Saturday, December 6, 2008

The State of My State

I typically shy away from "group" political (and other volatile) discussions. While I appreciate that everyone has their own opinion, I REALLY dislike it when people push their opinions on other people. So much so that I had to delete a girl I knew in college from my face book contact because her constant propaganda posts there made my blood boil! But I digress...

I live in Michigan. The Great Lakes State, the Mitten (hand geography lesson later), home of ... the Big 3. While I don't personally work for the auto industry and have no connection to them financially what so ever, I know A LOT of people in this state and others that are very closely related to it. And I have to admit, I am scared.

I'll just come out and say it - it is my personal belief that the Big 3 should get some form of support from the government. However, I have a lot feelings/thoughts/emotions behind that. I am not a black/white or right/wrong kind of girl. Never have been, probably never will be. There is a lot of grey area in my world.

So while I believe my the Big 3 should get some help, do I think they deserve it? Probably not. I'll admit that they had lagged behind some of the "foreign" auto makers in design and technology. I think they have made strides in this area lately, but is it too little, too late? Could be.

Did they poorly manage their companies for years to cause the state of domestic auto industry to be where it is now? Surely. For years I have watched on the news while jobs are eliminated and shipped elsewhere, local assembly plants are closed and boarded up, all the while the executives maintain their huge, massive salaries and bonuses. One of the problems we have overall in the US is that we don't want to pay a lot for the goods and services that we purchase, but we want to be paid a lot for the goods and services we produce. You can't have it both ways, I know. This is the dilemma of business.

Do I think another big problem of the industry is the power of the unions? Resounding YES. I don't blame people for wanting job security. But it's time to wake up and smell the 21st Century. There aren't many people I know that get free health care anymore or have guaranteed 90% of pay when laid off. It's just not realistic. I am not saying that all unions are bad. Not by a long shot. I think the UAW served it's purpose for a long time and likely did some good. However, when almost a third of a GM car's costs are in benefits for the employees, it's time to stand back and look at the full picture.

With all that I have said, (if you're still even reading and haven't tuned out!) you're probably wondering: "Amy? Sounds like you are AGAINST this bridge-loan to the Big 3". (HA got ya, I called it what it should be called, a bridge loan NOT a bail out, as they have said they'll pay it back) I guess it does rather sound like it. But the truth is, I am not. There are just too many people in this state and more importantly this country whose lively hood is somehow linked to the auto-industry. It's not just the factory worker and the dealerships. It's insurance companies, parts companies (man, there is a LOT of these people!), and other suppliers. The trickle down here is unbelievable.

I guess I'm also tired of our country giving out money in the form of aid to everyone BUT us. Let me clarify there. I am NOT saying that I don't feel that we shouldn't help in other areas of the world. That's what a global super-power does. However, when it comes at the expense of our own people, that's not right. Sometimes you need to clean up your own back-yard before you can inspect how clean others yards are.

Do I want to pay more taxes? NO! Do I think some major re-structuring is in order? YES! But I just think it's the right thing to do. How do you feel? Just curious -- and again, I'll totally respect your beliefs :)


Pamela said...

I do think some assistance must be given because if we don't make cars here, the price will go up amazingly because the lack of any car industry trying to keep the foreign cars competitive. But the money must be a loan only, with interest. I am offended that I have to bail any industry out while I'm still struggling paying school loan debt. No one's bailing me out.

luvin' life said...

I am whole-heartedly with you Amy, 100%! If the whole US auto industry disappeared, 1 in 10 people would lose their jobs. That definitely spells disaster for the entire national economy! Before we came to Michigan, I had no idea that unions could be so powerful as to kill companies off with their demands. Not to mention that their whole system encourages lazy workers.

P.S. I LOVE your playroom too! Don't worry about stocking it with toys. They will overpopulate your house in no time, and it actually develops children's attention spans better to have a few available at a time in the beginning.

I am SO excited for your adorable little Tatiana to come home! We'll have to get together and have that Super Porridge party when she does. :)

Lindsay said...

I'm not an American but I agree pretty much wholeheartedly with you. It took more than 20 years for parts of Scotland's economy to recover from the loss of car manufacturing and that was too long to be of much use to many of those who originally lost their jobs. The devastation to segments of society has been immeasurable and it goes far beyond unemployment. I can't help contrasting how fast the government was to react to Wall Street's need for a bail-out. I guess they have more clout on Capitol Hill than the average auto-worker!

Anonymous said...

