Wednesday, October 22, 2008


I was watching CNN and I heard that Henry Paulson, the guy who is in charge of the $700 Billion Bail Out package, congratulated China on its progress! This might be construed as a nice thing to do, but he added that he saw a great future in China for U.S. companies.

Well, as my mother would have said..."Hoop de doo!" Isn't it nice that the man who is handling that miserable, expensive Bail Out, snatched from the pockets of American taxpayers who are jobless, homeless and hopeless, and that does not seem to have helped the stock market at all, is lauding China and giving it credit for its magnificent job of welcoming our industries within its shores? Should we join him in anticipating more Chinese junk in every store in this land, more ten story boats arriving on our shores, more job losses from companies that head for the cheap labor there?

Let's talk about those companies for a while. GM, who has presented a pitiful picture of its finances, is currently talking to Chrysler about buying THAT financially stressed company. Where is the money coming from for such a sale, GM? You have told us how wages and Health Care costs of pensioners, etc., are keeping you broke, and you're trying to buy a huge company like Chrysler?

Let me tell you about Chrysler, who merged with a German company not long ago. A derelict area around Opdyke Rd. and Squirrel Rd. near Pontiac contains thousands of acres of land where huge buildings make up the Chrysler Center. There are tennis courts and acres of lush greenery, roads that wind from building to building, an area where millions of dollars have gone into landscaping and construction. Yet, poor Chrysler is having financial trouble, as is GM, which not long ago, purchased the Rennaissance Center in Detroit and refurbished the area around the riverfront. If these companies are as broke as they say they are, with their stock falling down to the bottom, why did they spend their diminishing funds on these expansive real estate deals?

I have no pity for these companies, because they have shown no loyalty to Americans. My brother in law, Charles...whom we all called "Chop", worked in an auto factory until his retirement. He didn't have too many years to enjoy, but died of heart trouble shortly after he stopped working. At four in the morning, year after year, Chop pulled himself out of bed to go to work. He went to work at times when he was sick and should have spent the day in bed. He didn't get rich with this job, but managed to buy a home in the country and had a horse or two for the kids to ride.

Chop is typical of our factory workers and so was my brother, Herman. Herman had a big family, so he never once bought a new car like the ones that he spent the days making. He rattled around in an old wreck, one without a heater, that sputtered and clanged as it chugged along. Every day, from the wee hours of dawn until the late afternoon, Herman would coax that old car to work and back. He retired and died of cancer a short time later.

When my parents lived in Illinois, they came to Michigan to the Land of Promise, where the auto factories were in need of employees. My brothers all went to work in the plants, Hubert, Harold (Bud), Harry, Herman, Homer..... some of them not even old enough to vote. Their educations were set aside as they joined the army of men driving to and from the auto plants each day. They didn't earn much money back then.

Then the unions came. It was a violent, bloody time! I was a child and I listened in awe at the stories of the fighting over the unions. There were factory workers and Scabs, and the Scabs were the enemy, men brought in to work by the companies, past the picket lines. There were terrible, wounding battles, with men using clubs and pipe wrenches, fighting on the streets. My brother, Hjalmar, was caught in the center of a battle on Belle Isle Bridge. He barely escaped with his life, he said, and blood was spilling over the bridge into the water below.

When the Union men won the battle, life slowly got better. Those men, once impoverished and barely able to feed their families, began making a living wage. What is more, they were spared the infringement on their privacy, as employers like Henry Ford spied upon their personal lives. I admire Henry Ford for his creativity and adventure, but his own personal life was a shambles as he sent spies out to monitor the personal conduct of his workers.

Back then, people running the Assembly Lines never thought of switching chores to keep men from the monotony of that life. Back then, a man would stand and put a bolt into a machine, over and over, minute after minute, hour after hour, until his shift was completed. But the salary kept rising as the Unions worked out contracts with the plants.

It wasn't all roses. The Unions became too big and some of them were mixed up with mobsters, using money from Union funds to back huge Casinos and other projects. But, men like my brother, Harlan (Deed), who drove a truck across the country and belonged to the Teamster's, has good words to say about Jimmy Hoffa to this day! He feels that Hoffa may not have been perfect, but he never forgot his truckers, took care of them and made sure they were paid for their long, tiresome drives! Jimmy Hoffa lived in a home in a small town just a mile or so from where I write this and I can testify that, mobster or not, he lived very frugally in an average-sized home.

Now that GM, Ford and Chrysler are household names, now that men have invested years of their lives into working for them, now that countries like China and India beckon with labor that is pitifully cheap, these industries are thumbing their nose at American workers and fleeing the land!

Let 'em go! If you can ever afford a car again, there are used ones on the lots in good repair. We should drive them until the rubber is worn off the tires and the rust has eaten the metal. We should not put one dollar into these ruthless, greedy companies that have left our country like rats deserting a sinking ship. Yes, they've left us to sink, but I can tell you that somewhere...somehow...someone is going to say....."Build an American car, from American parts, on American soil....and they will come!"

Yes, it may be just a dream, but if some small company does it...cutting out the finery, the electric seats, the voices that say "A Door is Ajar!" as the kids dissolve in laughter and say, "A Door is not a jar, silly!" Yes, cut out the folderol, build us a little car that goes a long way on a gallon of gas, make it in America with American workers, and give it an affordable price, and the customers are here! Hopefully, soon, we won't be using that gallon of gas, either. We'll have us a Green Car and we'll create another American giant industry and this time, yes, this time we won't open the door to the cheap labor, but rather show China that we can do it while giving our people a living wage!

So, perhaps in some empty building deserted by a company that fled our land, there is a businessman mulling the need for a completely American car! Let's call it the "Revenge" and drive it with pride, our own field of dreams, a product made in America, for Americans, by Americans.