Patterico's Pontifications

12/6/2008

The “Jobs Bank” and Its Effect on Automakers

Filed under: Dog Trainer,Economics,General — Patterico @ 11:36 pm

An October 2005 article in the Detroit News helps explain in graphic terms just how the unions have helped destroy U.S. automakers — namely, by forcing automakers to pay people for literally doing nothing:

Ken Pool is making good money. On weekdays, he shows up at 7 a.m. at Ford Motor Co.’s Michigan Truck Plant in Wayne, signs in, and then starts working — on a crossword puzzle. Pool hates the monotony, but the pay is good: more than $31 an hour, plus benefits.

“We just go in and play crossword puzzles, watch videos that someone brings in or read the newspaper,” he says. “Otherwise, I’ve just sat.”

Pool is one of more than 12,000 American autoworkers who, instead of installing windshields or bending sheet metal, spend their days counting the hours in a jobs bank set up by Detroit automakers and Delphi Corp. as part of an extraordinary job security agreement with the United Auto Workers union.

Luckily, as taxpayers brace themselves to get soaked to the tune of tens of billions of dollars, the UAW is considering “scaling back” the program as part of a range of concessions. Why, they might even “suspend” it.

“Scaling back”? “Suspending”? Jeez, at least the overpaid CEOs flying in their private jets are working. They might be screwing everything up, sure . . . but they’re working.

As of November, there were 1000 union workers in the “jobs bank,” getting paid up to 95% of their salary to do nothing. Three years ago, there were 12,000.

Even when the numbers in the “jobs bank” are low, its very existence distorts the marketplace. Because nobody likes paying people not to work, automakers have put many of these people to work producing cars even when they were already meeting the market’s demand. This meant that supply outstripped demand, which forced automakers to take a bath on pricing the cars for consumers.

When unions distort business decisions like that, the company pays — meaning, eventually, everybody pays.

Now we see the UAW running sad ads saying, essentially: since Wall Street got theirs, we should get ours. Well, guess what? You people are a significant part of why we’re in this crisis.

Take the money you’re using for these ads and use it for something productive. If I were king, you wouldn’t be getting one red cent.

Naturally, over at the L.A. Times, David Lazarus is upset . . . that the UAW is making any concessions at all. But that’s par for the course, at a paper where the most well-known auto industry writer, Dan Neil, is seriously proposing that the federal government buy General Motors.

We ate dinner tonight with someone who grew up in the Soviet Union. She says this country is steadily heading towards being the country she grew up in.

Paying people not to work, and nationalizing major industries, sounds like a nice start down the pathway towards communism.

23 Deadly Seconds Captured on Video

Filed under: Dog Trainer,General — Patterico @ 10:32 pm

The Los Angeles Times has a harrowing story about a quadruple murder in Monterrey, Mexico, which is believed to be related to ongoing violence between murderous drug cartels. The victims included “an off-duty police commander and his wife.” The mystery, as is often the case when law enforcement officials are killed in Mexico, is whether they were killed as a message to law enforcement — or because the policeman was working with one of the cartels:

The four killings remain unexplained. The families have heard nothing from officials. The video shows no clerks or manager in the store at the time of the shooting — a source said the staff was upstairs eating lunch.

One theory is that the killers ambushed Espinosa to send a message to San Pedro’s director of public safety, Rogelio Lozano, whose family owns a chain of jewelry stores that included the shop attacked.

“The citizens have to guess,” said Marcos, the businessman and San Pedro community activist. “One guess is that [Espinosa] was involved with one gang and the other killed him. Or there’s the one that you’d like to believe, which is that, for having done his job, they killed him.”

At the link, there is security video of the shooting. It is not for the faint of heart.

The story is part of an excellent ongoing series at the paper titled Mexico under Siege. It’s proof that the folks at this paper can still do good reporting when they want to.

Coldplay: Plagiarists?

Filed under: Music — Patterico @ 10:18 pm

Via David Post at Volokh comes this effective YouTube video that makes the case:

Maybe I should use this sort of video editing to press my plagiarism case against John Williams. (I’m being a bit tongue-in-cheek with that description, obviously.) I have posted a YouTube video that places clips next to each other — but not right on top of one another.

“Cold Cash” Jefferson Loses

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 9:58 pm

I have to admit — I’m surprised.

Thanks to Scott Jacobs.

L.A. Times Can’t Be Bothered to Tell You Who Appointed the Three Judges Who Are Planning to Release Thousands of Prisoners Into Society

Filed under: Crime,Dog Trainer,General,Judiciary — Patterico @ 9:18 pm

The L.A. Times has a story titled Federal judges weighing solutions to California’s prison overcrowding crisis. The story approaches the issue based on the assumption that the state has behaved irrationally, which requires Three Wise Men in Robes to step forward and assume the mantle of responsibility:

Although the trial is only halfway over, the judges are speaking and acting as if they have already decided to take action against the state. Now they seem only to be searching for answers on precisely what action to take and have openly contemplated a groundbreaking order to release prisoners and impose a cap on the state prison population.

“The question from our point of view is developing an effective set of orders that will protect society . . . and ensure there is a constitutionally sufficient level of care,” explained U.S. District Justice Lawrence Karlton, who said later that the trial wouldn’t be needed “if the state were to wake up and start behaving in a rational way.”

But what if the judges themselves are the unreasonable ones?

The problem is that the story doesn’t give readers any facts that give the reader perspective on where these judges are coming from, philosophically.

For example, you’d never know by reading the article that all three judges were appointed by President Jimmy Carter.

