Lars Larson on Keeping America Competitive

Another proud American company bites the dust, at least here in America.

Daimler Trucks North America has decided to move a lot of its operations down to Mexico. Some of it will go to South Carolina, but a lot of it is going outside the country.

I know I’m going to hear from the union folks who say, “That’s the fault of those evil, greedy corporations.” Well, I don’t consider myself greedy because I work for a paycheck and I’ll bet you don’t either.

I want those companies to stay in business and stay healthy. There is no way for them to stay healthy working inside an environment with one of the highest tax rates in the world, one in which health care has become unaffordable largely because of government mandates and trial lawyers and people like that.

Why don’t we get back to making America a competitive place for a company to operate so that we can build things and make things here and do it efficiently. Let’s get the unions to change their rules and the government to change its rules as well. We will be able to keep jobs right here in North America.

“For more Lars click here”

Posted by at 09:00 | Posted in Measure 37 | 18 Comments |Email This Post Email This Post |Print This Post Print This Post
  • Scottiebill

    It really is a damn shame that Daimler (Freightliner) is leaving Portland. It has been in operation since, I believe, 1939 when Leland James, then president of Consolidated Freight Lines (which became Consolidated Freightways), first built a cab-over tractor to replace all the old Fageols that were pulling trailers delivering freight around the Pacific Northwest.

    CF came into being in the mid-to-late ’30s when 6 small trucking companies merged together at the end of the Depression rather than go under. Leland James was the owner of one of these companies. Another company in that group was White Line Freight, based in LaGrande, which was started by my maternal grandfather and passed on to my maternal grandmother when grand-dad died in 1933. My father was one of their drivers shortly after he and my mom married in 1932. In 1938, when I was three, we moved to Condon where my dad was terminal manager for CF. We were transferred to Helena, Montana in 1939 where he was terminal manager, also. One of my earliest memories was riding with my dad when he was driving one of the new Freightliner tractors around the truck yard hooking up trailers or putting them up to the dock for loading or unloading.

    White Motors bought Freightliner in the early-to-mid ’50s, along with Sterling and Autocar. Later Benz bought the company. Then Daimler bought Benz after they, Daimler, merged with Chrysler.

    Closing the Portland plant will affect many other companies, not the least of which is Dallas-Mavis, who supplies drivers to deliver new truck to dealerships all around the country for Freightliner as well as Kenworth and Peterbilt, aka Paccar, up in Seattle.

    • Kenny

      This is a big loss, one of many this year

  • Anonymous

    An amazing phenonemon around here is the Liberals who are incredible clairvoyaints. Not only are they able to detect any and all lies in the Bush Administration but they can mind read all the motivations and plotting from thousands of miles away.

    But right here in their own river democrat city they are deaf dumb and blind to any and all lies, plots and scandals.

  • David from Eugene

    It is not greed that is the problem it is short sightedness. It is companies who have forgotten that directly or indirectly their employees are their customers. Those laid off employees are not going to be able to afford the consumer goods transported in those trucks, if there is nothing to ship there is little need for new trucks. It is a government so infatuated with the theory of free trade that they do not realize that the way it is currently being practiced is destroying the US Economy.

    But at the root of the problem is a fact that is being avoided, because of the difference in the middle class standard of living between the United States and third world manufacturing nations, U.S. Workers are no longer competitive in the global market place. The income necessary to maintain a middle class standard of living, as promoted by American advertisers and necessary for a functioning consumer based economy is too high. And as that standard of living is an essential component in the global economy eliminating all the rules and restrictions and allowing companies to pay third world wage rates is not an option. Some other solution is needed. The first step of this process is to drop free trade and replace it with a program to raise the standard of living elsewhere. Something like imposing an import duty pegged at 80% of the labor cost difference between the country of manufacture and the United States. A manufacturer and exporting nation would have a choice pay their employees more or pay an import duty. Yes this would raise consumer prices here and would require US wage rates to rise as a result.

