Sunday, December 21, 2008

How to Save the Auto Industry

All we hear on the news is the auto company bailout, which is now costing the taxpayer $17.4 billion. The media blame everything on blue collar workers but it seems to me the real problem is bad engineering and bad management, so I talked to my friend Henry about it. Henry’s last name is Furd and not Ford, but he is an automobile industry expert nonetheless and he thinks I am wrong.

“It’s been all over the news,” he said. “Auto company management is terrible but bad management is never the problem. The problem is that auto workers make too much money.” He folded his arms with an air of satisfaction.

That made no sense to me and I said so. “The problem is bad engineering. Who’s going to buy a car that is badly engineered?”

“A lot of people do.”

“Yes, they do, don’t they?” I said. He was right. I drive a Honda, but a lot of people buy American.

“If the union workers work for less, people will buy even more badly engineered cars and that will save the auto industry,” Henry said.

“No matter how bad they are?” I asked.

“No matter how bad they are,” said Henry.

“So the auto companies don’t have to build a decent car-“

“They just have to get factory workers to work cheap,” he said.

I did not quite follow the logic, but there is a lot of logic out there nowadays that I don’t quite follow. “So how cheap should they work?” I asked.

He took a deep breath, sat up straight and said: “They should work for free.”

Free? You mean they don’t even get their generous defined benefit pension plans that nobody gets except them?”

“That’s right. And they shouldn’t get their generous health care plans that nobody else gets but them, either. They have to work free. Gratis. Zippety-do-da. It’s the only way. They should not even get a pat on the head at the end of a long, boring, and soul destroying day.”

I was boggled by the thought. “And if they do that people will buy more cars no matter how bad they are?” I asked.

“That’s right. What is good for General Motors is good for the world. What could be better for General Motors than free labor?”

I had to admit, I couldn’t think of a thing.

“The auto workers simply have to work for free,” he said. “They can think of it as volunteer work.”

“Tightening lug nuts all day is volunteer work?”

“Nobody is forcing them to be there, are they?”

“No,” I replied.

“Then they are there voluntarily.”

I had to admit it was true. “So anyone who works voluntarily is a volunteer,” I said.

“That’s right. And volunteers don’t get paid.”

“That’s certainly true. If they get paid, they’re not volunteers.” I did not know what they were, but volunteers they are not. I could not argue with the logic.

“A volunteer assembling badly engineered cars all day every day for a badly managed company and doing it for free. It’s the solution to the whole crisis,” he said.

I was persuaded. “Well, I’ll be,” I said.


At December 24, 2008 at 1:18 PM , Blogger BBJD said...

Merry Christmas, Steve.




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