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OpEdNews Op Eds    H3'ed 7/27/09

GM's Free Ride

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A free ride on your dime, that is. Let us dispense with all talk of welfare cheats and lazy, good-for-nothings that don't want to work until we deal with the king of welfare cheats, the king of free rides, and the king of government handout checks.

Under the terms of the government sponsored bankruptcy deal, GM has been able to void worker contracts for wages and benefits, shed itself of the health insurance concerns, permanently eliminate 21,000 American jobs and void dealers contracts as capriciously as a jealous teenager. This gives them the power of life and death over dealerships that once held binding contracts with GM. But thanks to the bankruptcy GM now has the ultimate power over its dealers.

But it's even better than that; every day is Christmas for GM. The bankruptcy not only allowed GM to dump its workforce, it was able to dump its toxic waste sites on you, the American taxpayer. Don't worry about the bailout, worry about the cleanup. One site alone is estimated at $200 million and you won't get that back, Mr. and Mrs. American taxpayer, that one's all yours; that's that great GM feeling.

The President, while discussing the GM bailout, made it clear. "We are not going to tell GM where or when to open factories." The where is in Mexico and in China. And the when? What the hell does is matter when, if it's going to be in Mexico and China? GM is having a great year in China, selling more cars than ever before, but it's a one way street. No benefit is derived by American workers or American dealers, or even the long-suffering American taxpayer now left to clean up GM's mess. The profits go to GM and the bills come to you. Isn't that a great system?

Yet for GM it's still not enough; they need even more. In 1999 GM spun off their Delphi electronics division in a move to cut costs. It was done as a cynical ploy to destroy the union workers. Delphi's primary customer was GM; without their support Delphi would go bankrupt and everyone on Wall Street knew it. But in the bargain GM promised to fulfill its pension responsibilities to Delphi. But do you know what a GM promise is worth? Half a Vega and two rusty Chevettes!

Under the terms of the now illustrious bankruptcy, GM will pass on to you, my dear taxpayer, the invoice to maintain its former, current, and future pension benefits to Delphi employees. A whistling little tune of $6.2 Billion dollars! GM promises that they will add an additional $70 million when they find a buyer for Delphi, but I won't hold my breath. I wouldn't believe anything that GM said if they told me the building was on fire and already I smelled smoke.

This is corporate graft at its finest. If they built cars as good as they schmooze government the customers would be lined up around the block. It makes you wonder what Obama's auto task force actually did because GM couldn't have gotten a better deal if they had written it themselves. Everything good GM keeps; everything bad, old, outdated, less profitable or just a plain liability went straight to the taxpayer.

Let us not forget the 21,000 autoworkers now permanently laid off by GM and the 100,000 dealership employees permanently laid off. GM's pension deal will turn those pension liabilities over to the government's Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation. The PBGC will play by its rules and not by the promises made to 70,000 salaried and hourly Delphi workers. The PBGC will use its formula to decide who gets what and who gets none. As it stands now, over 400 salaried workers are likely to lose 100% of their pensions.

Depending on years of service and retirement age, many workers will have their pensions reduced by 40% to 70%. Workers and salaried retirees tried picketing GM's world headquarters, but their pleas fell of deaf ears. Management couldn't hear them over their uncontrolled laughter at their good fortune at the hands of suckers in Washington and the misfortune of the suckers that once clocked in at GM.

It's a free ride, Clyde, whipped cream seat and a cherry headrest on the banana split boat. A gravy train with biscuit wheels, just sign the papers and have security remove the old codgers from out in front of the building. Just another 50,000 pensioners thrown onto the scrap heap, left to fend for themselves so that corporations can breathe the free air of Mexico and China.

It's yet another clear example of our dysfunctional government. If you, as a corporation, get into financial trouble and cannot pay your debts, the government will help you. Judges will bang a gavel and renegotiate your debts with your creditors. They will lend you money and absorb your bad assets. But for you as an individual? As an unemployed worker what assistance do you get? Who will help you with your debts? Who will help you to keep your house?

But as a taxpayer and as a person in need, I feel a sense of shame and of disgust. The American people have genuinely tried to help GM and have been abused for our efforts. We went on a blind date with GM and it turned into date rape.


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I who am I? Born at the pinnacle of American prosperity to parents raised during the last great depression. I was the youngest child of the youngest children born almost between the generations and that in fact clouds and obscures who it is that (more...)

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