February 9, 2006

UAW Splinter Group May Have Cost Western Michigan a Multibillion-Dollar Toyota Plant

Filed under: Business Moves,Economy,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 8:56 pm

I first heard about this from a caller into Rush’s show yesterday (guested hosted by Roger Hedgecock) and found the story — A Grand Rapids TV station reported Wednesday that Toyota may not build a multibillion-dollar plant in Michigan, essentially because of the “leadership” of one guy and his UAW splinter group:

An auto analyst in on the decision tells 24 Hour News 8 the reason is because of an unauthorized demonstration in Detroit, led by a militant splinter group from within the United Auto Workers Union. The result of that protest is Toyota looking elsewhere.

Dr. David Cole, the chairman of the Center for Automotive Research in Ann Arbor, says he was standing in Cobo Center in Detroit with several Toyota executives on the opening day of the North American International Auto Show when a UAW demonstration appeared across the street.

The rally wasn’t an authorized union gathering. UAW member Greg Shotwell of Coopersville, a worker at the Delphi plant there, organized it. Shotwell calls his group SOS, or Soldiers For Solidarity. (actually Soldiers OF Solidarity–Ed.)

Cole told 24 Hour News 8 that upon learning Shotwell was from West Michigan the group from Toyota dropped West Michigan from the list.

“The message is that the UAW can’t control its own people,” Cole said.

The TV station’s web site has a four-minute embedded video of the story that relays off-camera comments from Shotwell and a conversation with a UAW official about Shotwell and member discipline.

This Detroit Free Press article in advance of the Auto Show discussed and quoted Shotwell (bolds are mine):

In recent years, Gregg Shotwell, the Soldiers of Solidarity leader and an hourly machine operator at Delphi’s fuel injector plant in Coopersville, has rebuked the UAW leadership at national conventions and other key meetings.

Shotwell, a short and slender 55-year-old man with a knack for persuasive writing and delivering speeches, has held several weekend meetings discussing strike strategies in union halls and hotel conference rooms in Michigan, Indiana, Wisconsin and New York.

“People say, ‘If you strike and GM goes bankrupt, aren’t you biting the hand that feeds you?’ ” Shotwell said. “We’re not biting the hand that feeds us. We’re biting the hand that slapped us in the face, that defeated and robbed us.

“First we’re going to bite the hand and then we’re going to go for the throat.”

Charming. There are 47 other states in the continental US. Can you blame Toyota if they decide they just don’t want to deal with the likes of Shotwell and company in Michigan?

(Aside: I’m not going to sit here and claim the management side of the Delphi, GM, Ford, and Chrysler are covering themselves in glory. There’s plenty of blame to spread around.)

Grand Rapids Pundit says: “The UAW is doing its best to ensure that Michigan’s economy continues to rank as the nation’s worst.” I would amend that and point only to the militants — for now. But if the SOS brand of inflexible thinking and confrontation carries the day inside the union, the portion of the US auto industry that is under collective-bargaining agreements (a large percentage of which is of course in economically troubled Michigan) is heading for a major crack-up.

UPDATE: Here’s a mid-January report that Toyota was at the time seriously considering a Western Michigan plant and that the area was supposedly on its “A list.”

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New S.O.B. Alliance Member: Newshound

Filed under: General,News from Other Sites — Tom @ 2:06 pm

Thanks to the addition of Newshound in Northwest Ohio, the S.O.B. Alliance has Ohio surrounded from all four corners. It is only fitting that Paul Miller, the originator of the Carnival of Ohio Politics (latest version here), come on board. Welcome.

Internet Wall of Shame Update: Yahoo!, Again

Internet Wall of Shame member Yahoo! appears determined to keep up with and surpass Google for outrageous kowtowing to Chinese Communist authorities.

