Monday, March 30, 2009

Recession! Unemployment! American Economy Failing! - Been There, Done That - Still Here

I have it lucky.

I was born during the Truman administration, and lived in an upper Midwestern city with three colleges: Fargo-Moorhead. I still miss having access to the NDSU architecture, agricultural sciences, and main library collections; Concordia's library, and the library at what they're calling MSU-M these days. It was "Moorhead State" through several of the name changes.

Students went to those colleges, of course: enough to fill the small town I live in now, several times, if memory serves.

So, when I started looking for work, I was one of the horde of older teens and twenty-somethings doing the same thing.

An employer looking for someone to take out the trash could chose between someone who would be an architect in a few years, a grab-bag of liberal arts majors - - - you get the picture?

These weren't your stereotype pencil-neck geek intellectuals, either: so it wasn't a question of picking whoever might be able to lift fifty pounds without snapping.

And, there were an average, at some points, of about a hundred applicants for each job.

I'm Not Complaining: It was an Educational Experience

It didn't help that I graduated from high school in the spring of 1969. My timing, for the next several decades, was impeccable: That's a lot of recessions, isn't it? Different people will say it's George Bush's fault - either one; Clinton's fault, Reagan's fault, or the fault of a Bourgeois Capitalist System's oppression of the proletariat.

Oddly, I think that last bunch has a point. It does seem that a boom-bust cycle is part of economies where people are allowed to make money, and keep some of what they make. It's rough: but I prefer it to the systems that look good on paper, but tend to fail when someone tries using them on a society of human beings.

Five Recessions and an Oil Crisis

And I was looking for work in all but two of them. Three, if you count the current one: but I'll get back to that.

I've quit one job, and been let go from one because I wasn't what the employer was looking for: and had the job - or the company - disappear so many times, I've lost count.

It's been a good experience. With each new job, I learned new skills, and that:
  • A job is a job - not my life
  • Jobs end - life (so far) doesn't
  • My next job probably won't be the same as my last
    • This certainly is not a problem
The last job I had, working for someone else, lasted just over 20 years. It ended in the spring of 2006: and I've been working for myself every since. I'm a lousy employer, by the way: I don't pay me anywhere near as much as I'd like. But that's changing.

Whaddaya Mean, the Place is Closing?! I WORK Here!!

I ran across a news item from Michigan today. Wayland, Michigan, is having hard times. They're tied up in the American auto industry - apparently more so than some other places. And, a car dealership closed.

Some of the (now former) employees sprang into action: they got drunk and started fights. One of them explained the logic of his actions:

" 'Does it matter how hard you work, because there is somebody a little bit above you that has the right to control every decision and every effort you put forward, don't you have a right to be a little bit mad when somebody says hey we're all done,' ... 'It's terrible, horrible.' " (WWMT)
Change Hurts, Change Happens
I understand the emotions, I think. It feels bad, losing a job. There's a loss of security and stability. I've gone through it, quite often. Losing a job really, sincerely, doesn't feel good. Even when it wasn't a particularly nice job.

But, I think I'm lucky. During one of those recessions - I think it was around the time of the 1980's one - I had a job in a state-run employment agency. Part of what I did was interview people, find out what sort of work they could do, what they were willing to do, and then connect them with employers.
Caution! Middle-Aged Guy Reminiscing
It was one of the best jobs I had. I'd be doing something like that now, but I looked at numbers then: and there was no way I could make a living at it, working independently, without moving to a larger city. Which I did not want to do.

Back then, talking with someone new every few minutes, I got a pretty good look at what was happening. Everyone was hurting, economically. There were a lot of people for each job, and only one could have it.

And, some of the people I talked to had only had one job in their life.
Don't Like Change? It Happens, Anyway
Applying what I learned in an upper Midwest city to the coastal culture, I suspect that there are people today who are experiencing the same thing. All their lives, they've worked at one job, and been rewarded for sticking to that unwavering routine.

Now, things are changing.

In my younger days, a typical victim of change was the WWII GI. He'd done his tour of duty, gotten started with GI benefits, and for decades been paid for showing up at the factory and doing his task on the assembly line. Nothing wrong with any of that. It was a good life.

But, when things changed, things changed. America's steel industry went through changes, automation had hit middle management (that's a whole different story), and was moving in on assembly line jobs.

It seemed so unfair: You do what's expected of you, and the factory closes anyway.

