“This is not the American dream; this is the Auto Industry Nightmare”

You will not read a more visceral and affecting account of what the demise of the Big Three means to individuals, families, neighborhoods and regions than this one from Michigan (cross-posted from Michigan Liberal):

Yesterday my family joined the ever-growing group of Michigan families who now face an uncertain economic future due to lay-offs in the auto industry.

My dad’s employer, once part of The Big Three, offered their employees age 50 and over a puny buyout package, with the hopes that 300-400 people take them up on it. Whispers around the office led most to believe that if the buyouts weren’t taken, they’d still most likely be without a job, and the measly benefits. So as of August 1st, my dad will stay in Michigan, unemployed, with a mortgage, bills, and a very uncertain future. His job, like so many others, is heading to Mexico.

The news broke my heart and my spirit, just as it has for thousands others.

Here’s what worries me most – like many other laid off auto workers, my dad’s in his late fifties, with a bad back, arthritis starting to set in, and a minimal college education in auto repair, no thanks to the GI Bill. He can send me email, watch the funny YouTube videos I send him, but that’s about as far as his computer skills go. With a crummy economy, how does my dad compete with all the hungry, tech-savvy college graduates that don’t have families to support?

This is not the American Dream, this is the Auto Industry Nightmare.

Now what? Barack Obama? John McCain? Gov. Granholm?ย  Anybody?

15 thoughts on ““This is not the American dream; this is the Auto Industry Nightmare”

  1. …..why is it always “more” you ask? I really don’t know, Jill, but it could be the desire to be on top? To be “numero uno”? The baddest dog in the hood? I used to argue with my bosses at the mill years ago, why not be satisfied with a small profit consistently, rather than shoot for the homerun that may never come.
    I don’t expect to be in the position to make those calls in my lifetime though. That’s why I blog.

  2. ๐Ÿ™‚ I know I know (nice double entendre on the word enough there too!) But still – why isn’t the concept of “enough” more widely pursued – why is it always “more” that wins out?

  3. Hi muley – yes – I heard that this morning and had been hearing the pre-deals last week too. I actually don’t want to write what I thought, but I find these mergers/buyouts/takeover/purchases, really troublesome – for the reasons you imply and others as well. We are so willing to sell sell sell – for what, in the end? Isn’t there a point at which it’s enough – everything? What has happened to the concept of “enough”?

  4. …..as I spoke of the other day,”big โ€œbehemothโ€ co. are all about maximizing profits, at every moment possible, to satisfy the shareholders, who could care less about their fellow man (or woman).” As illustrated in this article from today’s NY Times: http://www.nytimes.com/2008/07/15/business/worldbusiness/15inbev.html?_r=1&hp&oref=slogin

    One of A-B shareholders is none other than billionaire Warren Buffet, who, along with other shareholders, will become even richer with this ownership change, while work will be sent out of the country, and people will loose their jobs, plants will close, “to appease the shareholders”

  5. I lost my auto-industry-job in Bedford Indiana a few weeks ago when the plant there was closed. (I had a whole long rant to follow that up, but it was so long I wrote it on my own blog instead of swamping your comments ๐Ÿ˜‰ ) Anyone whose job goes overseas has my most sincere empathy.

    I don’t know what politics can really do about it — is it government’s responsibility to prop up a company incapable of saving itself? But the sheer scale of the looming problem means something needs to be done. I don’t have an answer — just bitterness, anger, confusion, and fear…

  6. Pingback: Why I hate American automakers « Clueless White Woman

  7. Bad American, thanks. What really drives me nuts about these scenarios is how much cognitive dissonance capitalism requires of a society. Why do we put up with that – how was it decided that it could be put up with, given what our “values” are supposed to be?

    This is somewhat the same with our system of crime and punishment. Too many at-odds wishes for any one system to meet without showing up someone to be a cynic.

  8. muley – thanks for reading and leaving your thoughts.

    What’s so interesting about all this realism we see happening, we know is happening, is how we then hear certain politicians call for sacrifice – as if there hasn’t been any yet, or people haven’t had enough of it yet. What exactly do they have in mind? And why aren’t they being examples first?

    I’m not the best example myself, I admit that.

    What is reasonable for us to do – specifically in an effort to actually make things better – not just to know what it means to be deprived?

  9. Sigh.

    I’ve seen it happen to people I know in my extended family too – the victims of our peculiar form of American rapacious predatory capitalism. Throwing people on the garbage heap with no social safety net safe the creaking Social Security system. Good luck if you get seriously ill, then you’ll have the inalienable right to live on the street. No civilized country treats its people like this.

  10. ….I fully understand the plight of the autoworker, not only Lucy’s father, but all who are faced with the prospect of no job, no skills and not much hope for a future. My wife just lost her job of 29+ years here in Lorain with the closing of National Gypsum plant here. You show up every day and do the job presented to you to the best of your ability and for the sake of the shareholders, you lose. Nice knowing you, the door is to the left.
    Not having the skills beyond what she was taught “on the job”, her chances of finding a job anywhere near what she made is going to be impossible. Living in an industial wasteland like Lorain, there are no comparable jobs that she can seek, and to stay close to home, she will be forced into low-paying positions at small mnfg. co. that will work the doo-doo out of you one week and cut your hours the next.
    I think Jill is right, not to take the heat off out lawmakers, but big “behemoth” co. are all about maximizing profits, at evry moment possible, to satisfy the shareholders, who could care less about their fellow man (or woman). We are in the “Me” generation now, and it shows everyday we pick up a newspaper, or turn on the evening news. Big companies aren’t satisfied with 50 million in profit, let’s shoot for a 100 million next quarter. If we have to cut some jobs, who cares! Those laid-off auto workers will never be invited to a shareholders meeting, so…..who cares!

  11. Dear joe – thank you very much for your sentiments. The dad described in this post is actually the dad of a blogger who uses the handle “Liberal Lucy” but I will be sure that she knows you’ve left this comment.

    I agree to some extent that lawmakers – Democrats included, in the cities, are involved in the demise of these industries. BUT – the corporations and the greed – ours and theirs – also play a role. And we have to be honest about that. To say that corporations the size and girth and age of the auto companies are failing because of Democratic leadership in big cities is really inaccurate. They aren’t absolved of responsibility – I would never argue that. But the corporate behemoths are run by individuals, joe – and I thin they need to step up too.

    Thanks again for a model comment! ๐Ÿ™‚ You said what you believe in a way that anyone could “hear” if you know what I mean.

  12. ms. miller, i know you disagree with many of my posts. but, i would like to express my sincere condolences for the situation that your father is currently facing. my small contribution to helping the u.s. auto worker has been to buy only american made cars. not much else i can do. the same thing has happened to many of my friends. one worked at LTV for 30 plus years and left with NOTHING. our politicians are failing us miserable and the areas in most decay are the areas that are dominated by decomratic leadership. the big cities where the industrial manufacturing bases are located are all run by democrats and they’re sinking fast. cleveland is leading the way. your dad will make it. he has a work ethic, something the is missing in a large part of the inner city “culture.” those are the folks that won’t make it (and shouldn’t). we (myself, your dad and you pay alot of money out of our pockets for these slackers that have never worked a day in their lives). and, they don’t think they have to. the whole system is upside down. my fear is obama is more of an agent for the slackers than he is for your dad. just mho.

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