Mensch tracht, un Gott lacht

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

A Word About Detroit Labor Costs

Note that the widely-reported difference between hourly compensation costs at the "Big" Three and the nonunion U.S. auto plants understates the cost disadvantage of the former, as the work rules and other factors force GM, Ford, and Chrysler to use more manhours per vehicle than is the case for the others. Hence, the per-vehicle cost disadvantage is greater than the mere difference in hourly compensation. And this is quite apart from the adverse effect of the jobs bank and other legacy costs, which are not relevant on the margin per vehicle produced, but which must be paid and thus are relevant in terms of the ability of the Three to attract private capital. As they sang in the original "M.A.S.H.," suicide (i.e., bankruptcy) is painless, brings on many changes, etc. All for the better.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Starting Point

I submit that any legitimate argument made by proponents of an auto industry bailout (especially those in Congress) must begin with this graph. Anything else is the work of a scoundrel.


Friday, November 14, 2008

The Queen Mother Goes Off the Reservation

Elton John, perhaps the world's best-known Gay Guy, is getting flack for his lack of outrage at California's Proposition 8 winning a majority of the vote:

"I don't want to be married. I'm very happy with a civil partnership. If gay people want to get married, or get together, they should have a civil partnership," John says. "The word 'marriage,' I think, puts a lot of people off.

"You get the same equal rights that we do when we have a civil partnership. Heterosexual people get married. We can have civil partnerships."

Elton seems OK with his legally secured equal rights without demanding further "equal rights." Interesting. I wonder if Judy Garland will stop buying his records.

The thing is, there's been very little resistance in America against the establishment of the concept of civil unions. This speaks well of the American people, I think. We aren't cementheads: we're a fair, just, reasonable and compassionate people. There's not a single American who doesn't know a gay-oriented person or doesn't have one [or more] in their family. It's abominably stupid to ban anyone from a hospital visit or from inheriting a house that he/she has lived in for most of their adult life. America has recognized this already.

On the other hand, using legal mechanisms, especially the courts, to take away freedom of conscience, freedom of thought, of reason, about what "marriage" means...well, that's not fair, just or compassionate either.

I think Mr. John got it about right here. Well done, Sir Elton.

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Scratch That - Will $40 Bucks an Hour be Enough?

Update: It seems that the Obama camp has updated their website, and so required volunteerism has been replaced by goals and plans. Of course, the abysmal policies of the last eight years under George W. Bush have left the volunteerism of our youth in such a state that it looks like a volunteerism stimulus package will be required.

The revised statement now reads:

...all college students who conduct 100 hours of community service receive a universal and fully refundable tax credit ensuring that the first $4,000 of their college education is completely free.

So we've now gone from, um, inspiring volunteerism to paying $40/hr to pick up trash at soccer fields. That's quite a change in 24 hours.

Who says the next generation are a bunch of slackers?


Friday, November 07, 2008

Yes We Can! (And by that, we mostly mean you.)

Apparently the Obama campaign was so inspired by the willingness of The Youth to support his candidacy, that he didn't think they'd mind being required to volunteer up to 5% of a typical 2,000 hour work year to community service.

This from, the President-Elect's website:

The Obama Administration will call on Americans to serve in order to meet the nation’s challenges. President-Elect Obama will expand national service programs like AmeriCorps and Peace Corps and will create a new Classroom Corps to help teachers in underserved schools, as well as a new Health Corps, Clean Energy Corps, and Veterans Corps. Obama will call on citizens of all ages to serve America, by developing a plan to require 50 hours of community service in middle school and high school and 100 hours of community service in college every year. Obama will encourage retiring Americans to serve by improving programs available for individuals over age 55, while at the same time promoting youth programs such as Youth Build and Head Start.

What did you think Barack was going to do once elected, just let you lie around the frat house all day in your underwear?

You're not one of those Selfish types, are you?


Wednesday, November 05, 2008

We Have a New President

Congratulations to President-elect Barack Obama, his party, and everyone else who voted for him. I didn't, but he's going to be my president. Our president, the President of the United States.

Like many in his party when it came to President George W. Bush, and like many from my own party when it came to President Bill Clinton, I expect to be in the opposition.

But unlike them, I pledge to be a member of the loyal opposition. I resolve not to descend into the pettiness that marked the opposition to our last---two-term, BTW---presidents. That was unpatriotic.

I once wrote that if Senator Obama used the word "liberty" in a meaningful way between then and Election day, I'd vote for him myself.

To my knowledge, President-elect Obama never did, and so I didn't.

And so, in the meantime before President Obama's inauguration, I shall brush up on my Adam Smith, and on Edmund Burke's Reflections on the Revolution in France, as we all should.

Just in case, y'know? The wisdom of the ages might come in handy, liberty and all that.