Magic Buttons: Summary Findings

Here's what I can give you so far. I'll give you the breakdowns of answers by ideological identification in the next post. Let me emphatically state that the presence of pie charts in no way suggests the presence of science. The poll sample is representative of nothing other than the set of people who either read this blog and are willing to take unscientific polls or who follow me, or certain other people who follow me, on Twitter and like to take unscientific polls. That said, I think the result are suggestive, and fun to talk about. I'm personally most interested in the ideological breakdown of poll participants, which gives me a rough sense of my readership. I will show you later what “Other” included, since it's sort of funny. 


Huge props go to The Fiery Scribe for volunteering his or her mad spreadsheet skilz.

11 thoughts on “Magic Buttons: Summary Findings”

  1. the numbers you put up are from a Chrysler media briefing book. There’s a reason why they announce their labor costs in per worker per hour form.
    It’s quite misleading for your average non-economist reading in the Times or on a blog that UAW workers are taking home $70/hr in wages in benefits when no individual worker is doing such a thing. Using this statistic, if they cut half their labor force (half of the hours worked) their “labor costs” will increase sharply when measured in this way. So, may be useful for the automakers accounting departments…not a good way to assess the standard of living of a UAW worker..which many are apt to do when faced with this figure.

  2. Using this statistic, if they cut half their labor force (half of the hours worked) their “labor costs” will increase sharply when measured in this way.
    Only because of the UAW “jobs bank” that says that even laid off workers continue to be paid most of their salaries. For most companies, cutting ones labor force actually reduces labor costs. Not for the Detroit companies. (Also, they’re forced to cut the new workers making less.)
    It’s certainly true that because of recent agreements, new hires make a lot less than the old system. But retirees and older workers are still grandfathered in under the old system. So the current system involves newer Detroit workers subsidizing the retirees (and retirees’ families.)
    They made pension and medical benefits promises to retirees that they couldn’t keep.

  3. A rather serious abuse of cost accounting, because the number is used to justify cuts in current workers’ pay and benefits.
    If journalists and economists are going to play at accounting and finance they should probably have a clue.
    Toyota and Honda will simply dump their retirees’ costs on the U.S. government, a much overlooked fact (the workers’ 401 (k) plans are melting down as you read this).

  4. No one is saying that CURRENT workers make $70 per hour.
    Actually, lots of people are saying that. And the difference is highly relevant. The liability to the retirees is a fixed cost, much like interest charges on debt. It doesn’t grow as GM builds more cars.
    By the way, I think a little heftier apology is in order, not this “gee I didn’t mean it” stuff. When an obviously implausible fact comes your way, don’t you have an obligation to verify it before passing it on?

  5. Yes, cuz paying a bunch of people who gave you the best 30 years of their lives the benefits that you promised in order to induce them to do so is “wasting a ton of money.”

    1. If you are supposed to be a for-profit corporation, then obviously yeah. Are you against bankruptcy protections in general? The core mechanism of which is allowing individuals and firms to renege on promises. Or are you saying that taxpayers should be made to meet promises they never made?

      1. Whenever I attempt to respond to this, it turns into a long essay. I’ll try to keep it short and say that obviously I am not against BK; I actually think the car companies need to go there because they have been so poorly run for decades that an infusion of taxpayer dollars at this point would be a lost cause.
        However, let’s be clear that it isn’t the guys on the line earning $28/hr (which by the way is 58k/yr, which will support a family in a lmid to ower middle class lifestyle) that ran the company into the ground.
        The whole $70/hr thing strikes me as something that has been latched onto by some (no matter how incorrect the numbers are) precisely because it tends to shift the attention and blame from the bad business decisions made for decades by mgmt to the the workers.

      2. I agree that bad business decisions have been made for decades. I don’t agree the blame falls squarely on the shoulders of management of the companies however.
        Union management along with Corporate management made bad deals along the way that has caused the companies to tank. The union mentality that every line worker should be paid like they hold a Masters Degree is insane.
        Union management played a major role in forcing corporate management to agree to terms that could in now way shape or form allow the company to survive long term.
        The Big Three are similar to the US Social Security System where as people retire the current workers are paying for people who no longer are employed with the company. It is fine when you have 1 retiree for every 3 workers, not so good when the reverse is true.

  6. GM got so many excess expenses that they don’t need at all. let say they got 2000 employees with $73. They will spend $173,000 every month. We all know that GM got more than 2000 employees.

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