Democratic Underground

Robber Baron Capitalism, Outsourcing, and Rollerball

April 1, 2006
By Tyler Durden

I haven't written an article for submission in a long time. There have just been too many great ones, and I didn't feel the "muse" motivate me for another foam-at-the-mouth screed. However; with the advent of the Immigration smokescreen, I saw what I knew to be at the heart of the issue. This is something that, as a participant in the Automobile Industry above the level of the "line," I know intimately: Robber Baron Capitalism in modern industry, and outsourcing.

The Auto Industry has a lot in common with the film "Rollerball." Not the shitty remake; the original with James Caan. Both games are rigged, and the worst stacked deck of all is called Outsourcing. Or "not making it ourselves; instead we lowball it to someone else and make them put the screws to their workers to meet our ridiculously low buying price." You as the Auto Worker and You as the consumer are not supposed to win. You are not supposed to get a good or even fair deal. The only rule of the game is: you lose. And that is what started everything.

By the way, immigration for the purpose of getting "guest workers" is just home-grown, localized outsourcing, and Outsourcing is nothing new. Capitalists have been doing it for centuries.

Long ago, car companies built every single part for their products. They were fucking proud of it. When I was in grade school, we all got in out Model "T" bus (kidding) and took a tour of the Ford Rouge Plant in River Rouge, Michigan. This was a really popular tour. Free to everyone. Families took this tour as often as they went to Greenfield Village or the Henry Ford Museum, and if you're from Michigan, you know that people come from Thailand to see them. This was a really big deal; obviously something I've remembered in detail since 1961.

Ford took you all over the place. It's still there and they still give tours, they just don't build any cars there anymore.

I still remember the tour guide saying..."They only things that we don't make here are tires and glass." They took us to the giant coke ovens where they reduced the coal to coke for the blast furnaces. They made their own steel. They did their own chrome plating for Dog's sake. They took Coal, Iron Ore, Wiring, Glass, and Tires in one end, any Fords came out the other.

As late as 1975 Ford was still doing their own plastics. Then came outsourcing. The Capitalists in charge of the corporations could not drool enough.

First, it was a way to bust unions. I mean, why on earth pay decent wages and bennies to Union workers you have a contract with, when you can have some moulder out of town pay their people $5/hour with no healthcare? They were doing this by dribs and drabs as early as the late 60's, but in the late 70's, (after the Phoney Oil Crisis that put 30% of the auto workers on the street permanently), they really went nuts.

Finally they weren't even putting the bodies together anymore, let alone making the steel. For example, there's a company in Howell, Michigan called Ogihara America. This outfit is owned by the US branch of a Japanese family. They're stampers: they take rolls of steel and run them through stamping presses, making stamped steel body panels. Then they weld all of these together to make a complete welded "buck," that is, a car body sans doors, hood, running gear and interior. They have two lines, and they set them up to run Fords on one line, General Motors on the other.

Then the Automobile Companies pay someone else to make the crap to stick on and in the body. Delphi, who used to be Delco and make components as a division of General Motors, now makes parts for everyone, at least for the moment. Visteon used to be a Ford division and now they're going bankrupt…Well, you get the picture. The point is, cars have been assembled like they were made of Lego blocks for over 25 years now. So the next phase was absolutely inevitable. And thanks to Reagan, Bush, and to a lesser degree, NAFTA, this was a snap. Management said, "Hey, why do business in Port Huron or Flint making our Lego blocks to assemble our cars from, when we can pay 10 cents on the dollar making Lego blocks in Guadalajara or even China? Now we're Venture Capitalists! And the Market is the proof we're doing it right!"

At this point it was already too late to do something about it, at least in my opinion. Then the Dot Com bubble of the 90's came along, had everyone believing that they could make it on the Internet, and those that hadn't gone that way could be Day Traders or Real Estate buyers and sellers. Screw Kansas, Dorothy; Oz had come to Main Street, and to deny that was to deny The American Dream. This was the culmination of the con job. All our lives America was telling us, Work Hard, Get Good Grades and you can be President, and now it was in black and white in the paper, and on television for everyone to see. If you were making it, Great. If you weren't, so what? Who cares about a loser anyway, and with the equity in your home, You too can spend money like a drunken sailor, and make it back with real estate bubble!


Now, when the bubbles have burst, to quote Dionne Warwick, "…and all the stars, that never were, are parking cars and pumping gas…" ("Do you know the way to San Jose?")

Do you see the con job here? This has been going on for decades, but now they could show you proof: if someone couldn't get rich in the 80's and 90's, they were such losers that they deserved whatever happened to them. The problem was this: even if you made it, it couldn't last. So welcome to the "Bush Bust," where we all get outsourced, just so Robber Baron Capitalism can keep on rolling. Which brings us back to the beginning.

Outsourcing is the Robber Baron Capitalist wet dream, and unfettered Capitalism is Rollerball for bucks. "This was never a game. Never." You could not win. You were supposed to lose. This, to quote the film, "…is not a game a man is supposed to grow strong in."

They had you conned, you bought it, and all sales are final.

Tyler Durden abuses his position as a technical writer for the Automobile Industry to write political rantings as a form of therapy.

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