Archive for April, 2009

Chrysler Files for Bankruptcy

April 30th, 2009

President Barak Obama today announced that Chrysler has entered Chapter 11 bankruptcy, but will emerge stronger from the filing. He also announced that Fiat and Chrysler have entered a partnership, and that Daimler is out.

As I tweeted earlier:

hard to imagine being bossed by a bigger bunch of a**h**es than those Germans, but Fiat is trying.

There is already rumours that suppliers are wary about supplying Canadian operations until things become clearer, and that some operations could close down for more temporary lay-offs. In case the media get this one wrong as well, Brampton is already scheduled to be down next week, look for more than one week before you believe anyone who tells you Chrysler is down because of the filing.

Here’s President Obama laying blame and taking credit.

And a little analysis. Note: hedge funds represent small investors, compared to the Presidents blame gaming.


Update: David Akin’s On the Hill:  Governments of Canada and Ontario will give $2.42B and have a 2% stake in Chrysler.

I Love My Job

Blue Blogging Soapbox Blogging Tories Site of the Week

April 29th, 2009
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The Blue Blogging Soapbox Blogging Tories Site of the Week for the week of April 26, 2009 is:

The Meatriarchy

If God Didn’t Want Me To Eat Animals, Why Did He Make Them Out Of Meat?

Blogging Tories Site of the Week

CBC is Not Culture

April 28th, 2009
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Whenever talk comes around to what to do with the CBC, the discussion always comes in as a culture decision. We want to save Canadian culture, we need to protect Canadian culture. However, the CBC is not in the culture business, they are in the entertainment business, and now that CBC executive vice-president in charge of English services, Richard Stursberg, has admitted as much, can we please do without the pretence?

Some want it to go advertising-free (which would reduce CBC’s revenues by roughly 40 per cent), stop pouring money into ratings-driven U.S. imports and gimmicky reality shows, and concentrate on high-quality Canadian drama, children’s shows, documentaries, news and current affairs.

Stursberg dismisses this option out of hand. The business of television is entertainment, he says. “It’s not a university lecture. It’s not a little literary magazine.”

Now that we have established new, more appropriate terms for debate, I’ll start: the Government of Canada should not be in the entertainment business. If it chooses to provide tax benefits to those who create entertainment, then someone who makes his living in the auto industry such as myself may have to concede the point. But directly financing entertainment such as Battle of the Blades and Super Speller? This is clearly not in the governments mandate.

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There’s Nothing Worse…

April 27th, 2009
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I’ve Been Waiting for This

April 24th, 2009
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Finally, it’s 10 degrees at 10 in the morning. The sun is shining and the weather geeks say 17 degrees by noon, 21 by mid afternoon. I’ve got the two wheel peddling machine oiled up and I’m getting some time in the sun. Have a great Friday everybody, especially here in Southern Ontario.

Somehow, I’m in the mood for some Bruce (yes I know he’s a lefty) Springsteen:

Rockin' and Rollin' and Never Forgettin', Springsteen is still Boss , , , ,

Steyn (and me) on Bono

April 24th, 2009

Mark Steyn’s latest Maclean’s piece is about rocker Bono and his band U2’s decision to relocate business interests in the Netherlands.:

After playing the Obama inauguration a couple of months back, the pop star Bono flew back home to a rare barrage of hostile headlines. As you know, the global do-gooder wants us to send more of our money to Africa. So why is he sending his money to the Netherlands? From the Irish Times:

“Bono ‘Hurt’ By Criticism Of U2 Move To Netherlands To Cut Tax.”

As Steyn actually notes, U2 “… moved to the Netherlands a couple of years back, about 17 nanoseconds after the Irish finance minister removed the tax exemption on “artistic” income above 250,000 euros.” However, It’s only in the last few weeks that charities and NGOs and “justice groups” have decided to make an example of the unfortunate warbler.”

It’s only a story now, a couple of years later? Well everybody jump on my back, because I did this story back in the fall of 2006:


It’s an Irish term. Roughly translated gob means pile and sheit means excrement. As in you Pile of Sh*t. In common usage, it is preceded by the adjective fockin’. eg. “What are you doing with my wife, you fockin’ gobsheit?”