Or, in the Wayland incidents, the car dealership closes. And about 30 people are out of work.

I've been there: so often that I've started to understand that change happens. That's hardly a new idea. About two dozen centuries ago, Heraclitus said: "Nothing endures but change." today, you're more likely to hear, "the more things change, the more they stay the same," but the idea is about the same. ("The more things change..." is attributed to Alphonse Karr. What he actually wrote was "Plus ca change, plus c'est la meme chose.")

So, Change Happens: What Can You Do?

When your employer goes out of business, there are quite a few options:
  1. Go out, get drunk, and start a few fights
    • Spending time in jail and getting a 'drunk and disorderly' charge is close to a best-case scenario here
  2. Set fire to your former employer's place of business
    • Really stupid idea: Arson is frowned upon in most states
    • Social ostracism may be a result
    • It's illegal, too
  3. Give yourself time to feel sad, then:
    • Take a deep breath
    • Run around a bit
      • Or do something physical (and legal) to work off the emotional energy
    • Start thinking.
      • You've got skills, and experience
      • There are other jobs
      • Kinds of jobs that use the same, or similar, skills
All things considered, I think that of these options, #3 makes the most sense.

Option #3 includes starting your own business. Particularly when you open a sole proprietorship (like I did), in effect - you're hiring yourself.

I've had some interesting worker-management meetings with myself. One problem with the sole-proprietorship arrangement is that you can't storm out if the meeting doesn't go your way.
Oh, No! More Reminiscence!
Back in 2006, when the small publishing company I'd devoted 20 years to went through a radical downsizing, I didn't feel all that good. I'd been an advertising copywriter and graphic designer for ten years there, and list manager for another 10. I'd gotten carpal tunnel in both wrists, with all the keyboard-and-mouse work (the insurance company came up with an anonymous Ivy League study that said that repetitive motions don't cause the problem - but that's another story).

*sob* I feel so abused! - NOT! I'd picked up quite a few skills in those two decades.

And, on my own time, had learned about the Internet and the World Wide Web. I had a large website of my own developed (Brendan's Island) by the time the boss decided to use the Web. I ended up building a website for my employer, too (Vocational Biographies). Neither one was the best of its kind: but I do think the navigation's decent in both. If you noticed that the two look a lot alike: There's a reason for that, and that's all I'll say.

Around that time, I went into business as a free-lance website designer. Quite a few other people were doing the same thing: and most of them were commercial artists. Their work generally looked anywhere from competent, through professional, to fabulous.

My 'website designer' business didn't too at all well. I learned that the population density in Central Minnesota wasn't high enough (still isn't) to support it. Being more of a Web architect than a Web artist didn't help: There just aren't that many outfits around here that need websites with a hundred or more pages.

No problem. I still had a day job then, and: I'd tried. I started developing ideas for websites that people would like to visit. I figured I had between ten and fifteen years to make them into something that would be a self-supporting retirement hobby.

Then, I lost my job. And, my schedule changed. "Ten to fifteen years from now" turned to "last week," and "self-supporting hobby" to "household-supporting business."

One more thing: by that time, I couldn't feel my hands. Which was an improvement. The stage before that was 'sincerely distracting pain in both hands.' Carpal tunnel syndrome will do that, apparently. And, one finger on each hand had started locking up at odd intervals.

I could still use a keyboard: thanks to learning 'touch typing' in the sixties, my fingers knew where each key was, whether I could feel them or not.

After getting laid off, I had surgery done on both hands (one at a time), and was convinced by my wife and doctor that now was the time to get my hips replaced. They were right. So, one at a time, I had my hip sockets swapped out.

For most of 2006, I was 'in the shop' for repairs.

That gave me time to think - or would have, if the happy juice we used to control the discomfort had let me. I did have time to chew over what I was doing, and why.

Today, I'm still getting A Small World of Websites launched - one piece at a time.

It's slow going: but I got another check today, for advertising: and am learning about publishing 'real' books - ink on paper - on demand. I've got concerns about quality control - and I have yet to produce something worth printing - but I think it'll work.

Change Happens - What You do With it is Up to You

I'm no paragon: I'm just a middle-aged guy in a small central Minnesota town with a checkered job history and a few ideas.

And, I'm certainly not 'earning $40,000 dollars a week in my spare time.' (A whole other topic.) I've looked into those envelope-stuffing things from time to time. A general word of advice, for those interested in pursuing such 'opportunities:' Don't.

