TCS Daily

Casino Socialism

By George A. Pieler & Jens F. Laurson - December 11, 2008 12:00 AM

Risk-taking has gotten a bad name, as huge losses for investors large and small undermine our faith in the self correcting power of markets that has held for a quarter-century. As the global recession spreads, blaming free markets has been the knee-jerk response. Free markets are being characterized as unregulated, and therefore both irresponsible, and destructive of citizens' hard-earned savings and retirement funds.

Has the postwar consensus in favor of the mixed economy (market driven economies with variably modest social redistribution) come to an end? If so, what might follow it? The answer, based on a few months' experience with bailout programs all over the world, appears to go something like this: largely unregulated government bailouts, rampant regulation, and short-sighted policies grounded in panic and 'actionism', rather than reason. The Treasury's $700 billion bailout package was just the beginning.

When the state decides to move into markets in a big way, but doesn't know what that way should be, this sort of result should be expected. Treasury 'desperately' needed $700 billion to buy risky mortgage assets; then it didn't. Now, Secretary Paulson wants to cut foreclosures and perhaps buy-down mortgage rates across-the-board, and needs more money to do it. And even that is small potatoes pending the Obama-Geithner team takeover. The New York Fed kept AIG afloat with $85 billion in loans, followed by a Treasury-Fed restructuring with an additional $40 billion; this time in AIG equity.

The Big Three may get a 'car czar' as the condition of a staying-alive loan, but they've failed to access the official bailout action ('Asset Recovery') program. Still, General Motors' finance arm, GMAC, might. GE Capital got $139 million in guarantees from the FDIC. Then there's Citibank. Now auto-loan financers, credit card issuers (AMEX), auto-parts suppliers, Avis rentals, student loan financiers, and state and local governments (big cities especially) are queuing up as well. Is it any wonder companies are forming bailout breadlines, extending their palms for taxpayer largesse awarded with zero discretion and unintelligible standards?

These bailouts have all the earmarks of capitalist excess, made stratospheric by the invocation of state power. It's bad enough to 'gamble' Uncle Harry's retirement on bundles of mortgage-backed securities, it's quite another to put the credit of the U.S. government at riskā€”not just picking winners and losers in the financial turbulence, but doing so with no market discipline, little knowledge of pricing, and no clue what the industries of the future will be.

Such a complete lack of discipline is routinely denounced on both Wall-and-Main Streets, but when government-as-savior tries to recalibrate our entire investment universe, it gets the benefit of the doubt (admittedly with creative sniping from the financial press and the think-tank community).

High-risk behavior is endemic when governments override market decisions. Some good will come (on the stopped-clock theory: right twice a day), but no government can deploy its forces with the efficiency market discipline provides. That is a moral problem, too, as planned inefficiency by definition sacrifices life-enhancing wealth creation, jobs, and innovations that raise living standards. Unfortunately, governments make mistakes which scarcely get corrected in the same manner that markets punish bad decisions, poor products, or shoddy service.

Plowing $15 billion (soon $35 billion, and likely more) into Detroit's failing automakers is a little like forcing every taxpayer to buy a Chevy, except without actually giving them the car they didn't want in the first place.

The de-facto picking of winners and losers in this crisis by government fiat -- politicians' deciding which industries have to face market rules and which are exempt -- is more unreliable, and more prone to vast miscalculations and wealth-destruction than the worst excesses of Wall Street could ever be.

Politicians claim this excess is temporary, but when was the last time bureaucracies and political jurisdiction over our lives once gained has been voluntarily passed back?

The result might be, for years to come, that instead of our bankers 'gambling' with our money, politicians will do it for them. In effect, we are swapping 'Casino Capitalism' for a new era of Casino Socialism.

Market socialism is bad enough. Casino Capitalism is a manageable problem. But Casino Socialism, historically destined to lead us to an economic dead-end, brings together the worst of both worlds.

