriages began to build the first horseless carriages. They ranged in cost and complexity from spindly, one-lungers with no suspension and wooden seats, to magnificent, motorized living rooms and land yachts like the Auburn, Cord and Deusenberg.

Economic downturns and and an increasingly grasping and power-hungry federal government, spawning the federal income tax and an exploding cancer of regulation, and not the market failure of individual products, brought about the consolidation of this raucus, cutthroat competition into three lumbering, and eventually, clumsy and inefficient behemoths.

Add to the mix the rise of the United Auto Workers Union, which became a parallel management structure in all three businesses, with its own greedy bureaucracy and sacred cows to feed, and you have the recipe for the current disaster.

What will “bridge loans,” or bailouts, or whatever you want to call them — huge sacks of money, confiscated by threat of force by government, from people foolish enough to work for a living, do to change this situation?

Nothing. Nothing short of a revolution will restore the American entrepreneurial spirit and economic freedom that gave birth to the automotive boom of the beginning of the last century.  May it happen soon.

Olbermann’s Flatulent Rap on Those “$70 an Hour Autoworkers”

December 6, 2008

Keith Olbermann is an ignorant blowhard and an Obama sycophant, so nobody should really waste any time on what he has to say (and the great majority  of us don’t), but he set me off with this rant, which has been memorialized, not surprisingly, on uaw.org. Understand, I never watch PMSNBSNPR, or wherever he hangs out, but this article was pointed out to me by my brother, a retired GM electrician, who is following the whole bailout scene with understandable interest.

In what I understand is typical Olbermanic fashion, Herr Olbermann sets up a straw dog, and bravely, forthrightly,  righteously, knocks it down. He claims some awful, mean people said UAW autoworkers make “$70 an hour,”  thanks to the idiotic and self-destructive contracts between the Big Three auto companies and the United Auto Workers over the years.

I never heard anyone claim the $70 (or $72, I heard that, too) was any autoworker’s hourly wage.  The way I heard it was that $70/hr. was their COST to their employer in wages, plus all the bennies, plus what GM was paying the job bank employees to braid their nose hairs, get Masters Degrees in Underwater Basketweaving, etc., plus, plus, plus — averaged among the workers who are actually, or allegedly,  involved in building cars. (Parenthetically, I wonder how much it is if you add in all the union execs make, and will retire on, plus the union lawyers, lobbyists, thugs, arm-twisters and car scratchers, plus their political contributions and bribes to every Democrat since Carter that’s run for president…)

Thing is, thanks to the lowlifes at the top at GM, and the lowlifes at the top at the UAW, working together to screw everybody else in the world blind for decades, and set themselves up to retire like Saudi royalty in the process  — plus a great deal of help from the regulators and taxwriters at the federal government — it costs too damn much to make cars at UAW plants.  Since they can’t get people to pay what a car costs, plus some profit, they are on the ropes.

It’s not exactly baffling that it turned out that way.

I want Olbermann (or anybody at the UAW Website, for that matter) to explain how a taxpayer-funded “bridge loan” (oh, sure, they’ll pay it back, wink-wink) is going to make things any different.

If a lot of people take cuts in pay and benefits, and some people get laid off, and some people start paying more of their own health care costs, and the unions stop collecting dues so line workers get to keep more of what they make to pay for their own health care (har, har, snort), they can reduce the cost of building a car. Can they design and build cars that people want to buy, at a cost they are willing to pay? Will billions in tax money make that happen?

Will workers with the “GM attitude” (we who grew up in the Midwest’s GM culture know what that means) stop being dead weights, ghost employees, drunks and saboteurs, and start working as if their jobs depended, to some tiny degree, on their productivity? Oooh. That’s a big one. That might take a few more billions.

Would any of the above be more likely to happen after a tax-funded bailout? Or is it more likely after a Chapter 11 bankruptcy reorganization that throws everything back on the table and everybody understands they either make it work, or take a walk?

Chrysler got a big bailout, back in the Carter era. Did it cause them to get lean and mean, and start kicking Japanese and European carmaker ass? Apparently not. They’re in line to climb in Uncle Santa Claus’s lap again, and whisper their wish lists in his ear, this time joined by Ford and GM.

Courtesy of TIME Magazine, August 24, 1979, here’s a little refresher on the last time a bailout was tried on a Big Three automaker:

“The Carter Administration decided last week that now was the time to come to the aid of the nation’s most beleaguered major company. After weeks of rising pressure for a federal fix for the multiplying problems of Chrysler Corp., Treasury Secretary G. William Miller produced—and Jimmy Carter approved —a Government bailout. It was designed to prevent the nation’s No. 3 automaker (1978 sales: $13.6 billion) from sliding into a bankruptcy that could have put many thousands out of work and sent a shudder through U.S. financial markets.

“Beamed Chrysler Chairman John Riccardo ‘We are extremely encouraged. This fits the bill.’

[…]

“Treasury aides were understood to be thinking of $500 million to $750 million over a limited period.”

[…]

That’s $500 to $700 mil in 1979 dollars. Wonder what that would buy today, thirty years later? What did it buy, back then? It didn’t buy a solvent, successful, competitive Chrysler.

It’s thirty years later. Somebody, please tell me, why is this time different?

Deliver Me from Dinosaur Bailouts

November 19, 2008

Pat Buchanan recently wrote that he would like to see the Big Three “American” auto companies get the bailout of taxpayers’ money that is being discussed.   He says the Republicans will suffer if they don’t support it.

Pat, the Big Three Dinosaurs are no more “American” companies than Toyota — maybe even less so. Check the parts content and manufacturing locations on your “American” car, before you make such an unfounded assertion.

Get back to me when Big Three execs start acting as if the location of their corporate offices really mattered to them. Would they care if they went to sleep in Dearborn and woke up to Taiwan or Brussels? Not if they got to take their perks with them. Let their stockholders dump them in favor of people who care about America, and have them get back to me.

The Big Three execs are entitled to their grotesque (from my perspective) bonuses and golden parachutes, if their stockholders are dumb enough to put up with their incredibly bad decisions, and enough customers are dumb enough to pay for them as part of the price of a car. They are NOT entitled to taxpayers’ money, unless they start selling something taxpayers want to buy. If not, screw ’em.

Also, Pat, please tell me: Why should taxpayers help the UAW recover its hundreds of millions of dollars spent to elect BHO, by subsidizing their members’ union dues? They got their guy. Screw them, too.

An American company CAN come back from the dead. If its employees and retirees want to badly enough, let them pull out their own wallets.  Let them break up and buy their companies out of bankruptcy, make sacrifices, and begin making products Americans (and the world) want. Look at Harley Davidson, if you want to know how that is done.

Let us taxpayers keep the bailout money, and invest in automotive start-ups that use automated manufacturing, advanced materials, non-union labor, superior technology and real market knowledge to build cars Americans and others will buy.

The Big Three Dinosaurs? The tar pits are this way.