Open Letter to the President of UAW Local 599

by Don Boudreaux on June 27, 2011

in Seen and Unseen, Trade

27 June 2011

Mr. Bill Jordan, President
UAW Local 599
812 Leith St.
Flint, MI 48505

Dear Mr. Jordan:

The blog Carpe Diem today features a photo of a sign in the parking lot of (what I assume to be) your Michigan headquarters.  That sign reads: “Only American-Union Made Automobiles, Trucks & Motorcycles Are Allowed In This Parking Lot.  Violators Will Be Towed.”

You seek to punish those who, by purchasing substitutes for the vehicles that your members currently are employed to produce, reduce the demand for unionized autoworkers and, thereby, destroy some jobs in unionized U.S. auto plants.

Of course, you may exclude from your parking lot whomever you wish, for whatever reasons you wish.  But I’m curious: do you not also threaten to tow away old American-made automobiles?  The person who drives, say, a 1991 Buick Regal – whether he bought it new 20 years ago or bought it used yesterday – opts, no less than does the person who drives a 2011 Toyota Camry, not to buy a newly made American automobile.  Both persons spend their money now in ways that keep demand for new American-made automobiles lower than it would otherwise be.  The spending choices of the owner of the 1991 Buick harm your members no less than – and for exactly the same reasons as – do the spending choices of the owner of the 2011 Toyota.

In light of this reality, do you and your members want Uncle Sam to impose a special tax on Americans who buy used cars?  How about a tax on each American who keeps the same automobile for, say, more than five years?  After all, someone who keeps her car in good repair and, as a result, lets many years pass between the time she bought her last car and the time she buys another, contributes to the decline of the U.S. auto industry in precisely the same way as does the most fanatical buyer of shiny new Volkswagens or Hondas.

Donald J. Boudreaux
Professor of Economics
George Mason University
Fairfax, VA 22030

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Observer Guy1 June 27, 2011 at 3:43 pm

Your fine argument aside, how would Mr. Jordan react if I drove my Toyota Camry onto his lot, which was “made” in Georgetown, KY by Kentuckians? Would he tow my American made Toyota away or would he stand there confounded?

Don Boudreaux June 27, 2011 at 3:47 pm

Yep! Good question; it’s the one that Mark Perry addressed so eloquently in his post (so I chose in my post not to compete with Mark!).

Josh S June 27, 2011 at 3:51 pm

That’s why the sign says “Union-made.” The Georgetown Toyota plant is not unionized (which is why it is employing people and humming along every day, instead of boarded up in the middle of a terrifying post-apocalyptic wasteland).

Sam June 27, 2011 at 5:07 pm

Been watching a bit too much Michael Moore now have we, Josh S?

tdp June 27, 2011 at 11:48 pm

What does that mean? He’s criticizing the unions, not supporting them. Besides, everybody who watches a Michael Moore film either projectile vomits for the length of the movie or is a Pinko.

Sam June 28, 2011 at 5:35 pm

Or thinks that Michigan is nothing but an industrial wasteland because they watched Roger & Me.

SheetWise June 29, 2011 at 7:30 am

Not Michigan — Detroit. A socialist paradise where a home can be purchased for one measly hour of union wages — and nobody is buying.

Sam June 29, 2011 at 8:21 am

But that argument should apply equally if not more to my former hometown, Flint…..and, as I’ve been repeatedly pointing out…’s wrong. Sorry…but I’m from there. Michael Moore is full of it. We’re no more an industrial wasteland than is any other part of the country.

Josh S June 28, 2011 at 1:20 pm

I’ve been to Michigan. You don’t need to watch a Michael Moore film to see what unions do to an industry. Driving to Detroit is like driving through a scene from the old PC game Fallout.

Josh S June 28, 2011 at 1:21 pm

Also, if you mention Fallout 3, I have one thing to say:


Sam June 28, 2011 at 5:34 pm

Really Josh? Did you use a pair of binoculars from the freeway. I’m from Michigan….FlintTown….and let me tell you something, I didn’t grow up in an industrial wasteland. So quit watching Michael Moore.

Tim June 28, 2011 at 10:09 pm

Unless you’re ten years old the Michigan you grew up in is really neither here nor there, isn’t it?

Sam June 28, 2011 at 11:26 pm

Boy….I can’t say I understood that Tim. My old neighborhood remains remarkably the same (as of last summer), my college town is, if anything, better than it was when I started school.

So maybe the point is that Michael Moore’s Michigan was “really neither here nor there” — again, whatever that means.

tdp June 28, 2011 at 12:06 am

The attitude of the UAW is positively disgusting. It just barely stops short of bullying Americans into only buying their product. I believe the Mafia employs a similar scheme regarding the provision of “security service”.

BTW, I wonder what his position is on the Tea Act of 1773? Perhaps he feels, given his views about automobile purchase, that it didn’t go far enough seeing as it only allowed the EITC to undercut foreign competitors rather than explicitly banning the consumption of all other beverages.

tdp June 28, 2011 at 5:19 pm

Better parallel: The Opium Wars.

Methinks1776 June 28, 2011 at 5:25 pm

Uh, well, we were sort of all forced to buy their product when those of us who pay taxes were forced to bail out GM. Although, not exclusively.

SheetWise June 29, 2011 at 7:47 am

I recently purchased the only Ford I have ever owned. I did that just to offset the governments contribution to their competitors. I actually like it — I am now, officially, a Ford Man …

dave smith June 27, 2011 at 3:47 pm

This is your most clever letter ever. And that is saying something.

Troll Finder June 27, 2011 at 5:56 pm

Not even close.

Ike June 27, 2011 at 3:51 pm

Don’t be silly, Don.

