HAPPY HOLIDAYS TO ALL!
I will see you all after the first of the New Year!
Note: I am currently heading towards beautiful Tennessee and will be truly out of pocket until after the holidays.
The debate over aid to the Detroit-based automakers is awash with half-truths and misrepresentations that are endlessly repeated by everyone from members of Congress to journalists.The article goes on to debunk other oft-repeated fables, such as the one that U.S. made cars are unreliable junk.
******1: Nobody buys their vehicles.
Reality: General Motors Corp., Ford Motor Co. and Chrysler LLC sold 8.5 million vehicles in the United States last year and millions more around the world. GM outsold Toyota by about 1.2 million vehicles in the United States last year and holds a U.S. lead over Toyota of nearly 700,000 so far this year. Globally, GM in 2007 remained the world's largest automaker, selling 9,369,524 vehicles worldwide - about 3,000 more than Toyota.
Ford outsold Honda by about 850,000 and Nissan by more than 1.3 million vehicles in the United States last year. Chrysler sold more vehicles here than Nissan and Hyundai combined in 2007 and so far this year.
Reality: The creaky, leaky vehicles of the 1980s and '90s are long gone. Consumer Reports recently found that "Ford's reliability is now on par with good Japanese automakers."And this one, which will be an eye opener for my fellow environmentalists.
The independent J.D. Power Initial Quality Study scored Buick, Cadillac, Chevrolet, Ford, GMC, Mercury, Pontiac and Lincoln brands' overall quality as high as or higher than that of Acura, Audi, BMW, Honda, Nissan, Scion, Volkswagen and Volvo.
J.D. Power rated the Chevrolet Malibu the highest-quality midsize sedan. Both the Malibu and Ford Fusion scored better than the Honda Accord and Toyota Camry.
Myth No. 3: They build gas-guzzlers.And this one, also important to those of us concerned with climate change, renewable energy, and energy conservation.
Reality: All of the Detroit Three build midsize sedans that the Environmental Protection Agency rates at 29-33 miles per gallon on the highway.
The most fuel-efficient Chevrolet Malibu gets 33 mpg on the highway, 2 mpg better than the best Honda Accord. The most fuel-efficient Ford Focus has the same highway fuel economy ratings as the most efficient Toyota Corolla. The most fuel-efficient Chevrolet Cobalt has the same city fuel economy and better highway fuel economy than the most efficient nonhybrid Honda Civic.
A recent study by Edmunds.com found that the Chevrolet Aveo subcompact is the least expensive car to buy and operate.
Myth No. 5: GM, Ford and Chrysler are idiots for investing in pickups and SUVs.And finally, for the union-busting anti-labor critics on the right, this should finally put to rest their favorite whipping boy.
Reality: The domestics' lineup has been truck-heavy, but Toyota, Nissan, Mercedes-Benz and BMW have spent billions of dollars on pickups and SUVs because trucks are a large and historically profitable part of the auto industry.
The most fuel-efficient full-size pickups from GM, Ford and Chrysler all have higher EPA fuel-economy ratings than Toyota and Nissan's full-size pickups.
Myth No. 6: They don't build hybrids.
Reality: The Detroit Three got into the hybrid business late, but Ford and GM each now offers more hybrid models than Honda or Nissan, with several more due to hit the road in early 2009.
Their union workers are lazy and overpaid.I actually find the union's capitulation to the two-tier system that leaves new workers not only earning half the amount of older GM workers, but also bereft of a pension when they retire, appalling. I understand why the union had to agree to this to be competitive. But it means that America, far down the road, is going to have a looming crisis for that generation of blue collar workers when they hit retirement age that will make the concern over the baby boomers pale.
Reality: Chrysler tied Toyota as the most productive automaker in North America this year, according to the Harbour Report on manufacturing, which measures the amount of work done per employee. Eight of the 10 most productive vehicle assembly plants in North America belong to Chrysler, Ford or GM.
The oft-cited $70-an-hour wage and benefit figure for UAW workers inaccurately adds benefits that millions of retirees get to the pay of current workers, but divides the total only by current employees. That's like assuming you get your parents' retirement and Social Security benefits in addition to your own income.
Hourly pay for assembly-line workers tops out around $28; benefits add about $14. New hires at the Detroit Three get $14 an hour. There's no pension or health care when they retire, but benefits raise their total hourly compensation to $29 while they're working. UAW wages are now comparable with Toyota workers, according to a Free Press analysis.