George A. Pieler is a senior fellow with the Institute for Policy Innovation. Jens F. Laurson is editor in chief of the International Affairs Forum.


Money from nothing
I can't help but notice that the initial bailout amounts ($350 billion given away to bankers, without strings as to how the money is to be employed, $85 billion to AIG, etc.) were only met with mild disgruntlement.

Whereas the prospect of putting a paltry $14 billion into buying a management say in the affairs of Detroit auto makers is anathema, as some of these funds might conceivably be going to the workers.

What do we owe the workers? What is it that they ever did for us?

Well, if we just sit by idly while watching an employee-based economy implode, I guess we're about to find out. Once the dust settles we can go out into a Brave New World, where there are no more workers, only investors. And the money can magically make more money, all by itself, just the way our theories indicate it will.

The first problem I can see with that is that, with deficit spending having each time to come to the rescue, the only way the model can be made to work is by our endlessly pulling fresh money out of our hind parts.

The odd thing is, as Zyndryl so smartly points out, the investors are still all falling for the scheme. They're panicked, and still buying our debt for a mind boggling zero percent return on investment. So I guess it doesn't really matter whether we give out another $350 billion, or even $350 trillion, to our fallen masters of financial wizardry. The rubes will still go for the con and buy the debt.

Just so long as none of it goes to any workers thrown out of work. THAT would be unacceptable.

What is casino capitalism?
Casinos, if they don't cheat, will always win because all bets, in aggregate, favor the house. There is little risk for a casino.

Capitalists don't risk their wealth on a whim as a bettor in a casino might. They invest in a productive venture which will increase the wealth for all, not just redistribute money as a casino does.

In reality, casino socialism is redundant as they both only redistribute wealth but create none.

Not the best analogy
I don't follow your line of reasoning. A casino does not exist merely to redistribute money. It exists to show a profit. So a financial institution would be a true casino. The US government would not.

All those investors who put their savings into stocks, bonds, futures, derivatives and all that other stuff don't do so primarily to further the ends of the capitalist way of life. They do so, like the casinos that take their bets, to turn a profit.

It's a convenient excuse that by doing so they're furthering our way of life.. but that's a distinctly secondary motive. By the same token, workers working in a factory will tell you that they're making America strong. But more to the point, they're making money to feed their families. So much for high-blown ideals.

The only distinction I can see between betting in the Capitalist Casino and in the Socialist Casino, across the street, is that in the one, when you lose your bet you go broke. While across the street, if you lose your bet the house reaches into its pocket and comps you for a fresh round.

This, I know, on some pseudo-moralistic level, must be very bad for our character. :)

What entropy is reduced in a casino?
In a casino, the pool of money is fixed.

In capitalism, wealth is created increasing the size of the pool of money.

Casinos just redistribute the money, like socialism.

Money for nothing
Gambling, whether in a casino or buying a lottery ticket or in the back alley craps game is still just a money redistribution game.

Some may find it entertaining, but it has nothing to do with the risk associated with capitalism.

Is a tax on mathematical illiteracy.

Welcome to eWonomics
It can't be expressed enough, Bush is the worst President in our country's history. It becomes more true as each day passes. He thought Chinese $$ would keep his legacy afloat, but 8 years is just too long to keep the house of straw standing. Is it 1/20/09 yet????

How do we define Bush? Casino Capitalist or Casino Socialist? He's implemented a fair amount of action to each... he used capitalism to lead us toward Depression and now tries to use socialism to lead us out of the hole. See what I mean, it only gets WORSE!

Sorry to deflate your BDS
but Carter will remain, possibly forever, the worst president in modern times, almost certainly the worst since 1900 and far worse than Bush. He is also be the worst ex-president in history - bar none; it is his legacy.

Bush will not be able to be ranked until 2018 or later. His legacy is now in the hands of others and it will remain to be seen how that will turn out and what history will think of him.