    As to health care problem the solution is out there, get the insurance companies out of the system by going to some form of single payer health care like the rest of the industrialized world. Of course this would require the replacement of an insurance company bureaucrat making decisions concerning your health care in a manner that best serves the insurance company with a government bureaucrat making those decisions in your interest and is likely to reduce overall and individual costs.

    • Rupert in Springfield

      >And as that standard of living is an essential component in the global economy eliminating all the rules and restrictions and allowing companies to pay third world wage rates is not an option.

      Isn’t this a little self contradictory? Wouldn’t US companies paying the wages of the third world be exactly what was necessary to bring up the standards of living? If not, then how would US companies keeping jobs here and not employing anyone in the third world raise their standards of living?

      >Something like imposing an import duty pegged at 80% of the labor cost difference between the country of manufacture and the United States. A manufacturer and exporting nation would have a choice pay their employees more or pay an import duty.

      Ok, this looks like some sort of partial solution, although it does bring about some way of verifying the manufacturers wages. SO in addition to collecting tariffs we would have some sort of verification of ever manufacturing facility in whatever third world nation we were talking about? How would we police that? We would start sending US inspectors into countries to verify wages? This is sounding a little cumbersome.

      >Yes this would raise consumer prices here and would require US wage rates to rise as a result.

      Ok, then doesn’t this put us right back at square one? Wouldn’t we still have the same income disparity, just with higher dollar figures?

      Why wouldn’t a simpler solution be to simply understand that rising wages are a function of the marketplace and that given time wages do rise as employees move from a situation of desperation to rising affluence? We have seen wages rise in plenty of countries. I personally remember when the phrase “made in Japan” meant cheap low quality goods made by poor workers. That got replaced by “made in Korea”. That went by the way side and now we are on to “made in China” and there is rising affluence there. Seems to me like eliminating the tariffs we had in place was the quickest key to rising affluence in a lot of these places.

      >As to health care problem the solution is out there, get the insurance companies out of the system by going to some form of single payer health care like the rest of the industrialized world.

      God no. We have done various test programs here and they have all failed. Oregon Health Plan? It now seems to be something you have to win a lottery to get enrolled in.

      Medicare? Its bleeding this country dry.

      How about the prescription drug plan? That one doubled in cost projections before the ink was dry.

      Don’t like that? How about Hawaii? They just abandoned their government health plan for children, a notoriously inexpensive group to insure, after just seven months. Why? Well, it seems that it costs the state $25.50 per child and that was way more expensive than they had projected. They had the odd problem that once the plan went into effect, people who were paying to insure their kids immediately dropped their coverage and went on the “free” government plan. You think I want someone who didn’t plan for that contingency running my health care? Whatever government official was in charge and didn’t see that one at the planning stage is a certified idiot and probably should not be responsible for the administration of a Band-Aid.

      • David from Eugene

        *And as that standard of living is an essential component in the global economy eliminating all the rules and restrictions and allowing companies to pay third world wage rates is not an option.

        Isn’t this a little self contradictory? Wouldn’t US companies paying the wages of the third world be exactly what was necessary to bring up the standards of living? If not, then how would US companies keeping jobs here and not employing anyone in the third world raise their standards of living?*

        Not as much as it was very badly worded. What I was trying to say was: And as that standard of living is an essential component in the global economy eliminating all the rules and restrictions and allowing companies to pay *American Workers at* third world wage rates is not an option. And it isn’t, because our consumer economy would not function if American workers were only paid 5 dollars a day.

        • >Yes this would raise consumer prices here and would require US wage rates to rise as a result.

        Ok, then doesn’t this put us right back at square one? Wouldn’t we still have the same income disparity, just with higher dollar figures?*

        Yes, over the short term as wages and costs were realigned after which things should stabilize. There are two ways that we could get out of this mess, lower the US standard of living to that of the third world or raise the rest of the world to levels approaching ours. Our pre-bailout economic policy seemed to be taking the first track, encouraging businesses to move high wage jobs overseas and replace them with low paying service industry jobs. I am not sure that this policy was necessarily a conscious one or a de facto result of other actions which were not fully thought out. But either way the results of wages not keeping up with increases in the real cost of living is too lower the American workers standard of living.

