Discuss Detroit Archives - Beginning January 2007 The problem with the modern auto business Previous Next
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Cambrian
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Username: Cambrian

Post Number: 482
Registered: 08-2006
Posted on Friday, January 05, 2007 - 12:41 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Offshoring Delphi jobs hurts U.S.
Planned shutdowns enrich execs, lawyers while punishing workers

The Detroit News 01/05/07
author: Ron Gettelfinger
(Copyright 2006)

Imagine beautiful New York City: limousine service, and the finest food and beverage to satisfy a gourmet appetite with waiters responding to your every need.

This is not your typical restaurant. It's the office of a law firm, specializing in bankruptcy, which bills up to $835 an hour and charges for every minute it can possibly rack up. Those attending include Delphi's management from Troy and a bevy of attorneys, financial advisers and representatives of equity groups and hedge funds. They are salivating over the remains of a once-proud company with callous disregard for families and communities. To them, it's all about the money.

On the other side are dedicated Delphi workers and their families. Their future may include relocation, finding re-employment or a second job, and getting another mortgage to pay bills or keep their children in college.

Workers vs. high-paid lawyers

In July 2005, Steve Miller rode into town like a hired gun with the intention of driving Delphi into a self-serving, mechanical bankruptcy. He wanted to petition the court before the new bankruptcy law took effect on Oct. 18, 2005 so as not to disturb his Key Employee Compensation Plan -- valued at $388 million -- or the other perks he and his gang are enjoying. That's why Delphi's bankruptcy filing took place on Oct. 8, 2005. Not because the company was running out of money -- but because Miller was running out of time to seize company assets for his personal gain.

Miller flew in private jets and rode in chauffeured limousines while degrading the dignity of work. He insulted hourly workers in his speeches to standing ovations at country clubs when he knew nothing about the business and even less about the workers.

In November 2005, Miller told the Grand Rapids Press that a search firm called him at home in Oregon and said, Your country needs you. Because this is not about Delphi. It's about the whole automotive industry.

The only group that hasn't come to the party here in terms of sacrifice for the company's survival, Miller said, is our hourly represented work force.

What CEO 'sacrifice'?

Really! This from a chief executive who has shorted Delphi's pension plan by more than $1 billion, while accepting a $3 million signing bonus and $750,000 in salary for six months on the job in 2005.

Miller was struck to learn that the average Delphi hourly worker in Mexico made $7,000 a year. Wow! Think how little he would have to pay if he moved those jobs from Mexico to China, Vietnam or other low-wage countries.

This could accommodate pre-bankruptcy pension deals worth millions of dollars for higher-echelon Delphi management like President Rodney O'Neal. After all, O'Neal and the others are entitled and deserving because of their great leadership. In fact, they were given $20 million in bonuses through June of 2006. Oh, wait a minute! Delphi's in bankruptcy.

Workers loyal despite insults

Meanwhile, back at the work site, Delphi workers have continued building a quality product in a safe, productive manner with no stop shipments. While Miller was insulting them, they stayed true to the customer. This is a credit to union workers and local management, who have operated under very difficult circumstances since July 1, 2005.

As for Miller's claim that he came to Delphi because he was told Your country needs you: He intends to leave just 10 percent of Delphi's operations in America, with the rest sold, closed or relocated overseas. My question to him as he ponders his next victim is: Your country needs you for what?

Ron Gettelfinger is president of the United Auto Workers.
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Livernoisyard
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Username: Livernoisyard

Post Number: 2090
Registered: 10-2004
Posted on Friday, January 05, 2007 - 12:56 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Is this the very same Ron Gettelfinger who insists on retaining the Jobs Bank which costs the Detroit Three some $130,000 or so annually for each idled "worker?"

(Message edited by LivernoisYard on January 05, 2007)
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Spacemonkey
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Username: Spacemonkey

Post Number: 134
Registered: 03-2006
Posted on Friday, January 05, 2007 - 1:03 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

This town is morally bankrupt.
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Cambrian
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Username: Cambrian

Post Number: 484
Registered: 08-2006
Posted on Friday, January 05, 2007 - 1:15 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

The jobs bank as conceived was intended to be a deterrent to laying people off. No one really thought the people running the Domestics would actually be stupid enough to continue closing plants here, and shipping jobs out of the country knowing they would have to keep paying a guy $130K per year.
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Livernoisyard
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Username: Livernoisyard

Post Number: 2091
Registered: 10-2004
Posted on Friday, January 05, 2007 - 1:25 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

The Job Banks were in the 2003 contracts. They haven't a prayer being any major part of the upcoming 2007 contracts.

