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When Kaus Has A Hammer, The American Worker Looks Like A Nail

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As a blogger looking for soft targets, it’s reassuring in a way that one always has Mickey Kaus’s reflexive union-bashing:

How to predict if  “New”GM–as bailed out and restructured–really is a “sustainable” company?** Here’s one way: The company is launching the new Chevrolet Cruze into the highly competitive compact car market. It will be built at GM’s once-infamous Lordstown assembly plant in Ohio, a UAW-organized facility that now makes the depressing, not-very-reliable Chevy Cobalt. Ask yourself: Will the Lordstown Cruze ever be able to match, say, the Honda Civic, produced in Marysville, Ohio without the UAW’s involvement? If you say “no,” then I’d say GM has not been saved by the Obama administration.

It’s true that the Cobalt was mediocre, and was made at the UAW plant. But, then, the Malibu I purchased as a result of my move to the provinces — a very well-reviewed car I’ve found terrific — was made at a UAW plant in suburban Detroit. And any number of other good-to-excellent cars — the Buick Lucerne, the beautiful Caddy CTS, the competitive small Ford Focus, the new Ford Taurus, the Ford F-Series and Chevy Silverado pickups, etc. — are produced at UAW plants, suggesting that if American companies design good cars union workers are perfectly capable of assembling them. Even worse for Kaus’s thesis is GM’s other compact, the Aveo, which makes the Cobalt look like a Porsche 911 — and is assembled in a non-UAW plant in South Korea. I don’t really see much basis for the claim that GM’s past failure to produce a good small car is the fault of its workers as opposed to its management.

But wait — should we be writing off the Cruze? Conveniently, Kaus links to a review, implying that it backs up his argument. Sadly — or, rather, happily — no!

The 2011 Chevrolet Cruze is a good car, although at least part of its goodness comes from the fact that it isn’t really that small. It’s well-positioned against the Civic and Corolla. I believe that it beats both of those cars in significant, measurable ways. This is what it is: a good car, a bold car, a car for which no purchaser need make an excuse or feel any concern. This is what it might be: great. That’s for the buyer to decide. [my emphasis]

What a catastrophe! Obviously, treating workers fairly will destroy the American auto industry. It’s unlike Kaus to actually link to the evidence that destroys his argument, though. That’s more of a Glenn Reynolds move; perhaps he’s auditioning for a job with Trainwreck Media…

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