In These New Times

A new paradigm for a post-imperial world

The Darkness and the Power

Posted by seumasach on December 21, 2008


Jim Kirwan


20th December, 2008 

The Dictator announced his relief-package for the Big Three yesterday: The media is calling it “a Christmas-gift.” This is a LOAN-agreement: Gift’s do not come wrapped in razor wire. This too-little-too-late proposal is meant to bring an end to the problem of having to pay anyone, for whatever they do on-the-job in the United States.


This is the last link in the chain that will complete the Total Redistribution of Wealth in American society. And too many still, will not connect the dots.


The problem that organized labor created for the corporatocracy has been a thorn in the side of ‘business,’ since the days of the New Deal. Now its payback time and anyone that looks can almost see the saliva dripping from this ‘proposal’ that is in reality, an ultimatum. Some of the details behind the headlines surfaced yesterday in a report from Greg Shotwell, a union activist that spent thirty-years working for GM.


“The danger of this that I see is that, you know, in the ’90s, when the auto companies were making billions of dollars, they were taking profits out of North America and investing them overseas in Europe, South America and Asia. So there’s been a huge transfer of assets overseas. Now, those assets would remain protected in bankruptcy. So what, in effect, they’ve done is undermined the manufacturing base in the United States so that they could become a major importer to the United States. You see, they already have fuel-efficient-small fuel-efficient cars that they’re making in Europe and in Asia and in South America. They’re ready for import. And they would like to be like Toyota. Yes, Toyota has plants in the United States, but Toyota imports about 46 percent of all the cars it sells in the United States. That’s what General Motors is setting itself up to do, and they’re going to use this capitalist disaster to help them wipe out the dealerships and close the plants. And Congress is just going to help them strong-arm the unions into giving up any job security or gains.


Also, you’re right about the bankruptcy. And this is one of their goals, is to wipe out the legacy costs. You know, the people who earned a pension and earned healthcare and retirement in the past, they would take that away. To me, it’s like a thirty-year mortgage. I paid my mortgage every week, and I paid it off. Now that house is mine. Now they want to say, well, we’re going to take it back.


JUAN GONZALEZ: Now, obviously, there are those who continue to say that the labor costs in the auto industry, especially in the Big Three, are way out of whack. And could you talk, for those who are not familiar with, how this misrepresentation of what the labor costs really are of today’s workforce among the Big Three has been created?


GREGG SHOTWELL: Well, there’s a good reason that the plants, the transplants in the South, have not been organized, and that’s mainly because they make as much or more money as organized workers. And that was a strategy that the Japanese plants did on purpose, because they didn’t want the plants organized. So they pay as much.


The real difference is in what they owe the retirees, what they call the legacy costs. Now, you’ll hear in the media, they’ll say GM workers get $73 an hour, and Toyota workers only get $45 an hour. They arrive at that $73 an hour by tacking on the cost of all the retirees onto the active worker. This is fraudulent bookkeeping. This is essentially a Ponzi scheme, wherein the old investors are paid off by the new investors. In other words, the older investors, the retirees, their pay-their pension and healthcare-comes from the new investors, the workers. I heard Keith Olbermann compare it to saying the average wage in America, and then you would add on everybody who’s collecting Social Security or pensions. It’s really preposterous.


On top of that, I want to emphasize this. I earned my pension while I was working, not [inaudible] somebody else. The guy working today isn’t earning my pension. I already earned that. General Motors should have taken that money, set it aside, put it in a trust. If they didn’t do that, then they’ve committed a malfeasance. That’s their responsibility. Also, when I was working, they charged the customer more money based on the fact, based on their excuse that “we have to pay more for this worker because of healthcare and pension and his retirement, so we have to charge the customer more.” Whether that was 1980 or 1990, they raised those prices. What did they do with that money? They apparently didn’t put it in a trust. But they did-and this is a fact-they’ve invested largely overseas. General Motors and Ford, they have more plants overseas than they have in the United States. They’re ready to become major importers to the United States and dump all their responsibilities to the people who made those profits.” (1)