Risk does not equate
The risk and reward (profit) a capitalistic entrepreneur pursues is quite different than that of a gambler.

I don't care if people gamble. The most you can 'win' is all the money in the pot. The pot may be more than the $1 you bet (risked) but that $1 risked did nothing to create wealth.
A $1 risked in a capitalist 'bet' is put to work creating more wealth (measured in $s).

Carter & Bush
I find much to criticize in the record of GWB, but primarily those criticisms come from those occasions when he veered left (No Child Left Behind, Medicare Part D, the bailout, Steel Import Restrictions, open borders, internationalism)

This is the amazing part of Bush, he repeatedly gave the left the sort of things it generally likes (if it authors them) legislatively ( and Bub Jones typifies the their reaction.

The reality? In the Carter years, there was more unemployment, DOUBLE DIGIT inflation, gas lines, "no help wanted" and "no applications accepted" signs.

The legacy? George Bush will be viewed better with time-but his legacy will bear one huge error, that of a man whose domestic agenda was uninformed by Neville Chamberlain. You cannot buy peace from socialists (whether they wear swastikas or devour the daily kos)

When COMDEX is held in Las Vegas, the casinos ramp up their risque shows and charge higher room rates as the computer nerds are more mathematically literate.

Agree with Rand here.
Can't compromise with evil (socialism).

I'm baaack
I just became aware that you all have been secretly meeting here without me thanks to an anonymous poster on my blog (

I was unaware that TCS had arisen from the dead.

Bravo Superheater - first time I've seen this concept expressed this way
"his legacy will bear one huge error, that of a man whose domestic agenda was uninformed by Neville Chamberlain. You cannot buy peace from socialists (whether they wear swastikas or devour the daily kos)"

I've often reflected, and I've often seen writings on the fact that GWB gets no credit (and former R presidents never got credit) for moving to the left, and yet they keep doing it in hopes of being liked. Yet the obvious applicabiity of the appeasement meme never hit me.

Aside from the obvious truth of the paragraph is it's stunning snideness. I'm tempted to go to Daily Kos and post it just to watch heads explode.

An even better example than casinos from both sides of this theme
People play the daily number in the various state lotteries, and in the old days they played it when it was a semi-underground business even though the mathematical payoff (50%) is far worse than any casino game.

In the old days I often thought it was a sort of savings plan of people who did not "get" the concept of saving small sums toward a future goal - ten cents per day was pocket change that was going to be spent in any event, the approximately once in every three year fifty dollar payoff was real money.

The numbers game was also a form of entertainment better than a casino because the numbers runner visited you as he walked the neighborhood, or you interacted with his collector at the local store whose proprietor manned his own cash register so you knew him long term. Also people had their favorite numbers based on their house number or birth day, etc. - so there was presumably a sense that one had an edge based on that. Also many in the neighborhood were playing the game, so it was a daily awaited outcome among people whose main entertainment was conversation on the street.

Well . . .
. . . we've just been trying to weed out the riff-raff, don'tcha know... ;^)

(Just jiving with you, there)

I still find TCS the best socio-political comment site online.

BTW I swung by your blog site and found many of your observations interesting and insightful. Keep up the good work.

I like the format
If other sites had a similar format, it would be easier to maintain a dialog.

Fools and their money
These days all casinos need government permission to operate and pay dearly for such a 'privilege'.
On that basis casinos today are very socialistic.

A free market casino, like those on-line, have been restricted by the US government.

A casino owner would risk his capital to build and open a casino. As you say, it is purely for entertainment as the risk the players choose is different than the risk the owner assumes.

As a complete system, I see little productivity gains with casinos. It is basically a redistribution scheme.

The winning number came from payoff results at a racetrack
the winning number came from a calculation based on the racetrack payoff amount on three different races.

I can't remember the exact method of calculation but it was done by something like taking the last digit of the payout in one race for the winning horse, and the last digit of the payout for the place (second) horse from another race and last digit of the payout for the show (third) horse in a third race.

