Ideas festival

Old Buzz Hargrove is ranting about the need to expel the foreign auto car companies.

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0 Responses to Ideas festival

  1. Anonymous says:

    Wow, ironic he is speaking at an ‘Ideas’ conference with 50-year-old protectionist concepts.

  2. Rob says:

    My fiancĂ©e’s Honda was made in Alliston. My Volvo was made in Halifax (a long ago, mind you).

    The problem is not foreign cars, it’s that the domestic companies make cars nobody wants to drive.

  3. mikel says:

    As opposed to 100 year old free trade ideas? A little more detail would be helpful here.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Mikel – as well documented by many others, while the foreign manufacturers were focused on customer satisfaction (quality, product mix, performance), the big 3 focused on glitz and vanity. e.g. the Toyota Prius versus General Motor's Hummer

    As suggested by Rob, autos can be successfully manufactured in North America; you just need to have the right customer focus.

    The suggestion that a bad business be artificially protected (by consumers and taxpayers) may be compassionate for the short term but is hardly sustainable nor is it intelligent to reward those who got things so terribly wrong (and still fail to admit it).

    At a forward-thinking ideas festival, I would think any reference to the North American auto industry would be a 'lessons-learned' perspective with respect to what happens when you have 100% market share, take your customers for granted and fail to invest in R&D and innovation.

  5. mikel says:

    What I meant was that more detail about the actual talk would be helpful.

    That is patently untrue about the auto sector, both Toyota and Honda and Kia were given numerous subsidies to set up in Ontario, the most famous was the latest Toyota investment which saw even the Prime Minister go to Japan to ‘hammer out a deal’.

    General Motors makes Hummers because people BUY hummers, they are all over the place here. General Motors also makes hybrids, as well as small economy cars. Toyota’s, I have found, are seriously overrated. Of the most popular cars of the past 30 years the majority have been american, it wasn’t until recently that the Corolla surpassed them, mainly because for some bizarre reason whenever a US manufacturer hit #1 they would discontinue the line.

    When I was at high school and college, the number one selling car was the K-Car, and there were so many sold that the streets reminded you of Russia with their lada’s. Following that, General Motors had the, damn, I forget the name, I even had one, but in the mid nineties it was the number one selling sedan-the Cavalier, that’s it. Later on it was the Ford Escort, also hitting number one, yet then dumped for a revamped, and inferior Focus.

    It’s true that the japanese and european makers have better economy cars, however, look at the facts-there was recently a story which is still being investigated as to whether the Japanese government was more responsible for development of the hybrid engine than Toyota was. If you saw ‘who killed the electric car’ then you’d see that IF a government held the rights on an electric engine then good quality inexpensive electric cars would be readily available.

    Most importantly, most european and japanese markets have always been highly protectionist-another word for ‘smart’. They accessed our markets, ‘we’ couldn’t access theirs-until quite recently. With gas so expensive and large populations with older narrow streets, its obvious those companies could come up with better quality efficient cars-they’d been doing it for much longer.

    But even Toyota’s are highly overrated, we bought a Prius just off warranty and it is VERY poorly put together, and the cold weather makes it VERY unhappy starting in the morning.

    That’s all incidental though, we don’t know exactly what Buzz was talking about. From HIS point of view of course it makes perfect sense-the question is whether the ‘idea’ makes sense for society. I know numerous people who work for Toyota, and while they pay relatively well, they overwork their people as much as the law allows, there are rumours Mike Harris introduced the “60 hour work week” simply for their benefit. There are several lawsuits pending on industrial accidents related to overwork.

    We KNOW that union jobs are better overall. Stats canada gives out that information, we know that even in the private sector the jobs pay better, have fewer hours, and more benefits, although in some industries its close. There is NO evidence that unions made ‘the big three’ less competitive than foreign automakers-the above post even agrees with that: if you blame poor management decisions, thats hardly the fault of unions. Again, for twenty years unions in the NB forestry sector have been saying there had to be changes, they were ignored.

    Whether they need to be ‘expelled’ is another issue entirely. If we knew what he actually said, then it could be debated, but a one line ‘rant’ about his rant is hardly beneficial except to show political bias-something that shouldn’t be part of an ‘ideas festival’.

  6. Anonymous says:

    “There is NO evidence that unions made ‘the big three’ less competitive than foreign automakers”
    Mikel, the evidence is pretty clear. I suggest you read again the chapter about supply and demand in your Economics 101 textbook. Just think about this: the cost of virtually all the other factors of production vary according to the levels of supply and demand. Unionized labour does not – because the unions ensure that wages stay at artificially high levels.

    Is there a better example than the wages of forest sector workers in New Brunswick?

  7. Anonymous says:

    Good luck with your GM stock Mikel.

  8. mikel says:

    Get real, economics 101 also teaches that inflation is inversely proportional to unemployment. When unemployment goes down, ‘supposedly’ inflation goes up. That hasn’t been the case for 25 years. Economics is called the ‘dismal science’ for a reason, in fact even social scientists get upset when economics is called a ‘science’.

    IF the above was true then Toyota and Honda wouldn’t be paying their workers as much as a union worker earns at GM or Ford. They do. Obviously union wages are not the issue, however, I suspect getting rid of unions is. Toyota can afford to pay workers well-even while overworking them, because they are subsidized by three levels of government and they are earning profits. However, to return to the forests of NB, we see what happens when companies AREN”T making profits, or as much profit as they can get in other ways.

    NB forestry is a PERFECT example, there is NO evidence that forestry wages had anything to do with the collapse of wood prices. Zero. Even UPM stated up front that their mill in Miramichi was not losing money, it simply wasn’t making as much as they could make by shipping production to the midwest with a NEW plant (also subsidized).

    This is why more detail would be helpful, people in NB especially, where an Irving monopoly consistently hammers the anti union theme, think these issues are simple-far from it. This is not economics 101 and it doesn’t take much reading of the financial section to see that ‘supply and demand’ has virtually nothing to do with current economic development.

  9. mikel says:

    By the way, here’s some free advice, now’s a good time to pick up some GM stock. Lot’s of millionaire’s were made back when they bought Nortel stock at 10 cents a share because everybody thought the company was history.

  10. Anonymous says:

    Never forget,that this is the battery your talking about.Just 200 years old.And if you think there is anything new to discover about this battery,forget it.People spends days and months talking about this battery,as if it still held a miracle. Well it doesn’t.

    In electronics, a battery or voltaic cell is a combination of one or more electrochemical Galvanic cells which store chemical energy that can be converted into electric potential energy, creating electricity. Since the invention of the first Voltaic pile in 1800 by Alessandro Volta, the battery has become a common power source for many household and industrial applications, and a multi-billion dollar industry.

    The name “battery” was coined by Benjamin Franklin for an arrangement of multiple Leyden jars (an early type of capacitor) after a battery of cannons.[1] Common usage has evolved to include a single electrical cell in the definition.[2][3]