Which brings me to Bono, and his band of sullen men, U2:

After Ireland said it would scrap a break that lets musicians and artists avoid paying taxes on royalties, Bono and his fellow U2 band members this year moved their music publishing company to the Netherlands.

This would be the same Bono, of the same U2 that came to Canada to scold the Canadian government for not doing enough. Remember he was going to be Martin’s “biggest pain in the ass” if he didn’t follow through on his commitments.

The Dublin group, which Forbes estimates earned $110 million in 2005, will pay about 5% tax on their royalties, less than half the Irish rate.

The move is explained by U2 guitarist David Evans (The Edge) as a strictly business move:

“Our business is a very complex business,” Evans said Oct. 2 on the Dublin radio station Newstalk, breaking the band’s silence after weeks of public criticism. “Of course we’re trying to be tax-efficient. Who doesn’t want to be tax-efficient?”

Exactly! Tax efficient. That’s what I want to be too, except when I try, or when governments try on my behalf, busy body know it alls like Bono show up and spend the money on their own pet projects. They are, to paraphrase Mr. Evans, awfully tax efficient with my tax dollars.

I liked this line, however, from Jill Cassidy, presumably an ordinary citizen of Dublin:

“Among the wealthiest people, I suppose it’s the norm. In U2’s position, it does come across as quite hypocritical.”

Hypocritical indeed. Now, what was that poetic little Irish term?

Celebrities, Mark Steyn, The Media Following My Lead. , , , , ,

Happy Lenin’s Birthday

April 22nd, 2009
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A CAW workers voice of insanity.

April 22nd, 2009

Paulsstuff wrote A CAW workers voice of reason last Friday and has an interwebs hit on his hands, his post going so far as to being quoted in the National Post. Good on you Paul my friend, you done good. And frankly, you make a lot of excellent points that I have little disagreement with. (side note to Paulsstuff: my spidey sense says you work at the Brampton plant, as I do. Say hey to me sometime). So why do I disagree with him on the general premise? There are a lot of people asking us Chrysler workers to take one for the team, not one of whom has any, to borrow a Presidential phrase, skin in the game.

Just over ten years ago, successful, profitable Chrysler had a bankroll that was rumoured to be close to $10B. This was money that properly belonged to the stockholders, who had forfeited dividends to create a cushion, they were told, for the next time there is a downturn in the industry.  That downturn came in early 2000, and the money was gone.  Somehow, the money made it’s way back to Germany, somehow, Chrysler had no money. Daimler, it could be well argued, profited nicely from the “merger of equals.”

In 2007, Cerberus capital picked up 80% of Chrysler, as well as Chrysler financial. They also own GMAC, GMs financing arm. The extremely profitable Cerberus, has refused to put any of it’s assets into helping Chrysler, deeming it bad investment. That’s a problem, but here’s worse. The financial arm of Chrysler and GM, both Cerberus owned, heavily tightened rules regarding leasing. People buying cars these days report they can’t get financing through Chrysler credit: off to the banks they must go. So the ownership of Cerberus won’t invest in Chrysler, the financial arm of Chrysler, owned by Cerberus won’t loan people money to buy cars. And finally, Chrysler Financial won’t be taking $750M in federal bailout money, it is reported, because executives don’t want limits on their pay.

These are the people I am supposed to take a pay cut to help?

A new player on the scene is Fiat. Here’s their idea: they pay $0.00, they assume debt equalling $0.00 and they get 20% equity in Chrysler. The condition, I have to take a pay cut. In short, Fiat will take the 20% with no risk only if I, and my fellow workers, buy it for them.

Finally, there is Industry Minister Tony Clements, whose riding is Brampton and, I hope, everybody who lives in his riding and works at Chrysler remembers when their jobs were on the line, he went to bat against them. Clements has tax money aplenty, my and your tax money, and he’s willing to throw it away, if I take a pay cut.  This government may think they are having a good laugh, screwing the union now that they have a chance, but as I have pointed out before, the union may vote for Jack Layton and Paul Martin, but many of the workers vote Conservative – I well remember Clements old boss Mike Harris being at the plant and a line-up of people to meet him, all wanting to let him know they support him, even if their leadership says otherwise.

To Paulsstuffs specific points, I have little quibble. If they want to ditch the legal plan, tuition coverage, various secondary health benefits, have at it. But does anybody believe what ails Chrysler is too much orthodontics? Paying my legal fees when I move every ten plus years? I argued two years ago the extreme mis-management case, and I stand by it.