Funny story, at one point I understand it was derived from the last three digits of a number published each day by the Federal Reserve on the money supply or something like that. But somebody bribed somebody and the feds stopped publishing that number to that level of precision.

A while ago I added some stuff about Norristown to the wikipedia entry for "Numbers Game" which is still on there. The entry when I found it said that the number came from the last dollar digit. I think it came from the last penny digit; but I wasn't sure enough to change what was there. I think it had to come from the last penny digit because often horses pay in the single digit dollar range, especially to show, so taking the dollar digit would result in numbers skewed down toward zero and not (pseudo) random from one to ten. I added some stuff to the discussion section of that entry which is relevant to this question as well.

Thanks for the praise especially since you missed what may be my best entry ever
I put up something about noon that hits extra bases - or at least I think so.

I'm just glad to see you fellows, and gals, here again.

UAW aren't 'normal' workers. They are The Rich. Didn't you know?
"And the money can magically make more money, all by itself, just the way our theories indicate it will."

What theories are you referring to? The only ones I've heard that even remotely say that are the 'don't worry, Fannie and Freddie are safe and sound' BS Barney Frank, Barack Obama and other Democrats said as recently as earlier this year.

"The odd thing is, as Zyndryl so smartly points out, the investors are still all falling for the scheme. They're panicked, and still buying our debt for a mind boggling zero percent return on investment."

Yeah for some reason the Euro just isn't looking as sexy a place to park one's stash anymore. The real explanation is the one I've been predicting for weeks on TCS: Investors are fleeing 'investing'. Despite prognostications by others that they have no choice but to invest (what else are they going to do with their money?) and thus liberals can keep treating them like cash cows, they DO have choices. If it isn't buying muni bonds (which pay better interest but are also a tad bit more risky), then it is buying t-bills instead of providing venture capital for that struggling start-up that could be the next Apple.

Gee...I wonder why they are not too keen to invest anymore? Hmmmm....could it be that they want to see if the suckers who didn't get the memo get it in the shorts by Obama and the Dems? Nah! That couldn't be it!

Be happy. If they were not buying t-bills but socking the money in real mattresses instead, then that would mean that we'd be in even worse economic shape than we are.

"Just so long as none of it goes to any workers thrown out of work. THAT would be unacceptable."

Privileged workers who get treated better than royalty compared to most other workers, that is. And most of said privileged workers aren't even workers...there are more retirees than workers at the Big 3 now. I think GM is supporting some 700,000 retirees alone. And many of them made more in retirement than they did when they were working. Oh yes! Americans FEEL SORRY for those struggling auto union guys and gals who are so spoiled that they are having fits that some senators would EVEN DARE not just fork over taxpayer money (mostly from those less privileged workers, I might add) as is their BIRTH RIGHT or something!

To the rest of us non-UAW chumps, the question is raised: "Why should we bail those fat cats out when I don't get bailed out?" And yes, compared to 95% of the American workforce, those UAW goons ARE fat cats, Roy.

It is great to see Envy Politics nail the UAW, I have to admit. They helped create the creature and definitely contribute heavily to keeping it fed. Now, it is biting the hand that feeds it. Priceless!

Socialism: government control of private property
That's von Mises' definition of socialism and I agree with it.

I think everyone should be able to open a casino anywhere they want. Why should CT or NV or Indians only be allowed to open a casino? And why should the state take 20% off of the top? (NV gaming tax is ~6%).

The Earp brothers made a good income running a Faro table in Tombstone.

Following a socialist law doesn't make one a socialist. Making and supporting such a law does.

People can spend their money any way they see fit (after the government get 'their' cut). I don't care if they burn it or melt it or...

If you can destroy YOUR property without violating the rights of others, it is your private property and not under the control of the state.