But I've gotten pretty good at losing jobs - then picking up the pieces and moving on. It can be done.

In the news: Background:

Sunday, March 29, 2009

CAN, Business Model; CHI Blogging Strategy: Cool Acronyms

"The CAN Blogging Business Model"
Damien Riley

"There is a lot of advice out there on how to blog. I’ve read just about all of it. I've been on the 'noob' end and also had the opportunity to mentor new bloggers. After over two years at this, I've developed my own criteria of blogg success and how to get there. First, let me describe the criteria I live by for blog success. I've categorized them into a three letter word acronym: C.A.N...."

the C.A.N. and C.H.I. blog strategy seem like common sense - but what would I know? This post is fairly short, has a low 'fog factor' (haven't hear that phrase for decades), and at the least should be a good review.

It's late Sunday night as I write this: I plan to get back "The CAN Blogging Business Model" next week. It's high time I review what it is that I think I'm doing.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Wal-Mart Gang Initiation: You Know What Those Non-Union Places are Like

Everybody knows what those non-union shops are like: capitalistic oppressors crushing helpless workers under an iron heel and all that.

And, the last I heard, Wal-Mart is not unionized. Which may explain what happened today.

Women Beware! Stay Away From Wal-Mart!! Gang Initiation Shooting!!! BIG DANGER WAL-MART!!!!

The gist of text messages that are popping around Arkansas, Delaware, Florida, Kansas and Maryland is that a gang is going to kill women at Wal-Mart. It's an initiation.

Scary, right?

But, as Gilda Radner's character said, "never mind!"

The messages are a hoax.

With variations, this chestnut has been around for years.

"The hoax warning first surfaced in 2005 in Memphis, TN. Since then, different variations have continued to periodically resurface." (KBTX)

In some circles, 'everybody knows' what Wal-Mart is like. Even without gang initiations involving the killing of women (and, in one variation, children), it's one of those big box stores that roam the land, spreading doom and despair. When a Wal-Mart comes into a small town, presto-chango, the lovely small town is destroyed.

Oddly, a Wal-Mart superstore opened in the small town that's my home back in April, 2007, and we haven't been destroyed yet. An Alco store closed, an Ace Hardware moved in, people have more jobs available to them, and there have been a few other changes: but no destruction.

Today's hoax may be somebody's idea of a practical joke. But assumptions about Wal-Mart's oppression of the working class might be involved, too.

Meanwhile, it looks like the Wal-Mart gang initiation shootings is a hoax. According to "authorities" and

Of course, if you like, you can assume that the authorities,, KBTX, and I, are all involved in a conspiracy to suppress whatever is going on at Wal-Mart. Who knows? We might all be those shape-shifting space-alien lizard people who run the world.

I don't know about KBTX,, and the police, but I'm not a lizard person. Of course, if I was, that's what I'd say.
Update (March 20, 2009)

The bogus text messages seem to be working their way west. From Hawaii:

"Don’t go to walmart today, supposed gang initiation to shoot random people 'women' is the target.' " (Star Bulletin)

It's not always the same text. "Many of the texts read something similar to: 'do not go to any Wal-Mart tonight,' 'Gang initiation to shoot three people tonight,' 'Not sure which Wal-Mart,' 'ABC confirmed on TV,' and 'Please forward this on to friends and family.'..." "MSNBC)

An Amarillo, Texas, Station had some excellent advice: "[Corporal Jerry Neufeld with the Amarillo Police Department] says, 'we would ask, or strongly urge, confirm it with law enforcement before you assume it's true.'..." (emphasis mine)

The Amarillo station showed photos and a video about the text messages. The photo is a little hard to read, but the message seems to be: "I just got this... better safe than sorry
FW: Do not go to any walmart tonight. Gang initiation to shoot 3 women tonight. Not sure which walmart....
" (KFDA)

In the news: Background:

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Never Mind the AIG Bonuses: We May Have "Redistributive Change" on an International Scale

I wrote about the obscene practical joke played on American taxpayers by American International Group yesterday. Two more observations -

A Simple Apology and Resignation Would be Sufficient

An Iowa politico made a modest proposal, regarding how AIG executives might deal with the regrettable embarrassment they face.

"...Republican Sen. Charles Grassley of Iowa didn't appear to be joking, however, when he spoke with Cedar Rapids, Iowa, radio station WMT.