Thanks to Yahoo!, another writer is known to be in prison (and note the weasly Reuters headline, which describes the jailed person as an “Internet user,” even though in the body of the story the topic is clearly “Internet journalists and writers”):

Yahoo accused in jailing of 2nd China Internet user
Feb 9, 2:05 AM (ET)
By Lindsay Beck

BEIJING (Reuters) – Yahoo Inc. provided evidence to Chinese authorities that led to the imprisonment of an Internet writer, lawyers and activists said on Thursday, the second such case involving the U.S. Internet giant.

The latest storm over Western Internet companies in China comes just weeks after Web search giant Google Inc. came under fire for saying it would block politically sensitive terms on its new China site, bowing to conditions set by Beijing.

Writer and veteran activist Liu Xiaobo said Yahoo had co-operated with Chinese police in a case that led to the 2003 arrest of Li Zhi, who was charged with subverting state power and sentenced to eight years in prison after trying to join the dissident China Democracy Party.

Yahoo gave public security agents details of Li’s registration as a Yahoo user, Liu said in an article posted on U.S.-based Chinese-language news portal Boxun, citing a defense statement from Li’s lawyers.

A spokeswoman for Yahoo said the company was looking into the matter.

“As in most jurisdictions, governments are not required to inform service providers why they are seeking certain information and typically do not do so,” spokeswoman Mary Osako said.

“We would not know whether a demand for information focused on murder, kidnapping or another crime,” she said by phone from California, adding Yahoo thought the Internet was a positive force in China.

But media watchdog Reporters Without Borders said the argument that Yahoo simply responds to requests from authorities did not hold water.

“Yahoo certainly knew it was helping to arrest political dissidents and journalists, not just ordinary criminals,” it said in a statement.


The group, along with the Committee to Protect Journalists, also called on Yahoo to disclose information on all Internet journalists and writers whose identities it has revealed to Chinese authorities.

The case is the latest in a string of examples that highlight the friction between profits and principles for Internet companies doing business in China, the world’s number-two Internet market.

In September, Yahoo was accused of helping Chinese authorities identify Shi Tao, who was sentenced last April to 10 years in prison for leaking state secrets abroad.

The Reporters Without Borders statement is here. Reuters, which certainly had access to RWB’s full statement, “somehow” failed to report RWB’s assertion that Yahoo!’s cooperation with the Chinese government is a routine thing, and RWB’s belief that the dissident journalists in question are in prison now (see bold below; I’m taking “release” to be “release from prison,” not just “release of names”); e-mail me if you think I am wrong), perhaps due to the company’s active cooperation:

Reporters Without Borders called on Yahoo! to supply a list of all cyberdissidents it has provided data on, beginning with 81 people in China whose release the worldwide press freedom organization is currently campaigning for.

It said it had discovered that Yahoo! customer and cyberdissident Li Zhi had been given his eight-year prison sentence in December 2003 based on electronic records provided by Yahoo. “How many more cases are we going to find ?” it asked.

“We were sure the case of Shi Tao, who was jailed for 10 years last April on the basis of Yahoo-supplied data, was not the only one. Now we know Yahoo works regularly and efficiently with the Chinese police.

Do you think Reuters would have failed to report a similar request for information from another organization if it had been about, say, every Al Qaeda member who had his or her conversation listened in on by the National Security Agency?

Walter Williams on Why Health Care Is Not a Right; Olasky on Effective Compassion

Filed under: Economy,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 11:41 am

Williams is crystal clear, as always (HTs to S.O.B. Alliance members Return of the Conservatives, and Large Bill, great minds who must think alike, as they both managed to post on this at the same minute yesterday):

In order to have any hope of coherently answering these questions, we have to decide what is a right. The way our Constitution’s framers used the term, a right is something that exists simultaneously among people and imposes no obligation on another. For example, the right to free speech, or freedom to travel, is something we all simultaneously possess. My right to free speech or freedom to travel imposes no obligation upon another except that of non-interference. In other words, my exercising my right to speech or travel requires absolutely nothing from you and in no way diminishes any of your rights.

