if only dirty fucking hippies were more fiscally responsible...,
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watching GM employees get a hummer with teeth makes Malcolm Gladwell hard:
Malcolm Gladwell celebrates the glorious achievements of GM ex-CEO Rick Wagoner, and makes an utter hash of this:
The 2007 deal also transferred all responsibility for paying for the health care of G.M.’s retirees to a special fund, administered by the U.A.W. It is hard to overstate the importance of that second provision. G.M. has five hundred and seventeen thousand retirees. Between 1993 and 2007, the company paid out a hundred and three billion dollars [7 billion a year, maybe 3.5% of their total revenues] to those former workers—a burden unimaginable to its foreign competitors.
This makes it sound as though GM's competitors aren't paying for the health benefits and pensions of their former employees, which is perfectly wrong. The national health benefits and pension systems in those foreign countries are in fact paid for by GM's foreign competitors when they and their employees pay their taxes. GM suffers under a crushingly inefficient health care system that costs double what its competitors pay.
GM's unimaginable burden was the public policy environment it in part created: it was at the forefront of pushing private pension plans and private health insurance instead of the more efficient Hayek-approved solution of social insurance that its competitors enjoy. Under Wagoner it devoted it's public energies - making massive investments in political lobbying and public astroturfing - to attacking the environment when it should have been leading a business lobby campaign to reform the insurance sector.
All Gladwell is celebrating here is that GM has shifted its unimaginable burden onto its employees, while savagely undercutting their living standards with unimaginable pay cuts despite the fact that their productivity has doubled in the past 15 years.