Comments about ‘Letters: Detroit is an example of how government can't solve all problems’

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Published: Saturday, Aug. 10 2013 12:00 a.m. MDT

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Roland Kayser
Cottonwood Heights, UT

Detroit has been declining since the 1950's. Blaming its problems on the auto bailouts by the Bush and Obama administrations is ludicrous. The much larger city that Detroit used to be required many more teachers, cops, firefighters, etc. than the present smaller city can afford to pay pensions on.

Twin Lights
Louisville, KY

First, the auto bailout likely put Detroit into a better, not worse position.

Second, though I am sure there are govt. lessons to be learned here, the main lesson is about economics and how our car companies were not competing well.

Detroit (the city) is essentially a one-horse town and that horse was pretty sick. It is getting better now (though not at 100% yet).

Third, though Detroit (the city) made some bad decisions, it is not unlike so many cities and states (and the feds too) that keep kicking the can down the road because it is politically expedient to do so. The mantra is "we'll deal with that later". Later came to Detroit.

Irony Guy
Bountiful, Utah

After the piratical leaders of the Big 3 auto companies pillaged their companies and destroyed the local economy, Detroit was sunk. It's hard for any local gov't to deal with the onslaught of a bunch of Captain Hooks who are determined to take rather than give.

Open Minded Mormon
Everett, 00

Detroit is an example of what happens when greedy businessmen and corporations take precedence and are given more attention by the Government over tax paying citizens.

It's not Government that is to blame,
it is the "control" of the Corporations OVER that Government that is.

Read up on Gadiantons,
and then ask yourself if the Nephite Government was to blame,
or the Gadiantons who bribed, and "controlled" that Government?

Master Mahon economics 101...

Eric Samuelsen
Provo, UT

To build on Twin Lights' excellent analysis, I would add that Detroit had several opportunities to diversify its industrial base. The main governing lesson to be learned here is that communities need to look beyond their immediate needs, and plan for the future. Short-sighted political leadership over the past 30 years has finally led to catastrophe. Let's hope a great American city is able to dig itself out of this mess.

ugottabkidn
Sandy, UT

Mr Green, this is an example of unfettered capitalism. Export good paying jobs and all you have left is low paying service sector jobs. Then you have a right winged state government swooping in to sell off precious public assets to cronies. Let's see if Detroit residents see any benefit from that action. Their Emergency Manager didn't fix anything and the feds are not even at play here, yet. So much for running government like GM.

airnaut
Everett, 00

"Let Detroit Go Bankrupt", Mitt Romney - NYTimes Nov 18, 2008

Be careful what you wish for.

Ernest T. Bass
Bountiful, UT

The population went from over 2,000,000 to less than 700,000
That is nearly 2/3 less tax base.
It has nothing to do with politics and over spending. The jobs left Detroit and so the people left Detroit. It all happened under the watch of both parties.

Miss Piggie
Pheonix, AZ

Look... the issue is not that complicated. Detroit has had a failing auto industry for at least two decades due to foreign competition. Competitors manufacture vehicles and have them shipped to America at less cost than the American auto industry could build essentially the same vehicles. And why's that? Because of union demands for ever higher wages and benefits. Look, a union guy could be fired and get a full salary and benefits for a year. It was common practice to 'fire' someone who wanted an extended leave, then after a year hire him back.

Since unions were getting obscene wages and benefits it is only fair that Detroit City employees got essentially the same deal.

When the American auto industry started to flag from foreign competition, people began to move out of Detroit which cut into the tax base. And the city fathers were not smart enough to realize what was taking place in time to head of a massive bankruptcy situation.

Open Minded Mormon
Everett, 00

@Miss Piggie
Pheonix, AZ

========

Wrong...

Unions in those Socialist countries [Germany, Japan, Korea] all make two to three times what American union workers make. In fact - Japan and Korea must import 100% of their raw materials to boot!

The fact is greedy America Auto CEOs were the only ones stupid enough to bet the farm on producing luxury SUVs and luxury pick-up trucks to increase their bottom line,
and when gasoline finally hit nearly $5 a gallon in 2007 -- Dealerships could not even GIVE them away!

Don't believe me?
Look around -- the Japanese, Germans and Koreans never even made them.

Detroit has now spent the last 5 years and those billions in bailout money re-designing, re-tooling, re-marketing and re-branding -- scrambling to make up for their poor selection of vehicles and concentrating on finally making more fuel efficient vehicles.

Do you see any luxury SUVs or Luxury Pick-up trucks on commercial anymore?

Meanwhile - Germany, Japan and Korea who live with gas prices above $6 gas everyday had an entire inventory of fuel efficient vehicles already being produced.

It had nothing to do with workers,
and everything with poor management, poor selection, and thinking cheap gas will go on forever.

Miss Piggie
Pheonix, AZ

@Open Minded Mormon:
"Unions in those Socialist countries [Germany, Japan, Korea] all make two to three times what American union workers make."

You're wrong. There are no unions in Japan or Korea... and I don't think Germany either. Their governments control almost everything.