Hope springs eternal - and not always completely irrationally
The folks who refined and won using card counting at blackjack until the casinos increased the number of decks and shuffled more frequently come to mind. As do the folks who discovered the subtle bias in roulette wheels and exploited that until the casinos learned to move the wheels from pin to pin each night. As do the college profs who discovered a system for beating even the 15% vig at the racetracks which can still work, I understand, because racetrack odds depend on biases in betting behavior rather than on the structure of the game.

A friend and I actually beat the houses in Tahoe for some money using card counting in the 1970's. Very laborious work by the way. Card counting in real time is hard, especially if you have to act as though you are not counting. But during the short golden age of card counting before the casinos got wise I can well believe that some disciplined folks made a lot of money playing against the utter certainty of casino operators that their odds spreads could not be beaten.

Needless to say there have also been untold other systems that have failed to overcome the odds. And just as needless to say that some smart fellow or gal is out there with something new that actually works. But the rise of texas hold-em probably has all of most of those people making their money the better way, by being good enough at the game to take advantage of those players who are not as good at the game.

No deflation felt, you're just kicking the can
I respect your opinions Pauled, your optimism is admirable(?), but this is one I think your loyalty to Republicanism is shorting your sight. Carter has the "doofus" quality to match Bush, Carter's policies and lack of foresight weren't admirable, but where Carter was leftist and foolish, Bush is arrogant and self-serving. A peanut farmer with good intentions but poor prescriptions is way better than a silver spoon brat with poor prescriptions AND a self-image more grandiose than the most powerful job in the world.

You guys talk about Bush's policies. I agree with you Superheater, the leftist policies he implemented are horrible! My point exactly, he implements the worst of leftist and the worst of rightist policy. Bush's policies are surely a bust for the vast majority. But policy is only part of the legacy. The more dastardly aspect of his leadership is the rampant politicization, divisive nature, hubris, dishonesty, secrecy and disregard for the people and Constitution of our Republic. He lacks thoughtfulness and diversity of thought. He lacks the qualities of a good leader. Some say he is decisive, and thats a good quality. Which I agree it is, but its equally important HOW one comes to decisions. Bush's style pretty much negates any positive that may come from his decisiveness. In saying this I'm not expressing that other Presidents are the opposite. Quite contrarily, many share some of these same traits, even good leaders. Bush is bad on all counts- philosophy AND execution. Unfortunately, when he is good on philosophy he is bad on execution, and vice versa.

Pauled, why will Bush not be able to be ranked until 2018? I just wonder what significance 2018 has, in particular. The next several years will be huge in making the big picture more clear about just how damaging Bush has been, but I'd agree it will take at least a decade for the full picture to develop, and the time of separation to heal to fully appreciate the damage caused. Heck, it might take a decade to come up with a positive to hold onto. Everything thus far is not good, and he isn't even done yet.

House rigs the game
Even it you beat the house fairly, they can still refuse 'service'. Sometimes violently.

UAW bailout
How much has this corrupt union given out to buy politicians over the years? This bailout is just the payback.

not best analogy
They are not the same, as Roy says. With a casino the odds are in favor of the house, but in the market the odds are in your favor. It's the best game in town and mostly ruined by government intervention, picking favorites, paybacks for contributions etc. If there were true separation of economy and state, none of this could even happen.

...aren't the same as tangibles
"...provides another form of value--entertainment"

So do snuff films, watching a good lawsuit in a court going down and Dem pay-for-play scandals. But I wouldn't say they provide even tangible value. It's a slipper slope.

The bailout will happen, folks!
The bailout for the RICH UAW spoiled brats, paid for by much poorer workers who work harder too.

If it doesn't happen now, it will happen when Blago's Client #1 gets sworn in in January.

vice versa
"A peanut farmer with good intentions but poor prescriptions"

Why is it with the Left 'good intentions' trumps all? It trumps ethics, law, common sense and the Constitution itself.