In many ways this mirrors what was done by government with Social Security. The money paid in by the employees was not put into interest bearing trust accounts  where it could have grown over time instead it was spent as fast as it came in and the public received only federal drawers filled with IOU’s instead of the money that was supposedly being held in Trust for retiree’s. In the case of the Big Three, they used the money paid (by their employees) into their employee-retirement-accounts to open up all those other plants overseas-that are now about to make possible the elimination of the work force whose money actually made this takedown possible. That is what this takedown is all about; to open the US market to imported GM, Chrysler and Ford products, and rid themselves of their obligations to deliver on the commitments they made to their employees over many decades. Their workers played the game by one set of rules, and now after the game has been completed the rules are being changed (again) so that those that sacrificed will be left with nothing. But there’s Congress and there’s much more:


“Congress acts like they had no responsibility. If Congress-you see, we’re the only country in the world that subsidizes outsourcing of our jobs. Other countries subsidize research and development, and they erect trade barriers to protect their basic industries. What we did was-we do not subsidize research and development, and we subsidize outsourcing. Those are other things that need to be changed.


JUAN GONZALEZ: Gregg Shotwell, one of the things that you raise in some of the articles you’ve written is that there’s a lot of attention placed on, again, labor costs, but that the actual production workers for the Big Three, their salaries represent about ten percent of the cost of a car, while the money spent for supervisors and management represents 20 percent of the cost of a car. But we rarely get any attention on that aspect of the compensation.


GREGG SHOTWELL: No. You know, the media and Congress really look at UAW wages, and this just shows their bias. But, you know, these facts I got from the book Fat and Mean by [David] Gordon. And he points out that the United States actually has, you know, like three or four times as many supervisors and monitors as Germany or Japan, that we waste a lot more money on management.


But, you know, the actual labor costs-you know, this is another aspect, I think, that people don’t understand. I understand why, but-our productivity really should justify a raise. And when I say that, in 1992-you know, they say that-they justify all this, because we’re losing market share. Well, the market has gotten bigger. The pie is bigger. But General Motors is selling as many cars. And the notion that they don’t like-people don’t like GM cars belies the fact that they’ve sold more cars than Toyota. In 1992, GM had 34 percent of the US market. This is from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. And they produced 4.4 million cars. Now, at that time, GM’s hourly employment was 265,000. In 2005, the market share had fallen about eight percent, but they had produced the same level of cars, 4.5 million, with 111,000 workers. With 154,000 workers less, they produced the same amount of cars. They lost market share, but they still produced the same number of cars. Their productivity has doubled. So this would-in normal times, when your productivity goes up, that means you deserve an annual improvement factor, a raise.


We’ve experienced just the opposite. The only reason that autoworkers make what seems to be a higher wage than non-union workers is that we have a cost-of-living adjustment. We won that back in 1970. But we often do not get any raise at all. And in the best years, we only get a three percent raise. But it’s the cost of living that we have that is the difference between union and non-union.” (1)


In a nutshell: Business and the Big Three seized this opportunity to finally put an end to their “labor-problems” by dissolving their plants in the US, so that they could shirk their legal-obligations to the unions, to their dealerships, and to the communities that depend upon what their employees and their suppliers provided toward the health and welfare of millions of people in the US. At the same time the Big Three will finally be able to freely use the import markets without having the labor costs to slow them down ~ because to the Corporatopcry nothing else matters!


Had the congress and the government not chosen to go along with this idea, none of this could be happening now. Just look at the official spin being put on everything from calling this a Christmas Gift, to blaming the workers for the problem, while omitting the real costs of manufacturing that are inflated by the fact that American workers do not have the same health protections that many of our foreign competitors provide for their workers.


The real point at issue here is the continued existence of the entire American manufacturing base, all the way down to light industry-all of which will be directly impacted by the decisions reached over the outcome of the Big Three negotiations. In reality, this shakedown is little more than a total surrender of the working people to the ownership class in this society. This “deal” will complete the Redistribution of Wealth in the United States, and the number of people that will suffer from this contrived surrender  is almost incalculable.


One more small point to watch for is that forty-three of the fifty States in the US are now in need of some kind of BAILOUT. The current dollar amount for that is about $100 billion, and growing every day. Please remember that part of every bailout is a “federal-ownership-stake” in whatever is supposedly receiving these monetary “gifts.”