Gettelfinger doesn't have much suck left in this business any more. If he strikes, so what? The unemployed in Michigan and Ohio would jump at Detroit Three assembly jobs paying much less than the 2003 UAW scale, and Gettelfinger must surely know that.

A strike would be the final undertaking for the UAW. The consumers wouldn't care less. **All** of the recent Detroit News online polls concerning the UAW clearly indicate that also.
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Cambrian
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Username: Cambrian

Post Number: 485
Registered: 08-2006
Posted on Friday, January 05, 2007 - 1:32 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Yeah, and think this stance the domestics and thier suppliers take of smacking the working man down also does nothing but drive consumers into Japanese Vehicle maker show rooms. At this rate, GM Ford and DCX will be the top producers of cars sold in India and China, while Toyota and Honda will be the US's top supplier of vehicles. It surprises me greatly that no one seems to have an issue with this.
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Livernoisyard
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Username: Livernoisyard

Post Number: 2092
Registered: 10-2004
Posted on Friday, January 05, 2007 - 1:41 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

The same thing happened to the US home-entertainment industry during the 1960s and 1970s. If you were around back then, would you refuse to buy a stereo manufactured in the Pacific Rim when there were virtually nothing comparably priced being made in the US? I doubt it. And you probably still buy Asian equipment. All "IBM" PCs are now made in China, and that firm is called Lenovo.

You're only concerned with Asian cars because now it's your ox who's being gored.
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Mikeg
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Username: Mikeg

Post Number: 432
Registered: 12-2005
Posted on Friday, January 05, 2007 - 1:50 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Actually, the jobs bank was proposed by the union in the early 1980's as a way to "protect" workers whose jobs were eliminated as a result of the increased productivity that came with the introduction of robotics and other automation. It was a benefit that was negotiated between management and union long before the "Domestics" began their market share slide. With the "Domestics" subsequent decline in market share, the jobs bank has had the net effect of changing their labor costs from one that is "variable" to one that is a "fixed cost" (stays the same regardless of production volumes).

No one ever thought that the "Domestics" would be stupid enough to continue producing cars in excess of demand and selling them at a loss because they have to keep their factories running, but that is exactly what has been happening. Then, each time they enter into negotiations for a new National Agreement, management and union finally agree to the closing of un-needed plants and their workers are either transferred elsewhere or placed in the jobs banks. At this point the domestics are finally able to shed their surplus production capacity and associated non-labor costs and the cycle seemingly repeats itself.

A growing or stable company could absorb the jobs bank provisions and pass the costs off onto their customers. A company with declining sales and a jobs bank cannot compete over the long haul against their lower-cost competitors.
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Cambrian
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Username: Cambrian

Post Number: 486
Registered: 08-2006
Posted on Friday, January 05, 2007 - 1:54 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Comparing vehicle sales to electronic sales is like comparing the sales of Coca Cola to the little girls lemonade stand on a Summer Saturday afternoon. With the invention of transistor technology in the 50s and 60s Asia, US and Europe alike had the opportunity to offer up products in the infancy of that technology. All though there were losses in the US when the preference went to Asian Mfrs, it was not on the scale at all with what we see in the Domestic auto industry. We can't have it both ways, training people for a way of life and then pulling the rug out from under them without any concern, like it or not has dire consequences. Look at the tanking housing market around the country. High paying Mfr and technical jobs that go over seas are only replaced with low paying service jobs. Personal Bankruptcies are up all over the nation not just here. No one saves money any more because they can't afford too.
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Livernoisyard
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Username: Livernoisyard

Post Number: 2093
Registered: 10-2004
Posted on Friday, January 05, 2007 - 2:03 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Come on, Cambrian! Why should consumers pay more for less vehicle just so that you can keep your job, which pays better than most anyways? The world doesn't work like that.

Welcome to the real world in the 21st Century. Many of us have been already there, seen that... Now, it's your turn to sniff the coffee.
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Cambrian
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Username: Cambrian

Post Number: 487
Registered: 08-2006
Posted on Friday, January 05, 2007 - 2:06 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Right, I agree with that, don't buy an American car only to see that revenue pad Miller's or the Bankruptcy lawyer's salary.
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Livernoisyard
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Username: Livernoisyard

Post Number: 2094
Registered: 10-2004
Posted on Friday, January 05, 2007 - 2:15 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Face it, your life style is very subject to abrupt change in the next few years, perhaps just months. It's obviously not welcomed by you.