However, one point I’ll disagree with Paulsstuff: two tier wages. It’s not that I don’t see the seduction of this, and furthermore, it’s not the supposed to be the unions job to save the company from itself. But since that’s what these talks are about, saving the company from itself, it apparently now is the unions job. But you see, two tier wages will just make everything worse.

Remember that extreme mis-management I was talking about. Here’s an example: everybody, but everybody, agrees the biggest problem is “legacy costs,” ie. pensions and benefits paid to retired workers. Last year, when the UAW decided to give two tiered wages, what was the result? The companies threw over $100,000 buyouts on the table for older workers to leave, many of whom retired to the legacy cost side of the ledger.  They filled their jobs with younger cheaper workers, but put guys in pensions who wouldn’t otherwise be in pensions, and might not be for years.  They lowered operating costs, they added legacy costs.

I have a hard time accepting that I have to do more for less (after 20 years, my holiday time is decreasing by anywhere from one to three weeks) when the people asking for sacrifice have so little real stake in the company.  Lots of people who stand to benefit if the miracle happens, but the only people with any money at stake seems to be the workers (and suppliers, of course).  And if I thought it wasn’t just prolonging the agony, I might fall in line anyway. But this parrot is dead, and all anyone is realling asking the workers to do is nail it’s feet to the perch. Paul, if they can’t make a go of it with GMs deal, after three other round of concessions in the past three years, then they can’t make a go of it. Perhaps it’s time to let Chrysler run down the curtain and join the bleedin’ choir invisible.

Auto Industry, CAW , , , , , , , , , , ,

ShutterBugging Picture of the Day – Dog in the Woods

April 22nd, 2009
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Blue Blogging Soapbox Blogging Tories Site of the Week

April 22nd, 2009
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The Blue Blogging Soapbox Blogging Tories Site of the Week for the week of April 19, 2009 is:

The Surly Beaver

Being the Adventures of a Canadian on the Far Side of the Pond

Anyone singled out for Warren Kinsella’s one-man Law Society of Canada Economic Stimulus package must be doing something right.
Note: Apologies to last weeks Site of the Week, Daimnation.  Somehow I missed the reposting last week.

Blogging Tories Site of the Week , ,

If Your Travelling North of Highway Seven This Summer

April 21st, 2009
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It’s recommended you keep this, as a handy reference guide:

The Rules Of Rural Ontario Are As Follows…

Yeah, we eat meat and potatoes. You really want sushi & caviar? It’s available at the corner bait shop…

Let’s get this straight; it’s called a ‘dirt road.’ I drive a pickup truck because I want to. No matter how slow you drive, you’re going to get dust on your Lexus. Drive it or get out of the way…

When we set a table, there are three main dishes: meats, vegetables and breads. We use three spices: salt, pepper, and ketchup…

TWO inches of snow & ice isn’t a blizzard – it’s a vacation. Drive in it like you have some sense, and DON’T take all our bread, milk, and bleach from the grocery stores. This isn’t Alaska, worst case you may have to live a whole day without croissants. The pickups with snow blades and tractors with snow blowers will have you out the next day.

Read them all for a good chuckle.


London Mayhem: The Photographic Evidence

April 15th, 2009
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The posts are all in from Monday Nights FreeSpeechApalooza in London with Kathy Shaidle, Salim Mansur and Ezra Levant. Mark Steyn has been discussing it, as has Ezra himself and KathyRight Girl, Dr. Roy, Winston, Wonder Woman, Josephine and Strictly Right have all weighed in.  Blazing Cat Fur has a transcript of Kathy’s speech and Lumpy, Grumpy and Frumpy has video.

As for me, I have pictures:

free speech, freedom for the individual is the only truly progressive policy, Go Ezra Go, pimply minions of bureaucracy, Uncategorized , , , , , ,

Michael Ignatieff Will Raise Your Taxes

April 15th, 2009
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So Michael Ignatieff came to my town yesterday, and reportedly pronounced foolishly on taxes. Here’s what he is reported to have said:

“We will have to raise taxes, but not at the expense of hurting the recovery from this recession… I am not going to load a deficit onto your children or mine.”

He criticized the federal governement[sic] for not quickly freeing money in the federal stimulus package. He said the government should give municipalities the money, as they are in a better position to know how to spend it.

