From the Even a Stopped Clock Dept.

Automotive News has an unlikely report:

The word the UAW chose to describe its reaction to the recent passage of a free-trade agreement between the United States and South Korea last week was “pleased.”

“The UAW is pleased with congressional approval of the U.S.-South Korea Free Trade Agreement,” it said in an official statement.

It’s a striking change of tone for the union, which has historically decried the concept of free-trade agreements, even with Canada, as a sure ticket to lost American jobs. But it is worth arguing that the union’s hearty acceptance of free trade with Korea says less about the UAW and more about the current outlook for U.S. manufacturing.

The United States has become a more competitive source of auto manufacturing than it was in 2007 when the Bush administration negotiated the agreement and the union denounced it.

A lot of market conditions have changed since then. The dollar is weak. Labor rates are lower. Capacity is available. And who would dispute that products are improved? They are better styled, more technically advanced, offer better fuel economy and are more “non-U.S.A.-centric.” That is, there is now a better selection of vehicles you might realistically picture on the roads of France or Germany — or Korea — than ranch-sized pickups and SUVs the size of boats. …

To be blunt, it will still be a fight to sell American vehicles there. But the UAW believes it’s worth a shot to “provide UAW members with the opportunity to make products for export to Asia,” in the words of UAW President Bob King.

Free trade benefits consumers. Free trade also benefits Wisconsin businesses, because Wisconsin businesses are substantial exporters of goods like fire trucks and agricultural equipment. (One of the few pro-business accomplishments of former Gov. James Doyle was promoting exports; Doyle was smart enough to stay away from the Democrats Against Free Trade (DAFT), which included Doyle’s would-be successor. DAFT had a perfect record Nov. 2; every one of them lost.)

Bill Clinton, remember, was the chief cheerleader for the North American Free Trade Agreement, even though more Democrats voted against NAFTA than for NAFTA. President Obama claims to support free trade, but has done little until now to actually work for it. The fact Obama is willing to buck his union supporters who until now have been united in opposing every free trade agreement says volumes about union political power today.


The scam perpetuated on the young and the employed

And now, a word from the millennials, brought to you by the New Adventures of Nicolet:

it IS a Ponzi Scheme?

Rick Perry said it is; Chris Matthews,too. Paul Krugman calls it a Ponzi Game 

40 million young people apparently agree with Rick Perry: According to a new study by iOme Challenge.Org, fully 50% of Generation Y believe Social Security won’t exist when they try to collect on their “investment” in 40 years.

[Data was collected last month from a representative sample of 642 Millennials. The study was sponsored by The iOme Challenge.]

Female Millennials are much more likely to believe Social Security won’t exist when they retire; 60% of the Millennials who identify as Republican are convinced it won’t exist.

That’s the good news. Now for the bad news:

Despite the skepticism, the iOme study shows that Millennials have a very low personal savings rate: 58% are not setting any money aside…none; zero! What are Millennials waiting for? For parents, educators, legislators and/or employers to give them a medal – or a pat on the head, just like always!

If I had to guess, I’d say what Millennials are waiting for is not a medal, or a pat on the head, but enough money so that (they think) they can start saving. Savings growth appears small at first, and there’s always that matter of the next thing to buy, whatever that is.

If this nation was serious about promoting saving, of course, we wouldn’t tax savings, and we wouldn’t tax capital gains from investments either. (The reason we do tax capital gains is to stick it to Warren Buffett and those other evil rich people.) If this nation was serious about promoting saving, we would have consumption-based taxes instead of income taxes, and we would offer personal retirement-savings accounts, free from taxes, where savings are automatically deposited, which would make saving easier since you don’t spend what you don’t see.

Instead, we have Social Security, which doesn’t promote retirement security at all. The best retirement plan probably starts with the concept that you should assume you will receive no Social Security at all.

Presty the DJ for Oct. 20

Today in 1960, Roy Orbison had his first number one single:

Today in 1962, the number one single in the U.S. was a song banned by the BBC:

The number one single today in 1973:

Today in 1977, four members of Lynyrd Skynyrd and two others were killed when their plane crashed near McComb, Miss.:

The number one single today in 1979:

The number one album today in 1979 was the Eagles’ “The Long Run”:

Birthdays begin with Ric Lee, who played drums for Ten Years After (though not necessarily 10 years after):

Anne Murray:

Alan Greenwood played keyboards for Foreigner:

Tom Petty:

Ricky Byrd, who played bass as one of Joan Jett’s Blackhearts …

… was born the same day as Mark King, who could be found at Level 42: