You’re Either With Us Or Against Us

I mentioned this in an earlier post, when I noted that the main reason the GOP appears to have spiked the auto bailout is because Sen. Corker thinks UAW workers make too much money, but this comment makes me think that we need to bring it up again to drive the point home:

Also, isn’t it ODD to have US Senators negotiating wage and benefit levels with the employees of private companies? These Southern Senators were actually NEGOTIATING WAGE LEVELS with the UAW leadership in a back room while they were filibustering the bill. Is that outrageous? Unheard of? What. The. Fuck?

Still, autoworkers remain angry with the senators who tried to negotiate wage and benefit concessions from the union, then scuttled the House-passed bill that would have granted the loans and set up a “car czar” to oversee the nearly insolvent companies and get concessions from the union and creditors. Their top targets were Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.); Senator Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), who led negotiations on a compromise; and Senator Richard Shelby (R-Ala.), who has been a vocal critic of the loans.

Angry United Auto Workers members lash out at Southern senators

Just think about that for a minute. That kind of interference is on the level of Terry Schiavo interference. US Senators from “right to work” states with foreign auto plants trying to NEGOTIATE WAGE AND BENEFIT LEVELS with workers of private companies doing business IN OTHER STATES. That totally blows me away.

US Senators are openly colluding with foreign auto companies to drive down the wages of American workers. Something to think about the next time you hear “You’re either with us or against us.”

And as a side note, as someone who has never really cared much for unions, I am as shocked as anyone to see myself defending the UAW this vigorously. I guess I am just taken aback by how brazen the efforts are to blame this on the workers and to let the economy explode just to destroy unions. It is pretty mind-boggling, and that is even after a pretty amazingly awful eight years of suck.

*** Update ***

Also, well-known pink commie Ben Stein was really in rare form last night on Larry King:

BEN STEIN, ECONOMIST: Well I think what happened was that the Republicans were sick of the bailout and they were also sick of the idea that the autoworkers had voted Democrat so many times and turned Michigan into an entirely Democratic state and they’re also a little envious on behalf of the constituents of the way — the imaginary super wage benefit legacy cause.

But I think they made a terrible and unpatriotic mistake. We’re teetering on the brink of a depression. We can ship money to Iraqi warlords and giant cargo planes. We ship money all over the world. We can’t ship it to help our own people? We can ship it to Goldman Sachs and rescue people that get $100 million a year but we can’t rescue an autoworker and his family? That’s crazy.

***

STEIN: But it is going to do a lot to deal with the onrushing depression business. That’s the problem. The problem isn’t the about business model of GM has failed. We know its failed. The business model of Goldman Sachs has failed. We’ve got a lot of failed business models.

What we are having is an onrushing depression. We have got to stop it now. We have got to have a government contra-cyclical action that stops it. If we fall off a cliff into depression, it will be so much worse than any of the bailout costs. You cannot imagine it. You do not want to let this go into Great Depression.

***

STEIN: I absolutely agree, absolutely right. The government shoved tens of billions of dollars down the throats of banks who said, we don’t even want it. Now Detroit and the workers there who are decent Americans are begging for it. For gosh sake, let’s do the right thing.

You really need to read the entire thing. However wrong Ben Stein might be on any number of issues, he at least appears to working from a reality based environment on this. for the life of me, I don’t understand how people think if these companies all fail the only fall-out will be a few union workers won’t be living high on the hog. For christ’s sake, even Toyota is worried.

*** Update #2 ***

I rather like this:

“I don’t know what Sen. Vitter has against GM or the United Auto Workers or the entire domestic auto industry; whatever it is, whatever he thinks we’ve done, it’s time for him to forgive us, just like Sen. Vitter has asked the citizens of Louisiana to forgive him, ” said Johnson, president of Local 2166. Otherwise, Johnson said of Vitter, it would appear, “He’d rather pay a prostitute than pay auto workers.”

That ought to wrinkle Vitter’s diaper.






185 replies
  1. 1
    Will Danz says:

    Republican Senators Shelby, McConnell, Corker, Sessions, Inholfe, are all conspiring with foreign companies to screw the American middle class.

    Period.

    The GOP: "America last."

  2. 2
    comrade scott's agenda of rage says:

    Hypocritical Republicans? (Ben Stein excepted in this case)

    I’m shocked, shocked I say.

    Corker and Shelby are this week’s easy winners of the Claude Raines Memorial Gambling Awareness Award.

  3. 3
    Allan says:

    Clearly, given the horrific state of the economy and the gigantic ballooning governmental fiscal deficit that the Republic Party has just now discovered, it is time for the UAW to renegotiate the pay and benefits of the US Senate.

    Why, do you realize how many hundreds of thousands of dollars providing pensions to all those retired Senators adds to the cost of each piece of legislation?

    There’s no way the US Senate can be competitive with the leaner, meaner legislative branches of foreign governments.

    It’s time for the Senate to let go of their insistence on lavish pay and gold-plated benefits, and for the US Government to shed its unsustainable pension obligations to retirees.

  4. 4
    sparky says:

    this kind of short-term gaming has been going on in the GOP since 1968 at least. it’s just more obvious now because the saner types (grown-ups) are all dead or have fled the party, so there isn’t anyone to tell them to STFU.

    how this is going to play out is anyone’s guess, because the structure of the US system (ie, the ability for a small dedicated coterie of nuts to throw sand in the gears) will permit them to keep this up for a long time. i think in the absence of a catastrophe so large that even they can’t avoid it the rumpOP will just keep this up and hope that the Ds will screw up. if everyone ends up living in a tent as a consequence of their efforts, well that’s just another reason to give them back the national helm, isn’t it?

  5. 5
    Just Some Fuckhead says:

    Pretty shocking hearing that come from Ben Stein. He’s a wingtard of the first order.

  6. 6
    Just Some Fuckhead says:

    I don’t understand how people think if these companies all fail the only fall-out will be a few union workers won’t be living high on the hog. For christ’s sake, even Toyota is worried.

    It’s pretty clear at this point that rightwingers lack an empathy gene and have in it’s place an extra resentment gene.

  7. 7
    sparky says:

    oh, and not to Godwin this thread or anything, but it while it is possible that the rumpOP is trying to drive the country into the ditch (ala 1933), since the next national election is a ways off, it seems like a stupid idea even for them, so i go with just screwing with the UAW and not caring about the consequences.

    on second thought, this kind of obstructionism may result in the death of the filibuster.

  8. 8
    sparky says:

    @Just Some Fuckhead: that’s the best explanation i’ve seen.

  9. 9
    Crusty Dem says:

    exactly, JSF, how off your shit do you have to be to lose Ben Stein? This guy gets on every show and makes the wingiest of arguments on a regular basis. He’s the type who only criticizes republicans for not being conservative enough.

    It’s a shame we can’t have another election in a month or two, we might get rid of all these idiots..

  10. 10
    Screamin' Demon says:

    Ben Stein making sense.

    Hell must be awfully goddamned cold today.

  11. 11
    TheFountainHead says:

    How many times do these assholes get to pour their malted scotches in our face before America as a nation sends them to the floor with a stiff right? I mean for fuck’s sake, does no one remember that these jackholes are supposed to be working for US?

  12. 12
    Common Sense says:

    @Screamin’ Demon:

    Hell must be awfully goddamned cold today.

    It snowed in Houston when Stein was on that show.

  13. 13

    Senator David Vitter (R-La) called out by Morgan Johnson, UAW President in Shreveport for Vitter taking a leading roll in killing Big Three bailout legislation:

    "I don’t know what Sen. Vitter has against GM or the United Auto Workers or the entire domestic auto industry; whatever it is, whatever he thinks we’ve done, it’s time for him to forgive us, just like Sen. Vitter has asked the citizens of Louisiana to forgive him, " said Johnson, president of Local 2166. Otherwise, Johnson said of Vitter, it would appear, "He’d rather pay a prostitute than pay auto workers. " (My emphasis added)

    Shorter Southern White Republican Senator: Me First, Fuck Y’all.

    (h/t TPM)

  14. 14
    Screamin' Demon says:

    It snowed in Houston when Stein was on that show.

    Surely two signs the Apocalypse is nigh.

    A 25-year-old friend of mine who moved to Washington state from Mississippi last year saw snow for the first time in her life last January. I told her yesterday I’d heard it had showed in Jackson, and she didn’t believe me.

  15. 15
    Reverend Dennis says:

    exactly, JSF, how off your shit do you have to be to lose Ben Stein?

    How off your shit do you need to be to lose Dick Cheney (From LAT):

    Bush personally lobbied recalcitrant Senate Republicans after Vice President Dick Cheney failed to round up support Wednesday during a contentious two-hour meeting.

    "If we don’t do this, we will be known as the party of Herbert Hoover forever,"Cheney told them, (emph added) according to a Senate Republican aide, evoking the president whose inaction is widely blamed for helping trigger the Great Depression in the early 1930s.

    I’m becoming convinced that the years of lying and denial, the complete abandonment of their stated principles, and their catastrophic failures at governance have made the Republicans as a party desirous of committing political suicide. Even if you allow for the parochial interests of the Republican Senators leading the charge against the auto bailout the perception that they’d drive another nail into the coffin of the economy at the behest of foreign interests is suicidal not just for their re-elections but for the electoral hopes of their party for years to come.

  16. 16
    Screamin' Demon says:

    Snowed, not showed.

    Fucking bonehead.

  17. 17
    dbrown says:

    See, when the invisible hand of the free market dictates that workers get paid decent wages, then repub-a-thugs must do their part to micro-manage and save us from this terrible free-market bullshit. Money only belongs to the elite rich motherfuckers with their inbreed children who grow up to get a free pass into the best schools because their fathers are alumni and then hired by their friend’s company because they have an elite education and got gentleman ‘C’s’ like their cock-sucker president bushwhack.

  18. 18
    TenguPhule says:

    US Senators are openly colluding with foreign auto companies to drive down the wages of American workers. Something to think about the next time you hear “You’re either with us or against us.”

    It would amuse me to the highest degree to see the UAW patriotically citizen arrest the Republican Senators for the crime of High Treason.

  19. 19
    MobiusKlein says:

    You have to be shocked when the Free Market Mavens in the (R) party get all excited about a CCCP style command and control economy. When the government dictates the wages that a company must pay, isn’t that a little bit of communism?

    Or perhaps the figure with the (D)s busting on the wages of the CEOs, they get the right to bust on the wages of the union?

  20. 20

    […] Balloon Juice: US Senators are openly colluding with foreign auto companies to drive down the wages of American workers. Something to think about the next time you hear “You’re either with us or against us.” […]

  21. 21
    demkat620 says:

    You know you have really lost touch with reality when Dick Cheney has to warn you about Herbert Hoover time

    This is petty and stupid even for them.

  22. 22
    Just Some Fuckhead says:

    @demkat620: Yeah, that is one time I was wishing Cheney would shoot someone in the face.

  23. 23
    Church Lady says:

    Do I want to see the auto makers get a bridge loan that will safely see them to the end of the first quarter of 2009? Yes – under the domino theory, too many jobs depend on it. However, in exchange for the money, before the end of the first quarter and before any additional money gets parceled out, I think the following things should happen:

    1. The wage concessions that are not scheduled to go into effect until 2011 need to be fast tracked to 2009. Any wage/benefit concessions that labor makes should also be made by all white collar and/or executive employees. The pain should be shared by all, not just labor.

    2. Bond holders should agree to have at least half of their debt converted to equity positions. This also spreads the pain around a little. Bondholders will have to rely on the hopefully future prosperity of the companies in order to ever have a chance of recouping their money and shareholders will have to sacrifice in the value of their shares as the shares get diluted.

    3. Retiree health benefits for all retirees over 65 have to go and they need to enroll in Medicare, just like the vast majority of retirees from all other types of employment. If they want additional coverage that exceeds Medicare coverage, they can pay for it, just as do all other retirees enrolled in Medicare.