Yeah, we got a piece of the bailout action
Roy provided the connections, I came up with the bogus paperwork proving we were a bank-holding company and Marjon told Sec. Paulson we could swing him a newly opened Senate seat with the Illinois governor.

It may happen for a bit; but it won't last
You captured the point precisely. The details of the UAW wage and benefits deal have been publicized to the ordinary peasants. Washington may give them a few billion to tide them over a bit; but over time the resentment is going to build because it's too apparent that the taxes of folks making $40K or $50K are going to folks making $70K.

Congress has to stand for election in two years and this UAW thing is the sort that can be toxic.

the existence of demand in a free market is the best definition of value
I personally consider casinos, especially the lonely slot machine areas, as very sad phenomena. For me playing a slot machine actually yields negative value even beyond any dollar losses because I begrudge the time spent. But it's hard to argue that they aren't providing value to the players.

I also personally consider brands and makes of automobiles that cost more than a Ford Taurus as lacking in significant added value; but I doubt I would find many takers for the view that a Mercedes doesn't have more value than a Taurus.

And, re your most extreme example, snuff films (whose existence Snopes questions although I don't believe Snopes in this case) do provide value to at least some people or else they wouldn't pay for them. We may not approve of that value and may decide to ban it; but the value is still there.

Snuff films cause harm to third parties.
I agree that all free market exchanges are win-win else no one would engage in such an exchange.

My point is that the risk a capitalist is willing to assume is not the same risk a gambler assumes.

Most state lotteries have a 1/10^13 chance of winning a fixed pot of money. A capitalist risks his dollar to build wealth. The lottery player's dollar is a simple redistribution, and even worse, a tax.

The caveat for 'value' should draw a line at violence to life.

Should a masochist be able to pay to be abused, even to death?

Would a smart entrepreneur start a business to match sadists and masochists? (Of course one couldn't let on to the sadist he was matched with a masochist or he would gain no 'pleasure'.)

In a state of limited government, I would not ban such activity. However, anyone who was injured would have the right to sue for damages regardless of how many waivers he may have signed.

value is value neutral
I wasn't advocating snuff films; but that doesn't mean they lack "value."

As to a state of limited government, it's a worthy goal; but like almost all ideological goals there has to be recognition that some forms of human behavior must be regulated because it's impossible to account for all of their effects on other parties.

I'm intrigued though, Marjob, by your refusal to permit to the masochist the disposal of his own time, pain and life. Talk about a statist point of view. Now I learn that you won't even accord the right of free contract to a whole class of people.

Fat cats
"To the rest of us non-UAW chumps, the question is raised: "Why should we bail those fat cats out when I don't get bailed out?" And yes, compared to 95% of the American workforce, those UAW goons ARE fat cats, Roy."

Sorry, I don't see people making $22-28 an hour as being "fat cats". Before I retired I was billing myself out at $20/hr. for most jobs. I hardly felt fat. Plus, I was not supporting a family.

What puts them ahead is merely a generous retirement and benefits package. And they've earned every bit of that amount by enabling General Motors' CEO (for example) to earn $8-1/2 million last year.. $2.2 million in salary, $2.86 million in bonuses and $3.45 million in stock gains from their efficiency and effort.

How much is $28/hour? At 2,080 hours, no overtime, that would come to $58,240 annually. Ah yes, fat cats!

No problem with suicide
I don't support 'assisted' suicide.

If you want to kill yourself or inflict pain on yourself, go to it. Paying someone else to cause you harm violates the concept of liberty that suggests my liberty stops at your nose. Meaning I don't have the right to harm others, even if paid by that person.
That's how I suggest abortion should be dealt with. Mothers can abort their babies, but should not expect or demand the assistance of anyone.

Corrupt unions
So if a union donates money to a political campaign, that's corruption, and the candidate has been bought? What then, would we call the ordinary process of every other interest group in the country donating money? Isn't money the oil of politics? And doesn't most money come from the largest corporations and other huge honey pots?

