November 13, 2008

New Pajamas Media Column (‘The Ad Age President Who ‘Killed Election Day”) Is Up

It’s here.

The subheadline at PJM is:

A Madison Avenue-style campaign and an alteration of traditional voting procedures ensured victory for Obama.

Key paragraph:

“Early voting” failed to increase turnout. So what was the point? Aside from enabling open and obvious vote fraud (how widespread we’ll never know), the point was to get as many Obama fans to cast their ballots before something came along — including, even in the absence of new information, the sober reflection many voters actually engage in during the final hours before Election Day — to change their minds.

It will be posted in full here at BizzyBlog on Saturday (link won’t work until then) after blackout expires.

DC Auto Bailout Ideas Involve US Equity Stakes, Turn into an Early Christmas Tree

Can I have permission to utter the S-word (“socialism”)?

Ken Thomas’s Associated Press report today (link is dynamic, subject to change, and will probably be gone in a week) on auto industry bailout ideas emanating from Washington includes these items, all of which expand soc- … soc- … socialism:

  • Legislation proposed by Barney Frank involves the government taking ownership stakes in the companies.
  • Lawmakers want to use funds that were meant only for the financial sector bailout.
  • A note that the current bailout is over and above the $25 billion in government-guaranteed loans that has already been approved for “development of fuel-efficient vehicles.”
  • News that auto industry suppliers want in on the bailout action
  • The United Auto Workers wants a separate $25 billion “to help cover future health care obligations for retirees and their dependents.”

Are we having fun yet?

Here are key paragraphs from the AP story:

Democrats at work to tap bailout for automakers

Congressional Democrats are marshaling support for a rescue package to pump $25 billion in emergency loans to U.S. automakers in exchange for a government ownership stake in Detroit’s car companies.

Rep. Barney Frank, D-Mass., chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, and Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., are developing legislation that would let the auto industry tap into the $700 billion Wall Street rescue money, approved by Congress last month, to fund their business operations.

….. Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson said Wednesday that the auto sector was “critical” but that the financial industry rescue was not designed for car companies.

….. Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, which is home to two Ford Motor Co. plants, was noncommittal about additional aid. In a statement, his spokesman said Congress should move to speed the release of a $25 billion loan program passed earlier to help the carmakers develop fuel-efficient vehicles

…. Frank’s legislation would carve out a portion of the $700 billion financial rescue program for the Big Three automakers, letting the government take an equity stake in them in exchange for the loans. ….

….. The car companies would face tougher restrictions on awarding pay packages to executives and dividends to their shareholders than the financial companies that get a piece of the original bailout.

Auto executives, labor leaders and other industry proponents are seeking an immediate $25 billion loan to keep the companies operating. Union officials are also hoping for a separate $25 billion to help cover future health care obligations for retirees and their dependents.

Beyond the car companies, lawmakers may hear from a broad coalition of manufacturers seeking aid. Auto suppliers, which carry a wide manufacturing presence in Michigan, Indiana, Missouri, Ohio, Tennessee and Illinois, are seeking a piece of the rescue.

An AP story yesterday evening, blogged earlier today at NewsBusters and BizzyBlog, at least mentioned, though barely, the high labor cost structure that has been a millstone around the companies’ necks for decades. This AP report has not a word.

As to Barney Frank’s ownership proposal — Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, which Frank and his mostly Democratic colleagues allowed to fester to the point where they wrecked the economy, are known to the Wall Street Journal and yours truly as ” Barney’s Rubble” for a good reason. It is beyond me why we should rely on the Massachusetts congressman for financial advice on assisting troubled companies.

The $25 billion the UAW wants for future health care obligations has to do with the fact that it now runs its retirees’ health care. All that $25 billion will do is keep the union from imposing necessary cost-control measures on a retiree group long used to gold-plated coverage. The money won’t do a thing to develop or build a single car.

Thomas’s AP report also failed to note that:

  • The Treasury bailout, which was supposedly meant to buy up troubled assets, has instead largely been used to buy equity stakes in financial companies. This UK Times Online story reports that Paulson has now completely abandoned buying troubled assets.
  • As the beggars continue to line up and lobby hard, that same UK Times story reports that Paulson has already gone through all but $60 billion of the first $350 billion installment of the $700 billion bailout.

Soon the list of those who have not been bailed out may shorter than the list of those who have.

Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org.

AP’s Auto Bailout Coverage Nearly Ignores Excessive Labor Costs, Omits UAW’s Concessions Refusal

Wednesday evening’s dour Associated Press report by Tom Krisher and Ken Thomas on the proposed bailouts of General Motors, Ford, and Chrysler acted as if their fates will determine the viability of the entire US auto industry, and waited until the 15th paragraph to name the primary reason why the companies are where they are financially. Beyond that, the AP report did not mention that United Auto Workers has flatly ruled out union contract concessions.

