Democracy Soup

Making sense out of the world of politics

Auto industry problems are complex; right wing is wrong to punish only workers

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Originally published on on Tue, 11/18/2008 – 3:14pm

all pictures taken by me

A T-shirt for sale in a truck stop in Sawyer, MI displaying a feeling toward the gas issue.

During my long weekend, I felt nostalgic. Signs of $1.98/gallon. And when I got to Canada, gas prices listed as $0.88/liter, first time under a dollar in some time.

But the drop in the price of oil, while a welcome relief for many Americans, doesn’t take away from the need to reform everything gasoline-related. And gas-related includes automakers, auto workers, ethanol, CAFE standards, hybrids and electric cars.

Cries of accountability to accompany any potential bailout. Force the companies to restructure to be more viable.

This is what you hear from the right wing relating to the potential automakers bailout. But it’s also what you heard from the left wing on banks and insurance companies.

Liberals are being more consistent in that they want accountability on all these proposed bailouts. But the conservatives’ sudden interest in accountability stems from their desire to reduce the number of unionized workers in the auto industry.

No matter your political persuasion, no one thinks the auto company executives are doing a good job. But liberals understandably are concerned that the right wing wants to punish the auto worker for making a nice salary (though way under any executive salary).

President-elect Barack Obama wants the Big Three to survive in great part because he thinks they are part of the long-term solution, if given the opportunity, they can make the cars this country needs to reduce our dependence on foreign oil.

Outside the Detroit/Windsor metropolitan area, there is very little sympathy for the automakers’ plight. But given that is where my already planned vacation was set, I felt I needed to explore more on the subject.

The structure is way more than three companies, albeit large ones, and their employees. Many small companies make the parts that feed the auto industry, and of course, many other small businesses that rely on income from workers in these plants.

If the U.S. government doesn’t step up, the Canadian government likely will. Interestingly, the Canadian government will almost have to step in if the U.S. government does give help just to keep up and save Canadian jobs.

Of course, Canada is in a situation where the Conservative government is debating whether to run a deficit. The Americans don’t have that dilemma; our deficit is enormous in size.

But Canada recognizes the vital need to help this industry; we’re not sure if the U.S. government feels the same way. Those on the right currently run both governments, though if Obama were in charge, something would definitely get done.

This billboard, located in downtown Windsor, a handful of kilometers from the border, is an encouraging sign that someone in the auto chain of command gets it. And that is a start.

Auto workers, parts workers, and everyone else whose lives live and die by what happens with the auto industry. These people want to build quality products that other people want to buy, that they can afford to buy. In a country that doesn’t make a whole lot of anything anymore, the auto industry should be a bright beacon of light. And right now, it’s not.

So yes, help should come. And it should come with conditions — not just to punish assembly line workers, but to guide the companies, and their executives, into making products that Americans can buy with pride, that can reduce gasoline use, and won’t break down easily.

Obama is right that our problems are complex. And the auto industry is the ideal example. We need to change a lot of things in this country, not just to change them, but to make them work better. To be blunt, if we can turn around the U.S. auto industry, the possibilities are endless.


Written by democracysoup

November 18, 2008 at 3:14 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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