But you've raised the question. Let's see what this UAW local chapter in Michigan has contributed, in the elections just completed:

Let's see.. wouldn't that bottom line be $0?

Then of course there's the UAW CAP. What the heck is CAP, and what does it do?

Finally, corruption. I would suggest your looking through the results from searching "uaw corruption" to see whether there is any pattern to it. One article that comes up currently is this one:

Not quite what you expected? Yes, the UAW is plenty dirty. But the people it cheats are its members. Not the public.

insurance company might have something to say...
I just had to chime in. Your comment marjon led my train of thought to a startling realization. Socialism creeps into the cracks of our lives in very subtle ways sometimes.

"If you can destroy YOUR property without violating the rights of others, it is your private property and not under the control of the state."

Your insurance company might not like it if you destroy YOUR property. You do have insurance on your home if you bought it, you are required to. So YOUR private property IS under the control of the state! Thats assuming you took a mortgage and didn't pay it off outright...

I'm curious, if you do pay for your house outright are you still required by law to have insurance on it?

I mean, a smart person would regardless, but its an interesting question. I'd be surprised if its not required.

Key Difference
>"The lottery player's dollar is a simple redistribution, and even worse, a tax."

Sorry, but the "lottery = tax" argument simply doesn't fly for the simple reason that lottery participation is VOLUNTARY; taxation is not. While the funds collected from lotteries are indeed allocated for various government programs, no one's gonna prosecute me for avoidance if I decide not to gamble or play the lottery. If an individual indeed chooses to indulge in the lottery, they are in effect choosing to make donations to government -- there's no compulsion as there is with taxation.

How do you rationalize that position?
How is it that the bailout is for the UAW?

The companies made the agreements with the UAW, why should we blame the UAW for making a good deal for it's members?

Why wouldn't the blame go to destitute management and leadership among the companys' executives?

Sully is worried about workers making $70k, shouldn't we worry more about, for example, the GM CEO who makes $15.7 million!? That was his 2007 compensation, which is a 64% increase from 2006! Anyone else get a 64% pay raise last year? Let alone such a pay raise while your company loses BILLIONS and you're the head of the company?!?

I keep giving the benefit of the doubt that the reasons conservatives/Republicans do things is based on knowledge, experience and fairness... but I do not understand how all the blame is assigned by conservatives/Republicans to the unions, based on these pragmatic factors. All I can assume is that these folks just continue in the same vein and base their actions/positions on ideology. For goodness sake, a Republican strategy memo was leaked that highlights their intent to attack unions.

Unions aren't innocent, they're disgustingly corrupt and have plenty of problems that should be "cured". But lets not cut off the arm because there is a nasty cut on the hand. Lets attack the corruption and solve the actual problems. Like The One says, use a scalpel when its needed, instead of a hammer every time.

BTW, while the reason Republicans killed the auto bailout is ridiculous, I'm happy they killed it. I don't support the bailout. I say let the companies go into bankruptcy, then the UAW would have to renegotiate the contracts. If the bailout happens I hope they put a cap on executive compensation of $1 million. I would also use the scalpel again and interview each one and fire most. The management is to blame for this fiasco. The companies would be fine if they focused on making quality products and satisfying market demand, versus focusing on lobbying and marketing. Marketing is important, but it doesn't solve problems, they've had problems for years.

Liability insurance
I know of no requirement for anyone to have insurance for property they own, except for automobile liability insurance, 'required' (unless you decide not to, if you are an illegal alien or don't really care, in which case those who do care need to carry uninsured motorist insurance) by the state.

If you have a mortgage, you don't own it.

If you 'own' your house but your neighborhood association won't let you paint it purple, you don't own your house.

Agree, a state lottery is a donation by the participants.

If GM declares bankruptcy, all union contracts are null and void.
So why would GM need a bailout if it could file for bankruptcy and done with the unions?

