Take a moment to view the video I’ve posted from “Your World” on Fox News. This is the mayor of Lansing, MI, answering questions about the UAW’s president implying that people who are against the auto industry bailout are insane. Well, the head of the UAW is an idiot for saying that and I won’t waste my time on him. But it was the mayor’s comments that got me out of my seat near the end. See if you are as outraged as I am.
Did I hear the Mayor of Lansing correctly? Did he just say that in order to compete with foreign car manufacturers, we need to get rid of capitalist principles?!? Doesn’t he realize that it is the removal of capitalist principles that is stifling the car manufacturers here in the States?!? During a conversation about how the auto industry has been losing market share for decades, the Mayor raises the issue of trade. Apparently he feels that the US manufacturers are at a disadvantage to people who have to pay to ship their products half way around the world! At one point, the Mayor asks the rhetorical question, “What happened in textiles, electronics, steel, and furniture?” I’ll tell you what happened: THEY WERE UNIONIZED!!! Ever heard of Norma Rae?!? I’m all for humane treatment of workers, but when the unions start holding companies hostage for wages that aren’t supported by the market, then who should be surprised by the companies going under?
At the very end of the conversation though is when I blew a gasket. Mayor Virg says that we are unilaterally disarming the American companies because we expect them to follow a capitalist rubric when the rest of the world does not have the same “restriction.” With all due respect, your honor, if you think it is our capitalist system that is holding us back, you are clearly unaware of what’s been happening to the American auto industry for 30 years or more. Allow me to enlighten you. For years now, we have mandated a variety of safety features, mileage standards, and emission standards, not to mention how the unions have been guaranteeing extensive pensions and higher wages than foreign companies do. These are not the hallmarks of a free-market capitalist business model. The free market would dictate whether or not certain safety features are included or not (thank you Ralph Nader). If people think that a safer car is worth more, then they will pay for it. If a job pays a certain amount of money, then that’s what the job is worth. If the job only pays a small wage to hold down costs, then it is up to the workers to decided whether they want to work for that amount of money.
The fact of the matter is this: it was free-market capitalism which got the auto industries to be the great model of American achievement they have become and it will be free-market capitalism which will get them out of it. If the Mayor of Lansing, Michigan thinks that the free market is an albatross around the neck of the auto industry (and he apparently does), we have bigger problems than I thought. He is clearly not alone and it is the basis for much of this bailout talk we have been hearing for many months now. What we are experiencing now is not the FAILURE of the free-market system, it is an example of what happens when the free market is tampered with. Auto, housing, oil, have all had their industry tampered with by massive federal intervention. All for very noble causes I’m sure. But we are reaping now the seeds of intervention we have been sowing for more than 30 years. We can no longer artificially prop up an industry which has lost its way. It’s time to let the auto companies go into bankruptcy, renegotiate their union contracts, and pay their people a wage more comparable to those auto workers in the southern states.