        The problem with this approach is that the American Consumer Economy is too large a segment of the global economy for that to happen without disrupting the rest of the world. To the extent that some of home refinancing into “risky loans” was an attempt by some Americans to get money to make up a shortfall in wages part of the blame for our present situation could be placed on a policy of reducing the American workers standard of living.

        This leaves bringing up every one else’s standard of living to our level as the way to bring our wage levels in line with the rest of the world and again make the American worker competitive in the global market place. You are right that over time this movement should happen naturally the problem with this approach is that it will take too long. The American Auto industry and its work force can not wait for wages in Korea India and China to rise enough for them to be competitive.

        >As to health care problem the solution is out there, get the insurance companies out of the system by going to some form of single payer health care like the rest of the industrialized world.

        *God no. We have done various test programs here and they have all failed. Oregon Health Plan? It now seems to be something you have to win a lottery to get enrolled in.*

        We have not had a test of a single payer health care system in the United States, particularly one that has everyone in it. The failure of the Oregon Health Plan is that it is an underfunded government subsidized health insurance plan not a health care plan. Unfortunately, the only examples of working national health care systems are in other countries, whose social systems are different from ours. And please note I am *NOT* advocating for free health care for all, but rather a program which every American must be a member and who must pay in for his health care. I expect that there will be a need for some subsidies for the poor and those with an extremely low income but that subsidy should be less then the one we are currently paying.

        • Rupert in Springfield

          >You are right that over time this movement should happen naturally the problem with this approach is that it will take too long.

          Ok, so what it sounds like is basically you are saying it would be good for other countries wages to rise and be nearer our own. I don’t dispute that. what I would dispute is the idea of tariffs being somehow a more expedient way to accomplish this. Basically it amounts to the government trying to control the economy on a macro scale and that hasn’t met with a lot of success, look at the current “subprime” mortgage mess. That was largely a government creation and look at where it got us. Tariffs are also pretty ineffective. Look at the situation in reverse. The rest of the world has much more modern steel production than we do. I am fairly familiar with this industry and I can tell you this is a large reason for the price disparity. Every few years we put up steel tariffs, supposedly to give domestic producers breathing room to modernize their plants. They never do, they simply use the tariffs as a shield, competition has been removed, so why modernize at all now?

          The bottom line is tariffs rarely accomplish more than distorting the market and decrease Americans purchasing power while they are in effect.

          As for health care – I look at it this way, if the argument that this or that particular government health care system doesn’t work is because its underfunded, that’s a non starter. Entitlements are the largest chunk of the federal budget. Medicare is poised to eat us alive in terms of expenses. Underfunded? I don’t think so.

          In particular, the failure of the Oregon Health plan is NOT that it is underfunded. This is a key misunderstanding of the entire issue, and the inception of the OHP itself. The Oregon Health Care plane was conceived from the very start as a health rationing mechanism with a set budget. If demand for procedures exceeded the budget, the list of covered procedures was to be shortened. Instead the exact opposite happened, the list of those covered was shortened.

          The failure of the Oregon Health Care plan is due to many things, however the one thing it is not due to in any way shape or form is being under funded. It was a plan conceived with a set cost and funded as such. Its failure is at an administrative and legal level, not at all due to being underfunded. It is yet again another example of why the US should not go down this path. If that’s not enough, then perhaps looking at Hawaii, which cant even maintain a plan to insure children, which is about as cheap as it gets. Seven months and its down the tubes? Thanks, but no thanks.

