Bailing out the automakers

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Benjamin

George Victor wrote:

"Why should these particular workers get special treatment?  Shouldn't they get the same assistance that all the other workers get, that being EI, welfare when that runs out (if they qualify), and OAS/CPP if you're of a retirement age?"

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Because yours is the 1930s Deopression attitude guaranteed to bring it all down.  You're only 80 years behind the times in your economic thought.

You should not take my comments as advocating fiscal austerity.  I see no reason why the stimulus should not be conducted through EI policies that support all workers as opposed to an approach that would privilege some workers.

And more importantly, I think that the autoworkers are likely relatively more financially secure than many poorer workers and non-workers in our society.  I would prefer to see policies that support this latter group.

If there is an economic (or other) argument why these particular workers should be treated more favourably then enlighten me please.

Boom Boom Boom Boom's picture

Good post, FM.

Benjamin

Frustrated Mess wrote:

These workers shouldn't get special treatment and, indeed,  they're not. They are losing their standard of living and those cheering on the governments will be next.

I'm not sure that many people are cheering on the government, or relishing in these particular workers losing their standard of living.  I think people are asking legitimate questions about the bail-out, and about why all of society should be asked to support this particular industry (and its workers) versus other economic interventions and/or programs to support all workers and non-workers who are in need. 

In addition to programs for those most in need, we need to radically re-shape corporate legal regulation (which I don't believe is actually going to happen).  In that regard, the World Future Council has recently advocated for new corporate legislation that "would force corporations to take responsibility for the environmental and social damage they cause. In addition, it will increase accountability of the board and limit the compensation range between the highest and lowest paid employees to a ratio of 25:1".  http://www.worldfuturecouncil.org/press_releases.html

We have created this system, and we can re-create it.

George Victor

There was some solidarity involved in its creation in bringing about greater equality of condition , and while the autowaorkers like many other workers forgot themselves for a bit in buying into the capitalist system and in voting conservative, perhaps now is not the time for schadenfreude? ...about the plight of workers or our democratic instituions such as communications.

Sean in Ottawa

This is in the context of a long campaign by the most privileged in our society to incite conflict between the middle income people and the very poor.

These are the same people who try to tell the middle income earners that welfare abuse and assistance to the "undeserving" poor are the reason for their high taxation.

And to the poor they say that those in the middle income range are the cause of their suffering today.

In the meantime those that really made off with the money get to use it to perpetuate these myths along with the idea that we are greedy to aspire to even a fraction of what they have.

I make a middle income and walk throughmalls set up in my neighborhood full of things I can't afford. The waste is unbelievable. Yet we are to look at middle income people as the cause for our misery rather than those who can put more money on a dinner out  than I earn in a month. These people call me greedy with my middle income. Of course my middle income, since I support a family, means I spend more than half my income on accomodations in spite of the fact that I rent the cheapest towhouse in the city and I put construction grade plastic on the single pane windows in my house to avoid freezing. (I am grateful for those crappy windows because if there was not a hosue this shitty in town there would be nothign I could afford at all) Yeah -- I'm the scum sucker preventing the poor from having a fair shake not those with the bonuses and stock options who created the problem in the first place.

The demonization of workers- directly or through their unions- is grotesque. And these same people who want working people to accept the wages of asia won't even recognize that there is a cost of living difference between the markets. These people talk about productivity.

I'm moonlighting in order to pay bills not have a vacation -- I use vacations to try to get additional work for my family to survive.Makes me a fat cat right?

Sven Sven's picture

Sean in Ottawa wrote:

These are the same people who try to tell the middle income earners that welfare abuse and assistance to the "undeserving" poor are the reason for their high taxation.

Welfare abuse is, a worst, a mirco issue.  The big nut is middle class entitlements.

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Eleutherophobics of the World...Unite!!!

George Victor

Sean:

I'm moonlighting in order to pay bills not have a vacation -- I use vacations to try to get additional work for my family to survive.Makes me a fat cat right?

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Not for those of us of the great brotherhood/sisterhood of the middle, Sean.

And it has surely been talked about often enough in the last couple of years that while the wealthy have grown far wealthier, the "middle" is slipping backward in life chances.

"Hanging on" is now universal. And I guess the lies of the Bush years are become seen as just that - wherever the folks have access to the world beyond Fox and the other tell-ito-like-it-is Cry MSM.

