You Set Up the Lemonade Stand to Buy All the Lemonade

UAW members at protest

UAW members at protest (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Anyone who knows me knows that I have a “thing” for unions. In Particular the UAW. While working a summer job for International Harvester  as a college freshmen, I met the UAW. I went to look at my design for a machine frame on a welding table in the R&D shop. I examined the way the welder had placed all the pieces of steel on the welding table over a layout of the design. I saw a part out-of-place by what I thought a large amount. I tapped the piece back into the correct place. The act took but a few seconds to complete. Within a few minutes my boss Mervyn came out and asked me to walk with him. I did. As we left the shop floor, I noticed that all the shop-workers were conspicuously sitting down doing nothing. Inside the office, Mervyn lectured me on life in a UAW factory. It seems my adjustment stole life-giving sustenance from the mouth of UAW families. They showed who was boss by sitting down on the job. They didn’t go back to work until Merv’s boss came out to apologize to the UAW shop Steward about my mis-behavior.

After my experience I began to take notice of UAW articles in the newspapers. They struck a lot. Walter Reuther was head of the UAW at that time. GM announced a multi-billion dollar profit and Reuther boldly proclaimed that the UAW would get their piece of the pie. GM workers went on strike and were out for several weeks. I cannot believe those guys ever made back what they lost in wages during that time. GM lost business to Ford and Chrysler and ultimately caved.

What I noticed following strike articles is the attitude of the striking workers; “we would rather see this company go out of business than to make a single concession in a contract.”

Watch what will happen in Chicago this month. The teacher’s union will strike to get their demands for a raise. Poor teachers, twenty-three million private sector workers are scraping to find a meal, and they are looking for more money. None of what they are asking for is for the betterment of your kids, it is for themselves. They have the same attitude as the UAW on bringing the school district to its knees. Mayor Rahm-bo Emmanuel will cave not because he wants to see all his under-performing schools do better and the kids in his city learn to read and write, but rather will be looking to protect his former boss during the election. That means we pay the bill folks, by paying higher taxes.

In the meantime, enjoy the article below about the Hopey-Changey-Feely success of the UAW and Govmnt Motors.

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Reblogged from several sites

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By Angel, on July 12th, 2012

Remember how Obama keeps telling us how he saved GM, and how our economy is getting better, it seems the car company he bought is being saved by Govt employees using our tax money to buy new cars. 79% of GM’s sales last month was government purchased.

GM’s sales figures for last month were the best since 2008 , up 16% for the month of June. YIPPEE! Well, wait just a minute. It seems that those rosey sales figures are due primarily to a 79% increase in fleet sales to the U.S.government in June. That’s right. Our tax dollars are being used to pump up GM’s sales figures ahead of next month’s quarterly report so that Dear Leader can point to Government Motors as a huge success. The incestuous relationship between GM, the UAW and the Regime has never been more glaringly apparent. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. GM is unsustainable without government subsidies and will ultimately go bust again, taking billions of taxpayer dollars down with it.

We bailed out General Motors to the tune of $50 billion. $30 billion of this is effectively a loss, mostly sunk into fattening the United Auto Workers union—fierce Obama supporters—while the actual bondholders were shown the elevator shaft.

Meanwhile, as NewsBusters reports, “We the Taxpayers are still stuck holding 500+ million shares of GM stock.  Which we need to sell at $53 per.  Which debuted post-bankruptcy at $33 per.  And which is currently trading at just over $20 per.  Meaning we’ll lose about $15 billion.”

But it gets better. Despite the overwhelming negatives, the tiny bright spot of positive June sales numbers is being heralded by Obama and the leftist press as proof the auto bailout was a “success.”

Obama is now campaigning on the “success” of – the government buying cars from…the government’s car company.  With our money.

Americanvision says That’s like you setting up a lemonade stand for your kids.  You buy them the lemons, sugar, cups and pitchers – and then buy most of the lemonade yourself.

