Sanity Injection

Injecting a dose of sanity into your day’s news and current events.

Posts Tagged ‘Detroit’

File under: Not clear on the concept

Posted by sanityinjection on September 21, 2009

In the dumbest news item of the weekend, a man is suing the Detroit MotorCity casino for failing to stop him from gambling at the establishment even after he filed for bankruptcy in 1996. Italo Mario Parise is seeking to recover some $670,000 he lost over the course of a decade of gambling at MotorCity.

Before I elaborate on all the reasons why this is inane, a brief disclaimer: I personally enjoy gambling at casinos in various states, although I’ve never been to any in Detroit, and I’ve never lost anything even remotely like what the plaintiff in this case gambled away. Heck, I’m not even worth that much alive or dead.

Let’s skip over the most painfully obvious point that it wouldn’t be “gambling” if you could sue to get your money back when you lose. The plaintiff’s case seems to revolve around the premise that casino officials knew, or should have known, about his bankruptcy case and therefore refused his action. This is actually not as ridiculous as it may seem if Parise was what casinos call a “whale” – someone who routinely bets large sums of money and as a result receives special treatment from the casino. Such individuals are obviously very profitable for the casino and they do pay a lot of attention to them. By my math, based on the amount he lost, Parise might have counted as a whale if he gambled about once a month or less frequently. Any more than that, and he probably wouldn’t have stood out enough for the casino to do a backround check and discover his bankruptcy.

But even assuming they did know about it, where is the liability on the part of the casino? If, in spite of his bankruptcy, Parise continued to return to the casino year after year and place more bets, he obviously wasn’t broke. Had Parise been unable to pay his markers, after a certain amount of time he would have been cut off by the casino, not for his benefit but for their own. Instead, he somehow was able to pay off all his losses – and now he wants them back.  But his own playing history defeats his case.

If Parise claims he has a gambling problem, he’s got no case there either. Every casino offers phone numbers and literature for gambling addiction resources, but it is not their responsibility to force anyone to use them.

So what we have is yet another case of someone who wants to be bailed out from the consequences of their own actions. I’m against that when it’s AIG or General Motors, and I’m against it when it’s a private citizen. My advice to Parise? Be a man and accept responsibility for your own stupidity. If you didn’t lose your job, wife, kids, or house over your gambling habit, be thankful that 670 large is all you had to pay to learn your lesson.

Posted in Domestic News | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 5 Comments »

Poor, poor auto workers

Posted by sanityinjection on December 29, 2008

We’ve been told repeatedly that one of the main reasons we needed to bail out the Detroit automakers was to save the autoworkers. Of course, the United Auto Workers’ union maintains a well-stocked fund (paid for by the Detroit automakers) that pays any laid-off worker something like 90% of their salary for a period of time.  How many of us enjoy that kind of security if we lose our jobs?

Now comes word that the union also owns and maintains a golf resort and conference center in Michigan where union leaders live the good life at the expense of their members’ dues:

http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,472304,00.html

Of course, the average auto worker doesn’t get to vacation at this resort, unless they kiss their union rep’s ass.

This is just the latest example with the UAW and certain other unions. When times are good and profits are booming, the unions insist on a big slice of the pie. When times are tough and everyone is hurting, everyone has to pitch in and sacrifice except the unions, who refuse to give up any of their perks and privileges. And we wonder why Detroit can’t make a profit.

Posted in Politics | Tagged: , , , | 1 Comment »

“Wolf! Wolf!” cried Detroit.

Posted by sanityinjection on December 19, 2008

Amidst all the hand-wringing over the domestic auto industry and the Bush Administration’s plans for a Treasury bailout, come the domestic auto sales numbers for 2008 (through November.) Guess which were the top two cars sold in America this year? The Ford F-150 and Chevy Silverado. In fact, the Ford F-150 has been the best-selling vehicle in America for the past 27 straight years!

What does this tell us? It tells us that there is definitely an area where the domestic automakers can, and do, compete effectively with the foreign companies. It further suggests that the Detroit automakers are to blame for their own problems by trying to make a dozen different types of cars, instead of focusing on the ones they’re good at.

They need to stop wasting time trying to build cars to compete with the Toyota Camry and Honda Accord (third and fourth best sellers.) Maybe GM should build nothing but trucks from now on. There’s also no point in wasting a lot of money developing more domestic hybrid vehicles. The Japanese have such a huge lead in this area that Detroit will never catch up. They are far better off leapfrogging by going straight to CNG, hydrogen and full electric vehicles. Imagine if Chrysler, for example, could devlop a CNG Dodge Ram that delivers the same torque as a regular one!

Posted in Domestic News, Politics | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Automakers bailout details starting to take shape

Posted by sanityinjection on December 8, 2008

It sounds like the White House and Democratic leaders in Congress are getting close to agreement on the outlines of a compromise measure to bailout the Detroit automakers. Some of the details reflect concerns that have been raised on this blog as well as by legislators during the recent hearings.

The first step would be an emergency diversion from the earlier $25 billion loan package that was granted to the automakers months ago. That money was supposed to be invested in converting factories to make fuel-efficient vehicles. Under the new plan, up to half of this money would be used instead as emergency loans to the automakers available for more broad usage. This was the White House’s preferred approach all along, and it reflects the essential nature of the compromise: Democrats gave in on this in exchange for the White House’s agreement to the rest of the plan.

The second part of the package would be additional loans available to the carmakers on December 15 (no figure attached to this yet.) The Bush White House would then appoint a person or board which would write guidelines that the automakers must follow in restructuring their businesses to become viable in the long-term. The automakers would have from January 1 (when the guidelines are published) to February 15 to show sufficient progress in implementing the guidelines. If they failed to do so, in the judgment of the overseeing person (either the same person who wrote the guidelines, or whoever President Obama might appoint in their place), then the loans would be revoked and the automakers would have no choice but to file for bankruptcy.

The agreement would also require the automakers to limit executive pay, cease paying dividends, share a percentage of future profits with the government, and most importantly, guarantee that the government would be reimbursed before any other shareholders. It’s not clear yet whether the automakers would be required to replace their CEOs, though at least one Senator is calling for the head of GM to resign as a condition of any deal.

I am still not convinced that this bailout is really necessary. However, it does sound like the Administration and the Democrats are cooperating to find compromises, and including the necessary protections for the taxpayers’ money. If everything I’ve described above ends up in the bill, I can live with it. (The issue of the CEOs I think is a red herring – if they stay, they’re the ones that will have to implement the changes, or they’ll be cashiered anyway in a couple of months.) The question is whether the automakers will agree to it, though they may have little choice.

I have to ask myself though: why is it that the foreign car companies that build cars here, such as Toyota and Nissan, which operate under the same legal environment and regulations as Detroit, have performed so much better? It seems like bad management, rather than a bad economy, is what we are really bailing out here.

Posted in Politics | Tagged: , , , | 4 Comments »