Letters: Auto unions and April Fools
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Kai Ryssdal: That music can only mean one thing: It’s time to hit the inbox. Last Monday, when President Obama put Chrysler and General Motors on notice, we aired a commentary by Kevin Hassett in which he laid the blame for Detroit’s troubles on the United Auto Workers union. Not a popular viewpoint among Marketplace listeners. Sue Peterson of East Orleans, Mass., spoke for many of you.
SUE PETERSON: GM failed because they made lousy vehicles, not because they paid their workers a living wage. Enough with the union bashing.
Blaise Jackson of Escondido, Calif., thought Hassett was a little hard on the unions as well.
BLAISE JACKSON: The UAW didn’t force or dictate the terms of fiscal surrender to GM. The Corporation willingly signed collective-bargaining agreement after collective-bargaining agreement, like clockwork, every few years.
We kicked off the month of April with Mitchell Hartman’s piece on how far some real-estate agents will go to sell a house. Mitchell told us they’re hiring actors to make neighborhoods look lived-in. People barbecuing, walking dogs, even hiring local little league teams to play at a nearby diamond. You were outraged. Only one problem though, related to the calendar. Christopher Richards of Oakland, Calif., had this to say about our April Fools’ story.
CHRISTOPHER RICHARDS: I was bamboozled. Yes, you took me in. I could see every detail in my mind’s eye: the Hawaiian-shirted man at the barbecue, the smell of cut grass and cooking, and the play of unruly kids.
It was pretty well done. But there were some out there who figured David Frum’s commentary that same day was the joke. He was talking about why some European governments object to President Obama’s stimulus plan. Chet Gardiner of Tucson, Ariz., thought he was onto the gag.
CHET GARDINER: I thought your April Fools’ Day segment with David Frum was a hoot! Imagine anyone believing that Europeans just hate living in societies where workers get a livable wage, decent paid vacations and maternity/paternity leave and are “horrified” that Obama would attempt to get a tiny piece of the pie into the hands of American workers.
No such luck Chet. You can hear David Frum’s entirely sincere commentaries here every other Wednesday.
And we’re going to end today on a poetic note. A challenge, actually. April is National Poetry Month. So we’re going to be exploring the poetry of economics, and work, and money. Because yeah, sometimes they do go together. To give you an idea of what we’re looking for, here are just a couple of lines from one of my favorites. Philip Levine and his poem “What Work Is.”
Philip Levine: We stand in the rain in a long line, waiting at Ford Highland Park. For work. You know what work is. If you’re old enough to read this, you know what work is. Although you may not do it.
If you’ve got a favorite poem you think fits the bill, send it along.
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