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April 16, 2009
Auto industry woes hit close to home
I drove up to Pennsylvania last weekend, and, as is usually the case whenever I near Pittsburgh, the only radio stations I could get in clearly were country.
I almost turned the station after a few bars of the following song, but the words caught my ear, and I kept listening.
"Because in the real world they're shutting Detroit down, while the boss man takes his bonus pay and jets out of town. D.C.'s bailing out the bankers as the farmers auction ground. Yeah, while they're living it up on Wall Street in that New York City town, here in the real world they're shuttin' Detroit down. They're shuttin' Detroit down."
Maybe not the finest poetry, but it hits the heart of the matter.
I was born and raised in Michigan, and while I'm lovin' my recent move to the lovely Shenandoah Valley, I have a pretty fierce loyalty to my home-state.
All the shenanigans over the recent auto problems has made me more than a little upset. It's well known that Michigan has the highest jobless rate in the U.S. at 12 percent in February. Most of my friends growing up were from auto or farming families. Not surprisingly, not very many of us live there anymore ... the lure of out-of-state jobs has scattered many of us from California to Virginia.
It bothers me every time I read about suffering Detroit. My dad, a GM retiree, still receives his pension and his benefits, but it's anyone's guess what will happen in the next few weeks. My best friend's dad, another GM worker, was recently diagnosed with cancer. He still has his job, albeit a pay cut, but again, it's anyone's guess what GM will have to do to his department to stay afloat - if they can even pull that off.
My dad voices his annoyance over the bailout of international companies like AIG while the Big Three have been dealt a frustrating and complex hand. It's confusing and disturbing... why is the auto industry getting slapped on the hand while other big companies seem to slip through the ropes time and time again?