Senator Obama's victory gives hope that the Democratic party will be prevented from promoting any other Reverse Robin Hood policies. Can we sustain that hope through current events in the auto industry?
Workers at GM, Ford, and Chrysler are not among the poor by any definition: those workers' salary and benefits total more than $70 per hour!! Yes, I typed that correctly. Very few American workers earn that much per hour.
HOPE CAN SURVIVE
I see three reasons to continue hope.
- First, President Obama may stand up to the UAW. Maybe he would even insist that we cannot tax the average American to bail out those who are already more fortunate than most Americans!
- Second, GM is failing so fast that it might not last until inauguration day. Thus it might be Bush who stands up to the UAW -- he has done well on that lately. I admit that Bush's actions on this matter are not consistent with the Republicans' Reverse Robin Hood reputation, but I take solace in the fact that Secretary Paulson initiated the Wall Street bailout, even if many fellow Republicans did oppose it for a few days.
- Third, a fast failure may result in Bush's living up to the Republican reputation by bailing out automakers before inauguration day -- not exactly Robin Hood's outcome, but at least Obama's record would be untarnished.
A rapid and decisive GM collapse would allow us to continue to hope that President-elect Obama represents genuine change: leading politicians of the Democratic party will no longer tax the average American to bail out the rich, regardless of whether those rich do business in Detroit or in New York City.
[added Nov 18: The $70 per hour includes wages and benefits, but you might say some of the benefits "belong" to the retired workers, and that current workers cannot expect such a generous retirment (Mark Perry reports that in 2006, each retiree received an average of $48,793 of pension and benefits from their former employer; this does not include social security). An alternative indicator of how much auto workers make (wages and benefits) is to look at U.S. workers in Toyota plants (where the retiree legacy is not such a problem): almost $50 per hour. Whether you call it $50/hr, $60/hr, or $70/hr, these people earn much more than the average American worker.]