Politics

Move Over, Instapundit

It’s hard to believe, with senior officials “repeatedly” expressing doubts and conference call participants tearing their hair out–“From the Start, Signs of  Trouble …“–that nobody at the NYT got wind of the looming Obamacare rollout debacle until now. It would’ve made for a good story! …

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Elefante in the room. Joel Kotkin’s piece on California’s new “feudal” society leaves out one conspicuous contributing factor: immigration, including illegal immigration.  You could argue that the historic influx of Latinos, Asians and others made the state better (there is a huge garment industry in L.A. that lives off Latino labor). Or you can argue that it made it worse (increasing inequality by adding unskilled workers and enriching businessmen who employed them). I don’t see how you can ignore it. …

P.S. Even if immigration made California richer (and no more or less mathematically unequal) it could still have made California society more feudal–in the sense that differences in economic status became a) more conspicuous b) more all-encompassing and c) more permanent. There’s a very strong argument for these effects–in particular, a high Latino drop-out rate reduces the mobility-enhancing impact of education, and the widespread employment of Latinos as servants, busboys and valet parkers brings back a form of Downton Abbeyish social inequality that for a brief shining period in the 1960s and 1970s seemed to be on the verge of disappearing. …

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General Motors has a bad case of Tesla Envy:  GM wants … $76,000 for the fancier Cadillac version of the hybrid Volt, the ELR.  Truth About Cars’ Derek Kreindler thinks “GM is out of their mind.”…  True, the cheaper Volt variant is shockingly well made, and probably actually costs GM a lot closer to $76,000 than the company wants to admit.  And the ELR is pretty. Still! … GM’s insane deluded bold pricing decision fits a pattern of reasoning familiar to veteran Cadillac observers: 1) ’We want to charge high premium prices like BMW!’ 2) ‘So for our next car, let’s charge high premium prices! That will show confidence!’ … It didn’t work for  Cadillac’s Allante, it’s not working for the current ATS and I suspect it won’t work for the ELR. … The middle step between 1) and 2) of course is the part where Cadillac refurbishes its tarnished brand by impressing customers year after year until it eventually acquires BMW-like cachet. … Alternatively GM could go for Tesla-like novelty. But that would probably require a new brand, or at least performance unlikely to be obtained from what is, after all, a repowered Chevy Cruze chassis. …

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Why has all the talk about taking money out of politics suddenly quieted down? A Congressman boasts that immigration amnesty will pass because “there is no money on the other side.” …

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VW vs. UAW update: As predicted, it looks as if VW will insist on a secret ballot vote before recognizing the UAW at its Chattanooga Passat plant. This isn’t necessarily because the company wants to keep the UAW out–its U.S. managers do, but its German managers don’t. But VW doesn’t want to be seen as imposing a union on its Tennessee work force, much of which opposes the UAW’s drive. …

The larger point! VW would mainly like to install a cooperative “works council” system at Chattanooga, giving workers a “voice” in management decisions, including job cuts, working conditions and production problems. Those of us who complain about the Wagner Act are often (rightly) asked what form of labor representation we would replace it with.  A  non-adversarial ‘works council’ is just such an alternative system. Too bad the Wagner Act probably makes it illegal unless the UAW is involved (on the grounds that it would constitute a “company union,” banned by the Act).

If I were Big Labor, though, I wouldn’t want to take that tricky issue all the way up to the Roberts Court. … That could happen, though, if the UAW loses in Chattanooga, and VW then decides to try a “works council” anyway. …

P.S.: I had thought the Passat sedan, built at the Tennessee plant, was having traditional VW reliability problems. Not so, according to Consumer Reports, which rates it “better than average” and recommends it.

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Yes, liberals, it’s possible to fill unmet needs! TIME magazine says Michael Bloomberg is “not far from owning as many houses,  planes, paintings and sculptures as he needs.” …

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In Juicebox We Trust: Pay no attention to the frequent, unsystematic, reports that Obamacare is raising health insurance premiums! Ezra Klein assured us–sorry, explained to us–back in 2009 that the Affordable Care Act would “bring down the cost” of insurance. I’m counting on him. …

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I was nowhere near Phoenix.

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