Volkswagen Officials Stand Up For Their TN Workers – Danke!

VW has 60 plants around the world and the only one that does not have a works council that represents labor with plant management is their Chattanooga, TN plant. An expansion of that plant is being held up by VW management in Germany because of that lack of representation. Germany has maintained a very high union density largely because labor is constitutionally represented on the boards of German companies. Such strong union protections have kept Germany from falling victim to the ravages of globalization and outsourcing. 

A German newspaper reported that VW Group deputy council chief Stephan Wolf said, “We will only agree to an extension of the site or any other model contract when it is clear how to proceed with the employees’ representatives in the United States.”

The UAW is trying to get a foothold in this plant and is being supported by the German management of the company. The answer to who is against this and how many tacos are they short of a combo meal is predictable, respectively TN politicians and several tacos short are the right answers.

On Friday, Hamilton County Commissioner Tim Boyd, a past critic of UAW efforts, wouldn’t comment on the works council.

But he said the union has “a horrible track record in North America” and that “they virtually put Detroit out of business.”

“The taxpayers of Tennessee have invested over $554 million,” Boyd said, citing the cost of tax incentives provided by state and local governments to gain the Chattanooga plant. “The UAW hasn’t invested a dime.”

Right, it was the unions that have decimated Detroit. Those ghost towns that used to be Detroit suburbs were caused by the workers all moving to Mexico? It wasn’t management making  horrendous business decisions or shoddy engineering or health care costs driving up the price of lousy cars, it was the commie unions who hate jobs. Thanks County Commissioner Boyd for standing up for proving once again that the mentally challenged can win elections. And nice touch noting the UAW’s lack of investment in the plant that your government banned them from any involvement in – that’s what we smart people call a straw man nice use of a grown up debate tactic.

This spring, VW’s board member in charge of human resources globally said the automaker was talking with the UAW about setting up a German-style works council at the Tennessee plant. It would be the first U.S. auto plant to have such a labor board, experts have said.

The step also would provide a much-sought-after foothold by the UAW at a U.S. auto plant owned by a foreign automaker.

The Chattanooga Chamber and Republican Gov. Bill Haslam have criticized the effort, saying the UAW isn’t needed.

Hopefully, VW shames BMW, Mercedes and Audi to likewise afford the same protections to their third world workers in the American south that they give to their German workers. We saved the Germans from fascism once, it’s their turn to save us.

Microcosm of Suck – Study Shows Just One WI Walmart Costs Taxpayers Min. $900,000 a Year

It’s no secret that there’s a high cost to low prices – a cancerous downward spiral of prices and wages that WalMart has spearheaded. This study involving a Walmart in Wisconsin updates a 2004 Congressional study and describes a microcosm of the Walmart empire and the cost to American taxpayers. In 2004 it was estimated that a 200-employee store could account for $400,000 in public assistance for the workers. The new estimates are, of course, higher.

After analyzing data released by Wisconsin’s Medicaid program, the Democratic staff of the U.S. House Committee on Education and the Workforce estimates that a single 300-person Wal-Mart Supercenter store in Wisconsin likely costs taxpayers at least $904,542 per year and could cost taxpayers up to $1,744,590 per year – about $5,815 per employee.

Have tried to not shop at Walmart for about 10 years. It’s not that hard. But I still get into arguments with the people who do shop there over why. If someone isn’t moved by the facts that: 

  1. the employees are paid so stingily, don’t get health care and aren’t allowed to organize;
  2. that the vendors are squeezed at the point of the economic gun that Walmart’s volume buying is;
  3. that their economic model is so aggressive they will happily lose money on product sectors in order to put competitors out of business, whether that’s mom and pop stores or big chains like Toys R’ Us; and
  4. that the upshot of all that squeezing of labor and wholesalers and competitors is that 6 members of the Walton family have more wealth than the bottom 41.5% of Americans combined (that’s 48.8 million families!). 

