Sunday, July 24, 2005

Gut the South

Yea, verily, I say, gut the south. May they lose their industrial jobs due to poor education and lack of healthcare. May they lose their call center jobs to India due to outsourcing and lack of protection for workers. Unto their 7th generation, may they lose their health to global warming and air pollution. For their sins in electing George W. Bush, for their idiocy in supporting the Republicans, may they and their kin suffer for the next hundred years the way the slaves they once held suffered.

What made Toyota so sensitive to labor quality issues? Maybe we should discount remarks from the president of the Toronto-based Automotive Parts Manufacturers' Association, who claimed that the educational level in the Southern United States was so low that trainers for Japanese plants in Alabama had to use "pictorials" to teach some illiterate workers how to use high-tech equipment.

But there are other reports, some coming from state officials, that confirm his basic point: Japanese auto companies opening plants in the Southern U.S. have been unfavorably surprised by the work force's poor level of training.

There's some bitter irony here for Alabama's governor. Just two years ago voters overwhelmingly rejected his plea for an increase in the state's rock-bottom taxes on the affluent, so that he could afford to improve the state's low-quality education system. Opponents of the tax hike convinced voters that it would cost the state jobs.

But education is only one reason Toyota chose Ontario. Canada's other big selling point is its national health insurance system, which saves auto manufacturers large sums in benefit payments compared with their costs in the United States.
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