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steve kijak wrote (before Tag helpfully insulted him):

> >From:         "John Crowley, Jr."
> >
> > I disagree with you.  The inept leadership at the
> companies are
> > responsible for their poor performances - not the
> government.  And
> > taxes are not an answer - in part, because it's a
> regressive tax that
> > can impact most on those with middle and lower
> incomes.
>
> I did say incompetence was a factor but government is
> a big cause.
>
> Pro union legislation like the Wagner Act (1935) etc.
> gave unions extortive power over management. They
> pretend they are negotiating but management has to
> agree to strike demands or they go broke.
>

The Wagner Act simply gives workers the right to organize and bans
discrimination against union members and provides for the NLRB to
adjudicate disputes.  While I don't know how impartial the NLRB has
been, the Wagner Act doesn't seem to be an unreasonable law.  You can
blame greedy unions or short-sighted management, but allowing workers
the same rights that investors have (to collectively appoint someone to
represent their interests; Union President v. CEO) is hardly a
government sponsored attack on corporations (which had only gained the
rights of persons by judicial fiat 50 years prior).

GM, in particular, made the mistake of not seeing the power of the union
over a large corporation.  They should have negotiated harder and, if
necessary, divested themselves of production lines, but their management
has been stuck in the dark ages for years and still seems to be unable
to figure out that bigger is not necessarily better.  Their profits have
been almost wholly based in their GMAC fininacial business for years,
yet they insist on running themselves into the ground as the world's
largest car company.

Steve and Leigh are right that GM's pension liabilities (including
retirement health care costs) are a big part of the problem.  Of course,
they didn't help themselves (or gain any good will) by underfunding the
pensions after the market boom of the 90s in order to pay out bigger
dividends to shareholders.  In essence, they falsely reported profits
and paid off investors by mortgaging their future as a company and soon
leaving it for the PBGC (i.e., the taxpayers) to bail out their pension
program.  United Airlines is cashing in on the PBGC guarantee right now
in their bankrupcy hearings.  Too bad the bankrupcy bill didn't address
such blatant and expensive corporate welfare.  I hate paying for
somebody else's incompetence.

> Another issue at GM and Ford is out of control health
> care costs. They should not even be providing health
> care coverage to workers. (third party benefits will
> always increase costs) But government had a better
> idea. During WWII government "encouraged" companies to
> begin providing health care coverage. Then during the
> 70's government decided to "fix" things and created
> HMO's. Gee costs are out of control and quality has
> suffered. Wonder what the next "fix" will be.

It's universal health care, of course, silly.  The one thing that could
salvage our failing industrial giants.  Too bad all the pro-business
conservatives are so anti-government, since that's probably the single
best thing to keep profits in the US, preserve good American jobs and
make our economy more efficient.  How ironic.

Patrick

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