    4. Just because you’ve already put your thirty in, you should not be able to collect your pension until you are at least 60. Social Security won’t pay anything at all until 60, and in order to collect full benefits you have to be at least 65. There is nothing inherent in being an auto worker than makes one better than the rest of the working stiffs and deserving of more and better benefits. Given current average life expectancy, it is entirely possible to live an additional thirty years even after working for thirty. The system is not capable to supporting retirement benefits for that length of time – investment returns just are not that good over time, even taking away our current economic woes.

    5. This perk of being paid 95% of your wages when you have been laid off just has to go. No other job has that benefit. In the event of a layoff, auto workers can go collect unemployment, just like every other person that is laid off.

    6. If plants are unproductive or underutilized, the companies have to be able to close them in order to cut costs and be able to stay alive. If there are openings at another plant, workers from closed plants should have first shot at those jobs, but that should be the extent of concessions for plant closings.

    We can throw money at the auto makers all day long, but if their business model does not change to reflect the reality of today’s economy, and they cannot make a profit in the future, that is money just being thrown in the toilet.

  24. 24
    PeakVT says:

    Even if you allow for the parochial interests of the Republican Senators leading the charge against the auto bailout the perception that they’d drive another nail into the coffin of the economy at the behest of foreign interests is suicidal not just for their re-elections but for the electoral hopes of their party for years to come.

    Even with Bush stepping in, I think the Repukes have done damage to their electoral prospects in the Midwest for years. Indiana and Ohio won’t be swing states anymore and the number of Repuke congresscritters will decline further in 2010.

  25. 25
    Ed Marshall says:

    Fuck you, Church Lady. If you don’t like what you got form a union. Auto workers aren’t the only people in this country with benefits and their employers turn healthy profits. Labor isn’t the problem here.

  26. 26
    TenguPhule says:

    Fuck you, Church Lady. If you don’t like what you got form a union.

    Church Lady claims to be management.

    So yeah.

  27. 27
    Ed Marshall says:

    Well, double fuck you, Church Lady.

  28. 28
    TenguPhule says:

    We can throw money at the auto makers all day long, but if their business model does not change to reflect the reality of today’s economy, and they cannot make a profit in the future, that is money just being thrown in the toilet.

    Yeah, just because labor did exactly that, screw them.

    May your workers unionize.

  29. 29

    […] you, John Cole. Update: John’s on a role today. US Senators are openly colluding with foreign auto companies to drive down the wages of American […]

  30. 30
    Xecklothxayyquou Gilchrist says:

    We’ve got a lot of failed business models.

    Well, a lot of failed businesses. Only one failed model, i.e. "stuff the execs’ pockets and screw the workers and customers".

  31. 31
    TheFountainHead says:

    Shorter Church Lady: Management has to have the ability to make really terrible decisions and then correct them after it’s too late on the backs of the workers.

  32. 32
    dbrown says:

    Church lady,
    what you say will not lower real costs for automakers since payments for laid-off workers and there real wages are such a small part of the car cost. Health care costs are the big hit – both for current workers and retiree’s. This should be nationalized for all Americans and would cost far less than the bank bailout did.

  33. 33
    TenguPhule says:

    You know you have really lost touch with reality when Dick Cheney has to warn you about Herbert Hoover time

    This is petty and stupid even for them.

    I think Cheney is starting to worry he’s going to get shot in the face. And it won’t be an accident this time.

  34. 34
    amorphous says:

    Shorter GOP:

    /Takes ball
    /Goes home

  35. 35
    El Cid says:

    Southern Republican Senators from Alabama, Kentucky, Mississippi, South Carolina, Texas, and soon Georgia are all in favor of giving maybe $3 billion in subsidies ("incentives") since 1992 to foreign automakers to locate in their states.

    They’ve also been massively in favor of keeping the U.S. fuel economy standards down; in favor of exempting SUV’s and passenger pickups from fuel economy standards and regular car taxes by pretending they’re work vehicles; and in favor of giving tens of thousands of dollars — and under Bush Jr., $100,000 — in tax writeoffs for small businesses specifically for vehicles over 6500lbs.

    So they’re in favor of states handing money to foreign automakers to make it worth their while to locate plants in their sh*tty, low-wage, unregulated cheap Southern states.

    And they’re in favor of giving into U.S. automaker executives who crippled our auto industry by lobbying for lower fuel economy standards and special treatment for heavy SUV’s and pickups.

    No one has worked harder over time to do more damage to this nation and the people in it than Southern conservatives. No one. No one, but no one hates Americans and all America has ever stood for like Southern conservatives hate America.

  36. 36
  37. 37
    TR says:

    This perk of being paid 95% of your wages when you have been laid off just has to go. No other job has that benefit. In the event of a layoff, auto workers can go collect unemployment, just like every other person that is laid off.

    Your ignorance is stunning. The UAW and the companies struck a deal — lower wages during the employment of these workers, in exchange for a commitment that they would continue to be paid pensions after retirement.

    The workers stuck to their end of the deal, and now that they’re retiring, you think the companies have the right to renege on their commitments?

    Fuck you.

  38. 38
    El Cid says:

    This one time I heard from this guy I knew about this feller what worked in a union and he never once’t went into work and he made his boss serve him peeled grapes and drive him to work in a Cadillac and ever since then I knew we had to let our auto industry go down right on the edge of a Depression ’cause that story shook me so.

  39. 39

    […] This is truly weird and hypocritical and creepily selfish, destructive behavior.   […]

  40. 40
    binzinerator says:

    How many times do these assholes get to pour their malted scotches in our face before America as a nation sends them to the floor with a stiff right?

    Hell yes, then we need to kick them in the junk with a steel-toed boot. And then we need to really lay a hurting on them.

    It’s amazing when Ben Stein sounds sane: "… they were also sick of the idea that the autoworkers had voted Democrat so many times and turned Michigan into an entirely Democratic state…"

    I said as much in a comment in a previous thread as one of several reasons why these fuckhole southern GOP senators did this. When a wingnut like Stein says that was part of the reason, you know it’s the truth. (after I submitted that comment I saw this at TPM, Josh just didn’t say they are malicious fucks but he didn’t need to. I also saw Josh mention the north/south thing, the new confederacy I alluded to when I said the goopers saw this as a chance to win the Gettysburg in their war on unions. When I see other much smarter and astute people pick this up from what’s going on, I know it’s not me just jumping to conclusions; something’s there.)

    We need to hang this around the necks of these sonofabitch southern gooper senators, and always remind people who it was who put tens of thousands of families out in the cold. Because that’s what’s going to happen when the auto companies collapse — a huge ripple economy in the midwest is going to go down with it.

    They just schiavoed tens of thousands families.

    We will be seeing Hooverviles in Michigan and Ohio and other places in the midwest. And very likely violence. ( that happened the great depression, food riots, worker riots, lots of ugliness stemming from lots of desperate people with little or nothing left to lose.) So we need to make sure people know who did this to them and why. I got a lot of family in Michigan, and they are going to suffer from these cocksucker senators.

    In the coming depression one thing I will look forward to is seeing these goopers (and the auto execs, who are almost always goopers too) get everything they deserve no matter how ugly it is. I for one will not object.

  41. 41
    dbrown says:

    (Rant alert)

    El Cid, the Southern GOP is the modern day confederacy – like the whore daughters of the confederacy, these terrorist pigs try to rewrite past history and make real Americans the enemy. The confederates were the worst terrorist we have ever endured and were responsible for killing more Americans than anyone has from all other wars together; yet, people still support the sick animal like Lee and admire this pig that makes Bin Laden look like a choir boy.

    So, why would so-called intelligent GOP leaders support such an anti-American system that tried to destroy our Constitution? Because they recall that the old south supported a system that allowed a small elite to dominant and control (willingly!) the other 95% using real slavery which also created wage slavery as their social cement.

    So, like those old days, the GOP elite needs to put the 95% of the US population into economic slavery to convince the southern low wage earners that only by destroying all economic opportunity for everyone (UAW) can they feel comfortable and maintain their so-called family values.

    The GOP motherfuckers only live to get the government and American people to support them with our tax money, send our children off to die in unneeded wars, and makes us beg for health care in hospital emergency rooms (were we pay full rates while all others pay ‘negotiated rates’ that are 1/3 to 1/10 the full rates.) Then if the poor stooges loose all their money, this elite has changed the bankruptcy laws so the poor still have to pay some of their debt while millionaires get a free ride!

  42. 42
    Ripley says:

    I don’t think Church Lady has a very good, if any, idea of how pensions and retiree health benefits are set up.

    1 – Generally, you don’t receive your pension until you’re in your 60’s. The earlier you elect to receive pension payments, the lower the monthly payment.

    2 – Everyone is automatically enrolled in Medicare at 65. Retiree health benefits are supplemental to Medicare – they don’t trump it with Super Fantastic Happy Funtime insurance plans. They also pay part of the premium.

    3 – 95% of pay when you’re laid off? Where is that coming from, Bill O’Reilly? Sean Hannity? David Vitter?

    I’ve worked in Employee Benefits, handling some of the biggest corps in America, with many distinct unions and distinct union plans. No one was receiving a pension at 40 or getting one over on the Man with Megastupendous health care benefits. Retiree insurance is a bit of a farce, honestly.

    Frankly, there are no union employees getting golden parachutes, either. That "I’m Special!" benefit is reserved for the Carly Fiorinas of the world.

  43. 43
    AhabTRuler, V says:

    Hopefully, things will get so bad that my parents will stop chiding me for being pessimistic and all "doom & gloom" when we talk about politics.

    Yep, when we are standing in the soup lines wearing fucking barrels, I’ll be able to hold my head high and say "told ya so."

    So there Mom & Dad.

  44. 44
    binzinerator says:

    No one has worked harder over time to do more damage to this nation and the people in it than Southern conservatives. No one. No one, but no one hates Americans and all America has ever stood for like Southern conservatives hate America.

    I agree. They are the most harmful subset of a party that has demonstrated over and over again they do not have the nation’s best interests in mind, and are indeed more dangerous and have done more harm to this country, to its people, to our future as a democracy and to our security than any terrorist group threatening us. They are the rotten core of a putrefying GOP. They are the gooper’s gooper.

  45. 45
    Just Some Fuckhead says:

    @AhabTRuler, V: Yeah, my rightwing mom broached the very dangerous topic of politics at Thanksgiving to inform me that she didn’t think the economy was as bad as "they" were saying. I told her she was right, it was actually much worse. I then proceeded to tell her how bad it was but her eyes glazed over about halfway through my spiel. As long as she’s gettin her three gov’t checks every month, the economy is just fine, thankyouverymuch.

  46. 46
    The Raven says:

    I would say that the Southern Senators who have made this mess are trying to set up a regional monopoly on auto manufacture, and there’s no reason to believe they will succeed in doing anything but making a lot of people miserable; the time for regional monopolies seems to have ended. (Krugman pointed out that the time for regional monopolies in the auto industry seems to have ended at the end of his Nobel lecture, and was immediately misquoted. Go listen to it–there’s no transcription yet.)

  47. 47
    AhabTRuler, V says:

    @Just Some Fuckhead: Fortunately, I spent the day with my in-laws. For some unexplained reason, they listen to me and respond intelligently. Not really sure how to deal with such bizarre behavior.

  48. 48
    AhabTRuler, V says:

    Personally, I am trying to come up with a line of thinking that doesn’t end in "Game over, man. Game over."

  49. 49
    Just Some Fuckhead says:

    Krugman pointed out that the time for regional monopolies in the auto industry seems to have ended at the end of his Nobel lecture

    Eerie timing.

  50. 50
    LevelB says:

    "US Senators are openly colluding with foreign auto companies to drive down the wages of American workers."

    I am not sure this is what is going on – would the foreign auto companies really want the US auto companies to be able to drastically reduce their costs? Not sure how that helps them.

    I think this is just pure union-busting. Unions support democrats, unions are bad, they must be destroyed. Even if this does not help (in fact hurts) the employers in their states.

    B.

  51. 51
    passerby says:

    What’s with all the "fuck you Church Lady!"s ?!?

    She’s not an auto industry wonk. She’s putting forth her ideas here in a well thought out way.

    Those disparaging her view did not offer anything close to the detail she put forth, just "fuck you"s and "it’s not labor’s fault"s type of replies.