Or that Lawrence Karlton is the same judge who ruled the Pledge of Allegiance unconstitutional — a decision that legal experts across the land derided as absurd. Or that Thelton Henderson is the judge who blocked Proposition 209, California’s anti-affirmative action proposition — a decision that was later reversed by the Ninth Circuit in a unanimous ruling. Or that Stephen Reinhardt is so pro-defense that (like Rose Bird) he has never met a death penalty case where he didn’t reverse the death verdict — in over 25 years as a federal judge.

You don’t need to know these things. In fact, you need to be protected from these inconvenient facts.

Luckily, the editors are there to protect you.

Supreme Court Agrees to Hear New Detention Case

Filed under: General,Terrorism — Patterico @ 8:35 pm

The Supreme Court has agreed to hear a new detention case, and Ed Morrissey says:

The key in this case lies in Marri’s status prior to his arrest. Unlike the people held at Guantanamo Bay, Marri was arrested on US soil while living here legally as a resident alien. The Bush administration has held him on US soil. Both conditions would appear to give Marri the same Constitutional protections as any other legal resident (and in some cases, even illegal aliens).

Most of us want to support an aggressive policy in the war on terror, but this sounds like a step too far. . . . If the executive branch has the power to designate citizens and resident aliens enemy combatants without any due process, what limitations does the executive have on its powers? Literally anyone could get seized with that kind of designation without hope of challenging the executive to produce evidence.

I tend to agree. If you think I’m wrong, tell me why.

Allahpundit: The Web’s Best Blogger

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 8:26 pm

I’ve told a few people recently about the phenomenon of Hot Air having almost 1/3 the traffic of latimes.com. Strangely, the reaction of many is to say that they were unfamiliar with the site. I can’t believe that’s true of anyone who reads my site, but just in case, let me give you an example of the kind of writing that we’ve come to expect from Allahpundit:

I’ve long since started seeing politics through the archetypes of Romero’s movies. The economy’s just about at the point in “Dawn of the Dead” where the gang breaks into the mall and the zombies start flooding in. You know things are about to go irretrievably FUBAR; the only question is who’ll manage to avoid getting eaten. The good news? The daring black guy in charge keeps his cool and figures a way out. Fingers crossed!

The guy is the best blogger on the Internet, bar none. Exit question: can’t someone get him a regular weekly column at NRO or the Weekly Standard?

UPDATE: I should make it clear: I’d like to see a regular Allahpundit column in addition to what he does at Hot Air — not instead of it.

Three Year-Old Gets Daddy Home for Christmas

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 8:18 pm

This isn’t the first video like this I’ve seen, but I never get tired of watching them:

Via Hot Air.

College Football Today

Filed under: Sports — DRJ @ 4:59 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

Florida beat Alabama
31-20 to win the SEC title. Not much of a surprise there and I think Florida will beat OU if they end up as the Final Two. In regional action, USC beat UCLA 28-7, no doubt disappointing some of Patterico’s California fans.

This made me wonder about rivalries in the same geographic area. I generally know how people will react to Texas colleges. Alumni like their colleges but beyond that there are signs that indicate which school fans will root for. People who like Fort Worth and West central Texas usually prefer TCU, West Texans like Texas Tech, and Dallas/East Texas fans like SMU. Rural and small town folks often like Texas A & M while urbanites prefer UT.

Are there similar signs that differentiate USC from UCLA fans? And what about other states where there are several teams that divide loyalties?

– DRJ

Comparing Obama and Bush on Defense

Filed under: Obama — DRJ @ 3:21 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

AP journalist Robert Burns analyzes Barack Obama’s policies on national defense and pronounces them a lot like President Bush’s:

“Given that Obama made the unprecedented decision to keep the incumbent Republican defense secretary, it would seem natural to expect that they see eye to eye on at least some major defense issues. But the extent of their shared priorities is surprising, given Obama’s campaign criticisms of Bush’s defense policies.
***
The apparent harmony between Gates and Obama on broad defense and national security aims is on display in a Foreign Affairs magazine article by the defense chief that was released Thursday. Gates lays out a comprehensive agenda based on the Bush administration’s new National Defense Strategy. In numerous ways it meshes with the defense priorities that Obama espoused during the campaign.”

The AP article recites several examples of parallels between Bush and Obama on defense: Agreement on the need for better integration of military and state department initiatives as pioneered by the surge in Iraq, security assistance to partner nations in “the fight against Islamic extremism,” and a claim that both agree on the need for a missile defense shield in Europe. The article identifies even more similarities between Obama and Gates: On the need to close GTMO — something the Bush Administration elected not to do — and regarding the phased withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq, the importance of shifting resources from Iraq to Afghanistan, the need to reform military procurement practices, and the importance of aid to military families.

In other words, Obama’s early indications are in sync with virtually all the Bush/Gates national defense policies except I doubt Obama will publicly claim America is willing to take military action alone. (Then again, Bush didn’t say that either until after 9/11, and he’s seldom said it in recent years.) As President, I suspect Obama might very well take unilateral military action at some point — if so, my guess is that it will be based on a humanitarian crisis in Africa, perhaps Zimbabwe — but his rhetoric and diplomatic outreach will undoubtedly be aimed at garnering international support for military involvement.

Which means we may very well see the Obama Administration support increased levels of foreign aid to induce widespread international support, emphasis on NATO and UN initiatives, and added reliance on covert military operations.

Sound familiar? It should. It’s the modus operandi of the George Bush Administration, but not the George Bush hated by far-left Democrats. It’s George H. W. Bush: A President known for his graceful appearance and well-mannered demeanor, his Ivy League academic accomplishments and unceasing desire for personal political advancement, for garnering widespread international support for a military response to Saddam’s invasion of Kuwait, and for his pragmatic but ever-shifting approach to politics. He’s also the President who worked closely for many years with Robert Gates in Washington and Texas.

– DRJ

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