21 November 2005

Engineers and Marketers Screw Up, Workers Pay

Or so says General Motors, which has just announced a 30,000-worker layoff today.

American cars have lost a LOT of ground, as I found out during my visit to South Korea last week. In the old days, the Korean rich dreamt of getting big, cushy American cars, like Cadillacs. Now, the average luxury import on the streets of Seoul is more likely to be a BMW or a Lexus, and a Cadillac is a truly rare sight. (The Korean Highway Patrol seems to have a penchant for the Ford Taurus, but that's an exception rather than the rule.) And the Koreans have developed their own automotive industry that is now pummeling GM and Ford, right at home in the United States.

Given the marketers' crummy badge engineering, where a Cadillac is little more than a glorified Chevrolet, and the shoddy cost-cutting engineering, there are very few American cars worth buying today. And the assembly line workers end up paying the price. This is not right.

Of course, it can be argued that unionized American assembly line workers add too much to the overhead. But it reveals a further flaw in current American society; healthcare and other benefits have become prohibitively expensive, thanks to the greedy insurers. A reform of the healthcare system is seriously needed, as it is hurting employees, employers, and the entire American economy.

MSNBC Article