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December 21, 2009

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I suppose that when you become a "Political Analyst" you no longer need to write stuff that is, uh, actually verifiable. Whatever you write, true or not, is covered as "analysis." Like this bland statement from Jack Lessenberry, in reference to the Detroit automakers' request for a federal bailout:

"Several Republican senators from the south vowed not to give them a cent."

It is an untrue assertion, at least in any meaningful way. I can't think of any Republican Senator who could now be found to say, "Yes; I vowed not to give any of the Detroit automakers a cent." The two leading Republican voices on the automakers' financial crisis of 2008 were Senators Richard Shelby of Alabama and Bob Corker of Tennessee. Neither Shelby or Corker ever "vowed" not to give any of the Detroit automakers "a cent." It is true that both Corker and Shelby asked hard questions of Detroit's auto corporations. But only because the Senators accepted as a matter of general principal that something had to be done, and some federal support had to be provided, and it was only a matter of what the terms might be. Corker spent days talking to the automakers and the unions. Corker came to the 2009 auto show in Detroit, in the depths of the crisis. Senator Shelby was made a regional hate-object for his earlier suggestion, in the fall of 2008, that just maybe, GM would have to go through some kind of federally-supported pre-pack bankruptcy. People thought it impossible, intolerable, to suggest anything so inconcievable as a GM bankruptcy!

Guess. What. Happened.

One of the really hard, basic questions back in 2008 was how it was that Detroit would expect a bailout from Washington in order to support UAW wages and benefit costs that were historically so much higher than wages and costs for auto assembly operations in the southern Senators' home states. And with UAW work rules that would be seen as neanderthal in any 21st century company. It was, and still is, a good question.

Just last week in Slate.com, there was a very interesting analysis of the question. I don't subscribe to everything in the article, but it sure is an eye-opener on the subject of more nimble companies in southern states which are unencumbered by UAW work rules:

http://www.slate.com/id/2206525/pagenum/all/


Moreover, on that subject of Detroit unions, there is this, from the Wall Street Journal of just two days ago -- an interview with Mayor Dave Bing that is, I think, unlike anything that either of the two Detroit newspapers have done:

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748703558004574581650636077732.html

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