11 December 2008

Buy foreign. You'll spend on domestic anyway.

From matthewgood.org comes this lovely poster:


That's what it feels like to me, too.

It kind of frightens me that companies of this size can't follow market trends and predict an outcome. This started before gas prices skyrocketed over the past few years. The fact that the so-called "Big Three" American automakers pissed around for so long is a pretty sad commentary on the state of business and ethics.

I fully understand why it's better for the governments to bail them out. They'd be looking at thousands of job losses that would ultimately have a worse economic impact than the money being thrown at this fiasco by the Americans (and subsequently the Canadians, since we have no real auto industry of our own and rely on international investment for our auto sector jobs).

I hope the unions are prepared to make some concessions to justify this expenditure. Before you pull out your claws, I'm pro-union -- within reasonable limits. I'm a teacher. When I do the calculations, I make just over $26/hr before taxes. When I hear of auto workers making upwards of $80/hr, I do have to ask why. Why do some of them make more than 3 times my salary when I was in school for 7 years? How can they justify the swollen salaries when their employers are asking for billions of dollars from the government. And in a capitalist society at that. What ever happened to letting the market determine the winners and losers?

No, I agree that the cost of letting these car companies fall apart is too high. And as I lie here on my second sick day this week in excruciating pain with the luxury of my unionized benefits to pay for 80% of the massage and chiropractic I spontaneously needed today because of the domino effect of my myofascial malocclusion which is being treated in part by orthodontic benefits of said unionized health plan (gasp for air!), I will contemplate what I would be willing to give up. For example, the news came down today that my own union pension plan has a $1.5 billion unfunded liability (read: deficit). Will I be asked to vote on a proposal to top that up at the expense of something else, like dental or acupuncture? I guess it's a real possibility, if not for the current round of negotiations, then at some point during this apparent extended economic decline we're facing down. But if the government can't tell me that my money isn't about to be well-spent on some flagging car manufacturers, I'm prepared to fight that point all the way to the bank.

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