Monday, January 26, 2009

The Return

Hooray! Kausfiles is back!

After finding approximately seven distinct political philosophies carefully planted within Tuesday morning's 2400-word inaugural address, Mickey transformed into a catty gossip (well, more so) for the remainder of the week, offering us:

- Quincy Jones' drunk-on-TV shenanigans, which in the pantheon of inebriated television moments is well above David Gregory's sad little Imus episode and far, far below Suzy Kolber's encounter with Joe Namath; and

- A familiar grievance regarding the way parties stash celebrities far away from Mickey in a kind of a pre-emptive restraining order (does he know that he recycled that joke about V-VIP rooms from "Zoolander"?).

Now, publishing two sub-Wonkette level posts in a five day span can be exhausting (don't I know it!), so what subject does Mickey choose to regale us with upon his return to the four or five things he can't stop writing about politics?

The auto bailout! Oh, awesome.

Gettelfinger argued Toyota's workers actually make $2-per-hour more than UAW workers, if you count bonuses ...

If Toyota can afford to pay its workers $2/hour more than UAW workers--perhaps because it doesn't have to build cars under the union's legalistic work rule system--that's great. It doesn't mean Gettelfinger's workers have a right to $28/hour if at that wage their employers can't stay in business without an ongoing multi-billion dollar subsidy. I'm sorry if this seems obvious. It's apparently not obvious enough.

Gettelfinger's point, which seems obvious, but is apparently not obvious enough [is that sneering? -- ed. No! Sneering is unbecoming ...], appears to be that if labor costs are the same across firms then perhaps labor costs are not the primary culprit for the auto industry's current failures, or at least aren't the cripplingly destructive force that folks like Mickey seem to think they are. Mickey -- with the grace you'd expect from a squinty, bald hippopotamus -- simply modifies his original theory ("Above-market wages are killing the auto companies!") to line up with what he's really been saying all along ("Any union-negotiated wage -- high, low, whatever -- will kill the auto companies!").

Now, maybe the problem really is legalistic work rules -- a Steven Rattner article older than Ezra Klein about auto plants on a different continent kinda sorta says it is! -- or perhaps it's, you know, a long legacy of terrible management.

(I mean, one would think that the inability to stay competitive despite selling a product everyone needs with a decades-long head start in the market would be an obvious sign of failure in company governance, but that's maybe too not obvious enough for Mickey.)