Reader Mail

Auto Worker Comeuppance

Hating management breaks down. Also: Hillary's blankety-blank. Addiction as crime. Immigration and the British immigrant. Plus more.

10.2.07

Send to Kindle

RACE TO THE BOTTOM
Re: Eric Peters's Striking It Poor:

Nice to see Eric Peters stop worrying about the effect of government-mandated emission standards on the domestic auto industries and start focusing on the real problem. But readers should have been told it isn't the "unions" who are the problem, it's the workers themselves. When I was growing up in Detroit, almost everyone I knew had a relative in the auto industry -- most were low-level salaried or hourly workers. The way the auto worker culture functioned was to hate "management," complain constantly, demand your rights as defined by the contract and anticipate the next strike.

During the "good" times with lots of overtime bucks rolling in, you bought that new car, the cabin on the lake, the snowmobile, the RV, etc. During the good times, you complained about how much management was getting compared to the workers, whined that all the overtime was killing you and told your buddies on the line how unfair the whole system was. When the frustration built up and the contract talks broke down, you geared up for the strike -- maybe saved a few extra bucks and sold off the toys you bought during the good times. Of course, everyone else was selling their toys, so you generally got pennies on the dollar, but so what.

Each plant and warehouse location had a few rabble-rousers to constantly remind everyone that management was screwing them. The union reps, goaded by the rabble-rousers, raised the stakes during each new contract negotiation and assured their guys and gals the company could afford the increased demands if management would only give up their outrageous bonuses. And to this day, nothing has changed in auto culture sociology. The workers are willing to go down with the ship as long as management suffers.

When Cerberus bought Chrysler this summer and paid a fraction of the price Daimler had paid a few years before to acquire Chrysler, the Detroit Free Press ran the usual puff pieces on how Chrysler would be turned around with a bright and glorious future. The workers wrote in with half-threatening advice for the new owners regarding how they should treat labor and the unions. The financial implications of the purchase didn't cause a ripple of concern among the workers, although any competent business person could read between the lines and see a company on life support and slowly dying.

Detroit created a class of wealthy, unskilled workers by paying them more than skilled and professional workers in other domestic industries and most other countries as well. But it couldn't create a working class of business people that understood markets or economics -- and the inevitable occurred. When our beloved auto industries gasp their last, the workers can finally claim their victory over management.
-- Patrick Skurka
San Ramon, California

Yes, the UAW is a cancer eating away GM and the other of the Big Three auto companies.

GM management should have confronted the union thugs a long time ago. I say thugs because that's what the union is. Face it, UAW members have relatively low education and their skill levels are low. The fact is that they could be replaced rather simply if a free market was in play. But it isn't. In the past, what kept the Big Three from moving aggressively to protect themselves from being eaten away by the UAW is that the union basically had a license allowing for criminality and violence. This was the legacy of the long reign of Democratic Party dominance in Washington starting in 1933 until the mid '90s.

This latest labor contract will do little to help GM. Its high cost structure is still there, and more tellingly, the union has not been broken as it has to be if the patient to survive. If GM was serious about a turn around, it would declare bankruptcy and abnegate the union contracts and start fresh. Anything else is wishful thinking.
-- Peter Skurkiss
Stow, Ohio

Actually, there is a fourth option, albeit also known as the "nuclear option." The beauty is in its simplicity and elegance.

Tomorrow, the three horsemen -- GM, Ford, and Chrysler -- shall shutter all component and final assembly plants and relocate those labor-intensive operations to India and China forthwith: facilities and workers are standing by. The simplicity is akin to ripping a band-aid off an already-mestastized abrasion. The elegance is two-fold: first, killing the union albatross hanging around the companies' collective necks; and second, becoming competitive in a global market by leveraging the low-cost, moderate-skilled labor currently in supply.

The concept at issue is called "comparative advantage." There is no longer a comparative advantage in keeping low to no-value cost centers in the U.S. if those same cost centers can be undercut by overseas competitors.

