Union Democrat staff

German automakers outpacing U.S.

To the Editor:

Recently I happened upon an article in "Forbes" magazine (hardly a left-wing, Socialist publication) that was both informative and interesting. The first paragraph of "How Germany Builds Twice as Many Cars as the U.S. While Paying Its Workers Twice as Much" (Dec. 21, 2011) by Frederick E. Allen is as follows: "In 2010, Germany produced more than 5.5 million automobiles; the U.S. produced 2.7 million. At the same time, the average auto worker in Germany made $67.14 in salary and benefits [sic] per hour; the average one in the U.S. made $33.17 per hour. Yet Germany's big three car companies - BMW, Daimler (Mercedes-Benz), and Volkswagen - are very profitable."

Two "overlapping sets of institutions," according to the article, account for this. One is IG Metall, a union similar/equivalent to our United Auto Workers; the second is the German constitution, "which allows for 'works councils' in every factory," that joins management and labor in a cooperative effort. Thus strikes are very rare. Quite a different paradigm than what is currently prevalent in this country, don't you think? (Hint: rhetorical question.)

And "What about profits?" one might ask. In the obviously "down" consumer markets in Europe and the U.S. in 2010, German auto manufacturers produced these results: BMW had a before tax profit from its automotive sector of 3.88 billion Euros; Mercedes-Benz 4.65 billion Euros, that's billion with a "b" - you do the conversion to dollar equivalent. Another contributing factor to this capitalistic success just may be that, according to the latest statistics I have seen, in Germany the ratio of compensation between the average CEO and the average worker is 12 to 1; in America it's anywhere from 350-435 to 1. Get the picture?

David A. Fristad


TUD needs to

learn arithmetic!

To the Editor:

Just received my Tuolumne Utilities District water rate increase notice. Each rate increase of 2.78 percent, is in compliance with Proposition 218 and approved by the Board of Directors. This increase will be shown on billing statements after April 15, 2014.

However, in reviewing the old and new rate schedule, I find the old bi-monthly charge for 799 cubic feet of water to be $68.88 while the new rate for the same amount of water to be $77.78. This is an increase of $8.90 or a 13 percent increase. This is nearly 5 times the allowed 2.78 percent increase. Can we have an explanation?

Vern Froehlich


Health insurance not a federal issue

To the Editor:

Just reading in Senator Jim DeMint's new book: "Obamacare provides tremendous giveaways to big health care interests. In order to ram the unpopular bill through Congress, the administration cut backroom deals with lobbyists for hospitals, the American Medical Association, and the insurance industry. In fact, the head of PhRMA (Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America - big pharmaceutical industry) publicly bragged about the windfall Obamacare would bring his industry, saying he had a "rock-solid" deal with the administration. PhRMA ran millions of dollars worth of ads supporting Obamacare.

There is no constitutional authority for the federal government to be involved in our medical care. We must repeal this law and turn the responsibility back to the states. We must allow insurance companies to sell across state lines and for people to design their own plans. Americans are innovative enough to make sure the poor, and those with pre-existing conditions, are covered. There are multitudes of health care sharing ministries arising across the land for those who do not smoke, drink or use drugs, costing a family $300 per month.

Be present O God of wisdom and direct our counsel.

Jan Higgins


Kudos to Ackley for Tea Party defense

To the Editor:

Michael Ackley's response to the Tea Party basher nailed it! A well thought out response with actual facts.

Charles Pesha