While we don't always find ourselves agreeing with Sweet Peet D.'s prognostications (although we generally agree with his remedies for the woes of the domestic auto industry, which basically boil down to "product, product, product,"), we're absolutely with him on the dire nature of the Delphi issue. The supplier's bankruptcy dovetails perfectly not only with the American auto industry's arrogance over the last three decades, but also with the current administration's "USA ber Alles" attitude here at home and abroad.
Yes, we have a sticker of Dubya with his pants on fire on the back of our American-made, body-on-frame, V8-engined SUV. And, to our own Gen-X-esque chagrin, that pretty much perfectly illustrates the problem. This afternoon, we went over to hang out with a friend who owns a chopper shop here in town. He said, "Yeah, I bought a Titan. And I fought it. I felt weird not buying an American truck. But ultimately, it came down to quality and power." And there's the crux of it right there. Certainly, we'd like to see American workers get paid current union wages, with current benefit packages (or better) and build better vehicles. But when guys who build Hogs for a living are buying Japanese/French pickups, you know the American auto industry's got a serious problem.
Because those full-size trucks those Titans and Tundras are being built right here in River City, without union-grade wages and benefits packages. If globalization means invading foreign countries for increased oil prices, it also means the collapse of the power of our unions at home. (Win-win!) Not that we've ever even been able to find a union job in the time we've been in the workforce, and the last time we had benefits was six years ago. Our biggest union-booster-type workplace-friend took the easy way out and married a union organizer, dropped his hard-won corporate benefits and got on his wife's healthcare plan. And contrary to popular belief, we did graduate from an accredited four-year institution where we attended class at least half the time.
Ultimately, as DeLorenzo says, "This country cannot continue on the path it's going without dealing with the fundamental issues of health care and pensions. And our government simply cannot continue to allow its trading partners to competitively exploit our industries to the long-term detriment and deterioration of our own manufacturing base."
Simply put, first-world nations have to build first-world automobiles. Our engineering prowess, whether that means American, Japanese, German, French or Other (the Brits being part of the Other), can still apply. But our workers have to be applied to the premium segments to justify their wages, or their jobs need to be automated and ultimately cut. We need to choose between healthcare and old-age benefits for all Americans or simply for the wealthy few to whom it's merely an inconvenience in planning and who generally have people to plan that sort of stuff for them in the first place. It's a brutal, harsh reality, and far removed from the comfort of the Swell Years when what was good for the auto industry carried America. It may even require higher taxes. Still, as DeLorenzo points out, anywhere from one to seven to one to nine jobs in the USA is directly connected to the auto industry including ours. For all of our criticism of the domestic manufacturers, we don't want to see them fail. We just want to see them stop fucking up. Please stop fucking up, okay?
The Canary in the Mineshaft [Autoextremist]