A lot of people are poor money managers and a lot of people, who think they should be able to buy more stuff than they can afford, have delusional notions about their economic circumstances. Conservatives and Right leaning libertarians are quick on the draw when it comes to defining poverty and how people of very modest means in the U.S. should be grateful. Those deeply ingrained perspectives on money in mind – Desperate WI Republican congressman struggling to get by on $174K turns to copyright trolling
The Republican Party of Polk County, WI is pulling out all stops to suppress a video of Rep. Sean Duffy (R-WI) bemoaning the difficulty of scraping by on his measly $174,000 (plus benefits!) government salary, and how hard it is driving around in his old car and paying off his student loans with only $174,000 (plus benefits) paid to him every year.
Nothing like living in a bubble of reality. According to his Wikipedia page and some other web sites, his wife also brings in more than $50k per year. So even with six kids, Mr. Duffy should be able to find a way to be comfortable in a bed of his own making. There are millions of Americans that are probably more than willing to trade places with him, if he finds his burdens in this world just too much to bear. There were a lot of comments on this post from BoingBoing. One troll, as is almost guaranteed, hi-jacked the discussion the following comment.
Fact – Detroit is a mess. There are lots of reasons for that, but the main reason is because the car companies failed. Why did the car companies fail? Because of their high labor costs. Why did they have high labor costs? Because of the unions. Who do unions support? The Democrats. Thus, the Democrats ran Detroit for 50 years.
This is a typical Democratic response. They make an unsupportable argument with no backing and no sound reasoning. They then base all future arguments on the false premises they put forward. They demand citations of every fact and line of reasoning that is presented even while they refuse to provide such evidence themselves. By not presenting anything even remotely approaching factual, they can get away with not having to provide evidence. They literally make things up and they get away with it. They then move the discussion away from their original position so that they don’t have to be held accountable for their arguments. It’s evil, but it’s freaking brilliant. Conservatives need to start realizing that you can’t argue with liberals because they don’t accept the concept of logical reasoning. They can make great leaps from point A to point B without bothering to explain how they got from one place to another. That concept is foreign to conservatives, and that’s why we tend to lose arguments even when we have the facts, the evidence, and the truth on our side.
While what we’ll generously describe as the substance of his rant is wanting on those facts. His delusional insistence that he would know a fact if it flew up his ass with a bail of barbed is noteworthy. Where does he get his facts. He could have gotten his mangled information about unions and the auto industry from the Detroit News, columnist Cal Thomas, The Columbus Dispatch, The Washington Times, The Charlotte Observer, and The Salt Lake Tribune, the libertarian Cato Institute, Fox Business Network’s Cavuto, Denver Post columnist David Harsanyi, Buffalo News, CNBC Reports with Larry Kudlow , CNN Newsroom reporter Randi Kaye, the old guard right-wing site Human Events Online, the far Right National Review or the New York Post among a dozen or more “news” outlets. Why have domestic auto makers failed? Not because of unions. VEHICLE CHOICE BEHAVIOR AND THE DECLINING MARKET SHARE OF U.S. AUTOMAKERS. INTERNATIONAL ECONOMIC REVIEW, Vol. 48, No. 4, November 2007. I just post their conclusion and anyone interested in their data, including citation for the data can download the full pdf,
Concerns about the competitiveness of the U.S. automobile industry developed
in the early 1980s when Chrysler needed a bailout from the federal government
to avoid financial collapse and Ford and General Motors suffered large losses.
Since then, the profitability of the domestic industry has fluctuated and its market
share has steadily declined. Investors in the stock market, who are the most experienced
and credible soothsayers of an industry’s future, envision that difficult
times lie ahead for Ford, General Motors, and Daimler-Chrysler as the sum of
their current market capitalization is less than half the combined market capitalization
of Honda, Toyota, and Nissan and less than Toyota’s market capitalization
alone. Toyota’s consistent profitability has allowed it to invest in fuel-efficient hybrid
engine systems for compact and luxury cars, and to take risks, like starting a
youth-focused brand, Scion, thereby increasing pressure on other automakers.
