I must have been so busy last week with holiday matters that I missed the story of Republican senators explicitly detailing their blockage of the Big 3 automakers’ loan request. Not for any high-minded purpose, of course. Not because they don’t believe in government intervention in industry, or want to teach the capitalists a lesson in free market discipline, or want to protect taxpayer money.
They only want to bust the UAW and embarrass the Democratic party. From the Senate Republicans “Action Alert” internal memo:
This is the democrats first opportunity to payoff organized labor after the election. This is a precursor to card check and other items. Republicans should stand firm and take their first shot against organized labor, instead of taking their first blow from it.
At least after all these years, the Republicans can’t be bothered to hide how little they care for people trying to earn a living in this country. If they want to eliminate their support in the industrial belt and really cement their standing as a backwoods party, they can be my guest. As Crooks & Liars’ John Amato said today, “If Republicans want to immolate themselves into even further irrelevancy, I’m inclined to let them. The trick is to keep them from taking the whole country down along with them.”
I was raised in Dearborn, Mich., hometown of the Ford Motor Company (my dad worked for the Ford Moter Credit Company), so I don’t have to hear any stories about fat union workers earning way too much money. I heard plenty growing up, and most of them were true. The “job bank” that the unions squeezed from the companies a few years was one of the most wasteful ideas ever conceived. But the program is almost gone now, and union membership has been shrinking for decades. It is NOT the impediment to producing cars economically in this country. The impediment is the huge cost of health care and pensions for retirees, and until the government does something about it, the auto companies will not be able to operate.
But to hear these tinpot hillbilly senators, it’s time to teach the union a lesson. It’s also time to give a huge boost to the foreign car companies who have built union-free factories in their states. If the Big 3 go into Chapter 11 (or god help us, Chapter 7), the union contracts will be weakened or voided, and the physical assets like factories (of both the companies and their suppliers) will be put up for sale and grabbed by….my only guess is foreign automakers.
The last thing this country needs is to have our industrial policy held hostage by jerkwater senators from Tennessee, Kentucky and Alabama. For decades, their states produced nothing but rickets and moonshine until they threw a lot of public money at foreign car companies to build factories there. Now they’re trying to tell us what’s best for the country? Or is it what’s best for “real Americans”? (Where did they go in the past six weeks, anyway?)
You can bore me with all the whiny anecdotes about bad-quality American cars (which are outdated, of course, if you bother to check things like the JD Power rankings) and the stupidity of the company management (who apparently should’ve foreseen the credit meltdown this year, when everyone in the financial industry missed it). But unions CREATED the middle class in this country, Clem, and without them, the quality of life for the vast majority of us would be appalling. No one would need a pension, because people would have to work until they keeled over dead. How these GOP hyenas can blithely speak of letting the car industry go belly up (crap, think of the implications to national security, if nothing else) just to bust the union and embarrass the Democrats is beyond appalling.
What is the OPPOSITE of patriotism?