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September 24, 2007


It'd be nice if the companies used some of that bottom line for employee (hourly and even bottom-end management) healthcare, instead of throwing it all at the boardroom folks in the form of seven-figure salaries and bonuses. (Deciding to put all their eggs in the pickup and SUV market wasn't too bright, either, even if the short-term profits were great.)


Yeah, it sounds like that was one of the issues that pushed this to a strike--the fact that the execs are still getting rich. Agree there.

Simple Solutions To Big Problems


GM says it needs to cut costs. Perhaps it would like to work with the Democrats and the Unions to get universal health insurance. It would be good for their workers, good for the country and good for the bottom line.


The workers' thoughts on the Prius remind me of a quote in a Wired Magazine columnist's article on all the iPods on the M$ Redmond campus, by a mid- or high-level manager, no less, "If you want me to stop using it, give me a product that works and is as easy to use." GM, Ford and Chrysler have the ability, they just don't have the motivation. $5/gal. gas might just provide them with a healthy dose of that.

EW, do you have any insight into why the automakers aren't lobbying for universal healthcare? It's always been a mystery to me. It seems like nothing would give it as big a boost as the automakers and the UAW both demanding it. Is it just institutional resistance to anything that might increase taxes, even if it's a clear net benefit in a business terms?

But its socialism if not outright communism for a government to pay for health care. We will protect our workers from these communistic ideas even if we have to make our cars in India.


Or a better question, why didn't Dingell use this as an opportunity to make a deal, universal healthcare (or even a pension buyout) in exchange for serious CAFE improvements?

I think part of it is just real stasis in MI politics (then why don't you do something about it, you rightly ask?!?!?!). Plus, BushCo has deliberately sidelined the Big Three in favor of the foreign manufacturers in the right to work south, so it is no longer as responsive to the Big Three as it once was.

I haven't read Naomi Klein's Disaster Capitalism yet (or whatever it's called), but I suspect the GOP has just that planned for MI, given the lengths to which they're going now to ruin the state.

argghhh... not just the lions lose. THE LIONS LOSE LIONS BIG. all the while Mrs Hayduke and I are camping in the UP near the pictured rocks up on gitcheegumee.

empty wheel.... you are right as far as you go, and I do believe even the jerks that run the big three are coming around to universal health care. but only fighting and bitching the whole way. and they only care cause of the aid it will give to their bottom line. you say, obviously. I say this shows no foresight or character for the corporation to react so obviously when they are carrion.

until and unless the big three cut pay and benefits for management, the assholes who have made the most and put the least on the line, there is NO fucking way they survive as they fantasize they should. how much did that turkey wagoner make at gm? he's been around for at least 15 years. this is the best he could lead them to? or ford. jesus take ford, and if you could look at the overpaid, haughty, oligarchy.... which you cain't.... well you would see the emperor has not a stitch on, and has not done shit since the edsel in terms of meaningful design.

they could ease this suv absurdity if they choose. and they done should have 'choosed' a whole lot of years ago.

so is the union a problem? yes

is that problem in a vacuum? no

plenty of blame to go around.

and ew, on social security. here is the selling point. all the folks making say 100 to 150 grand have been a stumbling block previously in selling an increased tax versus private accounts. well I say they come along for sure now. ask your average 125 thousand person if they want a benefit cut (say they are 45-55) and they will say no way, they couldn't make it with an underfunded pension, a small ira, or nothing, if they didn't have their social securtiy. clearly, obama is ahead of the curve here. we do indeed need to raise that 97,000 ceiling to unlimited. hey you could probably cut the dang rate if you did that, and make the thang solvent for a long time.....

just go north of the bridge and it clears all your thinking out.....

Yeah, I wasn't thinking so much in the short term, since the SCHIP outrage clearly demonstrates that the Bush Administration will fight any healthcare solution that might cut into insurance industry profits, but in the slightly longer term, it seems like there's a real opportunity there for a party that actually cares about the good of the country, and not just themselves and their cronies.

$5/gal. gas might just provide them with a healthy dose of that.

It was just a couple-three years ago that one of the Big 3 execs was saying that he didn't think hybrids would sell well until gas hit $2/gallon: it was already over that in Los Angeles. (It can't have been much farther back than that, because it was after I bought one. And mine's paid for.)
Maybe they need more input from outside their neighborhoods?

mr. emptywheel just asked if we'd make it north of the bridge this year. unfortunately, I'm back in the auto business for the next 5 weeks, so I doubt I'll get up there.

I assume the leaves are turning?

it was peaking right now. this morning as we drove out of 12 Mile (the camp we were at) there were leaves on the roadway and we commented on it. friday night there were very high winds coming in off superior all night. it rocked our tent but the ground was held. saturday night was quite cool but we sat out reading pretty late. sunsets on saturday and sunday were amazing and had us walking the beach spell bound.

so if you are working for the auto folks, does that mean you cannot comment on my vitriole.... ?

Ditto on all the thoughts. My understanding is that GM responsible for providing health insurance for more people than any other private employer in the nation, and in 2005, their health care costs were $5.2 billion

What a huge burden lifted off their shoulders (and more money to pay workers with) if the workers could get their insurance somewhere else (like the govt).

So, what's taking GM and the UAW so long to figure this out? What's taking the Dems so long to figure out that if they could get big business *and* labor on the same side of the issue here, there'd be some real traction?

The Latest Tech Fix for Auto...

I am trying to follow a very obscure plan for re-inventing the car, that is apparently a joint project of France and India. The announcement and article I found about 3 weeks ago "blew my mind" -- and not just figurativiely.

