December 10th, 2008

#1391: Automaker bailout

Some specifics I had to comment on are here. Not about the bailout; about the union employees.

Average pay: seventy-five dollars an hour. Okay, that's an average--some make more, some make less--but you do realize that $75 an hour translates to $150,000 per year, right? (Gross, not net. Still.)

A worker whose job has been banked--ie a guy who punches in, sits in a room doing sudoku all day, and who then goes home at the end of his "shift"--makes 85% of that, or $127,000. For doing nothing whatsoever that benefits his employer. For just keeping a chair warm.

To be sure, I wouldn't mind that job. In fact, I'd like to offer my services to any of the Big Three who want to replace these men: I will sit in a room and heat a chair for them for $50,000 per year without any other compensation whatsoever. Since this kind of thing can be done anywhere I'll insist that the chair to be kept warm be sent to my home, but I'm even willing to pay for the shipping. If the automakers were to replace their union chair-warmers with contract labor such as what I am offering, it would save them $75,000 per employee plus the costs of other benefits. No retirement, no medical, nothing, just the $50,000.

If the union tried to unionize my shop, I could simply vote "no", as I'd be the only worker. (Mom can heat a chair too, but that's her own lookout. Besides, she's retired.)

Oh, but what about the union chair-warmers? What would they do for jobs? They'd all be fired! Well, they could become contract workers and make a much more reasonable $50,000 per year for warming their chairs, and they could even still do it in the same location. But as independent contractors they couldn't unionize.

Let's face it: the kid at Wendy's who makes minimum wage for schlepping burgers is more economically useful than some union baby sitting in the job bank all day. At least the kid is doing honest work; the chair-warmers are doing nothing but sucking at the union teat.

Problem is, the union teat is cancerous and it's killing the automakers. Time--past time!--for a mastectomy.

This is why I don't support the automaker bailout: the automakers need to declare bankruptcy and restructure and get rid of the union contracts.

It's not that I object to people making a lot of money; I don't. But the labor market works best when labor is compensated for its true value. When it comes to run-of-the-mill assembly line personnel, there is not a single one of them on the planet who is worth $75 per hour plus benefits. (There are many skilled tradesmen working for the automakers. A master tool-and-die maker is worth much more than the guy who hangs a fender on a car so the next guy can bolt it down. I'm not talking about the skilled people.) The guy who sits in a room drinking coffee and heating a chair is worth approximately zero to the company--regardless of his skills and training--and should not be employed. He should be laid off or fired, period. Granted, it's not his fault that the company no longer needs him where he lives, but life sucks and everyone has problems; if we made every corporation retain everyone they ever hired unless the guy committed a firing offense no one would ever hire anyone. (Don't believe me? Look at France, which has a huge unemployment rate. This is how France operates.)

Automakers can't continue to support the lavish compensation packages that the UAW demands of them; there is too much competition from countries with much lower labor costs. The UAW has been obsolete since the 1970s, when Japanese automakers began encroaching on the Big Three's market share.

The time for the UAW is over.

#1392: Solar minimum (again)

Watt's Up With That? on the fact that it's now been three weeks since there's been a sunspot.

If we get seven more spotless days this year, 2008 will be #2 for spotless days. Right now, 2008 trails 1912 (#2) and 1913 (#1).

I was wondering about this. Spaceweather had a post about the quiet after the flurry of spots in November, but it's gone now--quite quickly since they normally leave posts up for a few days. Then again, Spaceweather is on the "Look! Look! There's a sunspot! This proves that the minimum is over!" bandwagon and 21 days without a spot doesn't fit the template.

#1393: Today's linkfest is chock full o' goodness!

Starting here! Eco-nazis reported that "illegal logging" was taking place in a protected area. OMG the horror! Someone is cutting down trees!


Beavers were engaging in normal beaver activity and cutting down trees to make a dam. Same way beavers have been since the beginning of beaver-dom.

Oh, Poland. No wonder.

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This warms the cockles of my heart. Maybe even the sub-cockle area. I frickin' hate those "Bratz" dolls.

