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Columns

June 6, 2009

Guest Commentary: What's good for GM is now good for China

I remember the hullaballoo in January 1953 when GM CEO Charles Wilson, President Eisenhower's nominee for Secretary of Defense, testified, "For years I thought that what was good for our country was good for General Motors, and vice versa."

GM was the world's largest car manufacturer. The United States was the world's unchallenged industrial powerhouse.

For Americans, Honda, Toyota and Suburu might as well have been exotic Oriental dishes.

Today, General Motors is undergoing the second-largest industrial bankruptcy in history. It's closing fourteen more assembly plants and slashing 21,000 family-supporting jobs. GM will have fewer than 40,000 workers building cars in the United States, one-tenth of its work force of 400,000 in the 1970s.

Fears are spreading throughout GM's vast chain of suppliers and dealers that this bankruptcy will lead to cascading business failures. Large plants that stamp metal parts or build engines will be shuttered, including one in Massena.

GM will reduce 6,000 dealerships to 3,600. Dealership closings will cut an additional 100,000 jobs. These layoffs come after a nationwide loss of 741,000 jobs in January alone _ the most since 1949.

GM will no longer make Saturn, Pontiac, and Saab and will shift production of its remaining lines to new facilities in foreign countries. According to Ralph Nader, shipping production to China has long been GM's strategy.

Despite GM's bankruptcy, the Obama administration government-orchestrated shrinkage has already cost taxpayers $50 billion. The Wall Street Journal estimates "the rescue of the car industry could cost taxpayers close to $100 billion."

Nader asks: "Why are we using tax dollars to facilitate the export of whole plants and jobs to communist dictatorships in China and to oligarchic, authoritarian regimes in Mexico who have turned workers into serfs and denied them independent unions and other rights that workers should have in any country that we have trade dealings with?"

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