KenS

Sven wrote:

Welfare abuse is, a worst, a mirco issue.  The big nut is middle class entitlements.

 

Examples of middle class entitlements?

Frustrated Mess Frustrated Mess's picture

Quote:
 

I'm not sure that many people are cheering on the government, or relishing in these particular workers losing their standard of living.

I think many are. Especially champions of the anti-labour parties and organizations. 

Quote:
 

I think people are asking legitimate questions about the bail-out, and about why all of society should be asked to support this particular industry (and its workers) versus other economic interventions and/or programs to support all workers and non-workers who are in need. 

Versus other economic interventions and/or programs? Like what? What else is on the table?

Quote:

We have created this system, and we can re-create it.

No, we didn't create it or maybe you can detail what role you and I played in the backrooms of G7 meetings or at Davos.

In fact your comment really underlines my point. Here we are arguing over pennies at the front door while dollars are being shovelled out the back door. We have workers begrudging workers while the thieves make out like ... well, bandits. But better for them, while the rightwing commentators and politcians demand workers take it on the chin, there are plenty of other workers, it seems, ready to deliver it even while more of their own taxes and disposable income goes to propping up the banksters.  

Benjamin

I think it is the minority that relishes in the job losses of others, and that the voice of this minority is amplified by their dominance in the mainstream media.  I do not think it is reflective of broader Canadian opinion (but I could be totally wrong on that).

With respect to what other interventions/programs.  There are already social safety net programs in place, like EI, that will need increased funding given the increased demand that will be placed on them.  Certainly a discussion about whether EI is adequate, both to the people who actually qualify and to the large numbers of people who do not qualify (but need the support), would not be unfathomable.  Likewise, there is significant room to shape how the stimulus dollars are spent. 

Neither you nor I drafted the Canadian Business Corporations Act nor its provincial counterparts, but we do have the power of our vote, and the power of our voice.  I think that if we all disavow ourselves from the structures that are in place, and view them as unchangeable institutions created by others, then we cannot expect to institute change.  We do bare responsibility for the economic structure of our society, even if you and I disagree with that current structure.  We also bare the responsibility of attempting to change it.

You seem to be miscontruing my argument.  I am equally appalled by fat cat salaries, and corporate bail outs.  No where have a said that corporations haven't been complicit in a big take or that I disagree with your assessment of who bares the most responsibility.  My argument is only that the autoworker per se, are no more deserving of assistance as other Canadian workers, and I would suggest, are in a financially superior position to many. 

We should be calling on the government (federal and provincial) to provide social spending that will assist all workers, not just the ones that happen to be in the politically optimal ridings.

Brian White

I do not support the government and I do not begrudge people. I am just saying that it is insane to dole out money to the autoindustry at this time. There is 10 years supply of cars just sitting there. governments response, "lets thrash slightly used cars and make more to replace the ones we thrashed" Thats fucken nuts, man.  Why not hire the car maker workers to keep the things running longer instead? Thrashing cars is just going to drive down the price of thrashed metal. The metal recyclers already are in trouble because metal prices are low. 

Trashing perfectly usable cars is dumb and wasteful.

The us auto  needs to be taken off of life support and let die.  Then something normal can replace it.

Frustrated Mess wrote:

Quote:
 

I'm not sure that many people are cheering on the government, or relishing in these particular workers losing their standard of living.

I think many are. Especially champions of the anti-labour parties and organizations. 

Quote:
 

I think people are asking legitimate questions about the bail-out, and about why all of society should be asked to support this particular industry (and its workers) versus other economic interventions and/or programs to support all workers and non-workers who are in need. 

Versus other economic interventions and/or programs? Like what? What else is on the table?

Quote:

We have created this system, and we can re-create it.

No, we didn't create it or maybe you can detail what role you and I played in the backrooms of G7 meetings or at Davos.

In fact your comment really underlines my point. Here we are arguing over pennies at the front door while dollars are being shovelled out the back door. We have workers begrudging workers while the thieves make out like ... well, bandits. But better for them, while the rightwing commentators and politcians demand workers take it on the chin, there are plenty of other workers, it seems, ready to deliver it even while more of their own taxes and disposable income goes to propping up the banksters.  

Sean in Ottawa

Benjamin-- My comment was not particularly addressed at you- It was in response to what I have been hearing in many places.

I would prefer not to save those companies- if we can find employment for the workers. I think we should look at a radical retool and different arrangement- perhaps nationalize them and retool them to make fuel efficient cars and buses etc or to make something else.

