Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Unions are responsible for auto industry failures

This is one of my favorite of the outlandish statements repeated by conservatives as if it's common sense. 
Let's talk about the shockingly absurd implications of it:
1-That the auto industry has failed because of some failure of low-level labor, rather than because of seriously poor corporate decision making. (note that no one is blaming the bank tellers for the problems of the financial sector)
2-That guaranteed higher-than-average wages, job security, and benefits hurt worker productivity.
3-That guaranteed low wages and no benefits would make people work harder. 
4-That cutting benefits, job security, and wages, (killing the unions) would be worthwhile if it meant having a stronger auto industry in the United States--essentially that making an industry "competitive" is more important than empowering workers to live in reasonable conditions.
Obviously, all four implications are completely absurd, both logically, and as an indication of our social values. While I'm not sold on any kind of "bail out" for anyone without adequate federal regulation/control attached, I'm certain that anyone who suggests breaking up automotive unions is the solution to an ailing industry is really not a credible pundit. 

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