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Big Three: Phoenix Rising or More of the Same?

November 18, 2008

“A restructured, competitive American automobile industry will continue to play a crucial role in our national economy and in the global marketplace,” said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi back on November 16. While this statement seems to indicate support for the existing structure of the American automobile industry, it does not. There is little support indicated for the ailing Big Three, the United Auto Workers Union or the continuance of the insanity that has driven the world automobile industry for so many years. Speaker Pelosi simply acknowledges the crucial role played and the importance of the industry. The American automotive industry is not limited to the Big Three, but has been shared by Toyota, Nissan and others; all non-union.

phoenixStrangely, few are talking about the UAW, the segment of the work population that the Big Three have become so dependent upon by their own means. The leadership of the UAW proudly dictates that “workers will not make any more concessions.” In their minds, this means that getting the automakers back on their feet is determined by turning around the crumbling economy, but that isn’t their job or their sacrifice. They are above such things. In essence, the UAW has their hands out with full expectations of a bailout, since they believe that they are too important to the national economy.

Many Americans have the idea that the Big Three involve only union and management. There are millions of people in the industry who are salaried workers that don’t earn union wages. American suppliers could suffer greatly in the event of a collapse of any one of the three automakers. The general idea is that the Big Three are still running at full capacity as they burn through wads of cash. This isn’t the case either as plants have been closed or will close. In fact, the huge union infrastructure continues to be a drain, even though plants are closed. In the General Motor’s jobs bank program, workers are paid not to work all the time with full pay. The normal cycle of business, for better or worse, is largely circumvented by UAW contracts. Is this wrong-headed or simply another sign of poor leadership at the top of the Big Three Automakers?

Big Three leadership has simply been petrified by worker unions, unwilling to break the criminal cycle. This writer wants to applaud the unions for what they have accomplished, but the reality remains that little has been accomplished beyond runaway graft and laziness. The cities in Michigan and outlying areas that sponsor the Big Three could well be industrial pearls championing the wealth and success of Big Business, but remain as ugly bastions of broken infrastructure, poverty, crime, struggle and sour attitudes.

Prosperity is not labor-based except to the recipients of that labor and that is the fallacy behind the past that most of America has forgotten. We are no longer making a cherished product, or providing a valued service, but redistributing wealth with the idea that that redistribution will somehow prosper us.

It can be argued that auto workers have prospered, but that isn’t the truth either. The human cost of union leadership isn’t counted in productivity or in decent lifestyle choices of their workers, but in the preponderance of influence and cash flow, just like in the large corporations that they drain. The fact remains that neither are truly better than the other. The leadership of the Big Three has simply shown their gutless response to creative technology and their inability to compete. The UAW is guilty of using workers to their own advantage, much like other corporate bodies. There is little difference.

The fact remains that there is not a legal resolution to this financial and social crime, albeit a failed test of fascist socialism, except one. That answer is to allow the failed system to carry out its own final destruction through that failure. Trying to buy your way out of a deep recession is impossible, economically-speaking. People will scream that the sky is falling and doubtless human suffering will ensue. Sometimes suffering is necessary and always the impetus to greater things, including the prosperity that we claim to long for. From the ashes of the Big Three will come a restored American auto industry that will compete and move the nation into a more successful century by actually meeting the need and providing jobs that move the United States into the future, instead of holding the nation to the past. ~ E. Manning

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