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Dan Rather is a moonbat. I have known this since the forged documents scandal. Now he wants Obama inaugurated ASAP.

For cripes' sake, Dan, take a freaking valium and relax. It'll be January 20th before you know it.

Whining f-ing maggot.

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Very few people--none of whom read this blog--will get this joke: TRICK ARM!

...and I am not going to explain it now. Sorry.

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Looks like Jesus' birthday is June 17, 2 BC.

Okay, that's acceptable. It's well-known that the early Catholic church selected (not elected :P) December 25 so as to roughly coincide with the Saturnalia and the pagan winter solstice festivals, such that the converts wouldn't have to change their party plans.

It's great to know the exact date, but I think we can continue to celebrate Christmas in December.

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Okay, here are the Obama/Blagojevich links:

What did Nixon Obama know and when did he know it?

Boss Tweek works to distance himself from Blago.

The Anchoress links to a story from November 5 which reported that Tweek and the Blag-man were meeting to discuss the appointment of Tweek's replacement. (Note to self: "Tweek and the Blag-man" would be a great name for a music duo.) (The Anchoress also makes use of Barry's full name, Barack Hussein Obama.)

Michelle Malkin 1: Boomerang

MIchelle Malkin 2: Reuters doesn't like conservatives snarking about Blago. Ha, ha.

Jesse Jackson Jr. says he didn't do anything wrong. Did anyone say he did? Or is he engaging in a little pre-emptive butt-covering? Then again, "Senate Candidate #5" might be 3J. (If his father had not been part of the Chicago machine for years, this guy might instead be a rapper. I like that: "MC 3J on the mike!")

Michelle Malkin 3: Patty Blago. I link to this only because of the quotation of that 76-page complaint, wherein it refers to "Deputy Governor A".

...there's only one in Illnois. Perhaps this means a Deputy Governor of a different state? Durr....

The Blago arrest is going to make a lot of trouble for the Illinois Democrat party, and it might--only might--make a lot of trouble for Barack "Boss Tweek" Hussein Obama, too. It would be awesome if he was facing an investigation before he was even inaugurated.

Suck it, Reuters! If that happens, I am going to laugh my ass off. "Change we can believe in!" "I'm going to clean up this town!" AAAHHH HA HA HA HA HA....

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Camille Paglia, who is awesome, opines on various developments re: Boss Tweek before the Blago stuff hit the fan.

She's got, as always, an excellent grasp of the issues, and her opinions differ from those of conservative because of reasoned decision, not because she thinks with her feelings--something too many liberals do. I can understand and respect someone whose considered opinion is different from mine, because the opinion was arrived at via cogitation and the consideration of the evidence. Unfortunately, on that side of the aisle, that kind of careful thought is swamped in a morasse of "it's not fair! We need to be fair!"

Her discussion of Sarah Palin, and her treatment by the media post-election, is a wonderful example of an equity feminist--the rare kind--who sees Sarah Palin's ascendancy to national politics as a good thing even if she doesn't vote the right way. Gender feminists see Sarah Palin as some strange kind of anti-Gaea who--given political power--will act to ensure that all women everywhere are kept barefoot and pregnant. That this view is at odds with both reality and the idea of gender equity does not faze them; Sarah Palin is from the wrong party, ergo she is evil incarnate.

And on Proposition 8?
I may be an atheist, but I respect religion and certainly find it far more philosophically expansive and culturally sustaining than the me-me-me sense of foot-stamping entitlement projected by too many gay activists in the unlamented past. My position has always been (as in "No Law in the Arena" in my 1994 book, "Vamps & Tramps") that government should get out of the marriage business. Marriage is a religious concept that should be defined and administered only by churches. The government, a secular entity, must institute and guarantee civil unions, open to both straight and gay couples and conferring full legal rights and benefits. Liberal heterosexuals who profess support for gay rights should be urged to publicly shun marriage and join gays in the civil union movement.