This now frees the automakers to fully concentrate on the only value-creation process available to them (based on their industry) in the United States -- R&D. Since the mid-'90s, the U.S. has transformed, at warp speed, from a post-industrial economy, to a knowledge-based economy. Those who have transformed successfully are now reaping the rewards. Those who did not (automakers, computer manufacturers, and in the past, buggy whip manufacturers) established a history of multiple-quarters in the red.

Divest high-expense operations in the States; re-establish those operations in low-cost countries; throw the unions a big wet kiss; and give Congress a big "Thank You" on behalf of those who want to establish the card vote.

Waiting the "next 5-10 years" is a sure-fire losing strategy.
-- Owen H. Carneal, Jr.
Yorktown, Virginia

BLANK HILLARY
Re: Andrew Cline's Promises, Promises:

Now, now, don't start giving her any good ideas. Hers are weird enough already.
-- Geoff Bowden
Battle Creek, Michigan

Here's my request of Hillary: If nominated, she will not run, if elected, she will not serve. My second request is to not let the door hit her on her way out.
-- Andrew Macfadyen
Omaha, Nebraska

Turning PBS into all NASCAR would be a good thing. One less Democrat mouthpiece. LOL
-- Elaine Kyle

Hmm, that Edwards SUV sounds pretty good. Sorry, Fred.
-- Mike Showalter
Austin, Texas

Is Andrew Cline pulling our leg, was this article a spoof? I haven't seen the actual press release so I must assume Andy has a cutting sense of humor.
-- Tom Bullock
West Covina, California

DRUGS ARE CRIMINAL
Re: Christopher Orlet's Draining the Romance out of Drugs:

The very first act of the potential addict is to break the law against the use of controlled substances. He is a criminal first, even in this first act of becoming an addict. That is why I have always opposed the use of any tax-payer funds in "treating" addicts. With all the talk of "amnesty" for illegal immigrants let's also talk with equal fervor about "amnesty" for drug addicts, which has been government policy for decades. Dalrymple is absolutely right in his assessment and policy makers should take note.
-- Rose Storey

"Even the adding machine heiress and beatnik novelist William S. Burroughs said so..."

Heiress?? Was there something about Burroughs that Orlet knows and isn't sharing with us?
-- Howard Hirsch
Dayton, Nevada

WALLED OFF
Re: Tom Bethell's Freedom of Immigration Acts:

It has been more than two years since I responded to Mr. Bethell's then-judicious comments (3/3/05) about Welfare State immigrants. I said then, but cannot say now, that "Mr. Bethell's effort to inform his audience of the dangers of untrammeled illegal immigration is worthy of praise." Perhaps the apparent change in Signor Bethell's perspective comes from his enraptured reading the editorial page of the Wall Street Journal, which never found an amnesty program that it did not support. Perhaps Mr. Bethell has had an epiphany that now sees the United States economy desperately depending on illegal immigrants, who represent 4-5% of the labor force, and who, to quote the favorite phrase of that "conservative" in the White House, "do the jobs that Americans won't do." How consoling to know that, like the 7th Cavalry, our Mexican et al. illegal aliens are here to rescue America. What flapdoodle!

Mr. Bethell seeks to engage our attention by pointing out that he, too, is an immigrant. I wonder how many "immigrants" of an earlier age would have had the bravura to tell Americans that they really don't know all that much about their country, and without a shred of evidence to prove his case to boot? Curiously, Mr. Bethell, the immigrant, is not from the savanna of the Third World, whose denizens can legally enter through a lottery system, but from the country that gave these United States our system of laws and language: England. Why is it, then, that our recent immigrant, whose "appreciation" of our country is heart rending, will not counsel its leaders to follow the law -- even if it varies slightly from the English Common Law -- in carrying out the statutes that are presently on the books dealing with illegal immigration? 'Tis a puzzlement.

Mr. Bethell, the aforementioned immigrant, seems to spend much of his time thinking about the topic of immigration by consulting with, and reading, David Broder, the Washington Post, and Mr. Ben Wattenberg. Now if I may be so bold, Dear Immigrant Bethell, you should widen your perspective: after all, those three sources could be considered an integral part of the "open-borders" crowd. The Washington Post, in particular, is filled with those uplifting stories about immigrants, such as Ernesto, "living in the shadows," who seem, however, to have no compunction about providing their full names to reporters. Some shadows. And those thousands "in the shadows" who march in every "America is an Immigrant Nation" (they elide the word "legal") parade, waving Mexican flags, of course, do provide food for thought about their loyalties, current and future, especially to those residents of the Southwest. But, not to worry, for if we can democratize Iraq, surely Mexicans are "no problema."