The unions already got a tax enacted on those of us who buy used cars — and also managed to tax people who didn’t even buy an automobile!

It’s called a “bailout.”

Don Boudreaux June 27, 2011 at 3:52 pm


PrometheeFeu June 27, 2011 at 4:41 pm


morganovich June 27, 2011 at 8:08 pm

the did it again in a program called “cash for clunkers” which reduced the supply of used cars (and needlessly destroyed them erasing value and a sort of broken window fallacy) and thereby increase their prices, making them less competitive with new cars.

these auto guys sure now how to buy a politician.

“times are so bad that UAW had to lay off 25 congressmen” would be funny if it were not so true.

tdp June 28, 2011 at 12:01 am

Unfortunately there are still 535 of them.

SheetWise June 29, 2011 at 8:01 am

And the price is going up! You can’t simply sell a congressional seat these days — you need to insure the property for the term implied in the contract. A Senate seat you could buy for two million dollars just a few years ago will now cost upwards of five million — the difference set aside to cover legal fees which will ensure the buyer gets what they paid for.

Anon June 27, 2011 at 4:15 pm

“In light of this reality, do you and your members want Uncle Sam to impose a special tax on Americans who buy used cars? ”

I think they already did. It was called “Cash for Clunkers.”

Don Boudreaux June 27, 2011 at 4:17 pm

Indeed. Fact is stranger than fiction. Thanks.

Observer Guy1 June 27, 2011 at 4:32 pm

Why stop with automobiles? Mr. Jordan, to be in complete solidarity with all beloved union brethren, should also turn away those workers whose clothes were made in Singapore; those whose shoes were made in Italy; those whose glasses were made in China, and those whose lunchtime meal came from Mexico, Canada, or South America.

Bob Baker June 27, 2011 at 10:36 pm

Observer Guy1, but then there would be nobody there to build my Chevy Volt. The waiting list is already long enough!

Ivan Georgiev June 27, 2011 at 4:37 pm

Very good letter!

Mr. Boudreaux I want to let you know that I really like reading your blog postings!

Regards. :)

Don Boudreaux June 27, 2011 at 4:39 pm

Thanks much!

Michael June 27, 2011 at 4:39 pm

Mark’s update is particularly important. What about the American owned, foreign made cars like the Chrysler 300 and Dodge Charger?

Given that many police departments have started buying Chargers, would Mr. Jordan tow any squad cars that might respond to an altercation at his facility?

I’d like to see photos of their parking lot…

Hyperbole aside, the signs are likely idle threats. No one, apart from the Leno-esque car nuts, will not precisely what country every vehicle was put together in. Unless he’s got a list and is checking it twice, his bark is worse than his bite.

A. June 27, 2011 at 5:39 pm

Yeah but I’m sure you’ve got a chance of finding a window smashed in

brotio June 27, 2011 at 7:53 pm

A very strong chance. Leftists are more prone to politically-motivated violence than any other group, and unionized Leftists are a cut above the rest.

tdp June 28, 2011 at 12:00 am

Now if we could get them and the right-wing militias to get rid of each other…

Anyway, Michael’s comment should have been included as a postscript. I only wish I could be there when he gets this letter.

brotio June 28, 2011 at 1:03 am

I’ve always found the term right-wing militia to be a bit of a misnomer. The term is usually applied to white supremacist groups, and those groups usually idolize the socialist, Adolph Hitler.

tdp June 28, 2011 at 5:23 pm

The far right does contain elements of socialism. The only real difference between the far right and far left (fascism and communism) is whether the innate superiority and military domination of one race, ethnicity, or nation is stressed, as in fascism, or whether the egalitarian uniformity of all people around the world is stressed (as in Communism). The far right also focuses less on economics and more on military, cultural, and social issues, and manages the economy in a slightly different manner than Communism (state-directed corporatism with some response to markets vs. total central planning with quotas regardless of all external conditions).

Additionally, not all militias are white-supremacist. A lot of them are just Unabomber-level crazy.

brotio June 28, 2011 at 7:02 pm

The far right does contain elements of socialism.

This is an area where I think we need to be very careful about semantic infiltration. We should not allow the far-Left to paint fascism and NAZIsm as far-right. They are different forms of socialism, and that is all they are. The less-than-24-hour turnaround by Communist Party USA regarding US involvement in WWII when Hitler broke the non-aggression treaty with the Motherland is a great example of the kissing cousin nature of the two ideologies. CPUSA was staunchly isolationist as long as Hitler and Uncle Joe Stalin were butt-buddies. It was only after the Fatherland’s atack on the Motherland that CPUSA decided that fascist socialism was incompatible with communist socialism.

Fascists and communists only disagree on which group needs executed first in order to properly organize society, not that society needs to be top-down organized. It’s why our Dear Ducktor (in his quest for a perfectly-organized society) is so comfortable quoting Das Kapital while espousing the policies of Mussolini.

Bob Williams June 27, 2011 at 10:28 pm

Good point! The Dodge Caravan/!Chrysler Voyager/Volkswagen minivans are made in Windsor, Canada. The Chevy HHR, Silverado crewcab, Ford Fusion, Chrysler PT Cruiser are all made in Mexico. The Chevy Sprint is a a rebadged Daewoo from Korea. The former Geo Trackers were rebadged Suzukis. Ford Escorts were rebadged Mazda’s from Mexico.
The Toyota Matrix was assembled in California by UAW WORKERS! etc. Etc. . .

Michael June 28, 2011 at 12:39 am

We could carry the point further. Break a car, any car, built anywhere in the world, into its component pieces and you’ll find parts from every continent. No car is truly American built. Perhaps, instead, we should send Mr. Jordan a copy of I,Pencil.