Airlines have done so, many times, and we still have passenger air service in the USA.

Management has some blame, but it is the unions that prevent more efficient plant operations. Honda can re-tool its factories in weeks instead of months allowing it to adapt to market demand. It can do so because their workers are cross trained.

Management IS to blame for agree to stupid rules, but it is the union who insisted on stupid rules. It takes two...

corrupt unions
So you readily admit they are corrupt, but you're going to blieve them on what they have claimed to pay?

I agree that the execs are as guilty or more guilty
I didn't mean to imply that I think the execs are innocent in this. But exec pay is a trivial component of the company's balance sheet. Most of any bailout will go to maintaining very high above average pay and benefits for UAW workers and retirees. And the taxes for such will come in large measure from folks who earn less than UAW members.

If made car czar I would cut exec pay to the level of Toyota execs, but with no bonus because companies as poorly run as Detroit autos shouldn't pay bonuses to CEOs. And I would fire all on the compensation committees of such companies who had payed such bonuses in the past. Then I would look for replacements for the CEOs within the companies. First order of business besides dealing with the union would be to cut all the bloat from the corporate staffs (trust me it's there).

Unwilling to change
"By way of example, Hinrichs points to the quiet revolution that is under way at the Dearborn Tool & Die Plant. There, in the heart of the Henry Ford's historic Rouge complex, labor and management are redefining the rules of the game - not at the negotiating table, but on the factory floor.

The plant's 500 workers have been reorganized into teams, each responsible for a particular part of production. Some blue-collar workers have taken on added responsibilities as team leaders, and all are being challenged to help find ways to make the plant more efficient. A few are even taking over duties previously assigned to salaried employees.

Similar programs have been successful at other Michigan factories. Workers at DaimlerChrysler AG's Trenton Engine plant, for example, recently approved Japanese-style work rules to pave the way for a proposed engine plant.

What may seem like common sense is actually a revolution for American auto workers, who historically have declined to turn a screw if it wasn't part of their specific job classification.

What makes the changes at the Dearborn plant even more unusual is that they have been achieved without renegotiating the local labor pacts. The United Auto Workers and management at the Dearborn plant worked together to protect its future.

"The UAW realizes that it has to be less adversarial with the company," said Jeff Laver, plant chairman for Local 600, which represents the plant's workers. "I feel that we're leading the way."

Laver said it was not an easy sell to UAW members, many of whom viewed things like team meetings as a waste of time.

"It was a culture change," he said. "The major thing was getting the employees to see that die production is a world commodity. We had to get the guys out of thinking that the dies are going to come here no matter what because we're Ford."

If you employees refuse to adapt and change, whose fault is it?

Campaign donations
Your point was "How much has this corrupt union given out to buy politicians over the years? This bailout is just the payback."

And my response was, in reality not very much.

I think our main problem is that you're taking on faith that the sound bites you can bring to mind paint the unions as evil. And so you feel free to make uninformed statements about them.

If you really wanted to answer your question you could easily find out how much unions pay toward presidential and congressional campaigns. Then you could compare that figure with the sums Detroit automakers pay toward those campaigns. And compare the two numbers. Union "claims" have nothing to do with it.. the actual numbers are a reporting requirement and a matter of record.

For extra credit you could then describe for us just what a Congressional bailout would be payback for. We stand to lose an additional two million jobs if we let Detroit go under.. not to mention the cascading effect of the additional jobs lost servicing Detroit's consumers. Congress is motivated quite enough to try to find a way to save the livelihoods of two million families. The total of the UAW's paltry bribes is as nothing in this equation.

To start you off in your search, here's three million:

This then sounds like you're saying that it's actually a matter of payback to the very companies themselves, rather than the unions. In addition, in such a corrupt country it seems naive in the extreme to rely on official figures as you do. It sounds akin to saying that Tony Soprano is in the recycling business.

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