The Ignorant Investor

Ignorance Can't Stand in the Way of My Opinion

Tuesday, September 20, 2011


GM Forgets the lessons about quality...Again

Saw this on Bloomberg:

General Motors Co. (GM) will move to entice electricians and its other highest-paid U.S. hourly workers to retire so it can hire lower-wage replacements through a four-year labor agreement with the United Auto Workers.GM, the biggest U.S. automaker, will offer buyout packages worth as much as $75,000 to its roughly 10,000 skilled-trades workers, the Detroit-based UAW said today in a briefing with reporters. Other employees eligible to retire can take $10,000 to stop working within two years so that GM can replace them with new hires starting with wages of less than $16 an hour
Doesn't this sound familiar?  Like the kind of thing the old GM would do in order to curry favor on Wall Street and boost the bottom line?  Take an expensive skilled worker and replace him with a noob who is probably just out of school.  Save a bit of cash, and hope that you don't need someone with experience in that job.  If quality starts slipping, don't sweat it.  Just take a couple of thousand bucks off the price in incentives to move the metal through the dealers.

Toyota doesn't take this approach in its plants.  So why is GM taking a different course? This is exactly the kind of thinking that made American-made cars the non-envy of the rest of the industrialized world.

Sunday, September 18, 2011


Republicans Praise Obama Tax Plan for Millionaires

Yeah, that's a misleading headline, but how many headlines of "Republicans criticize Obama's plans" do you want to read in a month?   The reality:
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Republican leaders on Sunday criticized President Barack Obama's proposal for a new tax on millionaires, calling it "class warfare" and predicting it will face heavy opposition in Congress.
Class warfare?  I've got to find a recruiting station, because that's one war I don't mind fighting.  Sign me up for the duration.  However, the republicans are right that this has no chance of making it through Congress.  The idea can't even make it out of a Democratic Senate.  Too many millionaires in the world's most sclerotic deliberative body.    

Thursday, September 08, 2011


Nationalize healthcare, fix the economy

I never paid much attention to healthcare, but take a worker with a  salary of $50,000 per year, about the median for the United States.  To pay for his or her family at a fake company I'm making up (not the one I work for, naturally, because I would never want to discuss my own job environment), premiums total around $7,800 per year.  The cost of the medicare tax for this worker, in essence, his share of the total cost of keeping the sickly aged alive for another year, is around $720.   That means that the worker's total expenditure on our healthcare system is around $7,500, or about 17% of this worker's paycheck.

This level of expenditure essentially constitutes a second tax burden that is as high as the worker's  federal income tax burden.  That's money that is pulled from workers' pockets and given to healthcare executives, doctors, and shareholders (yes, workers are employed by the system, too, but a lot of them are not any better paid than other workers and have the same problem of high health insurance premiums). That can't be healthy for the economy, but all we get from politicians is a shrug.

Whatever it takes, the cost of healthcare needs to be reduced.  Between healthcare and the high cost of housing, huge chunks of income are being taken out of workers' pockets from the moment they earn money.  That money won't be spent in the economy to improve demand for other goods and services.  It flows into the hands of healthcare corporation CEOs, highly paid skilled healthcare workers, and shareholders who are, if the economic situation over the past 10 years is any gauge,  are not using it in a way that has not benefited the wider economy.

We've tried this system of giving money to management and the professional classes under the assumption that  redistributing it to workers via either higher wages or direct taxation would kill the competitiveness of the economy.  We were promised that freeing up capital would increase the wealth of both executives and workers.  But it didn't work.  The promise went unfulfilled.  Time for a different approach.

I wonder if medicare was expanded to cover everyone, whether I would pay more or less than $7,500 for healthcare?  Because I suspect  I wouldn't lose in such a system.

Wednesday, September 07, 2011


Our Mr. Brightside-in-Chief

WASHINGTON — By proposing a jobs package filled with items that Republicans have supported in the past, President Obama is betting that moderate and independent voters he so desperately needs in next year’s elections will flock to his camp.

The trouble is, Mr. Obama has been pursuing those voters for much of the past two years, and they have continued to drift away.
Good luck, chief.  The only thing independents will care about in November 2012 is whether employment is up and whether they can ask for a raise without worrying about getting canned.  Doesn't matter how many Republicans sign onto his plan if it doesn't work. 

Monday, September 05, 2011


Lobbying the debt super committee

So the new debt panel is about to start deciding how to deal with the deficit.  According to the Washington Post:  


Nearly 100 registered lobbyists used to work for members of the supercommittee, now representing defense companies, health-care conglomerates, Wall Street banks and others with a vested interest in the panel’s outcome, according to a Washington Post analysis of disclosure data. Three Democrats and three Republicans on the panel also employ former industry lobbyists on their staffs.


The preponderance of lobbyists adds to the political controversy surrounding the supercommittee, which will begin its work in earnest this week as Congress returns to Washington. The panel has already come under fire from watchdog groups for planning its activities in secret and allowing members to continue fundraising while they negotiate a budget deal.

The chance that there is a lobbyist for the middle class taxpayer who can effectively outgun an industry lobbyist while these guys decide what to cut and who to tax seems remote.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011


Who cares?

The New York Times says:
House Speaker John A. Boehner all but rejected President Obama’s request to speak to a joint session of Congress on Sept. 7 by offering an audience the following night. Mr. Obama had asked to deliver a much anticipated speech outlining his proposals to boost employment and the economy on Wednesday, Sept. 7 — the same time as a scheduled Republican presidential debate, as it happens.
Nobody is going to care what Obama says in his address to Congress, because the guy is a small-bore, economically-conservative president who won't offer up any plan he can't get through Congress, and the plan will consist of tired, worn-out ideas that everyone has already heard.

On the other side, nobody but political junkies will care about a republican debate that happens months before the first primary. So this is all political theater for bloggers and the D.C media. Scheduling a speech to step on a previously scheduled debate from the opposing party is pussy pool, and what does it accomplish except make him see petty?

I suppose the idea is to rerun the Clinton move of forcing Newt Gingrich to sit at the back of Air Force One. The republicans will complain like Newt did, and the media will mock them for complaining. That's the idea, right?

Tuesday, August 23, 2011


Dear Bloggers: I don't give a shit what you ate last night

I was reading a political blog today, only at the top isn't a post on the election but rather one in which some asshole starts talking about the meal he had last night and how his wife is an ex-chef or something.

Bloggers talking about their meals is so tired. Equivalent to those conversations about lawn care and local school taxes that people associate with suburbanites. I read blogs to find interesting thoughts about politics, the markets, art, whatever. "This is what I had for dinner last night," followed by a recipe isn't interesting. It's tired and tedious and made worse by commenters who insist on describing their own favorite recipes or what they ate the prior night. Or how they shop in the best farmer's market in their region. Or only eat tomatoes grown fertilized by the shit of grass-fed cows. Who fucking cares?

Leave the discussion of food to food blogs. Or at least come up with a more interesting idea than "I ate a good dinner last night."


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