RChoumane June 27, 2011 at 4:47 pm

One word to describe that letter- Owned

Scott A. Robinson June 27, 2011 at 5:17 pm

That was truly fantastic.

Bill June 27, 2011 at 5:29 pm

I wonder if Ian Fletcher owns the tow truck company that contracts with UAW to provide this towing service?

Don Boudreaux June 27, 2011 at 7:36 pm


cmprostreet June 27, 2011 at 9:24 pm

I wonder if the tow truck itself is union-made in the USA.

nailheadtom June 27, 2011 at 10:30 pm

I’m in the process of starting my own towing company. But I’m only going to tow away tow trucks. Then I’ll charge them $10,000 to get their truck back. One or two a week should keep me going pretty good.

tdp June 27, 2011 at 5:46 pm

Guys, I have a serious confession to make. Given the dominance of all forms of the media by morons, I don’t see any way that libertarian policies get implemented to save the country’s economy from disaster (and the rest of the world’s, as well) before it’s too late. There are so many people with ignorant misconceptions, and so many people with “scholarly” or “expert” credentials with opposing viewpoints, that I fear libertarian arguments will never win over enough people to actually START solving the country’s problems, let alone implementing them without obstructionism from the left or the right. Please somebody prove me wrong on this.

John Sullivan June 27, 2011 at 10:13 pm

That wasn’t a confession. What are you guilty of?

Every society in history was born from conquest and exploitation, a ruthless tug of war for power,,,and the ability to dominate, if possible.
You have to see things differently than you do. Nobody with power, whether kings or democratic majorities, gives a hoot about libertarian principles. Equality under law, that is, Natural Law, which describes libertarianism, is never an objective in a struggle for power, but rather a byproduct, or compromise between groups of competing interests. Hayek, coincidentally, argued that point extensively in his “Law, Legislation and Liberty” Vol 2, I believe. That is the point of “spontaneous order”. Competition in economics is the same as competition for power over the laws of society. Equity in law as well as efficiency in economy and the resulting creation of wealth are byproducts of a quest for something more selfish.

You role is to stand up and not be exploited, to participate in your own empowerment. And don’t worry, when others do the same thing, they will also prevent you from exploiting them. And when you aren’t powerful enough to enslave others, the next best alternative is to compete on equal grounds rather than on terms that favor your adversaries.

This has always been going on and will continue long after we’re all dead and gone. The important thing is to take care of yourself admist this mess we call society.

tdp June 27, 2011 at 11:56 pm

I guess I had become too idealistic and the realization that we will probably never live in the world Smith and Bastiat envisioned was a painful reality check.

CRC June 27, 2011 at 5:47 pm

One must also wonder whether bicycles and walking would be permitted.

Bill June 27, 2011 at 5:54 pm

Part of the value and market price of a new car derives from that same car’s subsequent value in the used car market. Same for textbooks, houses, etc. Salvage/re-sale value is embedded in the original price of durable goods. This perspective is all part of the fine tradition of economics at UCLA

W.E. Heasley June 27, 2011 at 7:11 pm

A freighter named after the city, the “the City of Flint” was the first US ship to be captured during the Second World War in October, 1939.

Can you park foreign captured ships at 812 Leith St., Flint, MI 48505?

Upton Ethelbah June 27, 2011 at 7:15 pm

This one’s a real zinger!

Martin Brock June 27, 2011 at 7:32 pm

In light of this reality, do you and your members want Uncle Sam to impose a special tax on Americans who buy used cars?

Of course, they do. That’s what “cash for clunkers” was all about.

Leo June 27, 2011 at 7:43 pm

Are you sure that people won’t just end up biting some of your bullets?

morganovich June 27, 2011 at 8:24 pm

just to play devil’s advocate here, couldn’t one argue that a used buick did at least provide union benefit at some point and that they still admire its quality and lineage?

they could make something of VFW argument and say that any soldier, current or past is welcome, but if you never fought, beat it.

they will never be able to defend their polices based on economics without looking like the avaricious thugs they are.

that ‘s why were i they (and i am thankful not to be) i’d argue based on craftsmanship and heritage, not economics. we are craftsmen, proud of what we have built and we like to display it in our parking lot and will suffer no cheap japanese or german imitators to sully our sacred asphalt or some such drivel.

Methinks1776 June 27, 2011 at 8:53 pm

Craftsmen? Of jalopies maybe. I used to own a 1970 Chevy impala. that was the first and last American-made car I’ve ever owned. I only drive American brand cars when car rental places don’t have Toyotas in stock and every time I’m reminded of the appalling “craftsmanship” of the UAW.

morganovich June 27, 2011 at 11:50 pm

oh, i’m not saying it’s true. i would never own an american car. i have never driven one i liked, and i don’t think they are nearly as well built as their german competitors. i agree with you emphatically.

i’m just saying that if i were the UAW trying to defend this, that’s the story i’d try to pass.

Methinks1776 June 28, 2011 at 8:55 am

I know :)

Scott June 28, 2011 at 3:36 am

Disagree. American cars are just fine. I have been very happy with mine for years. If you are basing american quality on your own experience from 1970, I would suggest you open your mind. Unions are killing the companies, noted, but that doesn’t necessarily mean the products are not competitive.

John Dewey June 28, 2011 at 7:55 am

Scott: “American cars are just fine.”

I agree. The American-made Hondas my family buys are reliable and pleasant to drive.

Scott June 28, 2011 at 8:20 am

“I agree. The American-made Hondas my family buys are reliable and pleasant to drive.”

Now you are being condescending for no reason.

I own a 96 olds and a 09 chevy. They are both excellent cars. The chevy is the best car I have ever owned. The subaru I owned was a piece of junk. The same features in a toyota cost much more than my 09 chevy. I did shop around.

