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Wacky GOP Economics Offer Little To Struggling Detroit Workers

Today, as voters go to polls in Michigan, empty campaign promises to find solutions to the high unemployment rate problem in Detroit ring out from GOP candidates Romney and McCain. Romney continues to oppose the high fuel economy standards of CAFE that at least encouraged American automobile corporations to attempt to remain competitive with successful import brands such as Toyota and Honda. John McCain clings on to the shallow language of "job retraining", which simply means unemployed autoworkers taking on low paying service jobs at a fraction of their previous autoworker wages.

And with a history of weak support for labor unions and continued support for free trade policies that only benefit a few corporate profits, both McCain and Romney can only offer Detroit autoworkers continued lower wages, unemployment, loss of health care benefits, loss of retirement benefits at best. Yet both shallowly claim that they will put workers back to work, only that they don't tell unemployed Detroit autoworkers that it's at McDonald's or some other low paying service job. Both McCain and Romney only represent the crushed American dream for many workers.

And it just might be as well that Clinton is also skipping the campaigning in Michigan as well. It would be interesting to hear her defense of her husband's 1990's NAFTA free trade policies. Currently none of the production car version of the Chevy, Ford or Dodge NASCAR cars are built in the U.S., only interestingly the Toyota entry is U.S. built at this time.

Interestingly, it was Mitt Romney's father, former Governor George Romney, which used to head little American Motors Corporation as CEO that had a forward looking vision for the American automobile business future that only failed during the period of cheap gas in the U.S. For thirty years, little American Motors, formerly known as Nash, had cars priced at $1880 or less, and got an honest 20 or more miles a gallon. The 1950 Nash Rambler was priced at just $1880. The 1960 AMC Rambler American was priced at $1880. The 1970 1/2 AMC Gremlin was priced at $1879. Yet all three durable economical cars largely failed to attract large groups of buyers in an era of cheap gas due to a lack of popular styling and mostly functional design.

More popularly styled, higher performance models from Chevy or other brands continued to outsell the AMC offerings by huge numbers. As late as 1973, oil was only $2 a barrel. Recently it has topped $100 a barrel before backing down a little in price. And economical models from Toyota, Honda and even South Korea are now the top sellers among many American buyers.

American auto brands often ignored quality control details at one time, which only helped to steer many American buyers away from American auto brand loyalty towards higher quality imports. And some companies like Chrysler nearly became extinct by only selling large cars during the mid 70's fuel shortage and gas lines in the U.S. And politicians only encouraged American automobile companies to build their cars in some foreign country such as Canada, Mexico or even China with free trade policies, all of which has only resulted in the continued decline of American autoworker jobs.

The later improvement of American automobile quality and fuel mileage may have come too late for many workers in Detroit. And free trade policies aren't helpful either. Most politicians have little more to offer many autoworkers in Detroit on this primary election day than future unemployment or lower wage replacement jobs

Note: Wizbang Blue is now closed and our authors have moved on. Paul Hooson can now be found at Wizbang Pop!. Please come see him there!

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Comments (3)


Seems to me that the Detroit workers kind of brought it on themselves. The cars of the the '70s and '80s were overpriced, poorly styled and badly built - and the unions resisted strenuously any ideas to, you know, put out a decent product at a decent price. That and taxes going up and up in Michigan.... hey, what point is having a cash cow if you don't milk it for everything you can get?

End result? The auto makers looked elsewhere for their labor. The cash cow dries up. Factories shut down. Jobs go away.

So what are the Democrats proposing - opening Yugo factories? Hey, maybe we can make Trabants there on the government dime!

Lee Ward:

"End result?"

The end result is that Republicans since 1994 have blocked meaningful efforts to reform the American auto industry by increasing fuel standards and forcing the automakers to produce fuel-efficient vehicles. The Republican'ts did so as a part of their on-going support of oil profiteers and big business.

The result is the auto industry chose to increase the production of gas-guzzling SUVs and Trucks, and now our country is literally "over the barrel" - the oil barrel. Meanwhile just recently, Toyota eclipsed Ford in US car sales.

This year saw major changes to that, once the Democrats took control of congress. We are now on a better path, with increased fuel standards, but it took Democrats to change the disastrous course forged by the Republican'ts.


Thing is - the jobs are no longer in Detroit. Fuel standard changes wouldn't bring them back. Forcing more efficiency isn't going to make them magically appear, since the current plants can put things in place.

So the jobs have vanished. They're gone. They've Elvis-ed out of the building. They've joined the job-choir celestial. They are EX-jobs, and no matter how much you shake the cage, you ain't gonna get them back on the perch.

All Monty Python parrot references aside, what are the Democrats going to do? Force the auto makers to move back to Detroit? About the only way that move is going to happen is for there to be an economic incentive such as massive tax breaks, and you won't get that. The state might do it, but I doubt it.

They've dug themselves a deep hole in Detroit. I don't think the Democrats can help them.


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Editors: Lee Ward, Larkin, Paul S Hooson, and Steve Crickmore

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