    We cannot continue to discuss real solutions to this giant CLUSTER FUCK without taking into consideration that the economy that we’ve relied on for so long IS OVER. It won’t work the way it did in the 90’s nor as recently as 5 years ago.

    I generally agree with her points 1., 2., 3., and 5. Spread the hurt equitably. Everyone, management and labor–including us, the consumers–are going to hurt behind this mess.

  52. 52
    Bill H says:

    Health care costs are the big hit – both for current workers and retiree’s.

    Employee costs are approximately 10% of the overall cost of production of an American car. Health care costs, present and past employee, are about 20% of employee cost. That means putting past employees on Medicare would reduce overall cost for car companies by a whopping 2% or so. Putting present employees on Medicare would reduce cost another 1% or thereabouts.

    The problem is not employment cost, not the unions, not the employees, past or present.

  53. 53
    harshcore says:

    It’s awful funny how during the Wall Street Bailout executive pay was sacrosanct – couldn’t be touched. Now here we are with senators trying to set lower wages for auto workers. I guess there is no such thing as excessive compensation unless you are a working person.

  54. 54
    binzinerator says:

    @Reverend Dennis:

    Maybe it’s not so much that the GOP has become a suicide party, it’s that the GOP has become a parochial party. It’s the party of the New Confederacy.

    (Or I guess you could say the GOP as a national party has already committed suicide and that what we have now is a zombie GOP. The virus of southern white conservatism that infected it and killed it now animates its corpse.)

  55. 55
    Zam says:

    Man I’m working on this pipeline project in IL right now. All my co-workers come from southern states, everyday they bitch about the evils of unions. They actually tell stories like El Cid said above. This is of course in between them shouting at me for being an oppressive yankee and claiming John Wilkes Boothe is a real American hero. There is real hatred towards Unions in the south, fueled by fictitious stories they heard from a guy who knows a guy.

    If they want to tell me the companies with plants down in their non-union states are making more money fine. I just point out that all those fucking states have shitty standards of living and low life expectancy, probably brought on by shitty wages not adjusted for inflation.

  56. 56
    Garrigus Carraig says:

    This whole episode is reminding me of the John Calhoun – Preston Brooks Congresses, except with the South trying to stick it to the North this time. Can we secede? Please?
    (Random note on Rep. Preston Brooks. Although best known for beating up Sen. Charles Sumner, he also apparently, as an undergraduate, stormed a county jail holding his brother. With a brace of pistols.)

  57. 57
    Just Some Fuckhead says:

    @passerby: Fuck you too passerby. She’s like a fucking herpes infection on teh threads. She’s saying the same shit over and over and not responding to treatment.

  58. 58
    El Cid says:

    @Zam: I should probably add that I am a native Southerner and still live in Georgia. I like Southerners in general.

    But I have never, ever had any truck with the idiot, poisonous mindset represented by Southern conservatism, whether they were formally Democrats right before the Civil War to the Civil Rights era, or whether they were Goldwater / Nixon / Reagan Republicans, or just various assorted reactionaries, bigots, anti-science nitwits, cellular authoritarians (oh, excuse me, ‘local / small government’ fans) or just revanchist racists.

    And I’ve seen for myself that the average working person even with those views I hate can change, given the types of circumstances that make them confront their beliefs — but Southern conservative elites and ideologues never, ever, ever do.

    That’s why I don’t much care because some guy has a ‘Confederate Flag’ sticker on his truck, while the bile rises when I see one of these crusading jackasses rambling on about ‘the market’ and ‘efficiency’ and ‘reg-er-layshuns’, the whole schtick. They know they don’t give a sh*t, they know their decisions are gonna just hammer ordinary people, but they don’t care.

    These Southern GOP Senators know exactly what they’re doing and for whom, and I don’t mind if people choose to speak about their love for subsidizing foreign manufacturers to come to their states and their hatred of subsidies for national industries outside their states as treason.

    ‘Cause if there’s one thing Southern conservatives love, it’s treason. Whether waging war against the Union itself, or raising terrorist armies to kill and harass U.S. citizens running for and winning political office (the ‘night riders’ of the late 19th century), or a coup d’etat against an actual elected government (Wilmington, NC, 1898), or threatening U.S. law enforcement officers on behalf of racism & segregation, to ramming through ‘free’ trade agreements which devastated Southern industry, to Phil Gramm-style deregulation which has unleashed an utter cataclysm upon the U.S. economy…

    …again, nobody but nobody works as long and tirelessly to harm the USA and its peoples as do Southern conservative politicians, elites, and ideologues.

  59. 59

    Hooray, the Southern Statergery is working!

    You see, the whole point of the constant extending of a middle finger to America while screaming about teh ghey is for the GOP to become such a flaming HAZMAT spill, evacuate everyone for 100 miles train wreck that they can demand a bail out.

    So, think of the hundreds of thousands of prostitutes who’ll be unemployed if the GOP fails and kick a Republican in the nads!

  60. 60
    John Cole says:

    Everyone simmer down now. I happen to think Church Lady is wrong, but there is no need to be rude to her and Passerby.

  61. 61
    Just Some Fuckhead says:

    @John Cole: I thought I was fairly restrained.

  62. 62
    passerby says:

    @passerby: Fuck you too passerby. She’s like a fucking herpes infection on teh threads. She’s saying the same shit over and over and not responding to treatment.

    C’mon Fuckhead. No substance.

    Since you seem to be more about criticizing vs. actually offering ideas of your own, what do you think about this:

    Give bridge loan with guaranteed earmarks for labor to preserve jobs (no one laid off). This is a short term solution.

    Nationalize health care so that all americans can benefit, not just unionized industries. Unions can fight for wages and working conditions as was their original purpose OR Congress can enact labor standards into a law that would protect the wages and working conditions of ALL Americans, again, not just unionized industries. Yeah there’s, OSHA and something called Minimum Wage, but there are enough loopholes to insure that profits can be maximized on the backs of labor.

    The retirement and pension plans are tied to a global market now in ruins, fucking broken. Solutions that are anchored in old and dying paradigms are doomed to fail. We need leaders to think in new ways.

    I live in Chattanooga and this town couldn’t be happier about the new VW plant coming here. Why do GOP SOB Senators like Corker (TN) and Shelby (AL) get to make their constituents happy at the expense of the American auto industry? What needs to change to prevent them from pitting us against each other?

  63. 63

    there is no need to be rude

    Wait. The display of rudeness is based on need?

    Sorry, I thought this was Balloon Juice.

  64. 64
    Fritz says:

    If you want wages and benefits to American workers that wildly exceed world norms, you need to erect trade barriers and also make products that the rest of the world will buy despite those barriers to entry into American markets.

    At present, neither of those conditions apply. OK, the second one does except most of the products America produces (like entertainment and software) are damned easy to pirate.

    Until you address those issues you cannot have American manufacturing with high wages. Union card checks and fulminations in Congress simply won’t do it.

  65. 65
    Reverend Dennis says:

    @binzinerator:
    That or it’s delayed payback for Sherman’s March to the Sea and the Reconstruction.

  66. 66
    sparky says:

    John:
    El Cid’s comment above speaks quite eloquently, I think, to why so many people are so hostile today. The US has been putting up with this crap since, oh, Andrew Jackson’s presidency. It never, ever dies; it just mutates into some new form, and infects every discussion. So while in theory we’re talking about the auto makers, to them it’s just another opportunity to poison the well. Sometimes, enough is enough.

    Maybe the French have (excuse me, had *ahem*) the same problem with the Catholic Church. Maybe it’s time for another Reconstruction and this time maybe we can inoculate against the Lost Cause virus and all its varients.

  67. 67
    El Cid says:

    So while in theory we’re talking about the auto makers, to them it’s just another opportunity to poison the well.

    Who’s poisoning the well? Me? Or the GOP’s Southern Senators?

  68. 68
    Zam says:

    @El Cid: Yea, I don’t mean any offense to southerners. These pipeliner’s I’m working with are probably the worst of them, so my view is somewhat influenced by that. I just get really fucking pissed when they pull this "Evil Yankee" bullshit out of no where.

  69. 69
    Just Some Fuckhead says:

    @passerby: I’ve made my views known in other comments on other threads. There have only been about twenty threads or more on this topic now.

    I ain’t your fucking monkey but I’ll restate bridge loans need to happen. If the car companies fail anyway, it’s better thay fail slowly over time. If that means we lose 14 or 18 billion dollars of taxpayer money, that ain’t even a respectable tip on top of our three trillion dollar tab for Iraq so clearly spending money for nothing ain’t the issue here.

    None of that other stuff is gonna happen and it’s all just a glittery bunch of distraction.

  70. 70
    Mike G says:

    How many times do these assholes get to pour their malted scotches in our face before America as a nation sends them to the floor with a stiff right?

    To hell with these cheap-labor Plantation Republican hypocrites and subsidized southern states that collect far more from the federal government than they pay in while bitching about taxes, not to mention shovelling out state govt subsidies by the boatload to attract foreign manufacturers.

    And none of this would be possible without the working-class southern authoritarian-follower bigots who continue to underwrite their own economic exploitation by being easy dupes for whatever In the Name of Jeebus ‘culture’ manufactured grievance the GOP dreams up.

  71. 71
    kay says:

    @LevelB:

    They would, and the UAW know it, as do the foreign car companies.

    Toyota’s wages are pegged to UAW wages. That’s why the contract that comes on-line in 2011 has starting base play comparable.

    It’s not rocket science. Toyota doesn’t want a union. Right now, their workers don’t need one. The starting wage is comparable with the new UAW starting wage.

    If the UAW wage structure falls off the map, Toyota’s US wages go into free-fall, race to the bottom mode.

    I’ll make you a bet. The UAW disappears, wages fall across the board.

  72. 72
    The Raven says:

    El Cid

    ‘Cause if there’s one thing Southern conservatives love, it’s treason.

    Why is that, do you think? It seems like a crappy thing to love.

  73. 73
    sparky says:

    @passerby: I think your ideas are a fine start. Less clear to me is exactly what paradigms don’t work any longer. If a paradigm of decent wages and benefits for everyone below the upper class is in conflict with corporatism, well maybe we need to rethink corporatism.

    As for your questions about the South, read El Cid. They’ve been doing it for a long time and it’s always worked for them. They ain’t about to stop now.

  74. 74
    MikeJ says:

    Wait. The display of rudeness is based on need?

    From each according to his ability, to each unto his need.

    And unrelated:
    How many times do these assholes get to pour their malted scotches in our face

    All scotches all "malted". Malting is simply making the barley germinate before brewing the mash. You can’t make scotch without this step. Single malts all come from one batch and aren’t blended.

    We can argue politics all day, but lets have proper respect for the king of liquors, fine scotch whisky.

  75. 75
    sparky says:

    @El Cid: Pronoun trouble. My bad. I meant those delightful Senators. I think of Pitchfork Ben as the original, but I guess Strom and George (ok a Gov but you get the idea) will do jus’ fine as models.

  76. 76
    AnneLaurie says:

    How off your shit do you need to be to lose Dick Cheney (From LAT):

    "Bush personally lobbied recalcitrant Senate Republicans after Vice President Dick Cheney failed to round up support Wednesday during a contentious two-hour meeting.

    ‘If we don’t do this, we will be known as the party of Herbert Hoover forever,’ Cheney told them, (emph added) according to a Senate Republican aide, evoking the president whose inaction is widely blamed for helping trigger the Great Depression in the early 1930s."

    Oh, suuure, now that Darth Cheney knows his manipulation of the C-Plus Augustus has all his fellow Rethugs in a fulminating snit about their own person prospectives… *now* the miserable sumbatch decides to come out in favor of ordinary American workers.

    Maybe he can offer Dicky, Mitch & Corky space in the guest room at Secret-Service-protected Undisclosed Location, ’cause if the grownups can’t throw a corner of TARP over the American auto industry, the hard rain a-coming is going to strip flesh off bone for a lot of people whose only crime is not being born rich & selfish.

  77. 77
    binzinerator says:

    @passerby:

    What’s with all the "fuck you Church Lady!"s ?!?

    We cannot continue to discuss real solutions to this giant CLUSTER FUCK without taking into consideration FACTS about union labor compesation, something that churchlady refuses to do. that the economy that we’ve relied on for so long IS OVER.

