I've just finished reading some of the the coverage by the mainstream major media of the jobs cuts at Ford and, really, it's pathetic. Being out here on the West Coast (my excuse for a post at this late hour for you Easterners), I started with the Los Angeles Times, migrated over to The New York Times and finished up with The Wall Street Journal.
Each paper posed the cuts as a result of the need to be competitive in the global economy. Not a single one of the newspapers--and I'll venture a guess that the same will be true of the rest of the MSM--raised the idea that the cuts have become because of the failure of U.S. trade policy, specifically so-called "free trade" and the success of a policy that encourages deunionization and, by extension, the shredding of decent living standards here and abroad.
The shameful reporting is led by The Times' Micheline Maynard, who has this to say in the front-page article: "While the Big Three are visibly shrinking, their combined moves do not spell the end of automotive manufacturing in the United States. But the geographic footprint has largely shifted south, where a new auto industry is flourishing." That new auto industry, run by foreign manufacturers, already employs more than 60,000 workers and is growing. "While foreign automakers have hired some former Detroit workers, most of their workers have no automotive experience and were chosen through rigorous screening processes that stress physical endurance and a bent for working in teams.
Micheline, can you say the words "anti-union?"
Yes, it's absolutely true that the U.S. auto manufacturers have been complete dopes, continuing to make cars that guzzle gasoline as energy costs skyrocket--Ford and General Motors have all missed the boat on hybird, flexible-fuel cars.
But, none of the papers pointed out this fact: the global auto industry is not based on so-called "free trade" and open markets, as the reporting leads us to believe. In fact, Korea, China and Japan all have a very clear trade policy that protects its markets from the penetration of U.S. cars. I'm not criticizing those countries--they have a policy that aims to manage their economies, not throw them open in the name of a mythical ideology. But, why hasn't the U.S. give up on its auto industry?
None of the three papers I read raised the issue of health care, something I've been harping on for many months. Though it can't solve all the financial issues, a universal national health care plan would relieve the auto companies of billions of dollars in costs. People say, according to polls, that they are willing to pay slightly higher taxes for real univeral health care. Why aren't politicians listening? (well, we know the answer to that: campaign contributions from the health insurance and pharmaceutical industries).