The pressure is on Government Motors to appear financially strong as this may be the last earnings report before November elections and sets the stage for how “successful” GM is. One of GM’s past tricks to help fudge earnings numbers has been to stuff truck inventory channels. Old habits die hard at GM. According to a Bloomberg report, “GM said inventory of its full-size pickups, which will be refreshed next year, climbed to 238,194 at the end of June, a 135 days supply, up from 116 days at the end of May.” 135 days supply is huge, the accepted norm is a 60 day supply. The trick here is that GM records revenue when vehicles go into dealership inventories, not when actually sold to consumers.

An Overly Long History of My Cars

The Detroit auto show is showing off new car designs with the hope that sales will pick up. I remember a time in my life when I wanted to be a car designer. My grammar school notebook dividers were filled with doodles of new car designs. Years later I reviewed some of the sketches to realize that some of the actual car designs resembled my doodles. Today, I can give a rat’s behind about what a car looks like. I’m more impressed by how little I have to get it fixed.

The Avalon Death Star is a few miles away from turning seventy-thousand miles. (I always thought old guys drove less.) That number began rolling in my mind as I recalled some of the cars I have owned.

The very first car that I bought was a 1959 Volkswagen bug.  That was during my “green period.” Gas was eighteen cents a gallon, and I was worried about mileage. I also preached about conservation, and pollution. Today, I choose to drive a car with the highest horsepower, and the best overall economy.

After the Bug reached sixty-thousand miles, I fell in love with the VW Karmann Ghia. I bought a brand new one for $2750.00 at a time when you could buy a new Cadillac for $2500. I owned the car for ten years. Style wise it was fabulous, but not a good family car. It was a maintenance nightmare in spite of all the cute VW ads that pointed out how many ways they had improved the car. I spent many a cold evening in a frozen garage changing shock absorbers and mufflers. Why is it that these things always fail when it is zero outside? Eventually, the head lights fell out of the fenders because of a severe rust problem. I don’t know how many miles it had on it, because the speedometer failed several times, and I was tired of paying for new ones. Besides, the superior attitude of the German mechanics who refused to believe that a German car could break always ignited my furor.

We needed a family car, so I bought a used 1960 Ford Falcon for Barb. It was an unexciting car, and we piled a ton of miles onto it. I remember hooking a baby seat over the top of the bench seat to give my kids a better view of the steel dashboard. In today’s world, I’d be arrested for that. This car was so unexciting, I have completely forgotten what we did with it.

In 1967, we got the camping bug and bought a brand new Dodge van. It was bare inside except for a bench seat. I built a bed, and storage area behind the seat, and Barb made privacy curtains to shade the sun. This little truck served us well, but it too required lot’s of maintenance. I remember teaching Barb how to lift the hood to remove the air cleaner to tickle the butterfly so the damn thing would start. (The hood was inside the truck between the front seats. You could drive and change spark plugs at the same time.) This little van is etched in my memory as one of my all time favorite vehicles. It deserves a separate story to chronicle all we did with it.

In 1969, I became the proud owner of a brand new Toyota. It was a cute little red Corolla station wagon.  It had a front engine, with water cooling, which meant it had heat. As opposed to my VW which had air cooled engine, and never had enough heat to clear the fog off the windows. Within six months of owning the Toy, I detected an engine knock. The dealer never heard the knock, and my complaints went unheeded. Finally, I decided to run the car until the knock got audible. It did. Within a few short weeks, one could hear the car from a block away. I drove it to the dealer and asked the service guy if he could tell me what the strange noise was coming from the engine. It had nine thousand miles on it. I started it up. Within a second, he waved furiously to shut it off. I left the car with them to be fixed, they finally admitted to a problem. It took ten weeks and daily harassment to get my car back. My kids wonder why I hated Jap Crap so much. I sold the Corolla wagon with twenty-six thousand miles on it.

I chose to keep my Dodge van as my commuter car, and bought a 1973 Dodge van to serve as the family vehicle and trailer tower. We were a two van family.

