Wednesday, November 19, 2008

No Detroit Bailout!

Detroit Three — Thanks for the Memories
Lori Stillwagon Roman
President, RegularFolksUnited.com

         Four generations of my family worked in General Motors Plants. My great grandfather, grandfather, father, brothers and I all worked for Buick Motor Division in Flint, Michigan.  After working my way through college at the Buick Engine Plant, I became an economic analyst and then a supervisor at another GM plant. My family was so loyal to General Motors that we considered a Ford a foreign car. This is why it makes it particularly painful for me to say that there should not be a bailout.

         I have agonized over this at length.  If my brother sees this editorial there won’t be presents exchanged this Christmas. Let me lead you, and my brother, through my torturous thinking process.

         First, I believe that sending the government to bail out the auto industry or an industry at this time is like sending an arsonist to put out a fire. The government is partially to blame for the problem with the auto industry.

         The government created the credit crisis by forcing lenders to make bad loans and the resulting credit crunch made it difficult to sell cars. Democrats in Congress (even some from Michigan) are responsible for blocking domestic oil production in the United States which has driven up gas prices and sent our wealth and potential American jobs to the “bad guys”.

         One would think that since the government created the crisis, they should fix it, right? No. They should STOP messing with the markets, not mess with them more! They should let lenders make prudent loans and let energy producers produce energy and they should let the automakers get out of this mess without government help or interference. They should not send folks with gasoline to put out a fire. Congress doesn’t just want to “bail out” the Detroit Three, they want to add on their own restrictions to make Detroit “green”.

         Second, as a former supervisor of UAW workers at a GM facility, I will say that poor management and union malpractice made the Detroit Three uncompetitive long before the government sent in their arsonists.

    To put it bluntly, the UAW takes the hard earned money of the best workers and spends it defending the very worst workers while tying up the industry with thousands of pages of work rules that make it impossible to be competitive. And the spineless management often makes short sighted decisions to satisfy the union and maximize immediate benefits over long term sustainability.

         The strength of the union and the weakness of management made it impossible to conduct business properly at any level. For instance, I had an employee who punched in his time card and then disappeared. The rules were such that I had to spend hours documenting that this man was not in his three foot by three foot work area. I needed witnesses, timed reports, calls over the intercom and a plant wide search all documented in detail. After this absurdity I decided to go my own route; I called the corner bar and paged him and he came to the phone. I gave him a 30 day unpaid disciplinary lay off because he was a “repeat offender”. When he returned he thanked me for the PAID vacation. I scoffed, until he explained: (1) He had tried to get the lay off because it was fishing season; (2) The UAW negotiated with GM Labor Relations Department to give him the time WITH PAY.

         I supervised a loading dock and 21 UAW workers who worked approximately five hours per day for eight hours pay. They could easily load one third more rail cars and still maintain their union negotiated break times, but when I tried to make them increase production ever so slightly they sabotaged my ability to make even the current production levels by hiding stock, calling in sick, feigning equipment problems, and even once, as a show of force, used a fork lift truck and pallets and racks to create a car part prison where they trapped me while I was conducting inventory. The reaction of upper management to my request to boost production was that I should “not be na├»ve”.

         One afternoon I was helping oversee the plant while upper management was off site.  The workers brought an RV into the loading yard with a female “entertainer” who danced for them and then “entertained” them in the RV. With no other management around, I went to Labor Relations for assistance. As a twenty five year old woman, I was not about to try to break up a crowd of fifty rowdy men. The Labor Relations Rep pulled out the work rules and asked me which of the rules the men were breaking. I read through the rules and none applied directly of course. Who wrote work rules to cover prostitutes at lunch? The only “legal” cause I had was an unauthorized vehicle and person and that blame did not fall on the union workers who were being “entertained” but on the security guards at the gate. Not one person suffered any consequence.

         Another employee in the plant urinated on the feet of his supervisor as a protest to discipline. He was, of course, fired…that is until the union negotiated and got his job back.

         Eventually I was promoted to a management position where I supervised salaried employees at HQ. As I left the plant I gave management a blunt message. I told them that I expected the union to act like the union, but I was disappointed that management didn’t act like management. 

         This is why, with deep regret and sympathy for the many fine folks who work in the auto industry, I think it is time for consequences. Let them file Chapter 11 and reorganize. Let management act like management and the union stop destroying our competitiveness. And let the government get out of the business of business.



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Action Alert

After the Paulson $700 billion bailout package passed in early October, we knew it was only a matter of time before Congress moved to use your money yet again to bail out a struggling industry.

Now, a vote to give funds to the "Big 3" auto manufactures, GM, Ford, and Chrysler, is likely to come up in the Senate tomorrow.

Call your Senators today and ask them to oppose bailing out the auto industry, whether with funds from TARP, revisions of previous loans, or any new grants. To find the information for your Senators, click on our "States" page and look for your state. Phone numbers and links to contact forms can be found near the bottom of each state's page. We have included recommended letters at the end of this email to send your Senator.