I am sure your honda is fine. It’s great that they’re not union. But to let the fact that the big three are union lead you to think that they are lower quality is disingenuous. Its also a straw man.

Methinks1776 June 28, 2011 at 9:07 am

Scott, I don’t think you know what a straw man argument is. John Dewey did not make a straw man argument. In ascribing to him a union argument he never made, it is you who made the straw man argument. John Dewey seems very sincere in his opinion of his family’s fleet of Hondas. I don’t think he’s at all disingenuous – not now, not ever.

I doubt you’ll find many people commenting here who are against unions in principle. You will find many who are against the special treatment they get under the law and union thuggery – like this sign.

Scott June 28, 2011 at 9:21 am

Sorry, non sequitur. “Cars are made by UAW, therefore they are junk.” you did imply this, john did not.

Methinks1776 June 28, 2011 at 9:26 am

No, I didn’t imply it. I flat out said it. All the cars I’ve driven which were built by the UAW were junk. Thus, I have every reason to believe they build nothing but junk.

John Dewey June 28, 2011 at 10:18 am


Just so we’re clear, I do not believe GM and Ford cars are lower quality because they are union made. Rather, I believe they are lower quality because GM and Ford management have not been able to invest as much in R&D as Toyota and Ford have. It is likely that union contracts are the reason for that lack of investment. But I also blame GM and Ford management for those union contract concessions.

John Dewey June 28, 2011 at 10:19 am


“GM and Ford management have not been able to invest as much in R&D as Toyota and Honda have invested.”

jcpederson June 28, 2011 at 12:11 pm

John Dewey, that is perhaps the noblest interpretation. Another might be that they indeed do know how to make their cars more reliable, but they choose not to use this information out of cost considerations, or because it serves them to have their customers need to replace their broken cars sooner.

John Dewey June 28, 2011 at 12:24 pm


I can believe that some auto manufacturer might choose to sacrifice quality in order to appeal to the extremely price-conscious consumer. However, I have seen no evidence that Ford and GM have offerred the lowest prices.

I cannot believe that any car manufacturer would pursue a low-quality strategy in order to increase frequency of purchase. That’s an extremely short term strategy for a capital-intensive manufacturer to use. Such a manufacturer would quickly be overcome by competition.

Methinks1776 June 28, 2011 at 9:00 am

No, I liked my 1970 Impala – but not because it was such an awesome piece of engineering.

You may have missed the part where I said I’ve regularly had to regularly rent American brand cars. They’re awful. If you disagree, that’s fine by me. I won’t force you to buy a Toyota if you don’t force me to buy a GM car.

Scott June 28, 2011 at 9:15 am

Fine. Listen from what I can tell by what you write, we’re on the same side of the general debate. I’m about as classically liberal as they come.

I’ve rented everything, kia, toyota, nissan, ford, chrysler and so on. They each had their strong and weak points. My subaru worked just fine, but I could tell it was cheap.

The only thing I will say, is that whenever someone elicits such blanket condemnation like you did, it comes off not as an objective analysis, but as an extension of an ideological bent. Such an unabashed absolute statement always perks up my ears. nuff said.

Methinks1776 June 28, 2011 at 9:23 am

Scott, you’re going to need to take that chip off your shoulder and relax.

A subjective opinion like, for instance, “my subaru worked just fine, but I could tell it was cheap” is not necessarily an ideological bent. It just illustrates a certain personal preference. I also don’t like BMW’s, Jaguars and Mercedes. I’ve driven all of them and none compare favourably to Lexus, in my opinion. Thus we are a Lexus (a.k.a Toyota) only family.

morganovich June 28, 2011 at 9:27 am

i agree with methinks. i too hate american cars and i have driven a number of them from rent a taurus’s to the corvette zr1 and the viper. there is just not a single one i like or would consider owning. obviously, others disagree with me, as lots of people buy them. that’s what makes a market.

i think you are being overly touchy scott. the evidence is quite strong that even US made versions of foreign brands are of lower quality that their foreign made competitors. a us made BMW is of lower quality than one made in bavaria. the M series in particular (all bavarian made) does MUCH better than the us made 3′s etc in terms of reliability, initial quality, and (obviously) performance.

this is not ideology, this is hard numbers.

“For example, vehicles built by Asian manufacturers in Asia achieve a score of 133 PP100, whereas those built in North America achieve a score of 146 PP100—a difference of 13 PP100.”

this means that over 100 cars, 10 more trips to the mechanic will come from a Japanese car made in the us than from one in japan.

“Likewise, vehicles built by European manufacturers in Europe come in at 156 PP100, whereas vehicles built by those same automakers in North America have 170 PP100—an even bigger difference of 14 PP100″

overall, asian cars have 141, european 159, domestic 162.

the number for german is lower than any of these.

porsche consistently wins best initial quality. (they also have the highest profit magins in the automotive world).

Dan H June 28, 2011 at 9:33 am

I bought a used Infiniti QX4 driven by the wife of an evil CEO.

I love the car. I bought from a wealthy man who regularly took the car in for its scheduled maintenance, regularly washed and waxed it thus preventing corrosion, and regularly cleaned the interior.

Why did I buy this car instead of a new Ford Focus? Well, I live in Ohio and we’ve had pretty nasty winters recently (Damn you Algore!), and I needed something with four-wheel drive. I test drove used Explorer and a used Blazer, and neither were as well maintained as this Infiniti. Damn wealthy people always taking good care of their property!

tdp June 28, 2011 at 5:30 pm

Some of the new Ford and GM makes are decent cars, they just cost way more than foreign competitors. Also, the cars that have gotten good reviews (like the Chevy Cruze) may not be built here. I think this is also changing due to 2008. Ford is making profits again, probably because they spend less on payroll now and more on R&D. Some American cars, like the Corvette, are much cheaper than other sports cars and are extremely popular. Groups like the UAW do negatively effect the marketability and profitability of the Big Three’s cars, but not all of them are necessarily pieces of trash.