Dem's the breaks. It's new for you but not for lots of others. Brace yourself for the worst, and if it's not that bad, count yourself lucky.

(Message edited by LivernoisYard on January 05, 2007)
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Cambrian
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Username: Cambrian

Post Number: 488
Registered: 08-2006
Posted on Friday, January 05, 2007 - 2:22 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Your statements imply that you think the "worst" will be reserved for the few holdouts that work for the domestic auto biz. The "fact" is the ripples from that implosion will be felt abroad throughout a vast amount of job sectors.
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Livernoisyard
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Username: Livernoisyard

Post Number: 2095
Registered: 10-2004
Posted on Friday, January 05, 2007 - 2:27 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Yet the US economy is booming in the vast parts of the country outside of Michigan and Ohio. Detroit is paying the price for its failing to shift with the times. And its infrastructure, including its anti-intellectual mindset is also a big player here.

Now, it's time to pay the piper, or the reaper.
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Cambrian
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Username: Cambrian

Post Number: 489
Registered: 08-2006
Posted on Friday, January 05, 2007 - 2:35 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

I've heard that said the economy is doing so well every else, then why aren't people buying those bigger and better houses in other states? If the economy was truly doing that great, interest rates would be higher and the housing market would be doing terrific every else except Michigan and OH.
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Professorscott
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Username: Professorscott

Post Number: 20
Registered: 12-2006
Posted on Friday, January 05, 2007 - 2:37 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

I have to chime in and take Livernoisyard's side over Cambrian's in this instance. Our economy is much worse than the rest of the country's. The comparison with consumer electronics is not a red herring as Cambrian suggests.

With regard to consumer electronics, as a matter of fact there were a great many American factories churning out radios, record players and TV sets in the 1930s, 40s, 50s and 60s. Foreign competition came in, from Asia for the most part, and the American companies failed to compete successfully and either died or changed into companies that no longer manufactured consumer electronics.

So the consumer electronics story is VERY much like the automobile industry story, except the transition happened a generation earlier, and in regions other than metro Detroit.

These regions have had a generation to find other businesses to replace consumer electronics; some have been successful but a few have not. I suspect we will have to do something quickly if we are to be a viable region in the future, and not allow ourselves a full generation to try to change things.

Change is difficult and uncomfortable but necessary. Detroit will never again have the numbers of automotive jobs we had in the past; it is time to figure out something else to do, and put a great deal of time, effort and money into remaking ourselves.

Professor Scott
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Professorscott
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Post Number: 21
Registered: 12-2006
Posted on Friday, January 05, 2007 - 2:39 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Oh and just to introduce some facts, if we consider the top 20 US Metro regions by population (metro Detroit is 8th):

Metro Detroit is losing population relative to 18 of the other 19 regions.

Metro Detroit has the lowest economic growth of all 20 regions.

The number of 25 to 34 year old college graduates, as a percentage of the overall population, is lower in metro Detroit than in 18 of the other 19 regions.

So we are worst or second-worst in some important metrics. The housing bubble is bursting all over but prices are lower in Detroit than most other metros again leading to the conclusion our economy is in worse shape than most others.
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Livernoisyard
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Username: Livernoisyard

Post Number: 2096
Registered: 10-2004
Posted on Friday, January 05, 2007 - 2:43 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

The real-estate market is based on speculation. After a period of time where buyers pay too much, it prices others out of the market. So, there were be inevitable adjustments (lowering demand) where the previous buyers may wind up with negative equity in their houses, depending on how much borrowing leverage they used.

Every market has its breaking point. Besides, if it weren't for prosperity elsewhere, the vehicle-buying public would be buying fewer vehicles, and the shit would have surely hit the fan in Detroit by this time already.
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Cambrian
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Username: Cambrian

Post Number: 490
Registered: 08-2006
Posted on Friday, January 05, 2007 - 2:58 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Another little mentioned point...how can we keep saying we have a healthy economy when we have such a lopsided trade balance with asia? Or that we keep financing our government war crusade programs by financing our debt and borrowing money from Asia in addition to having a negative trade deficit? The Profs statement about fledgling electronics companies having to switch to different markets to survive is true, but most of the domestic companies that are put under now will have nothing to switch too. See my above statement about trade imbalances. All the investment our american companies have made in Asia has really paid off for Asia and our US execs. This is great for the short term. Do these wealthy execs plan on raising thier kids in China?
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Livernoisyard
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Username: Livernoisyard

Post Number: 2097
Registered: 10-2004
Posted on Friday, January 05, 2007 - 3:07 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

The US is a consuming country, and we put less into savings. Other countries do the opposite. So, by buying as much as we do, we are incrementally selling off bits and pieces of the US to foreigners.