"The fact is greedy America Auto CEOs were the only ones stupid enough to bet the farm on producing luxury SUVs and luxury pick-up trucks..."

Whadaya mean? George Romney's American Motors was making economy cars (Nash Rambler, AMC Hornet, etc.) way before foreigners were.

"Do you see any luxury SUVs or Luxury Pick-up trucks on commercial anymore?"

I see them on the freeways... They're all over the place.

Open Minded Mormon
Everett, 00

@Miss Piggie
Pheonix, AZ

You're wrong. There are no unions in Japan or Korea... and I don't think Germany either. Their governments control almost everything.

[That comment is so factually baseless, it's not even worth replying to.
You didn't even take 3 seconds to Google up labor unions in any of those countries -- There are Thousands of Unions, representing Tens of Millions of workers.]

I see them on the freeways... They're all over the place.
[I said you don't see commercials for them anymore, and the ones you see on the roads were produced over 5 years ago. Nobody wants them, Nobody can afford them.]

Baron Scarpia
Logan, UT

Detroit's failure to diversify its economy beyond autos was a contributing factor in the city's fall...

Utah should be taking a lesson from this given that threats facing Utah's coal industry. With Utah being a net exporter of electric power to California, and California cutting off its Utah coal contracts by 2025 (probably sooner given that IPP will be switching its coal-fired power plant to natural gas soon), Utah needs to be thinking about how it will help Utah's coal country weather the looming economic crisis.

This is where government is CRUCIAL to help its constituents. Sadly, little is being done.

I fear that Utah policymakers' belief in the "free market" will mean that the government will ignore the situation, proclaim that the free market is necessary to allow Utah's coal industry to collapse, and then after coal miners are out of work and in need of unemployment benefits and more ObamaCare, Utah policymakers will simply give them a tax cut and a "Vote for Mitt in 2016" car decal and send them on their way.

Miss Piggie
Pheonix, AZ

@Open Minded Mormon:
"You didn't even take 3 seconds to Google up labor unions in any of those countries -- There are Thousands of Unions, representing Tens of Millions of workers."

But no auto workers unions. That's the point of my post (if you find one let me know). And the unions that exist seem to have the well-being of the country in mind. Probably can't/don't strike. They're smart enough to not kill the golden goose.

Auto labor unions killed the industry in Detroit because of greed. Toyota makes vehicles in Alabama and Canada and they're going quite well, thank you... no auto labor unions there.

"I said you don't see commercials for them anymore..."

Perhaps you don't take the DNews. It's a great paper with a great web-cite (except for a few picky monitors).

"... and the ones you see on the roads were produced over 5 years ago. Nobody wants them, Nobody can afford them."

My neighbor just bought one. Diesel. He's a macho guy. Noisy and stinks like heck.

Twin Lights
Louisville, KY

Miss Piggie & Open Minded Mormon,

My web search indicates that Germany, Japan, and South Korea all have automotive trade unions.

Howard Beal
Provo, UT

To be fair rather than partisan.

Not to blame the Detroit politicians of the last two generations is ludicrous. The last mayor before this current one was pretty corrupt. They also didn't diversify the economy enough.

However, the auto industry and the big three did a lot of the damage. They went for cheap labor and Detroit and other cities like Flint suffered. Unfettered capitalism in this case didn't help. I would agree that the bailouts of GM and Chrysler (twice) probably helped or stalled the demise a bit.

Blaming this on public employee pensions is somewhat disingenuous. Many cities and states are doing just fine with this. Again, any problems came from mismanagement and not from greed of public employees. Most worked hard for their wages and benefits.

Miss Piggie
Pheonix, AZ

@Twin Lights:
"Miss Piggie & Open Minded Mormon, My web search indicates that Germany, Japan, and South Korea all have automotive trade unions."

I am humbled by your astute research and revelations.

So, do us a favor and research some more ... can these unions strike? Do they have obscene benefits such as huge retirements at a young age? Can the workers take a year off with full pay? Etc, etc.

These and other labor union obscenities are what I believe caused the demise of much of the American auto industry... and also the City of Detroit. T'wasn't the union per se. T'was the demands of corrupt union bosses.

It's only human nature that, when some get to be powerful like unions often become, they get greedy. We see it in the CEOs of some companies who give themselves obscene salaries and benefits. We also see it in the Casa Blanco where the occupant and his family take vacations and tour the world costing the taxpayer hundreds of millions. Why? Because he can... there's no one to put a stop to it.

Twin Lights
Louisville, KY

Miss Piggie,

False modesty does not become someone with your screen name.

First we should all attempt to do our own research. But yes, it appears they all can strike.

Per Forbes, German auto workers make about double their American counterparts. I could not find similar data for Japan or South Korea.

Detroit’s problems are not simply in the unions but in the politicians who would not make the hard choices and in the reliance on a single industry that was in trouble.

As you note, power and greed are not the sole province of a union boss. Also, unions have opposition. Their deals are negotiated with the OTHER greedy, power hungry people at the table – management.

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