Scott June 28, 2011 at 5:46 pm

Morgan, I read your study. While it says that vehicles built in North America have more repair visits than those built in Europe or Asia, it also concludes that even those hondas and toyotas made over here are less reliable than those built in asia. Quote below referring to these asian manufacturers.

“This suggests that manufacturers have some work to do when it comes to making sure that quality standards are fully understood and adhered to by their overseas workforce”

I find this rather hard to believe since we are only talking about assembly plants in america. The parts still come from Japan. Do they mean to tell us that americans can put the toyota or honda cars together and that it results in more trips to the mechanic? Yet, that is what they are saying.

On another note, I do have subjective opinions of course we all have, but you will NOT find me saying that every american car is perfect. Never and always are too sweeping of statements.

Scott June 28, 2011 at 5:48 pm

I meant: Do they mean to tell us that americans cannot put the toyota or honda cars together and that it results in more trips to the mechanic?

John Sullivan June 27, 2011 at 9:49 pm

Imagine a company with a sign like that in their parking lot, that might read something like this: Anyone parked in our lot that doesn’t buy what we make will be towed at their expense! This type of sign is bigotry. It’s like saying that “only whites need apply”, and is illegal.

Now, with no offense to Don, his letter actually lended the UAW credibility for their bigotry, by ignoring it and instead, arguing against it from a utilitarian perspective. I other words, the values, morality and ethics portrayed by the nature of the sign were okay, but we respectfully differ with your opinion as to whether or not it will make you more profitable.

That said, Don has a unique skill of explaining economic cause and effect very succinctly, on most economic matters, in just a few paragraphs, or less. A perfectioinst, he can’t resist educating people, when they really deserve a stronger insult.

Stone Glasgow June 27, 2011 at 9:58 pm

I think the sarcastic nature of his questions implies that the entire concept is ridiculous.

Ron H. June 28, 2011 at 5:04 am

The owner of private property, which I believe this parking lot is, can decide who may come onto his property, and who may not.

I think it’s a dumb sign, but it is their (UAW) property.

You may have noticed signs in restaurants that proclaim “we reserve the right to refuse service to anyone.”

tdp June 28, 2011 at 5:32 pm

What if the police come and their cars aren’t Union-made in America? Can he refuse to let them enter his parking lot?

Also, what if 20 or so people all drove their Toyotas into his lot at once. After he has called 20 tow trucks, 20 people with Hondas come in, etc. How does he keep his word then?

dean June 27, 2011 at 9:56 pm

Could an Australian go in there?

Stone Glasgow June 27, 2011 at 9:57 pm

The new Fords seem pretty well-built; I wonder who puts them together.

Tom June 27, 2011 at 10:51 pm

As a past GM employee and native of Flint I can tell you that I’ve always felt these policies, these sentiments were un-American: However, I also know that the idea is to support your own. I would hope any economist would agree that decent jobs with benefits help our economy the most. Our industrial base has been destroyed by greedy CEO’s in every industry with lots of help from Washington. I know, we can now buy boatloads of crap cheap…not for long. As for the bailouts, at least there is real property involved instead of thin air and lies that our great-grandchildren will be paying for. Heaven help us all if a war that demanded our full industrial might..what then. My Advice: Learn Chinese boys !!!

Chucklehead June 28, 2011 at 2:10 am

Our industrial base has been destroyed by greedy unions with lots of help from Washington.. Look at how union membership falls, highly unionized industries have crumbled, and right to work states thrive. Unions mostly only exist under the force of government, not by market forces. Any job is a decent job as long as you are free to compete for it.

morganovich June 28, 2011 at 9:36 am

to my mind, the real problem with unions is the amount of coercive force they are allowed to wield.

i have no problem at all with collective bargaining. hey, it’s a free country and a free market, bargain together if you like.

the problems arise when 51% of a workforce can force the other 49% to accept the deal they wanted, force those no wishing to join a union to pay dues anyway (agency fees), abide by union rules, and, in some states compel an employer to hire ONLY union workers.

stop and think about what that really means for a minute. your workers can force you to only hire those who pay them. they become the gatekeeper, not you and there is nothing you can do about it. as a worker, you cannot cut your own deal.

how is it that we even consider tolerating such a situation? it seems irretrievably antithetical to a free society.

Dan H June 28, 2011 at 9:40 am

If unions weren’t protected by the law, they wouldn’t be able to coerce.

If I own a shop, why must I keep a union flier in the break room for at least 60 days after it’s posted? I own the damn shop! “But Dan, that’s a violation of free speech!”… and that’s what the public school ‘tards are never taught. If I own a place, I can set any standard I want. If you don’t like it, don’t work there. The First Amendment is to protect you from GOVERNMENT censorship, not free me telling you that you can’t post propaganda in my break room. It’s my business and my property!

