Saturday, December 13, 2008

A couple of toxic memes

There are two toxic memes spreading, and a great many people have already shot them down, but that doesn't mean they don't bear being shot down again, just in case.

First: there's a meme going around that UAW workers in GM plants get $70 an hour.

This is completely false. However, if you take all of GM's labor costs, and divide them by the hours worked by UAW workers, you do get $70. What's up with that?

It's simple. GM promised pensions and medical care to their retirees. Of that $70, $30 are legacy costs... payments to medical and pension benefits for retirees. The remaining $40 is how much UAW workers actually get paid.

You can argue whether this means the UAW used to be too greedy, or GM used to be stone stupid, but it's irrelevant to what the UAW is doing right now. Right now, the UAW is bargaining in good faith, trying to protect their members, those folks who want to go to work, do their jobs, and take home a paycheck.

I know it's politically correct for Republicans to hate unions in general, but even the most hard hearted Republican should be able to recognize basic fairness; the UAW is getting paid on a par with other, non-union shops. Even if unions were pure evil in most cases (and, obviously, they're not), in this case, the UAW is being accommodating.

Toxic meme number two: Obama is not being forthcoming enough on Blagojevich, because he's saying there's no "there" there, and he won't comment further on an ongoing investigation.

Folks, come on. That's the equivalent of the old joke about "have you stopped beating your wife?" It assumes that there's something nasty already there. Obama can only be "more forthcoming" if there's more than he could say! If he has no connection to Blagojevich's corruption, he has literally said all he can say; that there is no connection, and he's not going to speculate about the case until all the facts are in.

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