UAW Killed GM & Ford. Now They’re Going To Kill You.

The members of the UAW may finally realize that Unions don’t work.  It’s common knowledge these days that the UAW was the driving force in GM’s stellar $10.6B loss in 2005, $2B loss in 2006.  Or Ford’s $6B loss in 2006.  The UAW drove wages to $75/hr (base + benefits) for unskilled labor.  Of course, the management accepted it, so management is to blame too.

Now that Ford and GM have no money left, the UAW really can’t screw them anymore.  With $12B in losses, the management at GM has pretty decent footing when it says, “sorry, can’t give you more”.  It’s not the same as the concessions they gave during the auto boom. 

Who’s going to get screwed now?  Well, you are, of course!

First, the auto workers will get screwed.  Too bad they don’t read this blog!  The latest contract GM struck last week makes this obvious.  The workers will get no pay raises for 4 years, in exchange for some mild promises about not getting laid off.  Of course, they are so overpaid now, this isn’t a huge deal, but in 3 years, they’ll feel screwed anyway.  But here is the kicker – as part of this deal, a union-run trust fund is now responsible for a huge chunk of retiree health benefits.  A $51B liability.  Hmmm..  I’ve been unable to find crisp details about how this is funded and how its going to work, but it sounds like the UAW is going to get about $35B from GM to fund a $51B liability.  Wall Street is hailing this, of course, because GM just wrote off ~$16B in debt.  That’s pretty sweet.

So, last time I checked, the UAW wasn’t exactly the best with managing money.  With $35B in their pocket, do you think the Union Leaders aren’t going to be banking several 10’s of millions for themselves?  They will.  Who will they hire to manage this money?  Their friends?  For a small fee?  Yes.  A big fee?  Yes. 

When the smoke clears, the UAW will have shrunk the $35B to $30B through mismanagement of funds when they should have grown it to over $50B.  As a result, auto workers will get pennies-on-the-dollar in retirement/health benefits and start screaming.  GM and Ford will be bankrupt, so they won’t be able to help.  Aha – this is the part where YOU get screwed.  Uncle Sam will come in and save the day with their pension and healthcare bailout for auto workers at the taxpayers expense.

The UAW sucks.  Is it clear yet that the UAW has nothing to do with the workers and everything to do with Union Leadership getting rich? 

UAW sucked the life-blood out of GM & Ford.  Now their sucking the life-blood out of their own members (no pay raises/fewer benefits).  And in a few years they’ll suck the life-blood out of you.

Disingenuous Advantage

I’ve never been a fan of anti-piracy schemes.  I know Microsoft feels strongly that they are losing money through others using their software.  But it’s clear that Microsoft actually benefits from piracy.

Anyway, with Windows Vista SP1, Microsoft admits by its action that the “Windows Genuine Advantage” isn’t really an advantage at all – they dropped it from IE7.


Now, I just wish they’d be honest about why they dropped it.  They want all users to use their latest software.   The WGA is a deployment inhibitor, and after having weighed out the costs and benefits, they decided they’d be better off with a few pirated copies than to have to support a whole legion of legitimate users running their old stuff (not to mention users using the competition!)

Let’s be clear though – I’m delighted that Microsoft dropped it!  Please drop it more!  By not letting us pirate your software, you are basically begging us to go use Google Docs & Spreadsheets!!!

(BTW – don’t forget that Office will be free.)

OJ Simpson & Lawyers

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gavel I’m not a fan of OJ Simpson’s by any definition.  But, I do feel that our legal system put him into double jeopardy.  That is, he was acquitted of murder, and yet later retried for the same crime.  How is it that he was found not guilty for having murdered two people, and yet fined $33M for their wrongful death?   How does this happen?

It turns out that wrongful death is much easier to prove than murder.  “Wrongful death” only requires a “preponderance of evidence”.   Although a “shadow of a doubt” may exist, you can conclude guilty anyway.  Further, a wrongful death jury need to only have 75% of the jurors agree (9 of 12).  Lastly, you can’t “plea the 5th” in a civil case.  You have to respond on the stand.  I don’t understand why we have the 5th amendment for criminal cases and not for civil ones.  Either it’s unfair to make someone testify in ways that might hurt them or it’s not.  We can’t have it both ways.

Unfortunately, wrongful death lawsuits have nothing to do with justice and everything to do with money.  This entire branch of our legal system has been carefully carved and sculpted by lawyers for the benefit of lawyers.  Justice would have the murderer behind bars, and the public safe.  But we don’t have that.  Does Fred Goldman and his lawyers getting rich give us justice?

What boggles my mind most is why more people don’t stand up for OJ against our completely broken legal system.  He was legally acquitted.  Even if we think he is guilty, we need to let him go – that issue was concluded long ago.  If you think our system is broken for not finding him guilty, then fight for that.  But if you aren’t fighting for that, because you think our system usually works, and you think that “beyond a shadow of a doubt” is a good idea, then you absolutely must support OJ now.  This is double jeopardy, plain and simple, because everyone hates him.

I want our legal system to be about truth and justice, rather than money and appeasing public sentiment.  By allowing both a criminal and civil trial on the same issue, conducted under different rules, we are accepting hypocrisy in our system.  Stop thinking, “Oh good – OJ is getting what he deserves”, and instead think about what it means to be “innocent until proven guilty”.  OJ was not proven guilty.  Yet we treat him as though he is guilty anyway.  This pisses me off far more than whether he got away with murder or not.

After writing this, I found a few other smart people saying the same thing: Joelle Blackstarr, Miranda Tempest, etc

I Would take HGH If I Could

The Marion Jones case today gets me thinking about steroids.

For some reason, steroids are illegal.  They say that steroids can cause irreparable harm in children when improperly used.  I’m sure this is true, but even the Partnership for a Drug-Free America concludes that “long-term, high-dose effects of steroid use are largely unknown”.   Although I’m no doctor, Barry Bonds and Marion Jones seem just fine.  Why are these athletes able to successfully use steroids when they are allegedly so bad for us?

The difference is that professional athletes like Bonds and Jones can afford doctors to help administer the drugs properly, albeit illegally.  Steroids are dangerous not just because of the drug, but because we make it illegal to get professional help using them.

If we just let people use steroids, would these drugs really be dangerous?  Probably – drugs are drugs.  But, getting medical help would definitely reduce injuries and spot unwanted side effects early.

I’ve said this before, and I’ll say it again.  If HGH were legal and cheap, I’d be using it myself.  We’re so afraid of the word “steroids”, we don’t even look to see if there are benefits.  There is no doubt there are huge HGH scams running rampant right now.  Wouldn’t the best way to quell the scams be to simply make HGH legal?  False advertising and snake oil salesmen would be out of business overnight.