    Fix’t.

    Churchlady:

    Retiree health benefits for all retirees over 65 have to go…

    Passerby, this is compensation that has already been earned. The health benefits are what the retirees’ employers fucking owe them for work already performed. What part of that don’t you and the churchlady understand?

    Churchladys ‘real solution’ is about as real as insisting you have to give back 20 or 30 percent of your salary you were paid over your lifetime because your former employer has fucked up so badly it is now facing bankruptcy. All bennies — insurance, pension, vacation, sick leave, etc — are compensation, just like wages they are what your employer has agreed to pay you for the work you perform. You perform the work, you have earned the compensation your employer said it would pay you. You own it. It’s yours.

    Stating that retiree health benefits have to go is in effect stating that employers should be allowed to take back the compensation they paid their workers. It’s as fucked up and absurd and wrong as asserting that workers who get screwed this way can ‘take back’ their uncompensated labor by taking the doors and bumpers and wheels off the cars they made. They’re in financial trouble too ya know, so they ought to insist they can renege on their end of the bargain and ‘take back’ their labor they had provided for that compensation.

    Is it a real or even a reasonable solution to demand your past employees give back a big chunk of what you paid them over the years?

    Here’s my personal experience of an employer who tried to take back some of the compensation I had already earned:

    I once worked a year for a small company (and hadn’t taken any vacation time during that year), then found a better job somewhere else so I gave my 2 weeks notice. When I turned in my notice, the owner got enraged that I was leaving. He took my leaving as a personal affront. He fired me on the spot and as I was headed out the door he told me he wasn’t going to pay me for my unused vacation time either. I told him he couldn’t do that. He said ‘watch me’. I told him there were labor laws against that. He laughed and said he’d done this before and he’d do the same with me too.
    (Shocked the hell out of me, before that episode I would have said he was an OK guy).

    I left without another word, then called the Dept. of Labor when I got home. I told them employees at this company earn 1 week of paid vacation after 6 months of employment, that this was in the company’s employee handbook and also in my job offer letter. Exactly one day later I got a frantic call from the company’s HR person. She begged me to call the dept of Labor and tell them everything was ok. I told her not until the check for that week’s worth of salary, which is the value of the week of vacation which was compensation I had earned, had cleared my bank. I got the check the next day, it cleared and I called the labor people and told them I had finally gotten all the compensation I was owed.

    Maybe this is what churchlady would do to her former employees when her business tanks. I’d like to see her try it. It would be more than ‘fuck you’ she’d be hearing.

    Oh, and yeah one more thing. Church lady: Fuck you.

  78. 78
    Carnacki says:

    There are times when I think the biggest mistake made by those of us among the non aristocracy was putting away the guilliotine. With GOP senators telling us to eat cake, I really think it’s time for me to open my torches and pitchforks shop in Washington because I think there’s going to be a run on sales for those soon.

  79. 79
    sparky says:

    @The Raven: You wouldn’t say that if you understood the Lost Cause, suh.

  80. 80
    passerby says:

    @sparky:

    Less clear to me is exactly what paradigms don’t work any longer.

    I’m referring to the way retirement benefits are financed. Which investments in an unstable market can guarantee the viability pension funds?

    As for your questions about the South, read El Cid. They’ve been doing it for a long time and it’s always worked for them. They ain’t about to stop now.

    These GOP Senators are members of a 100-person body in Congress. There had to be some kind of political wheeling and dealing going on in order for them to get what they got for foreign auto. How did they get the votes to enable the subsidies/tax breaks that sweetened the pot for Mercedes (in a poor state like AL) and Volkswagen (in ain’t much richer TN).

    Their (politicians’) machinations actually have some people believing that it’s a North vs. South issue when it comes to the Union issue. I’m not buying that.

    I hope we keep voting in Freshmen to House and Senate. Dems and Reps alike.

  81. 81
    El Cid says:

    @The Raven: @The Raven:

    Why do Southern conservatives seem so attracted to treasonous causes?

    Well, in my view, fundamentally they are opposed to the sorts of values which, formally and by reputation, suffuse the United States and its Constitution, including such values as one man / one vote, freedom of speech, a citizens’ rights in the fact of police authority, a separation between government and establishments of religion, a secular and democratically-minded civic education, or the general philosophy that government could possibly be used to equalize the effects of hierarchy on its population.

    And every time they lose a fight against one of those values, they act like they had always been in support of them, until such time as their power grows and they are able to damage or destroy them.

  82. 82
    Garrigus Carraig says:

    @MikeJ:

    We can argue politics all day, but lets have proper respect for the king of liquors beverages, fine scotch whisky.

  83. 83
    MikeJ says:

    If you accept goods from suppliers and refuse to pay, don’t be surprised when suppliers in the future won’t deal with you.

    If you accept services from labour and then refuse to pay, don’t be surprised when labour in the future won’t deal with you.

  84. 84
    Karmakin says:

    Along the lines of what biz says, the real BIG PROBLEM here is that the modern public corporate structure really has no incentive to think in the long-term. (As seen as 5-10 years down the road). Most investment returns are capital gains, not dividends, and as well, performance bonuses often are tied to short-term success indicators as well…

    Because without time travel, renumeration based upon long-term success is basically impossible. My message to the Church Ladies of the world, is that you BETTER get your rear in gear and come up with a way to fix the system, or we’re going to do it for you. And you’re NOT going to like it.

  85. 85
    John Cole says:

    @AnneLaurie: I just want to go on record and state that C+ Augustus is the best nickname for Bush ever, and I do not use it enough.

  86. 86
    binzinerator says:

    @El Cid:

    …again, nobody but nobody works as long and tirelessly to harm the USA and its peoples as do Southern conservative politicians, elites, and ideologues.

    I lived in the South for a number of years. I have to concur. I am also so glad I knew some native Southerners who I thought were just awesome wonderful people, whose minds were so unbelieveably unlike the idiot poisonous mindset of southern conservatism, that it just about made my head want to explode. I could never figure out the source of the poison. I’m inclined to think it has to do with a toxic mix of southern baptism religion, a culture of victimhood and resentment, and the old old disease of bigotry. It’s a brew toxic enough to enfeeble and sicken any healthy mind, but it seems to have formed an enduring reservoir of poison in the South.

  87. 87
    passerby says:

    @binzinerator:

    Passerby, this is compensation that has already been earned. The health benefits are what the retirees’ employers fucking owe them for work already performed. What part of that don’t you and the churchlady understand?

    What I don’t understand, Binzinerator, is how these companies are going to meet their obligations when they lack the financial means to do so?

    The markets are not what they were when these agreements were struck.

    I agree: It’s not the fault of unions/workers that the auto industry is fucked up.

    I agree: That these unions are entitled to what was promised.

    But look what happened to Enron. People lost everything without any hope of being made whole.

    Look what happened when the S & L’s went belly up. Some made out like bandits, others were not made whole.

    I don’t have much confidence that any American counting on pensions and other kinds of retirement benefits will be made whole…

    …unless you’re a member of Congress or hold some other Government "Civil Servant" position.

  88. 88
    El Cid says:

    How did they get the votes to enable the subsidies/tax breaks that sweetened the pot for Mercedes (in a poor state like AL) and Volkswagen (in ain’t much richer TN).

    These were state-level subsidies ("incentive packages"). A lot of Southern conservatives will whine if something’s done on the federal level but it seems to be okay when it’s state or local level.

    Of course it helps that the other states subsidize many of these principled Southern anti-federalists through federal tax revenues. So, Alabama gets $1.66 for every $1 it pays in federal taxes, while Mississippi gets $2.02 for every $1 paid. All so that their Senators can lecture us on how failing, money-losing institutions shouldn’t be supported with tax dollars.

    Yeah, the Southern conservatives are only part of the problem. They’re just often the hardest, meanest part of the right-wing coalition which tips the battle one way or another. As we just saw.

  89. 89
    dbrown says:

    El Cid the real reason ‘Southern conservatives seem so attracted to treasonous causes?’ is for the reason I talked about before. If lower wage whites were to be held under control and fight and die for the elite, then they needed a powerful cause – keep the blacks, who were lower on the scale, in check to save their white woman and way of life. The elite rode that horse until the south bleed to death.

    Today the ’cause’ is almost identical except added to the ‘black menace’ are gays and dangerous liberals that are over educated and supporters of lazy uion workers. All issues are based on controlling the wealth – that is, holding power in congress to get all tax dollars into their own pockets. Simple as that.

  90. 90
    Hyperion says:

    Corker had a long presser on CSPAN last night. i did not understand all he was saying but he did mention more than once that the fabulous 3 point plan that he had worked out (point 3 being shot down by the UAW) should still live on as a 2 point plan (due to it having fabulousness to spare). something about bond holders agreeing to take a 30 cent on the dollar haircut. i’d like to hear more about this…

    He said explicitly the the UAW was only 11% of the automakers’ problem…not sure what he meant. But it seemed to me that his message was NOT "i wanna screw the autoworkers."

    I hate his corn pone accent. But i was interested in his contention that HIS fabulous plan WOULD put the companies back on firm financial footing, that is, it’s not a bridge loan to a bridge loan. I believe he also said chrysler was toast.

    On the other hand i have heard "pro-UAW" folks saying that not only must those jobs be saved but also the bloated dealerships. Closing dealerships (or selling them to a foreign car company) is not a bad idea IMO.

    An intelligent discussion should be happening. instead groups are just screaming at each other. Life is imitating the internet!

  91. 91
    binzinerator says:

    @MikeJ:

    We can argue politics all day, but lets have proper respect for the king of liquors, fine scotch whisky.

    Hear, hear!

    And as for rudeness, John, I’m going to give what is due to anyone who suggests employers should be allowed to cheat and steal from their employees. Because that’s exactly what churchlady was talking about.

    Speaking as someone who had an employer who tried to do just that.

  92. 92
    flyerhawk says:

    Why exactly is Mitch McConnell involved in these discussions?

    The guys is the biggest scumbag in Congress and once again he comes down on the side of the enemies of American voters.

  93. 93

    @MikeJ:

    We can argue politics all day, but lets have proper respect for the king of liquors, fine scotch whisky.

    You, sir, are a gentleman and worthy our respect. I raise my glass to you.

  94. 94
    John Cole says:

    What I don’t understand, Binzinerator, is how these companies are going to meet their obligations when they lack the financial means to do so?

    Nobody has that answer, and if we did, we would not be in this mess.

    But here is where I stand- you can’t just say “fuck the retirees,” which is what it seemed like you were saying. From where I stand, I would rather the company go down in flames than be allowed to survive on while hundreds of thousands of people who worked all their lives for their retirement and health care in their old age are just screwed. The retirees would be just as screwed either way, but there would be a sense of justice- at least the god damned company is dead, too.

    Not to mention, talk about a transfer payment. You cut off all the pensioners and keep the company alive and running, what you have just done is effectively taken money from all the folks who worked all their lives for their pension and transferred it to… shareholders. What kind of bullshit is that?

    Conservatives always like to remark that the reason you need to keep tax policy simply and stable is so people can plan. The chance of changing tax policy makes investors nervous. Well, the same is true with people regarding their pensions. These folks did what they did because they weere told they would get that pension. They planned their lives around it. They agreed to contracts with less pay for more benefits. You don’t just get to say fuck off to them.

    Hell, I don’t even know how that would is legal. It shouldn’t be.

  95. 95

    @flyerhawk:

    Why exactly is Mitch McConnell involved in these discussions?

    I suspect being the Senate Minority Leader has something to do with it.

  96. 96
    wolfetone says:

    Since we all really do have to admit that there are serious problems with the big three that almost certainly will lead to at least one going under, why isn’t anyone talking about using the money the automakers are asking for to shore up things for the men and women who will lose their jobs? Extending unemployment benefits and offering education and training for new trades (that project to rebuild the nation’s infrastructure ain’t gonna do itself) seem to me to be simple steps that would actually be an investment. If we’re talking about $15+ billion, wouldn’t that be a whole lot of money to seed an new unemployment and job training/education program (or to refine and expand what does exist)?

