Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Will the stimulus package be equitable?

3 million jobs. 850 billion dollars. It sounds great.

Let's ignore the consequences to future generations when we spend all of this money. It's a great thing. Perhaps it will get our economy going again.

Shovel ready projects. Step back a few paces. Who gets hired for these shovel ready projects? Are they going to be government employees with all of the rights and benefits that other federal employees make, or are we going to give the contract to the lowest bidder. Will there be any stipulations about criteria for a reasonable multiple for the the total compensation for the lowest paid worker and the highest paid worker. Are there going to be any stipulations that these contract firms must have a workforce that matches the diversity of the community it is working in, and that the pay to under-served populations is equitable with the white men on the payroll?

Or are we going to continue the graft policies of the past and watch millions of dollars line the pockets of the rich and connected while women and minorities continue to lose ground in this "new" economy?

However much I would like to think that we will use the opportunity of government sponsored infrastructure project to make inroads on attracting women and minorities to well-paying skilled construction and management jobs, I'm not going to hold my breath.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Is this the end of Chrysler?

Chrysler has shut down it's manufacturing for at least a month. Will they ever open their doors again?

It looks to me that it will be at least a year before the auto industry sees any demand at all, and if Chrysler's doors are closed for the year, I can't imagine them opening their doors again.

What does that mean for US manufacturing? What does it mean for everyday people living in the US?

I personally see it as the beginning of the end for US mega-manufacturing companies for durable goods. I think the next five years will bring about a new wave of boutique manufacturing.
The money for investment of huge factories and even huger output just isn't going to be available this next decade.

We will find out that small and flexible, high quality manufacturing from people we know is value that we can depend on. We will buy less, and we will demand that what we buy will be useful and will last. Cheap junk fueled by the mindless marketing has seen it's hayday and has started it's decline. Unfortunately, the US automakers have put themselves in this category and unless they can dramatically change, their industry will disappear too.

New York Times article about the Chrysler shut down.