Friday, June 12, 2009


Buy American—Honda, that is

by Larry Geller

In April I posted a prediction I made years ago, before I had a blog:

I have long wondered if, by a certain year (say, 2015), the only cars made in the USA might be Hondas. US automakers just can’t figure out their own business.

I wouldn’t dream to pinpoint the year, but Detroit kept doing things wrong and the Japanese manufacturers were doing things right.

GM and Chrysler are in chaos while Honda benefited greatly from the increase in gas prices last year. While it has had to shrink its workforce slightly in the current recession, it had the luxury of offering workers really sweet deals to retire. And yes, Honda is still making cars in Ohio. Detroit will match their fuel efficiency one day, but perhaps not with American-made cars.

The newer prediction, watching how bailed-out bankers were overseeing the evisceration of GM, was:

Why, first of all, should the automakers even want to make cars in the USA? We make little else at present, and so much of an “American” car is made overseas anyway. Why not, um, get rid of the unions altogether and just close down the auto plants? Oh, not right away (that might be a wee bit unpopular at present, so best not to talk about it while asking to be bailed out). But that might be the business plan.

The bankers want profit, they couldn’t care less about workers. If profit means bringing in cars from overseas, they’ll do it without guilt pangs. You don’t get to be filthy rich as a banker without a sociopathic personality, I don’t think.

This just out today:

As rescue attempts go, the Obama administration and its Auto Task Force are pursuing a peculiar course: They seem intent on keeping General Motors and Chrysler afloat as corporate entities by tossing more U.S. workers overboard.

Even as unemployment rates soar in longtime GM-centered communities hit by shutdowns, such as Janesville, Wis. (14.7 percent), and Flint, Mich. (15.3 percent), Obama and his task force pressed GM and Chrysler for more cuts. GM plans to shut down at least 14 factories and discard some 21,000 workers. Chrysler is closing eight U.S. plants, though it claims that somehow its merger with Fiat will result in a new increase of 5,000 jobs. In a telling observation that carried unsettling echoes of Bill Clinton’s push for NAFTA, theNew York Times called the job cuts and other worker sacrifices “steps that most analysts thought could never be pushed through by a Democratic president allied with organized labor.” [In These Times, Auto Task Force Outsources Jobs, 6/12/2009]

Right. The president is allied with the bankers, not with labor.

Get used to it.

Wasn’t there supposed to be a stimulus program? This is reverse stimulus, cutting jobs. Guess what—the chances are we’re being swindled on this stimulus thing too. Foreclosures continue, Congress refused to cap interest rates, etc. But I digress.

The key point I’d like to offer here is that neither Congress nor Obama nor the fat bankers want to save GM as an auto manufacturer. They just want to save their profits. If importing cars from Mexico, China, India, or wherever will bring the bankers big bucks, then they’re happy.

Get used to it.

And buy American. American Honda, that is. Made in Ohio with American labor. For as long as that lasts.


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