Wednesday, October 22, 2008
[Note: Should anyone be reading this, this is the very first draft of this beast and normally it wouldn’t see the light of day for at least two or three days. But these aren’t normal times and due to the vagaries of my publishing system as I describe here, If I want to publish anything further, I have to publish this. So please, be kind gentle readers for I know that it is not ready!]
I wrote this one in the morning of October 20th, in the talk about the proposed GM-Chrysler merger in the larger context of the financial Hindenburg. Here, I’m going on about how the new BigOne, GM-C (not GMC) might address the issue of Brand management in the monstrous new company.
The idea of each Brand [of the 11 under the new GM-C umbrella] having a model (or two) in each category is the problem. It is also where the opportunities live. Here’s why: some Brands have underperforming models in a category while another Brand under the umbrella has the category leader. Simple solution: Kill the underperforming Brand’s (or Brands’) entries, which, by and large are just “me too” versions of the category leader. This will send some of the underperformers’ custom to your leading Brand while some will necessarily go to your competitors. The benefit is you reduce some of your workforce. You sell some property in the form of vacated plants. You reduce power consumption in a variety of spots down the production/distribution chain. You reduce your carbon footprint (**gag**, makes sound of cat with a hairball). You simplify your production and marketing. You reduce dealers’ cost of inventory. Etc. Lots of advantages.
The cost, primarily, will be in the form of Union opposition. It will be fierce.
As a political thing, it presents a real opportunity for bold reform. Here’s how: The Auto Industry is begging for handouts. I say give them to with with the condition that all jobs throughout the combined company is rehired, the whole enterprise from receptionist to janitors to line workers to management to office staff to executives as non-union shops. Being sure to include a definite timeline for government withdrawal and a payback schedule for the money injected.
The underpinning historical forces necessary for a good bust-up of the UAW/AFL-CIO gang are in place. They are not sufficient in and of themselves. Leadership is required to overcome the sufficiency requirement. Now, I believe, is the time. The signs are around for all to see: vets calling vets to action; John Galt speaks up; collectivist enemies all around; an electorate that is beginning to arouse to the threat. The point being that McCain could easily make this an effective tactic in his memetic battle. After all, he’s already written off Michigan so that big chunk of organized labour press is moot. Upside for McCain: as has been written about by others (sorry, no links) the most fearsome aspect of Reagan to the Soviets and the Arab and the Chinese was his willingness to bust the airline unions. [The more I think about this as I’ve been writing, the more I feel confident saying I wouldn’t be surprised to see a proposal like that from McCain as it would put into context his early withdrawal from Michigan.]
And then, later that same day we get Joe Biden, “…mark my words, within the first 6-months there will be a major crisis—a generated crisis—to test the metal of this guy….” from these same international nogoodniks that Reagan scared by busting up a domestic union. **Zen moment** What’s that you say, Mr Santayana, about history and mistakes and learning therefrom?
I believe a case can be made that would mitigate damage in savable states while (1) taking control of the spin cycle for several days allowing the electorate to watch the deadwoods sputter all over the place (2) showing bold leadership in a time of crisis (3) demonstrating real “outside the box” thinking (4) setting a theme for American Leadership into the 21st century.
Deep down, Americans are more like Joe the Plumber than Barak the Senator. They instinctively back away from unions. They prefer to be judged on their merits, to rise (or fall) depending on their abilities, rather than to be considered just one of this group or that group, a rank-and-file, card-carryin’ member of some mob. It’s in their blood to rebel against the tyranny of the group. Rugged individualist, they may not be able to articulate it, but there it is, in their very DNA. This is why the Card Check issue (forcing PUBLIC vote in union registration drives, in effect opening dissenters to emotional, verbal and physical coercion) resonates so deeply.
For this, I’m dispensing with all the “balance copy” about the assumed positives of unions, and I’m doing it because there is no evidence to suggest that all of the “positive” side effects attributed to unionization would not obtain in the absence of the union activity. Can’t say it any more plainly than that.
Let’s also be clear: no way, no how will any AFL-CIO type ever vote for McCain or any other Republican. It’s just not in their nature. But not all union members are “AFL-CIO types”, shorthand for doctrinaire, honest-to-god marxist-leninist union organizer/party aparatchiks of 1930’s lore. The unionized account for roughly 12% (about 1/8th, or “one in eight”) of the American workforce (based on a quick google search); 5/8 (I’m estimating) of the unionized workforce belongs to DEM, with 1 & 2 for REP & OTH, respectively*.
5/8 of 1/8 = 5/64 of the American Workforce is virtually unassailable† Democrat country.
Of this 5/8ths of the unionized workforce, or 5/64 of the American workforce—in other words, those who have joined the union because they wanted to be unionized—some will be doctrinaire while others will be superficial [my terms]. This accounts for 1 in every 320 workers in America. Another way of looking at this is to say that for every 319 American workers who want nothing to do with unions there is one worker who does. **”hmmm” rubs chin between thumb and forefinger**
Let’s be generous to the remaining 5/8 of unioned workers and give it a 2/8 doctrinaire vs 3/8 non-doctrinaire split (assuming that not ALL are bad guys). The non-doctrinaire, I’m arguing (against myself) are open to hearing new ideas. Not necessarily embracing them, but at least open to thinking about them whereas the doctrinaire will hear none of it.
So, on second look, of those 1 in 320 workers who want a union (doctrinaire+superficial) 2/8 (or one quarter) are not open to persuasion; they are, in a word, lost. 2/8 of 1 in 320 is 1 in 1280. From a Republican perspective, then 1 in 1280 workers in unionized America is not open to persuasion.
The superficial 3/8 of unionized workers, or 3/8 of 5/8, 15/64 or roughly 3/13
The REP+OTH contingent of all unionized workers, assumed as 3/8 is assumed to be available.
Further, of those 1 in 320 workers who superficially
3/8 (of 1/8 or 3/64) are either Republican or open to voting Republican.
DEM+REP+OTH=100% of American Workforce (AW)
Unionized Workforce=12% of AW
Ultimately, the big-union states are pretty much a write-off already, so losing votes here costs nothing. Much is to be won, however, by just floating the idea in a serious context, as a tactic in the memetic war.
*I am assuming a moderate-left workplace zeitgeist and, basically, asserting that about three out of every eight unionized workers is a union member because that is a job requirement. And it is, as of this writing, a ball park figure, from a Canadian’s perspective of the American workplace. It’s entirely likely that the ratio of “union members to union members in name” is lower in the real American workplace.
I’d love to write that speech:
•Set the context in historical terms, emphasizing the significance of Michigan in the history of organized labour and how it is fitting that movement should die where it (arguably) was born and how that fit’s into the collectivist background radiation. (Link, in this context, current ACORN related news to integrate into larger picture).
•Lay out the stakes in starkest language possible.
•Outline the problem in wonk-free terms. The electorate respects those who speak their language. Common sense.
•Highlight the possibilities, a new dawn for American manufacturing, creating the next generation of automobiles, today, under a reinvigorated sense of American leadership a the global industry. Reprise Reagan’s “New Dawn for America”.
•Dismantle the objections, bearing in mind that for some there will be no convincing. In the end, these won’t vote for you even if you don’t do what you’re proposing.