“Let Detroit Go Bankrupt” Mitt Romney said.
Earlier in the week before Mitt Romney’s mouth exploded on him, (or it may have been last week, sometimes it is hard to keep track) he once more attacked the loan that General Motors received from the government. At the time, I was discussing the new football stadium in Minneapolis with my kids. I have never been in favor government involving itself into private business except in the case where the business could have major effect on the country. General Motors fit such a criteria.
Had GM (and Chrysler) gone down, they would have taken most of the American auto industry with it, including sales units in many American towns and the aftermarket parts business. Yes, without that loan, it would have been a disaster. The very same thinking that went into the Reagan administration’s decision to keep Chrysler afloat.
So what does that have to do with a football stadium? Well in the Twin Cities the government built a place of business for a private enterprise with taxpayer money. This is hardly new. This is a practice that has been mostly the norm in the past 3 decades. Leaders have always been elected on a promise to bring jobs to their state or city. But in the past, this was done by doing such things as raising the education level of the populace, upgrading facilities such as parks and hospitals and schools that would make the area more attractive from a quality of life perspective.
Now, governments bribe private industry to move to their area by building facilities for them, suspending taxes and offering free or cheap utilities. Recently, governments have been touting how cheap the workforce is in an area. It is almost as if they are selling their citizens as cheap labor.
Now back around to the auto loans – it is awfully strange that Republicans are screaming bloody murder about loans to the American auto industries when governors from their own party have given away land, taxes and built roads and other facilities to attract the likes of Toyota, Honda, Volkswagen, Mitsubishi and more to their states. My guess is that in toto in the long run, these give aways were probably more costly than the loan would have been had it failed. (see a discussion on this here)
So it seems Republicans are not against giving money to businesses. No, that practice is rampant, especially in states with Republican governors. So, what is the difference between the foreign auto plants in the South and the American auto plants in the Detroit and the North?
Unions! That is the difference! The American plants are union plants, the foreign auto makers are non-union. Not only are Republicans famous for sending our jobs overseas, when they do bring jobs in, they make sure these jobs are non-union with all that non-union implies.
No matter what you may think about unions, they have been one of the major drivers for America’s middle class. Beyond all the benefits that unions have secured for their members (and non-members also), unions have been the one brake on the wealthy having unchallenged power. Now that unions have been essentially choked, we can see what the wealthy will do with their unchallenged power – much as they did before the Great Depression.
There are only a few pockets of union strength to challenge the rule of the oligarchs. They exist in the American automobile industry, the Post Office and public unions such as schools and other government workers. Now you can understand why these entities are being so vilified by elected republicans.
Vote Republican and you will be voting against the good of 99% of the country. Like it or not, America needs unions to control the power of the wealthy.