          • David from Eugene

            *Ok, so what it sounds like is basically you are saying it would be good for other countries wages to rise and be nearer our own. I don’t dispute that. what I would dispute is the idea of tariffs being somehow a more expedient way to accomplish this. Basically it amounts to the government trying to control the economy on a macro scale and that hasn’t met with a lot of success, look at the current “subprime” mortgage mess. That was largely a government creation and look at where it got us. Tariffs are also pretty ineffective.*

            Yes, I would like the standard of living of the rest of the world rising to meet ours. It is much to be preferred to the alternative, which is for our standard of living to drop to third world levels. Unfortunately I fear that is were current policies are taking us. As to government control of the economy, the Federal Reserve System has been doing it for years and a manner detrimental to the American Worker. Tariffs may not be the most effective tool but it is the only tool currently available to protect American manufacturing jobs and the global economy. The American consumer market is currently an essential component of the global economy, and that market depends on the American workers ability to buy consumer goods. Unemployed workers do not buy much. Right now there is labor unrest in China triggered by plant shut-downs caused by a reduction of consumer spending in the United States.

            As to Health Care, you are correct that the Oregon Health Plan contains a rationing system. It is sound system, but it has never been used because the federal government who is providing a major portion of funding through the Medicaid program. Since then it has been effectively operated as a Health Insurance program. Unfortunately, unlike private insurance the Oregon Health Plan can not raise premiums in response to increases in health care costs; instead it needs greater level of funding. Medicare is in a similar situation its ability to raise premiums is limited. These and the Hawaiian program have one other thing in common they only address part of a failing health insurance system in the United States. Because they are limited in scope their ability to perform or not is not a valid indicator of whether or not a single payer system would work.

            The American health insurance system is in a death spiral, rising health care costs fueled by providing services to increasing numbers of uninsured caused by increasing health insurance premiums caused by increased health care costs…….. As long as this is the system, government health insurance programs can only function with increased spending. The only way to stop this is to change the system to some sort of national health care program.

    • Dennis in Medford

      Re: health care. Some information! The State fo Oregon has for years distorted the insurance market by aadding the costs of 35 mandates to every insurance policy. Are you aware that a 60 year-old purchasing a policy must buy a policy that includes maternity coverage? How about coclear(ear) implants (about $40,000 average cost). Why am I forced to buy “benefits” I don’t need? The same goes for small group insurance. A state employee told me a few years ago that Blue Creoss asked for – and received – an exemption from four state mandates for their small group policies. The employee then complained that the company lowered its premiums ONLY 20%. What would the cost be if we dropped all the mandates? Do the math. People in Ohio can buy a plan without all the mandates and the cost is about 50% or less!

      One state senator a few days ago at a seminar on health care, stated: The Veterans Administration negotiates prices with pharmacuetical companies so they buy drugs at a lower cost. Knowing a lot about the VA I know the VA does not cover or distribute every drug. They have drug rationing which is an essential part of any “single payor system. Great Britain, Canda, and every country with a single payer system rations both “meds and beds.” Do you know that in Great Britain sheets are “turned” between patients to save money? Another “unintended consequence” of “single payer systems” is the scarcity of doctors. In Great Britain, since the state mandates reimbursement rates, which is what doctors get paid for procedures, there are 35,000 foreign trained doctors working. in GB. This results in many misdiagnoses because of a “communication gap” between doctor and patient. All the better doctors have moved to New Zealand, Australia or the United States. They are a mobile group. They have skills which can be sold to the highest bitter anywhere in the world. They also have huge loans which must be repaid and which force them to make enough money to pay them off. Single payer systems are not the answer. In Great britain, companies are offering employees private health insurance to retaiin them because of serious discontent with the National health System.

      • David from Eugene

        *Why am I forced to buy “benefits” I don’t need?*

        Because other individuals in the risk pool with you do need them. They are also paying for things that you need that they do not. But both you and them get a benefit from being in the risk pool together; lower premiums. The smaller the risk pool the higher the premiums, assuming that coverage is available at all.

