JB: Hmmmm. That's not so good. Do you believe that the trade agreements are the major cause of all of this economic turmoil and the emasculation of the unions, Frank, or is that too simplistic?
FH: The globalization and financialization of contemporary world capitalism is at the root of that economic turmoil; the "free trade" agreements are a key part of that restructuring of the world economy. It favors the elites in the developed economies of the US, Japan and Germany (and the elites of the less developed countries) at the expense of workers globally. The agreements escalate the often mentioned "race to the bottom." The UAW and, more generally speaking, the US and international labor institutions, are ill equipped to confront these phenomena. Some unions, like the US Steelworkers, are doing good work trying to build international networks and solidarity, and is one of the leading forces opposing the latest "free trade" deal, the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP). Another factor behind the turmoil, generally under the radar, is the transformation of technology (computers, robots and the internet) which has expedited globalization of the manufacturing chain, all the while eliminating manual labor. These combined forces have reduced my factory in suburban Detroit, as just one example, from a population of 4000 in the '70s to about 400 today.
JB: That's a huge drop, Frank. Anything you'd like to add about the elections, the candidates or anything else before we wrap this up?
FH: The coalition that successfully elected President Obama to the White House twice is being tested in 2016. It was successful because so many white voters, led by the young, got behind his candidacy in unity with African Americans, Latinos, Asian-Americans, etc. IMO, this time a successful strategy will require all to coalesce behind a Bernie Sanders if the Democrats hope to win in the fall. Hillary Clinton, with her compromised stand on the free trade agreements, won't cut it against Donald Drumpf (his real name).
JB: Thanks so much for making the Michigan upset more understandable.
FH: Thank you for your great questions!
JB: Why, thank you! Before we sign off, do you feel comfortable sharing with our readers whom you're supporting for president?
FH: Sanders has my support to be the Democratic nominee. I hope he will be the candidate going into the fall elections!
JB: You're quite a savvy guy. Any tips for Bernie?
FH: If I was speaking with Senator Sanders, one on one, I would urge him to model his platform on FDR's pre-WW II "Arsenal of Democracy." Faced with the looming threat of a Nazi assault on Great Britain, he convinced US auto companies to cease car production and immediately convert their factories to produce war materiel. Today we are challenged by the warming of the planet due to the burning of fossil fuels, and the resulting dramatic changes in climate. Just today, Detroit had its warmest March 9 in over 100 years. He could advocate for federal eminent domain to reopen closed factories to produce solar panels, wind turbines, and components for mass transit - for starters - and put people back to work. He should advocate for a reduction in military spending in favor of addressing the threats we really face.
JB: Lots of good stuff there, Frank. It sounds like you've given this some thought. Now, we just have to arrange that private conversation with Bernie so you can share your ideas. Again, thanks for talking with me. I learned a lot.
local news article from 2014: "General Motors shutting off Flint River water at engine plant over corrosion worries ."
Recent interview with Frank: Trump Says Mexican Auto Industry to Blame for Detroit's Economic Hardship
Another recent Hammer interview on The Real News segment: "Clinton Misleads Voters on Sanders' Support for the Auto Bailout Ahead of Michigan Primary ,"
Real News OpEd by Hammer: Had enough "Free Trade" deals? Sanders' opposition merits your support! 3.6.16