Rachel Maddow Drives Lame Auto Bailout Analogy Into Swamp

For a left winger who loves the word "nuanced," Rachel Maddow of MSNBC and Air America Radio struggles with simple analogies.

The unacknowledged Democratic agitprop mouthpiece seized on news of Toyota projecting its first operating loss since 1938 as evidence that unsustainable labor and legacy costs are not to blame for Detroit's malaise.

Here's what Maddow said on her radio show Dec. 22 --

With the economic trouble that we're in and the steps that are being taken to try to figure out the way forward and also to figure out how our politics maps onto something that doesn't have a lot of innate partisan character, I feel like we could learn a lot from the way that other countries are doing things, just in terms of being able to explain the utility of our actions. I know that sounds a little bit vague but let me explain what I mean ...

The argument in the United States has been mapped onto partisan politics as such -- the Southern Republican conservative senators who represent states that have foreign, non-union automakers operating in their states, they've got, you know, whether it's Mercedes or BMW or Nissan or Kia, these Southern senators who represent these states that gave huge state subsidies to these foreign companies to get them to relocate there in order to create jobs in Southern states, they have made an argument against government assistance for domestic auto companies to save jobs on the grounds that the difference between these two scenarios -- government giving money and breaks to companies for the purposes of jobs -- the difference between these two scenarios, they said, is essentially that the domestic car companies should go bust because they have unions and unions are bad. And if they didn't have unions, they'd be doing fine.

So now we've got Toyota reporting its first-ever operating loss, well not first ever, they had one in 1938, first operating loss in 70 years and it sort of gives lie to the domestic arguments here, right? If the problem is, as defined by the Southern anti-car bailout senators in the United States, is that the Big Three have unions and otherwise they'd be doing fine, if we could just bust their unions, then we'll succeed in our policy goals, you get told, you get shown the big lie about that by looking at the way that the car industry is suffering around the world, totally regardless of unionization of the workforce.

Right now if UAW, if unionized auto workers in Detroit were working for free, were not taking a wage, the Big Three would still be going under in the economic climate that we're in right now.

Note the eel-like fluidity with which Maddow glides from her equivocating "sort of gives lie" -- libspeak for "not really" -- to the nuclear rhetoric of "big lie." Is Maddow so deep in the tank for Democrats she's incapable of discerning the flaw in her analogy?  Her comparison only holds water if Toyota sought a bailout from the Japanese government -- which, last I checked, it hasn't.  Not only that, Maddow brings race into the equation in spurious, reprehensible fashion with her frequent description of GOP Senators opposed to the auto bailout as the "plantation caucus" -- which suggests that employees at foreign auto plants across the South suffer as "slaves" on this alleged plantation. Leave it to reality to burst Maddow's fantasy bubble. Fred Barnes, writing in the Dec. 22 issue of The Weekly Standard in an illuminating article titled "The Other American Auto Industry," reported this about employees at foreign auto plants across the South --

Workers not only make far more than the prevailing wage in the rural areas where most  plants are located but considerably more than every state's average wage. With overtime, they can earn $70,000 or more a year at some plants. Average pay and benefits: roughly $45.

Apparently word hasn't gotten back to "plantation" owners that slaves aren't supposed to earn a decent wage, along with any number of privileges that come with citizenship but not slavery.
 What with their compensation being considerably higher than accorded actual slaves in the antebellum South, workers at foreign-owned auto plants have resisted efforts at liberation from would-be abolitionists in the United Auto Workers. According to Barnes --

The UAW has been able to force only three elections at the foreign-owned plants. The union lost overwhelmingly at Nissan's Tennessee plant in 1989, failed in another election there, and lost at the Mercedes plant in Alabama. The UAW might thwart better if "card check" is approved by Congress next year, allowing organizers to succeed without the need to win a secret ballot election. But the transplants should still have little trouble thwarting UAW organizers.

What about those "huge" subsidies offered to foreign automakers to build plants in the South -- how are they any different than the Big Three seeking a short-term "bridge loan" from the federal government? As reported by Barnes, the difference is not that nuanced -- 

Embarrassed by the success of the foreigners, the Big 3 carmakers and the United Auto Workers (UAW)  claim the tax and other "incentives" the transplants get from state and local governments in the South are no different than the subsidies they're seeking in Washington. But that's not quite true. "There's a big difference between a subsidy and an incentive," says Michael Randle, president of Southern Business and Development and an expert on the southern auto industry. "A subsidy pays to keep jobs. An incentive pays to bring them. If you're paying to keep them, it means somebody wants to leave. ...

... So far, these investments have paid off handsomely. Michael Randle points to the case of Alabama, which has delivered $1.2 billion in incentives to four automakers. The companies, in turn, have spent $20 billion in salaries alone to their employees. "If Warren Buffett took $1.2 billion and turned it into $20 billion in 10 years, he'd be called a genius."

Ever notice how often liberals demand the United States take a "multilateral" approach to the world -- followed by them reverting to the lexicon of Know Nothings when foreign countries want to create good-paying jobs in America?   
What elevated Maddow's screed to unintentional comedy was what she talked about next -- news of a comic-book version of Marx's "Das Kapital" just "flying off the shelves" in Japan.

The 35-year-old Maddow often tells her listeners that she still loves comic books. Suffice it to say, Marx remains a huge influence for her as well. How could Maddow not gush about a melding of the two?

To borrow from Flannery O'Connor, there's a novel in everyone -- and most of them should stay there.

Jack Coleman
Jack Coleman
Ex-liberal from People's Republic of Massachusetts