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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.  
     

Originally posted to SuperSonic Dog on Tue Nov 11, 2008 at 07:36 AM PST.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Also endangers national security (0+ / 0-)

    Remember the Jeep as the back bone of the Army and Marines in WWII?

    Guess who makes HUMVs and parts for the work horse of the pentagon's ground forces?

    Civilian Hummers may not be doing well, but the military version can't be replaced overnight.  And if insurgents don't blow them up, the desert environment makes wear and tear accelerate.

    If GM goes under, as it looks like it will, well, the militaries ground forces are put into peril.

  •  decades of conservative economic propaganda (0+ / 0-)

    (no sign of a tip jar as I write this)

    I'm glad you made this point:

    "devastation wrought by 30 years of anti-labor, pro-corporate, laissez-faire capitalism"

    I'd kind of like to see that reflected in the title.  ;)

    Now that we've completed the task of electing one guy, I'd like to work on getting away from focusing on one guy by name.  The conservative economic culture is much bigger than one guy.

    When we label a 30-year strategy enacted by lots of people by giving it one guy's name, it sometimes distracts us from dealing with the strategy, the movement, and the crowd of enablers who keep it going.

    Good essay, I'd say. Thanks for this contribution.

    Cheers

    --
    Out of necessity, I study how belief influences behavior.

    by etbnc on Tue Nov 11, 2008 at 07:58:37 AM PST

  •  Still not sure how they will compete going (0+ / 0-)

    forward.  There competition can produce the same quality for cheaper since they don't have to pay such huge amounts of cash for benefits, retirement, and wages.  I think a government bailout is the right thing to do but we need concessions.  We need upper management to take huge pay cuts and huge benefit cuts.  We need the labor unions to follow suit as well and drastically reduce overall pay.  It is the only way GM can survive long term.  Without those concessions giving them a bailout will only buy them a few years of time before they close the doors anyways.

  •  Laissez faire? Really? (0+ / 0-)

    We have the largest, most interventionist government EVER!! The Federal Register has more regulations in EVERY sector than at any other time in US history -- Registry is now at 70,000+ pages. EVERY department has more funding than it did, and there are a host of new departments.
    No government has ever spent more than this one.
    The money supply is EXPLODING under the REGULATORY AGENCY, known as the Federal Reserve system.
    Most interestingly, what I just said could have been said about any administration, any year for the last several decades.
    You are drawing the wrong lessons from history. This is one of the LEAST laissez-faire administrations of all time, and THAT is why we are in a crisis.

    •  Umm whatever you say (0+ / 0-)

      but lest you forget, it was the laissez faire policies of the republican party who have systematically deregulated the financial and energy sectors and not conducted any oversight whatsoever, that forced the federal reserve  and the treasury dept to bail out wall street.

      Or did you forget that?

      This is your world These are your people You can live for yourself today Or help build tomorrow for everyone -8.75, -8.00

      by DisNoir36 on Tue Nov 11, 2008 at 08:52:16 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Bailouts are not laissez faire... (0+ / 0-)

        and neither is the Fed, which is at the heart of the crisis. As long as you have the Fed in place REGULATING reserve requirements (currently set at a mere 10%), you will have massive booms and busts as the money supply expands and contracts, and NO OTHER REGULATIONS can stop this from happening. Study the Austrian Business Cycle Theory. The problems you describe are merely symptoms.
        The republican party is only free-market oriented in rhetoric.

        •  Philiosphy that led us to bailouts is. (0+ / 0-)

          No matter how you try to spin it, the philosophy that pushed for massive deregulation which among other things brought us Enron and the current mess is all part is.  Phil Gramm and his push to deregulate the energy and financial markets.  Alan Greenspan who was an Ayn Randie and his hands off approach.  George Bush who not only embraced Friedman philosophies but then pushed to gov't to look the other way when it should be overseeing these markets.  These ALL led to us HAVING to intervene with massive bailouts.  

          It is unfortunate that these jackasses didn't adhere to their ideologies when the shit hits the fan but these ideologies were always unrealistic.  You cannot let markets correct themselves, especially when you're using the fed gov't to inflate the highs as Greenspan enthusiastically did by lowering rates or as Bush did by massively cutting taxes for the rich.  If you let the markets run their course they will eventually correct themselves and the corrections will be swift and hard with millions of people getting caught up in the pain.  They're only ideologues when the times are good, then when the shit hits the fan they cry bailout and admit that their ideologies may have a flaw, despite us saying that for decades.  So in a sense you are right in that they're ideology is only rhetoric, but it's only rhetoric when times are bad, because when times are good they have employed their ideology to an extreme.

          Oh and that 10% margin was part of the problem.  It was lowered which allowed for these massive surges based on speculation all purchased with credit.  Margins were and should once again be set at a higher rate to prevent speculators from entering the market.

          This is your world These are your people You can live for yourself today Or help build tomorrow for everyone -8.75, -8.00

          by DisNoir36 on Wed Nov 12, 2008 at 05:07:40 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

  •  Colombia not Columbia (0+ / 0-)

    <div style="font-size:10px;text-align:center;background-color:#ffd;color:#f33">If the terriers and bariffs are torn down, this economy will grow - G. Bush

    by superscalar on Tue Nov 11, 2008 at 08:27:46 AM PST

    •  By The Way (0+ / 0-)

      Last week if one were to ask the Chief of Staff for the President-elect of the United States if a 'free trade' agreement with Colombia was a good idea, I believe the answer would have been 'yes'.

      I suspect if you ask Charlie Rangel if a 'free trade' agreement with Colombia is a good idea today, I believe the answer would be 'yes'.

      <div style="font-size:10px;text-align:center;background-color:#ffd;color:#f33">If the terriers and bariffs are torn down, this economy will grow - G. Bush

      by superscalar on Tue Nov 11, 2008 at 08:32:44 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Faustian bargains with a lame shmuck (0+ / 0-)

    gets you nothing but troubles.

    Is Paul Ryan's Congressional appointment is an entitlement program?

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