The ultimate fate of the auto industry bailout remains uncertain, and it is crucial that we contact our Senators today and urge them to stick to the Constitution and free market principles.

Please also consider making a donation to Campaign for Liberty today to aid us in our efforts to fight big government policies at the local, state, and federal levels. Together, we will achieve our goals of reclaiming our Republic and restoring our Constitution.


In Liberty,

John Tate

President
Campaign for Liberty


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Letter #1

Dear Senator (Name),

I urge you to oppose any bailout of the auto industry, whether by taking existing funds from TARP, revising any previous loans, or making new grants.

The auto industry is lobbying hard for taxpayer money when they should be entirely focused on restructuring their companies and recouping their losses. There is no guarantee that a government handout will have any positive effect, and that GM, Ford, and Chrysler will not be back in a few months asking for additional billions.

Since a bailout will only delay the economic consequences of the Big 3's current predicaments, Congress should allow the market to work so that the fallout can be dealt with and overcome as quickly as possible.

Instead of handing out more of the taxpayers' money and moving further away from the free market ideas that made America great, I ask you to:

1.) Curb regulation: The auto industry is already one of the most heavily-regulated industries, and a bailout will bring more government regulation and additional costs. Alleviating even a little of the red tape would free up resources for them to address their financial situations, save jobs, and produce quality products to jump-start sales.

2.) Cut taxes: Cutting corporate and capital gains taxes would give these companies immediate funds to put toward their problems. Cutting individual income taxes would return much needed money to workers and consumers, strengthening their financial positions and purchasing power during these turbulent times.

Taking just these two steps will save the industry far more in the long run than the numbers currently being proposed for the bailout.

Additionally, because the Paulson TARP plan has abandoned its originally stated purpose of buying toxic assets, is not holding up its promises to be transparent, and has not been properly accountable to Congress, no further expenditures should be authorized until the Treasury Department presents a full accounting to Congress of how it has already dispersed TARP funds.

Since the election, Republicans have talked of returning to their limited government message. This is a chance for you to prove your commitment to free market capitalism and the freedom philosophy by demonstrating that the Republican Party will be worthy of our trust in the next Congress. A vote for another bailout will send the signal that, despite any lip-service paid to limited government principles, Republican talking points of defending them are cheap and little more than campaign rhetoric.

The answers to our economic problems cannot be found in further government intervention. As your constituent, I urge you not to put my tax dollars on the line and to vote "no" on the auto industry bailout.

Sincerely,


**********************

Letter #2

Dear Senator (Name),

I urge you to oppose any bailout of the auto industry, whether by taking existing funds from TARP, revising any previous loans, or making new grants.

The auto industry is lobbying hard for taxpayer money when they should be entirely focused on restructuring their companies and recouping their losses. There is no guarantee that a government handout will have any positive effect, and that GM, Ford, and Chrysler will not be back in a few months asking for additional billions.

Since a bailout will only delay the economic consequences of the Big 3's current predicaments, Congress should allow the market to work so that the fallout can be dealt with and overcome as quickly as possible.

Instead of handing out more of the taxpayers' money and moving further away from the free market ideas that made America great, I ask you to:

1.) Curb regulation: The auto industry is already one of the most heavily-regulated industries, and a bailout will bring more government regulation and additional costs. Alleviating even a little of the red tape would free up resources for them to address their financial situations, save jobs, and produce quality products to jumpstart sales.

2.) Cut taxes: Cutting corporate and capital gains taxes would give these companies immediate funds to put toward their problems. Cutting individual income taxes would return much needed money to workers and consumers, strengthening their financial positions and purchasing power during these turbulent times.

Taking just these two steps will save the industry far more in the long run than the numbers currently being proposed for the bailout.

Additionally, because the Paulson TARP plan has abandoned its originally stated purpose of buying toxic assets, is not holding up its promises to be transparent, and has not been properly accountable to Congress, no further expenditures should be authorized until the Treasury Department presents a full accounting to Congress of how it has already dispersed TARP funds.

The answers to our economic problems cannot be found in further government intervention. As your constituent, I urge you not to put my tax dollars on the line and to vote "no" on the auto industry bailout.


Sincerely,


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From the Heritage Foundation:

The Detroit Bailout: Unsafe at Any Cost

The Automaker Bailout: Questions Congress Must Ask the Automakers

Auto Bailout Ignores Excessive Labor Costs

Automakers Need Bankruptcy, Not Bailout

Why did this take the mainstream media by surprise?

General Motors and the Intellectual and Moral Bankruptcy of Wall Street | Karen De Coster and Eric Englund

General Motors Runs Over the Experts | Gary North, May 7, 2005

GM's negative net worth nicely parallel's Washington D.C.'s. Someday the mainstream media will figure out that one too.