General Motors reported less than stellar fourth quarter earnings last week, and announced that bonuses paid to its UAW workers will average $4,300. The earnings report disappointed Wall Street as GM shares fell about 4% on the news.
Some media sources attributed the drop in GM's share price to rising oil prices. Considering that oil prices went down on the day that GM shares fell, this explanation does not hold water. Rather, there are some specific issues relating to the earnings announcement that are causing concern on Wall Street.
The Wisconsin and Indiana union protests, and the disappearance of union-allied legislators, is an assault on democracy. An election was held in November. There is no Constitutional or legal basis for the union bosses to substitute their decisions for those of elected officials.
We must do more than renegotiate contracts. We must end collective bargaining for public employees, which has warped the democratic system in the states. Right now, when the two sides sit down, it's the union negotiating with the union-backed politicians. Taxpayers are not at the table. It's the old story of a concentrated interest of the unions vs. the diffused interests of taxpayers at large.
We need paycheck protection for public employees, allowing them to opt out of paying union dues. My father was a public school teacher in Massachusetts for forty years. Not only did he not wish to be represented by the Massachusetts Teachers Association, he was forced to bankroll causes that violated his political and religious beliefs.
On Thursday, Fred Bartlit, Chief Counsel of the BP Oil Spill Commission, issued a report in which he put blame squarely on BP for the disaster, including a failure to adequately supervise its Halliburton and Transocean subcontractors.
The seven-member Commission, appointed by President Obama before the well had even been capped, issued its "final" report on January 11. Although it cited many of the same BP-specific problems detailed by Bartlit, it implicated the entire oil and gas exploration and production industry, and called for "systemic reforms."
General Motors has been very benevolent since receiving $50 billion of taxpayer funds less than two years ago. GM, the GM Foundation and Chevrolet are donating more than $10 million towards the building of a Martin Luther King, Jr. monument in Washington, DC. Following is a list of just some of GM and GM Foundation recent giveaways.
$40 million for "clean energy projects."
$4.5 million for college scholarship programs to benefit students; criteria list includes being female, being a minority or being a military member.
$27.1 million to United Way for restructuring of Detroit schools.
General Motors will pay its factory workers bonuses of $4,000 each. AP reports that more than $189 million will be paid to UAW workers in addition to salaried workers (management and engineers) bonuses of up to 50% of pay. It is interesting to read the decidedly negative view of GM's actions in comments that are submitted by readers at the end of the AP article. It remains a "tale of two cities", however, when it comes to media coverage (particularly from television journalists) with many commentators refusing to acknowledge the public outrage as GM spends millions of dollars on bonuses while taxpayers and GM bondholders continue to have their rights subordinated to the politically powerful UAW.
Meeks purported to hold a fund-raiser in Sin City for his Build America Political Action Committee, but his office refused to say when it took place or who attended. The financial disclosures for the Queens Democrat were similarly vague.
The latest disclosure for the PAC -- covering Nov. 23 to Dec. 31, 2010 -- shows the group spent $8,063 at the posh Aria resort in Las Vegas for "catering, site rental and lodging."
In the budget cuts announced today by House Appropriations Chairman Hal Rogers, the Legal Services Corporation (LSC) is slated for a token $75 million reduction. This is a genuine outrage. LSC should have been zeroed out completely.
In a statement today titled "CR Spending Cuts Go Deep," Rogers says, "Make no mistake, these cuts are not low hanging fruit." This is nonsense. Defunding the politicized and scandal-ridden LSC should have been easy. If the Republican Congress can't even cut off LSC, how will it ever make the tough choices necessary to reduce the deficit?
One year after federal prosecutors opened a criminal investigation into Toyota's unintended acceleration safety issues, a ten month investigation came to the conclusion that there were no electronic flaws that led to accidents involving Toyota vehicles. The causes were attributed to driver error and sticky accelerator pedals and floor mats. These were the exact causes that Toyota pointed to when congressional leaders decided to attack the automaker at a time when General Motors was struggling to regain sales after exiting its bankruptcy.
In a speech today to the Chamber of Commerce, Barack Obama called for a reduction in corporate tax rates and simplification of the tax code, but he then pitched alternative energy, which is based wholly on tax breaks and subsidies. He said spending must be reduced and then again plugged the boondoggle of high-speed rail, which only benefits politically-connected contractors and unions, and bond traders. He said he favored free trade and then claimed that inventing something here and manufacturing it abroad "breaks the social compact."