It is time for the Detroit automakers and the United Auto Workers to find common ground.
 
They share a future and a fate. Neither can survive without the other.
 
Both can be healthy only if they act together.
 
Both have a common enemy.
 
That enemy is the government, and particularly the Democratic Party.
 
They should combine to fight the politicians who would destroy them both.
 
Ford and General Motors have both reported profits in the second quarter of the current year. After massive buy-outs of UAW workers in the past two years, and following early retirements of many of their white-collar staffs, both companies have trimmed their losses in the United States to the point that profits elsewhere are putting them in the black.
 
So, what would you do if you ran one of those companies?
 
Would you invest more in the U.S.? Or would you put your money where your profits are?
 
The answer is obvious, which is why GM is putting its future into the Chinese market.
 
The UAW may decide that it will settle for slowing the tide away from its members and toward investment in other countries.
 
If so, it will be guaranteeing its demise, and that of the companies who have employed their members.
 
Should that be the course pursued by the automakers and the union, the only car manufacturers remaining in the United States at the end of the next decade will be producing afterthoughts, cars designed elsewhere to be built elsewhere, and built here only because it’s cheaper to keep the plant going than to close it. In twenty years, those American car makers who survive – which will include GM, but maybe not Ford – will be entirely devoting their resources in other countries, including China and India.
 
They won’t be investing in the United States, because the United States is no longer a good investment.
 
But the Democrats in Congress still don’t get it.
 
There was a time when the Democratic Party marched to the UAW’s orders. Today, though, both the UAW and the automakers are the enemy of the Democratic Party, which has become the functional equivalent of socialists. 
 
The core of the Democratic Party hates the automobile because it is the ultimate expression of individualism and liberty. That party believes in neither. It wishes to deny you the choice of your physician, substituting instead the socialized medicine that has destroyed the quality of health care in England and Canada. It wants to force mass transit down your throat because it doesn’t believe you should be able to go where you want, when you want, as you want.
 
Those who live in “fly over” country don’t count. Those West of “fly-over” country don’t even exist.
 
In 2003, Chevrolet threw a 50th anniversary party for the Corvette, and they held it in Nashville. Nashville had no connection to the Corvette. But, Chevrolet explained, Nashville was within a four hour drive of 60% of the American population.
 
And that’s why the American auto industry has a big problem.
 
Most of the geographical area of the United States requires a car that can cover long distances in comfort and speed. A Cadillac DTS. A Suburban.
 
Most of the population of the country lives in an area in which gridlock is the common road experience. They may dream of better, so they buy a Tahoe, but their reality is a Honda. Mileage at idle is more important than highway mileage.
 
These are two different markets.

It is expensive to build cars for each market.
 
But to the politicians, neither is a permissible market.
 
Cars, even the ones trapped on the Washington Beltway, are still exercises in individual liberty. Mr. Goodwrench was right: “It’s not just your car, it’s your freedom.” 
 
People would rather sit in a car on a stalled “expressway” than be crowded onto a bus or subway car. Buying a car is one of the first investments a person makes on his or her way to adulthood and one of the last given up on the passage to the nursing home. It isn’t just transporation. Mr. Goodwrench was right.
 
Since Mr. Durant and Mr. Sloan discovered that reality, an automobile has always been aspirational. You don’t buy the car that says who you are – you buy the car that says who you want to be. In the fifties, that’s how they sold Cadillacs. Now, it’s how they sell BMWs and Mercedes, and even Hondas. (Hondas, you see, are the liberty of the car with an absence of prestige that proves you’re really not trying to make your car a means of expressing your status – status in reverse, in other words.)
 
That was, and is, the foundation of the auto industry.
 
Both the UAW and the companies for whom it works had better figure that one out, damn quick.
 
Congress and the Democrats declared war on the domestic auto industry with the CAFE standard adopted by the Senate last month.
 
It is time for the UAW and the auto makers to set aside their differences, figure out what it takes to win,
 
And go after their common enemy:
 
The liberals in the Democratic Party.

What do you think?
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1 comments:

tango  (372) posted on 08.1.2007

You’ve gone too far Ralph. Way too far.

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