Why Put Down VW? - And Response (4)

Saturday, January 05, 2013

Re: Roy Exum: Hooray For Passat, But...

I gotta ask why?

Why does my friend Roy feel compelled to write this and why does my friend John feel compelled to publish it? Locally made VW Passat capturing the largest percentage growth in the US auto market is a great feel good story for Chattanooga and VW. Is it necessary to throw a wet blanket on it?

Toyota's the #3 brand seller in 2012 according to data from the Wall Street Journal (behind GM and Ford). If you take dealerships out of the mix, Chrysler, Ford and GM currently employ 2.5 times the US workers than Honda, Nissan, and Toyota combined.

We all know VW was certainly trailing the pack when it came to US auto sales. That is why I think we are better off with a VW plant than Toyota plant. It is a lot easier to sustain production facilities when the manufacturer is on an aggressive market share growth path than trying to hold on to an existing large market share. So when VW (the world's #2 automaker behind GM) with a stated goal of becoming #1, makes a big push to gain US market share by opening their first US assembly plant (in Chattanooga) and the car produced at that plant leads them to the largest 2012 market share percentage growth, we all need to stand up and cheer...and that's all.

I enjoy reading Roy's pieces and the Chattanoogan.com is my homepage... But this piece seems to be a total PR job. I wonder if my buddies Herb or David, or my old schoolmates Tim or Mitch, want to put their two cents in?

Scott Gentry

* * *

Another section of "The Code" states:

It ain't braggin' if you can do it.

Royce Burrage, Jr.

* * * 

With apologies to Roy and to Janis Joplin: "Oh, Lord won't you buy me a VW Passat? My friends all drive Camry's, but I don't give a squat. Worked hard all my lifetime, no help from Detroit, So Lord, won't you buy me a VW Passat?"  

Hutch Smith
Signal Mountain

* * * 

Mr. Exum,

I read just about all your "Opinion" contributions, enjoy them very much. But my first reaction after reading the Passat/Toyota piece was, well, troubling. Wasn't quite certain why at the time, because I certainly espouse freedom of opinion (f.e., I firmly believe my 20-year-old Jeep Wrangler is the best car in the world).

It's not until now, after thinking about it for awhile, that I felt obligated to respond.

First, I feel the "Code" thread doesn't quite hold up. To marry it to a comparison of two cars is a marriage doomed. Didn't work. But that is simply a literary criticism – not nearly so significant as the next one.

"Codes" exist everywhere, not just for cowboys. With the journalistic status your name carries, there is one powerful and respected code that you certainly are aware of – "Full Disclosure." In journalism, written or newscast, full disclosure of personal or corporate interests in the story, or to any individuals or parts of it, are a necessity to maintain credibility. I argued with myself that you should be pardoned from not giving full disclosure because this was the "Opinion" section of the Chattanoogan, and not journalism. But that side of me lost, because of who you are, the pulpit you command, and the respect you have within the community. 

Before "opining" about the superiority of "T" over "P," in writing, in a public forum, I wish you had first given full disclosure about your connections and any monetary interests to and with Toyota. Then, and only then, go ahead full blast.

Marv Glaser
Chattanooga

* * * 

Marv is suggesting that Roy Exum cannot have an opinion on his automobile preference.  

First of all, Roy Exum is a retired sports writer. Are you suggesting that Roy Exum cannot have an automobile preference? It is absurd to paint Roy Exum, as a corporate raider with lots of Toyota stock. Oh please, I cannot stop laughing. 

I have the opinion that VW is nothing more than a corporate welfare gimmick to divert public taxes into their own capital investment.  Am I entitled to that opinion? Absolutely, as a taxpayer, I am purely vested in VW. My taxpayer dollars, both state and local, are invested in VW. That is full disclosure.  

The capital taxpayer investment to these tax exempt corporations will not amortize and return to the taxpayers. It's the company store is my opinion. 

The original UT study, made the following assumptions:

http://media.timesfreepress.com/docs/2008/08/VW_Economic_Impact_Study_0830.pdf 

1) "We expect a significant majority of the suppliers to locate in Tennessee because of Volkswagen’s specified intent to have suppliers at the site, the specific tax benefits that accrue to suppliers in Tennessee" (page 4) 

Did not happen. The suppliers did not locate to the region. The major components are transported from Mexico. 

2) "This report also estimates the state and local tax revenues arising from the location. The income generated by the Volkswagen location will result in $55.7 million in annual tax revenues for Tennessee state and local governments." (page 3) 

The city's sales tax revenue are flat, both prior to VW to present. The city ending the sales tax agreement with Ham. County has had more positive impact on city revenues, that all of the Pilot incentive industry combined. 

3) "Tax revenue will increase by $1,399.4 million over the 30-year lifetime. Sales tax revenue is the largest source of additional taxes." (page 4) 

The study assumed that the VW plant would be in full production for 30 years, the most shameful assumption. 

Finally, Chattanooga's population growth is flat, so the sales and property tax assessments are proportionally flat. Chattanooga's growth is primarily due to annexation, census 2011 reports growth to 170,000 July 2011, from 155,000 in 2000. 

The researched and written opinion expressed here are purely my own. 

April Eidson


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