The seventy-three van left Barb dangling many times with a stuck choke, but the hood was outside and she wasn’t able to tickle the carburetor anymore. The driver’s side floor rusted through after three years, making me a very unhappy camper. Water leaked through the rear doors and rolled forward under the mats to settle under the driver’s feet. We kept the green van until 1978, when I switched to a GMC van.

The GMC had horsepower to spare. We pulled a very heavy trailer and didn’t even know it was behind us. It was more reliable than the Dodge, but it too had problems with rust, and changing spark plugs required as much work as an overhaul.

One evening, Barb and I were returning home from a visit to my Dad’s house. We waited at a red light when a hot rod pulled up beside us. “Watch this,” I told Barb. The light turned green. I put my foot into it, and bam. We coasted across the intersection. I blew the damn transmission. Luckily for me, I still had second gear to limp home with.

In 1985 I became the proud owner of a Mercury Sable. What a sexy car. Ford was improving quality and I gave them a chance to show me how good they were. The Sable was a good car, but it too had moments. I told people that it is the best car I ever owned. When I really thought about it, the best car would not receive a Christmas card from the towing company. I replaced the transmission three times, and a switch failure earned a tow job three times. I was on the way to get the steering arm replaced when I slid off an icy road and hit a six by six mail box post. I totaled the Sable at one hundred and twenty-thousand miles, and after serving me for twelve years.

Barb persuaded me to buy an Oldsmobile Intrigue. The was hands down the best car I owned until it reached one hundred and twenty-thousand miles. At that point, I became friendly with the tow company again. Twice, within a year, I paid hundreds of dollars to have an intake manifold replaced. Researching the problem on the internet, I learned that the GM engine had a known problem with manifolds for years. Did they do anything to fix it? Hell no.

This saga brings me to the 2005 Avalon. I knick named it “Death Star” when Toyota had to recall them for run away acceleration problems. So far, knock on wood. This is the best car I have ever owned. A far cry ahead of the 1969 Corolla, and the UAW counterparts. I have seventy-thousand miles on it, and I expect it to go for three times that amount. That is if I live long enough to make it happen.

As I write this, I realize that each car had its own history, and each one deserves individual reflection.

There are a few I left out of the history, like the VW Scirocco, Buick Sky Hawk, and 1980’s vintage Corolla.

Cocktail Arrogance

Wow! Times have changed since 1961. That year I graduated from the University of Illinois with a Bachelor’s Degree in Mechanical Engineering. Manufacturing jobs ruled the country. Every engineering student I knew had a minimum of six job offers. The starting salary for engineering graduates ranged from $480.00 to $620.00/mo. The highest paying jobs were in the aeronautical fields. The lowest were in teaching and government. I do not really know what engineering graduates make today, nor does it matter. What does matter is that the pay scale has flipped. Teaching and government jobs pay higher than private sector industrials.
Finding an industrial job is a difficult task, as most companies have moved manufacturing to Mexico, or China to avoid unions, and to take advantage of lower wages. Why have they fled? Because, unions take advantage of any company that makes a profit. The union bosses really believe the profit comes exclusively from the blood, sweat, and tears of their membership. Forget about the years of research, development, and the engineering that goes into any product. Forget about all the effort that goes into marketing, and sales of the thing. Forget about defending a patent from competitors. Forget about the money the investors put into the company so they can have the infrastructure, and tools needed to produce. All a union sees is the effort they put into assembling the thing. They believe that because union workers made the thing, union workers should get the profit from it.
I spent a few years working for Government Motors when it knew how to make money. At the time, Walter Reuther was the big cheese of the UAW. Every time GM announced their profits, good old Walt made a statement to the press that the UAW deserved to get a bigger piece of the pie. It did not matter if they had a contract, he would find a loophole to strike or go into re-negotiation. He was very successful at getting concessions from GM management. Management always caved because they owned so much stock themselves they did not want their dividends or profit sharing affected. The UAW became so greedy that GM finally imploded under the weight of the legacy carrying costs.
GM was not alone with union demands. Any company that had a union was under the same stress. Laws protect worker’s rights to organize. Once a union is in place, it is nearly impossible to get it out. The current effort to initiate unions with open ballots would make organizing even easier. The difference between 1961 and 2010 is that the unions do not have manufacturing to organize anymore. Instead, they organize office, and service workers. I was shocked to learn the extent of their penetration into government. I was aware of teacher, police, and fire unions, but not government worker unions. I wonder how Uncle can keep them from becoming a threat to national security. Imagine if the union boss announced that because the government collected more taxes this year, the union would take a larger share of the pie.
Unions also demand work rules. They want rules to have reason to strike, file grievances against management, and thereby leverage new demands at contract time. A very recent case of the reluctance of the SEC to fire or discipline an individual who spent his day watching and downloading porn on the job is an example. In the private sector workplace, a single visitation to an inappropriate website is cause for immediate dismissal. Why doesn’t the same rule apply to government workers?
Obama sees big government as the answer to every problem. He is actually promoting unionization of the government workplace. Why is that? A union will allow his bureaucracy to abdicate all responsibility for good management. That sets up the whole system for patronage appointments of cherry jobs throughout. Without the need for management skills, idiots can manage the entire bureaucracy because work rules will define worker function, and union bosses will police infractions through the grievance system
God what have we gotten ourselves into?

