I live in a town that is within 20 miles of two auto plants, one owned by GM, the other Chrysler. We heard the news a few weeks ago that the GM plant will be closing forever two days before Christmas. It is the oldest plant GM currently operates, and the one which very often is awarded the highest initial quality rankings of any American car company.
The local Congressman from that area, Paul Ryan, stated some months ago that the biggest problem facing Americans was "entitlement programs." Yes, the same entitlement programs that thousands of people in his district will be relying on once they lose their jobs: Unemployment, Food Stamps, Housing assistance, job assistance, healthcare assistance...
And today, we learn that President Bush will not help the auto makers, unless, that is, democrats concede to another free trade agreement which will only futher imperil the jobs of hard working Americans.
Does anyone else need a reminder WHY we have worked so hard to get these assholes out of our government?
Today, we read in the New York Times that President Elect Obama has asked lame
duck brained President Bush to do something to help the automakers, since the damage caused to our economy if they folded would be disastrous. And, Bush might do something -- but only if the Democrats concede to a trade agreement with Columbia. Yeah, the same Columbia where labor organizers and advocates are murdered by corporations and the one where the government does nothing about it. The same Columbia where the wages would add even more pressure on workers here at home to take salary cuts in order to not see their jobs off shored.
Mr. Bush has drawn his line at the automakers’ doors, having already been forced to shelve the free-market principles of his Republican Party to bail out the financial industry over the past two months. But Republicans say he would acquiesce in aid to automakers in return for Congress’s ratification of the Colombia pact and pending trade agreements with Panama and South Korea.
So, Bush has had to back down from his party's free-market principles in order to save the economy from his party's free market principles, and has rescued Wall Street from its "greed is good" mentality. But, he's not willing to lift a finger to save one of largest components of the US manufacturing sector unless the Democrats acquiesce to his demands to put American blue-collar jobs in further jeopardy by signing a trade deal with another country where American companies can take advantage of near slave-wages, and very few worker safety or environmental regulations.
Could these people's loathing of middle-class prosperity be more apparent?
I have a friend who works at that GM plant that is closing. He's in his 40s, and has worked there for about 15 years. His body is battered, he has arthritis like a man in his 60s from spending all day hunkered over an assembly line making the same repetitive movements over and over again, lifting parts onto passing cars and affixing them before it rolls to the next station. But you know, he never complained. He went to work happy in the knowledge that he was taking home a good wage. It was a wage good enough to own a home, to own one of the SUVs he makes at work, even a decent fishing boat... And, the security that comes with a good healthcare plan, a retirement package, and a little money left over at the end of the month to send his two boys to college so that they don't have to do the type of back-breaking labor their father does if they chose not to.
Today, he and his family are in a mad scramble, to find something, somewhere to do to make the kind of living they are used to. When the plant closing was announced, he immediately started looking for transfers to other GM plants, but is still burdened by the fact that he'll have to uproot his family from the place they live, love, and have friends and family. He's also facing the grim prospect that, even if he transferred to another GM plant, GM itself my not be in existence in a year.
This is a personal story for me, but sadly, it's not unique. Thousands of people all over the US are facing the same devastation wrought by 30 years of anti-labor, pro-corporate, laissez-faire capitalism. True, those policies cannot be blamed completely: GM and its Unions were both getting fat at the same trough for years, and were both complacent and lazy when they allowed hubris to overrule the simple fact that the Japanese were producing more desirable products that offered a better value to the consumer. But for the administration to turn its back on several of the largest companies in the world and the hundreds of thousands of workers who now stand to lose everything because of it is sheer malevolence towards the workers of this country.