If government continues to wait the amount needed by the States will soon reach unmanageable proportions-but more important if the individual States take this money-they stand to lose their state sovereignty (their official independence from the federal government). This would mark the end of the United States, because the States themselves would no longer be voluntary members of the so-called Union. Instead (in a worst case scenario) they would become simple serfdoms within a federally-fascist bureaucracy with no rights and no actual part to play in the governance of this nation.


But since the Congress has already given up its duties regarding checks & balances, not-to-mention oversight  how much difference could it make that there will be just one-less place to demand answers from? Now we’re just an Outlaw-stronghold among the community of nations in the world, because we do not care.


1) US Auto Giants, Workers Face Uncertain Future



Here’s a list of some of the recipients so far – of this government’s generosity;

contrast these against the paltry amount of the “gift” to the Big Three & the

millions of us that depend upon those jobs remaining here in the US.


Wells Fargo & Company San Francisco CA $25,000,000,000

JPMorgan Chase & Co. New York NY $25,000,000,000

Citigroup Inc. New York NY $25,000,000,000

Bank of America Corporation Charlotte NC $15,000,000,000

The Goldman Sachs Group, Inc. New York NY $10,000,000,000

Morgan Stanley New York NY $10,000,000,000

Merrill Lynch & Co., Inc. New York NY $10,000,000,000

U.S. Bancorp Minneapolis MN $6,599,000,000

Capital One Financial Corporation McLean VA $3,555,199,000

SunTrust Banks, Inc. Atlanta GA $3,500,000,000

Regions Financial Corp. Birmingham AL $3,500,000,000

BB&T Corp. Winston-Salem NC $3,133,640,000

Bank of New York Mellon Corporation New York NY $3,000,000,000

KeyCorp Cleveland OH $2,500,000,000

Comerica Inc. Dallas TX $2,250,000,000

State Street Corporation Boston MA $2,000,000,000

Marshall & Ilsley Corporation Milwaukee WI $1,715,000,000

Northern Trust Corporation Chicago IL $1,576,000,000

Zions Bancorporation Salt Lake City UT $1,400,000,000

Huntington Bancshares Columbus OH $1,398,071,000

Popular, Inc. San Juan PR $935,000,000

First Horizon National Corporation Memphis TN $866,540,000

Associated Banc-Corp Green Bay WI $525,000,000

Webster Financial Corporation Waterbury CT $400,000,000

City National Corporation Beverly Hills CA $400,000,000

TCF Financial Corporation Wayzata MN $361,172,000

South Financial Group, Inc. Greenville SC $347,000,000

Wilmington Trust Corporation Wilmington DE $330,000,000

East West Bancorp Pasadena CA $306,546,000

Sterling Financial Corporation Spokane WA $303,000,000

Valley National Bancorp Wayne NJ $300,000,000

Susquehanna Bancshares, Inc Lititz PA $300,000,000

Citizens Republic Bancorp, Inc. Flint MI $300,000,000

UCBH Holdings, Inc. San Francisco CA $298,737,000

Cathay General Bancorp Los Angeles CA $258,000,000

SVB Financial Group Santa Clara CA $235,000,000

Trustmark Corporation Jackson MS $215,000,000

Umpqua Holdings Corp. Portland OR $214,181,000

Washington Federal Inc. Seattle WA $200,000,000

MB Financial Inc. Chicago IL $196,000,000

First Midwest Bancorp, Inc. Itasca IL $193,000,000

First Niagara Financial Group Lockport NY $184,011,000

Pacific Capital Bancorp Santa Barbara CA $180,634,000

United Community Banks, Inc. Blairsville GA $180,000,000

Boston Private Financial Holdings, Inc. Boston MA $154,000,000

Provident Bancshares Corp. Baltimore MD $151,500,000

