Sunday, December 21, 2008

PM Harper Realistic; CAW Boss Lewenza Delusional

Above: A 1956 Studebaker Golden Hawk. Studebaker, once a biggie in the American auto industry, is, sadly, no more. Will GM, Ford and Chrysler end up like Studebaker? Can they be saved? Can they beat the foreign competition, or are unionized workers too scared to enrage their crazy union bigwigs and say they want to tighten their belts, roll up their sleeves and beat the foreign nameplates?

Story here.

Prime Minister Harper is right to demand concessions from the entire auto industry in return for financial aid, saying that there's not going to be a "blank check".

And that this includes the autoworkers themselves, who make an awesome amount of money per hour, certainly compared to myself, and can certainly figure out how to live on just a bit less, no doubt... just don't be so extravagant in your spending habits, realize that you don't need big houses, big cars, jacuzzis, a world cruise every year, stuff like that... whatever you don't need that costs way too much, well, you can manage some belt-tightening. Trust me; I know.
And so do millions of other people who don't make anywhere in the vicinity of what you lucky guys make and still manage to live comfortably enough.

However, CAW boss Ken Lewenza prefers the comfort of denial and delusion to admitting that labor costs for the Detroit Three and their Canadian branches are significantly higher than they are for non-American automakers, who are always more profitable, can afford to do what it takes to design, engineer and build great vehicles that people will pay a bit more for the opportunity to own.

The cold, hard reality today for autoworkers is that they have to accept somewhat less pay now, or they will, no doubt, find themselves pretty soon with none at all, once the American automakers finally go out of business due to no longer being able to compete both financially and on relative product goodness (both initial and long-term, including performance, materials quality, reliability and resale value) and desirability, to sell enough vehicles and make enough from each of them to pay the autoworkers, the pensioners, pay for all sorts of costs, all of which must be passed
, via the sticker price, onto the consumer, who's become more savvy than ever about what is and what isn't a good vehicle worthy of purchase, as opposed to the offerings of other makes, particularly Japanese, Korean, German, etc. It's about competition, and this kind of competition favors the lean and mean over the fat and lazy, the progressive-excellence-obsessed over the just-good-enough-defeatists.

The Detroit Three can't survive much longer selling uncompetitive vehicles at cut-rate prices and making little, no or negative profits on them. Something is going to give, and soon, despite a few taxpayer billion in corporate welfare, which will be eaten up in no time anyway, and after it's gone, well...

Accept lower pay or accept being unemployed soon, with the prospect of competing for a few foreign automakers' factory-job openings for, most likely, less compensation. Or the prospect of retraining for a different line of work if you're not one of the lucky ones to be re-hired to attach thingamajigs to vehicular chassis for the Japanese, the Germans, the Koreans, etc.

CAW boss Lewenza is delusional if he thinks that UAW/CAW labor costs aren't a serious problem that WILL lead to the "Big Three" (now "Detroit Three")'s downfall.

The history of the American automobile industry is littered with the remains of countless automakers, and I've a bunch of huge coffee table books as proof. The makers come and go... pretty much always for the very reason that's now threatening to push the remaining Detroit "Big" Three into their graves, joining Duesenberg, Studebaker, American Motors, to name just a few big-name American marques that didn't survive the financial crunches they faced.

It's time to quit being fat and lazy. It's time to become lean, mean and thrifty. It's time to finally design, engineer and build, not to mention sell, vehicles the likes of which will make the foreign marques look mediocre and obsolete. If we don't do this, then it's all over for us. And then the Axis of Evil will gloat, saying, "See, the West can't survive! They're too fat and lazy and stupid!".

The time to choose your direction is now, for you are now facing the crossroads, my friends.

Get it together or fall apart.