The Chinese literally have a stranglehold on the US money market and can hurt us financially, if they choose. However, that doesn't help them either, causing them financial losses. But they have that power over the US unfortunately and will for some time, as long as they keep buying our debts.
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_sj_
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Username: _sj_

Post Number: 1668
Registered: 12-2003
Posted on Friday, January 05, 2007 - 5:24 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Because the US trade deficit has historically risen during economic expansion and fallen during rough times. Trade deficits are often misunderstood to mean bad economies, job loss, or loss of competitive industry. The opposite has actually proven to be true.

For example from 1992 to 1997 as the economy was booming under Clinton the Trade Deficit nearly tripled.
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Ray
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Username: Ray

Post Number: 831
Registered: 06-2004
Posted on Friday, January 05, 2007 - 9:35 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Ron Gentlefinger's totally baised diatribe might carry more weight if the non-unionized auto business in the South weren't booming with great high paying jobs.

Oh well, at least it's a self-correcting problem. Eventually like a bad parasite the UAW will kill its hosts GM and Ford and that will be the end of thisunholy trinity of management incompetence and work entitlement. I hope the remanants of this sorry industry will move as far away as possible from Michigan so that in 100 years that state might be able to evolve into a normal place to live and work.
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Alexei289
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Username: Alexei289

Post Number: 1240
Registered: 11-2004
Posted on Friday, January 05, 2007 - 10:10 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Its hard to adjust when for 100 years, the auto industry plowed rivers of gold into this region. Even with all the bullshit, there was some serious bucks to be made in autos, and the buck stoped here, and stayed. It just sucks that in 5 years (although the foundations were laid MANY, MANY years ago) they turned into rivers of shit.

O and for consumer electronics..

you ever hear of RCA? or how bout Plantronics (the company that created the radios for the appolo missions)? Infinity...Polk... I could go on and on... but these companies are the lucky ones... they either got bought out by japanese firms, or found a market to keep them afloat.... albeit barely. There were a GREAT many electronics companies before japan bombed it. Are we happier now?

Shit, dont for get atari... before nintendo and sega bankrupted them. Atleast sega got their due.

Whats the solution? There is a reason why tarifs have existed since there were governments to enforce them. One countries money had 35% gold in their coins, and another had 12%. and no, they werent traded at face value once they changed hands in another country. Hence terrifs, the only recorse countries have during a trade war. Its sad to see our country give up that war before we have gotten a fair chance to fight it.

O ya.... quick quiz... what origional name did SONY take before changing it ;)...
Hint: The sony brand was exclusivly created and named for market in the us. Particularly Tvs in the 50s and 60s.
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Cman710
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Username: Cman710

Post Number: 161
Registered: 07-2006
Posted on Friday, January 05, 2007 - 10:33 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

What some people do not understand is that all these economic forces that some of you want to fight (globalization, cheaper labor markets) are FAR, FAR more powerful than those of any private actors, whether unions or corporations. Global competition is here to stay, and the way to prosper in that environment is to adapt and change. If that means switching to a service and information based economy, that's what we must do. Unfortunately, Detroit's long reliance on the Big Three has handicapped its ability to adjust to the modern economy. Fighting this change further will only make the regions economy stagnate for longer.
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Jimaz
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Username: Jimaz

Post Number: 1292
Registered: 12-2005
Posted on Friday, January 05, 2007 - 10:39 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

From http://www.answers.com:

quote:

Sony from the Latin word 'sonus' meaning sound, and 'sonny' a slang word used by Americans to refer to a bright youngster, "since we were sonny boys working in sound and vision", said Akio Morita. Sony was originally called Tokyo Tsoshiu Kogyo Kabushika Kaika. Sony was chosen as it could be pronounced easily in many languages.


Good educational quiz there, Alexei289.

(Message edited by Jimaz on January 05, 2007)
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Jimaz
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Username: Jimaz

Post Number: 1293
Registered: 12-2005
Posted on Friday, January 05, 2007 - 10:57 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)


quote:

...the way to prosper in that environment is to adapt and change.


What if you adapt and change in exactly the correct way to succeed and yet still get shortchanged? What then must we do?
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Cman710
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Username: Cman710

Post Number: 166
Registered: 07-2006
Posted on Friday, January 05, 2007 - 11:04 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Well, what exactly do you mean by "still get shortchanged?" If you have adapted correctly, it is less likely that will happen.