If even then people still just want cheap shit at cheap shit prices then I hit them with the hidden costs they’re paying as taxpayers:

According to the report, Walmart had more workers enrolled in the state’s public health care program in the last quarter of last year than any other employer, with 3,216 people enrolled. When the dependents of those workers were factored in, the number of enrollees came to 9,207…

When low wages leave Walmart workers unable to afford the necessities of life, taxpayers pick up the tab.

I am sure that if you were allowed into a Walmart with a camera and asked shoppers if they were aware of how much that store cost them as a taxpayer, which makes the cheap shit products not nearly as inexpensive, they would not know. But between the safety net services relied on by the poorly paid employees, and the exorbitant tax breaks that the Walmart organization extorts from local governments to get them to build in their communities, there’s no question in my mind that this company is a massive leach on society. I cannot support that. 

You get what you pay for. Whether it’s a cheap shit toaster made in China or the largest employer in the country owned by the richest family in the world, you paid for it and have to own it.

Good Times were fueled by government taxing and spending supporting a vibrant private sector

We all know when the good times were, we agree on that – Tea Party or Occupy Wall Street we all know that the post World War II years the 50s, the 60s, through the 70s, despite disco even, those were the “good times.”

Our parents could buy a house, a car, put the kids through college, go on vacation, all on one paycheck, Mom could even stay home and pack the school lunch in the Davy Crockett lunch box and they could do all that and still retire to Florida at 65.

But what most people don’t realize with all the talk about how taxes in this country just can’t be raised, no matter what, (they turned a three letter word into a four letter word) and everyone’s convinced they’re paying too much taxes is that from 1946 through the early 60s the top marginal tax rate varied from 82.1% to 91% (from 1951-64)!

91% people!  

They raised the top rates to pay for WWII, and after the war the to allay the debt.  But a funny thing happened.  The people who made over $400,000 (the top tax bracket in 1946 just like today which seems ridiculous in the age of billionaires, no?) millionaires said, we don’t mind paying, so they kept it.  They kept the top rate at 91% so the Rockefellers and DuPonts paid higher taxes, and corporations paid higher taxes too (top rate 25%, but fewer dodges available), at the same time that unions were at their peak and a full one third of the labor force of the country belonged to a union, driving up wages for everybody… and guess what we did during that period?

  • Rebuilt Japan
  • Rebuilt Europe
  • Put a man on the moon
  • Built the interstate highway system
  • Built massive infrastructure projects like airports, bridges, tunnels, mass transit systems
  • Fought the cold war
  • Fought the Vietnam war (oops)
  • Built an educational system including a system of state colleges and universities that was the envy of the world
  • Fed the world
  • Cured diseases (polio, small pox)
  • Achieved more equality and class mobility than any society in the history of history

I mean we did all that and more and were the economic colossus of the world that grew and expanded and exploded with innovation and entrepreneurship and stuff that everyone around the world wanted.  And nobody, nobody said “I’m not going to invent something and get rich because the government is just going to take my money at 91%.” 

Nobody ever turned down being rich because of taxes.

The real answers are:

  1. Change the mindset that taxes are punitive, government is the bad guy and that small government is a worthy goal or rational possibility in a country of 310,000,000 people – the most intricately sophisticated society ever created.  
  2. Create more tax brackets that more fairly reflect the vast diversity of incomes. We have only 7 brackets today.  In the 20s and 30s there were dozens of brackets and as late as 1980 there were 16.  The flatter, less progressive taxes that the right argues for are not only less fair, they’re less sustainable.  The Progressive Caucus Budget included this model adding to the existing 7 brackets taking it up to a still historically low 12:
    • $1 – 10 million: 45%
    • $10 – 20 million: 46%
    • $20 – 100 million: 47%,
    • $100 million – $1billion: 48%
    • $1 billion and over: 49%

3. Unions to lift the middle class.

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Find the data.org has a great chart to find the top income tax and capital gains tax rates for each year since 1913.

This Business Insider article The History of Tax Rates is very cool, lots of charts.