Contrast that vision of a right to so-called rights to medical care, food or decent housing, independent of whether a person can pay. Those are not rights in the sense that free speech and freedom of travel are rights. If it is said that a person has rights to medical care, food and housing, and has no means of paying, how does he enjoy them? There’s no Santa Claus or Tooth Fairy who provides them. You say, “The Congress provides for those rights.” Not quite. Congress does not have any resources of its very own. The only way Congress can give one American something is to first, through the use of intimidation, threats and coercion, take it from another American. So-called rights to medical care, food and decent housing impose an obligation on some other American who, through the tax code, must be denied his right to his earnings. In other words, when Congress gives one American a right to something he didn’t earn, it takes away the right of another American to something he did earn.

I can hear it now: So, Bizzy, we’re just supposed to leave people on the streets to starve and die from untreated disease?

Of course not. Let’s go to Marvin Olasky for help. The editor-in-chief of World magazine wrote a great column 10 years ago outlining The 7 Principles of Effective Compassion, which I have excerpted:

  1. Affiliation — ” A century ago, when individuals applied for material assistance, charity volunteers tried first to “restore family ties that have been sundered” and “reabsorb in social life those who for some reason have snapped the threads that bound them to other members of the community.” Instead of immediately offering help, charities asked, “Who is bound to help in this case?”
  2. Bonding — When applicants for help a century ago were truly alone, volunteers worked one-on-one to become, in essence, new family members.
  3. Categorization — Charities a century ago realized that two persons in exactly the same material circumstances, but with different values, need different treatment: One might benefit most from some material help and a pat on the back, the other might need spiritual challenge and a push. Those who were orphaned, elderly, or disabled received aid; jobless adults who were “able and willing to work” received help in job-finding; “those who prefer to live on alms” and those of “confirmed intemperance” were not entitled to material assistance.
  4. Discernment — “Intelligent giving and intelligent withholding are alike true charity,” the New Orleans Charity Organization Society declared in 1899. …. Poverty fighters a century ago trained volunteers to leave behind a conventional attitude toward the poor, seeing them through the comfortable haze of their own intentions. Barriers against fraud were important not only to prevent waste but to preserve morale among those who were working hard to remain independent. ….. Today, lack of discernment in helping poor individuals is rapidly producing an anticompassion backlash, as the better-off—unable to distinguish between the truly needy and the grubby-grabby—give to neither.
  5. Employment — New York charity leader Josephine Lowell wrote that “the problem before those who would be charitable, is not how to deal with a given number of the poor; it is how to help those who are poor, without adding to their numbers and constantly increasing the evils they seek to cure.” ….. Governmental programs operating without the discipline of the marketplace were inherently flawed, because their payout comes “from what is regarded as a practically inexhaustible source, and people who once receive it are likely to regard it as a right, as a permanent pension, implying no obligation on their part.”
  6. Freedom — Charity workers a century ago did not press for governmental programs but instead showed poor people how to move up while resisting enslavement to governmental masters. ….. Life was hard, but static, multigenerational poverty of the kind we now have was rare. ….. Today, in our desire to make the bottom rung of the ladder higher, we have cut off the lowest rungs and left many on the ground.
  7. God — “True philanthropy must take into account spiritual as well as physical needs,” poverty fighters a century ago noted, and both Christians and Jews did.

The impact of failing to follow these seven principles can be seen all around us. Just a few examples:

  • The open-ended Katrina debit cards that were so easily abused.
  • The families of Katrina victims put up in nice hotels for five months getting misplaced press sympathy because they are erroneously characterized as getting “evicted“.
  • The Red Cross’s questionable practices during the September 11 relief effort that ultimately led to the Director’s resignation.

Health care and food are not rights, as Williams says, but it is our duty to effectively provide it to those who truly need it and can’t provide it for themselves. Such effectiveness is almost never achieved through government programs financed by the coerced taxes, but can be achieved through properly managed private efforts funded by voluntary contributions.