The idea is a car that uses compressed air as power source. The car would have a solid tank that could be filled with compressed air at what I suppose would be called an air station -- but they are also working on adapting a very small gas engine to compress air on board. The French Engineer in the article said it would take about one contemporary tank of gas to compress enough air to drive from NYC to LA. Much less petro-chemical use, and thus virtually no pollution. Apparently this is mostly French designers and materials scientists, and Indian engineers planning the manufacturing process -- with the plan to be manufacturing it in India. They expect to have a working model for International Car shows in 2010. First models will be compact cars -- but apparently in India another design group is working on a small pick-up style truck (can the SUV be far behind???)

I think many of GM's problems are institutional. For far too many years their engineers and designers were all trained "in house" at the General Motors Institute, and they were trained to existing GM culture, which never questioned basic engineering design. Thus little incentive to explore new engineering concepts, new materials and the lot. GM Institute was either free or very cheap as a college -- they looked for High School Students who did well in math and science, brought them in at 18 or so, and if they did well, they had a lifetime job within the existing culture.

Look at Ireland aster universal healthcare. This cuold turn the economy around.

I agree that some kind of universal health insurance should be in place where according to income everyone would pay in and be covered.

I don't think it should be totally free which is actually what the Auto Workers have in some instances, or at least did have in some. There should be a contribution, a co-pay but for the very poor, it would be essentially zero.

Also I think that people should have to pay more for their bad habits. Smoking, overweight, not getting regular checkups, etc.

As far as this engineering effort abroad, I wouldn't hold my breath. That isn't to say that improvements won't be made but don't expect them in quantum leaps. By the way, the Indians are working on a World Computer for Children for $10 a laptop.

I have a theory. I believe that when enough people, entities, companies, etc... begin to demand free universal health care, and the chorus becomes a landmark, a cause, a reason..... that we will see two things;
we will see incredible arguments from insurance companies and their minions attempting to tell us all about what is wrong with that
we will see people looking at the arguments the insurance companies that have been stealing them blind for years on end. It will be a point that tips our government's priority.

now is a time when we need consensus among the people. Perhaps our insistence that they listen to us will make a difference. What if we, the people, refuse to pay our taxes until our government listens to us and provides free care for us all? It is only fair. They spend no money on us, it gets in the way of our leaders profits from the contributors that wish for only them to profit as we suffer.
why are we so complacent when it comes to our lives? why are our politicians so eager to kill anyone that gets in their way? Free? Free health care? BS. We have paid with our lives for this right. Millions of americans have paid with their homes and the future of their families via bankruptcy.
If we don't, there will no middle class. As you may or may not agree, I believe the goal is to eliminate the middle. It serves no purpose to the rich, and it gives the poor a dream. Look at industrial England. It was their goal to use people as cattle. nothing has changed except the rhetoric. They are certainly taking everything they can away from us to line their pockets.
Our government no longer serves a useful purpose to the people. It serves only those that make money on it. they are in charge, so nothing will change

and frankly. this is the best blog on the internet. Marcy, you need to be in the next cabinet as ombudsman to the people.

I am sorry you have chosen to cherry-pick and spin the demands of the UAW.
You must first look at the UAW health care contract, and then compare it to those of other unions and companies. I am in favor of Universal Health care. But non one has suggested a plan anywhere near what the UAW has. Should we subsidize the level of care the UAW was able to obtain?
Do you remember that the UAW was also able to get an almost lay-off proof contract where their benefits were what maybe some 90% of salary!

I do not remember the UAW having any sympathy for the price paid by the car-buying public when they negotiated contracts.
During the years these contracts were negotiated, there was essentially a collusion between labor and managements. Since there was essentially a closed market for cars in the US the three auto makers were not unwilling to give into the UAW demands as long as the big three labor costs remained equal. In fact higher labor costs could be turned into higher car prices and thus higher profits per car.
Now that the car market has opened to competition the big three can no longer dictate price Market forces have dropped wages of non-UAW workers to a skill-appropriate level. Perhaps it is time that the UAW to face the real world.

If only GM and the other car companies were serious about helping us get universal health care, this whole thing is a ruse to screw the retirees and the workers. Health care does not in point of fact add that much to the cost of a car. I'm a bit sick over this constant harping about universal health care being considered "socialism". Who forms these memes and why can't someone point out that right this very moment insurance companies are rationing your care even if you have coverage. I agree about UM and the Lions and sadly it looks as if the Tigers are now out of the playoffs. Go Wings!

well did the UAW write the contract, or was it negotiated by management?

And last I looked the white collar force got everything the blue collar force negotiated for.... and much more.

And how many job related long term injuries does the blue collar force suffer versus how many the white collar forces suffer?

It is very easy to downplay others career paths, even as they go down the tube, but a damn site harder when it is your turn in the barrel.

And as my old singersongwriter friend Richard Dobson sez: Everybodys got a take a turn in the barrel someday.

So there is your choice pardner, we all go down together.... or possibly pull things out of the fire together versus the guarantee that if the middle class workers don't stand up for each other they all go down one at a time... with a minor whimper.

And how much sympathy do you have for your customers non understanding of your prices?

Seems rather universal to me.....

sorta like healthcare should be

universal that is....

Ditto on all the thoughts. My understanding is that GM responsible for providing health insurance for more people than any other private employer in the nation, and in 2005, their health care costs were $5.2 billion

What a huge burden lifted off their shoulders (and more money to pay workers with) if the workers could get their insurance somewhere else (like the govt).

So, what's taking GM and the UAW so long to figure this out? What's taking the Dems so long to figure out that if they could get big business *and* labor on the same side of the issue here, there'd be some real traction?

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