Government Demands Auto Industry Cut Wages

Apparently, according to industry minister Tony Clement, if GM and Chrysler want to tap into the $4 billion bailout fund the government has set aside for them, they have to slash their labour costs.

Now, hang on a second... weren't we told the whole problem with the North American auto industry was that the cars they were making were... well, maybe not crappy, but... inappropriate? You remember. It was that thing about American cars not being fuel efficient or environmentally responsible. The Big 3 were making big ol' gas guzzling SUVs and everybody agreed that just didn't make sense any more. Wasn't the bailout supposed to be tied to a commitment that they'd make better cars and start to take things like CO2 emissions and high fuel prices seriously? That way people would want to buy their cars again. I don't recall wage cuts being on the table back then.

And, another thing... in a period of recession, isn't the idea to keep as much money in the pockets of the public as possible so they can go out and spend it? Isn't that what you're supposed to do if you want to stimulate the economy?

So, wouldn't our government demanding that an industry cut their employees' wages do exactly the opposite of stimulate the economy? Mightn't that make it more flaccid?

I'm just saying...

Bush's Boring Last Day

Whelp, looks lawk Dubya has done pardoned hisself out. Two ex-border guards convicted of shooting an admitted drug smuggler in the ass will soon be out on the streets, their sentences commuted. The move is expected to delight the law 'n' order/anti-immigration crowd.

The non-pardons are expected to be the closest thing to last-minute pardons before Bush leaves office, though he can technically pardon anyone he wants until Obama is sworn in.

Bush previously issued 14 pardons before Christmas when nobody was paying attention, but sadly, nothing and no-one monserously controversial. In fact, at a piddly 189 pardons, Bush trails Clinton (457), Reagan (406) and one-term wonder Jimmy Carter (563).

Even worse, Bush isn't issuing dozens of controversial, pre-emptive pardons for war criminals and torture-boosters his administration was home to.

And here I was hoping to type up an easy afternoon cheap shot against the outgoing Worst American President Ever.

Oh well.

The Fly-Tanic

We know by now what happened in the Miracle on the Hudson. Here's a pilot's eye view, courtesy a British news agency and Microsoft Flight Simulator.

But there's two extra-special reasons to celebrate the successful controlled landing just offshore of Manhattan. First of all, as the blogger emptywheel notes, everybody involved in the emergency and rescue -- from the pilot and co-pilot to the New York ferryworkers and firefighters involved in the rescue -- are unionized workers.

Secondly, the captain of the stricken Airbus is 57 or 58 years old. Usually, airlines try to pension off guys as old as Sully, because pilots with less experience are cheaper. Sure, an airline might save a few thousand bucks if you let someone with experience go. And if the end result is a smoking hole in Midtown because of that ...

Why Rod Pedersen Hates Me, Volume 3008 ...

Rod Pedersen’s mad at me and prairie dog. I would imagine most people in Saskatchewan’s literary community are. With reason? Well …

See, book reviews and interviews with authors have become the red-headed stepchild of a newspaper’s arts coverage. Newspapers have less and less space for even the most important news, and what passes for ‘arts’ coverage in most newspapers (prairie dog and Planet S excepted) has degenerated into tabloid press releases – what Tysonian level has Britney/LiLo/Amy Winehouse/et cetera achieved in their state of mental breakdown for the sheer fact that they are famous for, well, being famous.

Given this state of affairs, it’s hard – very hard – for editors to make room for book reviews. If I strode into the office tomorrow and announced that Sharon Butala or Ken Mitchell had just authored an opus that was worthy of comparisons to Hemmingway and Shakespeare, Whitworth would barely lift his eyes from his desk before intoning, “400 words. Max.” (EDIT: this isn't, or shouldn't be a slight against Whitworth. Unfortunately this is happening to everyone who's reviewing, or promoting, books. Before Conrad Black bought the paper, the Saskatoon Star Phoenix once devoted two pages every Saturday issue to local book reviews. Today, it's a half-page of canned copy.)

Don’t feel bad, Rod. You could be Jim Pitsula. His publishers gave prairie dog two books this year … and in the end I had about the same amount of space allotted for their reviews as I had for yours.

Six In The Morning

Here's your a.m. news, as filtered by prairie dog:

1 GETTIN OUT OF GAZA Israel's troops depart, devastation is terrible, Hamas vows to rearm.

2 DEATH AND TAX CUTS Grits tell Harper the road out of recession is through spending, not slashing taxes. We'll agree with that though we suspect the Liberals are a little conflicted on this one.


4 FOUR YEARS? NO PRESSURE Scientist says Obama has only four years to save the planet.

5 OFF THE HOOK The George Bush pardon countdown is on. What criminals will the outgoing prez protect?

6 GOAT TRAGEDY Rare animal dies in Calgary zoo accident. Mouth to mouth is unsuccessful.