  97. 97
    El Cid says:

    @Hyperion: Dealerships aren’t owned by the manufacturers. They’re owned just like every other business franchise, and no one can snap their fingers and close them. Further, laws are very, very protective of dealership franchises.

  98. 98
    passerby says:

    @Hyperion:

    I hate his [Corker’s] corn pone accent.

    Yes, one of the most difficult things about living in east TN is having to abide the accent. When I meet people without the accent, I assume they’re not from here–not always true, but a pretty safe assumption in my experience.

    And double dislike when they bring that accent to my front door with a Bible in their hands.

    But it seemed to me that his message was NOT "i wanna screw the autoworkers."

    But they DO want to screw the unions. Too, bad he can’t do one without doing the other.

  99. 99
    JL says:

    John, I’m just passing through because I have company coming later tonight, but is it time to bring up Congress’s benefits again? ( and maybe the military). Republicans care more about winning rather than about living.

  100. 100
    Brian J says:

    This seems to be largely a question of maturity, in that some Republican lack it big time. There’s nothing wrong with being against the bail outs for ideological reasons and thus voting accordingly. I may not agree with such a decision, but I can respect it, at least in part. But what about those people who may not be comfortable with something, such as a bail out, but vote for it because the possibilities associated with not voting for it are far worse? I doubt a lot of Democrats, aside from the ones whose regular contributors include Wall Street types, wanted to give support to financial firms, but they did because the alternative could have been quite a bit worse. There are probably more conservatives who hate the idea of bailing out the auto industry for reasons aside from politics but support such a plan because they realize the alternative is probably going to be a lot worse.

    Unless they are proposing to pick up all of the costs for income support for a year or two for displaced workers and cover most or all of the guarantees made to retirees, they are playing politics with the nation’s economy. And while I could be proven wrong, my guess is, if the shit does hit the fan, those in the areas affected by this will be turned against the Republicans for a generation or two.

  101. 101
    wingnuts to iraq says:

    john cole is the best blogger EVAR!

  102. 102

    What the hell would NASCAR do if the Big Three go away? You think the Republicans are pissed at NASCAR because they only make left turns?

  103. 103
    South of I-10 says:

    Vitter is an f’ing idiot. He is up for reelection in a couple of years, and he just pissed off a large portion of N. Louisiana. There is a GM plant in Shreveport. When those people lose their jobs, I think they will remember who helped that happen. For the south haters: there are a lot of progressive people here, the idiots just get all the attention.

  104. 104
    John Cole says:

    Since we all really do have to admit that there are serious problems with the big three that almost certainly will lead to at least one going under, why isn’t anyone talking about using the money the automakers are asking for to shore up things for the men and women who will lose their jobs? Extending unemployment benefits and offering education and training for new trades (that project to rebuild the nation’s infrastructure ain’t gonna do itself) seem to me to be simple steps that would actually be an investment.

    Train them to do what, exactly? We are staring down the barrel of ten percent unemployment or better if the big three go tits up, and I don’t think people realize how serious this is. T Unemployment is already bad, and there will be tons of other people competing for those jobs already.

    If the big three die, we effectively have no manufacturing base any more. What do we make? Maybe some petrochemicals here and there, Boeing and John Deere, and maybe a few shipyards remain, but we really don’t have anything- it has all moved offshore. There really isn’t much of a furniture or textile industry left in the south. The green revolution and all the good jobs that were supposed to come with that was strangled in the crib by eight years of neglect, housing construction is way down, etc.

    We basically are a nation of people who push paper- lawyers, financiers, stock brokers etc. at one end of the spectrum, and at the other end you have the folks slaving away in service industries (walmart, grocery stores, Chotchkies chains, etc.). The middle class is basically down to teachers and a few firemen and policemen and what is left of the auto industry and resource extraction industries, and even that is shrinking.

    Sorry to be so gloomy, but we really are in trouble. Losing the auto industry I think is a sign of some really bad things to come.

  105. 105
    Just Some Fuckhead says:

    @The Grand Panjandrum:

    What the hell would NASCAR do if the Big Three go away?

    Race Toyotas?

  106. 106
    passerby says:

    @John Cole:

    you can’t just say “fuck the retirees,” which is what it seemed like you were saying.

    No, John, my attitude is not "fuck the retirees". It’s more at "the retirees are fucked." Just like Enron Shareholders, just like folks who had their money in S & Ls.

    It always happens to the middle class, we’re fucked with our pants on. The rich will take a hit too but it won’t break their backs.

    I’m not for anarchy but I agree that if they’re fucked, then let the entity that fucked them die, let it collapse. The wealthy who caused it all will still be wealthy.

    "…we’re all fucking peasants as far as I can see."
    —John Lennon

  107. 107
    Glen says:

    I don’t suggest that Obama will or should do this (he’s way too cool and calm for it). But the next time Rahmbo swings through Detroit or Detroit-dependent areas, he should say:

    "How many of you, and I won’t ask for a show of hands because that might be embarrassing, voted Republican? How many Republicans voted for you?"

  108. 108
    TR says:

    It’s more at "the retirees are fucked." Just like Enron Shareholders, just like folks who had their money in S & Ls.

    Sorry, that’s a weak comparison. If you own stock in a company or put your money in an investment situation, you accept the inherent risk that comes with the possibility of great reward.

    But if you strike a deal with your employer, and willingly take a cut in your wages during your term of employment on the guarantee that the money will be given to you in a pension, that’s something entirely different. In fact, it’s almost the exact opposite.

  109. 109
    AnneLaurie says:

    We basically are a nation of people who push paper- lawyers, financiers, stock brokers etc. at one end of the spectrum, and at the other end you have the folks slaving away in service industries. The middle class is basically down to teachers and a few firemen and policemen and what is left of the auto industry and resource extraction industries, and even that is shrinking.

    The Plantation Party’s wet dream! A handful of aristocrats, a huge mass of serfs, plus a small class of armed thugs & paper-pushers to keep the serfs in line. The mistake Dicky, Mitch & Corky make is in assuming they’ll be among the "aristocrats", when IRL they’d just be house n… foremen.

  110. 110
    JL says:

    @John Cole: We are a consumer based society. High end retailers such as Sak’s, soared the first few years under Bush while the Penney’s and Sears stock fell behind. Something has to give. If the middle class cannot spend money, the economy will tank. By the way, did I mention that I hate the fucking repubs which I used to be one.

  111. 111
    JL says:

    @AnneLaurie: It’s not a maintaable society…. F**k Bush and the rest of the repubs…

  112. 112
    D. Mason says:

    @John Cole:

    I have thought for some time that the only thing that can save our economy at this point is a massive ramp-down of our military presence overseas and the introduction of a new energy technology that we could manufacture locally and export world wide. The military expenses would have to be adjusted carefully and in such a way that didn’t make us vulnerable and also didn’t displace a ton of defense jobs. One idea for this would be to re-allocate military resources to non-military research. This would allow us to cut corporate taxes in such a way that wouldn’t require a rise in individual taxes. The new energy technology would require a lot of research and development and also initial investment. This would create jobs across the country and infuse some wealth into areas with empty manufacturing facilities that could be put back into use. It would re-vitalize the manufacturing base of the US and the big 3 could be a part of it.

    I’m all for the auto bailout, much more so than the banking bailout which I recognized as necessary. That being said, I acknowledge that these bailouts are band-aids and won’t really solve the problem. We have to re-build our economic landscape one way or another. It seems the Republicans would rather let it collapse and start from scratch than try to renovate and get up to code. They choose to ignore the fact that we all have to keep living in the building.

  113. 113

    @Just Some Fuckhead: They already have a mediocre team racing mediocre Toyotas. Thank the racing gods the Big Three still make decent cars for racing.

  114. 114
    Gold Star for Robot Boy says:

    Sorry to be so gloomy, but we really are in trouble. Losing the auto industry I think is a sign of some really bad things to come.

    Good thing the American education system has been lights-out in teaching today’s youth the math and science skills needed in a post-industrial…
    (long pause)
    We are fucked, aren’t we?

  115. 115
    Just Some Fuckhead says:

    @The Grand Panjandrum: They won’t be mediocre anymore when it’s just them. Well, not so’s ya’d notice anyway.

  116. 116
    JL says:

    Now on a more positive note, who would you rather be sworn into office on January 20th, Barack and Joe or John and Sarah. The day the repubs died for good for me, was when he announced Sarah as vp. The repubs have become a religious party and I’m not willing to relive the Crusades.

  117. 117

    John I think this thread is leading to a peripheral discussion of what you old CO was talking about in his very fine book Limits of Power.

    If anyone wants to be cheered up about our prospects for the future I highly recommend Nassim Taleb’s book The Black Swan.

  118. 118
    passerby says:

    TR @ 108

    Sorry, that’s a weak comparison. If you own stock in a company or put your money in an investment situation, you accept the inherent risk that comes with the possibility of great reward.

    That’s fine up to the point when laws are enacted that favor the pillaging of financial institutions. And look at the giant fraud case that’s just been uncovered, there’s a human element (greed) at play. Illegalities can enter the picture.

    But if you strike a deal with your employer, and willingly take a cut in your wages during your term of employment on the guarantee that the money will be given to you in a pension, that’s something entirely different. In fact, it’s almost the exact opposite.

    Exact opposite? No. Not when so-called "Free Market" forces are deregulated so as to enable a bubble to form (a burstible thing). Aren’t these companies part of that market?

    I understand the differences you’re pointing out in terms of the agreement you make going in. But, if you strike a deal with your employer and the business goes bankrupt are you guaranteed that pension? Things don’t always go according to plan. That sounds trite and, I don’t mean it to be but, the word "guarantee" can only apply conditionally. So, if/when conditions change…

  119. 119

    This is the text of the memo that circulated among Senate Republicans Wednesday morning:

    From:

    Sent: Wednesday, December 10, 2008 9:12 AM

    To:

    Subject: Action Alert — Auto Bailout

    Today at noon, Senators Ensign, Shelby, Coburn and DeMint will hold a press conference in the Senate Radio/TV Gallery. They would appreciate our support through messaging and attending the press conference, if possible. The message they want us to deliver is:

    1. This is the democrats first opportunity to payoff organized labor after the election. This is a precursor to card check and other items. Republicans should stand firm and take their first shot against organized labor, instead of taking their first blow from it.

    2. This rush to judgment is the same thing that happened with the TARP. Members did not have an opportunity to read or digest the legislation and therefore could not understand the consequences of it. We should not rush to pass this because Detroit says the sky is falling.

    The sooner you can have press releases and documents like this in the hands of members and the press, the better. Please contact me if you need additional information. Again, the hardest thing for the democrats to do is get 60 votes. If we can hold the Republicans, we can beat this.

  120. 120
    Comrade Stuck says:

    @AnneLaurie:

    The Plantation Party’s wet dream! A handful of aristocrats, a huge mass of serfs, plus a small class of armed thugs & paper-pushers to keep the serfs in line. The mistake Dicky, Mitch & Corky make is in assuming they’ll be among the "aristocrats", when IRL they’d just be house n… foremen.

    Well stated Anne, this is also my view of what drives today’s GOP, and as long they have any power at all, they will use that power to push for the "Plantation" way of life for America.

    I believe we have a chance right now, if it’s not too late, for providing Ford and Chrysler a bridge loan, with a reform structure where they can save themselves. Just throwing tarp money at them, might get the job done, until they can reform themselves, but that is questionable. As for GM, there are signs that they are far more in dire straits from the amount of money they have requested, at least 15 billion I think at one point, and their draconian plan to stop most production for a period of time. And I agree that they cannot be allowed to just fold up and disappear. The small bridge loan to tide them over seems to me not nearly enough to see them through this, even for a short period of time. They are so large and their tentacles reach so far into about every nook and corner of our economy, to let them go under is not an option, imo.

    My prediction is at some point the federal gov is going to have to nationize at least GM for some period of time to prevent them from vanishing. And Cole is right, you can’t screw the retirees out of pensions without it being a national crime. I know the taxpayers made no promises, like it has with the military thru our elected reps to fulfill the constitutional duty of raising and supporting armies, but putting old folks in the poor house is not an option, unless we truly want to return to the 1890’s. Though wingnuts would be tickled pink with that prospect.