One thing I want to clarify is that I was speaking on a macro level. On an individual level, there will be some people who end up less fortunate than before, especially older workers caught in transitions in business. I have great sympathy for people in that situation. But when it comes to young people and how we want to allocate resources for the future, we must adapt to the new economy. And that starts by providing our youth with a good education so that they can get those information industry jobs.
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Livernoisyard
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Username: Livernoisyard

Post Number: 2105
Registered: 10-2004
Posted on Friday, January 05, 2007 - 11:05 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Actually the name before SONY was the shortened form--Totsuko--of the rather lengthy Japanese name of its parent corporation. But that too was considered much too difficult for Americans to remember or pronounce correctly. Then they tried a series of two, then three letters, such as those similar to (but distinct from) RCA, etc. before finally settling in on something with only two syllables--SONY.
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Jimaz
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Username: Jimaz

Post Number: 1294
Registered: 12-2005
Posted on Friday, January 05, 2007 - 11:18 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

"Those information industry jobs" have largely, very largely, been offshored to India. Please don't steer our U.S. youth into that cul-de-sac.

What then must we do?
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Cman710
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Username: Cman710

Post Number: 171
Registered: 07-2006
Posted on Saturday, January 06, 2007 - 12:26 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Jimaz, you are partially, but not entirely correct. The jobs that have been sent offshore include some computer programming jobs, many phone oriented customer service calls (call Delta overnight and you will probably get someone in India), and manufacturing jobs. Of course, other jobs have been put offshore, too, but those are some of the main ones.

In contrast to what you think, there is actually a HIGH demand for people with certain kinds of computer expertise in this country. Ever since the tech bubble burst back in '01, US students have steered away from that industry, leaving a shortage of workers (This shortage is partially being filled by foreign workers with technical backgrounds from Russia and all parts of Asia.).

Also, the industries for the 21st century in America will be in finance/business, insurance, real estate, law, and health care and biotechnology. ALL of these professions require workers who are well educated and have transportable skills. For those reasons, we must focus on educating our youth, not leading them to believe that they will be able to be live on their high school diploma.
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Jimaz
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Username: Jimaz

Post Number: 1296
Registered: 12-2005
Posted on Saturday, January 06, 2007 - 1:29 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Cman710, I can't disagree with you. I just find it unsettling when people (not necessarily you) assume education is a sure-fire easy fix for the problem. Maybe it was twenty years ago, but not today.

Education is certainly a part of the solution but the U.S. educational system needs to understand that it is in competition with overseas education. That may require a radical change within the system.

Of course, beyond that there are many other factors like trade policies, health care, etc. that shouldn't be neglected. But we all know that.
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Cman710
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Username: Cman710

Post Number: 172
Registered: 07-2006
Posted on Saturday, January 06, 2007 - 1:48 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Jimaz, I agree with you. The US education system does need to understand that it is in competition with overseas education. And right now, besides college level and above education, we are losing in the competition. Frankly, this country does not value education sufficiently highly, and for the most part, our elementary, middle, and high school education systems perform poorly and do not provide our children with skills that they will need to succeed in the economy. To some extent, corporations overcome this problem with training, but that only has limited effect.

Just yesterday, I saw a headline regarding the United States' shortage of skilled workers. Ultimately, this will harm us, and those skilled jobs will go to Asia, where they prize education more highly.
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Hugo8100
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Username: Hugo8100

Post Number: 22
Registered: 06-2006
Posted on Saturday, January 06, 2007 - 1:48 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

I have a serious trade deficit with my landlord, my primary expense right now, yet I am in no danger of going bankrupt. Our trade deficit with China is essentially the same thing. There are enough people buying our goods and services that on the whole we are in good shape.
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Cambrian
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Username: Cambrian

Post Number: 493
Registered: 08-2006
Posted on Saturday, January 06, 2007 - 2:47 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

The problem with us adapting to the global economy is it's not a level playing field. Asians coming over here have better chance of being educated in our universities than do some one from a Michigan Middle class families. Once they use our educational system they take those skills back home and undercut domestic firms for work.
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Livernoisyard
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Username: Livernoisyard

Post Number: 2112
Registered: 10-2004
Posted on Saturday, January 06, 2007 - 5:17 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

The Asians have been a major part of the teaching staffs at virtually all tech colleges the past three decades. Currently, US engineering colleges graduate four foreign engineers for every three Americans. In the engineering grad schools, that ratio is very much higher.