Here is how the AP’s report began, followed by selected other paragraphs, including the one (of over 30) that mentioned labor costs (bolds after headline are mine):

Failure of auto industry could set off catastrophe
Advocates: Collapse of US auto industry could set off catastrophic chain reaction

Advocates for the nation’s automakers are warning that the collapse of the Big Three — or even just General Motors — could set off a catastrophic chain reaction in the economy, eliminating up to 3 million jobs and depriving governments of more than $150 billion in tax revenue.

Industry supporters are offering such grim predictions as Congress weighs whether to bail out the nation’s largest automakers, which are struggling to survive the steepest economic slide in decades.

“We’ve got to do this because the cost of inaction is so high to communities, to workers, to companies,” said Sen. Sherrod Brown, a Democrat from Ohio.

….. Even if just GM collapsed, the failure could bring down the other two companies — and even the U.S. operations of foreign automakers — as parts suppliers run out of money and shut down.

….. Opponents of the idea say government money will just delay the inevitable demise of companies that are on death’s doorstep because of years of mismanagement and labor costs that are far higher than their global competitors.

“How is this money going to make a positive difference in creating a new competitiveness?” asked Sen. Jeff Sessions, an Alabama Republican.

Sessions and others also fear that opening the treasury to automakers will invite more industries to plead for federal help.

….. Sessions and others say Chapter 11 might be a better option than government loans.

….. Automakers say they are poised to rebound because they have been restructuring for years — shedding jobs, consolidating engineering and design, and making plants more efficient.

But they can’t claim to have done much about labor costs, because they haven’t.

Here are three key values in a chart shown Monday at Carpe Diem (HT Small Dead Animals):

Total Compensation Per Hour, 2007-2008 (includes wages and all benefits):
Big Three automakers — $73.08
Toyota — $48.00
All workers — $28.48

In 30-plus paragraphs, the AP reporters “somehow” failed to tell readers about UAW President Ron Gettelfinger’s refusal last week to give an inch on labor costs, as reported by Dow Jones at CNNMoney.com:

The prospect of concessions from the union came up during a meeting involving executives of Detroit’s Big Three auto makers and Democratic Congressional lawmakers on Capitol Hill Thursday. But UAW President Ron Gettelfinger made clear that concessions were out of the question, union lobbyist Alan Reuther said in an interview with Dow Jones Newswires Friday.

“Workers and retirees have already made significant sacrifices,” said Reuther, paraphrasing remarks that Gettelfinger made to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D- Calif., and others in the meeting, including renegotiated contracts. “We feel we’ve already stepped up.”

Translation: Taxpayers are just supposed to accept the UAW-imposed cost structure as it exists, even though those being bailed out earn $44.60 an hour more in wages and benefits than other working families.

What an outrage. The AP’s failure to mention the UAW’s stand is journalistically negligent.

As an e-mailer said in a post at Michelle Malkin’s blog earlier this morning:

The Big 3 has a cancer that needs to be removed. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to understand why they cannot compete profitability (sic). They have parity on supply costs, materials, and energy with Honda and Toyota. So why can’t they compete? It is clearly the cost of labor.

There are several other howlers in the AP report, the most obvious of which is that the whole industry will somehow collapse if the Big 3 fail. I don’t want to minimize the difficulties posed by the dislocations within the industry and among its suppliers, but as long as consumers need and want cars, there will be companies who will make them — and there are plenty of others who make very good ones.

Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org.

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Selected Previous Related Posts:
- Nov. 12 — On the Idea of Bailing Out GM: NO
- Oct. 4 — Meanwhile, in Detroit (Taxpayers act as air bag for crashing companies)…..
- Mar. 29 — The Ford Boycott’s Results Demonstrate the Folly of Corporate Reliance on Old Media
- Aug. 1, 2007 — The Car Dealer-State Government Racket
- Feb. 9, 2006 — UAW Splinter Group May Have Cost Western Michigan a Multibillion-Dollar Toyota Plant
- Jan. 4, 2006 — Passage of the Day: Barone Compares Wal-Mart to General Motors (Who Do You Think Comes Out Better?)
- April 26, 2005 — General Motors on the Ropes (Maybe Ford, Too)

Positivity: Man finds fellow hunter in frigid water

Filed under: Positivity — Tom @ 8:47 am

From Orrock, Minnesota:

November 13, 2008

Sherburne County sheriff’s officials are calling an Orrock Township man a hero after he helped rescue a fellow hunter from a frigid slough Saturday.

Peter Schmidt, 60, had been hunting in Sherburne National Wildlife Refuge on the opening day of the firearms deer season when he heard a Big Lake man calling for help, Capt. Steve Doran said.

Schmidt found Matthew Capko, 26, chest-deep in muddy water and unable to move just after 9 a.m., Doran said.

Schmidt called his family and rescue personnel and became exposed to the cold water himself while trying to rescue Capko, Doran said.

Workers from Zimmerman-Livonia Fire Department, Sherburne County Sheriff’s Office and North Memorial Medical Services responded and were able to help get a life line to Capko and pull him from the water.

He was taken to the hospital and treated for hypothermia. Schmidt also was treated for hypothermia. …..

Go here for the rest of the story.