Dan H June 28, 2011 at 9:41 am

from** not free

morganovich June 28, 2011 at 11:47 am

exactly so.

i cannot tell you to stop speaking, but i can tell you to get off my property.

the right to free speech does not allow you to walk into someone’s home or business to exercise it.

nor does it stop your boss from firing you if you insist on telling your customers about your alien abduction or the CIA chip in your head.

you are still free to speak. your boss can’t take that away, but he can make you do it somewhere else.

tdp July 1, 2011 at 9:16 pm

Collective bargaining is inconsistent with Freedom of Association because it gives unions the power to represent non-union members in labor negotiations and make them pay union dues, which are then distributed to Democratic candidates. The NLRA actually gives unions the power to force non-union members to essentially be union members in states without strong Right to Work laws. Imagine if you needed a lawyer and the shyster down the street forced his services upon you, preventing you from consulting anyone else. He charges you twice the normal rate and uses that money to fund the Trial Lawyers’ PAC that donates millions of dollars to the Looney Left every election campaign.

tdp June 28, 2011 at 5:43 pm

Worst places to own a business: California, Illinois, New York, New Jersey, etc. All Democrat-dominated places. Most of the Northeast and Upper Midwest, where Unions once reigned supreme, is stagnant or shrinking demographically and economically, while states with right-to-work laws have been among the fastest growing states demographically and economically.

As to the CEOs remark… the only CEOs who have been destroying anyone are the rent-seekers who go to the government for bailouts to escape the market consequences of their bad decisions. Also, if you think CEOs and big business are destroying industrial America and squashing America’s manufacturing, consider the fact the organized labor vastly outspends big business in lobbying efforts, campaign contributions, and sponsoring of politicians, meaning they get their voices and views heard more often and louder than business. A few chosen companies aside, more loopholes and exemptions, and favorable economic policies are given to labor in legislation (health care bill, the fact that the US has the highest corporate tax rates in the world) than to non-Union workers or management. Labor unions, far from representing Gilded Age oppressed sweatshop laborers, have a disproportionate amount of control over the political process, and rely on government strong-arming to get their way because market changes (more immigration , an end to legal discrimination against blacks, women, and other groups barred from unions in the workforce, the rise of IT and computers, and the revival of manufacturing in Japan and W Europe as well as its emergence in S and E Asia) have made them ineffective on their own since the 1970s.

John Dewey June 28, 2011 at 5:53 am

Tom: “Our industrial base has been destroyed by greedy CEO’s in every industry”

Some industries have been offshored. But U.S. manufacturing in the 21st century is as strong as ever. And the much larger service sector reached all time highs as well. Democratic policies have caused high unemployment to last much longer than it should have. But the U.S. economy is growing and will continue to grow,

Scott June 28, 2011 at 6:25 am

Boatloads of crap for cheap! Yes and after about 6 months those boatloads of crap that supposedly made the standard of living better for poor people are sitting in the garbage can, valueless.

Dan H June 28, 2011 at 9:25 am

Dey tuk err jobz!!!!! (a la South Park)

Gil June 28, 2011 at 1:46 am

Aw shucks, why not simply write a letter telling them that unions do nothing but seek to get higher than market wages for their members which either put other workers into unemployment or destroys the company and puts everyone out of work hence you should all quit your jobs and the government should make unions illegals as the free market will find its own level for wages?

Chucklehead June 28, 2011 at 2:16 am

I think I have detected a straw man fallacy in your argument, Professor. There is no such thing as a 1991 Buick Regal on the road today. There value depreciated so fast that filling the tank doubled the value of the car by 1996. None of them survived to see the new millennium. They were remelted into re-bar for the building boom, a higher value use for sure.

Dan J June 28, 2011 at 2:44 am

And, an ’82 Buick regal? Sold mine in 2000. Go to LA or Phoenix, they are on the road……. Sometimes, only three tires at a time….. the switches will pop up one tire as it then goes over to…. Low ri- der, go a lil fast now……

vidyohs June 28, 2011 at 7:09 am

Mr. Jordan operates on conventional wisdom, which is the same thing as saying he is basically a pond scum intellect (floats on, and covers a lot of territory, but has no depth).

Conventional wisdom is the results of enculturation and is knee jerk smarts. He proves up my frequent point that the vast majority of humanity lives each day running on 99% reaction to their enculturation and almost never brushing up against real thought.

“Which is why we never change any one’s mind, we can only keep providing new information until they change their mind.” (Zig Ziglar)

The most common two emotions I see in people’s faces when they are forced to attempt thought are fear and the confusion it causes.

Per Kurowski June 28, 2011 at 7:42 am

Some months ago my car had an incident and the side door got smashed. I thought it was a minor thing and so when they declared it a “total loss” I said “What? In my country they would have fixed it in about a week.” The answer I got was “Sorry, it´s the law!” “But if I want to take it with me to have it repaired?” I asked… “Then you´ve got to pay us the scrap value and after the repair go through seven inspections in order for the car to be able to be put back on the road… which is something we sincerely recommend you stay away from”, they answered.

I concluded that probably the car repair workers aren´t as unionized as the new car producing workers.

ArgosyJones June 28, 2011 at 8:43 am

Don, your economic analysis is lacking on this one. Surely the UAW President would reply that the market for used union made cars affects that for new union made cars to a considerable extent.

Dan H June 28, 2011 at 9:19 am

I wonder if most union ubertards realize that their favorite workboot, Timberland, is manufactured in the Dominican Republic (among other places).

John Dewey June 28, 2011 at 10:12 am

I sense a little bit of union-bashing in some of the comments. Just so we’re clear, I do not blame the UAW for the troubles that GM, Ford, and Chrysler have experienced the past three decades.

As I see it, the role of a union is to obtain the best possible deal for its members. It is the responsibility of corporate management to ensure the company remains competitive. The concessions granted to unions over decades by the Big Three management prevents those companies from investing as much in development as do the Japanese automakers. At least, that’s my view.

Unions do not necessarily bankrupt corporations. Southwest Airlines and UPS are heavily unionized, yet continue to lead their industries in profitability.

Economiser June 28, 2011 at 10:22 am

The problem isn’t collective bargaining. It’s the special legal privileges granted to unions.

