Sunday, December 07, 2008

Decision Makers Get The Big Bucks... But The Buck Never Stops At Their Desks


There was a very short time between when, as a struggling entrepreneur, I couldn't imagine ever being able to pay three figures (anything over $99) a month in rent and being paid, as a corporate executive, 7 figures. Always one to look a gift horse right in the mouth, I often pondered this great implausibility. I won't bore you with all the reasons-- and justifications-- but there was one that was particularly horrifying. When corporate decision makers made bad decisions that resulted in mind-boggling losses, the bottom line had to be tightened. That translates to this: people who had no role in those decisions whatsoever and who completely lived up to their employment bargain and whose families' lives depended on their job, would have to be laid off. "Laid off" means fired without cause. Part of the reason I got those big bucks-- not to mention bonuses that I would term "criminal"-- had to do with firing people. Executives, like Mitt Romney, who actually thrived on firing people, got extra special bonuses but I think for many executives who were truly horrified to fire people, the money made it more almost acceptable, conscience-wise.

When I hear a Mitch McConnell (R-KY) or Richard Shelby (R-AL) or Jim Bunning (R-KY) bitching that the auto industry took a big gamble on SUVs instead of fuel efficient vehicles and should pay for that mistake with bankruptcies several things cross my mind. The union workers so hated and feared by reactionaries like McConnell, Shelby and Bunning didn't make any decisions about SUVs. But McConnell, Shelby and Bunning did. All three vociferously opposed tax breaks for fuel efficient vehicles; all three violently opposed CAFE standards; all three hysterically supported gigantic incentives in the tax code for the worst energy guzzling, least fuel efficient monstrosities ever invented by man. I would favor-- after proper trials, of course; please allow me to recommend Johnny Wendell of KTLK in L.A. for jury foreman-- lining up McConnell, Shelby, Bunning and their colleagues along with the auto execs against a wall and handing out blindfolds and last cigarettes. Then institute single payer health care reform and turn management of the Big 3 over to the UAW. Problem solved; Justice served.

The NY Times doesn't see it the same way. In fact, they seem very sympathetic with the poor struggling politicians whose decisions helped cause the problem and who seem to be making it much, much worse. It was smart of the GOP to have Tennessee dullard Bob Corker act as their point person at the questioning of the Big 3 executives last week. He's new in the Senate and was one of the few who wasn't around to support Tom Delay's purposefully reactionary tax policies incentivizing SUV production and forcing fuel efficient technology off shore. On behalf of the Republican Party losers Corker demanded "that the automakers make aggressive efforts to cut labor costs and reduce their overall debt obligations [pensions and health care costs] before receiving any aid."

"Cut labor costs," is always a GOP solution, but a solution that only worsens the problem. Have you ever heard a Republican say an executive makes too much money? How about a member of Congress? If workers don't make a living wage, the economy will continue to slow down; that simple. Corker is an idiot. He isn't earning anywhere near the $169,300 he's making this year-- and that's before you factor in healthcare and retirement costs, not to mention costs for former members and their widows. Unless that scenario, Corker and his colleagues are making around a quarter million dollars a year. They should be paid exactly the average salary of all the working people in America. After all, they're the ones who make the decisions. Along with Bush, Bernanke and Paulson. Dodd asked the latter two to attend Thursday's Senate hearing and they refused. Emptywheel:
These assholes, who are preparing to ask Dodd for another $350 billion of our money, refused to show up before Congress, presumably because they simply didn't want to talk about using TARP funds for bridge loans to the auto industry (note: at the hearing GAO agreed with Dodd that the auto loan request would qualify under TARP guidelines). I suppose because they simply believe the auto industry doesn't fall under their mandate to keep the economy healthy?!?!

...And all the while, Frank and Dodd are still wrestling with Paulson over whether he'll ever begin saving the homes of the 10% of homeowners who are facing foreclosure. We maybe short one President, but that's not preventing the Bush Administration from holding an economy at risk of slipping into a Depression hostage, while they try to force more conservative dogma down our throats.

Bush's latest ploy, appointing an all-powerful car czar sounds as bad as any idea the Bush Regime has ever come up with. Congress should do it's duty for a change and turn him down flat. And then impeach him.

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At 4:12 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Congress is slowly destroying the American auto industry every day they force the execs to answers inane questions about what they'll do with the money.

I think the way to funnel money to the Big 3 is to give it to the people in the form of cash rebates. At the same time Dodd and Frank could also use the proposed 35 billion to take older pollution machines off the road.

Here's how it works:

If you have a car that's more than 15 years old, you walk into one of the dealerships of the Big 3, find a car that gets over 30 mpg and then Chris Dodd and Barney Frank buy your old beater and advance you $10,000 towards the car of your choice (provided it gets 30 mpg).

If you need a loan to make up the rest of what you would pay the dealer, Barney and Chris guarantee your loan, provided you have some kind of credit rating and a job.

Now... the "transplants" would hate it, but we need the Big 3 to keep OUR economy going and we need them for national defense; so the "transplants can take one up the ass just like the UAW workers have been doing for years.


By the way, the PUBLIC wanted the BIGGER CARS and SUVs and the Big 3 gave them exactly what they wanted.

The execs shouldn't have to sit before assholes like Shelby and take the union busting crap he's spewing out. They did exactly what every company does every day: give the public the products they are demanding.

You're right when you blame the politicians for voting the wrong way on CAFE standards and the like. It up to the Feds to set policy on auto emissions and then let the auto manufacturers figure it out.

But, in the meantime, don't blame the Big 3 or the UAW for fulfilling the needs of a demanding and aggressive public.

At 8:54 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've made similar arguments, suggesting that if there is a bailout then turn it into a co-operative.

Not to mention how cutting wages never applies to the bosses who get us into these messes in the first place!

An Anarchist FAQ


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