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Sunday, December 21, 2008 ISSUE #530
 

Weekly Comments: Increase productivity for GM, and Congress

COLUMBUS: Folks are kinda down on America lately, and prospects are looking mighty grim for the coming year. But I just read where the United States leads the world in productivity. That ought to be cause for celebration. Our workers produce more per hour of labor than any other country.

You might be wondering, if American workers are so productive, why are our car companies going broke today. A hundred years ago, Henry Ford doubled the worker's pay to $5 a day. He didn't go broke because he was using assembly lines to build a dozen cars in the same time it took other companies to build one. He worked his men, but they knew before long they could afford to buy one of those Model T cars. Ford cars were so cheap even farmers commenced buying 'em to drive to town.

Speaking of farmers, you don't hear anyone wanting to bail out our farmers because they're in debt and can't compete with the Japanese. They're three times as productive as the Japanese, and twice as productive as Europe.

Mr. Obama has promised to increase the number of new jobs, 3 million of them. What he ought to be promising is to increase productivity. Get this country producing things the world needs, efficiently, and the jobs will show up.

If he can get our Detroit automobile workers to catch up, why our productivity would take another jump. It ain't the workers fault. If you've been building automobiles a certain way, and your father and grandfather before that, why you kinda get in a habit and hate to change. This arrangement worked all right as long as the union ran the whole industry, but when some of these foreign builders figured they could horn in on this American monopoly, by making 'em better with fewer men, it upset the apple cart.

Right here in Ohio, Honda builds cars by drawing on the same pool of workers that the Big 3 use. It's the same way in Kentucky and Tennessee, American and foreign companies, one turning a profit, the other losing money.

Now we'll cross our fingers and hope $17 Billion and a Car Czar can improve productivity at GM and Chrysler. Odds will be better if they name a Car Czar from Japan. If that doesn't work out, Obama may have to aim for 4 million jobs.

Here's another suggestion for our new President. You know how Congress insisted that big company leaders who ran their companies into debt should cut their own salaries. And they had to give up their company jets and fly commercial or drive. Well, I think President Obama would do wonders for the economy if he could apply the same standard to Congress.

Historic quotes from Will Rogers:

 

"Merry Christmas to you, President and Mrs. Coolidge. Only two more months, and then breakfast without a Senatorial committee. There ought to be time off for good behavior for a President... And a Merry Christmas to the Senate and the House. May the literacy test never be applied to your constituents." DT #752, Dec. 24, 1928

 

"The bad part about the whole structure of paying [Senators and Congressmen] is that we name a sum and give them all the same, regardless of ability. No other business in the World has a fixed sum to pay all their employees that same salary... If some efficiency expert would work out a scheme where each one would be paid according to his ability, I think we would save a lot of money." WA #119, March 22, 1925

"[Henry Ford] has got his own ideas on farming. He believes that a farmer ought to work part of his time on his farm and the other part in the factory. The farmer claims that when you get through working on the farm and asking your Congressman for relief, there ain't no time to even visit a factory." Radio broadcast, June 1, 1930

#530 December 21, 2008


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