Our problems remain epistemological.

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.



James F. Elliott said...

This is a false figure. It is obtained by tallying up payroll and benefits for current employees and adding in pension and health obligations for retirees, then dividing that cost by the current number of active workers. UAW workers are not paid this much.

It is also moot, since the Big Three have already given up on much of their pension obligations in last year's pension talks with UAW. Current UAW compensation stands at $24 an hour plus $10 an hour in obligations. That's a good job, but it's not one remunerating $140,000 a year.

It's almost like conservatives can't argue out of a wet paper bag without lying or obfuscating.

Tom Van Dyke said...

Please do proffer some "true" figures, James. We're still "The Reform Club," and reasonable dissents like yours are welcomed and appreciated.

Nice to hear from you again. I'm listening. Have at it.

[It's not necessary to call the other fellow a liar. That was cause for pistols at dawn in the good ole days. "Obfuscator" is within the tradition of civility, though.]

James F. Elliott said...

Did you not read the second paragraph? Or do figures like "Current UAW compensation stands at $24 an hour plus $10 an hour in obligations" not constitute "true" figures? I am guessing that "true" in your statement means "what verifies my friend's argument" and not, you know, "real."

I'm not trying to deny the premise, merely pointing out that the figure being used is a false, inflationary one.

Matt Huisman said...

The figure is hardly false, though I would accept that some may get the wrong impression.

The point of displaying the chart of these very real costs is not to jeer at UAW workers that make "too" much (whatever that might be), but to note that "compensation" costs are a large part of what got them into this mess. This issue did not sneak up on them. New phased-in, multi-tiered UAW contracts look a lot like too little, too late. (Look forward to similar conversations regarding public employee unions/pensions in the coming years.)

All I'm saying here is that I don't want to listen to arguments made on "too big to fail" grounds. The argument for a bailout must begin with the relevant facts as they now stand (with some explanation as to how we arrived at this point), so that we may "work" our way into a proper solution. This chart goes a long ways toward that end.

(Nice to hear from you again, James. Sorry for the delayed response.)

Matt Huisman said...

Here's a report from The Heritage Foundation making the waters a little less murky. They say that today's UAW labor does indeed cost over $70/hr.