December 20, 2008

Car Crazy

By admin

I’m getting sick of hearing about the plight of North American car companies.

And now we’ve done it:  we’ve made a commitment to old-school, traditional businesses that speak nothing about the future that Canadians want.  Just today, Stephen Harper announced a bailout package for GM and Chrysler, something he could finally stomach after his lord and master George Bush did the same in the US.

If I understand correctly, we’ve been forced to wait and wait and wait again while the Republicans (in the US and here in Canada) tried to turn the screws to unions and force them to make concessions.  I’d like to see numbers, because I really don’t believe that unionized employees represent the lion’s share of costs for car companies.  I could be wrong, but as I say, I’d like to see numbers.

Harper’s announcement still has a lot of ties to it, so expect to see either a wide range of layoffs or a number of concessions, despite feedback from the CAW that they won’t back down.

And they shouldn’t have to.

For weeks now, the solution has seemed obvious to me, but I’ll share them and see if you agree:

  1. Let them go bankrupt.  Bankruptcy is an exceptionally important function that’s been institutionalized in the capitalist system.  Let the lawyers and bean counters take over and kick all of the management out.
  2. Give guarantees for pensions.
  3. Ensure that ALL warranties are covered and will be supported by any government in North America.  People aren’t buying North American cars because they’re out of touch with demand.  People aren’t buying North American cars because there’s no confidence that these companies will be around to honour their warranties.
  4. Long term plan:  Build good cars.  Stop with this ‘disposable 5-year car’ bullshit philosophy.  The world demands better from all of our manufacturers and it should start with car manufacturers leading the way.  If you’re not making as many bags of money in the future, well, boo hoo.
  5. Slightly longer-term plan:  let’s figure out how to encourage the development of a made-in-Canada car manufacturer.  For example, why are we keeping the ZENN car on hold?
  6. Longer-term plan:  let’s figure out how to build a car-less society.  Cars are not our future.