Converting Dollars to Cents

Government"s Idea for HealthcareIt is not that I don’t trust big government with my health care dollar, it is that I don’t trust big government with any of my dollars. I see a record of tired old ideas that have failed to produce the utopian society that they were invented for.

 Take education, as an example. We spend more dollars per student than any country in the world, yet our kids can’t read. Why?

 Take Medicare as another example. It is a system that is limited to the senior population. Yet, Medicare is broke. Why? One reason is that over the years it has been expanded to include too many non-seniors.

 Take the DEA as another example. Are we really winning the war on drugs?

How about the Department of Energy. Invented by Jimmy Carter to reduce our dependence on foreign oil in  the 1970’s. Have we seen an effect yet? I could go on and on with every department in the government and report a dismal record of expenditures. Why do we insist on continuing these stupid lame policies?

The cartoon above depicts my vision  of how our tax money will be used by big government on healthcare.

You Will Suffer Long and Hard

My Flag Flies Everyday

My Flag Flies Everyday

The Sunday May 24 edition of the Chicago Tribune ran an article titled, “Adding Up What CEOs Made.”  The piece includes a list of the 100 top companies in Chicago and Northern Indiana, and the total compensation package the CEOs receive. Even though the title says “Adding Up…” it doesn’t really add it up. They only list 100 salaries, but I went to the trouble to input them into a spreadsheet to get the sum. I was curious to see what the flap is about the outrageous salaries being used to demonize Capitalism. The media has been busy barraging us with huge bonuses and salaries being paid. They bark the  need for regulation. This is truly the output of a socialist mindset.

I was surprised by the total of the top 100 salaries,  by the rate at which the salaries drop. Granted there isn’t a poor guy on the list, and the money they make in a year is more than most of us will earn in a lifetime. These CEOs lead companies that are producing and selling billions of dollars in products and services. Why is there such a penis envy of these leaders for their compensation? Are we envious? Do we want to lead the same life style they do? Do we want to work 24/7  to the detriment of our families? Why do we resent high salaries? The left leaning individual resents it because he truly believes the CEO and the company has made that salary off the sweat of his brow. Most employees will work forty hours per week at some incremental position stocking shelves or answering phones, or taking orders, but they are paid commensurate with the requirements of the position. What that employee doesn’t seem to understand is that his job is a commodity. There is a supply and demand for workers. The salary he is paid  is competitive with other companies who need the same level of skill.

The liberal also argues that the wealth paid to  CEO’s must be redistributed to those who are less fortunate. This is the reason for my article today. If we were to take all the money paid to the top CEOs in the country what magnitude of social spending would it  pay for?

Here are some facts and assumptions:

1.) The accumulative  salary paid to the CEOs of the top 100 companies in Illinois, as stated in the Tribune article, is  $559,940,329.00. This is a little more than a half billion dollars.