We have attempted to shed light on the U.S. industry’s current predicament by
applying recent econometric advances to analyze the vehicle choices of American
consumers. Notwithstanding these advances, we have been confronted with some
formidable methodological challenges that necessitated some compromises. We
have identified the advantages and limitations of our approach while setting the
stage for future research.
We have found that the U.S. automakers’ loss in market share during the past
decade can be explained almost entirely by the difference in the basic attributes that measure the quality and value of their vehicles. Recent efforts by U.S. firms to offset this disadvantage by offering much larger incentives than foreign automakers offer have not met with much success. In contrast to the numerous hypotheses that have been proffered to explain the industry’s problems, our findings lead
to the conclusion that the only way for the U.S. industry to stop its decline is to
improve the basic attributes of their vehicles as rapidly as foreign competitors have been able to improve the basic attributes of theirs. The failure of U.S. automobile firms to address this fundamental deficiency suggests that these organizations may be saddled with constraints that researchers and industry analysts have yet to identify.
The Bush administration on the advice of its economic advisers decided to bail out the Big 3 domestic auto makers. The debate on whether that was a wise choice continued until after President Obama won the 2008 election. The Right, with the obvious help of much of the press, decided to start spreading the lie that UAW workers made or cost $73. That and other myths were sold as the cause of Detroit’s down fall. It could not be the fault of management at those companies who had been losing market share for thirty years. UAW workers make about the same wages, have the same health-care benefits and about the same retirement benefits as workers at non-union auto makers in the U.S. such as Toyota, Honda and BMW. I readily acknowledge that humanity quite a capacity for self-destruction, but why would a union whose very existence relies on the Big 3 staying in business actively seek that industry’s destruction. While the Big 3 do have legacy costs from retirees that drag on the bottom line, the only reason foreign automakers in the US do not have those costs is because they have not been in the U.S. long enough to have a large number of retirees. Labor costs in “fact” only account for 10% of the cost of a car. U.S. car makers are overloaded with middle and upper management – of the average $20k car fully one fifth (20%) goes to pay for the cost of management. In no way should unions apologize for bargaining for a descent living wage, health care and retirement benefits for its workers. Isn’t that how capitalism is supposed to work or as some put it the glories of capitalism, that anyone who works hard can have a good standard of living. Ford’s, generally thought to be the best-managed of the Big 3, CEO made $26.5 million last year. His total salary package could make him $300 or more over the next ten years. This is after the UAW made huge wage and benefit concessions, including buying up some Ford stock, during the negotiations for their government bail-out. If unions are what drags down an auto company – one right-wing site claimed matter of fact – that unions have kept the Big 3 from designing better looking and better built cars. So that would mean the auto unions in Japan, Germany, Sweden and South Korea are not holding back build quality or design. The logic fails as often as their facts fail when it comes to conservatives and union bashing.
One of the reasons conservatives want to lay the blame for the struggles of any sector of the economy on unions is to distract from the real reasons. Often it is simply bad executive management – you know those flawless captains of industry, an army of John Galts who can do no wrong. Other times it is to distract from America’s business community, that seems willing chopping itself off at the knees via outsourcing. Businesses aren’t hiring? That is because taxes are too high, not because we sent your job to Asia. More jobs that pay a decent standard of living means more consumers for the products of other businesses. Pay a little more and you can charge a little more. Conservatives, Wall St and some conservative Democrats seem all too ready to put us back on the road to the plutocracy. These are true believers. As long as they have a ruling plutocracy at the top and a relatively powerless under class, mission accomplished. The lust for this plutocratic based economy is not much based on hard and fast empirical rules like the Law of Gravity. Economics is a human invention. We can recreate it with lots of variations. This love for the plutocratic model is not fact based, it is more a Randian wet dream. One in which the rulers, whether they deserve it or not, are at the top and the rest a nation of wage slaves.
“I want to just take a moment to thank the Teabaggers. Thank you so much for helping us pass health care [and] for resurrecting the Obama presidency. I know they’re saying, ‘Why are you thanking me? I was so against it—I marched on Washington with tea bags hanging off my Founding Fathers costume with a gun on my hip and a picture of Obama dressed as Hitler, screaming about his birth certificate.’ And America saw that and said, ‘I think I’ll go with the calm black man.'” Bill Maher