" 'I would suggest the first thing that would make me feel a little better toward them [AIG executives] is if they follow the Japanese example and come before the American people and take that deep bow and say, "I am sorry," and then either do one of two things: resign or go commit suicide,' he said.

" 'And in the case of the Japanese, they usually commit suicide.' " (CNN)

I cannot, as a practicing Catholic, suggest that anyone commit suicide. With that proviso, however, I think that Senator Grassley's suggestion has merit.

I think it would be decent of those AIG executives who ran their company into the ground, and rewarded themselves with taxpayer's money, to reimburse the federal government for money wasted on their bonuses. But, an apology and resignation would be sufficient. Providing that they do no more harm to America or the world.

AIG, The Washington Crowd, and, Maybe, Redistributive Change

I don't think that The Wall Street Journal could reasonably be called a scandal sheet. That's why I was a bit disturbed to read this:

"...The politicians also prefer to talk about AIG's latest bonus payments because they deflect attention from Washington's failure to supervise AIG. The Beltway crowd has been selling the story that AIG failed because it operated in a shadowy unregulated world and cleverly exploited gaps among Washington overseers. Said President Obama yesterday, 'This is a corporation that finds itself in financial distress due to recklessness and greed.' That's true, but Washington doesn't want you to know that various arms of government approved, enabled and encouraged AIG's disastrous bet on the U.S. housing market....." (WSJ) (emphasis mine)

And, now that the federal government owns 80% of AIG, I'm very concerned about what money funneled through that company will be used for: and who it will go to.

I suggest, strongly, reading that Wall Street Journal article ("The Real AIG Outrage" (March 17, 2009)). Apparently, "...The U.S. government is now in the business of distributing foreign aid to offshore financiers, laundered through a once-great American company...."

Coming from another source, I might be more skeptical. Reading about what might be the start of "redistributive change" on an international scale - in The Wall Street Journal - I think there's some reason for concern: or at least a high level of interest.

American Money Going Overseas Can Make Sense - But This Looks Sneaky

I think that there are times when it's good policy to send tax dollars overseas: either directly or indirectly. Looking through my Another War-on-Terror Blog should give you an idea of my view of the world, and America's place in it. I'm no isolationist.

However, it looks like there may be something very sneaky going on with the feds and AIG. And, given Obama's views on redistributive change and related topics, I'm very concerned about the federal government quietly acquiring a massive interest in AIG, and the amount of money that's being channeled (the WSJ author wrote "laundered") through AIG.

I sincerely hope there's a nice, reasonable - and acceptable - explanation.

Related posts: News and views:

Monday, March 16, 2009

AIG, Outrage, Corporations, Unions, and Common Sense

'Outrage over AIG bonuses' is sizzling on the Web this morning, and for good reason. The American government has given somewhere in the neighborhood of $10,000,000,000 (USD) to American International Group, AKA AIG, to help that corporation out of the mess its executives and managers made.

It looks like some of the executives got a cut of the take, to the tune of $165,000,000 (USD): much of that going to AIG execs. Not that shabby a reward, for running financial giants into the ground.

As owner and operator of a sole proprietorship in America, I've got roughly the same chance of getting a federal bailout, and pocketing around a penny on the dollar, as I do of surviving, unprotected, for an hour, inside a blast furnace.

I don't mind one bit. If I got 'help' like that, there would be so many strings attached, that I'd look like Pinocchio: pre-fairy.

America: A Nation of Law

An op-ed piece this morning opens with a pair of quotes:

" 'We are a country of law. There are contracts. The government cannot just abrogate contracts. Every legal step possible to limit those bonuses is being taken by Secretary Geithner and by the Federal Reserve system.'–Lawrence Summers, chief economic advisor[!] to President Barack Obama

" 'Perhaps you [the government] can explain to all of us why a UAW worker earning $29 an hour must give back wages and benefits to keep their company alive, while the architects of the biggest financial disaster in history get to keep their gold plated contracts.'–Peter Morici, economist, University of Maryland" (EMac's Stock Watch)

Glenn Greenwald's blog on also discusses the AIG bailout, and the auto workers' union. Mostly AIG.

What President Obama's economic adviser said is true: America is a nation of law. I think that's true. It's also true that there's a lot of legal wrangling over exactly what the terms of a contract mean - but that's another issue.

