Endangered Species Act
By:  Ray T. Bohacz 

Feature Article from Hemmings Muscle Machines
 - Ray Bohacz

 It never fails to amaze me how the American public, our elected officials and media reacts to a crisis that affects our country. It almost seems there is more compassion for strangers in other lands than their fellow Americans. The problems the Detroit automakers are facing has brought this clearly to light.

 During the past few months you could not turn on the TV, radio, or pick up a newspaper without everyone including the members of Congress kicking our auto industry as if it were a soccer ball. I haven chosen the words in the previous sentence very carefully --- it is OUR auto industry and it should be a source of national pride for every American. Washington D.C. seems to have forgotten that along with if you can believe the polls, a good portion of America. We rightfully lament over a minimum wage job that evaporates due to the economic crisis but gleefully react to the possible demise of an entire manufacturing segment. The only one of any consequence that is left in this great country.

 Without hesitation both the Bush and Obama administrations have collectively written a check worth $190 BILLION to bail out AIG, an insurance company. That deal was cut with no media coverage, televised circus or the examination of the mode of travel the insurance company executives employ. Before the ink was even dry on the AIG deal our illustrious congressional leaders turned to brow beating mode when the executives from the Detroit 3 asked for a loan. A good portion of the public and media does not realize the money Detroit would receive is a loan with a substantial rate of interest that is on an escalating scale. The AIG money was a giveaway with no expectation of return let alone a profit to the taxpayers.

 I am tired of the phony talking points that everyone from the media to the guy who cuts baloney in the supermarket is regurgitating. How convoluted is it that Congress asks Detroit how many jobs will they eliminate and factories close if they get the loan? It should be if the American public lends you this money how many jobs are you going to create and factories reopened? Washington actually wants job elimination as a stipulation for a loan. We should be complimenting Detroit for the 100 years they have been an exemplary employer providing a living wage, healthcare and a pension to millions of families. Congress acts as if the Big 3 took their profits and went to a girly show instead of paying Blue Cross/Blue Shield of Michigan, which at one time was General Motors largest supplier. That is correct, not many years back GM spent more money on taking care of the health needs of its employees than it did on steel! Why does the public examine the total cost per hour for the UAW but neglects that figure for every other business or civil servant in the country? What if we looked at the cost to run an ad on TV and then examined if the production people, actors, TV station, et al worked for fifty cents on the dollar how better off the country would be?

 Now let me address the real facts.

 According to The Harbour Report (an industry standard), nine out of the ten most productive auto assembly plants in North America are all unionized and run by American companies. The latest information which is for 2007, lists the Chrysler Toledo Supplier Park/Jeep plant at number one. There it takes only 13.57 hours to build a complete vehicle. As a matter of fact, the only Japanese transplant operation that made the top ten was the joint venture with GM and Toyota (NUMMI) in California. Every one of the Detroit 3 have representation in the top 10.

 Statistics state the average transaction price of an automobile is now more than $20K. Using the Ford Kansas City #1 plant that builds the complex Escape and Mariner (two conventional engine choices plus a hybrid) which came in at number six by Harbour, the $10/hr pay cut that Congress wants the UAW to take would only influence the vehicle price by $177.20 (the plant takes 17.72 hours to build a car). Do you really think that $200.00 would influence someone to buy a Mariner or Escape? Yet, the $400.00 a week loss to that worker and his family will most likely eliminate any discretionary spending, possibly force them into loosing their home and forget about college for the kids and the impact on the community. But that is fine because we can then use taxpayers' money to bail them out of their mortgage. Isn't it better to allow a person to make a fair living instead of turning them into a ward of the federal government? Henry Ford did.

 The other fallacy is that Detroit did not build fuel efficient and quality cars. I have three fuel sipping examples in my garage right now. They have between 140,000 and 391,000 miles with no repairs at all! The Detroit 3 offer a full range of vehicles from small FWD economy cars to luxury SUVs and everything in between. If a customer comes into a GM store for an Chevy Tahoe does Congress believe the salesman should talk them out of it and force a Cobolt on them? I thought we still had the right to drive a vehicle of our choice in America.

 The qualifier that I use to determine the impact an industry has on our country is to take the total payroll of the blue collar labor force and divide it by the head count. When this calculation is made the worth of the domestic auto industry is painfully clear. But there is an intangible factor also -- pride.  Pride in America, its workers, companies, engineers and all those that make this country great. Simply put, if Detroit disappears so does the America that we have known. To join this cause please visit, WWW.SupporttheBig3.com.

 

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