Bizzy’s AM Coffee Biz-Econ Links (020906)

Free Links:

  • Belgian Workers take 12 days of sick leave each year, costing employers 6.6 billion euros. That means the average worker is gone about 5% of the time. Seems pretty high.
  • It’s a press release and not a story, but it seems credible, and troubling: “Securities Class Action Settlements Reach Record Level in 2005, Finds Cornerstone Research; Median Settlement Size Nearly 20% Above 2004 Levels.” The release says that “Securities class action settlements reached unprecedented levels in 2005, according to a report released today by Cornerstone Research. Even excluding WorldCom’s over $6.1 billion settlement and Enron’s $7.1 billion (and counting) settlement, the total value of cases settled during 2005 grew to an all time high of $3.5 billion, surpassing 2004′s over $2.9 billion tally by more than 17 percent.” The release doesn’t mention Sarbanes Oxley, but it seems that it should have: “Contributing to the increase may be a growing frequency of cases involving accounting-related allegations, as well as institutional investors serving as lead plaintiffs. The percentage of cases involving restatements of financial statements grew to 40 percent in 2005, almost double the figure for 2004.”
  • Misleading Headline of the Week — Katrina Evacuees Face Eviction. No: These folks have stayed for five months in nice hotels. They aren’t being “evicted” — The government’s just going to stop paying the lodging bills, starting this week for about 20% of the 25,000 people involved, and next week for the rest.
  • The Food Police are NOT Pleased with This — “Low-Fat Diet Doesn’t Cut Health Risks.” This USA Today piece claims that low-fat food offerings at stores won’t be affected: “There’s little sign that any food giants are going to change course and suddenly turn their backs on one of the most popular — and most lucrative — consumer marketing terms in the past decade: low-fat.” They’ll change course if people start buying fewer low-fat items.
  • Expansion Management Magazine just named their 50 best cities in the U.S. for business expansions and relocations. The top 5: Nashville, Phoenix, Atlanta, Dallas-Fort Worth, and San Antonio.
  • Good News for Consumers, Bad News for “Progressives” — Wal-Mart plans to open more than 1,500 stores in the United States in the coming years, on top of the nearly 3,200 already in place.
  • Finally, I don’t know what to do with this one, except link to it for sheer bizarreness: “German zoo fails to make gay penguins straight.” If you think the headline’s bizarre, wait til you read the story.

Positivity: Iraqi Town Welcomes Food Distribution Center

Filed under: Positivity — Tom @ 6:08 am

From Defend America (HT S.O.B. member Camp Katrina):

DIYARAH, Iraq, Feb. 3, 2006 — Residents of Diyarah, Iraq, celebrated the opening of a food distribution center here Jan. 18.

“Diyarah is a great success because of the town council’s commitment to its people.”
U.S. Army Capt. Ben Simms

The center enables residents to buy grain, produce and other items at low prices through a program created by the Iraqi government. “We hope this is the beginning of many openings and celebrations for us,” said Saleh Hasen Alwan, the local imam. “The people of this area are in need of something like this.”

The town council ensures the voices of its people are heard, said U.S. Army Capt. Ben Simms, commander, Company D, 2nd Battalion, 8th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division. “Diyarah is a great success because of the town council’s commitment to its people.”

Local officials acquired funding for the project, construction workers rebuilt the structures and Iraqi soldiers secured the area so the workers were safe from terrorists.

….. U.S. Army Capt. Ben Simms, a company commander in the 4th Infantry Division; Saleh Husen Alwan, Diyarah imam; and Iraqi Capt. Majed Hady Al-Shemevy, a company commander in the 8th Iraqi Army Division, officially open the new food distribution center in Diyarah, Iraq, Jan. 18, 2006. U.S. Army photo by Pfc. Michael A. Molinaro

The town council feels safe because of the presence of the Iraqi army, Simms said. “They are not afraid of the insurgents.”

New bathrooms, ceilings, floors and lighting fixtures were installed for more than 40 local nationals who will work at the center.

“This is a total nationwide effort,” said Badillo. “You have the big government helping a small community, and in turn the small community government helping its people. It proves the Iraqi government is working.”