Foreign countries, especially in Asia, crank out many times more engineers than the paltry 32,000 or so American engineers annually. China graduates over 600,000 a year, and India isn't far behind that figure. And English is widely spoken in the Pacific Rim. More Chinese are able to speak English than there are Americans and Canadians.

So, when firms decide where to locate their plants, the question often isn't to go to which state in the US, but rather which country instead. Americans have been screwing up big time for decades in post-secondary education, and this shortage of competent US engineers is probably too late to be saved with the present dysfunctional state of US education. Furthermore, the foreign students in US colleges are far more advanced than their native American counterparts. I've been there, seen that...

That's the major reason we continually have to outsource engineering work or to import foreign engineers and scientists. This is no secret, and this shouldn't surprise any knowledgeable person.

(Message edited by LivernoisYard on January 06, 2007)
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Hagglerock
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Username: Hagglerock

Post Number: 374
Registered: 03-2005
Posted on Saturday, January 06, 2007 - 8:34 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

To add to what Livernoisyard posted-

My father in law came here from India in the 60's, enlisted the Army during Vietnam, earned his citizenship, and managed to get two masters degrees within 15 years. He worked at Three Mile Island when they had the near meltdown and later became a senior engineer for GM before taking the buyouts last year.

Judging from the attitudes of my peers and family, I really don't think native born Americans have that kind of motivation or direction to better their lives that so many outside this country have. For most of us, our sense of entitlement has made us complacent and taking the "good things" for granted. We all can't be American Idol popstars or play for the NBA. While this isn't true for everyone it sure could give us a wakeup call in the next few decades.
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Cambrian
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Username: Cambrian

Post Number: 494
Registered: 08-2006
Posted on Sunday, January 07, 2007 - 4:41 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

So the question is, how do we make it as easy for some one from MI to get an Engineering Degree as it is for some one from Shanghai? What irritates me is I know a portion of my tax dollars no matter how in direct are going to educate the Asian kid that will be competing for my job by offering his skills for $5 / hour.
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Ordinary
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Username: Ordinary

Post Number: 103
Registered: 06-2006
Posted on Sunday, January 07, 2007 - 8:15 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

It's not supposed to be easy to get an engineering degree.
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Jams
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Username: Jams

Post Number: 4506
Registered: 10-2003
Posted on Sunday, January 07, 2007 - 8:40 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

I've reread this article several times since it's first publication Dec. 21, is it a harbinger that all is not rosy with the world?}

http://www.atimes.com/atimes/C hina/HL21Ad01.html



quote:

In China, where learning used to be highly esteemed because of the Confucian tradition, university graduates were once regarded as "heaven's favored ones" who would never worry about employment. But in recent years, it has become increasingly difficult for university graduates to find jobs. This year, quite a number of university graduates have taken jobs as housemaids, security guards or unpaid trainees. Even so, half of the more than 4 million graduates remained jobless months after leaving school.

In light of this, Ministry of Education officials in charge of student affairs have made a public appeal that university graduates should be prepared to compete with "ordinary laborers" in the job market, which raises the question: If a university graduate is like an "ordinary laborer", what is China's higher education for?

It is not that higher education is so popular in China nowadays that every ordinary laborer holds a degree. On the contrary, only a small proportion of high-school graduates are lucky enough to be admitted by universities. Meanwhile, many surveys have pointed out the acute shortage of talent in China.

For example, a survey released by the American Chamber of Commerce in Shanghai early last month said a skills shortage has emerged as the top challenge for US companies operating in China. Charles Mo, who heads human resources at the AmCham Shanghai, said the skills shortage had, for the first time in five years, overtaken bureaucracy as the No 1 headache for US companies in China. "The vast majority of US companies said their China operations were suffering from challenges in recruiting capable Chinese managers and retaining them," Mo said.


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Jimaz
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Posted on Sunday, January 07, 2007 - 8:41 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Well, it's both as easy as it is and as difficult as it is. The point is, I think, how the U.S. educational system is adapting to help the U.S. meet this challenge?

I have a feeling there's an opportunity to improve here and that would be a good thing.

Recently I suggested a "just in time" education strategy similar to "just in time" inventory strategies. Planning only to stock minds full once at the beginning of a career seems very inflexible. Maybe I'm wrong. Ideas?
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Livernoisyard
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Posted on Sunday, January 07, 2007 - 8:51 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

But unfortunately it is fairly easy to get "professional" degrees today, even at premier colleges. I know some engineering and comp sci grads who have little idea of what they need to know.

