Friday, December 12, 2008

It's eminently clear to me that Megan is unable, due to ideological fidelity, to acknowledge the fact that the UAW has proven much more amenable to making concessions to management than vice versa. She's just not going to say it, no matter how events demonstrate that it's so. That's fine. What I wish is that she would just drop the pretense that there is any situation whatsoever where she would argue on the union side. It would be great if she just said "I'm an anti-union zealot, and whatever the situation, it will be the union I criticize."

There are going to be an awful lot of people in immense hardship in the months to come because of this. If anyone suggests that the economic conservatives who have so gleefully and enthusiastically cheered on the conditions that led to the collapse of the auto industry are being unfeeling, they will of course be derided as shrill and unfair. Certainly, I'm not going to be one to do so. Me, I only have to shake my head at how little has to be done argumentatively to shield oneself of accusations of heartlessness, how little excusing it takes, how quiet the caveats need to be, so parenthetical, so small....


trailmagick said...

Ahh, you've hit the crux of what it means to be a "conservative" - you must never, ever, ever admit to error, or even to the slightest possibility that that you could now be, or might ever have been, wrong in any way.

To be a conservative is to be anti-union, and if the pro-union argument is that the sky is blue, Megan will, by default, disagree completely. For her to admit otherwise would be to open Pandora's locker.

raft said...

"Certainly, I'm not going to be one to do so.


you and I both know that the world is filled with moral neanderthals who couldn't give two shits about the poor and suffering. The pain of millions of workers losing their jobs means nothing to them; or rather, it fills their hearts with great joy, to see the unwashes masses get what they deserve. What most upsets them is when the rabble somehow gets it into their heads to fight back. That is distasteful and vulgar, like a mediocre glass of chardonnay.

people who think like this are everywhere. Everywhere. So why the pretense? why the presumption of good faith, as if they want the same things we want, as if they care about the poor, or the oppressed, or alleviating human suffering? Why won't you call them out for the greedy, selfish, cruel power-grubbing moral monsters they really are?

What's stopping you?

i really want to know, Freddie.

Freddie said...

Low character, on my part?

Plus, I have a desperate inability to learn the lesson that I can't please anyone. In my personal and professional life, I am very handicapped by the fact that I can't say no.

Those are lame answers, but I guess they're the best I have. You're questions are valid and I don't have many answers.

Daniel said...

Instead of participating in the argument, you attack the author of the argument. I am not sure how an ad hominem attack helps to justify any financial transfer.

ryan said...

Logically vapid grandstanding by trailmagick and raft notwithstanding, Daniel has the better grasp of the situation.

We've been over this before: Megan fails to adequately beat her chest about how terrible this is going to be and she's the ideologue? The proposal that UAW workers wages get cut to merely above average constitutes condemning millions to abject poverty? Rejecting idea of using taxpayer dollars, many of which come from people who make less than the UAW but whose jobs are no less at risk, on a bailout which, unless UAW wages are cut, probably won't work makes you a moral cretin?

Pot, meet kettle. Kettle, pot. Only that'd be unfair to Megan, Freddie. If there's anyone here who's guilty of ideologically-motivated blindness, I haven't seen much on this particular issue to suggest that she's a better candidate than you are. Saying "You're so mean" does not even attempt to analyze whether or not Megan might, you know, be right.

Do your damn homework.

James said...

Rejecting idea of using taxpayer dollars, many of which come from people who make less than the UAW but whose jobs are no less at risk, on a bailout

Because, of course, there is no chance that letting three of the largest manufacturing companies in America collapse could have some negative repercussions across the entire country and cripple the whole economy in a fashion that means those endangered jobs become even more endangered.

Oh no, we can get by entirely with services. Just like Iceland.

which, unless UAW wages are cut, probably won't work makes you a moral cretin?

How about sorting out the gaping inefficiencies within the Big Three first, then seeing if we need to start cutting wages? How about getting rid of the private jets? Interesting how the right wing mind always focuses on how any given situation lets us screw over the little man.

ryan said...

