Wednesday, May 07, 2008

McCain Defines Michigan's Problem

I've never been much of a fan of John McCain and, recent comments on his potential judicial appointments notwithstanding, my impression of him is not improving much.

This snippet from a campaign speech he made yesterday in Troy as covered by the Detroit News:

"The problem is not free trade ... we have not cared for the displaced worker," McCain said at a town hall meeting at Oakland University north of Detroit.

"Innovation is here in the great state of Michigan - the birthplace of the modern automobile industry. ... Of course, the old kinds of doing business (are) not coming back. But there are new kinds ... that will eliminate our dependence on foreign oil.

"We have to retrain and educate workers to take advantage of that opportunity."
I agree that free trade is not the problem in Michigan, and I can agree that Michigan has been, historically, a place of great innovation. I can even agree that the old kinds of doing business are not coming back.

Where I disagree with McCain is in his assertion that our economic problem is because "we have not cared for the displaced worker."

This is unadulterated hogwash.

In Michigan we suffer economically because of a monumental trifecta of anti-growth stupidity shared in equal portions by an unresponsive domestic auto industry, state and local governments that make it difficult to do business here, and a belligerent labor force that appears it would rather see thousands of good-paying jobs move permanently out of state than accept industry-competitive wages that would keep their jobs here while allowing their employers to grow profitably.

No amount of retraining displaced workers is going to rectify that situation. Now, I am not going to make the mistake and dismiss the fact that a well-trained work force is one component that businesses consider when they select a place to expand--but it is only one of many, and here it might be a distant fourth (at best.)

Retraining and educating an unemployed work force in order to attract new businesses is putting a gargantuan cart before a spindly legged nag. The only companies that will benefit from such shenanigans are the companies that will be chosen to provide the education and retraining. Did I mention the horse had spindly legs?

The best way to care for displaced workers is to act preemptively by nurturing a profitable business climate that helps to keep workers off the unemployment line to begin with.

Michigan has failed at this.

Consequently, this is why Michigan has failed.

2 comments:

Jgillman said...

Someone slipped McCain the Dem talking points. No big surprise he didn't notice.

If it weren't for the risk this country faces from a liberal Justice appointment or two in the next 4 years, I'm not sure I could stomach my vote come november.

Wade Moline said...

Living in the heart of General Motors country here in Michigan, I can assure you that many workers are trainable in other fields, they just don't want to be. It is tough to move to a lower wage and it is tough to change to another occupation after 20 or more years of doing the same thing.

As a 25 year veteran firefighter, if I had to move to another occupation I would be upset and frustrated, especially if I had to work for a lower wage. After 25 years I have specific monthly bills to pay and would lose some things as well as have to dramatically adjust my lifestyle.

That is the biggest reason for fighting for jobs. The displaced worker now has to adjust their lifestyle and after twenty or more years that is a dramatic blow. Especially given the fact that the CEOs continue to get bonuses and MILLIONS of dollars.

Delphi, which is in bankruptcy, is still trying to give bonuses to it's CEOs and a federal bankruptcy court had to tell them no and order them to stop. Despite the court order, Delphi is still looking for a way to give their CEOs some type of bonuses.

Corporations have declared war against the American worker and we are losing.