As a result, they haven't had much "luck" at getting hired (for them with their experience, luck's what it would take) or getting past the gatekeepers over at HR. One Comp Sci "grad" from UoM-Dearborn was bragging to me about how he got his degree (by copying from others and otherwise cheating). Well, he's still clerking @ $7/hr at a convenience store nearly four years after "graduating."

The days of getting hired primarily because of a degree are over, especially in MI.
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Jams
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Posted on Sunday, January 07, 2007 - 9:05 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)


quote:

Recently I suggested a "just in time" education strategy similar to "just in time" inventory strategies. Planning only to stock minds full once at the beginning of a career ...




Great description. Keeping up with the day-to-day requirements of running a business is sometimes difficult enough, making it extremely difficult to keep up with the changes in technology and taste requirements in society.

I'm guilty of it, as a photographer, I know lighting, posing, correct angles to photograph a person, yet not having the time (or sometimes the money) to study the most current trends makes me a dinosaur in an industry I knew quite well at one time.

Although I'm well enough acquainted with many of the old techniques to be able to establish a niche area, well not as lucrative as my old days, allows me some income from those that appreciate the pre-computer images.
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Jimaz
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Posted on Sunday, January 07, 2007 - 10:17 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Here's a real-life anecdote about just-in-time education. Apologies for the length.

I was shooting the breeze with a guy in an industrial alley. He wasn't too bright and he seemed sad. I asked him what was wrong and he said his boss was angry with him because he was responsible for restocking a big freon tank but the tank kept running dry, halting production.

He seemed very conscientious (which counts more than I.Q. in my book) so I offered to help. He also gave a clue: "These darned technicians seem to use more freon when the tank's near empty." Knowing the nature of freon and the attitude of technicians there, I thought hoarding unlikely.

He showed me how he measured the tank's contents. It was a large cylindrical tank with a horizontal axis and a vertical glass tube at the end. The fluid would rise up the tube to indicate the height, not the volume, of the fluid in the tank.

The nonlinear relationship between the height and volume was obvious. It's very simple calculus. The decrease in the height of the fluid accelerates as the tank approaches empty. No wonder he was surprised at how much the techs were (apparently) drawing near empty!

So I found the formula for integrating the area within a circle (a section of the tank) beneath a chord (the fluid surface), and scaled it to the dimensions of the physical tank.

I gave him the formula and explained the mystery. The problem was solved forevermore. He was immensely grateful but his boss just didn't care.

Well, that's okay because the problem's solved ... or is it? The root problem was that the employee was not given that formula in training. He didn't need to understand calculus. He only needed to know that particular formula to do his job well. Instead he was left adrift at sea and his company suffered for it.

Instead, a just-in-time educational system would have ensured that that formula were made available at the moment of delegating the inventory responsibility to the employee, perhaps even attached to the tank scale itself.

There's an opportunity right now for educators to get embedded in industry in a radical new way -- if overseas educators don't beat us to the punch. The U.S. auto (and other) industries have an opportunity to prosper here.
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Livernoisyard
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Posted on Sunday, January 07, 2007 - 10:35 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Jimaz's anecdotal example is indicative of something very basic--a lack of common sense and just another example of how very simple mathematical CONCEPTS are not taught in school well. Today, the math concepts are rarely taught but instead a number of rote instructional exercises are substituted.

Another area where math suffers since the 1960s, is that the once ubiquitous axiomatic geometry courses are almost never taught any longer in high school, and the axiomatic-based calculus courses are also history.

One reason for not teaching these today is the increasing incompetence of teachers in math and science. Only about 40% of K-12 math or science teachers in the US have any real competence and training in math/science, whereas the international average for this metric is around 75%, even with the US teachers bringing down this figure.
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Jams
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Posted on Sunday, January 07, 2007 - 10:57 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

What is your answer LY?

We all have bitchs.
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Livernoisyard
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Posted on Sunday, January 07, 2007 - 11:33 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

My guess is that as a nation, we're already toast. We're rapidly becoming a country much like Iran, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, etc.--rich in natural resources but becoming increasingly poor in education among the populace. And it shows more and more as time goes on.

The K-12 schools are primarily day-care centers which baby-sit the kids while the parents are away at work. When the high school grads hit college, many of them require up to four semesters of remedial (high school level) courses, many of which do not even count credit-wise toward graduation. And get this, some of these educationally challenged students are attending college under scholarships of a kind or another. Six years for a four-year degree--assuming that they can stick it out w/o dropping out.