James: If you read Megan's post, you'll see that she talked about all of that. In particular, she mentioned the broken dealership system, and management and engineering problems. Her point was not that UAW wages are the only problem with GM, but that UAW wages are, in fact, a problem for GM, and that that problem needs to be addressed just like the rest of them.

But then again, the fact that you only register those parts of a post that you feel like should come as no surprise, seeing how you interject mid-sentence, accusing me of conclusions which are precluded by the rest of my sentence.

And who are you to accuse me of being right wing? You don't know me from Adam, nor, apparently, have you read enough of my comments to be able to accurately assess my political perspective. A little perusal of my comments on this site adequately demonstrates that I'm not so easily categorizable.

But there I go again assuming that you're interested in seriously engaging another's thought. My bad.

raft said...

ryan: "Logically vapid grandstanding by trailmagick and raft notwithstanding, Daniel has the better grasp of the situation."

you disagree with anything i said, ryan? What part?

for the record i have no beef with megan mccardle/Jane Galt, except to note that she is an English major and not a trained economist.

Jane said...

Freddie, I don't understand what concessions you want management to make that you think they're not making. Perhaps you could explain this, before you attack me.

The unions are no longer negotiating with management. Management doesn't have anything to "give up". They've essentially, AFAICT, agreed to cut as many marques, lines, engineers, etc. as congress thinks is necessary, if congress will give them the money. They haven't been asked to fire their executives, but you can be damned sure that if they are, they'll do so rather than walk away from the bailout. The executives are taking pay cuts. What aren't they doing, shooting Rick Wagoner on CSPAN?

Nor am I clear on what the unions have "given up". They took some equity instead of debt in a fund that they're about to lose outright in a bankruptcy proceeding.

Here's my metric for judging who's making the right concession: is each group giving up enough to at least theoretically allow the company to operate at a profit? Guess who doesn't make that?

The people blathering about management inefficiencies have no concept of scale. I agree the corporate jets should go--indeed, I believe management has already agreed as much, though I could be wrong. But the corporate jets have no impact on GM's bottom line; their operating costs, and their resale value, and indeed their original cost, are trivial relative to the balance sheet. You can't cut those in order to pay the UAW its current wages, because the UAW wages are many times these theatrical "inefficiencies".

GM's *other* inefficiencies are legendarily products of the union, like the jobs bank. Its labor bloat is at the bottom, not the top. To the extent that its problems are other sorts of inefficiency, much of the inefficiency that got squeezed out would be by rationalizing its supplier network, which is also staffed by very highly paid UAW workers who would get fired.

GM's problem, rather, is that it has a terrible reputation for making cars. The government cannot snap its fingers and restore that reputation. Hence, GM is going to need to operate cheaply for a long time in order to provide extra value to its customers and regain its mojo.

raft said...

sorry, i want to rephrase my last comment. I fear i may have struck the wrong note:

"For the record i have no beef with megan mccardle/Jane Galt, except to note that she is not a trained economist, but an English major."

ryan said...

raft: If your first post is really what you think, then conversation with you is completely impossible, and I've better things to do than feed trolls. The only appropriate response is "Don't be silly."

That's all you're going to get out of me.

Freddie said...

You and I have nothing to say to each other, ryan.

James said...

Why is working class people getting paid a decent wage a "problem", Ryan? More than they deserve? Too close to the people who can afford their own jets for your liking?

ryan said...

Oh, come now Freddie, surely it's not so bad as all that. I'm actually rather surprised at you in this instance: you've shown remarkable ability to understand the sincerity of your opponents elsewhere, but that faculty apparently failed you in this instance. Here, rather than come to terms with the fact that someone who seems otherwise reasonably intelligent holds a position contrary to yours, something I've seen you do with ease in other contexts, you and the goobers in the commentariat insist that Megan and anyone who opposes the bailout is evil.

I've seen you do better than this. trailmagick and raft's comments aren't even arguments as much as sheer bigotry: no pretense at connecting conclusions to premises. Certainly no attempt to take their opponents seriously. Given that they aren't being serious, I don't see why I should respond to them seriously. It's not as if productive discourse will magically appear if I do.