    We are currently going thru the motions of reviving a dying lifestyle of unlimited prosperity, until we realize that for national survival, we are going to have to make changes at least temporarily to a large degree in the socialist model. Unfettered capitalism is best imo, but without the unfettered part that has brought us to this point. Maybe we will get back to the rational version at some point, but not for some time.

  121. 121
    Conservatively Liberal says:

    If the big three die, we effectively have no manufacturing base any more. What do we make?

    John, a wingnut ‘economist’ was on C-SPAN this morning saying that we don’t need to make anything because it is too expensive for us to do so. We will just have the rest of the world make what we need for the lowest price and all Americans can go to college and become white collar workers. If you fail to do that, then at least there is the fallback of a career at McDonalds or Taco Bell. That it is your fault if you choose that path.

    Sure, let’s just enslave the rest of the world for shit wages while destroying their ecosystems with rampant pollution and killing off their workers with unsafe jobs. The we (read: the Rich) will get fat and happy on the profits while their societies fall apart because of low wages, no health care and widespread pollution. When the rest of the world gets fed up with our shit, all they have to do is refuse to make or send us anything and then they can stand back and watch us whither and die on the vine.

    This is really working out to be a South versus North kind of fight, I wonder if it really is all about unions and not about the ‘Union’. Many southerners rabidly hate something called a ‘union’? Maybe unions would have had better luck in the South if they had called themselves ‘confederates’ instead.

    The hated unions are located in the hated Union, and thus we have the new Civil War. The south against the Union union once again. ;)

  122. 122
    r€nato says:

    The GOP’s actions WRT auto industry loan reminds me of nothing other than a jilted long-time lover who decides that if he/she can’t have their ex, nobody else can either… and commits a murder/suicide.

  123. 123
    Hyperion says:

    @TheHatOnMyCat:
    link?

    or is this just the imaginings of some persona?

  124. 124
    Zam says:

    So does anyone recall the Tennessee Valley authority? I say if those fuckers down there are unwilling to help the north out we take back the fucking electricity we gave them. Seriously it was the taxes paid by people working in the auto industry that ended up paying for all the shit we gave them back in the great depression…

  125. 125
    JL says:

    The sooner you can have press releases and documents like this in the hands of members and the press, the better. Please contact me if you need additional information. Again, the hardest thing for the democrats to do is get 60 votes. If we can hold the Republicans, we can beat this.

    And in a few months with folks on the street looking for food it really won’t matter who stood firm, will it? Maybe if McCain were elected and he gave more tax cuts to the upper income it would trickle down faster.

  126. 126
    TR says:

    But, if you strike a deal with your employer and the business goes bankrupt are you guaranteed that pension?

    Often times, yes.

  127. 127
    kormgar says:

    I must confess…I am having a difficult time coming to terms with the idea that I agree with Ben Stein on something.

    It feels…wrong…

    But, Cole’s got a point. The man’s right on the money on this one. It makes me wonder why B.S. spends so much time being completely batshit insane…

    I suppose it’s just a side effect of the reality distorting right-wing cocoon. Or, well, any ideological cocoon really.

  128. 128
    Comrade Stuck says:

    comment in moderation. Please release or euthanize

  129. 129
    passerby says:

    Thank you for the link TR.

    Workers in bankruptcy situations face two important issues when it comes to their retirement benefits: access to pension benefits and the continued safety of their pension assets. Generally, your pension assets should not be at risk when a business declares bankruptcy, because ERISA requires that promised pension benefits be adequately funded and that pension monies be kept separate from an employer’s business assets and held in trust or invested in an insurance contract. Thus, if an employer declares bankruptcy, the retirement funds should be secure from the company’s creditors. [DOL.gov]

    Evidently, the pensions ARE or "should be" guaranteed (in bankruptcy) if the Big 3 have handled the withheld money appropriately. So the retirees may not be fucked. Could this be the reason why the Big 3 seem hesitant to file for a Chapter 11and instead are looking for bailout money?

    I’ve been looking at this in terms of retirees not receiving their pensions due to economic catastrophe.

  130. 130

    Thank you for allowing me the privilege of commenting.

    A $30/hr job, even with limited benefits, is a pretty good job. If I were a UAW member, I would have voted for the deal. They will get a worse deal from a bankruptcy judge.

    Wages in Central America are $3/day, or $0.37/hr, with no benefits. America should adopt and enforce strong tariffs if the goal is to protect worker’s wages.

    Obama should cancel NAFTA.

  131. 131
    Just Some Fuckhead says:

    @kormgar: He’s prolly got a fuckton of money tied up in GM. Nothing like a personal threat to bring out a rightwinger’s natural empathy.. for themselves.

  132. 132
    passerby says:

    @Zam:

    So does anyone recall the Tennessee Valley authority?

    BTW, electricity is real cheap here in E. TN. Just saying.

  133. 133
    kormgar says:

    @Just Some Fuckhead:

    Thank you…that makes a ton of sense. My brain feels a little bit less explodey now.

  134. 134
  135. 135
    Snail Darter says:

    @Zam:

    So does anyone recall the Tennessee Valley authority? I say if those fuckers down there are unwilling to help the north out we take back the fucking electricity we gave them.

    Yeeees!

  136. 136

    Evidently, the pensions ARE or "should be" guaranteed (in bankruptcy) if the Big 3 have handled the withheld money appropriately.

    Passerby made a funny!

  137. 137

    @Hyperion: TZ’s on the level here: linky. (h/t TPM)

  138. 138
    binzinerator says:

    @passerby:

    What I don’t understand, Binzinerator, is how these companies are going to meet their obligations when they lack the financial means to do so?

    I don’t know either.

    But it doesn’t seem to me that employees and former employees who are owed compensation — this is a different thing from shareholders and investors — should, as a real solution to avoiding bankruptcy, bend over and take it so the company can survive. Or, what John Cole (and others) said.

    The markets are not what they were when these agreements were struck.

    As a friend once said, "you can explain it but you can’t excuse it." I hope you meant that as the former.

    But look what happened to Enron. People lost everything without any hope of being made whole.

    Yes, and ultimately our economy is sliding into depression due to fraud as well, but aside from what the GOP is basically telling the big 3 auto workers (give back your pay or lose your job) the loss of the big 3 will likely be the final blow, the tipping point into a full-blown depression economy. Of course, with Enron people went to prison, the management was liable and/or lost their jobs.

    Look what happened when the S & L’s went belly up. Some made out like bandits, others were not made whole.

    Uh, what do you mean? They got a bailout. (Another mega-billion dollar debacle that happend on the goopers’ watch). It cost us taxpayers $160 billion. But it saved many many others from a spreading ripple effect misery. It could’ve been an event that brought the economy to it’s knees but because of the bailout it wasn’t. Also, most depositors at insolvent banks were covered by FDIC. And I’m not sure who you are referring to as making out like bandits. Again, there was massive fraud involved and a number of the crooked S&L CEOs IIRC got federal prison time.

    Now, of course, the goopers have made sure nobody will make out. I guess they think our manufacturing base is expendable. They see it, of course, as an opportunity. Disaster capitalism again. In a national crisis they see opportunity, to the detriment of democracy.

    I don’t have much confidence that any American counting on pensions and other kinds of retirement benefits will be made whole…

    When that sentiment becomes conventional wisdom there will be huge negative consequences for American business and in a larger sense everyone’s quality of life. We didn’t get to where we are now by accident. The goopers really don’t like this idea of equality and opportunity for all, economic, racial or social. They really don’t want a strong democracy because in such an environment they cannot thrive. El Cid is right. The southern republican conservatives are really some of the most un-democratic enemies this nation has. "These Southern GOP Senators know exactly what they’re doing and for whom." Yes, indeed, they do.

  139. 139
    [delurk]...[/delurk] says:

    This thread is petering out, but I just had to put in my two cents:

    I couldn’t understand what the Republicans’ end game was here. They’ve already lost the Northeast and the Pacific Coast in perpetuity. The Upper Midwest was less solid, and they might have pulled out a state or two there depending on the situation, but killing the bailout insures that any Democratic candidate is guaranteed the Kerry map just for showing up, and one more state somewhere would do the job.

    NOW I see what the plan is! They forced the Democrats to hold their noses and vote for the financial bailout, creating a huge stockpile of money. Then they kill the congressional auto industry bailout. Then Bush steps in and (illegally) diverts some of the financial bailout money to the auto industry.

    The 2010 and 2012 campaigns write themselves: "The Democratic-controlled (Oh, excuse me, "Democrat-controlled") Congress failed you, but then President Bush stepped in and saved your butts."

    Of course, the bailout would probably fail and the Big Three would go out of business anyway, but that would be on Obama’s watch, so it would be That One’s fault!

  140. 140
    Joshua Norton says:

    I couldn’t understand what the Republicans’ end game was here.

    Union busting. Rule or ruin. People seem to have quickly forgotten how fast their patriotic/protect-the-homeland fervor cooled when it turned out that all the extra airport security and baggage inspectors would be in the federal workers union.

    They wanted to farm the jobs back out to the same minimum-wage, warm body private security companies that couldn’t do it in the first place.

  141. 141
    r€nato says:

    I couldn’t understand what the Republicans’ end game was here.

    The end game? Throwing a tantrum. That’s the ‘end game’.

    Remember how Newt Gingrich shut down the government because Clinton made him sit at the back of the plane?

    Same shit, different year. Give them what they want or the government economy gets it.

    This was nothing less than punishing the upper midwest for voting Democratic. This is how these SOBs think. They will not stop thinking this way until they are utterly, completely broken.

    I hope President Obama remembers this abou the GOP. They perceive bipartisanship as weakness. It’s all a zero-sum game to them.

  142. 142

    @r€nato:

    Remember how Newt Gingrich shut down the government because Clinton made him sit at the back of the plane?

    Actually, no, I don’t. I remember that he threw a tantrum because Clinton snubbed him, but I don’t remember the cause and effect relationship: I remember a lot of people making it up.

  143. 143
    binzinerator says:

    @John Cole

    We are staring down the barrel of ten percent unemployment or better if the big three go tits up, and I don’t think people realize how serious this is.

    Ten percent unemployment is from what I understand the edge of a tipping point where it becomes a nasty negative feedback loop. Lost jobs means people can’t spend or pay bills, causing businesses that rely on that to fail, causing more lost jobs which means more people cant spend or pay bills…etc repeat repeat.

    I have an idea how serious it might be. It repeats until we are a third world country where 1% of the Haves are driving mercedes and living in guarded villas, and the rest have almost nothing but makeshift shacks and swollen-bellied hungry children.

    The united states in the Great Depression from the films and photos I’ve seen looked like a third world country to me. I’ve lived in a third world country. I’ve seen the Haves in their Mercedes drive by those Havenots in their shacks and the malnourished kids.

    I will never forget when a mercedes stopped in front of one of these shacks and a man in a well-tailored suit, gold watch and sunglasses got out. He stood facing the shack, unzipped his fly and pissed in the open drain that ran in front of the shack. He shook himself, zipped his fly, got back in his mercedes and drove off.

    Oh and if anyone is wondering what happened to that country with that level of inequality, the answer was civil war. When in the last century has it not?

  144. 144
    Conservatively Liberal says:

    OT: A poster at Kos posted this old joke email. I have taken the liberty of updating it with some of the suggestions at Kos, plus a few of my own.

    The Bush Library is being built in Dallas. The "W" Presidential Library will include:
     
    The Hurricane Katrina Room, which is still under construction with no plans for completion.
     
    The Alberto Gonzales Room, where you won’t be able to remember anything that was said.
     
    The Texas Air National Guard Room, where you don’t even have to show up to be there.
     
    The Walter Reed Room, where they won’t let you in.
     
    The Guantanamo Bay Room, where they won’t let you out.
     
    The Weapons of Mass Destruction Room, which no one will be able to find.
     
    The National Debt Room, which is huge and has no floor or ceiling.
     
    The Tax Cut Room, where entry is limited to the wealthy.
     
    The Economy Room, also known as the toilet.
     