But then what's the source of that $70 hourly figure? It didn't come out of thin air. Analysts came up with it by including the cost of all employer-provided benefits--namely, health insurance and pensions--and then dividing by the number of workers. The result, they found, was that benefits for Big Three cost about $42 per hour, per employee. Add that to the wages--again, $28 per hour--and you get the $70 figure. Voila.Cohn also points out the main reason the Big Three automakers have such high legacy costs for retirees is that, after being in business on U.S. soil for over a hundred years, domestic car makers simply have more retirees than auto companies that have only been here since 1980. In fact, as of 2007, Toyota only had about 1,000 retirees. Of course, their legacy costs are less. Further, if you factor in Detroit’s overseas competition, foreign workers get their health insurance from single payer plans, so car companies outside the U.S. are more competitive. Domestic manufacturing, in general, is hamstrung by our out of control health care system, which is eating away at profits.
Except ... notice something weird about this calculation? It's not as if each active worker is getting health benefits and pensions worth $42 per hour. That would come to nearly twice his or her wages. (Talk about gold-plated coverage!) Instead, each active worker is getting benefits equal only to a fraction of that--probably around $10 per hour, according to estimates from the International Motor Vehicle Program. The number only gets to $70 an hour if you include the cost of benefits for retirees--in other words, the cost of benefits for other people. One of the few people to grasp this was Portfolio.com's Felix Salmon. As he noted yesterday, the claim that workers are getting $70 an hour in compensation is just "not true."
ALEXANDRIA, VA – Patrick C. Muldoon, an attorney and farmer from Virginia's "fighting 9th" Congressional District, today officially announced his candidacy for Lieutenant Governor of Virginia.What's interesting about this official release is that Muldoon is harkening back to the conservative legacy of Barry Goldwater. Although the late senator from Arizona was the father of the modern conservative movement, he is not the person usually invoked by modern conservatives. They usually look to Ronald Reagan, a truly iconic figure for them, for their inspiration.
Muldoon, no stranger to challenging political contests, joins Republican incumbent Bill Bolling in seeking his party's nod for the Commonwealth's second statewide office. The 43 year old specialist in intellectual property law has a message for the Republican Party.
Muldoon referenced former Republican presidential candidate Barry Goldwater as he opened his campaign, saying: "I offer a choice not an echo"
"I am running for the Republican nomination for Lieutenant Governor of Virginia because I believe the brightest days for our Commonwealth are ahead. These are difficult times – a massive budget deficit has replaced the surplus we once enjoyed. College costs are rising and family incomes are shrinking. Local governments are raising taxes on cash-strapped families to compensate for their own budget shortfalls. And hard-working Virginians are left wondering whether the changes coming in 2009 will be better or worse for them personally."
"Republicans face a choice between business as usual and being consigned to minority status for the foreseeable future or returning to our core principles and fighting for the honest, open, limited government our fellow citizens expect."
"I grew up in rural Virginia but I work right outside our nation's Capitol. I've found that the political elites have a tendency to complicate things. I learned a few simple truths growing up: 'when you're in a hole; stop digging' At the grassroots level, Virginia Republicans know that it is time to stop digging and start changing the way we do business in Richmond."
"I understand the rough and tumble of politics. I know a convention challenge is a bit like stirring a bees' nest. But we simply cannot continue the path we are on."
"No one is entitled to a nomination. And, as the highest-ranking elected Republican in our Commonwealth, the incumbent has an unfortunate record of passivity at a time when we need forward-thinking leadership."
"For the future of the party and the good of the Commonwealth we need to regain the focus, passion and unity of purpose fostered through healthy debate. I believe in the core Republican principles of limited constitutional government, the sanctity of life, the 2nd Amendment, free enterprise and protecting our Constitutional liberties for the next generation. I am committed to advancing those principles to the best of my abilities."
"Sadly, a handful of political operatives in Richmond wish to forestall any internal discussion about the direction of the party. From the top down, they want to slate candidates based on traded favors, brokered promises, and their own career plans. This government of the insiders, by the insiders, for the insiders costs our party what it cannot afford – the trust of the voters across our beloved Commonwealth."
"The Republican creed recognizes the intrinsic benefits of competition. In education and healthcare and business, competition is the consumer's friend. Can any less be the case in American government? Now is the time for a debate across Virginia with my opponent on what it means to be a Republican and conservative. Over the next several months I look forward to this debate of the principles that are the backbone of the Republican Party."
"My life has been about bringing different aspects of what makes Virginia work together. I worked my way through college, grad school and law school as a construction worker and maintenance man. I grew up raising beef in rural Virginia. Now I help turn great ideas into reality through patent law. I'm a Republican but a Conservative first.
As Senator Barry Goldwater so memorably said in his 1964 presidential campaign, I am offering "a choice, not an echo." To my fellow Virginians, I pledge to work with all people of good faith to guide our Commonwealth through the difficult changes ahead to a prosperous future. And, I will never put personal gain ahead of the principles that unite us."
"Over the next six months, I will be traveling around the Commonwealth. I look forward to in depth discussions with local Republican volunteers who are already leading our party into a victorious 2009. I ask for your support and your renewed commitment to work for the future of shared ideals."