Misinformation News Media

by Wayne Spencer - December 7, 2008
Well our "Misinformation News Media" is at it again. This time they are telling us that the auto industry's problems all stem from paying its employees too much money. To prove their point they quote the amount paid to auto employees here in the United Sates compared with Europe and Japan. Their statistics show that American auto workers are paid twice as much as their counterparts in Europe and Japan.

What they fail to tell us is just as important as the statistics that they quote. The fact is that European and Japanese workers are not paid healthcare and pension benefits from their employers. That's right, European and Japanese employers do not pay for their employees healthcare or pensions. Not only that but they don't have to pay for such things as unemployment insurance and workers compensation either. In fact if we remove the cost of these items from the cost of our workers here in America it actually amounts to our workers being paid considerably less then their counterparts in Europe and Japan. As a matter of fact if the take-home pay of the American auto worker were reduced to zero, we would still be uncompetitive.

It has been pointed out by many economists that if we go to a single-payer non-profit healthcare system and increase our Social Security System to a first class pension system we would be more than competitive in not just the auto industry, but most other industries as well.

Couple these inequities with the fact that in our free trade deals there are no environmental standards nor any provision to insure collective bargaining for their workers. Is there any wonder why we are losing jobs to other countries? The real question might be why we haven't lost all of the jobs.

In a recent fact-finding trip to Mexico, a delegation of people from the North Carolina Commerce Department visited textile factories there. These textile factories once were the backbone of the North Carolina economy. What they found was not what they expected.

First the delegation pointed to the incoming train loads of raw cotton from the South Eastern United States and the outgoing loads of finished product going back out to destinations in the United States. But here is the surprising part. These Mexican plants are highly automated to the point where they have only a few employees in an entire plant. These employees are not low-paid workers but highly paid engineers and technicians.

So why would any company want to go to the extra expense of moving a highly automated plant to Mexico with the additional cost of transportation? The answer is not straight forward but it is a combination of healthcare costs, pension costs, environmental cost savings and favorable tax benefits provided by our own government to industries moving their plants out of the United States.

So why the misinformation by our news media? Here I can only guess. And my guess is that insurance companies, financial institutions and manufacturing companies who are profiting from the present economically unsustainable system want it to remain just the way it is.

Until the American public understands the real economic problem here it is very unlikely that any real changes will be made no matter who is President. It is up to us to get informed and then make our voices heard. We can no longer afford to let the corporate media keep us divided, one worker against another.

See "ABC's Overpaid Autoworkers" article by Fairness & Accuracy in Reporting http://www.fair.org/index.php?page=3659

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Copyright © 2008 by Wayne Spencer - This article may be freely distributed with this copyright notice attached.