More elections, please, in Iraq.

A mostly political Weblog.
Dec. 20 2005 3:15 AM

More Elections, Please!

Four years is a long time in Iraq.

(Continued from Page 17)

**--That would be why it's worth doing! 12:07 A.M.

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I tend to blame Wagner Act unionism--especially productivity-sapping work rules--for GM's decline. It's hard to blame globalization--the usual suspect--since Honda, Toyota and Nissan all assemble cars in North America with (non-union) North American labor and they're all still beating GM. High materials costs? The Japanese transplants face those too. The health care explanation also seems bogus. GM has to pay for the health care of its employees whether they work or not, right? If the company could build a car and make a profit, which would help defray those costs, it would do it--whether those costs were $4 million or $4 billion. The problem is the company can't build a car and make a profit. Or enough of a profit. ... The only good argument I can see for pinning most of the blame on pure inept management is the Buick LaCrosse. According to the most recent Consumer Reports, the LaCrosse is an excellent car, achieving a level of reliability that approaches Acuras and Toyotas. But it's so dumpy-looking television ads dare show it only in shadow. Blame bad styling decisions, not Buick workers. (Except that, at $30,000, it's overpriced by $5,000, and the UAW and CAW have something to do with that.) ... P.S.: The UAW's peculiar problem is too much decentralization--even when its national leadership senses the need for concessions, its locals often have the power to resist. ... P.P.S.: Another blow to Detroit-- next generation Toyota Camry is handsome. ...

Update: Emailer J puts the central case against Wagner Act unionism more succinctly:

I have been representing private companies in their sale for 15 years.  Every time I have had to deal with a company that was unionized in an industry where the entire industry was not unionized (Steel wholesale, trucking and some manufacturing companies), [it] was nearly impossible to sell unionized companies.  And the reason was primarily the work rules.  The pay was similar for union and non-union in many cases.  It was just the hassle of negotiations every time you want to move a steel roller or go to different work hours or fire a drunk made these companies much less agile than non-union competitors.   

A business succeeds because of a hundreds if not thousands of decisions and tweaks and changes.  If each change requires a threshold of importance to make it worth going through the union gauntlet, many don't get bothered with. Eventually, the small things not done add up to a very large productivity difference.  Not to mention the big changes which are defeated or require payment to the union in terms of wages to get them to agree. [Emph. added]

Again, it's not a question of greedy unions or bad unions. The UAW has a reputation as a relatively smart, honest union. It's a question of the system of adversarial labor-management negotiation working as it is supposed to, but losing out to arrangements that may pay well but don't involve as much rigidifying hassle and transaction cost. ... 11:40 P.M.

They don't like you! They really don't like you! Warren Beatty and Rob Reiner aren't nearly as popular as their backers thought they were, according to the latest Field Poll. Beatty's rating is 40% unfavorable/27% favorable--among Democrats!  Yikes. .. Reiner is at least more popular than unpopular within his own party, but overall his unfavorables outweigh his favorables among independents (34/24) and overall (41/25). ... Prediction: The eye-opening poll will get little coverage in the LAT. Too interesting! If it does, the Times will give it the obvious interpretation--that California voters have soured on actors-turned-politicos. But maybe they've especially (and unexpectedly) soured on Hollywood liberals. ... P.S.: Light up, California! Reiner previously promoted a victorious state initiative that taxes cigarette sales to fund early childhood health and nutrition projects. He's now so addicted to the cigarette money that he's opposing an initiative to slap a further tax on cigarettes (to fund emergency rooms) because it might decrease cigarette sales  and threaten the funding for his pet programs. ... P.P.S.: Journalist William Bradley notes that the Field Poll was taken Oct. 25-30, before Beatty's last minute anti-Arnold campaign blitz. Still ... (And Beatty had already made some high-profile anti-Schwarzenegger speeches when the poll was taken.) ... 11:35 A.M. link

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