I think you put it quite eloquently.
I agree with you 100%.
I do hate the fact that our great great grandkids will be having to pay all this back, but it needs to be done...By the way let me introduce myself, I am Heidi's Mom (Bradyn's grandmother). And so through Heidi & Mike I feel I know you, I am so excited for you to get your little girl, can't wait to see her picture.
We have been thoroughly enjoying our Brady, he is doing so well, Heidi & Mike are wonderful parents, as I knew they would be.....
Mary Taresh

Roger and Joanne said...

I also pretty much agree with you. I am a bit offended to bail out an entire industry. Especially when those CEO's make such HUGE amounts of $$. Why not let the best succeed? I don't see us bailing out Mervyn's or Circuit City or all these other shops closing down. Would it be so bad if one of these US car makers failed. Sure, it would horrible to see them all fail. I worked for America West Airlines for quite a while and they ended up filing chapter 11. The government didn't bail out that airline. But, they actually turned themselves around and strong. Then they went on to buy US Airways. Now I'm not saying they are a good airline now, but...there was no bailout. The strong survive. With all the billions and billions that have been loaned out, perhaps that money could have been divied up between households and everyone could have $$ to pay their monthly mortgage or buy a new car.....Dunno, just venting. It's definitely a tough situation with no clear cut answers.

ahandfulofdeffenbaughs said...

I agree to an extent, and also with comments others have made. We don't want to suffer the consequences of a total collapse of the industry, but if 1 goes under that may not be the end of the world and may wake up the other 2 to change the status quo. I also agree that unions make lazy workers. I think that if you lost your union job making $35-50 per hour with massive benefits that you aren't going to look too highly at taking a job at Lowe's or Wal-Mart for minimum wage to feed your family. There is always SOMETHING for EVERYONE to do out there...but our standards have gotten pretty high. As a society in general we have an entitlement mentality. We think we deserve the high paying jobs, the automatic benefits and that the value on our home should double after 2 years. I guess that is what a good economy has taught us! This week in church they read a list of lessons from the Great Depression that I found interesting: 1. No credit -- if you don't have it, don't spend it. 2. Save -- not just for "something" but to cover your expenses just in case. 3. Forget about the Jones's. When it comes to feeding your family, who cares about the other stuff? 4. Be willing to do "whatever". A job is a job and we shouldn't be above doing something that would help us out. 5. Help each other. Those who made it through those rough times best were those that had a support system and shared vs. those who tried to do it alone.

So not sure what to do on the bailout/loan issue. Just know that the most important thing is an attitude shift by people.

Jesse said...

We are originally from Michigan too and everyone seems to be tied to the Auto industry somehow. Why do the big 3 have to beg for loans when the banks got a free ride after total mortgage fraud? FRAUD! yes, we were one of those people who they were trying to push into a ridick home loan. Thankfully my husband said NYET! (I was a little concerned that everyone could suddenly afford afford a million dollar mortgage!)

Big 3: restructuring would be good. They are like an artery bleeding money everywhere. Hopefully they will get a loan and millions can keep their jobs and we won't be thrown into a depression.

Since the politicians decided it's ok do give away ALL of our manufacturing jobs to other countries, we don't have a lot of industry left here. Is ANYTHING made here? Try to find a toy for your baby girl made in the US - oh wait! there is one on my blog... made by my DAD in Michigan!

I truly feel like there is a group of politicians and business men who were paid off and now this country is truly suffering due to greed.

I agree with Amy we cannot have it both ways. Cheap goods made in other countries are not our solution. But at least the Auto industry makes a product we use and will miss if it disappears compared to the corrupted mortgage brokers/banks that threw our country in total jeopardy because of greed and FRAUD. What happens to them? Why do they get a golden parachute with our money?

Hmmm Curious...

Sandy said...

Hi there - as a future adopting parent, going to Russia and specifically Vladivostok to adopt our child, I have been enjoying lurking your blog. I'm reading through your archives and came across this post.

I live in the Seattle area, well-known as being a hotbed of liberalism and here we have a similar situation with Boeing. The power of Boeing's unions is causing Boeing to begin looking elsewhere for assembly of airplanes. They are looking out for their workers but are biting the hand that feeds and eventually, it's going to cost thousands of jobs.

I live 7 minutes away from the largest airplane assembly plant in the world and obviously if Boeing ever pulls out, this area will be in a world of hurt. Unlike the Big 3, the aerospace industry so far doesn't appear in need of a bailout, but it is clear to me that union power has gone too far and is now in danger of actually being a detriment to the american worker.

And that is all coming from a good liberal democrat and borderline socialist. ;-)