Ready for some mixed metaphors? OK here goes. First a question… when will America see the Forest for the trees? Probably only when one of those trees falls. But then.. if a tree falls in the forest and there is no one there to see it, does it make a sound?
What I’m babbling about is yesterdays agreement by GM with the UAW to massively cut healthcare costs… and in the process… possibly save the company from bankruptcy.
GM lost 1.6 BILLION dollars in the 1st half of 2005. Largely because they can’t afford to pay the health care costs that their employees demand and deserve.
So why is GM in this position and others aren’t… well…. because the majority of their car plants, unlike other foreign and domestic Auto Makers… are in the US. And in the US companies must completely provide for health care for their employees. In other car producing countries… like Japan, Asia, Germany, and yes, Canada… there is Universal, government funded, health care. The company is saddled with a fraction of the cost.
In todays world of ageing working population how can companies be expected to provide for their employees? Only governments have the ability to simultaneously raise money and cut costs as health care costs rise.
GM could still easily go under. Will it take a Chapter 11 filing from one of the Great American Companies to make Americans realise that if they want their economy to succeed they need to take responsibility for it, and themselves. They need universal healthcare. And they need to be willing to pay taxes to do it.
The free ride is over. The first tree is falling.