My one (and hopefully only) experience as a union member was at my first job after college. I had the right to opt out of the union, provided (1) they would still deduct the same amount of union dues from my paycheck, and (2) I would lose my health insurance (which was provided through the union). Guess how many people opted out.

Methinks1776 June 28, 2011 at 10:35 am

Exactly my complaint.

And, John, I don’t particularly enjoy being hosed by the UAW as a taxpayer either.

John Dewey June 28, 2011 at 12:08 pm

I do not, either.

My point was/is that unions are acting exactly as we should expect them to act. The blame for special legal privileges and for union bailouts lies squarely on elected representatives who are not acting in the best interest of taxpayers. The blame for labor contracts which threaten the survival of the corporation lies squarely on the corporate leaders who gave in rather than act in the best interests of shareholders.

John Dewey June 28, 2011 at 12:13 pm

One more point:

That some elected officials favor unions rather than voters is as much the fault of voters as it is the fault of elected officials. IOW, voters who are footing the bill for bailouts need to blame themselves if they are not as organized in their oppostion as unions are in their lobbying.

Methinks1776 June 28, 2011 at 1:36 pm

so because you and I have not joined together to spend time and resources fighting off invaders who won’t let us get on with productive activity unmolested we are at fault? If we have to form our own militias, what’s the point of a government that is supposed to protect our right to life, liberty and pursuit of happiness? Maybe there isn’t one.

Methinks1776 June 28, 2011 at 1:38 pm

I mean, you do realize that unions buy political cover and you’re effectively saying that we’re at fault for not also bidding for politicians.

odinbearded June 28, 2011 at 2:03 pm

Ordinary taxpayers don’t have a way to force lobbying dues out of other taxpayers.

John Dewey June 28, 2011 at 2:09 pm

methinks: “so because you and I have not joined together to spend time and resources fighting off invaders who won’t let us get on with productive activity unmolested we are at fault?”

I do not consider union workers to be invaders. They’re just one more special interest group which lobbies the government to gain advantage. Not much different than the National Assoication of Realtors or the American Bankers Association or Boeing.

I can’t speak for you, but I have lent my support to Tea Party groups, to the National Rifle Association, and to a couple of elected officials whom I believe stand for personal liberty.

methinks: “you do realize that unions buy political cover “

Yes, I do.

methinks: “you’re effectively saying that we’re at fault for not also bidding for politicians.”

Yes, I am.

Please understand that I would prefer to use the power of the ballot box rather than the power of the bribe to try and secure my liberty and my property. But I think I’m being realistic in saying that the odds are stacked against us.

John Dewey June 28, 2011 at 2:12 pm

“Ordinary taxpayers don’t have a way to force lobbying dues out of other taxpayers.”

That doesn’t mean that ordinary taxpayers are powerless. There are many times more ordinary taxpayers than union members.

Methinks1776 June 28, 2011 at 2:51 pm

Ordinary taxpayers are not powerless. They can engage in activity that is productive but not taxable and the really productive can leave the United States.

I’ve given money in much the same way you have, but those groups represent some very diverse interests. So far,. I haven’t seen any return on that money. And I don’t think I will.

tdp June 28, 2011 at 5:49 pm

Special interests trump the public because they get concentrated benefits for diffuse costs. Each union member gains more from lobbying than each individual taxpayer loses, so union members have greater motivation to lobby.

Economiser June 29, 2011 at 12:26 am

@ John Dewey:

Yes, unions leaders behave exactly as they are expected to behave – they lobby the government for special privileges. So do the National Assoication of Realtors and the American Bankers Association and Boeing, as you say. The government is at fault for giving in to their demands.

Where unions differ from those other organizations is that unions can force non-consenting employees to participate in their activities. When Boeing lobbies, it does so on behalf of its shareholder and employees, all of whom choose to be affiliated with Boeing. When a Boeing employees’ union lobbies, it does so on behalf of Boeing employees who may or may not desire union affiliation. The union laws add an often unwelcome third party to the employer-employee relationship. It’s a shakedown, pure and simple.

It’s true that government laws allow unions to operate in this manner, so our elected officials certainly have their share of blame. But it’s not unreasonable to also engage in “union-bashing.” The unions are the thieves; the government is allowing them to do so. Both are blameworthy.

John Dewey June 29, 2011 at 4:46 am

“The unions are the thieves; the government is allowing them to do so.”

I disagree. As I see it, the elected officials who continue to allow closed shop laws are entirely to blame. The elected officials who impose tairiffs which benefit certain producers and the elected officials who mandate ethanol usage are also entirely to blame.

John Dewey June 29, 2011 at 4:48 am


I also do not believe seniors who lobby for continued funding of social security and medicare to be thieves.

vikingvista June 30, 2011 at 1:12 am

“I also do not believe seniors who lobby for continued funding of social security and medicare to be thieves.”

Whatever you want to call them, they are on the same moral footing.

Dan J June 28, 2011 at 2:39 pm

The role of the union is a disguise. They do not act out of best interest of it’s members. They act out of best interest of union bosses who look to generally appease the base to remain in their power roles for hobnobbing with politicians, riding in limos, eating expensive dinners, first class accommodations at the expense of union members. Then they excoriate, if not physically abuse detractors. They are a mob. Now, this generalization cannot be attributed to all members or all of management in unions. But, the pattern is overwhelmingly consistent.

Dan J June 28, 2011 at 2:42 pm

Worked at a union shop briefly, and I am from Detroit. Unions deserve the bashing.