Lets parse those words a minute. First, Ignatieff suggests he’s pressing Prime Minister Harper to free up stimulus money “quickly.” But then he talks about who is the best position to know how to spend it. I would agree the municipalities, because they are closer to the people. Wouldn’t it then imply that giving the stimulus directly to the people would be best. And how do you give stimulus directly to the people? Cut their taxes. But Mr. Ignatieff is not pushing for tax cuts, he’s pushing for quickened spending.

That spending, of course, will push the government into deficit, a bad thing according to Ignatieff. Yet he is pushing Mr. Harper to spend. Of course, all this spending will force future Prime Minister Ignatieff to increase taxes. This is a bad thing, that is bad for the economy. Don’t take my word for it, take his:

We will have to raise taxes, but not at the expense of hurting the recovery from this recession.

That’s right, raising taxes while the economy is recovering would set back the recovery. But once the economy is good? It’s alright to set it back I guess. But if raising taxes is bad for the economy, it makes sense that lowering them is good. So here’s Ignatieff’s logic train:

Lowering taxes is the best economic stimulus; deficit spending is bad for the future; raising taxes is bad for the economy:  therefore, we’ll spend into large deficits and raise taxes in the future.

You know what’s frustrating. With this little speech Michael Ignatieff proves he gets it, he knows Keynesian policies are bad policies. Further, we know, absolutely know, that Stephen Harper gets this – Stephen Harper wrote his thesis on why stimulus doesn’t work. The two men who have all the power of the Canadian government both get that the fiscal policy direction is wrong and has negative future implications, yet neither one is even discussing taking the proper course. Instead we get speeches about how in the future we are going to get bad policy to adjust for today’s bad policy.

Instead of another election some time in the next year, or the never-ending Brian Heinz Mulreiber debacle, Michael Ignatieff and Stephen Harper should be tried for economic treason against Canada. That’s one scandal this blogger would pay attention to.


London Mayhem

April 14th, 2009

It was a great night in London as 600 people absolutly filled the London City Music Theatre to the rafters to hear Five Feet of Fury’s Kathy Shaidle, Salim Mansur and Ezra Levant speak on free speech and human rights commisions in Canada.

Got the chance to meet Right Girl’s Wendy, Dr. Roy and Wonder Woman with her hubby Mike, and it was a pleasure to meet you all. Kathy was also on the meet list, but she was more than a little whelmed and wasn’t picking up who I was – I should have led with my twittername iambriandammit.

Kathy was, in fact, the surprise of the evening for me. I know her as one of us, a blogger. But her resume really is far more than that, and she is an excellent public speaker. Her speech was funny and informative, possibly highlight of the evening.

Salim Mansur was the dignified gentleman in black suit and tie. He looked elegant and (according to Wendy), handsome. His speech was very well thought out, you could tell he’s put a lot of time in considering these issues over his life, and highly passionate.

Of course, everyone came to hear Ezra Levant speaking. his book is a bestseller, about to enter a third printing, in the top five at Chapters and Amazon. In short, Ezra is hot at the moment. He didn’t have a prepared speech, instead grabbed a point Kathy Shaidle made, that human rights commissions are highly Canadian institutions, and rebutted it arguing that they are, in fact, un-Canadian. His main point was that something human rights commissions do is attempt to brand people who come before them as un-Canadian. He didn’t seem to like giving up the idea that they were inherently Canadian, thus making those who oppose them un-Canadian.

All in all it was a good night. I picked up Kathy’s The Tyranny of Nice and got it signed, and got my copy of Shake Down signed and I met a couple of fellow bloggers, finally. Yea, it was a good night.

I have pictures, but have to get to work now. I’ll post them tonight.

free speech, Go Ezra Go, human rights, pimply minions of bureaucracy

Mark Steyn – Lights Out

April 13th, 2009
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Mark Steyn is back with more of what he does best. The follow up to America Alone, Steyn has a new book, Lights Out: Islam, Free Speech and the Twilight of the West.

lightsoutmedAn signed copy is available through the SteynStore. I’ll be grabbing my copy soon (memo to Mark: it would be easier to buy your stuff if you accepted PayPal).


Update: Welcome readers of SteynOnline.

Books, Mark Steyn , , , , , ,