Everyday you say the Bush administration can't get worse

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Post by megapulse » Thu Jul 06, 2006 6:17 pm

A small example of why the average american worker and for that matter the average laborer in any country who has high standards does not want the global economy that its government says it wants for “prosperityâ€￾ -- this is from democracy now, an independent news outlet. The interview is about the loss of jobs at gm and ford, and it goes into greater detail. I've mentioned the downsizing of benefits in the computer world b/c of situations with workers rights in India and Mexico, now here's china's roll in lowering the standards for the auto industry . . . What saves a lot of folks right now in the EU and is not going to save folks in the proposed NAU is national healthcare (and it's what people here do not understand they think national healthcare will cost them taxes, it will actually save their jobs, but they don't understand how this is working against them). . . The US doesn't have it, many European countries do . . . Companies don't have that as a loss financially in many European countries . . . it's going to fuck our employees here b/c the companies thanks to "free trade" can and will move and the employees can't. nafta has fucked the average us citizen and the average us citizen has no idea . . . :

AMY GOODMAN: And what about General Motors? The former G.M. lobbyist, Andrew Card, is actually the chief of staff for President Bush.
HARLEY SHAIKEN: G.M. has very similar problems. In some ways, it's better off than Ford. But in other ways, it's even worse off than Ford. In both cases, the real potential victims are men and women who have spent a lifetime building these companies. Two of the key issues here are health care costs and pension costs. They're both vital to creating a middle class, to creating some sense of security. So in my view, the issue isn't getting rid of health care insurance and pensions, but rather, insuring that they are paid for the way every other industrial country in the world pays for them; that is, through federal policies, through national health insurance, for example.
To give you an idea of the scale of this, we look at just at health insurance costs. In its U.S. operations last year, Ford lost over $2 billion. For every car it produced, it had an average cost of $1,200 for health insurance. That's more than it pays for steel in a car. Honda pays $450 per vehicle for health insurance. The difference is a much younger workforce. The average age of Ford workers is pushing or a little above 50. So if Ford had Honda's health care costs, then it would have made money in North America last year. That's the scale of the difference. So unless and until we have national policies that address health care, we're going to have very uncompetitive manufacturing firms.

AMY GOODMAN: Can you fit this into a larger picture around globalization? The World Social Forum just wrapped up in Mali in Africa and is going on right now in Venezuela. Next, it will be in Pakistan, the World Economic Forum in Davos, in Switzerland. How does this fit into the globalization picture?
HARLEY SHAIKEN: Very directly and very poorly. What we're looking at today is a focus on health care costs and pensions, because that's the most immediate cost. Longer term, the issue of globalization could prove even more devastating to employment in this industry.
There's a new reality to the global economy. In emerging economies, you can have comparable productivity and quality to the most advanced industrial countries at a fraction of the wages. In my view, the issue isn't jobs or development for emerging economies. That's absolutely vital, clearly, to the people of these countries, and it benefits workers in the U.S. But when you have a situation where wages are held down, because of a lack of labor rights, in an emerging economy, then what you have is not high productivity prosperity, which the UAW and other unions have been able to forge over time in the U.S., but what you have is high productivity poverty. And those wages they set in China or elsewhere become the global standard.
Today, China exports about $4 billion or $5 billion worth of auto parts. Within five years, that could be over $20 billion. So the impact of globalization, already large in this industry, one of the pioneers, is likely to get a lot worse, and until this issue of labor standards is addressed, one way or another, we're going to have, I think, even greater problems in terms of employment within the industry.