Having laws, and being expected to follow them, is, I think, a good thing. Given the attitude I have toward a massively powerful federal government micro-managing private-sector matters, I don't mind having legal barriers between the feds and corporation execs.

UAW and AIG: Class Struggle Between Proletariat and Bourgeoisie? Reality Check, Please!

What the Maryland professor said got me curious, so I looked up American wages on the BLS website ("Wages by Area and Occupation," Bureau of Labor Statistics). I didn't find an exact match for "AW worker earning $29 an hour" - but I got a few that are close.

Turns out, as of May of 2007, this is what Americans were getting paid, on average, in these occupations:1
  • "Production Occupations" overall
    • $15.05 an hour
    • $31,310 yearly
  • "Aircraft Structure, Surfaces, Rigging, and Systems Assemblers"
    • $21.24 an hour
    • $44,180 yearly
  • "First-Line Supervisors/Managers of Production and Operating Workers"
    • $24.88 an hour
    • $51,740 a year
  • "Numerical Tool and Process Control Programmers"
    • $21.54 an hour
    • $44,800 yearly
  • "Tool and Die Makers"
    • $22.36 an hour
    • $46,520 yearly
So, why the tone of righteous indignation I thought I noticed in the Maryland professor's comparison of UAW workers and "the architects of the biggest financial disaster in history"?

AIG executives probably don't, as a rule, have to get by on the $44,800 a year that your average Numerical Tool and Process Control Programmer makes.

Neither do college professors, for that matter. Americans with "Education, Training, and Library Occupations" get an average $22.41 hourly wage. That may help explain why professors, who are to some extent involved in education, are sometimes perceived as relatively poor. Looking a little deeper into the BLS site, I found that college professors don't have "hourly wage" listed. Their employment is seasonal, you see. They use their 'time off' to study, presumably. Besides, their pay isn't calculated that way.

I did a little figuring, from ten post-secondary teaching occupations listed by the BLS. College professors get by on a paltry $75,080 a year, on average.
  • Ten listed postsecondary teaching occupations average
    • $75,080 a year
  • "Mathematical Science Teachers, Postsecondary"
    • $65,450 a year
  • "Engineering Teachers, Postsecondary"
    • $85,260
I'm not complaining about what the professors make: what they do is a specialized job, requires a fair amount of training, and is demanding. If that's the market value for their set of skills, no problem.

I think that what your typical college professor makes may affect his or her perceptions of what a 'typical' or 'reasonable' wage is. It looks like professors make half again as much a year as your run-of-the-mill Numerical Tool and Process Control Programmers. More than that, actually. Or, coming at it the other way, the N.T.P.C. Programmers only make in the neighborhood of 2/3 what a prof does.

No wonder the Maryland professor regards $29 an hour as a comparative pittance.

Having grown up within a block of a college campus, and spending decades in or near America's academia, I've heard quite a bit about the class struggle between the proletariat and bourgeoisie. A century and more ago, that was an important aspect of Western civilization's evolution.

But today, the UAW isn't struggling against plutocratic oppressors of the Victorian Age.

This isn't the 19th century anymore.

We're in the 21st century and, if anything, the UAW is now part of the entrenched system that labor unions struggled against.

Big Three Automakers, AIG, Bailouts, and Pavlov

I'm not as hard-hearted and callous as this is going to sound. Letting the Big Three automakers fail might be a good idea. Ibid for AIG and all.
The Humanity! The Humanity!
Yes, I know that if GM, Chrysler, and Ford go the way of Owens Magnetic, quite a lot of UAW workers might be out of a job. But I don't think that Americans will stop driving - and buying - cars.

As I wrote last year, "I have trouble believing, though, that nobody of the several-hundred-million people who live in this country doesn't want to open an automotive design and assembly company, and have the brains and background to do it.

"It's been a long time since a new automotive company has had a chance to get started, with three 800-pound gorillas sitting on the American car market...." (December 12, 2009)

The start-ups might not be able to provide the pay and perks that UAW members have become accustomed to, and they might have to learn new skills. Some people may find it hard to change decades-old habits. But my guess is that union workers can learn.

Besides, the UAW and others in the established order will have to change their ways anyway. The Big Three are in the mess they're in because their leadership hasn't een dealing with reality.

If the existing Big Three change, union workers will have to adjust - along with everyone else. (I'm getting to the twits at the top: be patient.)

