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KlatooBNikto Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Apr-02-05 05:54 AM
Original message
What happened to the steel industry in the 70's is being repeated with the
auto industry today.At that time, U.S. Steel was the King of the Hill, the first American corporation to break the billion dollars a year sales barrier.There was even a popular saying "as strong as US Steel".The end came for US Steel and the entire US steel industry in a matter of one decade.By the mid 80's American steel companies were bad jokes.Both the management and Unions were constantly locked in battles trying to outdo each other in who can damage the company the most.Now it is all over for the entire industry.Many of the same corporations are either closed or sold piecemeal to others and workers in Pittsburgh, Ohio,Indiana have all but disappeared along with once busy communities.

A similar situation is unfolding with the domestic auto industry.The players are almost carbon copies of the steel indutry.Management,shortsighted, ceding competitive ground to foreign competitors and blaming the Unions for their exorbitant wage demands. The Unions, used to getting their way when times were good,keep on making similar demands when the entire industry is on its death bed.


Now we have new factors like creative accounting hastening the demise of our auto industry.The Delphi corporation, an evil spawn of GM, has been cooking its books for the past few years and looks like it may be the next Enron/Tyco/Worldcom.At the same time,the Japanese are introducing Hybrid vehicles which have waiting lines stretching to years and the increase in the price of gasoline all but assures them market dominance in the next five years.GM's Pontiac and Buick lines are going to bite the dust by their own admission.What will be left will be the carcass of a once great company that not merely symbolized American dominance, but meant livelihood for generations of American families.The death watch has begun.


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jmowreader Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Apr-02-05 06:11 AM
Response to Original message
1. The same thing will happen in the computer industry
We're outsourcing the computer industry. We sent all the programming to India, the manufacturing to the western edge of the Pacific Rim. And eventually, we'll send our microprocessor design teams over there too, so they'll be closer to the fabs (which will be sent there to shorten ordering lead times).

At some point, those contract programmers and contract builders are going to realize that if they can cut code and make boxes for western companies, they can do the exact same thing for themselves. And keep all of the money.

The difference here is that it won't take decades for the US place in the computer industry to vanish--it can happen in six months if they have a mind to.
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bread_and_roses Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Apr-02-05 06:16 AM
Response to Original message
2. I grew up in a town near Pittsburgh
My father and almost all my neighbors worked at "J&L" Steel. I remember when they all closed. I was living away by then, but I remember my sister (who also had moved away but was visiting home) calling me and saying in a shocked voice, "It's terrible - there are people lined up to get free food!" That, of course, is something we've all become accustomed to around the country - a vast network of "emergency" food banks that serve both the unemployed and low-wage workers. We forget that there was a time when a working person could, usually, afford to eat.

I see no benefit to the Unions in taking wage or benefit cuts. If the Industry is going down, cutting wages won't save it, the forces at work are larger than worker's wages. Among them the refusal of government or the Industry to address energy efficiency.

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KlatooBNikto Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Apr-02-05 06:44 AM
Response to Reply #2
3. I used to call on J&L Steel's Research Labs to remove sulfur from
Edited on Sat Apr-02-05 07:02 AM by KlatooBNikto
their steel. They were trying to make low sulfur steel for use in the Alaskan pipeline.The Japanese beat them to it.Everywhere they turned, somebody was doing it better, faster, cheaper and cleaner.I knew some people in their top management, men who were smug about their own positions and cared little about their company or workers.Any idea that was brought up before them elicited the response " but it costs money". Their cynicism is what I remember the most.When I went to visit my old haunts in Michigan about a year ago, it seemed like the 70's all over gain with a different set of players in a different industry in a different town.

To me the sad tales of our cities, industries and their people is the price we have had to pay for our imperial adventures overseas in Vietnam and now in Iraq, to the neglect of our needs.Those wars have killed the hopes of many and only wise men who can see the connections will be able to restore hope for our dying communities.

On Edit: I also think that the wars we have been involved in have sapped our energy to do productive things with the resources and the talent we had. Q!uite apart from the drain on our material resources and the intellectual energies, I also think that the destruction of our moral energies have played a big part in our decline.The old days of America the Good are now replaced by America the Evil.That has to register on the minds of our young people.
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bread_and_roses Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Apr-02-05 07:41 AM
Response to Reply #3
4. Our Imperial Adventures and system of short-term profit
to benefit the Rich at the expense of the rest of the planet.

