Texas Liberal

All People Matter

Time For Greater Compassion For Auto Employees Losing Jobs—The Need For A Program Of Full Employment

We all know that the American auto worker has taken a lot of hits in recent years and months.

It’s not only been auto plant workers. Car dealerships are taking cuts as well.

It’s become part of the routine when these folks lose their jobs, to criticize the American car industry for being out-of-touch with consumers and to criticize auto workers for not seeing the warning signs of trouble. 

These things may be true in some respects. Though we should not forget that much of the criticism of the UAW is coming from the right and what they are objecting to at core is the idea of unions.

We should also note that consumers were in fact buying the big gas-guzzling cars that now seem—to a degree since many people are still buying them and driving them —out of touch with the times. 

In any case, we all know the many issues involved. The point has been made—over and over again— that the auto industry had a large hand in its own troubles.

Okay.

It’s time for compassion for these folks. Anybody losing his or her job after years on the assembly line is in big trouble. You can’t leave a job like that and make that kind of money again. 

It’s easy to sit behind a keyboard and go on about some other guy’s troubles.  The question now is what are we going to do to help these folks? 

I don’t think anybody has an answer to that question. Just as I don’t think anybody knows what to do with the urban poor and rural poor in our country.  

I question the commitment of President Obama and of the Democratic Congress to really taking on these questions. Doing so would mean addressing some core issues of our economic system, and addressing basic attitudes and stereotypes about people who have not had success in life or who are having a hard time in life.

Our criticism of auto workers seems in some ways meant to absolve ourselves of any oconcern for these people.

Here is a recent article from the Nation Magazine about the need for a program of full employment in our nation.  

From the article—

“The right way to earn our way back to long-term prosperity is through stimulus efforts that will help develop, broadly deploy, fairly compensate and, especially, fully employ our human capital, which will always be our greatest source of national wealth. Only then will we have refired the commercial engines needed to recover from this dismal recession. And only then will we have addressed Americans’ belief that unemployment is by far, with no close second, the most important economic issue facing the country….We need an all-encompassing strategy on the massive scale we used at Normandy to win the war in Europe and that we later had behind the sweeping Marshall Plan to help rebuild Europe’s broken economies. This time, however, our big-thinking strategy must be about creating the 24 million jobs that are missing so that American workers will be nearly fully employed.”

This is the big way we need to be thinking. For all the improvement in our politics and policy with Mr. Obama in office instead of George W. Bush, we are not there yet.

( Blogger’s note—I do not subscribe to The Nation. I buy it on the newstand about once a month. It’s important to realize that seemingly free online content must be paid for by somebody. Please click here to read The Nation and please consider buying it on the newstand or becoming a home suscriber.)

May 19, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , | 2 Comments

How Many Auto Workers Who Moved To Detroit Suburbs Ever Cared About What They Were Leaving Behind?

File:Ford Piquette Avenue Plant - Detroit Michigan.jpg

Above is a former Ford auto plant in Piquette Street industrial district of Detroit.

This Piquette Street area is on the list of the U.S. National Register of Historic Places.

Here is information about the Piquette Street Ford plant. Many famous car models were made at this plant.

Here is a link listing the plants and factories that once existed in this area.

I’ve been thinking today about how many auto workers moved to the Detroit suburbs without any care about the future of the City of Detroit. Many of them were content enough to leave that city in ever-growing poverty.

I’ve been thinking about how the Detroit suburb of Macomb County, Michigan was the heart of the so-called Reagan Democrat trend in the 1980’s (Though Mr. Obama did win the county in 2008.)

I don’t believe in karma, but it does seem that a number of things have caught up with Michigan’s auto workers.

I hope as many jobs stay as possible in the Michigan auto industry. If we don’t care about fellow working people, who will?

Yet at the same time, I’m not going to lose sight of what many of these workers were and are, and the attitudes they have held over the years.

Here is some history of Detroit from two people who clearly spent a great deal of time working on it. It is comprehensive and quirky and well worth a look.

April 5, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , | 6 Comments

In Support Of Loans For The American Auto Industry

I support the extension of loans by the United States government to help save the American auto industry. What the auto companies are looking for are loans and not handouts.

The United Auto Workers union has agreed to major concessions to help the big three car makers and to help gain approval in Congress to pass the loan package.

Republicans in Congress would love to see the UAW go away as payback for its support of Democratic candidates. Revenge is not a suitable justification for endangering the jobs of hundreds of thousands of people.

One poll suggests the American people are currently opposed to what is being termed–incorrectly–as a “bailout.”

One can understand the fatigue with government money for private concerns. But where are we going to work in this country? How are we going to live? Where are decent jobs going to be found?

I think most people understand–on some level they understand–that what is at issue in this current economic downturn is not simply “when will it end” or “how will I get by for the next few months.”

Rather, the issue is that when the recession has passed as determined by the so-called economic experts, will we as individuals, as families, as members of a community, have viable economic futures? What jobs will be left with salaries and benefits able to sustain us?

I’m not going to oppose this loan package because of private jets, or political calculations, or pointless resentment over what UAW workers are earning. Instead, I’m going to support the future well-being of American workers.

By advocating for other working people, we are advocating for ourselves. By supporting this temporary assistance to the American Auto industry, we are backing the long term economic prospects of all Americans.

December 4, 2008 Posted by | Politics, Uncategorized | , , , , , , | 7 Comments