We're Number 11!: Remember all the press hype about how Detroit made cars had for all practical purposes caught up with the Japanese in terms of reliabilty? Well, that was then. If you just got your December Consumer Reports you may have noticed that in the magazine's seemingly authoritative reliability survey Japanese nameplates took the top seven spots--Toyota is #1, followed by Mazda, Subaru and Honda. There isn't an American name in the top 10. You have to go to #11 before you hit a Detroit brand--Cadillac. ... P.S.: It seems almost like Japanese manufacturers are able to rebound more quickly when faced with challenges--as if they don't have some institutional impediment that prevents them from making rapid adjustements. ... How is that UAW organizing campaign going, anyway?
Almost like we propped up a failing system with government subsidies somehow...
I have had an interesting email thread with somebody who disagrees with me on the NFL "refkerfuffle." I'll not share every point, but knowing I will be in the great State of Minnesota next week, my interlocutor suggests -- for my personal safety -- that anytime the subject comes up in a state that borders Wisconsin, I confine my answer to "Packers Was Robbed." I'll follow that sagacious counsel.
But I suggested that Fran Tarkington spent some time up there with the lakes and the long flat vowels. And that he and I were on the same page. Curiously, his tone and timbre in his WSJ guest editorial seems different. But here he is on Kudlow, standing up for the rights of capital:
Where a dear blog friend and I agreed to disagree was that I claimed the scarcity of quality officials was artificial and he says that, like NFL players, these guys are on a high level and defy economic substitution. Fair suggestion. And, as I will be a guest, I'll close with "Packers Was Robbed."
A good friend of this blog and former Michigander directs my attention to the WSJ's Notable & Quotable today. It seems that city of Detroit is both a) completely, flat out broke; and b) employs a full time union horseshoer -- despite having no horses. Could those two facts correlate somehow? Perish the thought says AFSCME:
A recent independent report about the [Detroit Water and Sewerage Department] DWSD recommends that the city trim more than 80 percent of the department's workforce. The consultant who wrote the report found 257 job descriptions, including a horseshoer. . . .
In response to the report, John Riehl, president of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Local 207, which represents many of the DWSD employees, told the Detroit Free Press that the department needs more workers. "They don't have enough people as it is right now," Riehl said. "They are just dreaming to think they can operate that plant with less."
If he would have had a job as a NYC Union Public School Teacher, everything would have been fine.
Campbell Brown, whom I have always considered left-leaning, opens her WSJ guest editorial with the growing unease of Hollywood in defending the Union. She adds that some Union teachers are now becoming uncomfortable belonging to an organization that protects pedophiles.
In the last five years in New York City, 97 tenured teachers or school employees have been charged by the Department of Education with sexual misconduct. Among the charges substantiated by the city's special commissioner of investigation--that is, found to have sufficient merit that an arbitrator's full examination was justified--in the 2011-12 school year:
-- An assistant principal at a Brooklyn high school made explicit sexual remarks to three different girls, including asking one of them if she would perform oral sex on him.
-- A teacher in Queens had a sexual relationship with a 13-year old girl and sent her inappropriate messages through email and Facebook.
If this kind of behavior were happening in any adult workplace in America, there would be zero tolerance. Yet our public school children are defenseless.
My big-L libertarian friends will rattle off statistics of spending in the George Bush years and things Eisenhower said to claim that the 2012 election does not matter. I suggest there is a great window of opportunity for pruning back the Teachers' Unions and possibly all public sector unions. A Romney Administration -- even with a GOP Senate -- may not be a libertarian paradise, but the reforms in Wisconsin and Louisiana might spread to the entire country. Well, the entire country west of the Hudson...
Great guest editorial in the WSJ today by Deborah Kenny on why charter schools work. My favorite bit:
Talented teachers don't want to be told exactly what to do and how to do it. So our schools get clear on objectives and get out of the way, allowing teachers to come up with their own ideas and to select whichever practices they think are best.
"Here I am given the opportunity to innovate with projects I never could have done in a bureaucracy," said one of our art teachers, Mary Ann Paredes. "In my old school I had a feeling of stagnation and lost my intellectual rigor. Here I've been invited to explore and learn in a way that is making me more effective. Because the trust level is so high here, it's easy to be open to admit my frustration and ask for help."
I remain astonished that the teachers in my family, most of whom I assume are awesome, remain convinced by the Union propaganda that they would not prosper in a merit environment.
You didn't see it in the mainstream financial media Wednesday morning. But stocks loved Governor Scott Walker's spanking of public-sector unions and Democrats in Wisconsin. The Dow jumped about 165 points right at the opening on Wednesday, and was up over 200 points later in the day. There really was no other news. There was some speculation about central bank stimulus in Europe and the United States. Blah, blah, blah. But there was nothing specific or concrete. -- Larry Kudlow
Thanking Scott Walker is exactly what the people of Wisconsin showed they wanted to do, both at the ballot box and last night. For all the countless hours volunteers put into to ensuring Walker and the others stayed in office, the people of Wisconsin are overwhelmed with gratitude for what his strength and courage has meant for their state. -- Anne Sorock @ Legal Insurrection.
On the other hand, a journalist-reader who asks anonymity writes: "Over at memeorandum.com the AP, NYT and WaPo heds all say 'Walker survives' ... I dunno, 53-46 sounds more like 'Walker spanks.'" -- Insty
If I may provide a little background for those outside the Centennial State: it has been a rough year for the Denver Police Department. A few beatings were caught on camera. While they were not Rodney King class infractions, they surely did not highlight DPD professionalism. There was a suspicious death of a prisoner in custody, which I think was under the aegis of the Denver Sheriff. I didn't complain when they were accused of excessive force clearing out the Occupy Denver encampment, but 99% did.
A new chief was brought in, reputations were to be repaired -- our thin blue line would shine up their badges. And -- what's this?
Even the teevee news people are ridiculing this settlement of a 2007 lawsuit from the police union.
There are a few items in there, but all anyone is talking about is retroactive and future pay for the officers to put on and take off their uniforms (15 minutes each). Ten million dollars will be paid out to officers and 1.75 million to the union's attorneys. Money the city does not have.
Public sector unions love to hide behind "teachers, police, and firefighters" as the good face grafted on the DMV administrators. I wonder if this does not start to threaten that goodwill. Everyone the news interviewed said "I don't get paid to dress."
The lovely bride suggests naked officers -- kinda like the police themed strippers. I dunno...
Perhaps no other sector of American society so demonstrates the failure of government spending and interference. We've destroyed individual initiative, individual innovation and personal achievement, and marginalized anyone willing to point it out. As one of my coaches used to say, "You don't get vast results with half-vast efforts!"
The results we're looking for are students learning, so we need to reward great teachers who show they can make that happen--and get rid of bad teachers who don't get the job done. It's what we do in every other profession: If you're good, you get rewarded, and if you're not, then you look for other work.
Remember those stories we used to hear about unionized auto workers being paid not to work? And the ones we still hear about New York teachers still being paid not to work? Surely it comes as no surprise that postal workers are paid not to work.
Mail volume is down 12.6 percent compared with last year, and many postal supervisors simply don't have enough work to keep all employees busy. But a thicket of union rules prevents managers from laying off excess employees; a recent agreement with the unions, in fact, temporarily prevents the Postal Service from even reassigning them to other facilities that could use them.
The silver lining is that "the employees resent it." Ironically, that quote is take from a statement by William Burrus, APWU's president.