Sunday, April 27, 2014

I was excited to get behind the wheel of the latest Ford, GM, and Chrysler models at the Detroit Auto Show on Monday. But I was even more excited to see first-hand proof of the bright future of manufacturing in the U.S. Both Ford and GM reported double-digit gains in 2013, and Chrysler sales rose 9 percent. This year, Ford plans to hire 5,000 new U.S. employees and increase production at 7 plants in North America.

- U.S. Secretary of Labor Tom Perez

* * * * * * *

There is an article in the April 24 New York Times in which housing lenders, bankers, and construction companies bemoan the fact that most people aged 18 to 28 are not buying homes. They are, instead, living with their parents or sharing the rent in group homes. those slackers! Those un-ambitious, un-American layabouts! How dare they!

Listen: If the economy were generating jobs, then perhaps these individuals would be making enough money to buy their own homes. But the Repugnicans have worked for the past 50 years to destroy labor unions, gut worker pay, send high-paying manufacturing jobs overseas, eliminate funding for education that would have enabled workers to obtain high-paying jobs, zeroed out government funding for daycare and welfare that would have allowed single parents to get jobs and get an education, and more. They did this, all in the name of "putting more money in your pocket, and giving less to the tax man".

So just how well has that turned out? Where's the money?

The Republinazis and the Democrats also gutted banking law, allowing banks, savings and loans, and credit unions to engage in investment banking. Today, banks earn their money from trading stocks and bonds, from "bundling" high-risk mortgages and then claiming the risk is gone, from hedge funds (designed to lower risk, but actually worsening it), and even from investment in things like fine art, wine, real estate, and antiques. Banks used to make their money by loaning funds. They got the money to loan funds by offering high-interest savings accounts. Once, American banks offered savings customers interest rates of 3 or 4 percent... sometimes as much as 6 percent. Today, your interest-bearing savings account earns an average of 0.3 percent a year.

Does anyone wonder why there is a credit crunch? Why should banks offer credit (loans) when they can make money investing in the stock market? In fact, if any bank tried that, its shareholders would accuse the managers of being stupid. And rightly so.

But if you wonder why there is no credit, look to banking law. Congress has created a system of incentives that got banks out of banking. Congress created a set of incentives that discouraged saving. All in the misguided, mistaken, foolish belief that "less regulation" would be better for the country.

So just how well has that turned out?

The business of America is not business.

The business of America is putting money in the hands of consumers.

I'll repeat it:
Walter Reuther once was touring a Ford Motor Co. factory with a young executive. The executive proudly showed off the numerous robots that had replaced many unionized auto workers. The mechanization, he claimed, saved lots of money and sped up production.

"And not a one of them pays union dues," the auto executive sneered. "What do you think of that?"

Reuther paused a moment, and said, "It sounds great. How do you get them to buy Fords?"

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