2.) Assume that every state in the union has a list of 100 top companies whose CEOs are paid the same. For the sake of simplicity let me use round numbers (50 x $600,000,000) = 30 billion dollars.

3.) Assume that I am too low and I am off by a factor of 10, the number becomes $300 billion dollars.

Wow! that is a lot of money, but wait, the TARP cost over two times that much, the stimulus package cost over three times that much,  and the proposed Federal Budget will cost over five times that much.

Here is my argument. We have just taken away all the money made by the top 50,000 executives in the USA and given it to the government to pay for it’s super duper programs, and we have barely paid for 11.4 % of it. Where will the remaining 88.6% come from?

Liberals don’t give up easy. They will argue that the remainder will come from taxing the companies that these CEOs lead. Okay, how many of these CEOs will work their ass off for $1.00? Even a liberal would have to agree that a salary of $1.00 per year would make life hard. Most likely, none of them would. They will quit, or let the company be run by the worker bees who believe it is by the sweat of their balls that the big money is made. (It will be interesting to see if the UAW can run Chrysler and compete in the world market.)

Actually, what will happen, is that none of the above will play out. The CEOs will continue to work for big money because that is the market value of their skills, and the Government will tax the living hell out of everyone to make up the money needed to implement thier utopian schemes. In the end, they will destroy the greatest country on earth and the deny the liberty of each and every one of us.

All of you youngsters out there who voted for “Change We Can Believe In,” have fun. I am near the end of my life cycle, and will not live to see too much grief.  You are going to suffer long and hard for your decision to take the country into this devastating direction.

The New GM Dealership

The government doesn’t belong in the car business, but it now owns two major companies. I would much rather we gave Chrysler to Hyundai than to the Italians.  General Motors will be a handful for POTUS to manage, but he will have big time help from the UAW. They know how to manage well. After seventy four years of striking, they finally achieved their goal to put the company out of business rather than give in to management demands. 

Here is the future at a vehicle dealership:

Government Motors Dealership

Fifty Year Plan

 

WILL BARACK OBAMA TAKE US

FROM **********THIS *************TO

2009 Dodge Challenger

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

++++++++++THISeeni car

Here is a proposal to think about. What if POTUS, and the US car companies partner up and do some real long term planning?  The goal would be to make our car companies viable in a world market.  This means building product with superior quality, reliability, safety, performance, economy, and looks. Going one step further, I recommend that a new goal be set for this team. Overtake all foreign competition by making US cars competitive, and desirable worldwide. The team would need to plan fifty years ahead.  The actual business of making, and selling cars would be the domain of the car companies. The government’s role will make  it easy for the US manufacturers (like giving them tax incentives, or wage equalizers). Government can also make global trade easier for us, but harder for the competition. There isn’t any reason why GM, Ford, and Chrysler cannot kick ass in the world market provided they compete on a level playing field.

Planning and cooperation of  this nature will never fly in this country. Especially not with the far Left in power. This plan requires cooperation between management, labor, and government. That is not an idea the Left can deal with easily because they are so much against a company actually making money for their investors. Instead our leaders push Fiat, an Italian company,  to save Chrysler. How in the hell will that save jobs for the USA? All it will do is bring in a lot of cheap ass eeni cars that will fall apart in a month. 

Does the idea sound crazy?  Well, it’s not a new one. It is exactly how Japan worked with their carmakers. Look what that tired old  idea produced for them. They started with a single economy model, and dumped the cars in the USA. Once established in the US market, they attacked their quality, and responded to customer needs. Slowly, they advanced model by model to overtake our strongest manufacturing companies. The Japanese government gave the car companies concessions knowing that in the long term it would be better for the people of Japan.

 I never thought the Japanese  would take the luxury car market as easily as they did. Now they are worming their way into the final bastion; the pick up truck arena. Meanwhile, our adversarial relationship between worker, and management continues to build at a fever pitch. All the while,  government doesn’t give a shit unless it is an election year.

Now that POTUS owns GM he can oust the old time UAW guys, and replace them with fresh labor from Altgeld Gardens.

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