Some of us may remember the adage “What’s good for General Motors is good for America?”
Actions earlier this week by the Detroit auto giant proved what’s good for General Motors is only good for General Motors.
GM announced Nov. 26 it would shut down four U.S. assembly plants -- two in Ohio, along with those in Baltimore and Detroit. An Ontario plant will also get the axe.
The layoffs will shed 14,000 jobs from the American workforce.
In the onset, however, a blame game has ensued.
GM has cited the tariffs imposed by President Donald Trump earlier this year as part of the reason behind the restructuring. CEO Mary Barra also alluded to the trend toward SUVs and electric cars for the decision, particularly in light of the decline in sales of sedans.
Undoubtedly, the tariffs have bumped up the price of everything from steel and aluminum to meats, fruit and paper products, just to name a few items.
The Trump Administration has endured criticism for the tariffs on imports, particularly those from China, which have sparked fears of a trade war.
President Trump, meanwhile, has plenty of ground on which to stand in the reaction to the GM shutdowns.
His threat to cut GM tax subsidies is perfectly justifiable, considering much of it stemmed from commitments to keep the domestic workforce in place.
GM, as with many other corporations, benefited from hundreds of millions of dollars in tax cuts, which were implemented in hopes of an economic stimulus.
Some companies have prospered in the wake of the plan, others either treaded water or continued to flounder.
Less than two years after a billion-dollar corporation benefited from cuts at the expense of American taxpayers, it has responded with layoffs during the Christmas season. Maybe Mary Barra is the new face of Scrooge.
A look back 10 years, however, may further raise the ire of the American taxpayer. Remember, the Bush Administration got the wheels turning on a bailout of GM upon its bankruptcy, and the Obama Administration put it in high gear.
A total of $50 billion of our tax money bailed out GM. According to Reuters, the U.S. government lost $11.2 billion on the bailout, more than $10.3 billion the Treasury Department estimated when its remaining GM shares were sold in December 2013.
Gratitude isn’t what it used to be, I suppose.
The potential ripple effect on industries ranging from glass and steel to batteries and rubber seemed to justify the bailout.
It also helped thousands of workers retain their jobs and kept intact one of the most vital components of the domestic auto industry.
GM executives have instead shown their gratitude by shedding jobs, closing factories and crippling economies.
Those of us in Livingston Parish who want to see the effects of an assembly plant shutdown should look to the north in Shreveport.
The state’s third largest city has struggled since the closure of its GM plant, which cost the city more than 3,000 jobs. Casinos thrive in Caddo Parish, but not much else.
This writer has not driven a GM vehicle in nearly 20 years. Judging from the company’s latest actions, I won’t drive one any time soon, either.