National Penn Bancshares, Inc. Boyertown PA $150,000,000

Western Alliance Bancorporation Las Vegas NV $140,000,000

CVB Financial Corp Ontario CA $130,000,000

Sterling Bancshares, Inc. Houston TX $125,198,000

Banner Corporation Walla Walla WA $124,000,000

Signature Bank New York NY $120,000,000

Taylor Capital Group Rosemont IL $104,823,000

Old National Bancorp Evansville IN $100,000,000

Pinnacle Financial Partners, Inc. Nashville TN $95,000,000

Iberiabank Corporation Lafayette LA $90,000,000

Midwest Banc Holdings, Inc. Melrose Park IL $84,784,000

Sandy Spring Bancorp, Inc. Olney MD $83,094,000

Columbia Banking System, Inc. Tacoma WA $76,898,000

TowneBank Portsmouth VA $76,458,000

Wesbanco Bank Inc. Wheeling WV $75,000,000

Bank of the Ozarks, Inc. Little Rock AR $75,000,000

Independent Bank Corporation Ionia MI $72,000,000

Virginia Commerce Bancorp Arlington VA $71,000,000

Southwest Bancorp, Inc. Stillwater OK $70,000,000

Superior Bancorp Inc. Birmingham AL $69,000,000

Nara Bancorp, Inc. Los Angeles CA $67,000,000

First Financial Holdings Inc. Charleston SC $65,000,000

Wilshire Bancorp, Inc. Los Angeles CA $62,158,000

Great Southern Bancorp Springfield MO $58,000,000

Center Financial Corporation Los Angeles CA $55,000,000

NewBridge Bancorp Greensboro NC $52,372,000

Ameris Bancorp Moultrie GA $52,000,000

The Bancorp, Inc. Wilmington DE $45,220,000

Southern Community Financial Corp. Winston-Salem NC $42,750,000

First Community Bankshares Inc. Bluefield VA $41,500,000

Capital Bank Corporation Raliegh NC $41,279,000

Heritage Commerce Corp. San Jose CA $40,000,000

Cascade Financial Corporation Everett WA $38,970,000

Eagle Bancorp, Inc. Bethesda MD $38,235,000

TIB Financial Corp Naples FL $37,000,000

First Defiance Financial Corp. Defiance OH $37,000,000

State Bancorp, Inc. Jericho NY $36,842,000

Porter Bancorp Inc. Louisville KY $35,000,000

Encore Bancshares Inc. Houston TX $34,000,000

Bank of North Carolina Thomasville NC $31,260,000

Bank of Marin Bancorp Novato CA $28,000,000

Centerstate Banks of Florida Inc. Davenport FL $27,875,000

LNB Bancorp Inc. Lorain OH $25,223,000

HF Financial Corp. Sioux Falls SD $25,000,000

Heritage Financial Corporation Olympia WA $24,000,000

Severn Bancorp, Inc. Annapolis MD $23,393,000

Blue Valley Ban Corp Overland Park KS $21,750,000

Indiana Community Bancorp Columbus IN $21,500,000

Unity Bancorp, Inc. Clinton NJ $20,649,000

Citizens South Banking Corporation Gastonia NC $20,500,000

First PacTrust Bancorp, Inc. Chula Vista CA $19,300,000

HopFed Bancorp Hopkinsville KY $18,400,000

Bank of Commerce Holdings Redding CA $17,000,000

1st FS Corporation Hendersonville NC $16,369,000

Valley Financial Corporation Roanoke VA $16,019,000

LSB Corporation North Andover MA $15,000,000

Oak Valley Bancorp Oakdale CA $13,500,000

First Community Corporation Lexington SC $11,350,000

First Litchfield Financial Corporation Litchfield CT $10,000,000

Central Bancorp, Inc. Somerville MA $10,000,000

Coastal Banking Company, Inc. Fernandina Beach FL $9,950,000

Southern Missouri Bancorp, Inc. Poplar Bluff MO $9,550,000

Broadway Financial Corporation Los Angeles CA $9,000,000

Central Federal Corporation Fairlawn OH $7,225,000

Old Line Bancshares, Inc. Bowie MD $7,000,000

Fidelity Bancorp, Inc. Pittsburgh PA $7,000,000

Pacific International Bancorp Seattle WA $6,500,000

FPB Bancorp, Inc. Port St. Lucie FL $5,800,000

Northeast Bancorp Lewiston ME $4,227,000

Manhattan Bancorp El Segundo CA $1,700,000



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