Don't take my word for it. Ask college professors who teach undergrads for their read of this. Martin L. Gross authored a book on this over ten years ago--A Conspiracy of Ignorance: The Failure of American Public Schools. It's a good read and available used for a buck or two from Amazon.com. Whenever you otherwise have an order totaling $25, pick one up and get free shipping.
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Jimaz
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Posted on Sunday, January 07, 2007 - 11:45 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

What then must we do?

(Message edited by Jimaz on January 07, 2007)
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Professorscott
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Posted on Sunday, January 07, 2007 - 11:52 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Jams,

The answer is that our society has to make a VERY sharp correction as to what is our notion of education and its outcomes. I have taught some of the remedial courses to which LY refers. (One thing I teach, not the only thing, is mathematics.) Kids are getting high school diplomas and they can't add fractions or read at what used to be thought of as an eighth grade level.

Our public K-12 schools have to do lots and lots of things that cost piles of money and do not educate students in any meaningful way. We are trying to use the schools to replace the function of families. Our teachers are underpaid in some cases, micromanaged uniformly, and largely unmotivated. Many of them do not know their subject matter because education schools in the 1960s and onward decided that was unimportant.

The solutions are pretty simple, but controversial (for some ungodly reason):
1. End, end, end, END social promotion. You don't pass your classes, repeat a grade.
2. A science teacher should know science. A math teacher should know math. And so on. That's how it is in our University system, which is still pretty well regarded worldwide. In the K-12 system, the important thing is to know "how to teach". Look at how that's working out for us.
3. Moral concepts should be taught at home, or church. "Drugs are bad" is not something we can afford to spend time on at school.
4. Not everyone goes on to college, but many do. Let's have the University system decide what the requirements are for a "college ready diploma". Then we can hold the feet of school administrators to the fire when they don't bring students, who have identified themselves as desiring postsecondary education, to that level.

Now that sounds expensive, and perhaps it is, so let's try this next thing to save some cash: If you work for a school system, and you are not working at a school either teaching or helping to run the building (principal, custodian, lunchroom, etc.), then we probably don't need you and you should go get a real job. In Detroit, for instance, there is this astonishing and overpaid bureaucrat caste that labors in fairly plush surroundings while the grade school kids in many cases don't have working restrooms.

That last bit will pay for the rest of my flight of fancy.

What do you all think of that?

Cheers,
Professor Scott
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Livernoisyard
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Posted on Sunday, January 07, 2007 - 11:53 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

We must do lots of long, hard work. Parents must see that their kids go to school and work there in the same manner as they should have themselves. But that's the rub.

We already have nearly two human generations of poorly educated Americans. Most of them probably are oblivious to their own ignorance, too. Perhaps, some events might occur to spur this on--like many more states eventually becoming Michigans, perhaps. That'll probably be enough for starters.
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Cman710
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Posted on Sunday, January 07, 2007 - 11:58 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

You all are making some very interesting points. US training in math and science has been awful for a long time, and has only gotten worse as the newer generation of teachers themselves are less well trained. The country must make these areas a priority, like it did in the 1950s, and try to make some real changes. Unfortunately, the established education bureaucracy makes this unlikely, at least in the short-term.
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Professorscott
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Posted on Monday, January 08, 2007 - 12:07 am: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Bureaucracy exists at the sufferance of the government.

The government exists at the sufferance of the public.

"We have met the enemy, and he is us."
-- Walt Kelly
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_sj_
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Posted on Monday, January 08, 2007 - 10:30 am: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

With the low amount of college graduates in the area there are no people certain children can approach about the college experience and point them in the right direction. Some just see that great football team and I only want to go Michigan.

Not what is best for them and I think that is huge loss in this area.

I would also like to see state funded institutions have to carry so many students from their home grown state instead of out of staters or foreign students.
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Professorscott
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Posted on Monday, January 08, 2007 - 12:39 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

We actually graduate quite a few people, given the small number of colleges and universities we have. (We have fewer than other regions of similar population.) The problem is they tend to graduate and then leave the area.
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_sj_
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Posted on Monday, January 08, 2007 - 1:21 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

They wouldn't leave the area is there were jobs for College Grads. It is expected nationwide a 17% increase of college grad hiring.


quote:

"Those information industry jobs" have largely, very largely, been offshored to India. Please don't steer our U.S. youth into that cul-de-sac.




This is not true either. In fact technology is one sector Michigan is seeing an increase of jobs.

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