I grow weary of having to repeat this over and over again: a country that decides that it has no borders is a country that will not survive. When this country, more than 20 years ago, provided an amnesty to illegal aliens, it opened the door to the situation we currently face, and we witnessed the beginning of the end of the rule of law, for we had, at that moment, begun our descent down that slippery slope. Whether or not this, or any other, President of the U.S. agrees or disagrees, he is bound by his constitutional oath to enforce the laws that are on our books. Immigrant Bethell's comment that "...border enforcement may well be increasing at a time when the need for it is declining," is not worthy the dignity of a response, for he presumes that only illegal immigrants in search of employment are crossing the border. When Congressman Duncan Hunter claimed that nearly 160,000 Middle Easterners also had crossed that "virtual," but non-existent border, my first reaction was one of shock: we are, after all, "fighting a war on terror!" Immigrant Bethell, however, must have concluded that most, if not all of them, found gainful employment as taxi drivers in the sanctuary city of Chicago.

By looking the other way; indeed, by telegraphing that he is set on not obeying the law, this president is in dereliction of his duty. Presidential candidate, Tom Tancredo, in a recent interview in New Hampshire, said openly that such action was "despicable," and so it is.

The Founding Fathers, in their infinite wisdom, made it a requirement that to serve this country as its Chief Executive, one must be a native born citizen, one who not only appreciates this country for what it is, but loves it to the exclusion of every other. Immigrant Bethell's inane deliberations only further convince me that those gentlemen of yore were a lot smarter and dedicated to this nation than the jackasses who posture as our guardians today.

Pax tecum
-- Vincent Chiarello
American Council for Immigration Reform

I shook my head in disbelief as I started to read the article by Tom Bethell, because it is a narrow view of the subject and ignores an enormous tragedy.

Members of Congress that support illegal immigration are ignoring the enormous tragic problem of the poverty of 50 million Mexicans. A tragedy that can be and must be avoided with our modern expanding world economy. It also is causing the "Chain Migration" of illegals into our country, that has grown in the past two decades from a few hundred thousand to 12 million and will continue to grow.

It is a poverty, so severe, that millions of Mexicans are desperate enough to leave their wives, children, relatives and friends to risk breaking laws in a foreign country to seek an income, and will continue to do so.

Members of Congress that support it are like a doctor that cures his patient's cough and fails to discover the cancer that is the cause of the cough.

Our immigration problem is directly caused by Mexico's elite ruling politicians. I have read that Mexico's laws refuse to honor private capital investment, except in some rare cases, and then reserves the option of taking over the business investment and placing under government control. Consequently, Free-Markets that can put 50 million Mexicans to work, prosper and leave families intact, are not allowed in Mexico and it's 50 million citizens are condemned to a lifetime of poverty. This is not; let me repeat, "NOT," ROCKET SCIENCE, Editor.

Today we are watching a global economy that is expanding into all the continents of our world including South Africa. It recently included China and India, that have about a third of the world population, that will be prospering, but is prevented from expanding into Mexico because of corrupt politicians.

Congress should be spending its energies in directing the United Nations to insist that the Mexican government rewrite its laws to allow and protect private investment. and let Free-Markets start-up that will offer millions of its citizens jobs instead of making the problem worse. Then the Mexicans who cross our border illegally can stay at home with their wives, children, relatives and friends, where they will be much happier, than taking the risk of working illegally in a foreign country. Canada has been doing it for decades. Canadians are happy for they prosper in Canada and stay home in Canada with their wives, children and relatives.
-- JNS

BLISS
Re: Joseph Baum's letter (under "Prayer Answered") in Reader Mail's Suspension of Belief:

Well done, Mr. Baum, so very well done. That's TAS I love.
-- Mike Showalter
Austin, Texas

Like this Article

Print this Article

Print Article