James: I don't have any "problem" with paying people well. I wish it were possible to pay working class people more. But there's no getting around the fact that the UAW is one of the things currently bleeding Detroit white, and that if GM is to survive, that is one of the things that needs to change. Additionally, it's entirely possible to simultaneously pay auto workers a decent living while cutting their wages significantly, so saying that the evil union busters are trying to impoverish the poor auto workers is just silly. I would rather see their jobs survive at a lower pay grade than be eliminated completely. Wouldn't you?

MikeF said...

the UAW has proven much more amenable to making concessions to management than vice versa

That is a mind boggling claim. 100,000 white collar retirees have lost their health benefits. Many other white-collar workers have been fired or forced to take pay cuts. What are these UAW concessions again? Lower pay for future workers (as long as current ones are bought out with full retirement benefits) and very vague promises about maybe cutting costs in a few years. Right, they've been much more amenable to concessions.

Oh, and it was rather amazing to see you condemn "economic conservatives" for not conspicuously lamenting the plight of union workers, right after you complained about how critics of Israeli policy shouldn't have to conspicuously state that they're not anti-semitic. Hey, it only takes a quiet and small caveat, right?

raft said...

ryan is not evil, he just can't read.

I again challenge ryan to dispute any of my extremely uncontroversial observations of human behavior.

I again challenge ryan to dispute my observation that many, many people in this world do not share Freddie's fundamental values; that he knows this; but that he consistently shies away from stating that fact.

I again challenge ryan to refute my argument that this shying away is a failure to confront the fundamental sources of political and social division--a failure to clearly articulate how human beings really behave, to sanitize and whitewash the appalling moral monstrosity which drives so much of what we feel, think, want, do.

But don't respond to me, dude. Better to quit while you're behind.


Anyways, I should probably say something substantive about the actual topic than just rag on Freddie. McCardle is not, I think (and my knowledge is admittedly limited), wrong about the basics of the bailout. GM's business model is not sustainable; if they're gonna survive, they're gonna need to cut costs. That means legacy payments, wages, plants, everything. In ordinary circumstances we would/should send them into Chapter 11 where that stuff gets dealt with.

ATST, in these extraordinary circumstances, bankruptcy may not be viable. The fall of the Big 3 could set off a cascade failure through the whole economy. Believe me, bailing out some of the shittiest companies in America leaves a real bitter taste in my mouth. But I fear the consequences of inaction more.

mcardle pinpoints the key question in the long run, which is: how much more money are the car companies going to ask for? 100 billion? 200? and how much longer can the government prop them up? And come January 20th we should ask those questions. But I think that's not the right way to frame the current bailout. What we are offering the Big 3 is a TRUE "bridge" loan--enough money to carry them through until Barack Obama becomes president and the new Congress starts. I think it would be unacceptable to let the whole U.S. auto industry fall apart just two months before the new team gets a chance to try to fix/mitigate their problems. In that sense the "bridge" loan is absolutely critical.

I'm with Freddie on questioning McArdle's curious desire to blame the unions for the death of the bailout. That's just not an accurate representation of what happened. The democrats capitulated on nearly every point of the George Bush-crafted bailout bill. It was the Senate Republicans who, whether their demands were "reasonable" or not--I think they were not--still were not willing to make comparable concessions. They are clearly the culprits, and shame on them.

Ian McCullough said...

Megan is what she is - an English major with an MBA blogging about economics. She's not an economist and doesn't pretend to be one even if her adherents mistake her for one.

TheCrankyProfessor said...

Oh please - there are lots of intransigent leftists.

Me, I'm from Chattanooga, Tn, and I'm delighted that non-union labor for Volkswagen will take up some of the slack caused by the failure of union iron workers to continue to supply transmission parts to GM.

There are lots of localities in America which are delighted to undercut others. Deal with it, Michigan.

We've been suffering for some time. Don't call us moral Neanderthals. Our poor people are poor, too.

James said...

Ryan: Interesting how strong unions haven't destroyed the manufacturing industry of Germany, isn't it?

I don't see UAW as a major problem, I'm afraid. I see them as a union which is doing their job. I apologise for my earlier over-inflated bombast and its aggressive pomposity, but I remain confident that the American manufacturing industry could exist without stripping auto-workers of a respectable wage.