Chris June 28, 2011 at 10:41 am

HAHAHAHAH!!!! Mr. Boudreaux said that a 1991 Buick would still be capable of being driven. now thats funny

michael coffey June 28, 2011 at 10:57 am

If it is so important to buy only american cars ,says the union.Then why are most parts for these cars made in canada or overseas . AS long as the unions get to keep beinging greedy and get high wages for playing cards and doing nothing the union doen’t care. Education in the USA now down to 22 on the global scale and theachers want more.Stand and put a screw in sheet metal through a predrilled hole and want more Build roads that last only 10 years and want more .Unions say nothing about poor material,poor education or any of the other things wrong,just it’s wrong to stop the from being greedy . As for Union Presidets ,the intellectual Stupid leading the Intellectual Idiots. How STUPID!!!!

nailheadtom June 28, 2011 at 12:09 pm

The industrial and public sector union phenomenon is bad enough without slathering on misconceptions. Union workers don’t design or specify the materials for road construction or other projects and their completed work has to meet specifications or it gets torn out and redone. Criticism of work rules, pension benefits, etc. can be valid, but union contracts have been signed by both labor and management. Management has an equal share of the responsibility for the situation, especially in the public sector, where elected officials that are now long gone have made deals with unions that will have to be honored by the citizens of the future.

tdp June 28, 2011 at 5:51 pm

Federal labor regulations such as the requirement that management negotiate “in good faith” have been interpreted by arbitrators and negotiators for years to ensure terms dictated by the union, so in a lot of ways management has had its hands tied by labor laws.

John Kannarr June 28, 2011 at 11:40 am

So the purpose of buying automobiles is to keep unionized auto workers employed? Next we’ll have the Obama-car Act, requiring us to buy new union-made cars every year.

Eric Davies June 28, 2011 at 12:13 pm

Look – I’m very much anti-union (especially UAW) and particularly this notion of buying only “American-Union Made Cars.”

But is this different from Apple not allowing a Zune or HP laptop on their campus? Or Coke not allowing Pepsi on its campus? (I assure you, those things are very much not allowed). Business and unions are not pro-competition – they want to squelch it. That’s their incentive.

For this reason, I don’t mind their sign. They can do whatever they want. However, this doesn’t change what I will do as a consumer.

Marv July 15, 2011 at 2:11 am

This forum needed sakinhg up and you’ve just done that. Great post!

aivekykzca July 18, 2011 at 8:53 am

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Mao_Dung June 28, 2011 at 2:10 pm

I propose a new form of civil disobedience to protest against offshoring, and the lack of consumer choice that has been foisted on us by greedy capitalists such as the “Chainsaw” Al Dunlap’s of the business world . The Made-in-Asia, and Made-abroad merchandise that threw the unionized American manufacturing worker to the wind can still be resisted by the consumer. Yes, you may still find high-end merchandise made in the U.S., but for most other consumer goods they will have a foreign label, i.e. made by cheap foreign labor.

Every time you go to a department store, purchase two or more items. You don’t have to look at the label, because 99% of time it will be made abroad. When you get home, open the package up, then return the “used” item to the store where you bought it. Complain to the ignorant store clerk, who’s predecessors were unionized and paid better, about the poor quality of the merchandise. If enough people do this repeatedly, the retailers will get the message. The return flow of foreign garbage will be enormous. The cost to the retailer will affect her bottom line. Can you image the repercussions?

Hippy sit-ins are a thing of the past. Demonstrations with picket signs will get you labeled a terrorist and the fascist authorities will have video tape evidence to wiretap your cell phone. You may be imprisoned or blacklisted for being a subversive. Causing the flow of goods to go back to the retailer and then back to the manufacturer is way to go. Let’s begin in earnest to get even with greedy, evil capitalists and their marketing mind and body control over us. Consumers of world unite! Return that crappy toaster you just bought to Macy’s. Tell them that it burnt your toast and set your house on fire. Enough is enough!

Dan H June 28, 2011 at 2:20 pm

“Lack of consumer choice”?

You think consumer choice is lacking now, just wait until you ban offshoring.

Ubertard of the Day Award once again goes to Mao_Dung! In an unbelievable streak of Ubertard dominance, Mao_dung and love muirgeo have won or shared every Cafe Ubertard award for a record 377 consecutive days!

tdp June 28, 2011 at 5:52 pm

Q. How do Mao_Dung’s braincells die?
A. Alone.

brotio June 28, 2011 at 7:08 pm


Since I’m still convinced that Mao is a satirist, I think the joke better fits Yasafi Muirduck.

tdp July 1, 2011 at 9:23 pm

muirduck is so pathetic that I sometimes feel sorry for him. Mao_Turd has a nasty streak in his comments that makes it hard for me to believe he is a really a satirist. Usually satirists don’t go out of their way to be vicious as that would break their cover. Mao is probably an unemployed college grad from Reed or Berkeley who’s angry at the world and vents it here before crying into his withered copy of Das Kapital every night.

ArrowSmith June 28, 2011 at 7:19 pm

Mao is definitely a satirist like blighter on

joe cushing June 30, 2011 at 9:10 am

If I showed up in my Toyota Matrix and somebody else showed up in a pontiac Vibe, would I get the boot and the Vibe owner stay? Both cars came off the same line, in the same plant, run by the same people–in Canada.

Mike June 30, 2011 at 11:30 am

I encountered a similar sign in St. Louis. I parked my Dodge and promptly popped the hood. the parking lot attendant came out and asked if I was having a trouble. “Yes,” I replied, “I’m having trouble figuring out how much of my car is American made and how much of it I can park in your lot.” then pointed to the SEVEN mitsubishi emblems on the car.

Peter July 1, 2011 at 12:27 am

I understand the point of getting the truth out there, but these people cannot be reasoned with and we’re not allowed to kill them. I just ignore them.

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