    The Iraq War Room, where after you complete your tour every time you try to exit you end up going on another tour of the room.
     
    The Afghanistan Room, which will be quickly forgotten.
     
    The Dick Cheney Room, in a famous undisclosed location, complete with shotgun gallery.
     
    The Environmental Conservation Room, which will remain empty.
     
    The Airport Men’s Room, where you’ll be able meet some of your favorite Republican Senators.
     
    The Decider Room complete with dart board, Magic 8-ball, Ouija board, dice, coins, and straws.
     
    The Crony Room, which is too packed to get inside.
     
    The Presidential Pardons Room, which is only accessible to the visitors of The Crony Room.
     
    The Lobbyist Room, only $500K to get in!
     
    The Communications Room, where you can listen to everything you and your fellow citizens have said during the Bush administration.
     
    The Transparency Room, which doesn’t have any lighting.
     
    The Intelligence Room, which features rows and rows of empty filing cabinets.
     
    The Constitution Room, where the shredders are located.
     
    The Presidential Records Room, also known as the furnace.
     
    The Chapel, which will feature a door with no knob.
     
    The Supreme Court’s Gift Shop, where you will be able to buy an election.
     
    The museum will also have an electron microscope to help you locate the President’s accomplishments.
     
    The grounds are landscaped with the best melamine-laden Astroturf available from China.
     
    Yellow cake will be available to all who visit the cafeteria.

  145. 145
    [delurk]...[/delurk] says:

    For what it’s worth, I totally endorse El Cid’s (?) analysis of the New Confederate Treason™ strategy. Problem is, it’s worked. Ever since Raygun got in, this country has been being converted into the Confederate States of America, and the job is pretty much finished.

    All the bullshit justifications the South came up with for seceding in the first place, after going to war for slavery didn’t sound so good any more: they’ve all been implemented. State’s rights? No taxation for internal improvements? Done!

    In Confederate philosophy, the State’s only legitimate function is to make sure enough able-bodied men are in jail to hire out as chain gangs to build the roads and bridges and whatnot that capitalists finance and then reap the benefit of through users’ fees. And it was worth giving up chattel slavery, because you had to actually buy slaves in the first place, and feed them no matter what. With wage slaves you can hire them and then tell them to fuck off and die when you have no further use for them.

    Have any of you ever played: "What would I do if I had a Time Machine?" Short of running guns to the Emperor Julian to roll back the darkness or smothering Muhammad in his cradle, the thing I would do is go back and convince President-Elect Lincoln not to fight to retain these assholes in the Union, but cast them forth into outer darkness. Does anyone doubt that we would be better off without this millstone around our necks?

    While we’re throwing out Rednckistan, we could toss out Mormonia, too….

  146. 146
    LevelB says:

    Kay:

    Toyota’s wages are pegged to UAW wages. That’s why the contract that comes on-line in 2011 has starting base play comparable.

    Do you know if this is also true for the other foreign auto makers? It seems amazing to me that these red-state senators can do this (openly drive down wages for their own constituents), with apparently no foreseeable consequences to their re-election prospects.

    Equally amazing that this link in wages is not being widely reported.

    B.

  147. 147
    Zzyzx says:

    Have any of you ever played: "What would I do if I had a Time Machine?" Short of running guns to the Emperor Julian to roll back the darkness or smothering Muhammad in his cradle, the thing I would do is go back and convince President-Elect Lincoln not to fight to retain these assholes in the Union, but cast them forth into outer darkness. Does anyone doubt that we would be better off without this millstone around our necks?

    I don’t know if an Un-united States wins WWII. That’s an important enough conflict that I wouldn’t make that change.

  148. 148
    [delurk]...[/delurk] says:

    @Zzyzx:

    Good point, but I think a big contributing cause to WWII was the abdication of responsibility on the part of what was by that time the Number One power, whose isolationism let squabbles among the second-tier powers lead the world into war. If the rump US wasn’t the world’s greatest power even so, you would be right, but I’m not sure we wouldn’t be.

  149. 149
    Nicole says:

    On the bright side (if there is one)- article about the success of the Chicago sit-down strike:

    Workers surprised

    But check out the demands made by the owner of the company.

  150. 150
    passerby says:

    Passerby said :

    Look what happened when the S & L’s went belly up. Some made out like bandits, others were not made whole.

    Binz said:

    Uh, what do you mean? They got a bailout. (Another mega-billion dollar debacle that happend on the goopers’ watch). It cost us taxpayers $160 billion. But it saved many many others from a spreading ripple effect misery. It could’ve been an event that brought the economy to it’s knees but because of the bailout it wasn’t. Also, most depositors at insolvent banks were covered by FDIC. And I’m not sure who you are referring to as making out like bandits. Again, there was massive fraud involved and a number of the crooked S&L CEOs IIRC got federal prison time.

    C’mon Binzinerator, why are you giving me the "uh, what do you mean?" treatment here. Google: S & L Scandal, 80’s and you’ll find a plethora of web sites that will tell that tale.

    But it doesn’t seem to me that employees and former employees who are owed compensation—this is a different thing from shareholders and investors—should, as a real solution to avoiding bankruptcy, bend over and take it so the company can survive. Or, what John Cole (and others) said.

    In total agreement.

  151. 151
    r€nato says:

    Great joke Conservatively Liberal. I’m swipin’ it.

    On a related matter, it recently came out that the web design firm entrusted to do the web site for the Bush Presidential Library, allowed the library’s domain name registration to lapse and had to pay $35,000 to buy it back.

  152. 152
    binzerator says:

    @passerby:
    The ‘uh, what do you mean’ was regarding what you had said about the S&L’s:

    Look what happened when the S & L’s went belly up. Some made out like bandits, others were not made whole.

    What had happened to the S&L’s when they went belly up is they were bailed out. Which is why not everyone involved was totally fucked over, or a depression or massive unemployment triggered. Unlike the auto companies in question, with which you were comparing them.

    "In 1989, Congress and the president agreed on a taxpayer-financed bailout measure known as the Financial Institutions Reform, Recovery, and Enforcement Act (FIRREA)." — about.com

    "The ultimate cost of the crisis is estimated to have totaled around $160.1 billion, about $124.6 billion of which was directly paid for by the U.S. government" – wikipedia

    "1989–President [George Herbert Walker] Bush unveils S&L bailout plan in February." — Federal Deposit Insurance Corp

    The point is, what happened when the S&L’s went belly up was they got a bailout. And it cost the taxpayers a helluva lot more than what the Big 3 bailout would cost.

  153. 153
    r€nato says:

    No one has worked harder over time to do more damage to this nation and the people in it than Southern conservatives. No one. No one, but no one hates Americans and all America has ever stood for like Southern conservatives hate America.

    they’ve never gotten over losing the Civil War and having to give up slavery and they have been looking for payback at every opportunity since then.

  154. 154
    Karmakin says:

    What’s the Republican endgame?

    This

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Company_store

    It’s about power and control. Nothing more, nothing less. And it’s this type of structure that provides them maximum power.

  155. 155
    DougJ says:

    The lead-in to today’s top Politico piece about Obama:

    The big questions: What’s his morning exercise routine like? What movie has he seen recently? Who cuts his hair?

    Start learning mandarin ASAP.

  156. 156

    […] Cole, who led me to the interview, has this thought: Also, isn’t it ODD to have US Senators negotiating wage and benefit levels with the employees of […]

  157. 157
    Brian J says:

    Sorry to be so gloomy, but we really are in trouble. Losing the auto industry I think is a sign of some really bad things to come.

    I don’t know if that is necessarily true. I can get behind the idea that diversity among industries in an economy is a very good thing. I aslo think there’s probably something to the idea that a manufacturing base is a good thing to have for a superpower such as the United States. But many of the examples cited, such as the textile and furniture industries, don’t seem, at least in theory, to have much to do with anything related to national security, the most commonly given reason to have a manufacturing base.

    More specifically, let me ask why we should be worried about being mostly a nation of people dealing in information and related services. If we can excel by being lawyers and so forth, why is that a bad thing?

    I’m not arguing against a bail out by mentioning these thoughts, by the way.

  158. 158

    @Brian J: Wartime economies need to be fully self-sufficient. Import and export become difficult and expensive between allied nations — and become simply impossible between enemies. Local partisans sabotage factories and supply lines. Etc.

    How can you keep your army in uniform if you don’t have a textile industry? How can you manufacture enough boots to keep them marching without a leather industry? How can you keep your mechanized cavalry moving without an automobile industry?

    You can’t — and so your national defense is gravely threatened.

  159. 159
    PGE says:

    According to Wikipedia, Vitter is alleged to have paid $300 an hour for prostitutes in Louisiana. If we had a working press corps, he wouldn’t be able to appear in public without being asked why he thinks sex workers are worth more than auto workers.

  160. 160
    pseudonymous in nc says:

    Tony Blankley was surprisingly honest on the topic of the auto bailout on Left, Right and Center this weekend: conservatives who don’t see this as a chance for Dixie to do one over on blue states and unions seem to understand that it’s bad policy and bad politics to allow General Motors to be sold off at firesale prices.

  161. 161
    Mrs. Peel says:

    More specifically, let me ask why we should be worried about being mostly a nation of people dealing in information and related services.

    Are you for freaking real? The main reason the south got pulverized by the north during the Civil War is because they had no manufacturing base to support them. All the North had to do was to blockade them from Europe and slowly starve them out.

    Your "let them eat cake" attitude only reveals that you’re either 12 years old and haven’t gotten that far in your school studies or a painfully uninformed adult. Your ignorance is appalling. If you don’t smarten up, I suggest you get used to wearing a paper hat and asking if the fries are ready yet.

  162. 162
    TenguPhule says:

    More specifically, let me ask why we should be worried about being mostly a nation of people dealing in information and related services. If we can excel by being lawyers and so forth, why is that a bad thing?

    Because one day, people with real materials come and break the rules.

  163. 163
    rikyrah says:

    Not just Ben Stein, but also Pat Buchanan. It’s very scary when listening to Buchanan, I continuously nod in agreement.

  164. 164
    Church Lady says:

    I am so feeling the love!

    I feel a very slight need to defend myself somewhat. Did I ever say screw labor? No. What I did say was that EVERYONE involved with trying to save GM should have to sacrifice in order to try to make GM viable as a business. Yes, that means labor, but it also means all of the executives, all debt holders and all shareholders. To use the very overused phrase that I am sick of, everyone involved needs to take a haircut.

    In 2005, GM lost 10.4 billion. They made some progress in 2006, and only lost 2 billion. 2007 was a truly craptacular year, with losses amounting to $38.7 billion and that was before the economy started circling the drain. That is a total loss for three years amounting to a staggering 51.1 billion dollars and 2008 will only be more painful than 2007.

    As of December 12, the total market capitalization of GM is a whopping 2 billion – a fraction of their recent losses and also a fraction of their debt load. This is a business that is not even on life support. It has died and the only question is can they possibly raise it from the dead?

    Does it suck for current employees and the retirees? Yes, it does. But the old adage that you can’t get blood from a turnip applies. If GM cannot find a way to completely change the way they do business and produce cars that people want to buy, at a competitive price, they will not survive. If they don’t survive, lower wages won’t be the issue, no wages will.

    If my business started to lose money, I would pare every expense I could, starting with my own income. I would do everything in my power to try to keep the company afloat and keep people employed, even if it meant having to reduce everyones compensation and benefits in order to make that happen. No governmental entity will ride to my resuce. If reductions in wages and benefits means some employees leave, I would understand. Everyone has to do what is best for themselves and their families. We started out with two people, have grown to nineteen, and could get by with less, if necessary. Businesses exist to make a profit. It is only by making a profit that they can provide jobs. When profits evaporate, so do jobs. I didn’t make the rules, I just have to operate under them. But I do know one thing for certain – I couldn’t lose money for four years running. My company would have already had to shut its doors and I would be looking for employment somewhere. I’m not to big to fail.

  165. 165
    gopher2b says:

    I offered this hypothetical to a friend the other day during lunch: what do you think would happen if some of the southern states tried to secede again. Would we fight? Would we care?