In their displeasure at the California vote, gay activists have fomented animosity among African-Americans who voted for Proposition 8 and who reject any equivalence between racism and homophobia. Do gays really want to split the Democratic coalition? I completely agree with a hard-hitting piece by the British gay activist Mark Simpson (which was forwarded to me by Glenn Belverio), "Let's Be Civil: Marriage Isn't the End of the Rainbow." Simpson, who has been called "a skinhead Oscar Wilde," is famous among other things for a riveting 2002 Salon article that put the term "metrosexual" into world circulation. I appreciate Simpson's candor about how marriage is a very poor fit with the actual open lifestyle of so many gay men, which is far more radical. Marriage may be desirable for some gay men and women, but at what cost? Activists should have focused instead on removing all impediments to equality in civil unions -- such as the unjust denial of Social Security benefits to the surviving partner in gay relationships.
This is why I love Camille Paglia. This is also, I might add, why so many conservatives (such as Rush Limbaugh) get along with her: she's got a brain and she uses it.

* * *

Another abortion clinic broke the law, this time in Georgia.

Abortion clinics have this problem: they make money on each abortion they perform, and a lot of underage girls who get pregnant end up wanting abortions. The problem is those pesky parental consent laws.

Our culture has assumed that age 18 is the optimum threshold for the "age of majority", where a person is considered responsible enough to undertake certain legal and civic functions: voting, jury duty, ownership of property, and so on. The flipside is that most vices are also considered off-limits to anyone under that age: smoking, gambling, etcetera. (Alcohol consumption is delimited at 21 because long, sad experience has demonstrated that 18-year-olds are not responsible enough to handle intoxicants.)

This extends to sex. Technically, any time a person under the age of 18 has sex--even consensual sex with a person the same age!--it's "statutory rape". Now, for the most part, it's unenforcable, which is good because it would be utterly ridiculous to arrest a boy and girl, both 16, and charge them both with "statutory rape" because they were both shagging in her Mom's Explorer on a Saturday night. Generally speaking the law only applies in cases where one partner is a minor, and the other an adult; and this violation is considered a serious crime.

But because this is so, when a minor girl is pregnant and wishes to have an abortion, the clinics in most states have an obligation to consult the parents. If the girl says that she was impregnated by an adult, the clinic further has an obligation to report the crime to the authorities.

The interesting fact about parental consent is that it is required for any invasive medical procedure. A minor cannot give permission for an appendectomy; the child's parent or guardian must sign that form.

Just because an abortion uses an existing orofice does not make it less invasive, and it's a fact that a botched abortion will kill someone just as dead as a botched appendectomy. Parental consent is both reasonable and proper for any invasive procedure.

Abortion proponents would have it that abortion is closer to getting a cavity filled than having an appendix removed. But more people die from botched abortions than from botched fillings.

Parental notification and consent is only anathema to you if you want to ensure that as many abortions as possible take place. (Parents might convince the girl to have the baby, after all, and raise it, or put it up for adoption.)

The State of Georgia ought to come down on that clinic like a load of bricks. And any time a clinic fails to report sexual abuse, that clinic should be shut down--have its license revoked, period.

Draconian? You bet. Abortionistas would have a stroke if that became law. But damn it, if we really care about stopping child sexual abuse, we have to make the abortion providers stop enabling it.

* * *

So, according to cosmologists, we need dark matter to make our galaxy hold together, because it's rotating too fast. But apparently we don't even know how much the black hole at the center masses. Since we don't know its mass, we don't know its gravitation; and since we also recently learned that the commonly-accepted estimate for galactic thickness was off by a factor of two, how the hell can we know whether or not we need dark matter to make it all work?

(Besides which: instead of using Newtonian mechanics, use General Relativity; and then even with the old numbers you don't need dark matter to bind the galaxy together. Or the Force.)

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funny pictures of cats with captions
more animals

#1395: Just got to do a 5th

Because I want to have a huge number of posts for one day. No particular reason.

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The doctor's treatment plan for my "output port" troubles seems to be working. The epsom salt baths really stung for a while but they're no longer nearly as bad as they had been.

We'll see if the thing continues to improve with further treatment, or if I have to go back for more inspection and medication. I am hoping "not", because the stuff the doctor prescribed cost ninety freaking dollars.

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This certainly sounds worthwhile.

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And that's all for tonight.