If the existing Big Three don't change their ways, and the rest of us keep bankrolling their incompetence, taxes for a steady stream of bailouts will eventually clean out Americans who do know how to be productive. Then, after what's left of the economy can't take the strain of whatever shenanigans the feds pull to prop up the Big Three, GMC, Ford, and Chrysler will collapse.

And union workers will have to adjust. Only by then, the adjustment will be a lot harder. There won't be as many solvent businesses around to hire them: you get the idea.
Pavlov's Incredible Drooling Dog and AIG Executives
You remember Pavlov's experiment, where he learned about classical conditioning.

The parallel between Pavlov's dog and AIG executives isn't exact: the executives walk on two feet, and haven't learned to drool at the sound of a tuning fork. As far as I know.

However, they have been rewarded for behavior that isn't doing AIG any good. And, particularly since Americans are now bankrolling the American International Group debacle, the rest of us aren't exactly benefiting, either.

I have nothing against a company giving bonuses for performance. In fact, that application of behavior modification makes a great deal of sense.

If, I repeat, if bonuses are clearly and unequivocally linked to desirable behavior.

Barney Frank: "Disgusted" by AIG Bonsues

I don't agree with Barney Frank very often, but I'm also "disgusted" by the way AIG seems to be rewarding incompetent executives: with money that came (in very small part) from me.

Today's Boston Globe had a few words on the subject, including: "...Frank, a Massachusetts Democrat who is chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, suggested that if the federal government, which now owns an 80 percent stake in the company, can't rescind the bonuses, it could force some dismissals.

" 'These people may have a right to their bonuses. They don't have a right to their jobs forever,' Frank said on NBC's 'Today' show...." (Boston Globe)

There's something to be disturbed about in that Boston Globe piece. My guess is that you caught it, too.

That's right: The federal government now owns 80% of American International Group.

The state owning and controlling major businesses? We've gone through this before. It didn't end well then: I'm hoping we get out of the current mess in better shape than Russia and Germany did. 2

Related posts: News and views:
1 The numbers are BLS mean, or average, hourly wages.

You probably know this already, but:
  • Median in this context means "the value below which 50% of the cases fall"
  • Mean means "an average of n numbers computed by adding some function of the numbers and dividing by some function of n"
    (Princeton's WordNet)
2 I am not responsible for, nor do I necessarily agree with, content at the other end of links. The "Russia" and "Germany" links are to documents which discuss what I think are undesirable aspects of state capitalism in Germany and Russia. I most certainly do not think that regulation is a panacea.

'Nuf said.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Govenment Bailouts of American Automakers, Financial Firms: Feels Good, But - - -

On the economic scale, sole proprietorships like mine are pretty close to being at the opposite end from outfits like AIG and GM. And, I'm okay with that. Not all businesses can be huge, cripplingly inefficient bureaucracies, desperately seeking federal bailouts.

Watching a panel discussion this morning, I heard something that may be a key to understanding what's gone wrong with Wall Street and automobile industry leaders of the 1950s.

One of the panelists expressed concern that, should GM declare bankruptcy and re-organize, it wouldn't be the same company. He apparently believed that GM not being just the same as it was last year, and the year before that, would be a bad thing.

It was all those people who might be out of a job that concerned him, he said.

Compassion is Nice: So is Common Sense

I don't like to think about people losing their jobs, but I don't see too many alternatives. This is an over-simplification, but I think that, given what's happening, GM will:
  1. Declare Bankruptcy and reorganize
    • Some people will lose their jobs
  2. Receive federal bailouts until increased taxes and cuts in programs we really need end the gravy train
    • A lot of people will lose their jobs
  3. Receive an inheritance from a rich uncle in Australia
    • Which will save the day
I don't think we can count on option #3. At all.

Option #2 doesn't look too appealing. By the time the feds finish draining everyone else to keep the likes of GM going, I fear that quite a number of companies that aren't big and important enough to get Washington's attention, but are taxed just the same, will have gone out of business. That'll mean that the out-of-work auto workers will have lots of company: but that'll be small consolation.

Option #1 isn't all that appealing in the short run, but it may be the least-bad alternative.

The sad fact is that the Big Three automakers haven't been doing all that well. Keeping them just the way they are may be the nostalgic thing to do, but I don't think it's good sense.

Related posts:

("Following" list moved here, after Blogger changed formats)

Small Business Watchers