    His response – "I don’t think we should wait. We should kick them out. SC, TN, KY, LA for starters. Jack Welch thought you should eliminate the bottom 10% every couple of years just to make the overall organization more efficient. The United States should do the same. Kick out 5 and replace them with 5 new ones. It’s a privilege, not a right to be part of this county."

  166. 166
    The Raven says:

    sparky, El Cid: oh, I get it. Like Lord Gro–if it’s not a lost cause, he’ll betray it for one that is losing. Whoa!

    You people who are complaining about competition from south of the US border–pay attention to Krugman. IMO, what he says about the South in the USA applies to the USA in the world, too. (The subject is called "economic geography" if you want to read up on it and try your hand at applying it.) If that’s so, tariffs aren’t going to help. One is led to the conclusion that the best thing one can do for US wages is to work to raise wages globally.

    Krawk!

  167. 167

    Ben Stein is the guy who told Americans to go out and buy a second house if they could afford one, about three years ago. It was a good investment, he said.

    The flaw in your premise, Gopher, is that in a partitioned US, talent and resources will move to areas that do not tax work. Regions where wealth is shared will attract the dependent types. These guys will migrate to places where wealth is shared.

    See California. See Grand Cayman. Europe is very worried about Grand Cayman and the Caribbean in general.

    Losers cannot cover their obligations. California cannot cover its obligations. Look who is moving to California (sorry John). Look who is leaving California. Very few smart ones want to hang out with California. Or New York for the record.

    Georgia, by the way, has a balanced budget. Mississippi’s budget is very close to being balanced. But I suspect that it would be a Texas or a Montana. Balanced budgets both.

  168. 168
    Allan says:

    Thanks for returning to clear that up, Church Lady.

    You’re right. You’re not too big to fail. GM is.

    Oh, and fuck you.

  169. 169

    One has to shield one’s eyes from the stupid on this thread, for sure. It could make you go blind.

    But … all these years of basically detesting Ben Stein, and here he goes saying something that is exactly true and spot on in this situation … whoda thunk it? Amazing. Ben, you really surprised me.

    People seem to have no clue in the world what is staring them in the face right now, what a calamity is waiting to happen in this country. They talk about GM as if it were in a vacuum. Gm sells most of the motor vehicles in this country the last time I looked. To say that they are enmeshed with the economy is a gross understatement. To think that they are disposable is a mistake of such proportions, not even Bush and the Iraq war can rise to that level of hideous mistake.

    I think we will be saved next year, but it will be no thanks to the people who really just don’t get all this. It will be thanks to people who, starting with the new president and right on down, understand that we are all in this together. This isn’t about letting your brother in law’s bakery close up. This is about closing up half the country and leaving the other half to fend for itself.

    Way to go, Ben Stein. Props to you, the first ones you ever got from me. And I hope not the last.

  170. 170
    TenguPhule says:

    No. What I did say was that EVERYONE involved with trying to save GM should have to sacrifice in order to try to make GM viable as a business.

    Labor already gave their concessions, what part of the last 15+ years did you miss?

    And now idiots say "so what if you put in the time, you need to sacrifice more! Accept lower wages and benefits! The market compels you!"

    Once again, may your workers unionize.

  171. 171
    [delurk]...[/delurk] says:

    @Brick Oven Bill:

    Ah, yes! The argument that all those poor suffering taxpayers in Colon Creek, Mississippi are having their hard-earned dollars siphoned off in taxes to support Welfare Queens™ and latte-sipping lie-buruls in the Blue States. Look at that infamous Red-Blue county map from the 2004 elections. The blue is where the money comes from, the red is where the money goes to. But in the right wing’s alternate universe, the exact opposite is the case.

    All the states you mentioned have balanced budgets because they’re receiving 2, 3, sometimes 4 times the money back from the Federal government that they pay in taxes. "California can’t meet its obligations" because it’s being sucked dry to support these Third-World Welfare States that are poisoning our political well and constantly whining about how oppressed they are by "Big Government."

    We have the same thing in microcosm here in Washington. Eastern Washington (55% of the area, 20% of the population) sucks in 4 times what they pay in taxes (vs. 85% for us) and then accuses us of being the parasites! I’d be for throwing their asses out, but all that would do is create another Goddamned Red State with 2 unearned Electoral Votes.

  172. 172
    Brian J says:

    Are you for freaking real? The main reason the south got pulverized by the north during the Civil War is because they had no manufacturing base to support them. All the North had to do was to blockade them from Europe and slowly starve them out.

    Your "let them eat cake" attitude only reveals that you’re either 12 years old and haven’t gotten that far in your school studies or a painfully uninformed adult. Your ignorance is appalling. If you don’t smarten up, I suggest you get used to wearing a paper hat and asking if the fries are ready yet.

    Well, that last sentence is not a particularly nice way to wake up.

    Anyway, I still think it’s a valid question. As others have acknowledged, there will still be a manufacturing base in this country even if the Big Three go under. It might not be as big as it once was, but it will still be there with places like Boeing still going. Secondly, how does making furniture really affect military production and related fields one way or the other? Perhaps its my unfamiliarity with this area, but it doesn’t seem obvious.

    I could go on, but I think you get the idea. I hate to sound like one of the tools from The Wall Street Journal editorial page, but if there’s one area where I disagree with a great number of Democrats, it’s trade. I think they greatly simplify the matter, but they do have a point when they talk about specialization. On most days, I’d say that if other countries can make cars better (or have the technology to manufacture them in this country better), then we shouldn’t feel too bad about the companies (as opposed to the workers) going under. If they can’t survive, then all of the money in the world isn’t going to change their fate. Of course, there are several arguments for keeping them around, or rather doing what we can to see if they can make it. I go back and forth on this, but if you asked me at some random point, I’d probably say there should be a bail out of some sort, particularly when you consider the financial crisis that we’re experiencing. If nothing else, the amount of money being discussed isn’t huge, relatively speaking.

    I don’t think I give a LTEC response. I simply asked a question about the necessity of having a certain type of industry. You responded with some lame brained accusations and insults.

  173. 173
    Xenos says:

    @Brick Oven Bill: What sheer, unmitigated Randian nonsense:

    The flaw in your premise, Gopher, is that in a partitioned US, talent and resources will move to areas that do not tax work. Regions where wealth is shared will attract the dependent types. These guys will migrate to places where wealth is shared.

    The flaw in your argument is the premise that people care all that much about whether their work is taxed, and don’t care so much about the overall health of their communities. You could not pay me enough to raise my kids in the social and moral backwaters, the utterly dysfuntional shitholes that people like you build for the red states, and would impose on the rest of the country. I would rather be relatively poor in a healthy community than the king of crap. This is what non-sociopathic values look like.

    And Church Lady, people who work their lives doing manual labor tend to age a hell of a lot faster than those with desk jobs. They often need to retire earlier, too. Just part of the deal negotiated, and while it may need to be renogotiated in order to keep the enterprise afloat, this should be respected. The presumption seems to be that anything that organized labor does is in bad faith, and that is BS.

  174. 174
    Xenos says:

    Oh, and keep in mind that cars and trucks from Asia are piling up at Long Beach — the dealerships have stopped taking receipt of these vehicles because they are not selling many, either. So the same basic crisis hitting the big three is starting to hit Japanese and Korean manufacturers too.

    Can you imagine the Japanese government letting Honda go bankrupt because it was not politically palatable to give them a bridge loan? Or that the Koreans would let Kia go out of business? How much help have European vehicle manufacturers gotten from their governments?

    Maybe this country is great because we allow the reative destruction to take place promptly, freeing up resources and energy for new ventures. If so, for god’s sake look out for the little guy while we are at it, OK?

  175. 175
    Marshall says:

    Fritz :

    If you want wages and benefits to American workers that wildly exceed world norms, you need to erect trade barriers and also make products that the rest of the world will buy despite those barriers to entry into American markets.

    You leave out productivity. The real way for our pay to exceed world norms is for our productivity to exceed world norms.

    My understanding is that our unionized auto-workers are the most productive in the world, so why shouldn’t they get the highest wages ?

  176. 176
    Marshall says:

    The Plantation Party’s wet dream! A handful of aristocrats, a huge mass of serfs, plus a small class of armed thugs & paper-pushers to keep the serfs in line. The mistake Dicky, Mitch & Corky make is in assuming they’ll be among the "aristocrats", when IRL they’d just be house n… foremen.

    This was the dream of at least some of the plantation class, and it was basically enacted in some of the British colonies. The long-term results were universally disastrous. Next time you are in some tropical Caribbean paradise surrounded by poor people speaking English creole, look around. That is the end result of a plantation economy.

  177. 177
    charlie says:

    If GM, Ford and Chrysler go down, don’t these senators know that Nascar will go down as well and they will be blamed for it? For their own sakes, I pray they see the light and vote for the bailout.

  178. 178
    Person of Choler says:

    Marshall, your understanding is that our unionized auto-workers are the most productive in the world.

    I could believe you if you supplied some references.

    Thank you.

  179. 179
    Cain says:

    @John Cole:

    We basically are a nation of people who push paper- lawyers, financiers, stock brokers etc. at one end of the spectrum, and at the other end you have the folks slaving away in service industries (walmart, grocery stores, Chotchkies chains, etc.). The middle class is basically down to teachers and a few firemen and policemen and what is left of the auto industry and resource extraction industries, and even that is shrinking.

    You seemed to have missed the medical and tech sectors. We may not do any physical labor but we do work. :-) (Hey I replaced a faucet the other day!)

    cain

  180. 180
    rachel says:

    You seemed to have missed the medical and tech sectors.

    And formerly third-world countries like Korea are starting to lap the US WRT those sectors, too.

  181. 181
    Barlow Jones says:

    "Rats and roaches live by competition under the law of supply and demand; it is the privilege of human beings to live under the laws of justice and mercy"

    –Wendell Berry

  182. 182
    El Cid says:

    Moron Bill Kristol says a few true things today in his NYT column about the auto bailout, and then dirties it up with right wing ideology, as usual.

    Instead, Bush will now probably have to use the financial rescue funds to save G.M. — instead of being able to draw from sums previously authorized for the green transformation of the auto industry, a fight he had won in the negotiations with Pelosi. And Senate Republicans now run the risk of being portrayed as Marie Antoinettes with Southern accents.

    True, and we can hope.

    But then there’s this:

    …on the right, free-market analysts have explained that our regulatory scheme of fuel-efficiency standards is counterproductive. But despite the fact that the government is partly responsible for the Big Three’s problems, the right hasn’t really been stirred to enthusiastically promote a deregulatory agenda to help the auto companies.What excites it is mobilizing to oppose bailouts for unionized workers.

    Competing automakers from other nations face even higher fuel efficiency regulations, and they are actually applied — rather than exempting SUV’s and pickups.

    And what these nitwits want to do is remove the fuel efficiency standards which already lag our competitors.

  183. 183

    […] This is why I read John Cole: US Senators are openly colluding with foreign auto companies to drive down the wages of American […]

  184. 184

    […] job losses and the potential of everything associated with the auto industry going down in flames. It makes Ben Stein’s panic the other day seem pretty damned […]

  185. 185
    Da Bomb says:

    @ Screamin’ Demon- Hey I live in Houston and I will have you know that we are a "blue" city. In fact over 50% of Harris County voted for Obama. Our mayor is big lefty!! So hell hasn’t quite frozen as of yet. Also it has snowed in Houston several times before.

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. […] job losses and the potential of everything associated with the auto industry going down in flames. It makes Ben Stein’s panic the other day seem pretty damned […]

  2. […] This is why I read John Cole: US Senators are openly colluding with foreign auto companies to drive down the wages of American […]

  3. […] Cole, who led me to the interview, has this thought: Also, isn’t it ODD to have US Senators negotiating wage and benefit levels with the employees of […]

  4. […] This is truly weird and hypocritical and creepily selfish, destructive behavior.   […]

  5. […] you, John Cole. Update: John’s on a role today. US Senators are openly colluding with foreign auto companies to drive down the wages of American […]

  6. […] Balloon Juice: US Senators are openly colluding with foreign auto companies to drive down the wages of American workers. Something to think about the next time you hear “You’re either with us or against us.” […]

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