 As far as those losing their jobs and who deserve the most assistance it is a complicated thing-- one the one hand we need some of the higher paying jobs in the economy on the other, many people, particualrly women are losing jobs or part time hours and have almost no net at all and are living so close to the precipice that have no help. I have the big picture.

the problem is the dynamic where those with the big bucks sit back and incite and plant stories to have those with a little fight for what they have with those who have nothing.

Boom Boom Boom Boom's picture

I think there's enough cars and trucks in North America already to keep us rolling for the next 20 - 50 years; aren't the people of Cuba able to keep vehicles from the 1950s and 1960s still shipshape today?

Benjamin

@ Sean in Ottawa

My comments at #60 were directed at FM - I should have been more specific.

Sean in Ottawa

Another point-- I am willing to suffer if the money is going to where it is needed- my anger is that it is not.

That the majority of on reserve First Nations housing is so full of mould that it is a significant health hazard, that First Nations have 29 times the chance of getting TB than other Canadians, that many if not most FN communities have 365  days a year boil water orders- tells me that money is not going in the right place.

As far as a national principle- FN are the youngest population in Canada- these people represent both our future and our past and they are exploited shamefully while we have moved back to a resource-based economy with resources extracted from them.

I am not pretending to have it worse than others- I am just saying we should not be using the little some have as an argument that others should have even less or to distract from those who are really doing the exploiting.

Doug

Benjamin wrote:

Doug wrote:
That's really how I feel. Try to rescue the workers and rescue their communities with what public money we have available and leave the car companies to sort themselves out. It's better than throwing money at dysfunctional organizations to sustain a status quo we already can't afford in a lot of ways.

Why should these particular workers get special treatment?  Shouldn't they get the same assistance that all the other workers get, that being EI, welfare when that runs out (if they qualify), and OAS/CPP if you're of a retirement age?

 

Because this is a problem that goes beyond what EI and CPP are capable of handling. There's a community dimension to this as the auto industry is geographically concentrated. That's to say an auto plant is often the main employer in a town- even more so when you consider the employment at local suppliers and services used by the plant. EI payments to unemployed workers for a year don't help create new businesses in the affected community or alternatively, help workers move to where there are jobs. CPP can't help workers that aren't very close to retirement age but who are still going to have trouble finding work because of their age (in the 50-60 range, for example). Finding new uses for land that was occupied by plants can also be problematic.

Brian White

Here is the problem. We do not have enough money in Canada to keep the car factories going.  I worked as a temp for a company called lucas engineering years ago.  Night shift produced garbage one night (because nobody told them a honing material had been refreshed) and I brought it to the attention of the engineer.  Dayshift was mad with me because they were gung ho to process the garbage further.AND REFUSED TO SPEAK TO ME.  If I had let it go on, the girl on night shift (and she was so cute!) would have done the same next night and probably got fired.   Day shift (20 to 30 people in the next stage of the process) DID NOT CARE about someone on nights getting fired and that they would have spent a whole day processing crap to go into a huge waste bin. (They still got paid even though they ended up doing nothing all day). They PREFERED to be paid for producing garbage!

This is one example of how nutty the factory environment can become.

(And these were the handpicked "best workers" that the managment thought could make them compete with a german company!"  

 It is madness to continue producing giant automobiles at this time, the workers and management cannot see it because of the warped world they live in. But we in the general public can.

It cannot continue. It is like a bakery trying to to sell shit rolls.  You cannot sell shit rolls because nobody buys shit rolls.  So why make them? 

So even though these guys have been making cars all their lives, they have to stop. Nobody is buying their cars so making more will not solve the problem. It will just sink the rest of the country.   Some of these guys may have to move, and may have to adjust their lifestyle.  But, you know what, lots of people are already doing that.

 Welcome to the real world.   

Because this is a problem that goes beyond what EI and CPP are capable of handling. There's a community dimension to this as the auto industry is geographically concentrated. That's to say an auto plant is often the main employer in a town- even more so when you consider the employment at local suppliers and services used by the plant. EI payments to unemployed workers for a year don't help create new businesses in the affected community or alternatively, help workers move to where there are jobs. CPP can't help workers that aren't very close to retirement age but who are still going to have trouble finding work because of their age (in the 50-60 range, for example). Finding new uses for land that was occupied by plants can also be problematic.