Rant… (Note: I started writing this a week ago, but ran out of time. Hence the untimeliness.)
I hear the auto industry is in trouble. They don’t know why. I can tell you, and I won’t even ask for an eleven-gazillion dollar bonus… They’re not making the cars we want at a price we can afford.
I’ll say it again using most of the same words in a slightly different order.
They’re not making the cars we want. And we can’t afford the ones they are making.
It’s that simple. Really.
Did they mismanage their companies? Sure! (A congressman wryly noted “It’s strange to see you guys get out of a private luxury jet to come to stand in front of us and beg for money.”) This might be the one and only time you’ll hear me say this, but paying the AVERAGE worker at an auto plant $74 an hour may be part of the problem. I have a college degree and 20 years experience in my field and I only made $15 an hour — and that was in a union shop. I’m happy the workers were getting such a high wage! Don’t get me wrong, I’m on their side, but the wages do seem to be out of line with the rest of the economy… Is there any wonder that us $10-15 per hour people buy Toyotas?
MAKE A CHEAP ELECTRIC CAR! You’ll make billions. I know, I know, they say it can’t be done with current technology. (“Current” technology. Get it? Oh, I’m positive you do. And don’t get all negative on me now…) But we never will develop the technology unless someone gets off their duff and starts working on it! Go ahead, make a small, comfortable electric car that only goes 50 miles on a charge. If it’s affordable, people who only drive 50 miles in a day will buy it!
So lets go ahead and give the auto makers all our money (or at least all we have left after the oil companies, banks, and insurance companies have had their share), but let’s put a caveat on the dough. Okay, CEOs, you bozos ran your companies into the ground, you’re fired. No bonuses, and no you can’t keep your jets. You did a BAD job and should not be rewarded by either the government or your shareholders. Same with whatever structure you have in place running the companies. Get rid of ’em, hire some people from Toyota or Honda to come in and teach us how to do what we taught THEM to do 50 years ago…
I couldn’t agree more Chris, well said!
I just don’t get it that auto makers like Honda and Toyota have been making, and getting praise for, superior performance cars for years yet in all that time the US auto makers haven’t really revamped their designs significantly enough to compete. I’d think once the trend of Japanese cars outperforming you was noticed, you’d be pretty fast to bring your own industry up to speed but they just didn’t.
Also when it comes to Hybrids and the whole world going on about helping the environment, you’d think maybe those same auto makers would make those cars priority and in a price range that might mean people will choose to be greener because it’s affordable. As it is, it’s still substantially cheaper for people to buy a regular car, even if fuel costs even it out in the long run and they will continue to do so till the prices are comparative.
Ah, it’s partly our fault for buying their big expensive gas guzzlers, then all of a sudden the fuel prices hit the roof and no one wants a gas guzzler any more.
The other major problem is the unions. In this day and age, only the most troubled and despotic corporations should have unions. Employees everywhere should know that once they join a job that’s unionized, the rest of their life is going to be a storied affair. Sure, they’re getting a great wage but forget about a pension and long term employment because your company isn’t going to last long enough to survive.
What needs to happen is that these companies need to die a little bit. A quick and painless death, get it all over with. Then they can restructure, maybe renegotiate union deals that they’re forced to maintain, and get on with the business of building quality cars.
Oh, I support unions 97%. I strongly believe that unions are the strongest line of defense against corporate greed and unsafe working environments. The problem is that the unions seem to have turned into that very greed in the case of the auto industry — demanding so much that the product they produce is nonviable.
I just got back from a workshop on fundraising for non-profit organizations. Like the auto-makers and their private jets, many of these folks stayed at the elegand hotel in Tempe, AZ where the event was hosted…yep, Boy Scouts of America guys paying about $200 a night…and during the day, learning how to get donors to cough up the bucks for programs…go figure! (FYI: our humble group stayed a few miles away in a modest chain whose main claim to fame is “clean”.
As for cars – we each drive our thirteen year old vehicles(…no one steals 13 year old vehicles!). If we figured price per day, they end up being quite a bargain and they both have lots and lots of miles on ’em.
In Sunny Santa Fe
Don’t get me started on all the cars sitting idle in car lots. The automakers could shut down for five years and we’d still have cars left over. What a waste.
You said it Chris, and you said it well. I am a union member but for the life of me have no idea why, I work in a fucking office. There’s a lot of craziness that goes on in making sure the people that shouldn’t be, are protected. There’s a lot of greed there too. Everyone needs to take a step back and do something that makes sense, sustainable sense.
I think there’s also a fundamental problem with the unions, though. I’ve got family working on those lines, and when they say, “If I lose this $44/hour job, I’ll have to go work at Wendy’s for $8/hour,” I reply, “Well, then, economically, you’re worth about $8 an hour. How long can any company paying 6 times that stay profitable?”
However, the root of the problem would be your apt assessment. There’s no excuse for not looking at a Jetta and going, “Oh, right, people like pretty things that work” at some point over the last 20 years.