I too wonder about the effect of this culture of greed and killing on our young. Even if they are not consciously aware of it, it is hard to imagine that they are not affected by it. How do we explain "ordinary people" committing the atrocities we keep reading about in Iraq?

The destruction of any sense of community, of the common good, of common cause, works against people coming together in any cause or effort - including organizing for Labor rights.
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ohio_liberal Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Apr-02-05 07:50 AM
Response to Reply #3
6. Wasn't the 80's
when the larger steel companies spent all the money on new equipment to compete with overseas companies only to see the prices stay flat? Didn't foreign steel dumping finally do most of the companies in?
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KlatooBNikto Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Apr-02-05 08:01 AM
Response to Reply #6
7. Many of the big steel companies were done in by more nimble
domestic mini-mills that did not need to invest in large raw material processing and instead used scrap steel with electric furnaces to produce their products.Now, the biggest steel producer in the world is an Indian company, Mittal Steel,that owns several American, European , Asian and latin American steel mills and controls almost 75 million tons of steel products per year. That company which bought the assets of bankrupt steel companies at 2 cents on the dollar is now riding a worldwide steel boom due to the insatiable demands from India and China.
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bleedingheart Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Apr-02-05 08:41 AM
Response to Reply #3
12. You bring up the KEY reason STEEL in Pitttsburgh died
the upper management continued to use antiquated equipment but made sure to pay themselves and stock holders big dividends....then when the bottom fell out....they blamed the unions...what a crock...

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ohio_liberal Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Apr-02-05 09:09 AM
Response to Reply #12
13. It pisses me off when people blame the unions
I don't know any local union that didn't make major concessions in the last 10 years
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Vinca Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Apr-02-05 07:49 AM
Response to Original message
5. The same thing has happened to textiles and furniture. Try to
find a piece of "Made in the USA" clothing without a search. It's easier to find USA furniture, but I've noticed lots antique reproductions coming in from China.
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mtnester Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Apr-02-05 08:27 AM
Response to Original message
8. My twist on GM..
for years, I drove Oldsmobile (Intrigue, Cutlass, Aurora) and had w wonderful relationship with an Olds dealer. The cars were top notch, and the service I received from the dealer was second to none. The vehicle pricing was not excessive, and the quality of car I got for the money was excellent.

Then Olds was ended. My dealer, who was now in an area surrounded by other dealers, could not get a brand as they all were already close to his location.

So, my lease was up, and I decided to stay with GM and get a Chevy. I had to find a dealer too. I had always been on GMAC Smart Lease. Went to a dealer that had been in business for many years, and wanted to try a Monte Carlo. Well, the price on the Monte was more than for my Aurora, and it was not near the car. I decided on the car anyway, and then was told GMAC does leases differently, and was sold a lease through a bank.

So, now that I am car shopping again, my original dealer, who I love, is working for a Chevy dealer. I realize I was duped on the lease thing, and wrote a nasty letter to the Chevy dealer about how underhanded the salesperson was (he led me to believe GMAC was not selling leases direct anymore, but once I left GMAC SmartLease, they started sending me literature asking why I left) and how he sold me a lease that he would make a bonus on and not through GMAC as I had been for years...and I sent a letter to GMAC direct about how I felt about that dealership, and the car I was driving.

The Monte Carlo is a piece of crap, that rattles and bangs, has noises, had door hinge problems, and many things are of lower quality, etc. Plus, the damn thing (SS model) cost more than $28,000. So now I have a conflict about a dealer I have loyalty to, selling crap.

Maybe if GMAC would out a little more quality in their cars, and not try to get beyond-premium dollar for substandard product, they would have had more success. Getting rid of Olds was their worst mistake.
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hatrack Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Apr-02-05 08:35 AM
Response to Original message
9. Good book on this - "And The Wolf Finally Came"
It's all about the decline and fall of American steelmaking. Don't know what the book on the decline and fall of GM will be called - a shame this title's already taken.

Oh, but GM just announced a contract with DOE to build a fleet of 40 (F-O-R-T-Y) fuel cell cars over the next five years. Wow, that's a full eight cars each year, at only $1.5 million apiece. :eyes:
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KlatooBNikto Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Apr-02-05 08:37 AM
Response to Reply #9
10. What it saves on gasoline will be more than made up with hot air.
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hatrack Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Apr-02-05 08:38 AM
Response to Reply #10
11. Yes, and how many miles per gallon of greenwash?
Enquiring DUers want to know! :hi:
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