        Yes, there are problems with other nation’s health systems; I have heard the horror stories. I have also reports that are quite the opposite from people who have participated in both those programs and ours. What I know is our system is not working. It is in a death spiral and it will eventually crater. The sooner we fix it the better. Not only because of the ever increasing number of uninsured. Not only because of ever increasing health care costs; but also because it is putting American manufactures who provide health care coverage at a major disadvantage in the global market place competing against foreign firms from countries with national health care programs.

        Yes, a national health care system will include a rationing component of some sort; every national health care system has it. It is not possible to have a health care system that can provide the highest level of care to everyone with no waiting because no nation can afford it. The British and the Canadians use time; here in the United States we use money.

        And it turns out that money does not work. It does not work for the uninsured because it limits their access to on going medical treatment that catches problems early when treatment is often cheaper and more effective. It also does not work for the insured either as their premiums include the cost of required emergency room treatment for those unable to pay. It also results in treatment delays for the insured as their doctor has to get permission in advance from some insurance company bureaucrat to provide treatment or to proscribe a drug, assuming permission is given. It also does not work for the insured when in the middle of expensive treatment they suddenly become uninsured because they have maxed out their life time coverage limits.

    • sybella

      I agree, you are terribly short sighted and uneducated.

  • Jerry

    The entire problem is high union wages and an unfriendly business environment whether people want to face the truth or not. Why do you think they are going to the Carolinas? They have no unions and they have a friendly business climate.

    Sadly, Oregonians in general and Oregon politicians specifically are much happier with employment in home cleaning, health care, restaurants, etc. Soft jobs are king. Soft, low paying jobs. Industry is bad. Making something evil like a big old truck is bad.

    Check the “help” wanted ads sometime in the Oregonian. It is all soft stuff. Nothing where you actually produce anything. Nothing.

    Why did Vestas pull out of Portland? Why did Intel build new plants in other states? Why have so many manufacturing jobs been lost? Why did Epson pull out?

    There is a pattern here folks and no one seems to care. Enjoy those soft jobs – that’s all we have left.

    Nice work, if you can find it.

    I am so very proud of the Oregon business model. Spend countless millions of lottery dollars on economic development. And what do we have to show for it? Job losses each and every month with no end in sight. Businesses leaving. Businesses not coming.

    PS – the newest, largest call center for HP? Little Rock, Arkansas. Wow – who would think those people could even use a phone, much less a computer. Why not Portland? It is very clear why not. VERY CLEAR.

    Keep up the good work!! This is really great. I am going to apply to be a home health care worker for $9.00 an hour. I don’t want to make anything. That would be too hard.

    • OregonRedDog

      Absolutely correct on the union issue. Out of control wages and benefits are funding Big Labor Union Bosses and the candidates like Jeff Merkley who support the unions’ agenda. That includes the deceptively-named Employee Free Choice Act and its provisions to take away the private ballot from employees in the workplace.
      Merkley is a hypocrite as he talks about protecting working men and women while at the same time opening them up to coercion, threats and intimidation from union organizers by taking away the private ballot.
      We need to keep Gordon Smith as our U.S. Senator!

    • David from Eugene

      So you would rather be paid 50 cents an hour with no benefits working 16 hours a day, 6 or 7 days a week, in unhealthy working conditions in a manufacturing job? That is where we would quickly be if we eliminated unions and all the employment regulations you seem to think so little of. That assumes that a manufacturing firm would be willing to locate in an area with non-functioning law enforcement, an uneducated work force and collapsing infrastructure all the result of underfunding caused by low taxes.

  • dean

    Okay…so lets back a candidate and policies that lower peoples wages and slash their benefits so that they can work longer hours at lower pay with no health care and no pension. And while we are at it lets eliminate social security and medicare so they can work until they drop dead…and good riddance to them. There will always be more poor people to take their place, and we can import them from Mexico if they won;t get with the program.

    Now this is a winning political strategy that I’m sure Joe the Plumber would get behind.

    • David from Eugene

      Particularly, when the accompanying crash of the American Consumer Market triggers a major World Wide Depression.

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