Some years ago — too many years ago — we had a running office joke with one of our young staff members, Phyllis. She was a sassy young black woman right out of Central Casting, but very funny. I told her she should be an advice columnist, and together we came up with a name for her column: Don’t Be So Goddamn Stupid. Every letter would start with this order, on the grounds that the busy reader may not have time to read the whole answer, and 90 percent of the cure for the problem could be found by following that advice alone.
I had a point when I started that paragraph, but it seems to have slipped my mind. More coffee, please.
Maybe it was this: Phyllis should be advising the United Auto Workers, who, we’re told, want job security, in return for $50 billion to administer their own health plan. Ha. Ha ha ha ha ha ha. Job security! I’m wiping the tears away even as we speak.
My feelings about the UAW and muscular unions in general are not those of a contemptuous libertarian. I think, if we’re perfectly honest about it, those folks created the 20th century middle class, with their shocking idea that owners and managers shouldn’t be the only ones to prosper in a booming industry. The UAW did more for the working class than Ronald Reagan ever did, and they helped elect him, twice. There’s something breathtakingly ballsy in this high-wire act of theirs, throwing GM into the briar patch, but ultimately, they need to listen to Phyllis. This may be little more than face-saving brinksmanship, but please. Just what the world needs — another reason to dismiss union leadership as out of touch with current economic realities.
Of course, you could hardly blame union members if they were baffled at what constitutes economic realities in this or any other business, these days. Right after Delphi filed for Chapter 11, they turned around and gave fat bonuses to the management team, to keep them on board while they went through the ugly process of reorganization. Retention bonuses, these are called. Retain the team that drove the company into bankruptcy, so that they can maybe drive it out. Who wouldn’t scratch their head over that one?
Friends, sorry this is late ‘n’ lame, but I’m not on strike, and in fact, I’ve got a passel of work to do. I leave you with one bit of bloggage: OJ’s girlfriend. Color me astounded. (Hey, check those tan lines!) And discuss, in your inimitable way. I’ll be back in a bit, after seven thousand phone calls and nine interviews.