If Romney's Going to Ship Auto Jobs to China, Some of Those Jobs Will Be Texas'
Do you have to be from Michigan to get what Mitt Romney's really all about? He repeats that stand-up-to-China line over and over again on the campaign trail to make himself look tough, but meanwhile Bain Capital, his own company, makes hundreds of millions in profits buying up American car-parts companies, shutting down their American plants and shipping all the work to China.
How tough is this for us here in Dallas/Fort Worth to figure out? Is it because we don't care about car parts here? Think again.
According to a recent report from the office of Texas Gov. Rick Perry, we here in Dallas/Fort Worth are living in the Little Detroit of Texas. Between GM, International and Peterbilt, we've got more car/truck manufacturing going on here than any other place in Texas. And Texas, by the way, is the sixth largest automotive manufacturing state in the nation.
What makes us think our own jobs won't all go straight to China when the Washington GOP machine gets its mitts on the nation's political machinery? You can blab all you want about the new globally interdependent economy and the need to be competitive: that's theory. People's jobs are food on the table, roof over the head, baby needs new shoes. That's different.
And by the way, that's why the Chinese pour billions into subsidies to their own auto industry in the form of free research, free land and other subsidies in violation of all our trade agreements, as a story in today's New York Times reports. China helps its own industries, while companies like Bain put the knife in the backs of ours.
You know how Romney has that habit of saying one thing on the campaign trail and another when he's in a room full of rich people? Out on the hustings he says he will beat up on that big bad China, but the Times dug up a quote from back when he was still running Bain.
Romney told a room full of bankers why China was so great. He said he had recently visited a factory in China where 5,000 workers were, quote, "working, working, working, as hard as they could, at rates of roughly 50 cents an hour."
Well, let's see here: in order to be competitive and globally interdependent here in Dallas, how many auto workers would have to take a cut in pay down to fifty cents an hour? We could get halfway there if everybody at GM Arlington, hourly and salaried, took a cut to half a buck. That's 2,500 people, according to the governor's report. Then we'd still need everybody at Peterbilt for the other 2,500.
But would that even do it? Even if we agreed to accept fifty cents an hour - a wage of twenty dollars a week - would that be enough to keep the Romney Bain Trust from shipping all our jobs to China? I have my doubts.
I keep looking at the phrase in what the real Romney had to say when he was talking to his banker brothers. "Working working working at rates of roughly 50 cents an hour." Wow, isn't that a pretty picture?
Do you get the same image I do when I read that? Working working working. I see people bent over their tasks scared shitless about getting fired, choking back hunger, worrying all day long about babies at home, no coal and and rain through the roof. I guess that's what some people call morale.
Look, we all know the world is much more globally interdependent than it used to be. We get that we have to be more competitive than we were in the fat years after World War II. That's kind of ancient history by now.
But in seeking solutions, what's your starting line? If you start out painting half the nation as slouches and painting yourself as the exact opposite of what you really are, what should we expect from you next?
This isn't about Detroit. It's about us. There's such a thing as our own self-interest here, and when we look at Romney - the real Romney - it's not even in the picture. In fact the real picture is downright scary.
Get the This Week's Top Stories Newsletter
Every week we collect the latest news, music and arts stories — along with film and food reviews and the best things to do this week — so that you'll never miss Observer's biggest stories.